14 January

I know from the smell of rajma-chawal, grilled chicken and dum aloo that assaults my nose in a glorious conglomerate of masalas, that Dodo is home. This particular combination of food is always his homecoming meal. That, and thick rice kheer garnished with raisins, and chilonji and elaichi.

Ogre had sold her house at Churchgate and moved us to Andheri, because she thought Etcetra and I needed more room. But in fact, both of us share a room, and one bedroom is always kept for Dodo’s use, even though he uses it only for about 20 days in a year.

Etcetra and I do not mind. I like to hear the sound of Etcetra’s breathing and to watch her sleep while I lie awake at night, thinking or reading, or disturbed by a dream. And Etcetra for all her grumpy behaviour has never demanded her own room. Perhaps because I make her bed, put her dirty clothes in the wash, clean up her mess and all of that. Perhaps she is worried that if she has her own room, she would have to keep it clean herself.

Dodo is in his room, uncharacteristically lying in bed. I think I have never seen him in a horizontal static position before. He looks much, much thinner than when I saw him last, if that is at all possible, and browner, and there is much more grey in his hair. It’s almost all white now, in fact. He sees me and smiles, and puts out a thin hand. I am trembling as I sit down beside him, I feel devastated at the sight of him lying there, so ill and wan.

Dodo laughs: “Appi, don’t look at me as if I am going to pop it in the near foreseeable future. In medical estimation, I am not. As for the unpredictability of
life, one cannot say anything definite. I’ve had a bad case of flu, and am totally rundown. Nothing else.”

Me: “Well, at least that brought you home.”

Dodo: “Yes, it did. And now Ogre will feed me with a vengeance, put some kilos back on me before I leave.”

Me: “Oh, so you already have your leaving planned, is it?”

Dodo: “Not in terms of date and time, but I will leave eventually, you know that.”

Me: “Hmmmph.”

Why can’t he ever say things to please, keep one pacified for some time, even if they are untrue? Sometimes you just need to be comforted, but he will always bombard you with unsentimental facts. Much like Etcetra. It can get very exhausting at times.

Ogre looks happier than she had in the last few months. She feels that now Dodo is here, she cn stop worrying about Etcetra for a bit.

But she complains to me in the kitchen: “If only I can get Dodo to take me seriously. He seems to have a blind spot about Etcetra. All his keen observational powers take a backseat, where she is concerned.”

Me: “Maybe it’s just because they are both alike. Sometimes I think that the more badly Etcetra behaves, the happier Dodo feels. He just sees it as being bold and forthright.”

Ogre looks at me sharply: “Now that’s enough, Appi. You just need some excuse to start running Etcetra down.”

I gape at her. Ogre can complain all she wants to, but she will never encourage me in even the mildest form of bitching about Etcetra. Or Dodo. Grr!

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2 Comments on “14 January”

  1. desi-at-large says:

    Ahh, Dodo can exercise his right to live life on his terms – to his credit, he has been responsible, even though he is a remote influence, but again, what would he do without Ogre’s renunciation of life-as-she-knew-it? Two motherless girls and practically fatherless too. Dodo’s privilege comes at the cost of Ogre’s. Newton’s third law of motion is always lurking there somewhere.
    And it is rather unfair that Etcetra’s burden is foisted on Appi’s mind. And while Ogre jumps at a suggestion of bitchiness (just to make sure Appi learns the right thing,) this fact is lost.
    I can identify with Appi’s wish that she would rather Dodo sometimes said things to momentarily appease as opposed to cold truths. It’s very savvy, to let people hear sweet little lies, but when one weighs things in retrospect, one appreciates being told the truth, however cruel it may have sounded at that time.

    • Banno says:

      Hmm, I can’t quite make up my mind about Dodo. He’s great, but at the cost of …

      Oh yes, I think the truth, even if cruel works better than sweet lies.

      But sometimes kids, young ones need only pampering. And that’s essential too.


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