Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Senselessly Constructed House

I .

I am missing Z.

And I’m sure Z misses me as much as I miss her.

Just two years junior to me, we could have easily passed off as twins to the observer. “Chip of the old block” some people called us when they saw us together. Even though some of them had never seen the old blokes..oops… blocks! It was just their way of saying how much we resembled each other. When they said that, I would often keep wondering for a long time as to ‘HOW’ they could utter such statement.

Perhaps, Z and I are mutually-contradictorily-similar in some mysterious sense…

Looks wise, at that time, I was a candlestick with matchsticks for arms and legs, had shoulder length hair which mother would comb each morning till I felt that the teeth of the comb must have left multi-lane freeways on my head and I imagined that if some lice were to ping pong from one of my classmate’s hair into mine, they would at least have a good infrastructure to roam around with ease . My mother would then, pull up as much of my hair as could assemble on the very top [ not the ‘back’ top, but the ‘center’ top] of my head, and tie it up with a tight hair band ; and there it stood falling on all sides like a fountain .

Z on the other hand was quite roly-poly, and wore a tomboyish haircut, with a few ‘ridges and furrows’ here and there: thanks to the old barber with shaky hands and and one-and-a –half moustache. Yes folks, he DID have one and a half mustache and he came home to give us haircuts, as we sat right in the middle of our courtyard- a mirror less victimization! We couldn’t even see what he had made of us, which was usually worse than cartoons, as we judged afterward as soon as we became free from his clutches. O how we hated him!

While Z was the extrovert roaring lioness, I was the timid bleating goat, & yet we were always partners in crime, catastrophe, calamity, cataclysm, comfort, curiosity and younameit in a cohesive companionship. It was some kind of unwritten contract between us.On one hand we would fight like cats tearing each other’s hair, while on the other, if anyone so much as raised a finger at one, he would have had to taste the tempestuous grapes of wrath from the other.

It was the time, when Z was in her nursery class and I was in my upper kindergarten at a St. Mary’s convent. It was a Day School and we went to school in a rickshaw. On some pretext or the other Z would cry everyday while we traveled to school, all the way,and her crying was as continuous as the stars that shine for full forty- five minutes that it took us to reach .Even when she got tired a squeaky wail would continue to emerge from her lips and we sometime had to look hard to see if it was ‘her wail’ as her face became as passive and straight as freshly botoxed .

Now this particular day was special. It was special because that day, when Z perched on her seat in the rickshaw, she was smiling! Whew! Her pre- school blues were finally over I thought, and the knowledge brought in such a tremendous relief!

“Z, you look happy today!”


“Hey Z look around, everyone is going to school and they are enjoying it. See? It is not so bad after all is it?

SMILE.[ without looking around]

“Z would you be able to eat from your tiffin without my help at lunch break? I want to play hopscotch with my friends during that time.”


“Z, I shall take you to your classroom and the Ayah will take care of you, Remember, no crying in the classroom.”


Having arrived at our destination, I picked up both of our school satchels and led her by her finger to her classroom. Sister Celestina was already there with most of the children. I left her at the door and turned to leave for my own class.

“ MONA” [ a shout from behind]

Alarmed, I turned back and the sight that I beheld there had me going dizzy for the first time in my life!

Z stood there, holding her skirt up, and she was not wearing her panties!!!

And she had done it all deliberately!

If you think Sharon Stone was the first one to go without her underwear to face a crowd , folks, update your knowledge!

No amount of making excuses for her and trying to make her coax into confessing that it was a mistake of some kind would make her budge from her insisting that she had done it on purpose! In fact, she was ADAMANT that she had done it on purpose and IN FRONT OF SISTER CELISTINA TOO!!!

Sister Celistina … the pincher… who would pinch you on the arm so hard that it drew blood!,,,, In fact she had grown and shaped her index finger and her thumb nails specially for that purpose!

So Z said, she had done it on purpose.

What ‘purpose’?

THAT still remains a mystery till today!


