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It was my maternal grandfather’s habit to make the grandchildren read to him by turns during the pre-lunch hours when he lay down for a while.  One day I was reading to him from the Malayalam newspaper when he stopped me at the word ‘shushruusha‘.

Shu-shruu- sha, he enunciated to me.

Shu-sruu- sha, I dutifully repeated after him.

No, he said, shu-shruu-sha.

I  listened intently and went, shu-sruu-sha

This went on for some time with me not getting any the wiser and also getting tenser for not getting it right after so many tries (I was 12 or 13). My grandfather was one of those strict persons and could come down heavily on you for shortcomings. But surprisingly, that day he gave a short laugh and told me to move on to the next sentence and I let out a sigh of relief.

It took me years of puzzling for the right answer to suggest itself, almost on the lines of a ‘revelation’, and when it happened, it was all I could do to stop myself from shouting ‘Eureka!’ and rushing out of the shower like that fellow from the distant past.

I had all along been using the ‘s’ sound and not the ‘sh’ sound at all. Sheesh, how could I not have caught on?

©Shail Mohan 2016 

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