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Humour: Dinner Invite

I stared at the message. What did she mean by that? Didn’t she recognize me? We had met just a fortnight ago and my WhatsApp
Dinner invite humourous story
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I was planning to call a few people home for dinner. The list was not a very long one – I had shortlisted about ten-twelve people. Besides our usual group, I had also included Sudipta– a lady I had recently met at a friend’s place. I had developed an instant liking for her and wanted the association to continue. 

I started off with the usual WhatsApp messages asking if people were free to come over on that particular date. WhatsApp has indeed made life so much simpler.  One needs to just key in a few words and it is done. Without this marvel of an invention would we have realized that phone calls are indeed just a waste of time and actually quite redundant? That endearing touch which a voice call imparts, is in fact just a ridiculous waste of time? 

Anyway, extolling the virtues of WhatsApp is way beyond the scope of this narrative. To come back to where I was. I scrolled down my mobile for Sudipta’s number. But hold on, I had not saved it!  

I am sometimes amazed at my own quick thinking. Yes! Didn’t she say that she was part of that WhatsApp Book Lovers’ Group that I had joined recently? It was a big group; I didn’t know all of them personally, but I can fetch out her number nevertheless.

Within two minutes I shot off a “Hi, how are you, are you free on such a date” message.  It’s best not to jump on to the dinner bit right away. If she was free, that would come next. I went on with the other messages.

There was a ping.  A message had come from Sudipta. It said 

-Who’s this? 

I stared at the message. What did she mean by that? Didn’t she recognize me? We had met just a fortnight ago and my WhatsApp DP was clear enough to signal that it is indeed me. It was she who did not have a display picture on her WhatsApp profile. Anyway, I let this go. Maybe she had missed my DP. I sent another message spelling out my name this time. There was an immediate ping – a prompt and terse rejoinder –

-I don’t know you! 

I stared at the text incredulously. Yes, people do come in all shapes, sizes and forms. But wasn’t this stretching it just a bit too far? After having spent about an hour and a half over tea and goodies and exchanging pleasantries, you say you don’t know the person? Truly, the world is not what it used to be.  People are getting queerer by the day. The old folks did have merit in what they said.  

But what the heck – I was not giving up just yet. I typed in furiously. Memories need a prod at times – even a fortnight old memory possibly.  The text I scribbled was reading almost like a lullaby now. 

-Remember, we met at Tithi’s place? Tea and those awesome pastries? You were wearing that gorgeous green saree?

I wasn’t going to stop at this. I would finish off what I had planned to say anyway. 

-Please come over for dinner at ours – Saturday July 15th

I stared at the text incredulously. Yes, people do come in all shapes, sizes and forms. But wasn’t this stretching it just a bit too far? After having spent about an hour and a half over tea and goodies and exchanging pleasantries, you say you don’t know the person? Truly, the world is not what it used to be.

There, I had done it !  Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the response. 

I got up. Life is not just about dinner invitations. Ten thousand other things need your time and attention. 

My phone buzzed. I picked it up without glancing at the number. Enough of the evening has already been wasted. I need to get on with things. 

-Hello? 

A man’s voice boomed into my ears. 

-Look, I am not the person you think I am. 

What?? Who in the world is this? What is he even trying to say? I forgot my own social etiquette and blurted out  

-Who are you? 

If simple questions were answered simply, life would have far lesser problems. But no – people love to complicate matters. The voice at the other end said 

-See, I am not a lady. 

I am at a loss for words. Is this someone just trying to act funny with me at this hour? Why should I think that this is a lady? Isn’t it pretty obvious from the voice itself? It’s just like the blue sky telling you – look, I am not green. And I had not yet reached that stage of senility, that I will not be able to distinguish between a male and a female voice. And where is this meaningless conversation anyway leading to? 

Within two seconds of these racing thoughts, and before I could pitch in with a piece of my mind, the voice barged in again. 

-Look, I am not the lady you think you are messaging to, about dinner and all that 

A thin streak of light began to pierce the darkness. Had I messaged someone by mistake? But nothing was really clear. And this person had an extremely confusing way of talking. I did not mince my words. 

-Can we just talk straight? Let’s start from the beginning. 

Was there a tone of exasperation at the other end? 

-What is the beginning? 

-Please don’t try to be funny. I am not in the mood. 

I was trying to bring in an authoritative tone. I was equally exasperated. 

-Beginning means, you start with your name. What is your name? 

I was amazed at my own blunt style of speaking. The evening was taking a toll on me. 

The name came in, loud and clear. 

-Sudipto

-Sudipto? 

-Yes

-You mean Sudipto with an “O”? 

-Yes, any problem there? You don’t like my name? 

Sense was dawning fast. And my ears were turning pink. Was there a “Sudipto” in the group? Did I mistakenly pull out his number and message him instead, thinking it was “Sudipta”? 

Anyone familiar with the nuances of Bengali names would know that similar sounding names with similar meanings end with an “a” if it is meant to be a female name, and with an “o” if it is a man’s name. The opulent language abounds with such examples – Apurbo/Apurba, Supriyo/ Supriya, Debopriyo/Debopriya etc etc. If one is careless with the ‘a’s and ‘o’s, one is inviting trouble for sure ! 

I was still full of questions. One needs to be certain. 

-Are you in the WhatsApp “Book Lovers of Mumbai” Group?
Yes
Oh!
I presume you are in that Group too! You messaged me by mistake? Right? 

There was clearly a chuckle now. But I wouldn’t give in so easily. Offense is sometimes the best defense. 

-Why don’t you have a profile picture? Don’t you think that would avoid confusion? Such mistakes do not happen if you have a picture. 

There was no straight answer. I knew that the man couldn’t talk straight. But he didn’t know how to keep quiet either. 

– Am I invited to that dinner? You messaged me you know! And I am free on the 15th

He was laughing now. A whole hearted laugh rang out in my ears. And in that one crazy second, I forgot everything, threw back my head and laughed! 

I couldn’t take back the dinner invite. It would be too rude. So as the 15th approaches, I am waiting with bated breath! Is Sudipto young/old/fat/thin/short/tall? 

Sudipta is of course coming! 

Subhobrota Ray is an economist involved in national and international economic policy research. She was awarded by the President of India for writing the best essay on Economic Development in South Asian Countries in a competition with participants of SAARC nations. Her book of poetry ‘Thoughts on Words’ was published in 2020.

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