(A short story in the style of Neha Vish’s fiction fragments. With sincere apologies to her for ripping her off, and to my readers for inflicting this upon them.)
He feels happy. After six years away, he is now home again. He doesn’t have to put aside some amount of his salary to buy furniture for his flat any more. He can spend the evenings talking to his parents and grandmother. He will also be well fed by his mother who has made gaajar halwa for him. The carrots in Delhi are longer and pinker and the halwa you get from them is dark red unlike the orange halwa made in South India. This is the good life.
That evening, all his relatives have come home to welcome him back to Delhi. His grandfather had wanted many children. So now he has many uncles and aunts and even more auntyjis. They are all here. They are talking to each other in Lahori Punjabi and asking him when he will get married. He doesn’t mind. He is just happy to be home.
Suddenly something shatters his sense of peace and calm. His Kitty Aunty is talking. He had never noticed this before. But now, seven years after he last met her, he realises that he cannot tolerate the the way she speaks. Her voice is incredibly high pitched. She starts her sentences by calling his mother, and ‘Veena’ emerges in a shriek. He glowers. Why is this woman who he does not even know well mutilating his mother’s name and giving him a headache? He moves to a corner to escape the shrill tones and daydreams about throwing bricks at Kitty.
Once he is in the corner, he feels even more annoyed. Her voice still reaches here and she has started to laugh also. The laugh is even more excruciating than the speaking. He remembers the dubbed Japanese cartoons he used to watch when cable TV first came, and how the alien princesses in those would giggle manically whenever they were plotting some villainy. It feels like that.
He wonders why he never noticed this about Kitty Aunty before. And then he realises that it is because his time in Bangalore has spoilt him. He has started taking the South Indian accent, with its enunciation of vowels and middle vocal range, for granted. And Kitty Aunty now feels like an intrusion on this comfortable and pleasant way of speaking.
Suddenly he realises that though he is at home, he will feel out of place unless he can hear the Bangalore accent. And that Kitty Auntyji might be too high a price to pay for gaajar halwa.