Daddy completed all his years of service in Tamil Nadu, and I was born in Madurai. Which could explain the affinity I have for all things/people Tamilian.
Daddy used to get transferred every 2-3 yrs, and sometimes, the places would not have good schools. So there came a time when the decision was made that Mom would stay back in Kerala with my sis and me in her ancestral home so that we could have an uninterrupted education in one of the best convents.
We used to join him for our school vacations. The more boisterous of the two children, I totally loved those days in hot T.Nadu, where Daddy used to be staying in colonies, and I used to have loads of children to play with, of both sexes. Madurai, Pollachi, Udumalpet, Rameswaram, Sivakasi- all of these places hold delightful memories for me.
Daddy used to be a chain smoker before he gave it up totally. And his brand was Scissors. For the man of action satisfaction, the packet said. One morning, when we were in Madurai- this was later when I was around 6-7 yrs old- Daddy ran out of cigarettes. There was this shop at the start of the road to our colony, a small petti peedika which sold all sorts of odds and ends, including cigarettes. I was entrusted with the task of buying one packet urgently for my Dad. I set out importantly.
Reached the shop. As usual, the front of the shop was crowded with people wanting soap, safety pins, hairpins, cigarettes, matches.... I waited patiently, before climbing onto a pile of stones deposited by the side of the shop. The shopkeeper saw me and asked me what I wanted.
"One cigarette," I called out across the other people. The man looked at this chit of a girl asking for cigarettes, but I held his gaze firmly.
The man shook out one cigarette from a packet and held it out to me.
I was confused. I had never seen ONE cigarette bought. Dad always only had packets and packets of the stuff.
"I want the cigarette in the packet," I said.
The shopkeeper decided to humour the little girl inspite of having other customers. He put the cigarette into a packet and gave it to me.
I was even more stumped.
"Not just one- I want more cigarettes..."
Enna ma, the shopkeeper grumbled, and shook out some 5-6 cigarettes into the packet- pothuma..?
By now I was getting flustered, for the other customers were enjoying the show.
I spied a stack of Scissors lying on one of the shelves.
"I want that packet," said I triumphantly.
The shopkeeper grumbled- "If you say one cigarette, you will get just one cigarette.You should have asked for a packet of Scissors in the beginning itself.
I nodded in agreement. Next time, I promised myself. Fortunately/unfortunately, I did not have to use my new found wisdom.
1 day ago