We lived in a huge mansion of a house which had more than twenty rooms , two servant houses and [ believe it or not ] a well! It was a huge house, and it was the most senselessly constructed house. If a thief ever got a chance to enter that house, he would have had an access to all the rooms by default .All he would have had to do was to do was to keep passing from one door to another till he emerged from the last. There were huge verandas though, which were quite a relief and large lawns and big courtyards that could accommodate any game we wished to play.

Yet, it was one of the servant quarters that held our interest. It drew us to it like iron to magnet, like bees to honey, like robbers to gold, like neighbour’s wife to a man, etc. etc. And it drew us, because Annu the Atrocious lived in it.

Annu was the son of a poor relative.Annu & co. had landed with us quite by accident.It was a huge showdown between the mother in law and daughter in law [ Annu’s mom] and of course, as usually is the case, Annu & co. were driven out of their house by the MIL, on a dark and a stormy night, with just the clothes they had on their back . Thus, penniless and hungry, they came to my father. My father, the benevolent soul, immediately took them under his guardianship, tutelage and aegis .

Annu had arrived!

Annu was Z’s batch mate in the birthclass, her diaper buddy [ ‘langotiya yaar’ as we call it] and our bosom friend. He had the largest eyes I ever saw in a head, buckteeth and a perpetual grin .He of course was born with that grin, but we were too young to realize what being born with ‘things’ was all about.

It was Annu who taught us the beauty of being wild: to “ run through the jungle with wind in our hair and the sand at our feet” kind of wild! It was with Annu that we learned to fly kites. Annu taught us how to climb a ten feet wall with just a bamboo pole in order to pick plums from the very top of the plum tree [ and those were ace plums for they had grown and ripened well, in peace, without facing the reverse rain of our torrential catapulting from below]. Annu taught us how to roll an old cycle tyre down the road with a stick, Annu taught us to play ‘ gilli danda’, an essentially Indian urchin game,played with a long and a short stick; the short one sharpened like a pencil from both sides. This stick was tossed on the ground, then hit at any chosen end in such a way, that it flew up in the air. This flying short stick was then to be struck with all our might to make it go as far as possible. Whoever could fling it farthest , was declared a winner and got piggy back rides from the rest; irrespective of the fact whether he was fat and pigged out by overeating and whether the poor beast of burden resembled a victim from some concentration camp. Also, this game has created more one eyed people on earth than all the pirates at sea put together.

Heck, Annu even taught us, the girls, how to pee, standing up!

Annu was clever at EVERYTHING…except studies [ that is normally how it usually is]; and Annu wore only shorts and grin . No matter how much his mother would beat him or begged him to wear a shirt, he never wore it. And even if he did, by some chance, he always came back without it .We loved Annu in ALL respects, except for one thing…the Grin!

For whenever we were caught performing some monstrosity and were being scolded, Annu stood at a distance GRINNING.! O how that infuriated us!! It piqued us to vexation of highest degree, which we, at that moment, buried in our bosom, swearing in our heart to give vent to later.

And this is how Annu- chasing began .

Annu was the fastest runner I’ve ever seen till date. And Annu running faster than us… [ of course there was this one-upmanship snobbery that went along with us as in some racist kind of a manner ; no matter how much we loved him, we never forgot that Annu was a poor relation ; {Of course now I am totally ashamed of that!}] ;… so Annu running faster than us WITH the GRIN was a maddening fury to contend with!

Sometimes we would catch him using some strategic ambushes and beat all the sobs out of him . We also tried to pull his cheeks down using our knuckles to wipe that grin off.[ Later his mother learned the trick to oil his naked upper torso, so that even if he got caught by our devious scheming, he might be able to give us the slip.]

During our summer vacations we got one set of some particular game, which we could learn. That year we got a cricket game set! Boy! We were so excited, we couldn’t wait to try it out . So everything was set in place as they show it on the TV.

But then we had a problem. None of us knew the Rules of the game. Suddenly our eyes fell at a grinning Annu standing at a distance. Inquisition revealed that he was a champion at it! Yay!!!!!

