Saraswati and Rajesh, a newly married couple, had just moved into their brand new house. They had spent all day lugging huge crates, putting things in order, falling over the neighbor’s cat, and smiling at curious neighbors who dropped in under the pretext of introducing themselves.
At the end of the day, Saraswati was exhausted. “I can’t do anything,” she complained. “I am tired. I am hungry. I can’t move a muscle.”
Rajesh patted her on the shoulder and said: “Why don’t you take a nap? I will get some chapattis and gasi from the hotel. I will wake you up for dinner after an hour or two.”
It might have been a tough day, but for Rajesh, it was just another day. It might not have been a normal day, but Rajesh was determined to treat it as normally as he could.
When he got back home with a packet of hot chapattis, gasi, rice, and sambar, it was eight and his wife had slipped into slumber in the bedroom.
Rajesh always took bath at eight. He had always taken bath at eight from as far back as he could remember. He did not let anything or anyone stop him from taking bath at eight. As far as he was concerned, it was his fundamental right to take bath at eight and he was good at fighting for his rights.
Unfortunately, his hapless new neighbors were unaware that he was a bathroom singer who could sing at the top of his lungs, and he had terrific lung power. He even danced and splashed water around as he sang. At least, Rajesh believed that he sang. Those who were forced to listen to his bathroom songs refused to called it singing—they called it screeching, bellowing, shrieking, howling, yelling, and screaming. They called it anything but singing.
So, when Rajesh threw a mug of lukewarm water at the bathroom ceiling, lifted a leg off
the bathroom floor, and howled out a Bollywood number, the neighborhood was shocked.
Anthony, who was 80 years old, frantically started hunting for his blood pressure pills and his wife, 70-year-old Lucy, helped him with a hand over her heart.
Kusuma, who was 65 years old, began running around in panic while her 70-year-old, hard-of-hearing husband demanded to know what the noise was all about.
Ambika, who was 45 years old, anxiously peeped out of the window, while her 12-year-old son Sharath excitedly told her that someone was getting murdered in the neighborhood.
Little Imtiaz jumped up and down in glee and told his mother and sisters that they were killing a pig in John’s house.
In John’s house, John’s youngest, who was just a six-month-old baby, began howling at the top of his lungs.
Agnes, who was 50 years old, was in the middle of the Rosary with her teenage daughters when Rajesh yelled an old Kannada number, “Neene saakida gini … nanna muddina gini … (You are my pet parrot … my dear parrot …)”
When Rajesh began singing, “I am a disco dancer,” the neighbors started spilling out of their houses.
“Someone is sick,” said Agnes.
“They are killing a pig,” squealed Imtiaz.
“Someone is getting murdered,” said Sharath.
“Call the fire department,” said John’s wife, Jenny, is a trembling voice. “My baby is terrified.”
“I think it’s the cats fighting again,” said Lucy, who had come running out of her house after stuffing a pill inside her husband’s mouth and a glass of water in his hands.
“A tiger and a few monkeys must have escaped from Pilikula Zoo,” said Sharath loudly, determined to attract attention.
“It could be ghosts,” said Kusuma.
Blissfully unaware of all this, Rajesh kicked an empty bucket (just literally) against the bathroom wall and an empty mug against the bathroom door and geared up for another song. This time, it was the popular number “Lungi Dance.”
“It is coming from their house,” said Sharath, pointing to Rajesh’s house. “I think he is murdering her and those are her screams. We must call the police.”
It was Agnes who led the procession of neighbors to Rajesh’s house. She had to press the door bell several times before Sarawati, who had peacefully slumbered through her husband’s bathroom concert, switched on the porch light and opened the door, rubbing her eyes.
Five minutes later, Rajesh waded out of the flooded bathroom.
Two more minutes later, he walked into the brightly lit living room, wearing shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt and wiping his hair dry with a towel.
His wife was sitting in the living room with all the neighbors. But why were they all so silent? And why were they looking at him with such a strange expression on their faces?
“What happened?” he asked, truly concerned. “Any problem?”