The paatti and grandson decided to test the sense of unity of people in our apartments. Thatha was away, just for a day and a night, anna went to school, the chitthappa who had arrived that morning on an official trip had to attend to the purpose of his visit, and work in the office beckoned the mom and dad. It was to be just another day where thatha goes to West Mambalam to buy Leo Coffee powder (a mix of A coffee and B coffee in a particular ratio and ZERO chicory ), or to a printing press in Mylapore where he gives regular business to the folks printing materials of ‘divinity’.
Paatti had to attend the nature’s call (a priority task that you’d never do good deferring!). The kids (most of the kids I’ve seen) somehow don’t take it well when you disappear out of their sight, even if its just for a minute, and they hold a special dislike for the amma or paatti stepping into the loo. The paatti (my MIL) opted for the time-tested formula of playing Varun’s favorite rhymes CD (A Bee Chee dhimes says Varun) to keep him distracted exactly for 5 minutes while she is through with the job.
The same day, we were expecting the IFB guys for installing the new washing machine as the old one has been suffering from a short-term memory loss for a long time, stopping between every program cycle asking what it should do next. As is usual on the days thatha is away, paatti had to remember a lot of instructions from a lot of us-
*not to leave the door unlocked from inside
*not to let any salesman in for a demo
*to determine if the IFB guy is really from IFB
*to part with valuables if attacked by goons and remember that life is invaluable etc..
Besides which she’d have her daughters, another DIL, sons, and thatha calling-in every now and then to check if all was well. Am the only nice being that doesn’t call unless there is anything specific to communicate. I suffer from this terrible weakness of wanting to see my kids face to face the moment I hear their voice on the other side- they sound extra sweet when away, but very noisy when near!
Okay, where was I?! Yeah, so she locked our main door from the inside, managed to distract Varun with the rhymes on the player and slipped into the loo. In two minutes she heard Varun calling for her and even as she was coming out, the little one bolted her from the outside. She became frantic and so did the little one. Her banging on the door from inside, crying, he from outside, crying, both on a sticky wicket.
Hearing the two call out for the watchman’s family who were on the other side at that moment, our neighbor, an old gentleman got the watchman to see the issue. There was no way they could enter from the main door as MIL had locked the door from inside and bolted, there was no spare key with our neighbors. The watchman then did a tarzen act by tying a rope around some concrete in the terrace and the other end around his waist, dropped himself to the level of our bedroom balcony (the walls were slippery thanks to the rains), managed to push the shutters and grill door aside (which was fortunately not locked), entered the house through our bedroom and released paatti!
The two generations, separated by a door of less than 2 inches, had the most harrowing 40 minutes of their lives. Varun did not leave paatti’s lap for the next 30 minutes nor did the paatti let go. The neighbors visited one after the other for the nth account of our hero’s adventure. The chitthappa came back after his work half-an-hour later. Peace was restored. The mom, dad, and paatti had collaborated to keep the ‘event’ from thatha till he returns, but the chitthappa spared no time telling him the moment thatha called in for a casual status update! Added to this, Varun gave his version to his thatha when he called in again to wish ‘goodnight’: “Thathaa, thaathhaaa, paatiii unnniiittaaa kuppiii koottuten, oooonnnn ayudhen” (Kuppi is the watchman’s wife)
Thatha observed that hell breaks loose in the V house if he is away even for one day! We had, but to admit.