Note : This post is a part of the Guest Post Series.
Meet Vidhya, another contributor for a short story collection a few of us are hoping to publish soon. You have already met Shyam, and you will be meeting the one remaining contributor soon. Vidhya has been reading my blog for less than a year, but she is one of my best readers. She quickly went through almost every nook and corner of the blog when she discovered it, and has since then let me know her thoughts on every single post I have written. On a few occassions, she is the only person getting back with her views, dispelling my doubts that I was deluded into thinking I had published something. It helps that she is a wonderful person, rarely capable of discouraging anyone other than herself.
For an awesomely entertaining writer, Vidhya started blogging very late. "Random House Publications - Random stuff written from my house" : these are the title and tagline of her blog. And as you come to expect from the tagline, the posts are hilarious. In A bottle of horlicks and a spoon, you will be busy laughing, sniggering and smiling at the jokes until you are hit by the beautiful idea behind the post. In Driving Woes, she makes you squirm at the thought of being anywhere in her vicinity when she is driving an automobile (despite her hastily added assurances to the contrary). And in Animals and their whims, she talks about her inexplicable (for me at least) love for cats, dogs and few other animals. I hope that you would be able to read her stories soon, and be as shocked as I was while encountering the unexpected mini-tragedies she manages to sneak in.
I have felt that Vidhya's humour works because of her tone. It gives an impression that she is completely unaware of the humour in her writing. There is also an air of mock-pompousness; she is anything but pompous in real life. She does this really well while writing about children, caricaturing people based on their minor quirks. I requested her to try and showcase this aspect of her writing, and she managed to do exactly that by recalling this rollicking incident from her childhood.
God's Own Guests
Looks like Adarsh has decided to scoot over and make room for people on his Freudian couch. It’s a nice place this couch .Mostly because the choice of reading is quite good .Ranging from the ridiculously complicated yet funny flowcharts, treatises on names , excellent book reviews and the philosophizing about entropy, about science , morality and Sam Anderson etc.(Wait Anderson? Cant be.. Mendes? No. Definitely Sam someone).
The guest post series got me thinking, about guests.So today on the couch , you will hear from me , a story from my childhood . One that involves guests. The fundamental question on guests is of course “How many is too many?” . One or two is ok right? Alright, I guess a small family of say perhaps four is acceptable too. What’s the maximum number of guests you’ve had at home ?Don’t count the time when someone was getting married. On a nice and lazy , month long school vacation, when you’re usually expected only to eat your meals on time , have a bath regularly and not be a menace to your mother, have you ever suddenly found your house inundated with guests you couldn’t count with fingers from both your hands? I have..
We were forewarned of course, my brother and I. A strange bonding had developed between us in anticipation of our shared misery. The day my father told us that we would be having 17 people from God's own country to stay with us for a week our voices rose to the same pitch. We screamed the same questions to our father. "who are these people", "do we even have that many relatives", "where will they sleep", "how many kids are there in the group, and more importantly "do they watch the same cartoons as us?" . Father tried to answer our questions patiently. I'm sure he made reasonable arguments. We didn't hear any of it. We were too shocked thinking about the prospects. One vacation week without our daily dose of cartoon network was not something we were accustomed to and none too eager to find out what it would be like . My brother had a little bit more to worry about . He was the proud owner of a noisy contraption which he would plug in to the TV to play Mario and TMNT for hours on end . He was not able to bring himself to imagine God's own children getting their hands on it. It was his life line. He did not reckon he can survive for long without it , so stowing it away for a week was not a viable option.
So there we were, a pair of spoiled brats, who didn't usually get along very well but suddenly we found ourselves on the same side of the battle front. Unwilling as we both were to share material things ( such as the TV remote, the sofa , the distinctly demarcated regions of the bed ) with each other , we were even more unwilling to have to share them with anyone else, let alone a whole circus troupe.
We watched silently as our parents looked worried too , wondering anxiously about how we were to accommodate that many people. My brother became excited all of a sudden and wanted to join in this discussion. He rushed out of the room and returned with an exam pad , some papers and a pen. He beckoned to me. I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of whatever he was planning. He mostly never includes me in things he did. He began to roughly sketch a plan of the house. He quickly verified the demographics with my father again. "How big is child no 1?, how tall is adult no 12? Are you absolutely sure its 17 ?”.etc. Of course my father had only a vague idea . His patience was evidently wearing thin and we thought it would be best to get out of his sight. We moved our conference to the adjoining room. My brother intended to chart out all the spaces in our house that were unoccupied by furniture and other sundry items that make up a household. He told me that we were going to help our parents by coming up with a Master floor plan that would allocate sleeping area to all of the guests.
We were both completely excited and we spent days planning it. No nook or cranny was spared. We heard talk of a baby being a part of the troupe and assigned the staircase landing area for it. We felt mighty proud of ourselves and went around importantly like civil engineers, examining the floor, bending over it , trying to wear intelligent expressions , knocking on the floor checking the amount of noise generated, measuring random spaces with our mother's inch tape and so on.
When the day finally came, two mini vans squeezed in with difficulty into our tiny street and disgorged our guests. The days and hours spent in anticipation of their arrival had failed to prepare us for the stupendously spectacular sight they presented.I was stumped into silence by their sheer number. They were all uniformly in a state of excitement that probably rivalled those of the electrons in the outer most circle that your chemistry teacher claimed was the "highly excited state". They spoke to each other loudly and happily in a tongue that would remain an unintelligible song despite the number of times I would hear it. It was evident that they were enjoying each other's company.
I recall vaguely that my mother braved the task of making idlis for everyone on the first day. Enlightened by the experience, she had my father buy all the remaining meals of the day from the nearby Sangeetha hotel. They all ate contentedly amid loud ruckus and made themselves at home. My brother and I soon witnessed our lazy vacation routine fall apart dramatically. Asianet would be on all through the day instead of cartoon network , where more people sang as they spoke. The video game set was not spared too. It was taken over by the youngest and the loudest . They seemed very well acquainted with the tiny man climbing the endless walls and whenever he fell we would hear one of them disappointedly exclaiming that he had indeed hit the jump button and continue attacking the controls on the joy stick long after "game over" flashed on the screen . My brother managed to elbow his way through and joined in defiantly, claiming ownership rights.
Later that evening , after everyone was well fed and there was nothing to do but sleep , my brother and I proudly presented our master plan to our parents. My father was dumb struck and we initially thought that was a good thing. He definitely had to be impressed with the level of detail. Undeterred by the lack of vocal reaction from him or our mother, we enthusiastically dragged them about the house showing them exactly what we had planned. We began to debrief the guests too, quite pompously I might add. But for once none of them had anything to say. Or sing.
One of the adults in the group suggested that they would all camp at the terrace and everyone agreed with mild sighs of relief. So that was that. The grand plan that had mighty potential and could have saved the world even, was unceremoniously chucked. Forlorn was I to see all the hard work go to waste but my brother? He didn't care . He simply went back to his video game.
So that's the end of the story . Perhaps there's a moral there somewhere ? Anyone who has spotted it can let Adarsh know. I'm sure he will be kind enough to pass it on. Until next time on the Couch!