My goddaughter, Ayesha, 17, has a boyfriend. I’m not fond of him, mainly because he’s better looking and fitter than me. So she does what all smart goddaughters do when the godfather doesn’t approve of the BF - meet him on the sly.
For a while, they were old fashioned in their romance, a modern day Romeo and Juliet - he lives in the building across the road, so their balcony scenes involved them shouting sweet nothings, over Mumbai traffic - “I love you” was lost amidst the blaring of lorry horns.
The other day, I noticed a difference in their ‘pyaar vyaar’ - the star-crossed lovers were engaged in the strangest non-verbal communication. She was waving a small white towel at him, in a series of gestures that he seemed to perfectly understand. He would then take off his baseball cap, wave it at her in a forward movement - she would reply with another gesture of the white towel. This went on for half an hour, not a word exchanged - touch of towel responded to by gentle doffing of cap, so on and so forth.
I couldn’t tell if I was watching a baseball game or witnessing two Red Indians signalling. “What are you and hero no 1 doing, Ayshu?” I asked, fascinated. “Okay, don’t get pissed off, we’re talking using ‘spot fixing’ sign language,” she confessed. “You’re kidding, I cannot believe that all this bookie nonsense and match fixing scandals have influenced your love life!”
“Godpa dude, it’s the new world. The cell phone companies tried to connect with us youth, after the scam broke. Blackberry replaced ‘What’s App’ with ‘Howzzat’. ‘iChat’ was renamed ‘iTowel’. But we said no - we don’t need technology to express our love, it’s back to the basics, like Adam and Eve, non-verbal, just woman-to-man dialogue, the way it was meant to be,” explained my goddaughter, bordering on the OTTR (Over-The-Top-Romantic)
“Okay, explain each gesture to me,” I demanded. “Cool, watch carefully - so if I touch my towel once, it means, ‘See you in an hour,’ if I touch it twice, means ‘Coffee at Barista,’ if I wave it above my head, I’m saying, ‘Meet you on my terrace.’ When I wave it side to side, it means, ‘Split, my Dad’s come home’.” When he waves his cap to the right, he’s asking ‘Inox, night show?”
“You know it amazes me that you’re using that villain Sreesanth’s sign language to communicate, it’s shameful.” “Villain? Who, Sreesanth, you’re kidding me? He’s a saint compared to some...we are a crazy country, crores of public money stolen by politicians, no response, one wayward cricketer wacks a few lakhs, we go mad!!!!” Suddenly, my goddaughter, scratched her neck. “What does that mean, Ayesha?” “Nothing, my neck was feeling itchy.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.