Thing paints a story


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Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Red Widing Wood. Her Mama sent her to Hyper City to buy grape juice and cake. Her Mama said, “Don’t talk to strangers”. After she buyed her things and was going back home, a big bad Wolf stopped her and said, “Give me your monies”. And she said, No! The Wolf pulled her bag, so she punched him two. But the Wolf was strong, so she called her friend Spiderman for help. And he came. And they defeated Wolf together.

Finis.

Prejudice. My week in 3 acts. 3 different co-stars.


“You should have known better than to trust someone from ‘that’ community. They’re all untrustworthy.”

“You’re very different for a Catholic girl.”
“How do you mean?”
“You’re well read, well informed, driven, enterprising. Catholic girls usually aren’t any of those things.”

“I’d like to run a reference check on the lady cooking for you. I plan to hire her. Just so I know I’m referring to the right person, she’s the blackish lady, right? Is she clean?”

People are principled, trustworthy, kind, good, faithful, brave, generous, considerate, honourable, enterprising, decent, honest, noble, giving, tolerant, patient, ethical, ingenious, virtuous, fair.

People are also deceitful, thieving, dishonest, untrustworthy, lazy, racist, cunning, stingy, bigoted, intolerant, scheming, unethical, judgemental, unfair, crafty, unprincipled, treacherous, cruel, villainous, evil.

Race, nationality, community, colour, religious belief – or lack of it, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, have sod all to do with anything.

Grams


My Grams, a stay-at-home mother of seven, found herself a widow when her oldest was barely twelve and her youngest a little over six months old. Far away from her own family, she did something completely unheard of for her day and age – she accepted employment at the ammunition factory my grandfather worked at – their very first female employee. She learnt to ride a bicycle and how to type. She taught herself to manage the family finances. She discovered that even a bone-weary human body could make do with less than 3 hours of sleep a night. That if you left your youngest with an item of clothing you had worn, he wouldn’t cry so much in your absence.

She never spoke much about those days; always brushed our awestruck questions aside saying she had merely done what needed doing. She laughed at us when we called her a pioneer, our hero. There was nothing heroic about the job of a back office clerk, she’d say. That she was only offered the job because of all the goodwill our grandfather had garnered in his lifetime – they were simply being kind to his widow. The little bits and pieces I know of her amazing life come from her daughters and sons, my mum among them, from friends of the family and even random strangers in the street. She was über cool, my Grams.

My favourite memories of her revolve around my college years after she retired. I’d come home to find her waiting for me, excited and impatient. “Watch The Bold and the Beautiful with me”, she’d say. “I have to see what those mad people get up to next.” She knew all the characters like they were her own children – and she could unravel for me in seconds, their bizarre, incestuous, complicated relationships. As we watched the show, she’d keep up this half indignant, half amused tirade at the characters’ ridiculous antics that had me in splits.

Today would have been her 85th birthday. She lived a full life, my Grams – a life that encompassed the complete spectrum of human emotion. She left behind a legacy of strength and determination, a resolute will to beat the odds – a legacy that lives on in her children, her grand children and great grand children.

Life: 0 Grams: 1

Whole


Hey, you.
It’s been a while.
I’ve been missing you more than usual this past week.
That’s a lie.
I miss you more than usual all the time. But this week, this week has been unbearable.
I live and you didn’t.
I talk about you to people who’ve never met you. I talk about you with those who have. She was so brave, they all say.
And they’re impressed with how well I’ve coped.
Moved on.
Foolish people. If only they knew. All I want to do is lie here forever.
I want to feel pain. I want to suffer. I want to scream until my lungs burn.
I don’t want to feel. Helpless. Hopeless. Futile. Empty. Scraped raw.
Walking along. Blindsided. I live in a world that no longer has you in it.
I have a good life. There’s so much joy. There’s him and her and love and calm. There’s work. There’s happy. All sorts of happy.
But the space you filled stays empty.
I want you back.
I want to feel whole again.
I’ll never be whole again.

Thing’s friend


She’s been cutting my Thing’s hair for about a year now, this beautiful young lady. She makes my little girl giggle. They gossip. They trade secrets. My little girl adores her.

She got married a year ago, this sweet little girl.

She wasn’t there when we went in for a trim last month. She wouldn’t be back for a while, her colleagues said, refusing to explain.  I was annoyed. Thing won’t let anyone else near her hair.

She came back last week. Thing was thrilled. Her friend was back.

