Monday, September 19, 2011

The days of absence

I remember the date very well.  It was the night of 18th September, 2011.  It feels just like last night.  My day and subsequently, the night, was jeopardized thanks to the common cold.  Even though it is supposed to be common, I have no idea why it creates so much havoc.  It is very easy to draw parallels between a nose that has caught cold and an Indian road during traffic jam.  You almost feel for the nose, as it tries all possible tricks to allow itself some fresh air and keep the breathing smooth and easy.  On the contrary, it is anything but smooth.  On top of it, the blocked nose brings with it a running mucus that can suffocate your happiness.  In my experience, there is no way to escape the effects of the common cold without some medication.  But, when you compare it to the traffic jams on Bangalore roads, you have no reason to doubt why it is so common.

So, one of those nights it was, and I just took an effervescent cold relief tablet and slept like there never was to be a tomorrow.  As the alarm went off early in the morning, and as I snoozed many a time, as my head spun in many different directions, there was only one thing clear in my head.  I just cannot go to work today.  Rather, I was in no good shape to tackle and respond to different mails and issues.  They had to wait another day.  As I typed my customary email, and got back to sleep, I wondered how things had changed from the time I had to submit a leave letter in school for such reasons.

Convincing the teacher is one thing, but convincing your mom that you actually have a cold when you don't have one is one of the toughest things in the world.  My primary school was early in the morning.  I had to be in the class at 7:30 AM.  That's like getting up at 6:30 on cold wintry mornings to get ready to go to school.  So, if you had to start the drama, it better be with some amount of planning.  The sniff of the nose was just not enough to induce event the slightest of sympathy.  She had seen several days like this, and by this time, even she was bored of the reasons.

Sniff, sniff!

Enough of this nonsense, just get up and get ready.

Another sniff, sniff.

Even before I completed the customary sniff, I was there in the bathroom brushing my teeth.

After a point, it was easy to go to school than to go through the hassle of getting a leave letter handwritten at home.  That was a painful experience.

Anyway, common cold is frightening.  But, there have been instances when I have skipped school for absolutely genuine reasons.

I have a younger brother who was a maniac of a kid, and both of us used to get into regular wrestling bouts, albeit, without any fixed rules.  So, anybody can kick anybody's butt at will.  Just replace the butt with the face, and both our faces used to be scarred with whatever few nails we had on our finger tips.  So, one fine day, I actually had to skip school, since my face was covered with a lot of scars.

The next day, when I went to school (I think I was in my fourth grade), I was treated like a cool dude.  I actually looked like a guy who had fought a war in the Siachen belt.  There were bloodied lines, some short and some long, intersecting at will, running across my face.

The teacher, in her usual stern voice, asked me, What happened to your face?

I, in my English, as bad then as it is now, answered meekly,

Miss, my brother killed my face. (In Tamil, Killradhu means to pinch)

My obviously Tamil illiterate teacher gave me a puzzled and shocking look.

That's when you have the class leader, or whoever it is, the guy who knows all the languages and is actually the cool dude of the class, to find out what exactly happened.  Also, by now, you must have realized by my response, that there was no way in the world that I could have been the class leader.  As he explained the situation to the teacher, she let out a laugh that I still cannot forget, and to compound my misery further, she brought two of her colleagues and explained what had just happened.  I was the butt of ridicule for the rest of the day.

The Tamilification of the English language that began then has still not left. 

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