Tuesday, July 12, 2005

its all very fishy

“I hate pets”, I told my friend. Those lovely, cuddly, fuddly, cutie-pie dogs and cats that one would go “choo chweet” for? yep, those. Hate them. zilch love. I do scowling competitions with bulldogs and laziness competitions with neighbors cats, i do admit. But a pet of my own? no way. But waittaminute! Wasnt always like to so, you know..It wasnt? you ask, idly biting your nails while pretending to have better things to do. “No it wasnt”, i reply with breathless misunderstanding of your polite question as indefatigable interest. Twas a decade and five years ago, that self and bro were immersed in a game of friendly carromboard. It was the typical cozy family scene, if you would kindly like to imagine it. Grandma sat in one corner, a happy contented smile on her face. Pallavi, the chief protagonist, sacrificer par excellence and the undying symbol of indian womanhood, was finally allowed to meet her son on a famed tamil TV soap. She approved of pallavi, casting a reproachful look at her own daughter-in-law in the kitchen. Pallavi was righteous. Why, wasnt she a mute spectator to the hundreds of ill-treatments her husband’s family threw at her? Good for pallavi, grandma [must’ve] thought as she muttered a few prayers, either for pallavi or her own pallavi-wannabe acquaintances. Moving if you will, to the kitchen that grandma had only recently thrown a disdainful look towards, you will see the daughter-in-law, cooking. The daughter-in-law, in stark contrast to the previous character, wasnt happy. She cared a damn for the floosie pallavi on the telly, choosing to focus her attention to thinking evil thoughts about lakshmi, the maid. She conjured up 6 situations with nonchalant ease, all six of which were understandably intolerable reasons for the maid to ditch work today. Beginning with the possiblity of her having skulked away to watch that recent telugu movie released in the theatre nearby [“wait till she asks for a loaner tenner again!!”] to truly morbid situations like a fatally wounded husband in the hospital [an excuse used twice, much to mom’s annoyance]. cut back to the living room, where self and bro sat, practicing scornful looks for each other’s loss in the game. My two goldfishes, yes, i admit, i owned two, swam contently within the confines of their aquarium. I had plastic weeds and makeshift homes placed in it, hoping to con them into thinking they were in the ocean. I didnt see why they wouldnt think that, there was even a plastic mermaid to complete the look. I took aim at the last coin on the board, already tasting the victory [or the talcum powder of the board, who knew wot victory is supposed to taste like?]. As i whooped with joy, i noticed a well-developed scorn on bro’s face turn into a scowl [very jekyll and hydish transformation i assure you] and undeniable rage. One loud kick to the board sent it swirling to the table atop which perched the aquarium. CRASHHHH!! Grandma turned towards us in an unnerving slow-motion mode while mom scurried out, hoping it was the door shutting after lakshmi’s entry. The glass-pieces lay broken on the floor, water all over the carpet and sofa and two particularly unhappy fish flapping their bright orange fins against a decidedly confusing tile-piece of the floor. There was perhaps a 5 second period of silence at the end of each everyone spoke non-stop for two minutes. Gist as follows: Mom: dont move a step. Bro: Save the fishes. Grandma: Dont touch them! we are vegetarians [duh??] self: I won! Mom: Who did this? Bro: you cheated. we have to save the fishes! grandma: We are brahmins! [for added effect i presume] Self: I didnt! the fishes are dead! Well, mine turned out to be the last sentence spoken. The fishes were indeed dead, victims to staunch brahminism is grandma, and sheer laziness on our parts. Silence returns for 20 seconds at the end of which lakshmi enters the scene, dabbing dry eyes with end of pallu, shouting ‘amma…my husbandd….” while she tried to hide ticket stubs behind her. —curtains close—- So, there ya go. i owned a pair of pets that were sacrificed at the altar of brahminism. Needless to say, i was traumatized and rebelled by eating fishes,chicken and all that moved in hte years to come. Attempts to get another pet were thwarted by still-a-fan-of-pallavi grandma, who suddenly viewed my non-vegetarian habits to be similar to barbarians. Her justfitication was that i would eat my pets, as was now a non-vegetarian. All i can say of this indelible memory was, I won :-)

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