changing the chanel

Ajit hit the TV remote hard on his head, as the commentator on the TV declare what a great delivery the last ball was. “Once a year, you take me out to a fancy restaurant for dinner and then expect me to work like a slave for the rest of the year!” Swati was saying from the kitchen, she was far enough that Ajit should not be able to hear her over the TV and she was not shouting either, but somehow her voice carried itself safely to his ears droning in them like an incessant malarial mosquito.

Ajit knew she was going to start though, she was consistent whatever else she was. Every game that he watched Swati would start complaining at the end of the first over like a clockwork wife. “You never feel like you have to help out around the house, oh, no! I am a man I have to sit and watch the game!” She said doing a good mockery of the way Ajit spoke. He cringed and hit his head again with the remote. “I go to work so I will come back home and plonk my ass on the sofa and eat and fart until I fall asleep. It doesn’t matter that my wife works too, she earns less than I do so she will do the housework…”and on and on she mocked. Ajit increased the volume of the TV to the maximum and yet he could hear every single word she said in Dolby digital surround sound.

Ajit switched off the TV, he would not be able to concentrate on the game anyways. He imagined going and having a conversation with Swati but he knew all too well it would turn into an argument. He could write down the script for that conversation even in his sleep. He sighed as he saw their wedding photo on the shelf beside the TV. They both looked so happy, with smiles that were genuine and not just for the camera. You could see the love they had for each other in just the way they leaned into each other. Where had they gone wrong?

Maybe it was him? Ajit wondered looking at a photo of himself where he was sitting on his favorite motorbike, in his leather jacket somewhere in the valleys of the Himalayas. He looked like the stud that everyone remembered him being, well at least his friends remembered him being. Maybe he was not meant to get married? Maybe awesomeness like his could not be yolked to the bullock cart that was a marriage. He remembered his carefree times before he had fallen for Swati, those were the days! He wished he could have them back.

But he had not been forced into marriage. He had fallen in love and what a wonderful adventure that had been too. It had felt like Cupid had emptied his entire quiver into Ajit when he had first seen Swati. She had played hard to get, like she was a profitable venture refusing to be acquired by a multinational company. He had chased her like Interpol chased art thieves all over the world. No, he had literally chased her all over Europe. Their romance had been similar to a song sequence in a Bollywood summer blockbuster. And then it had become hard like a tandoori naan bread that had not been eaten when it was still stretchable.

It could not be his fault, surely! He remembered how all the girls in college looked at him. He was the lover boy that they all wished was chasing after them. He had to just point at any one of them and they would fall at his feet. No, literally he just had to look at a girl and she would swoon. And here he was after a few years, being shouted at by his wife! Where had he gone wrong?

He should have married Anya, she would never have treated him this way. Sure, she had been a nerd in college with her large soda bottle glasses and her geeky jokes that no one got. Anya was not as hot as Swati, she was not even in the same league, but she had her own charms. And she was the CEO of a large company now, he had seen her interviews on TV. And he had to admit that she had grown to be a much more graceful than Swati. He had known from his friends that she was in love with him and would have done anything for him. He had simply laughed at the idea of marrying her, but now, now he would give anything for that to be his reality.

“And what did I get for Valentine’s day? The same old restaurant, the same old food and the same old candle light. We were supposed to go to Greece this year. But did we, oh no…the economy is in a slump…so I am stuck with this idiot…”

Ajit had heard enough, he got up and went into the kitchen and shouted “Stop!”

And Swati did, she just stood there with her mouth wide open, her eyes bulging, the sentences half way out of her mouth, while she was cutting some vegetables.

Ajit looked around, he had really paused her! He looked at his remote, he had hit the pause button in anger and it had worked! He smiled at himself, then he hit the rewind button.

Time flowed around him, like a flashback in a film. He paused at their wedding ceremony and nodded his head sighed and went back further in his own story. He reached the fateful night and paused. He was standing in a restaurant, yes the same one he always took Swati too, what’s wrong with that. He saw a younger version of himself sitting at a table with a hotter version of Swati. He could see his younger version was sweating, he was going to pop the question soon.

The hotter Swati excused herself to the restroom. This was his chance he had to act now, when she got back his younger self would propose. He took a deep breath and walked to his younger self. He patted him on the back and said, “Ok, let’s go!”

Younger Ajit looked up in surprise, he was reciting what he was going to say to Swati, “Who, who are you?”

“Dude, it’s me! Get up we have to leave!” Ajit said keeping an eye on the restroom.

“Hey, I dunno who you are and I am in the middle of the most important decision of my life…so…”

Ajit sighed, “No, no you are not…and I am you…from the future…”

Younger Ajit’s jaw dropped and he stood up as he realized the truth.

“I am going to go bald?” he said holding onto his hair.

“Hey…I am only thinning…” Ajit protested running his hand through what hair was left.

“And what happened to my six pack…?” Younger Ajit asked pointed at the beer belly.

“Well,…you drank a lot of those for sure!” Ajit said rolling his eyes, “but those are not so important, you are about to make the biggest mistake of your life. Swati is not the right one for you!”

Younger Ajit stared at him with his mouth open, “Are you sure?”

“Would I come back from the future if I was not sure?”

Younger Ajit nodded, “Dude, how bad is it that you had to come back from the future?”

“Exactly, it is that bad!”

Younger Ajit looked at the restroom in fear, “What do I do?”

“Anya is alone in her hostel room, go propose to her!” Ajit said.

“Anya?” younger Ajit was not sure, “Are you sure, she is such a nerd, man!”

“Trust me,” Ajit said, “In a few years…” And he whistled.

He took younger Ajit and left the restaurant. He made sure that he went to Anya’s hostel. He even threw rocks at her hostel window. Anya opened her window and when she saw younger Ajit she smiled like a cat.

Ajit gave his younger version a thumbs up. He was sure things were going to be great for him now. Ajit hit the fast forward button, stopping at the wedding ceremony to make sure he was getting married to Anya. Then he reached the same point where he had started. He hit the play button again.

“Yes, Greece’s economy is in a slump. But what is wrong with our economy? It is filled with lazy good-for-nothings like my husband that is what is wrong….” Ajit heard the same droning voice coming from the kitchen. Something was wrong. He was in the same house, not in Anya’s palatial mansion. He looked the same too, wearing the same pajamas and sweatshirt over his taut beer belly. What had gone wrong with this version? He switched the TV on, Swati was on the news, as a CEO she had acquired a rival company and was receiving some business excellence award.

Ajit gulped hard. Anya came out of the kitchen, still muttering under her breath. She put something in the fridge and stared at him with contempt. He changed the channel by mistake.

Anya snorted, “Change the channels as much as you want, it will not change what is in front of the TV…”She looked at him in disgust and went into the kitchen.

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