Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Of shrewd mothers, presumptious daughters and two louts in between.

The more I think about it, the more I find it quite funny being uncharacteristically tongue-tied infront of a 9 year old kid and watch her deftly rag us when we ‘attempted’ to do the same.
Ragging will never be the same for me, whether from the ragger’s end or the receiver’s end.
The phrase ‘Putting my foot where my mouth is’ has never ever made more sense than it does now.

My parents wanted to go to Thiruvendipuram for the weekend for some sort of ritual/pilgrimage and I wasn’t particularly thrilled when they forced me to tag along first thing Saturday morning.
Not that I have anything against the hundreds of rituals we Hindus perform on practically any and every day of the year (with due respect to their respective reasons of course), but what triggers the intolerance in me is when they require migration or any activity of that sort on a Saturday morning. Saturday mornings are for hibernation, just for hibernation and nothing BUT hibernation. But then again, who listens to me.
I thus move on.

My cousin Rema had also volunteered to accompany us, thankfully for me. So, that kept me from whining and complaining all along our way to the Aashram. It was a 6 hour journey in our Ambassador. I didn’t compromise on the hibernation-part ..even if it meant leaning and dribbling over my mommy’s shoulder on our way there.

After visiting a few temples nearby and having a sumptuous Iyengar-type dinner in the Aashram with some 30 other people within the community whom we hardly knew yet smiled at for reasons which are still unknown to yours truly, Rema and I sat down on the steps outside and watched all the oldies retire for the day.

It was 8pm and the whole village was asleep. There could be a bomb blast and yet people wouldn’t notice.

All of a sudden a girl comes prancing down the steps, hopping merrily on the road.
This girl reminded me of….well, I’m not ashamed to say it, when I was a kid. She was perhaps the plumpiest kid in the face of the Earth and she was our meat tonight.

“Hey ponnae! Romba Azhaga irikae won dress…. Won paer enna? (Translated to: Hey girl! Your dress is very cute… Whats your name?) “

“Thanks. Solla maataen” (Sollamataen=I won’t tell you)

(Sensing that we were dealing with a smart-alec) “Sollamaten? What a cute name. That’s a nice name you have there Sollamaaten. Is that what they call you at school Sollamaataen ”

(Defensively) “Noooooo..Sollamaataen is not my name.”

“Then what is your name?”


“Precisely what we’re calling you, kid”

“ But that’s not my name. And I’m not going to tell you my name. So there.”

On saying this, she comes and sits beside us on the steps.

Now this was beginning to seem like fun. I mean, any other normal kid would have walked just right past us into the Ashram or ignored us all the way. Most of the other kids did just that..but not this one.

It was around 9:30 pm now…it was Saturday night…we had no telly, no music, and most of the lights in the street where out..And just when we’d lost all hope on how we were going to survive the early night, here we had an incredibly chubby, plumpy entertaining, over confident kid who refused to give in.

“This is indeed a very cute dress Sollamaataen. Where did you buy this?”
This was Rema trying to start a conversation.



“I dance.”


“I dance. I learn dance”

Wow. That was quick.
I mean here we were, trying to break the ice and socialize the cordial way or to be more precise, the ‘corporate’ way, asking her her name, complimenting her on her oversized flashy chumkee-chimkee dress, while Miss. Chubby here was more interested in giving us the bigger details.

“You do eh? How nice! What dance do you learn?”
Us sounding genuinely interested.

“I learn Bharatnatyam” Like every second kid in South India. how many jathis have you learnt? Have you learnt all the adavus and jathis till Allaripu?”
Ok, This was me, trying to flaunt the very little dance I could remember from my younger days.

“You know dance?” Kid, Incredulously.

“Yes I do” Correction, ‘did’ .

“Don’t lie ok-va? I learn from Lakshmipriya Miss.”

“Who’s Lakshmipriya-miss?"

“My miss” Saying it like she were Queen of England or something.

"Ohhh!!! Lakshmipriya-va? Of course! We remember her....We only taught her dance”
This was uttered in unison by the both of us, Rema and I, the diabolical cousins we are.

“You taught Lakshmipriya Miss?” Voice sounding incredibly surprised.

