Friday, January 15, 2010

Past Imperfect

As a child I….

…….imagined that 4 had married 5, and 6 was their baby.

……..thought the meaning of yellow was ‘beautiful’.

..…….believed that Anon was a person.

…….yearned to wear out my hawai chappals and Natraj pencils to stubs instead of losing them always.

…….dreaded that my father had a secret family stowed away somewhere.

….. made up my mind to work in a chocolate factory when I grew up.

...…wondered why God wouldn’t or couldn’t speak.

..... loved to play in the servant’s quarters with her children.

……couldn’t understand why I didn’t speak Hindi though I was a Hindu.

…… drew horizontal strokes in a drawing class which earned me a big cross and a bigger zero. My art teacher, Mrs. Daniel, didn’t know that I had tried to draw the wind.
It still hurts.

.... hated the story of the ant and the grass-hopper.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Caveman Logic

It sounded cute when Sehwag said that he supported the Srilankan team, because the team he sided with always lost. He said that it was a superstition. It isn’t just Sehwag. Inexplicable notions prevail in a twilight zone even in the midst of enlightened humanity, surprising as it is in this age of logic. Hotels in the most technologically sophisticated cities don’t have a 13th floor. Blind beliefs are said to have originated in an era when man was utterly under the control of nature. What he couldn’t explain, he attributed to divine forces. Perhaps coincidence froze such superstitions into facts. In which case the people of today shouldn’t be superstitious at all. We all know that isn’t the case. So there is, probably, a fascination in our nature for the mysterious and fantastic.

Beliefs that defy reason are cute, like Sehwag’s or sinister or downright irritating. The most irritating are forwards that tell you not to break the chain of time-wasting, useless, communication. The more victims you palm off the inconvenience on, the more good fortune you will gift yourself. Even more annoying are the threatening ones that damn you with horrors unless you follow the orders. The worst is when senders who never drop a line otherwise pass the buck to you. Yes, all one has to do is hit delete, but then you know……… So I forward these mails to my children and their expired accounts AND to the sender ;) Fortunately my children aren’t as vicious as I am.

It is strange though, that life offers some strange experiences. Once on a Board exam day the bulb went out when I switched it on as soon as I woke up. Then the lamp went out when I lit it. While setting out from home who should be in the lift but Mr. Iyer from the 8th floor ( Malayalees see a solitary, male Tamil brahmin as a portend to trouble). I knew that these were not signs, I merely noticed them. That day it happened that the school bus driver who took me and the candidates to the exam centre took a wrong turn and we lost our way. It was an hour of desperate phone calls and anxiety. We finally reached the centre after the exam had started, the staff there were good enough to hurry the students through the formalities and herd them to their seats. I know it is only coincidence. I’d said hi to a lone Mr. Iyer a hundred times, light bulbs blowing a fuse and a cold wick are common too. So there is no need to see a paranormal meaning in the occurance. In fact, it was one of those students who topped the subject that year!

Superstitions are followed all over the world. The Chinese have theirs about certain numbers, the Irish have their four-leaf clover, the Americans spit on their baseball bats. New ones that appeal to youngsters are still cropping up. Sportsmen, actors, clowns, tycoons, all have their good luck rituals. And I have my lucky pen.