Afternoon Tourettes (published Thinkerbeat Mag Jan 2016)

You know the moment. You burst through the door, the kids and the dog pushing past you, flinging down school bags and shoes and rushing to be the first to switch on the T.V. There is a mountain of dishes and an unholy mess of cushions, books, laptops and tablets in the lounge. Possibly a small bomb went off in here. It needs to be tidied. But wait, no time for that, the kids are hungry. So there you are making them cheese toasties as they are simultaneously snacking around and underneath you.

The dog wants to be fed so he runs his wet nose down the back of your calf.

You get the meat out of the refrigerator to defrost and start preparing for tonight’s dinner. Fill up the sink with water and add some dish-washing liquid.

And then it comes. Those damned phone calls.

“Dad, it’s for you.”

“Who is it?”

There is a pause as my eight year old daughter asks who the voice is.

“Dad, he says it’s Dinesh.”

“Well that’s unusual. I don’t recall knowing any Dinesh.”

“Hello, he says he doesn’t know any Dinesh.”

She rolls her beautiful brown eyes.

“Dad, he says he’s from the Windows Corporation and they have noticed something wrong with your laptop.”

Now this is where I lose it. Yes, everyone needs a job. We all need to eat. We all have families and we need to survive. What I cannot abide however is the unending line of scum-buckets who prey on the honesty and innocence of others.

“Fine, pass it over sweetie…”

Let the fun begin.

“Sir, so sorry to interrupt you, but this is Dinesh calling from the Vindows Corporation…”

“Wait, did you say Vindows? I don’t know any Vindows….”

“No sir, the Vindows Corporation of America….”

“Oh, you mean Windows? Sorry I thought you said Vindows….do my windows need cleaning Dinesh?”

“Yes Sir, and we have noticed some irregularities at your computer…”

“Please continue calling me Sir, I appreciate that….”

“Yes Sir, no problem. Now we will need you to svitch on your laptop and for you…”

Wait, are you calling from India?”

Yes Sir I am calling from India. ”

“But you said you are calling from the Vindows Corporation of America. So which is it, America or India?”

“Sir, vee are the Vindows Corporation of America calling from our ofices in Delhi, India…”

“Is that South America or North America?”

A silence.

“Or Central America?”

A pause.

“Because they were the original Americans, you know.”

“Sir, vee have noticed certain irregularities with your personal computer and vee need you to svitch it on for us…”

“Look if we are going to discuss this then I need you to listen closely alright?”

“Yes Sir?”

“Now, you will need to bear with me because I have a disease and you may notice it from time to time alright? An affliction…”

“Sir, I am not sure vat you mean?”

“Afternoon Tourettes.”

“Pardon Sir?”

“Afternoon Tourettes. Do you know what that is Dinesh?”

“No sir I am not familiar…”

“It’s a nasty suburban syndrome. A neuro-psychiatric affliction, Dinesh. From time to time I may blurt things out but I can’t help it okay? I just randomly shout things sometimes, but it’s not my fault. Just the way my brain is wired. It’s my subconcious speaking. It’s the disease.”

“Sir?”

“So don’t be offended Dinesh if I yell something at you sometimes okay? That’s why I stay home here all day waiting for phone calls, I’m a sick man Dinesh. Do you understand?”

 “Yes Sir, I von’t be offended. Now please ve vill need you  to svitch on your computer can you do that?”

“No problem Dinesh. No problem at all you curry munching moron!”

A pause.

Sir, vat did you say?”

“I’m sorry Dinesh, did I say something then? I’m sorry if I did. Please don’t be offended, it’s just my condition…”

“All right Sir, vould you please tell me the passvord for your computer…?”

“No problem at all Dinesh. The password is D…I…C…you peurile Punjabi puttock!”

“Sir, I am sorry? I didn’t get that?”

A pause.

“You flap-doodling hornswoggler!”

“Sir, please you cannot be racist on the phone to me please…”

“Dinesh are you alright? Did something happen there?”

A pause.

“Yes you called me a bad name Sir…..”

“Look Dinesh, I have already told you, I have Afternoon Tourettes. So don’t be offended all right? That is not me speaking Dinesh. Do you understand?”

“Sir I am confused. Also, I am not Punjabi….”

“Well Dinesh, let’s just say that Freud would have a field-day here. Now where were we?”

A pause.

“Sir you cannot be racist to me. It is illegal to discriminate ….”

“Yes Dinesh. That is correct. It is illegal to discriminate against those of us who suffer a disease. Is that clear? You treat me exactly as you would any other customer, you stinking piece of rat droppings!”

A longer pause.

“Sir, I am not sure you should be saying this to me…..”

“Dinesh please do not discriminate against me. I am not here to be insulted and abused is that clear? Now, please continue…”

“Sir, you were reading me your password….and then….”:

“Look just remember Dinesh, I have my rights okay?”

A pause.

“Yes Sir….”

“D….I….C….Dinesh you are a dopey dropkick!”

“Sir!”

“What? Afternoon Tourettes, I told you before…”

“Sir, if there are any more terms of abuse then I vill need to refer this call on to my supervisor.”

“Look Dinesh, I have my rights. So stop discriminating. You can’t treat people like this. It’s an outrage. I am perfectly entitled to talk to you. Is that clear?”

A silence.

“I am totally confused now.”

“Well Dinesh you are a Hindi right?”

“Yes I am.”

“Well then you believe in reincarnation don’t you?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Well Dinesh, if you discriminate against me then you may come back as a cockroach. That’s all you need to know.”

Another pause.

“Or a Dalit.”

My daughter is glaring at me, her brows knitted.

“Dad, should you be talking like this?”

“Shhh,” I say. “Go and tidy your room….”

“Sir, I am passing you on to my supervisor now. Please hold the line…” “Certainly, Dinesh, and thank-you for that you pathetic scum bucket…”

“Hello, this is Asha, Dinesh’s supervisor here. I understand you are having some issues vith your computer…”

“Yes I am. Please listen carefully.”

“Yes Sir?”

“Now I have an affliction so sometimes people can’t hear me very well. I can’t talk very clearly, so please place your ear closely to the phone, okay?”

“Okay sir.”

“Now listen very closely okay?”

“Okay Sir….I am listening very closely at this moment….”

The flicker of a beautiful smile spread across my daughter’s face...

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