Thursday, October 30, 2008


Last evening, I was applying mehendi on Ashwin's hands. As usual, it was elephant on one hand and an aeroplane on the other. He was thrilled.

I was reminded of an incident during my sister's mehendi ceremony.

We had lots of guests at home and everyone was having beautiful mehendi designs applied on their hands. Ashwin made a request for the elephant and aeroplane on his hands, but the professional mehendi guys were a bit slow and said they didn't know how to do these! So they applied usual designs on Ashwin's hands.

In the evening, my Natarajan Chittappa arrived. He is one with a beard and mustache and a size to go with it. And curly hair. The kind that is generally intimidating to kids. Growing up, I remember him to be one of my favourite uncles, but also the most intimidating. My other uncles would instigate me to say "Raja Gooja" to him, but I wouldn't. Bayam Kalanda Mariyadai.

Around the same time, I told Ashwin I will make the elephant and aeroplane on his hands. While I was making the elephant, my chittappa came to us and told Ashwin in his gruff voice that he was a boy and boys don't have mehendi on their hands. Up until this stage of his life, Ashwin was not used to being intimidated at all. It took him a while to get scared during which he tried reasoning with my chittappa. To no avail. Finally, my little boy burst into tears and said to me "Wash pannanum". I carried him upstairs away from the others and continued drawing the elephant and the aeroplane. We then came down to show people our mehendi trophies. My chittappa was still instigating him so I offered to say "you you" to chittappa on Ashwin's behalf (you you was the choicest swear word of that time.). My little boy turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "You you aana amma". Even in his state of terror, he was protecting the others from what he thought was unsafe!

Anyway, Chittappa and Ashwin became friends and Ashwin got chittappa to concede that it was boy-ly to have mehendi in his hands and chittappa introduced him to the pleasures of "pakka vadiyam". He also took him on auto rides and even got him to sit on the driver seat of an auto, to Ashwin's extreme delight!

Chittappa also gave him a coin every now and then to put in the small temple hundial in the marriage chowltry. On the last day of the wedding, when it was time to leave, in true my-chittappa fashion, he asked Ashwin for the money back.

Cocking his head to a side, Ashwin explained,

"Paisa ummachi kitta potachi. Finish aayiduthi" (We've given the money to God, it's over now.). Chittappa however insisted on getting the money back and at this point, Ashwin burst into tears.

Any other end to this interaction would not have been as authentic...

That's him with my sweet Raji chitti...

1 comment:

Ashwin Thatha said...

Very nice. Reminds us of all little rascal's deeds in Chennai.
What about one on his asking Thatha for the car keys
"Jayaramaan, pleease open"