Scene - Two teachers giggling and gossiping in the staffroom
Maths Teacher (to English teacher)- I am better off teaching maths (giggle). It is so much easier to correct the assignments. You see all maths problems are solved in one way and have the same answer. But hats off to you for going through 48 sheets of English compositions word by word.
English Teacher (yawning)- Who told you I go through all of them? I go through a few selected ones which appear interesting like the ones which have nice titles. Even then I often focus on the opening and ending lines. The rest of the assignments (yawn), I just glance and give some grade depending on my mood at that time.
The moment of truth had dawned. The very next day, we were to submit a composition on our thoughts about any farm animal. That day I was so excited that I spent the entire evening watching TV and slept off early at night. I remembered about the assignment only in the morning and I had only ten minutes to work on it. Suddenly I remembered about a ten line essay I had submitted a few months ago on 'The Cow'. Though I was painfully aware that I had managed only a 'C' in that one but I had no choice but to re-use it. All I needed was a catchy title but believe me, coming up with an interesting title about a farm animal in that short a time was not easy. It would be great if the title involved an element of mystery or suspense, I thought. Hurriedly I settled for a new title to be -
You must be wondering about which chapter of my secret diary am I going to talk about. Well, I am going to talk about how I screwed my chances for having a grand birthday party last month. After all I was turning a double digit number. Talking about secrets, I have nothing to hide about my age. Unlike my mom whose age is her biggest secret. When I was a small kid, I asked her about her age many times directly and indirectly. But she always avoided the question or would make a funny face and say 'I am just 12'. The more she avoided the question, the more curious I became. A few months ago, one day dad was looking at his important papers and he left his drawer unlocked just to answer the doorbell. Mom was not at home. That was my short opportunity. I sneaked in quickly and checked mom's date of birth in her passport. Boy! what a revelation. For two hours I sat puzzled thinking why she bothers to hide her age when she looks so much older than her real age. But moms are moms, you know.
Today in our English class, we were taught a new word 'adulteration' and after some initial thinking I have concluded it is derived from the word 'adult'. It could be because the adults have adulterated minds - unclear, polluted and with double and sometimes triple standards. Talking about multiple standards, I am reminded of an incident which happened last month when mom scolded me badly for refusing to wear a jacket to school. I was already stuffed with a vest, inner thermal wear, a turtle neck, a full sleeve tee-shirt and a full sleeve sweater. With all the layers, my arm movement was stiffer than a robots'. 'It's December!Look at the temperature', she screamed at me. The very same evening, we were to go for a wedding. Mom wore a saree with a sleeveless blouse and refused to cover her jewellery by wearing a sweater. When Dad reminded her that it was December, she announced she was carrying a shawl. She didn't even open the shawl, forget wrapping it around and carried it folded around her arm. As soon as we reached the venue, she requested Dad to take care of the shawl as it was getting entangled in her new golden bangle. Dad was uneasy but before he could say anything mom put the shawl on his shoulder and proceeded to gossip with her friends. After a little while, Dad requested me to take care of it for sometime. I was reluctant to help but agreed on the condition that he was going to allow me to gorge on my favorite items for dinner and protect me from Mom when she would chase me with healthy vegetables. Mom has this thing about chasing us all with vegetables. For me, food means pleasure and I get it out of eating non-veg food. Left to me, I would start my day with a plate full of chicken nuggets in the morning, a chicken burger and fries for lunch and end it with a chicken sandwich for dinner. I try to reason out with her that non-veg food means no-veg but she does not seem to understand. I tried explaining to her that potato fries take care of the veggies for me, but she does not appreciate. Moms will be moms, you know.
When it was time for dinner, I stuffed my plate with chicken lollipops and chicken wings. After my stomach received the required amount of fire, I decided to switch to desserts. Just when I was finishing with my ninth ice-cream of the evening, I saw a puppy under the catering table. Did I tell you I just adore puppies? It is just coincidental that we have the same interest in life - love for non-veg food. He appeared hungry so I took another serving of chicken snacks to offer to him. After he had his fill, the puppy decided to leave and I followed him. He went and lay down next to his two siblings in a cane basket lying in a roadside corner towards the end of the street. It was a cold night. Without thinking much, I spread the shawl over them so that they could stay warm for sometime. I meant to take it back later. But soon after that Dad called me to introduce me to some relatives and when it was time to leave, I completely forgot about the shawl. So did Dad and Mom too. But that doesn't count, right?And you know what would have happened after we reached home. I must say Dad tried to put my case rather well and referred to me as a kind and considerate animal lover. But mom was really mad at him and me 'No, it was not just a piece of cloth. It was an expensive pashmina shawl..And it was my favorite. How could you two be so irresponsible? blah blah'.
