"Switch off the lights .... you know how expensive electricity is! You children, never understood the value of money! All I do is keep switching off lights after you!' said Pritam, her old feet in new slippers making a peculiar sound on the marble floor.
"Precisely Mummy" said Renu, rolling her heavily made up eyes in a manner that would have put the best bollywood actress to shame.
"What is this?" she said picking up a mascara bottle off Renu's dresser and looking curiously at the silver embossing on the bottle, slowly moving her finger along the alphabets ...."
"Mascara hai" said Renu, seeing her grandma's reflection in the mirror as she finished applying lipstick to her smooth, unwrinkled lips.
'Maca?" 'Ki?' asked Pritam trying to search her memory for a similar word.
"Mas-car-a" said Renu... "for making the eye lashes look longer..."
'Oh ho! You don't need make-up! ... Just apply a chap stick and you are ready... that is what your bua (aunt) used to do" she said smiling at her granddaughter.
" Acha... ok! "
"This is a nice flat... hai na? You get very nice, bright sunlight in the balcony... it really dries up all the clothes rather quickly.
"Hmm... " said Renu dreading the idea of her clothes being put up on exhibition and shuddering at the thought of what havoc the 'nice, bright, sunlight' would play on her delicate clothes!
"You should let the sun come in sometimes... curtains all the time is not good for you. Look how pale you have become." said Pritam opening the drapes and enjoying the sunlight that flooded the room.
"yep... ok." said Renu, a small frown appearing on her crease less young face... eyes rapidly blinking to adjust to the sunlight now flooding her room.
"Where are my jeans? I put them right here on my bed! " muttered Renu throwing all the stuff off her bed and creating a small hill of very interesting things on the floor!
"In our times, girls were judged by how clean their rooms were. If a robber breaks into your room, he'll think someone beat him to it!... What are you looking for?"
"My blue jeans... I put them right here," said Renu, pointing to one corner of her bed.
"Which jean? neeli (blue)?"said Pritam picking up clothes and pillows and toys and deodorants off the floor with an exasperated sigh.
"Haanji!... have you seen them? Mummy, I am getting late" said Renu frantically throwing out clothes from her cupboard.
"Those were so dirty beta... so I washed them... look" she said pointing to the jeans hanging from a clothesline in the balcony, dripping and making a small puddle on the floor.
"Nahiiin! Noooooo! How could you do that? You washed them? You didn't even ask? Why!? I told you not to touch my clothes Mummy! I wash what I want to, when I want to! I didn't ask you to wash them! I specifically said to you last month not to touch the clothes on my bed!"
"It was sooo dirty! I can't let you wear dirty clothes...hai... what will people say?" "It needed a wash period" said Pritam innocently, retying her silver hair in a neat bun.
"You have ruined my evening... do you know how many months I worked on those jeans so they would be perfect? And it was perfect now! I specifically said not to touch anything! You don't understand! Why can't you mind your own business! This is so unfair,"said Renu now hysterical.
'Why don't you wear this one?' said Pritam holding up a mouse-brown pleated trouser.
'What is wrong with you! That is so out! Do you want me to look like a clown? Look at my make-up... look at my earrings ... wear that with these?' screamed Renu pointing at her earrings and t-shirt and hand bag and walking out of her room to the balcony.
"What did you wash them with?" she said hurriedly bundling up her designer jeans, spaghettis, dresses and jackets, t-shirts, shorts, skirts out of the harsh sunlight.
"Nirma of course." She said proudly, "I went to the market and esspecially bought Nirma for them. That foreign organic stuff you children use now-a -days... it doesn't clean at all... no wonder all your clothes looks yellow... look at the white shirt now... see... how clean it is now and what you use is so expensive!" said Pritam theatrically crossing her arms and shaking her head.
"Whatever!" said Renu also shaking her head and dialling her best friend's number on the cell phone as Pritam slowly, slightly unsteady on her feet, left the room, rearranging the bottles on the dresser on her way out.
"You won't believe this Sims... I can't make it today... mummy has washed all my good clothes with chemicals and like that wasn't enough...now all my denims look brand-freakin- new!! I am just so frustrated ya! I mean ... Why can't she mind her own business ya! And you know what is so unfair... if I tell someone what happened... I come out looking like such a nasty person... I mean... poor old woman... washes my clothes and I get mad! Why does she have to always do something like this... Now she is going to go watch some stupid KK serial and relate me to a nasty, spoilt, uncaring vamp! And that is not it at all... I love her to death but she just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing... till you have no control on your own life."
" I can understand how you feel."
"I so wanted to come.. you know." said Renu in tears and still hugging the bundle of wet clothes.
"I know," said Sims, "and hey! Renu, you are not a nasty, bad person... you are just human... just as she is".