"Have you no Mother or Sister?"- when I was 14 and New Delhi still 7 years from coming of age - I had but to glance in the direction of any dupatta clad lady on the D.T.C bus for her to thus upbraid me for my delinquency with respect to, what our still rather rustic women clearly were convinced was, for artless adolescents such as I, an exigent duty of unstopping incest.
Greatly embarrassed to be, in such peremptory fashion, publicly taken to task, I'd hang my head and haltingly mumble the following feeble excuse in my 'Convent School' English- "Madam, such of my kin-folk as answer to your inquiry, are, currently, all copiously menstruating- and, before you ask, Daddy, too, has bleeding piles- so, to reduce dhobi bills for my school uniform- as previsioned by the Pay Commission's White Paper de-escalating Dearness Allowance increments- I have been granted this furlough to attend class.'- and, speaking generally, that would be enough to mollify the ladies or, at any rate, to baffle their rage and reduce them to dark mutterings in dehati dialects.
My friend, Rajiv, being a transfer student from some upcountry Kendriya Vidhyalay, took a more demotic tack. 'Maa bhi hai aur behen bhi' he'd say soulfully, before adding the Chinatown twist, 'aur donon mere hi ladli beti hain!'.
This riposte tended to bait the interest of middle-aged male passengers leading to some quite intellectually challenging exchanges.
'Your sister, we understand, but how can your mother be your own daughter?': "...'but even if your Grandmother really was the top Lady Sri Ram College tutor in tribadism, incestuously turned on by your mother's gravid state...'; '.... granted, a foetus can have an erection as per recent advances in ultra-sound technology, still...';. '...haan, haan, hamen bhi pata hai, youngsters, nowadays, are coming too quickly but surely sperm can't reach tachyonic speed and travel back in time?';...'.Khabardar! Leave Sanjay Gandhi out of this! You don't know who might be listening!'
The Emergency didn't last very long- just 21 months- but it gave my generation a taste of what life might be like under a Stalin or Hitler- or, to strike a sibylline note, a Mamta Bannerjee or Jayalalitha- those 'Didijis' or 'Ammas', of whose threat to our virginal ass-holes the cryptic and Cassandra-like cry of- 'Teri Maa-behen nahin hai kya?'- alerted us not at all.