Growing up my brother and I were a maha pain in the neck for our parents. Quiet days during our adolescence were few and far between. Vexed uncles and aunties from the neighborhood were a permanent fixture in our lives what with their constant knocking on our doors to complain about some mischief or an act of vandalism, we would have definitely committed.
After receiving an earful Amma would deal with us in her de facto (patent pending) way. But first she’d welcome the plaintiffs with brimming steel tumblers of hot 3 Roses tea and a tray of britannia marie biscuits while simultaneously serving saccharine apologies for her ‘teenage’ sons rowdy-rascal behavior. After adjourning the grievances and appeals session in the courtyard she would walk to the canopy of trees lining our fence, break out a nice supple branch, strip the leaves, march in unannounced before unleashing some ol’ fashioned talk to the stick (patent pending) on us. Disciplining the kids was her domain. Academics was Dad’s.
There is this one incident from those long gone times etched in my memory. When he was in the eighth grade my brother once failed on seven out of seven unit tests. Scared shitless by imagined caning he hid all the unit test books (yes that was their official name) under an old trunk in the cellar around midnight because there was a high chance of them being discovered if they lay in his satchel unattended.
After the deed he had to pee. And like a good ammakutty he washed his feet after finishing number1 because people who didn’t dreamt bad dreams. The fool forgot to remove his wet bata chappals and lo Dad caught him trying to sneak back under the covers stealthily.
Light switches were flicked on.
At first Dad and Amma were worried that he was hiding porno magazines in the cellar. (LOL)
Amidst the lighthearted caning and insinuations of further horrors he told us about the hidden unit test books. (I was woken up by the commotion and sat on my bed gleefully watching; bystander voyeurisming)
A hush fell upon Dad and Amma. This was much worse news than hiding adult material. Dad made him march to the cellar and retrieve the goods.
Once the booklets were laid out end to end Dad gave my brother a severe admonishing and in an unprecedented act of vandalism tore the face sheets (with the grades on them) off of all of them.
Next he applied glue and stuck each one on the wall of our room above the headboard.
He said, ” I want you to look at these every time you walk in or out of your room. Every time you are thinking of wasting your time on stuff other than studying. When your friends come over and ask you what all of this is, you are to tell them that you failed your exams and tried to hide the results.”
As far as I know my brother hasn’t failed on a test since that night in 1995; unless he has but has also become a Jedi at concealing shit. Anyway I look, the outcome is a #WIN in my book.
Clap-in to recent times.
Me to brother: “Do you remember that time when dad tore face sheets from your unit test books and stuck them on the wall to (make you feel ashamed) motivate you, after failing seven unit tests?”
Brother: “Nope. I remember no such thing. Don’t make up shit just because you can…gandu.”
Sometimes the memory of a memory is so beautiful when it’s left in isolation. Resection attempts by actively calling it into consciousness all but destroys or distorts it. Gossamer them neurons. If only we could just run them red lights.