She smiled her beautiful smile as we walked in. Her smile was the same and it wasn’t. It was as if sadness had attached itself to her person. Like a second layer of skin.

“Where were you?”, I asked.

“My husband died.”

She teared up as I hugged her.

Then she sat my little girl on the chair and made her giggle.

Things Thing says


It isn’t the saying ‘no’ that’s hard. Or watching her cry. Or staying firm through a tantrum. Keeping a straight face – that’s the hardest.

“Tell, tell, plicklee tell.”

“Mahm, I am becoming a vegetarian tomorrow.”
“What are you today?”
“Sausages.”

A few of her M&Ms fall to the floor. She picks them up and hands them to me: “You can eat them Mama, itsa 5 second rule.”

“A kite, a manja and a giant loudspeaker were having a tea-party. Princess Thing was invited.”
My favourite weirdo tells a story.

“Please pass the silly sauce.”

“First Lulu started fissing, then Bottle started fissing. Only BrusWen didn’t fiss. He mewrowled at them.”

“You must apologise to this stone. You hurt its feelings.”
“How do you know?”
Thinks for a minute.
“AAAPOLLLLLLAGAISE”

“Aday Yaard, kya kartey tum?”
That’s me. Yaard.

“Where is my best friend everywhere?”
Who’s that?”
“Dada!”
“Who am I then?”
“You’re just a Mama.”

“My name is Lola, call me Lola. I am a pink cwockodile. You have to be scared of me now.”

“I’m done eating my dinner.”
“No you’re not, there’s food left on your plate.”
“I’m sacrafycing that for desserd.”

“You are such a cartoon!”
sings: “Cartoon ki kidmat me salaam apun ka. Tane din thanda na.. Dada taught me. You can glare at him and shake your head.”

“Must you always get your way, Thing?”
“Yaah. Itsarule.”

“How old are you, girlie?”
“I’m growing 5.”
“5 what?”
“Years Yaard.”
– The last bit enunciated with utter disdain.

“Now how many stories do I have?”
“35.”
“Oh my, my, thutty five.” giggles like Ranjit

She picks up a fruit chunk with her fingers, spears it, pops it into her mouth.
“Why bother with the pick?”, I ask.
“You. Said. To. Use. It.”

Playing a game of alphabets, ‘nowhai’ comes up.
Because ‘nowIknowmyABCs’.
“STOP laughing at me!”

“You’re not allowed to change your mind. You’re a Dada.”

“Play hide and seek with me Dada.”
“After Mama goes.”
“Go plicklee, right now Mama.”

“What did you bring me Mama?”
“Myself.”
“I prefer presents.”

“I’d like to be a lady when I grow up Mama. Who will teach me?”
– 4 years old and already dissing her poor Mum.

“Watermelon or pineapple juice, Thing?”
“Chocolate milkshake.”

“Tell Mama you want peda from Chitale’s”, he prompts her.
“But I want a racing car toy.”

She’s eating ice-cream, relishing every spoon; she stands on her toes:
“See, didn’t I tell you ice-cream makes you taller?”

“I think I want to be Mix’s baby.”
“Should I pack your bags then?”
“Hmph. You must fight for me, Mama.”
– The mind games have begun.

“I’m a grasspopper and I’m going to bug you.”

“ZERO IS NOT NOTHING. YOU ARE MEAN. I WANT ZERO GUMMY BEARS. I WANT ZERO GUMMY BEARS.”

“I’m gonna count to 3 kiddo and y..”
“Count to 6 Mama, it’s so much nicer.”

“Where did you come from, Father?”
“I came from my mama’s womb, baby.”
“Oh.”
“And where did you come from?”
“I came from school.”

I walk in on her peering into the mirror, my lip balm smeared all over her face.
“I didn’t do anything, Mama. The lip balm attacked me.”

Update 28th March 2013: This post was getting way too long, so I’ve given in to my audience of one and moved all our conversations with my mad little Thing here.

Little Warrior Thing


Some time ago my friend Jo, another incredible person I met online, asked if she could paint Thing. Jo is a very gifted artist and I was thrilled by the idea.

She’s never met Thing. She’s seen her pictures. She’s read my tweets about her and my blog posts. We’ve talked about her off and on. She’s laughed at my little mad Thing and her bloodthirsty antics. This is her interpretation of my little girl.

You can see more of her beautiful work on Instagram

P.S. Still very overwhelmed Jo. I will be for a long time. I expected a painting. I did not expect the very essence of my little story-telling warrior.