But wait a minute! Annu started to turn his back and leave. What was the matter? We asked him to teach us, he refused. We demanded- refused, warned and threatened- refused again. Our threats took a U turn to coaxing, pleading and finally bribing!

Ah!! His eyes had lit up, and we saw some hope.

Then Annu started demanding ‘ransom’ . He wanted the booty immediately! My Mother’s Sandalwood face powder, My Mother’s favourite candelabrum, My mother’s hair bun net…..and we complied at first without a thought…but wait!

Something was wrong here. Why the hell was Annu demanding My MOTHER’s personal items???? It took us awhile to realize.

Annu was taking Revenge!

Annu wanted us in trouble for all the spanking we had given him in the past, he wanted us to be spanked by the worst spanker around [ My mother ].

That Annu failed miserably in his machinations is another matter. For all the needles of suspicions pointed towards the maid , considering the ‘species’ and the ‘essence’ of the goods that were lost and the poor woman had to bear the brunt.

Still, Annu had managed to scare the shit out of us.

Annu had , in some manner ‘ grown’, we realized . We never beat up Annu after that.

A month later, Annu started wearing his shirt too.


david mcmahon said...

G'day from Australia, Mona,

Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the trouble to comment.

Yes, I am indeed Indian born and bred - and proud of it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first visit here. This is really a very readable post, and your previous post is a very interesting take on a far more serious subject.

And you write poetry too - what prodigious talent.

Have you eve had anything published in newspaper or magazines? I'd be interested to know.

Would you mind if I added you to my blogroll?

Keep smiling


Anonymous said...

good morning my friend.
I love reading stories from your childhood and your partner in crime Z.
I think I could read them all day long and never tire of them.

Mona said...

David! Welcome! :)

Nice to see you here.& I am glad you enjoyed reading.Thanks for your kind words.

I have dabbled in various forms of writing, but I have never considered publishing yet.

Yes you may add me to your blogroll & so will I :)

Tops! Welcome & welcome & welcome again & again my friend. ((((HUGE HUGS)))

Peter said...

As a relatively new (but now eager) visitor, I thank you so much for having put this post back here! Your writing style is fantastic and allows us all to spend a good moment of laughs and pleasure in general!

You answer david m that you have not published yet! I hope that this means that you will do so one day, the sooner the better!

I thank you sincerely for the attribution of the price. Especially coming from YOU, it's a great honour!

buffalodick said...

The mark of a good story-teller, is that they can hold your interest with any story they wish to share! You have that- and more!

Dan said...

Thanks so much for those very kind words Mona! That was very sweet of you! Blush. Blush. Hugs.

I see my new friend David here! LOL! He's going to write a piece on Satyajit Ray. You might have already read that in his comments on my blog. Cool, huh? :)

FH said...

a million hugs to you my darling girl.Thank you so much for the award.I am honored and will proudly display at FH!:))
Now,why most of these sisters are so sadistic I fail to understand!! They are always ready to hit little kids with sticks,rulers and their nails.Sic!!
Annu just defended himself from power higher than him and succeeded too,good for him!!:D

lime said...

you paint such vivid pictures! oh Z made melaugh, such a cheeky little thing! and annu, well, i suppose he won a great deal of fearful respect that day! thank you so much for sharing. :)

snowelf said...

Hey Mona,

I don't know which I love more, your childhood stories or your poetry. Both of these made me laugh hysterically! I can just see little Annu all greased up like a cute little shiny piggy running away from two giggling little girls!! ;) His poor mother must have been exhausted at the end of each day just from raising such a wily little boy!


Little Wing said...

Mona you write with such passion!
You take your readers by the hand and we are right there with you!
Thank you for sharing a slice of your life with us, I loved it!

Dan said...

And of course I read this story the first time you posted it way back. And I loved it then as much as now! :)

Jenny! said...

Congrats! YOu are a great writer! said...

