Chachi was screaming at her loudest, creakiest voice, “Look, beta! I have been asking the whole afternoon to apply balm on my aching head but this old man is sitting on the terrace in this hot sun and shooing away the crows just for the reason that the witch, Sumitra’s papads are drying there.” Sumitra was Mohanchacha’s neighbor and a widow who would supplement her income after her measly job at the Government milk booth by making and selling items like papad, etc.
Mohanchacha would be always eager to help her. He was not expressing pity her by doing so but actually enjoyed her company, especially the titillating voice she used to talk to him. She was middle-aged but maintained her figure; all the hard work she did throughout the day kept her fit. Mohanchacha would always get up early to see her going to her milk booth from his window. The sight of her swaying hips and flapping of the ponytail made his morning so very charming. He would hum his favorite love song and make tea for Chachi and himself and then wake up Chachi.
Related reading: Confessions of a jealous girlfriend
Chachi, Mohanchacha thought, was like Aunty Acid in those comics people shared on Facebook. Always screaming and shouting instructions and mostly sermonising.
Chachi never missed an opportunity to criticise him. Mohanchacha earned a decent pension after his retirement and he had his fixed deposits of the gratuity and provident funds he had received and had more than enough to maintain a cushy life. Chachi, in spite of her age, was never satisfied with what they had. She never wanted to spend more, all she wanted was an opportunity to taunt Mohanchacha on every aspect of their life. Like the regular arguments over the choice of TV channel. Mohanchacha would never pick a fight with Chachi but would walk away and roam around the society buildings or the neighborhood park. He would have his peace all by himself but a few words with Sumitra or a meeting by chance on the stairs or at the gate was a great pleasure he derived. It was as if he had cultivated this as a passion.
Mohanchacha was old enough to have no sexual desire or prowess to have an affair with anyone; neither had he any interest in it. Whatever interest he had was limited to watching a movie on TV with an “A” rating.
One day Chachi just threw a bomb. She accused Mohanchacha of sexual infidelity with Sumitra and started shouting abuse at Mohanchacha left, right and centre. He was flabbergasted. What was wrong with this woman? Not only was she badmouthing their age-old relationship but also condemning a poor and virtuous lady. This made him angry for the first time, with Chachi. What happened behind their closed door, we can only guess.
Next day Mohanchacha did not change his routine. When I asked him about Chachi and their argument, he told me that there was nothing to worry about. Chachi had a bout of delusion, he explained. Othello Syndrome is a type of delusional jealousy, marked by suspecting a faithful partner of infidelity, with accompanying jealousy, attempts at monitoring and control, and sometimes violence. The problem is named for Shakespeare’s Othello, who murdered his beautiful wife Desdemona because he believed her to be unfaithful.
While Mohanchacha knew that that the hint of suspicion in Chachi’s mind is something he would have to deal with, he was not willing to give up at the sunset of his life the simple joy of being friends with a woman who made him smile.