The Priceless Biscuit
It was a hot summer day in Kerala and a perfect day to visit relatives. My sister tagged along with my parents since there was nothing better to look forward to at home. My mother packed at tin full of cookies and a lovely packet of crème biscuit for our cousin who stayed in a college hostel far away from home. He loved the variety that we got in UAE; it was truly unique if one compared it to the biscuits in India.
My father who was always a multitasker when it came to going places, would go from point A to point B with a dozen stops in between for shopping, delivery, things he wanted for his business and doing things we would never dream of. Mum was always irritated at the sudden stops and the changes in conversation that followed with it. Each one of them tended to lose a track of what the other was discussing.
“What do we get him?” Dad asked as he weaved the Maruthi Omni though the busy potholed roads.
“Well, we are seeing Shibu for the first time, I packed a few goodies” Mum said as she held on to her dear life when the van jumped.
“The reception will not be too grand, for …..” dad’s loud thoughts failed off as a bus from the opposite side blared its horn. His mind was still working on the wedding reception of cousin Nebu for which they had to drop in the next day.
Mum had missed out on the mention of the other cousin during the change of lanes.
My sister listened on to the strange conversation that took place thereafter.
“What does it matter how the reception to his place is?” asked mum puzzled. A boy’s hostel would have limited facilities. She could not figure out why Dad was worried about the reception area. It was not like they were visiting a king.
“Well, we have got to think of what his parents will think of if we don’t give anything at the reception?”
“We are giving him some nice chocolates ….”
Dad gave Mum a look that said ‘How could you be so obtuse?’
“And some nice…”
“Don’t be silly, chocolates will not do…”
Mum looked frustrated. She wondered what had gotten into Dad. What else could a college boy who left from Abu Dhabi possibly need? Kentucky out of the question during those days..
“We need something more special, after all we are coming from the Gulf.”
“How about a nice shirt?”
“No! A shirt for the reception! No way”
” Emmm…Chicken puffs..”
“Don’t be silly”
“Let’s take him out for a good meal”
“Mea?l! At this reception?” Dad was thinking of the prominent people at the wedding and the puffs present. He nearly passed out.
“For God’s sake the reception isn’t so grand!” Mum said, thinking of the aging brick structure and moss covered exterior of the hostel she once saw.
“We have a reputation to protect!” said dad as he steered sharp right.
“I give up! You think and say” Mum conceded defeat.
“You think! Am drivings!” Dad muttered. He was steering like a madman.
” Ohhhhh! You re always like this…” Mum felt irritated. The lovely biscuits that she packed were in a huge tin. It looked like a month’s supply of crème delights. Shibu would love them.
The van kept bobbing to sides and my sister felt road sick and queasy. It’s just like being sea sick, except you are in an Omni that is driven on a potholed road by a speed lover with frequent brakes.
“Let’s buy a biscuit!” Dad suggested.
“What! Are you insane? I just packed……” she could not complete her sentence.
Dad screeched to a halt in front of a building with a Bakery and Gold Shop situated next to each other.
My sister and Mum looked a bit disoriented at this point.
“What is the current rate for a biscuit? I hope we get a good rate” he said as he gave Mum a few thousands.
“The maximum will be Rs.100 on the kilo for a good one” Mum replied dryly as she looked at the cash.
“One kilo! Don’t be daft. Who wants a kilo of the biscuit? Buy a small bar”
Mum’s eyes popped out.” A bar of biscuits?!! Is that supposed to be special?”
At this point my sister started to giggle. She kept imagining Shibu getting a gold bar to bite on and Nebu getting a bar of crème biscuits for his wedding.
“Go and select something nice!” dad plodded, without realizing the misunderstanding that was going on.
My mother looked like dad was off his rocker. She kept thinking of the lovely tin in the van as she approached the bakery.
“What are you doing?!” Dad asked when he saw mum asking the cashier for different varieties of crème bites.
“Checking on the Biscuits…just like you told me… a few seconds ago.”