Oh wow! I'm really honoured Mona! My very first award! Thank you so much :D ( And I can see you're still at it with the unmerited compliments! )

...till I felt that the teeth of the comb must have left multi-lane freeways on my head and I imagined that if some lice were to ping pong from one of my classmate’s hair into mine, they would at least have a good infrastructure to roam around with ease

This is hilarious! Reminded me of this old ad ( for what, I don't remember ) that had lice jumping from one head to another. I love the way you play with words and how your stories have bits of everything; humour, moral lessons, introspection...everything

Mike said...


We would like to do an interview with you about your blog for . We'd like to give you the opportunity to
give us some insight on the "person behind the blog."

It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can
be submitted online at

Best regards,

Mike Thomas

Charles said...

I have used the words regarding the person, but never thought to put them together as a name, "Magnanimous Mike." Totally appropriate. You got some really good picks, too. I still haven't had the fortitude to put up my picks. Perhaps after I quit some of the incessant browsing I've been doing of late.

Mona said...

Peter, The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for being there.You are a force to reckon with.

Buf, thank you so much dear. You always have a kind word for everyone :), not to mention your perfectly fine sensibilities and exceptional love for cooking as an art.

Dan, you are welcome.Yes cool indeed. David is a rare find from Dan Central, a place with plenty to choose from,& some of the best too. :)

Asha, A million hugs right back to you girl.:):)...Oh these sisters were quite quite sadistic indeed when it came to being one! I remember they had once caught a mouse in a a rat trap & they proceeded to take out its eyes with a stick before they drowned him in the well.

Mona said...

Lime! :) yes Z is a very smart & intelligent and successful young lady today & we love each other to pieces.Annu did earn that fearful respect.. must visit him soon :D

Snow! I am glad I could make you laugh.:) Yes it was quite a sight, that Annu.You know we flew kite together and we would grind some broken glass, mix it with glue & coat the kite flying thread with it. Then we proceeded to cut the string of others' kites with that string by flying it across theirs'and see them fall. :)

Little wing. Thank you for your sweet and kind words. I love to share slices of my life with people like you :)

Dan.. You remembered.. :) Thanks!

Jenny,Thank you jenny, I enjoy the variety at your blog too :)

NGAC, LOL! It must have been an advertisement for some 'licesticide', what else...I think licel or medikar[ was that the names?]. Thanks for your observations, I guess I have my critics all ready :D

Mike, I saw your ad at several blogs, I wonder if it is for real! :)

Charles.Yes indeed you did & the name fits perfectly.Mike is one blogger who brings everyone together on a single platform and encourages them as the 'most special person' He has a tact there that is unparalleled. He is a Philanthrope!

Anonymous said...

I like her already.

Wow, Mona. Once you get to typing, you let'er rip!

karmic said...

Congratulations, an award well deserved, as I am sure are the ones you nominated as well.

As always I enjoyed reading your post, you write really well, please keep at it. :)

Paul Champagne said...

Congrats on your award

Have you ever noticed that most of the things we remember from childhood are of happy times? Is it that we pushed the bad times out of our memories ... or was everything better back then?

S said...

HI Mona! I cant wait to see your 55 tomorrow!

Keshi said...

Nice one to ur inspiritional friends! And I see sweetie Asha is one of them too. :)


Mona said...

LBB...Who? :)

Sanjay.. Long time! Thank you my friend! :) & thanks for the encouragement!

Champagne...Thanks! Oh no Paul, it is not that we pushed them away, The 'tortures' of our childhood are very real[ like in this case the fear of sister celistina was]. It is only that when we look back, we can see them in a different light and most of them appear ridiciously funny because they were so unfounded, those fears..
As they say, the pain of a child losing his favourite toy is thye same as the pain of a king losing his crown!

Mona said...

Susie! :) Its up there now!

Rebicmel,Yes it happens.For me it has been little up & down of my health But I guess I will be fine now :)

Keshi, Yes Asha is awesome !

Pragyan said...

Hey Mona, You are such a wonderful writer! Will come back for more. Have fun!