Friday, July 10, 2009

My keys are missing…

… and other stories from the nuthouse I call home.

Home is were the heart is.My client and lots of other ppl in US cudnt understand my insistence that I need to go home cos that’s where my heart is.To them it made sense that my heart was with the DH and if the DH came back to US,my heart wud be where I am and then I wud stick around till the end of eternity.Yeah….Portable hearts are the latest fad.They still believe that if DH had hung around ,I wud have stayed too….and most of them sent me off saying “Come back soon” and what broke my heart was the fact that they really meant it.Its a different matter that all of them wud be happily going abt with their lives now and no one wud really have much time to miss me.Its one of the things abt ur life in US.When someone is leaving,ur heart breaks;u are overcome by nostalgia;The very next day someone else wud be sitting in the same seat and in less than 2 hours u forget that a person who had been a dear friend has really left the country.I am yet to make up my mind abt whether it is a boon or a blessing.Its a different matter that I still miss some of them.But then that’s cos am a sentimental old fool.

Coming back to the point (and no,the point was not that am a fool),even when DH was beside me in US,there were times when I expressed a desperate wish to go home.More often than not,it wud be when I was neck deep in the lil puzzles life throw at us,floundering amidst the sea of bits and pieces which demanded that I put them together at top speed.At such dark moments,the one wish from the bottom of my heart has been to be back on my bed at home with my dog.I always claimed that if I cud just go home once,then I wud be able to handle it all.and I stick to my claim.Anyone reading this must by now have conjured up a picture of me sitting reverently at the feet of my sagely father and my wise mother,who are patiently giving out gyaan on solving the riddles of life,while the dog loudly proclaims to all and sundry who pass that way,that here is heaven on earth.Well,the dog is right.Not if u picture heaven to be a place with God sitting quietly on his throne while angels sing serenely around him.But then as Alice said,lets begin at the beginning.

I am still searching for the one word that wud describe my home.And I seriously suspect am gonna have to settle on cartoon.Today morning began with mama pouncing on me to wake me up,scaring the living daylights outta me and then when I sat up blinking, laughed saying “Buntu also reacted the same way”.Yeah,I’d like to see someone opening just one eye,peeking out and then beaming at her and jumping out of bed to shower her with rose petals.Really!And just when I had finally begun to sleep peacefully,dreaming abt my old friends back at onsite instead of the terror filled dark nightmares I kept having abt ppl chasing me when I was back in US.If its not mama,then it’s the dog,who has perfected the art of standing on her hind legs ,and pawing at me.No amount of rolling onto the other side of the bed helps.All u can do is pretend to be a human rolling pin and roll about from one side of the bed to the other until u are fully awake or until u fall off the bed,whichever comes first.And abt 30 minutes after u manage to wearily drag ur bones outta the bed,the dog curls up and goes to sleep,considering she has done all she can be expected to do to earn her keep.Any indignation on ur part is met by “I-am-only-a-dumb-dog.How-can-you-do-this-to-me” expression which she has managed to perfect.
I imagine it must have taken her ages in front of the dressing table mirror to do that.
She paws me everytime I eat or drink anything.Be it mealtimes or otherwise.And if I ignore her then she stares at me with the most indignant expression as though to say “U oaf.Dont u know mama said we must share everything cos we are sisters?Am entitled to an equal share of everything that goes into ur mouth irrespective of the difference in our sizes”.The pawing becomes more insistent if I keep ignoring her.She practically tries to dig a trench in my arm until I give up and share.And she doesn’t consider herself a mere dog who shud be grateful for any crumb that comes her way.No,siree,not her!For instance today morning she kept pawing me while I drank my coffee….For pete’s sake,dog,am only drinking coffee.So I took a slice of bread and offered it to her.She sniffed it,turned her head away,did an about turn and literally stalked away.And if u think it ends there,u are wrong.She stood 3 metres away looking at me and when I continued reading the paper,she came right back and put her head on my lap.Call me a sucker for those melting chocolate eyes but I offered her the bread again and this time she repeated the whole performance minus sniffing at the bread.We went thru the routine 4 times after which she wrote me off as one mean sister and decided to go see mama.The dog!!!
After drinking the coffee made by mama(she still makes the best coffee in the world after my aunt),I wud have just managed to con myself into believing that am gonna laze around and have a nice time chatting with mama and the dog when mama turns up like a whirlwind and demands that I bathe,or tidy up the table,or do her feet,or massage her head or something else.(My client thinks am a multitasking wonder.Now he knows I was trained from birth)Or she’ll comment on how the back of ur neck is black or that u don’t wash the behind of ur ears or that ur eyebrows look funny and how she wishes u wud do something abt it.If she doesn’t want u to do anything then she gives u a long list of instructions for the maid cos she is off to her painting class.And woe betide u if u forget any of it.She’ll remind u that u forgot it for the rest of ur living days.Half her sentences begin with “I told u to do this and u forgot”.Like Anup once told me when I accused him of the same,mama, u tell me so many things that I cant remember them all.And trust me,when I say that the maid doesn’t help one bit.Just when u are beaming in pride at having successfully remembered to tell her that she has to soak the rice for dosa batter in water,fry the fish,and cut the veggies,she manages to throw u off track by asking weird questions like “in hot water or cold water?Are u sure the fish is to be fried?Shud I fry all of it?What abt rice?Shud I make it or will mama make it?Can u ring up mama and ask?”
And if am stupid enuf to ring up mama and ask her that,well,here is the standard reply.”Don’t u know even this?Even though u are 27 years old?Thats what we do everyday”.Um…then why doesn’t the maid who has been here for more than a year know it?I personally find it safer to tell the maid, “Don’t fry all of the fish.Just fry the head and the tail.We can put the rest of it back in the sea.As for the rice,u can fry that too.Or we can eat it just as it is.Thats how I ate it in US.”And then when mama comes home,I hide under the bed.Good fun.