“Yes, but why are you checking in the bakery?”
“Don’t be silly! Where else does one check for it? ”
“At the Gold Shop!”
“Have you lost your mind? Who would check for crème biscuits there?!!”
“Crème Buscuits?!! Why would we gift Nebu those?”
“Nebu? Where did he come from?”
“We have to get him Gold for the wedding reception…”
“Gold for Nebu!?? I was talking about Shibu!”
“Shibu?! Who asked about him?!!”
My sister began to laugh out loud when the Nebu and Shibu questions kept going back and forth.
“Weren’t we going to his place? What were you talking about?” asked Mum.
“We were discussing Nebu’s wedding reception! Not Shibu’s hostel reception!”
In the end, everyone at home came to hear the tale of how the Priceless biscuits delayed Dad by two hours and how Mum had the crème biscuits delivered to the right cousin.
Until the next confusion… confusingly yours….
It was a practice, and still is, to have a siesta in the afternoon. Children were usually put to bed with a stern warning that any interruption to sleep time would be hazardous to one’s backside. Such a warning would generally pass through unheard, unheeded and unthought of.
One afternoon, after a really tired morning, dad put us all to bed for a siesta. A stern warning was issued. Each of us silently vowed that we would not initiate a fight if the other behaved. The curtains were drawn, the room was dark and none of us could sleep despite the cool air tempting us. After half and hour of tossing and turning and hitting each other with paper planes, I sneak out and decide to turn on the TV at the lowest volume. Within a few minutes…. I was joined by the rest of the gang. All of us huddled together and sat close to the TV to watch the cartoons.
It is not in the nature of brothers and sisters to co-exist peacefully. As soon as the first cartoon was over, the boys wanted to see a robot cartoon and we girls wanted to see our favourite comedy. By then, my younger brother got hold of the remote and decided to watch Sesame Street which was clearly a baby show for the rest of us. A fight was in progress, three against one. Sofa cushions began to fly, chairs were jostled, my mother’s precious collectables became casualties to this Holy War and somewhere in between the running over and under the dinning table we all bump into dad.
Except for the TV….there was pin drop silence. Each of us looked dad and then at each other while thinking of an exit strategy. My dad looked like the rumbling Mount Olympus… someone has got to pay. His eyes were red and it looked like he had tried to pull out his hair. “ WHO?…” he asked …we didn’t wait for him to ask for a name, we began to point at the nearest person. Everyone was blaming the younger one and he was vehemently accusing each of us of provoking him in turn. Dad looked like he would explode. His face took to a darker shade of red. None of us saw it coming. In a second the TV stopped working and the main connecting cable laid in two pieces…. “No more TV. GO…TO…BED” he roared. We scrammed for our dear life and burrowed ourselves in bed.
The next afternoon, after more tossing and turning I snuck out and turned on the radio. Though it had a bit of static, the station was clear if you turned it on a bit loud. Going off to the further end of the room, I sat down and tuned in to listen. Within a few minutes, the rest of the gang walked in and sat tapping their feet and listening. It was a lovely 15 minutes before the static started to interfere and I began to adjust the dials. Soon enough, battle lines were drawn and a fight broke out. Everyone felt that they personally could sort the static interference issue. After a bit of jostling, a few screams and jumping from sofa to sofa like Tarzan in the jungle, my brothers stopped mid way when they saw Dad. My sister and I were unaware and still busy holding up the cushions against the attack from the boys. The silence got us to cautiously lower our cushion guards. Lo behold! There stood dad with thunder in his face. He looked like a Volcano waiting to erupt. His hair stood up on its own on the top of his head. He had a cane on one hand and an expression that spoke volumes on the punishment yet to come. “What is going ON?”…
Each of us looked at the other. And then all hell broke loose. Each of us spoke louder than the other to explain how it was not our fault and how the other refused to keep quite. While speaking we were still yelling at the nearest person for not being quiet and for telling tales. One can only imagine the effect of the bickering on my dad. After loosing sleep twice in a row, my father was ready to blow and someone was at the receiving end. One moment he was angrily shouting and the next, the radio’s power cable went down the balcony into the crowded bushes below the 10th storey building. Each of us received a hot cane to the rear before he roared “No more RADIO. GO…TO…BED...” We scrammed for our dear life.