Yes we did. We taught her everything we could. But poor child, she wasn’t a very bright student. That’s why she’s still teaching despite learning dance for sooo many years”. Rema was unstoppable now.

Lakshmipriya-Miss is 22 years old”. Boy, this kid was shrewd.

‘Only’ 22 years old? See what too much of dialogue can get you into?

“Oh? Well…there have been dancers who have achieved much more at that young age” This was me trying to back Rema up.

“You mean Sheela-miss? ”

“Who’s Sheela-Miss?”

“Sheela-miss is Lakhsmipriya-Miss’s miss”.

And the plot thickens.

“ Oh Sheela-miss a? Ah, I remember her! Yes, she was an extremely bright student. One of a kind. They don’t make ‘em students like her these days”.
I was trying my best to make all this seem plausible to the 8 year old kid.

“You know Sheela-miss?”
Kid’s eyes widened like space-saucers from space.

“ Know her?? She is what she is because of us. We put her up on the map. You go and ask Sheela if she knows ‘Maythini Sridharan’ and she’ll tell you of the sacred relationship we share. Go and ask her tomorrow itself at dance-class, ok-va? ”
Ok, I was trying a bit TOO hard.
And, I was beginning to get the ok-va slang from Miss. Chubby. Kids! Geez!

Sheela-miss isn’t in India. She’s in the U.S. running a dance school”
This was said very matter-of-factly by kid.
I was losing all weapons of defence.

Rema to my rescue. “She left without telling us?? Maythini, after all you’ve done for Sheela-miss, just see how she’s absconded without the slightest indication. Dancers these days, cha!”

“ I know, Rema. Cha! I am very upset now.” Trying to fake a hurt-look.

Kid tries to cheer up the not-so-diabolical twins by changing the topic.

“So…Are you running a school anywhere?”
Kid now fishing for more details from the not-so-diabolical cousins.

“Oh yes certainly. “

“Don’t lie, ok-va?”

“We aren’t lying ok-va!” I was sounding a bit desperate now.

Kid waits patiently as one of us makes the story up as we go along.

“We run a school in Australia and Bostwana. We’re doing very well in northern parts of Australia (heavens forbid she opens up a map and discovers a desert all over) and also in Bostwana (clueless of which part of the world the place may be in). The problem with opening up a school in London is that there is a lot of racial-discrimination there and also oflate a lot of political disturbances. You know how these English people are, don’t you? They’re never gonna send their kids for dance lessons once they know that a guy from our country is bombing up their place. So we preferred not to expand towards Europe, and decided to just settle with our success in Australia and Botswana.”

All this to an 8 year old kid with a flashy chumkee-chumkee dress.
Like they say, if you can’t convince them, confuse them.

“ Oh, ok. But Sheela-miss is doing very well ” Kid is still smitten by Sheela-miss.

Hell with your Sheela-miss I felt like saying. But all I could think of is “ I can only be too glad for her. She’ll contact me if she needs to learn some more dance the next time she comes to India”

Just when we were going to switch topics to a much more ‘safer’ one, a woman comes down the stairs calling out for Rajalakshmi.

In a split second, Sollamaten-dearie jumps up and shrieks, “Amma! They know Sheela-miss”.

Ok… firstly, Sollamaten’s name is Rajalakshmi eh? Well, that’s a lot of help.

And secondly… Now, we have your mom in this mess???
What the *@#*$@!

Mommy-dear looks at 2 pretty girls clad in a sari with the most skeptical of looks.
You know Sheela-miss, do you? Which Sheela-miss?”

We’re both silent like we were caught cheating in an exam.
Rema. Not a sound from her.
Me. “ Well….Sheela-miss..the one who….who…..”
And we both burst out laughing.
And we were laughing and laughing.

Kid pointed her index finger at us and was chirping, “ I knew it all along. I knew it alllll along. I knew you guys were bluffing. I was just waiting for my mom to get here”.

Guess kid wasn’t that dumb after all.

Mommy-dear wasn’t ready to forgive our sinful act. Stern, teacher-amma look all over her face.

“So..where are you girls coming from?”

“Madras” Both of us spoke in unision.

Ok. My daughter really learns dance” The word ‘really’ stressed with a bit of emphasis.
“ We’re looking for a good teacher now, because our Rajalakshmi is very very talented”.

