IT’S official. Bae Yong Joon is an ajeossi.

Wait. Before BYJ fans condemn me for saying this, here’s the complete story.

*****

Like every year, last summer too my 12-year-old niece visited us for the holidays. And, as always, I had a great time re-living my childhood with her.

‘Masi, who is this,’ she asked one day, pointing to the photographs of BYJ on my computer.

‘Bae Yong Joon. He is a South Korean actor,’ I said.

‘Hmm, why do you have soooooo many of his pictures?’ I knew this was coming.

How do you answer this to a 12-year-old? So I took the easiest way out and told her the truth.

‘I like him,’ I said.

‘I see,’ she murmured, still absorbed in the pictures, as if trying to figure out what I liked so much. After much contemplation, she seemed to have made up her mind.

‘I don’t like him,’ she said with finality.

I had expected that. She is at an age when she doesn’t like ‘boys’ simply because they happen to be boys. Little does she know that this will soon be followed by a phase when she will think of nothing but boys.

That I thought was the end of the matter.

Later that day she came and sat next to me and whispered in my ear.

‘I have a confession to make.’

‘Yeah, tell me,’ I tried to sound nonchalant, secretly wondering what the matter was.

‘Masi, actually, I think I like BYJ,’ she grinned.

‘His ponytail is reaaaaally COOL,’ she added, deigning to admit that there could be something nice about ‘boys’ after all.

I knew this would happen.

We spent many hours happily talking about and bonding over BYJ.

All too soon, summer had run its course, schools were about to reopen, and it was time for her to return to Delhi where she lives with her parents. But my birthday falls during the holidays and, as she always does, she had made a card for me.

‘Wish you a Baery Happy Birthday,’ was the sweet message.

All year through we kept in touch on phone and on the Internet, sharing our thoughts, our little secrets, and our disappointments & hopes. Then, recently, I visited Delhi for a few days.

When she started out one day by saying ‘Masi’ in that soft conspiratorial whisper, I knew it was confession time again.

‘Masi, look at these pictures, I really like Taylor Lautner, don’t you think he is wonderful?’ the words came out in a rush.

I made no reply; it was safer to just spend time poring over the photographs, this time on her computer, and listen patiently to what she had to say.

Great, I thought. Apparently she had got over her “crush” on BYJ and moved on to guys more her age…

But there was more to come.

‘Don’t think you can have BYJ all to yourself now,’ she warned, reading my mind.

Then, thankfully, she added, ‘I still do and will always like Uncle Joon.’

UNCLE JOON!!!

I doubled up with relief and laughter.

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