It started a few months ago. There was this long-distance call ring. The voice at the other end asked, “Yeh Salman Khan ka ghar hai? (Is this Salman Khan’s house?)”
“Nahin,” I replied. “Aapne shaayad wrong number dial kiya hoga. (You could have got the wrong number)”
“Shaayad ke pucca? (Could or sure?)”
“Wrong number,” I said assertively.
“Chal chal, jhoothi…(Liar.)”
I put down the receiver. Picked it up again. He had not disconnected.
This continued every day. Sometimes he got abusive; occasionally someone else would call. Salman Khan had now become Salman bhai.
On one occasion the answering machine was on. I heard the same voice and his muttering, “Saali English mein bolti hai, kuchch samajh nahin aata…(She is speaking in English, can’t understand)”
Yep. Next time he called I refused to reply in Hindi. I even acquired a Salman Khan accent, you know the kind that takes you from the United States all the way to Australia in one sentence. “Rrright, ah jest khaald to say I lurv you, mite (mate)!”
Ok, I digress…I would just go, “Hmm, can you speak louder? Aha, no, no…”
He’d scream, “Tu hai na…(It’s you)”
“Whattt?? Sorreh, I down’t unnerstaind…”
It was working. The calls slowly became less frequent and I anyway kept the answering machine on most times. A few days ago, after what I assume must have been a Eureka moment, he had a brainwave.
I picked up the phone. A woman was at the other end. She asked me in English, halting and unsure, “Pliss, I want to talk Salman bhai.”
“Sorry, he does not live here.”
“Oh, who is you?”
“Ah, I know, I know. You are Katrina bhabhi!”
Why do funny things happen to me? Now I am waiting for the day Abu Salem calls and asks me for money. That would be rich.