Sure she is.

I was now trying to cover up the seemingly sinful act of deceiving young Rajalakshmi for which Mommy-dear was still glaring at us.
Well why don’t put her in a good school? I travelled all the way from Nangannaloor to Kotturpuram (some 20 kilometres) for dance-classes.”
I was now giving my 2-cents worth advice.

Mommy-dear now fires. “You learnt dance?”
History sure does repeat itself.

“Yes, aunty I did”.

“Which school?”

“The Dhananjayans.”

The Dhananjayans? You learnt from the Dhananjayans?”
She looked as though wouldn’t have believed me even if I said that cows moo and pigs oink.
She gives her child a crafty smile and moves her right hand in a circular motion to indicate that what I was saying was ‘reel’.

“Noooo”. This was me now.
I really 'did' learn from the Dhananjayans school. Srilatha Vinod is my miss’s name. I was her student. Honest to god ”.

Ok now, I was sounding really desperate.
But this was the truth. And mommy-ji and chubby-ji were reluctant to believe me.

Rema and I tried to indulge in some other polite form of small talk. But aunty-ji didn’t budge. She still had that ‘you-tried-to-fool-my-daughter..MY-DAUGHTER’ look on her face.

We knew that mommy-dear was inconsolable. So we politely said our good-bye as fast as we could and tried to bail out without a trace.

I think about it now..and still wonder what went wrong where. We had everything under control while Rema and I worked with such unity in concocting crap instantly. But still we felt like losers in the end.

Kids these days. And their moms.
Gotta lot to learn.
But its not fun.....being stuck in the middle of one shrewd mom and a presumptious kid.

31 Confounded-souls had something to say:

Bhaumik said...

First thing, I never knew that u learnt danceing.. ;-)
And about the kid, its really fun getting into conversation like this with them...
And the destiny had chosen a perfect place for that, a temple

bharani said...


you are simply the best narrator i've seen in a long time...

bloody...u learnt dance,u learnt singing,and you also went to bahrain?... your childhood makes me's like having the cake and eating it too...

anyway, pretty smart there making up stories about australia and botswana...who's this rema?... sounds like a lot of mischief... and you?... maami, kalakkara po...bayangara mokka pottu irukka.... he he... kidding, ok-va... so, now you not only have to sing to me, but also do all those jathis... he he

had lot of fun reading the blog, keep it coming....

Mark IV said...

focus rules in the art of flawless deceit and immoral manipulations: LIE professionally
Talk the FACTS. facts may however be cooked up from time to time
Fake SENSITIVITY. act hurt if ppl think ud resort to lowly practices as lying
LIVE the lie. Never never never eat ur hat- the south indian cuisine is better developed
The NO TEETH act- never smile, or twinkle victory. making laughing stocks might take a chunk out of ur trustworthiness. Keep a straight face

and ADVICE. since its such a boring thing to do, ppl won't think ud take the time and patience to actually cook it up

Lavanya said...

first time i'm here, awesome place you've got here :D
And yes, trying to kalai nine year olds is getting harder by the day.

Mayth!! said...

@Bhaumik: Yes, some kids can be real good conversationalists. While others...ahem :)

@Bharani: :)

@Mark: Very enlightening. I'll try not to forget that. :D

Mayth!! said...

@Lavanya: Thanks! Yeah, they dont make 'em kids like they used ta :D

beetlejuice said...

heya mayth...

another gud i alwayz say, i can really 'hear' u talkin when u write n tatz wat i like abt it.. :)

i hv a huge set of cuzins (thnx to my grandad n grandmum givin birth to a cricket team) and thr r these tiny tiny lil things tat r such know-it-alls tat i alwayz wonder y i started talkin to them in the first place! also, the crazy movie dialogues tat r thr these dayz seem to b such a fav amongst them tat they give such offhandedly embarassin dialogues to suit the situation... :)

guess tatz wat they call generation gap! :D

AC said...

I probably ought to be more sympathetic... but I'd have to say you desrved it :)

*~ Mayth!!~* said...

@ Preethi:
:D...yeah! But its a lot fun watching them talk ;)

Lol...I supposed I did.

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