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Once there was an old man and an old woman. They were neighbors. Probably they grew up playing together, went to the same school, shared raw mangoes with salt and red chilly powder sprinkled on it; he most definitely had pulled her hair at some point of time and she had scratched him in retaliation; both had been reprimanded equally for their misdemeanor by parents, and had stuck our their tongues when the parents’ backs were turned in a sudden show of solidarity… In short, you could say they were very good friends, who having lived a fruitful life, ended up being neighbors in the evening of their lives. But what happened in the mornings (every day without fail) of their dotage is what is more interesting to us. So here goes.

Kalyanikkutty Amma, for that was the old woman’s name was particular about her morning ritual of head bath. Yeah, we Mallu women are like that. And she being a stickler for time could be found at exactly 7 a.m. with oiled hair tied into a top knot, eencha and thorthu in hand, walking towards the bath house, which in those days used to be set a little away from the main house. On seeing her, Sankarankutty Nair, who was also addicted to his own routine and could be found relaxing in his favorite armchair waiting for his wife to inform him that she was free to oil his sparsely inhabited head, would  give a semi-toothless (he had not lost all his teeth yet) grin and call out,

Kalyanikkutty Amma kulikkan povaano?” (Kalyanaikutty Amma, are you going to have your bath?)

Sure enough, Kalyanikkutty Amma, all smiles, herself missing many from the original thirty-two, would answer her friend, shaking her head,

Alla alla, Sankarankutty Naire, jnan kulikkan povaanu..” (No, no Sankarankutty Nair, I am going to have my bath.)

Sankarankutty Nair would nod his head in understanding and say,

Ahhh, jnan vicharichu Kalyanikkutty Amma kulikkan povanennu” (Ahh, I thought you were going for your bath)

Funny and cute, isn’t it? Yeah you guessed, right. Both of them were deaf. Both.

Unfortunately, in life you come across some people with perfect hearing, yet behave as if they are stone deaf. You tell them something, and it is as if it their ears have temporarily failed them and something like the following happens:

One of them Able To Hear Perfectly Well But Will Not Admit To It types will tell you,

“Here, have some karela. It’s good for you.”

You tell them, No, thank you. I don’t like karela. I’ll have the lauki instead.

“Have some karela na? They are excellent. Everyone is having karela only!”

You smile and shake your head, I am allergic to it. I prefer the lauki.

“Nonsense! Nobody is allergic to karela. No, no-no-no-no, have some karela” and they dump some on your plate, insisting that it is good for you and eulogizing its benefits.

Now also imagine that this happens every single time you both meet in spite of the fact that you have very clearly mentioned (more than a couple of times) your views on karela and what it does to you.

By the way, there is a Mallu saying that goes, “Urangunnavane unartham, urangunnu ennu nadikkunnavane unarthan pattilla” (You can wake someone who is asleep, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to be asleep). So it is, with those who pretend to be deaf. You can never make yourself be heard by them because they are pretending to be deaf. Well, tell me one thing. If people with pretty good hearing want to impress upon you by their behavior that they are hearing-impaired, what do you do other than call them deaf?

Let me digress a bit here and tell you the story of my two year old nephew. This must have been about 20 odd years back. In our eagerness to get him off the playground and into the ‘getting-ready’ mood we told him that he’d be getting an ice-cream after dinner out. From the playground, to the house, all through his bath and dressing, in the auto-rickshaw to the restaurant, in fact such time as the ice-cream was not finally in his hand (we had to get it for him before dinner) he kept wailing “Ice-cream!!! I want ice-cream!!!!!” He would scarce listen to us though we tried to distract him, give him repeated assurances. He simply was bent on wailing “Ice-cream!!!! I want ice-cream!!!!” insistently refusing to listen to reason.

That had been a two year old child, whose brain had not yet developed to its full maturity level. But what when fully grown adults behave in a similar manner? What when they spout drivel like this: You are avoiding karela because you want to appear young in the eyes of the world and are afraid that karela might age you. In a few years time they will even tell you that you are nothing but a miser, trying to hoard up whatever you can by skimping on karelas and only eating lauki. Are you supposed to laud them for their non-existent brains when they take so much pain to disguise its very existence?

Anyways, who am I to disappoint those who are so eager to camouflage their well-qualified brains from me? Who am I to insist otherwise, though I would very much love to? Yup, in my kindhearted way, I grant them their unspoken wish in the only way I know and refer to them as morons.

Pssssst! A general statement. The secret of reading my blogs (any of them) is never to think it is directed at you or the people in your life unless what I say fits perfectly. Then yes, of course it most definitely IS.

Updated to add: If anyone feels at sea reading this post please take a look here . From the comments I gather things aren’t clear. Karela and lauki here are mere representation of things (not necessarily food) that some people force on others.

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