My birthday falls on Christmas day and I tell you it is not really a great day for having a birthday. Mom always tries to club the christmas, new year and my birthday party into one single party. There is a secret I want to share with you. I know very well that there is no Santa Claus. But I am not telling mom and dad. Every year around mid December, I start singing Christmas carols and dropping hints about what I am expecting from Santa for Christmas. Talking about gifts, Mom always accuses of being very greedy as far as toys and gifts are concerned. And you know what, she is right. I love toys and I do not like to miss a single opportunity to have another one. Indeed I am greedy about toys, gifts and all the good things of life. Talk about greed in grown-ups. They have it too and do not even admit it. Take the case of mom's blogging. I have been closely following her behavior and reactions from the time she started blogging. I clearly remember the day mom wrote her first post. For days she kept checking her statistics to see if someone visited. She announced to all her friends and relatives to check out her post. Every morning she would wake up and check her statistics. When her statistics improved, she was happy and was encouraged to write a few more posts. One week later she started complaining she did not get comments. She asked Dad to spread the word to his relatives and his subordinates at work. She even told dad that he should promote only those subordinates who read and commented on her posts. Comments started appearing but her happiness lasted for a few days. Then I heard her telling dad one day that she has joined some indiblogger site. For a few days, I saw her desperately look at how many votes her posts were fetching. I thought her greed was disgusting but I did not dare tell her.
Mom had stopped talking to me after the shawl incident. She even stopped chasing me with healthy stuff. But I made sure to take extra serving of veggies and gulped them down keeping a straight and smiling face. No effect. I kind of lost hope of any gifts this year - neither for Christmas, nor for my birthday. Not that I have been happy with mom's choice of gifts in the last few years. God only knows why she wants the gifts to be practically useful. So she loves gifting clothes, board games, books and brain teasers. I tried complaining to her once but she lectured me for thirty five minutes on how we should spend money judiciously and how much thought she puts in the gifts and how thankful I should be for all those things. This year I thought I had lost chance of even the practical gifts. I did not see mom checking the sizes of my dresses or the stock of my books. A week before the D-day, when it was too much for me to bear, I checked with Dad . "No plans this year" he told me "mom is really upset with us both". So I told myself I was going to turn ten silently and unannounced. One of my ex class mates called up to say she planned to have all her old class friends for a sleep over on 23rd. I had a good time with my friends at her place and gossiped till 4 am in the morning. I was really tired when I returned home and practically slept through the entire day after lunch. Mom did not even wake me for the dinner. Finally at midnight, I woke up to mom and dad singing birthday song for me. I was glad that they remembered to wish me at least. Mom had made a lovely chocolate cake and I really relished it. I looked at the Christmas tree and the stockings hanging there. It did not appear filled with any toys. There weren't any wrapped gifts under the tree either. I decided not to look at the stockings but the greed inside me pushed me to go through the motions anyway. It contained something. An envelope. I quickly took the envelope in my hand. It was sealed and signed by mom and dad wishing me Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday. 'A greeting card' I told myself 'what else'. I knew mom and dad were watching me and I tried to keep a smiling face. As I opened the envelope, I found two gift vouchers and a greeting card. The first gift voucher was from KFC, worth Rs 5000. The other one was a voucher designed and signed by mom and dad saying they allocate the ten year old i.e. me, an amount of Rs 2000 to buy any product of my choice. This was brilliant. No practical and useful gifts. And the greeting card said 'You are allowed to watch TV and play video games all day. Take your friends out to KFC for the birthday party and a tiny message in a corner in mom's handwriting - Allowed to skip vegetables for the day'. Superb!My day was made. I had a lot of fun with my friends at KFC and we had a heart full of chicken burgers, fiery grilled chicken, fries, pepsi and of course no veggies! You know it is hard to resist a place which offers fried chicken items in buckets!
I suspect that mom had won the KFC voucher in some blogging contest and once again she wore her pragmatic hat by using it for my birthday party. But when it is a gift like this, I am not complaining!