The reprimand of fathers is often enough to shake kids out of their reverie and make them dive for cover. A cute incident sends Santosh Bakaya on a trip down memory lane, recalling her childhood escapades of trying to avoid the chores and getting nicely pulled up by her father.
Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Dr Santosh Bakaya. Enjoy her jottings with a hot cup of tea. 🙂
Despite the intimidating heat, I managed to prod myself into going for my morning walk, and was amazed to find the labourers were already up and about and so was the sun.
One labourer woman was bending her head in obeisance in front of a tiny makeshift temple in her makeshift house. Her lanky husband, who was always chewing something, had stopped chewing for a change, and, hands clasped, was looking up at the sun, which was magnanimous enough to cover him with gold.
The animated chatter of the kids merged with the prattle of birds, the gossip of labourers, the barks of the mongrels, the reproachful yells of the mothers and the reprimands of fathers …
Yes! The reprimand of fathers!
“You are such a lazybones, Baby!” I remembered the time, when I was a ten-year-old, living in the university quarters in Jaipur, and Angoori, the domestic help, had gone to her village. The household chores, according to papa’s injunction, were to be done equally by all. He would be the first one to wash the dishes, inviting everyone else to join in the fun.
The malingerer that I was, I would often play possum, sometimes feign sickness, and oft just disappear on to the neem tree in the garden, or in the attic, which had a collection of many comics and books – enough to cater to a ten-year-old’s so-called literary palate.
Sometimes, hit by an absolutely ingenuous method of avoiding to wash the dishes, I would invariably leave something in my plate, and ask Mom to finish off the remains, it naturally followed that she would have to wash my dish too! When dad came to know of my ruse, he gave me a piece of his mind! And what a humongous chunk it was!
“Your mom toils so tirelessly, and look at you, Baby! If the world had lazy girls like you, it would have come to a standstill, long back …” His eyes were boring holes in me. Big, unfathomable holes.
Lines of H W Longfellow sailed across to me in papa’s impressive baritone:
“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
And the way he recited Paul Revere’s Ride, all came rushing up to me in one tidal wave of powerful intonation, impeccable pronunciation and dramatic pauses.
“Then he said “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay……
Caught in a maelstrom of memories, I rambled on, but stopped in my tracks, as loud yells fell into my ears.
“What a lazy girl you are!”
I swung back to find the lanky man, running after his eight-year-old girl, with a broken cricket bat.
“What are you doing? Don’t beat the girl.” I shouted.
I thought he was giving my shabby appearance a prolonged mental inventory; but he was actually looking past me to the other labourers who were sitting on the balustrade laughing uproariously.
Before he could snap, ‘it is none of your business’, I walked on, the beseeching looks of the beleaguered girl boring holes in my back, and my protest dissolved on my lips. The balustrade shook with their raucous laughter.
I looked back to find the man swinging the bat in the air, but not hitting his daughter. “Laziness has to be punished,” he said with mock anger. Looking in my direction, he threw the bat and ruffled her hair, scooping her up in his arms.
I smiled a relieved smile, he smiled too, and I was back in the house, with the resolve that I would definitely shed my sloth, and spend the evening hours ‘toiling upward in the night.’
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