Last year, his family forced Kishore Singh not to write anything about them...
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
It is a year since my resolution (enforced on the occasion by my family) that I would not tell stories that in any way lowered the dignity of our domestic institution.
So, in January, I did not report that my wife purloined an abundant supply of toilet paper from the housekeeping cart in the corridor outside our hotel room by sending the cleaning staff off on a needless errand.
She has been asking to return to the same hotel since, having failed to realise that buying bathroom necessities may be less expensive than springing for a five-star vacation. (But, oh, everyone loves freebies.)
In February my daughter went for a bridal shower to Turkey, and in June to Spain, and in September to someplace else I can't remember because my children have been busy travelling around the world, using the house as nothing more than a forwarding post for e-mails, excess baggage, and a place with a paternal ATM from where their (overdue) bills are paid with the help of a few choice phrases ("Please", "Love you", but never "Owe you").
In March, I paid everyone's insurances (life, car, medical) as the head of a clan that recognises this ambiguous honour whenever premiums are due. Also, property taxes, sundry cesses and processing fees. Several IOUs signed at the time remain unrealised.
It was around the same time that I was urged to begin work on the construction of a cottage that was to serve as a family retreat.
Having got a construction team on board on the express condition that everyone would have to supervise it, I learned, in April, that my wife is "allergic" to soil, cement, maybe bricks, wood and all the paraphernalia that goes into making a building.
In May, my son said he could not bring himself to address the construction workers because they speak "vernacular".
My daughter found no time from her travels to devote to the cause, though she did find the opportunity to criticise the swimming pool ("too small"), the rooms ("too small"), the garden ("too small"), the vegetable patch ("too small" -- oh, wait, that was her mother), though the furniture was mostly fine because she'd ordered it online. This was in October.
But in July, I was having the house we live in painted ("since you've already got a finger in the construction business," said my wife); in August, I began renovating the bathrooms in our apartment ("since you've already got a finger in the construction business," said my tenants); and, in September, I began redoing the boundary walls of our ancestral home in Bikaner ("since you've already got a finger in the construction business," said my mother).
I ceased only when friends and neighbours began to demand help with their home renovations ("since you've already got a finger in the construction business," they said).
In November, I helped my daughter pack away her summer clothes and air her winter wardrobe. Ditto my son. Ditto my wife. Ditto linens and furnishings.
But my wife said there was no need for me to take out "more than a few" of my own winter clothes for lack of space in the cupboards ("besides, who looks at what you're wearing?" she added).
Which is why, my new resolution is to break with my old resolution. Happy new year.