Did I mention that mama really was a unique baby?Apparently when she was born,she was wearing a chef’s hat, wielding a saucepan in one hand,holding a pen,a compass and a paint brush in the other and instead of wailing,she calmly recited the multiplication tables while the doctor gaped and my grandmother crowed in delight.I was born similarly minus the chef’s hat,saucepan,pen,compass,paintbrush and the gaping doctor.And instead of multiplication tables,I just wailed what was my version of Madonna’s first album.I’ll admit am a perennial disappointment and if u dare suggest it maybe cos mama forgot to swallow the requisite chef’s hat,saucepan,pen,compass,paintbrush and the book of multiplication tables while she was carrying me,on ur head be the consequences.

Normally when Buntu and I come home,mama spends an insane amount of time in the kitchen cooking and baking for us and is so tired out that we feel guilty.So in an effort to get her to relax and spend more time with us and also to keep those pounds off me,even before I left US,I asked mama to not spend all her time in the kitchen cooking for us.Yeah.So now she does not spend the whole day in the kitchen and cooks for maybe a couple of hrs a day.Did I get to spend time with her?Uh-um.Not exactly.When she isn’t cooking,she isn’t home.Yeah,she is off to her painting class with her painting buddies.Or she is on the fone talking to her painting buddies while buntu and I babysit the dog.Bunny also has the additional privilege of escorting her to the painting class and swears she is exacting payment for all the times she took him to school when he was kid.
When I was a kid and mama took me to school,she wud dress me up in a yolk yellow raincoat.I hated the plasticky feel of the thing.But nothing was worse than the cap which she wud button under my chin and in the process of fumbling at the button,pinch me several times under my chin.I always felt like a goose wearing a bonnet.Aw,sure looks cute but the poor goose must have been mighty uncomfortable.No one thinks of that.The cap kept my hair dry though raindrops wud trickle down my face and blur my eyes.I wud be carrying my lunch bag in one hand and the other wud be stuck in mama’s hand.All it took was one annoying rain drop to trickle down my nose and with no hands free to brush it off,I had to resort to rubbing my nose on the wet plastic on my forearms which led to more wet areas on my face.At 4 years of age,it was certainly one of the most trying times of my young life.Maybe I’ll take mama to her class one of these days when its raining and dress her up in a yellow raincoat.

And then there is pops who considers having his kids at home equivalent to having two personal assistants at his beck and call.He has a daughter who can be counted on to trot up and down the stairs to fetch him towels,hankies,socks and what not.All he has to do is call out and glasses of water magically appear when he needs them and honking at the gate repeatedly results in the gate opening by itself and closing as well….He can be in 2 places at the same time courtesy a son who looks exactly like him albeit a few years younger.Yesterday morning he announced that he has misplaced his keys which were apparently kept in a pouch.The dutiful son and daughter hunted in every single place,shook out newspapers and magazines,looked under every rock in sight and even shook the dog to make sure she hadn’t swallowed them.We checked the cars,under the seats and every single place we cud think of.Apparently it was a long pouch which was filled with keys and for the life of me I cudnt understand how it cud go missing.I checked and double checked all the likely places,looked under beds and cupboards,even lifted up mattresses.We searched for the pouch all day long.The long and short of it was that my dad had no clothes to wear cos the keys to his wardrobe were also in the pouch.

Today morning pops asked me to hunt for the duplicate key to his wardrobe in a drawer which had some old rusted keys.And then 2 seconds later I came across a bunch of keys which he usually carries everywhere.Apparently he had begun carrying them also in the same pouch with a bunch of other keys.But the pouch was still missing.As I stared at the keys my mom giggled over my shoulder that those were his keys.And to check,I inserted on in the wardrobe door and it turned easily.Relieved that dad wud atleast have clothes to wear,I opened the door and there ,right in front of my eyes,rested the missing pouch.I nearly exploded.Talk abt a wild goose chase.And as though it wasn’t funny enuf,my mom has this brilliant idea of hiding the pouch from pops…Just for the fun of it,u know.HUH!!!I woke up my brother to inform him that the keys had been found.He was wide awake in a second(poor kid must have been dreaming of the missing keys) and asked me where I found them.When I told him,he sighed,scratched his nose and rolled back to sleep.I havnt been home for the last 18 months but he has been here several times.Something tells me that this must not have been the first wild goose chase he had been set on.

Don’t get me wrong.I loved life in US but I preferred India.If u ask me why I left the comfort of US so that I cud be on the same side of the globe as this nut house,well,I dunno.Maybe cos this is where I really belong.Who wants to be sane when u can have an endless round of laughing,where everyday things as mundane as waking up are made memorable;Who wants the tameness of a planned lifestyle in US,with neat and smooth roads,marked into perfect squares make sure u never lose ur way home,when u can have the thrill of the impromptu;roundabout lanes which never end up where u think they will and life dishes out experiences that are rich and vibrant and never in muted shades?Or maybe its like my dog proclaimed; that here is heaven on earth.
Well,if u consider heaven to be a place where God is having a rollicking old time throwing water balloons at angels which explode and end up as rain in Kerala!!!

P.S.That reminds me.When we were kids,mama and my aunts claimed that rains were when God was flushing his toilet.At the rate it has been raining here for the past one week,I’d have to say God must have been suffering from an acute case of diarrhea.

P.S.S.A post which was written around the time I came back from India but was not posted for some reason which I cant remember might as well post it.