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I wonder if I have written about my habit of hiding things? No, no, no. Don’t worry. It isn’t some involuntary habit over which I have no control. Very much the contrary. It is a well thought out strategy that I have adopted to make my life easier. If in the process it has made/makes things tough for others all I can say is, ‘Hahaha’ and to rub it in I will add another ‘Ha!’

Why am I putting things away, you ask. Not that putting things away is in itself a bad idea. The right way to phrase that question, in case a anyone wants to ask it is: Why am I putting things away where others cannot find them? The answer is pretty simple: I don’t want those ‘others’ to find the things. Duh!

Everyone here knows how I used to spirit my pink towel away and hide it where no Martians of my household could get at it. In my defence I had the welfare of the said pink towel at heart while doing it. Much as I love the men in my life, I was (and am) of the firm opinion that if pink towels need to be pink, not brown, grey or any of those drab colors, I needed to keep it away from them.

Quite early on I caught on to the fact that in spite of my strict-mom image, instructions like ‘Do not gorge on chocolates’ or ‘Don’t snack before meals’ did not get the results I expected from the then teenaged sons. Many times I found the contents of jars missing just as I was about to serve guests. So I took to hiding the jars of goodies from the little monkeys of mine. Well, not so ‘little’ come to think of it, but still ‘little’ enough for me to call them ‘little’.

You know, sometimes mothers think they are oh-so-clever and smart only to find themselves being outsmarted by the pipsqueaks they have birthed. Once, very creatively or so I thought, I had stashed away part of the chocolates from a box received as gift, in the vegetable tray of the refrigerator. ‘The kids surely wouldn’t search among the vegetables!’ I decided. I went about my daily life smug in the knowledge that I had outwitted my progeny. Alas, how wrong I was! The First Born had found it and instead of crowing about his success as he was wont, quietly dug into it with me none the wiser.

You should have seen my crestfallen face when I found the stash down to its last few. But that failure did not deter me. The next time around I found an even better place. The First Born tried all he could to find the hidden loot, but this time he had to give up baffled. Later, when I produced it with a ‘Tada!’ he was mystified and wanted to know my hiding place. Ha! As if I was going to reveal all and lose my advantage. But I’ll do so now. It was inside the wet-grinder aka the dosa-batter making machine. Fiendishly diabolical idea that, what?

In the meantime you must be wondering why I don’t mention the Second Born. Wasn’t he interested in finding and gorging on his favourite snacks, the jackfruit chips, murukkus and the like? Unlike his brother, the Second Born’s used to be a more direct approach. It was more akin to a tornado, an impatient one at that, walking into the kitchen and demanding its due. ‘Amma!!!! WHERE is (whatever he wanted)?????!!!’ he’d ask, followed by an even louder, “AMMAAAAA!!” till exasperated I finally told him where to look for it. Sigh, by the time the second child is on the scene a mother is no longer her fighting fit self. Ahh give me some peace, about sums it up.

One would think with the kiddos all grown up and living their own lives I would now have no more need to go about concealing things. I thought so too, like an innocent babe in the woods. But no, once into it, it never ends. Nowadays I have special hiding places for my kitchen knife used for cutting vegetables, the non-stick tawa, the small red dried chillies used for seasoning, so on and so forth. Why, you may ask and its a very good question too.

Repeated requests to the L&M not use the vegetable knife for other purposes (like cutting a plastic wire using it, the horror!) have failed to elicit the required result (but we are slowly getting there!). The house help thinks she can scrape the non-stick tawa just as she does the iron one. Or may be she thinks the black coating needs to be scratched off, who knows! Strict instructions to not use too many red chillies in seasoning has got no result either, she thinks she should spice up the bland food I prefer. Yada, yada, yada. The story continues….

© Shail Mohan 2022