Difficult Lines to Learn!

Difficult Lines to Learn!

Being with Mama’s sister, Maya Aunty is like going to a carnival. Even though they have a car and driver, she takes me shopping on her pink scooter, after putting  helmets on to both our heads. We’ve whizzed up ‘One-ways’ (she made me promise not to tell Mama), sung filmi songs when we got caught in the rain, have had a puncture or two and loads of other crazy adventures. So just because I love being with Aunty, I land up saying silly things like, “I love your kichdi, Aunty,” or  “Your biriyani is the best!”
Which is a lot of nonsense, because the whole family teases Maya Aunty about her bad cooking. And since I’m the only one who doesn’t, she makes ‘special’ treats for me and sends them over! They’re dreadful! Then I land up feeling worse that she’s taken so much trouble, so I eat it and thank her for her ‘yummy’ food…and so it goes on and now I’m stuck.

I’ve told Mama that it’s all her fault. When I caught her lying to Papa’s sister about how good she looked on the day she was discharged from the hospital (Seema Aunty looked awful), Mama said that ‘white lies’ were little harmless untruths you spoke to make people feel better. But my white lies were landing me in a mess.

I must have inherited my lack of white-lie-talent from Papa. The last time his mother gave him a bright pink shirt on his birthday, he was so horrified, that he bumbled about a bit, before telling his mother that he ‘loved’ it…swearing that pink was his favourite colour! Now she sends him pink handkerchiefs, pink diaries, pink pyjamas…! 

Every time a new ‘pink’ parcel arrives, Mama collapses on the sofa and laughs till tears roll down her cheeks. It’s now obvious that Papa and I both need some tuition on how to utter a white lie. Maya Aunty’s semi-liquid ‘coconut burfi’ is still lying in the fridge, untouched by anybody.

So Mama gets into tuition teacher mode. She decides that I might be the brighter of her students so we begin with my problems first.

“I know you love Aunty Maya, sweetie, so tell her exactly that…  “Aunty, you’re the best in the world….and I want to spend another day with you.” That would be the truth; it would make Maya very happy; AND she’d make sure to arrange another day of scooter-riding with you. She doesn’t like to cook, but when you pay her these well-meaning, but inaccurate compliments about her food, the poor thing feels she HAS to cook for you!”
I thought about this. Mama was right. Maya Aunty had never asked me whether I liked something that she’d cooked, so there was no need for me to ‘white-lie’. Papa and his mother was a tougher case. And I wanted to see what Mama had to say about that.

Mama, held up Papa’s pink pyjamas, collapsed onto the sofa and laughed for a while. But when she recovered, she was all business. Turning to my father, who found none of this very funny, she said, “When your mother sent you the first horrid pink item, all you needed to say was “Thank you Mama! I love the way you never, ever, ever forget my birthday…you make me feel so special…blah, blah, blah!”

Then noticing the blank expressions on her husband’s and daughter’s face, she went on, “Sillies, that kind of ‘thank-you’ will make your mum feel like the most special in the world; she’ll feel proud that she remembered you and not worry about the choice of gift. And since you haven’t mentioned the actual gift, you’re safe.”

Papa wasn’t convinced, “How does that keep me ‘safe’ from more pink gifts ?”
Mama retorted, “Since you haven’t foolishly said that pink is your favourite colour, your mother will forget all about it and buy you something else next time. Now, the poor thing feels she has to hunt down every pink thing ever made for a man, just because you’ve told her it’s your ‘favourite colour!”

Papa hates to admit it when Mama is right, so he growls, “So what do we say when we’re at your sister Maya’s, after one of her dreadful meals?”

Mama folded her hands and replied, smartly, “Oh Maya, it’s so much fun chatting away like this…I wish we could meet more often.” Pa and I both noticed that the compliment had no mention of the offending food! Brilliant!

Grudgingly, Papa nodded, “Good one….now how do I stop my dear mother from presenting me with another pink something?” Mama giggled. Then she tossed her hair sweetly, and in a fake voice, replied, “Just say, ‘Amma, I’ve got everything I need in pink…blue is my next best colour.’…how’s that?” After a moment Mama added, “And you need to slip that into a conversation casually, a couple of months before your next birthday, because your mother shops well in advance.”

Now I learnt my lines fast and even used them very well on Aunty Maya. But we’re all waiting to hear Papa say his dialogue on the phone. Maybe he’s finding it tough because all of us sit round and watch him every Sunday when his mother calls!     

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