Me: Brat, you’ve ripped your shirt!
Brat: Where? Where?
Me: arre here…b..b…baby.
Bean: You were going to say blind bat but you stopped yourself, didn’t you?
Bean after spilling a packet of sewing needles on the bed ( she’s embroidering a robot on casement) – It’s okay Mama, WE know I’ve spilled it, so we’ll be careful. Only Pop will get a poke in his bum.
Of course. That’s alright then.
Dinner table conversation :
Bean - “Dad, can I say the F-word?”
Dad wonders where this is leading…
Brat pipes up – “as long as it is not the four letter word.”
Dad is taken aback and thinks to himself, “damn, these kids are getting started earlier with each passing generation!”, but decides to explore further with “which word is that? “
Both respond in unison – “Fool!”
Dad heaves a sigh of relief!
Reason # 817 to not have kids.
Brat: Mama it’s early morning and lights are on instead of opening the curtains. Global warming is happening because of you.
Me.. arre I’m in my night clothes and this is the ground floor. People can look in.
Brat: Then go change.
Bean: Why is the AC on? You’re global warming the world. (sic)
Me: It’s bloody hot and the middle of the afternoon.
Bean: So sweat a little.
Not even 48 hours at this particular resort and the Bean who is our official telephone operator is greeted with a Hello Bean, by the receptionist, the cleaning staff and everyone else.
She’s also greeted by name by every guard in our complex.
After a lifetime of people forgetting my face even after three meetings, fumbling over my name, not being able to place me, being with her is a strange and new experience.
You could be good, kind, intelligent, interesting. … But personality walks into a room and it’s game over.
Which is not to say she’s not kind or intelligent or all things good. Just that those features of hers too are lost in the force of her personality.
Brat and Bean collecting shells on the beach. Checking each one for uniqueness. This one looks like lace. This has a fan design. This one is maroon!
The Brat brings a perfectly pure white, unexceptional one to me, and justifies it ‘this is plain Ma, but its not a bad thing to be plain. See, it’s not got a single spot but no one else will pick it up because it’s not fancy and can’t show off and catch your eye. So I’m going to take it home and make it mine. ‘
No wasting a single grain of food or over-serving, just because it’s a buffet, the OA and I repeat at every meal.
Faced with a variety, all of which must be finished, the Bean makes a canapé out of rounds of bread topped with bits of papad and curd rice.
And to think I outraged loud and long at the idiocy and stereotypes when they showed SRK eating noodles with curd in Ra One. I take it back. It’s all good and all possible.
The Bean singing Lungi dance: Lungi ko uthana padega, shampoo karke dikhana padega. .. anda ke jaise chashma lagake.
Kya dikhana padege? I shudder to think.
Language comes rushing back in moments of crisis. Had a huge fight with the cab driver who dropped us to the railway station. He wanted extra money because we kept a small bag of breakable goods on the seat instead of in the boot. Says it’s a rule. I call the company (Fastrack Cabs) and find out there is no such rule, but ‘just give it to shut him up, madam!’ He can’t speak to us in English and its a boon that I can speak Tamil.
It comes rushing back. Hesitant and broken at first. A flood later.
I call the railway cops to intervene. They look vague and shrug. Why don’t you adjust madam?
A new cop who thinks we’re all northies, tells him in Tamil. ..’They don’t look like they’ll cave – let it go. You can pick up someone else from here and fool them. ‘
By now I’m in full steam and ask the cop what the hell. ..
The OA tells me to ask the cabbie to give us a bill for the extra amount if its company policy. He puts his tail between his legs and disappears. The cops are relieved at not having to fight a battle and send us off.
The Brat is in tears of rage by now. The Bean is silent.
All this because my husband looks like a North Indian and is speaking to him in English. We’re outsiders who are fair game.
Makes me wonder how foreigners manage. He tried his luck with us and it was his bad luck that I spoke the language. What if you know neither the language nor the people? It’s not easy in our country where we’re so corrupt and so quick to fool a stranger.
Anyway. Alls well that ends well. And apparently languages are like bicycles. You can get back on like you never got off.
The Bean walks into my room with her dress accidentally hiked up and undies on show.
Me: Oi! Why is your bum on display?
Bean: *without missing a beat* – That’s my style.
Reminds me of Rachel in FRIENDS at Barry and Mindy’s wedding. All she needed to do was break out into Copacabana!
The Brat has been studying muhavarein ( idioms) for some weeks now. The OA and I have been struggling to help him because neither of us can claim to be good at Hindi. This weekend he has to write a poem made up of only muhavarein. I banged my head on the bed in despair and moaned, “If I hear the word muhavarein once more, I’ll kill myself.”
A moment of silence while the family looks on in concern and then the Bean pipes up mischievously and experimentally, “Muhavarein? “
Only the Bean will look at her dinner and burst into song – Oh matarpaneer, matarpaneer. .. sung to the tune of Masakkali.
Helping the Brat with his Hindi homework and used to working on my laptop I keep changing the lines as I think, forgetting that he has to keep erasing.
Finally he stops, holds my head at the temples and patiently says – Mama, first think your entire thought through and then let it come out of your mouth.
I think I just heard the OA’s voice.
The Bean walks in from school, neatly puts tiffin etc for wash, hangs her bag in place and then rubs her hands gleefully and says, “It’s the weekend Mama – please brainstorm so that we can do up the house.”
I now understand how Frankenstein must have felt.