November 06, 2011

Book Extract: The Bad Boy’s Guide to the Good Indian Girl

“The Singh household was, these days, rather precariously balanced on its head.

With six females in it, patriarch PP Singh had been feeling for a while that it was losing its male essence. For that is what it was: an essence. A house could be filled with a dozen women but if one man ruled over them all like a dark lord, frightening even at his most benign, the household would still smell male. There would be a faint odour of man coming off the furniture, the curtains, even the kitchen. Even the women. Like in his own childhood, all the women in the house had vaguely given off a ‘man’ essence. It was not a scent. Just a flavour.

Patriarch PP Singh had worked hard to recreate that flavour in his own family. The disappointment of not having sons had long since evaporated. And to tell the truth, he wasn’t even sure he wanted sons. Sons are trouble. If he had a teenage son now, he’d be creating a little scene everyday – today a motorcycle; tomorrow a car; then girl-trouble; or he’d be out all night, smoking and drinking. Maybe there would be police trouble.

Now look at all those boys arrested near Rakabganj. Just think. They don’t even leave the gurudwara alone. Forty of them, sitting in jail, having their bottoms reddened. Serves the monkeys right.

But just think of their fathers. The police calling up in the middle of the night: ‘Your son is in jail’. Going to the thana, paying money, doing ji-huzoori, licking the fat thanedar’s arse.

Na ji, na. Daughters were just fine. And fine daughters they were too. They had not given him one day of trouble so far. All that shit other people said – daughters are hard to manage; daughters need to be watched and god knows what else. He never had to.

People just did not know how to bring up girls. Now, his Mrs… she had needed a little managing. Not much. A few whacks now and then. But over the last five years, her will had settled into his so completely, it was hard to get her up to any decision at all. Even to go shopping at Diwali, she would just grunt at him, which could be interpreted any way he chose.

His three daughters, Gitoo, Pinky and Silky, were big girls now and they knew just what to do and what not to do. Gitoo was twenty-two, Pinky twenty and Silky nearly sixteen. But none of them asked for anything except money to go to college and a few nice clothes. These were all very reasonable demands and PP Singh was not an unreasonable man. Gitoo wasn’t top of her class but she was manageable. Next year she would either clear the MBA entrance or she would be married. For Pinky and Silky, there was time.

But even since this new girl had entered the household, PP Singh had begun to feel as if the reins were no longer so firmly in his own hands. Not that she was any trouble. She was quieter than his wife, if that was possible for anyone but the deaf and dumb, and more nervous in his presence than all the rest put together. Yet, his own pervasive essence had shrunk a little. With Teena in the house, it seemed as if the other side of the gender scale had grown heavier, as if the house had been tipped on its side.

For one, he no longer felt free to walk into any room he liked. Teena was his best friend’s daughter and she herself had asked if she could come and stay. She had taken admission in a diploma course in Delhi and had made a phone call to the Singh household before she moved. All she had needed to say was: “Uncle, I need your protection.”

PP Singh took her into the household in a heartbeat. A young girl in a new city, far away from her own family – though he had to confess to himself that he did not see why a young girl should leave her own home and move to a new city – should not remain without protection. Na ji na, he would not let her languish in hostels or paying guest accommodations.

All the same, she was twenty one years old – a young woman of marriageable age and not a member of his own family. So for the first time in his life, PP Singh was knocking on doors in his own house.

That in itself wasn’t so bad. What had really turned the household on its head had been the little rebellion about the dog.”


(Extracted from the chapter “Big Girls” in The Bad Boy’s Guide to the Good Indian Girl, Or the Good Indian Girl’s Guide to Living, Loving and Having Fun. To read further, you can buy the book here or here.)

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