The third afternoon, we decide that it was just not in our system to go to sleep on a perfect afternoon. With the TV and Radio out of the picture, the only other thing that we could do was to play Antakshari. Careful to shut the door behind us to control the noise pollution, we began to sing in turns. All was fine until my youngest brother got bored and my sister decided to sing an English song. An argument broke out regarding the rules, a scuffle began, words and blows were exchanged and I was caught in between the cross fire. No amount of Shhhhhhh helped. The coffee table was overturned, the vase with flowers was spilt and the jungle episode with Tarzan jumping over the pricy sofas continued until a loud roar stopped us to our tracks. Dad had woken up. This time, we were in this for good.
Dad looked utterly defeated with bags under his eyes; unshaved stubbles dotting his jaw and hair sticking out like static electricity had fun with it. Mum stood groggily at his side trying to focus on the issue at hand….US. Something had to be done. We froze. My poor father was utterly exhausted and he literally gave up trying to make us sleep.
Handing over a TV cable he said, “Watch TV…” and went back to bed …this time with some ear plugs on…
The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck
- Musings by Anney Thomas. She has a streak of funny genes that could make you forget day’s tension. She has reinvented her writing passion and is here to spread smiles through her writing. For her other articles click HERE
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Family that eats and plays together, stays together!
A recent news from a Malaysian province is that the government is offering free honeymoons package to rekindle the romance between married couples on the brink of divorce. Divorce rate is increasing in every country and culture. We know the gossips and what celebrities eat, talk and shop but clueless about happenings in the life of our spouse,children and parents. We communicate more with world but talk less with our dear ones within our walls. Such is the sorry state of affairs in many of ours home department.
Its a fast paced world and the popular saying “Family that eats together, stays together” holds more importance now. I would also add “family that plays together, stays together” along with dining.
Having said this, making a family eat together and play together would be a next to impossible thing in many modern families what with working parents, children overburdened with tuitions and homework. Add to that the new work culture of 24/7 that has made many parents look like a guest to their own children. Even if a family manages to sit together to eat, in most cases, thanks to the television revolution and plethora of channels dishing out “breaking news” and glycerin filled sentimental fares, the family will be sitting and eating as if in movie hall. Worst case, they will be fighting to take control of the remote. Daddy dearest would want to watch the breaking news, Mommy dearest and mother in law dearest would team up to see what the “saas and bahu” are scheming against each other, where as the kiddo would want to watch his favorite toon channel and the teen wants to see the stage managed “reality show”. It would be a miracle in spite of all this a family would eat together and stay together. Still, it makes a sense to eat together, fight for the remote and cherish the moments. The bond would certainly manage to pull a compromise formula to eat together and watch together, may be laugh together too. Though, I would advocate switching off the TV and eat together, talk together, share together the day’s events and laugh together. It’s worth trying and would help a lot in building a family bond that you would cherish.
So what do people play now? Did you say Mafia wars, FarmVille? Well you are not alone, half the internet population seems to be playing games of this genre with people known and unknown. But when was the last time you played a game with your spouse, parents and kid? Ok, may be your kiddo would have pestered you to play a game with him, if he himself is not busy playing game alone in his playstation or its lesser common cousin, the computer. Ludo, snake&Ladder, Chess, carom board – remember playing it when you were kids? Dust them if its still somewhere buried or buy them or grab them from your kid (if he is still playing board games instead of computer games) and play with your spouse/parents. Believe me, it will rekindle a fresh air of bond and warmth in your relation that has been forgotten or sidelined.
So what you are waiting for? Go grab a board game, play a game after meal or before meal and yes, eat together.