‘Where’s the world heading to?’
Posted by AtPeace on August 18, 2005
It was during Lakshmi’s bro’s wedding. As always, oor-la slight-a therinja yaarukavadhu kalyanam-na, we girls in my class used to camp somewhere overnight. And for this wedding, I had stayed overnight at Ramya’s place. Actually, none of this is pertinent to what I’m gonna say, so ditch it all. Hehe…
Konja neram arattai adichapram, kadamai unarchi engala romba uruthichu. So, without wasting any further time, we went in to the dining hall to have breakfast. I had just seated myself next to an old man (whom I’ll refer to as thatha from this point forward) and Ramya was sitting on my other side. As always, we were all bubbly and yapping away to glory. As I was happily talking to Ramya, the thatha glared at me and I smiled back weakly. I lowered my voice, but nevertheless, carried on talking. The fact that Revathy knocked over Ramya’s glass of water on Ramya’s banana leaf by mistake, and the place was a royal mess in a matter of seconds, did not improve our standing with him one bit. Thatha was looking sterner by the minute.
I must have just started eating when my cellphone rang. It was Indu. She was on her way to the mandapam and wanted to know what we guys were doing. I think I said – ‘Sapda aarambichuttom, ana it’s ok… nee medhuva va.. Sumi sapdaradhukulla nee kandipa vandhu serndhuduva’. Okay, I can’t give it to you in writing that this is exactly what I said but it must have surely been something to that effect. I hung up and put the phone on my lap, as I was eating and there was no place to put it on the table. I was very busy talking with Ramya as I ate and the phone slipped from my lap and fell down. The thatha gave me a stern look. I picked it up and gave him a sheepish grin.
As I put the phone on my lap again, the thatha began – ‘What day is it today?’. Huh… Peter thatha, I remember thinking as I answered, ‘Sunday’. (Please do note that the entire conversation took place in English.) ‘Why do you need the cellphone on sunday? Why can’t you give it a rest on sunday, at least?’, he sounded exasperated. If it had been a lesser aged person, I would have probably responded with a ‘Pray tell me, how does it matter to you?’. But here was a man sitting next to me, all of 70 years, asking me why I needed to use a cellphone on a sunday. In English, I might add. What the heck… Sunday kum cell phone kum enna thatha sambhandham? I wanted to sigh.
I remember blinking for a few seconds, gathering my thoughts. Indha kelvi ku enna pa badhil solla mudiyum? I remember giving some vague explanation about needing the cellphone to be in touch with our other friends who were on their way to the mandapam and who didn’t know the route or some such rubbish. I’m pretty sure this is the crap I dished out to the old man by way of an answer. He shook his head sadly and began a verbal lash on the increasing use of cellphones by youngsters. I tried my best to look as respectful and as apologetic as possible. Apparently, my best was not good enough for him. He continued the monologue for quite sometime and I could feel Ramya’s chair shaking from her silent convulsed laughter. (Beats me how some people can’t make out that others aren’t interested in the conversation at all, and carry on till they have exhausted every possible word they can say on the subject. If this thatha had so much to say about this alpamana issue, I shudder to think how much he’d have to say on actual serious issues.)
I had begun to lose hope that he would stop. I didn’t exactly sigh loudly as I didn’t wish to appear rude. But I would have loved to…. would have loved to sigh, I mean, not appear rude. I honestly wanted to say, ‘Thatha, nadu nadula konjam moochu vittukonga… sethu githu poida poreenga…’. But, no, he wouldn’t even pause. After what seemed like an eternity, he seemed to be reminded of the fact that I was in the dining hall to eat and not to listen to lectures about the rate at which our society was going down the drain. And he eventually ceased to speak. But not without getting the last word in – ‘Where’s the world heading to?’.
I sighed in relief.
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