I INSIST – WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
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Mrs. Sekar is sometimes bemusing yet remained a submissive woman, a traditional one. Before I could begin to sweep the floor in my room, there she came. When I was moving the first few strokes of the broom, she clenched to the rib of the broom I was holding, with a solemn and serious face, spoke in Tamil with a mix of limited words of English, and said, “No, no. Me, no broom”. That was an ambiguous statement to figure out. What did she mean? Whether she has no other broom, she needed the broom now, or I should not be using her broom at all? Or did she mean something else? Then, I found out, it was her way of telling me that sweeping the room in her house is absolutely not a job of any other people other than herself and unconditionally it is her job. Mrs. Sekar speaks only a meagre English. She has in mind of limited words of English, not anything more than that.
Came yesterday evening, a house in the nearby neighbourhood opened its door for a house warming. Music came loud from the speakers of the new house. The villagers knew about the open house and the open invitation. Several hours earlier, Tomato told me he wanted to go to cheer the host of the new house and invited me to join him. Hours of waiting later, Mrs. Sekar came to me with her gesture I understood, she was to convey a message from her husband, and she told, “You, Husband, Go, Go”, then instantaneously she added, “You, Sleep, Good Night”. I almost had a burst but held back. What did she mean? On one hand she told me that we get to go, on the other, she was telling me to go to sleep? She really threw in a bewildered puzzle on me. Whether Tomato and I are going to the house warming? Whether only her husband is going but me? Or whether is she asking me to go to bed? What a bemusing confusion.
When my room gathers dust and had a strewn of scattered sand, I had wanted to do the cleaning chores myself. Never had I wanted to demand any cleaning to be exhausted by Mrs. Sekar. Whenever each time I get close to the broom which she has her wits about it, from no where she would instantly appear to me in the blink of an eye, pressing for the broom and stand by it, like a magical fairy holding her powerful fairy stick appeared before a burst of fireworks. You would have normally watched it on the prologue of Walt Disney movies. That was how Mrs. Sekar appeared to me the way Walt Disney does.
One fine afternoon, while she was having an afternoon nap on the floor of the living hall over their household unit at the ground floor, I had a notion of idea that it should be the moment I could hijack her broom while she was soundly napping. Holding the broom and on a very light tip toe stepping up the stairs as if cheeky Jerry mouse finding way to escape from Tom the black cat, I witted a chuckle, “This is the hijack. I am not caught by this watchful woman householder”.
But, the moment I Iaid a hand on the broom before my room, a voice sounded like a victim of betrayal, broke up abruptly from the staircase, and she threw out “Thambi, me broom”. I had an acute jump of shock upon hearing her calling. That was Mrs. Sekar. How could Tom sense Jerry when Tom was having a sound nap? How could Tom sense his piece of lovely cheese is stolen when Jerry makes no sound of it? I raised a piece of white flag showing my surrender to her but still feeling thoughtfully relentless. This is a women syndrome why most men couldn’t understand. This shows how watchful women are for every little matter, particularly involving their household substance if men were to create a single fuss over it. We men come from Mars tend not able to comprehend such a created commotion, no matter how hard we scratch our heads but still fail to comprehend the instinct sensibility of women who believed to have already controlled the Venus.
So, sweeping is one part of her chores. I relentlessly waiting by the door of my room. She brushed the broom against the floor of the veranda but not my room, and then laid another several brushes, with the gathered dust and sand all swept into the dustpan by her. Before stepping down through the staircase, her gesticulation was telling me vividly again – Jerry should do no fooling with her, Tom is always watchful and alert. Sweeping work is absolutely not a job of any other people other than herself and unconditionally it is her job, and I have to submit to it. But then, I had a little problem. I intend to lay bed tonight over the floor in my room, not at the veranda by the staircase. That was the sensibility dilemma I couldn’t understand. We had not only been doing chicken and duck talk, and now comes the matter of understanding. Of two different worlds, certainly I am from Mars and she is from Venus, dare you to deny.
Mrs. Sekar washes her brass pots of many sizes, big and small and her copper kitchen utensils at the pipe host standing by the front yard beside the main door. At times in the morning, I see lots of pots lying upside down on the ground with their black-buttocks all facing the hot sun for basking when I walked pass.
Seeing Mrs. Sekar’s pots, I did not forget the blacked-buttock pots and kettles that were always lying on the yard in the same manner when I was living in another house some time around four months ago. Over that house in the morning, before I could leap over those pots, I would have seen the door of a room in the downstairs opening up but always half covered by the clothesline of lingerie, and noticing Ala Melu sitting with her legs crossed on the floor in the room with her hand crushing the dosa before putting it into her mouth. She always made a very exclusive invitation for her dosa breakfast by saying, “You like dosa? Take it, take it”. I was able to greet her a good morning while reaching the four-foot zinc sheet gate before making my way to Yogi Ram ashram. Thinking back, I had not been going to the house to visit her since I came back here.
One evening when I arrived home before taken the trouble to latch the lowly made zinc sheet gate, I heard Ala Melu calling out to me, “You like dosa?”. I turned to her, looking at her with my eyes moved to the centre of her plate filled with dosa which was placed on the floor of her room. She had an intent look at me and said, “Take it, take it, take these dosa if you like them”. I was taken aback and rather shy to take a share of the dosa that may just be filling good for herself. Never mind this time but she insisted to make some dosa for me for the dinner the following night.
The following evening, when the dosa was ready on her flat-pan, I filled my plate with two pieces of it. She asked how much I like the homemade dosa cooked on her flat-pan. Being a polite guest, I couldn’t decline to make some truthful commends. Hearing my commends, she added another three pieces of dosa on my plate making up a stack of five and faced me with another, “Take it, take it, if you like it”. When I told her how tasteful the gravy was, she was happily saying again, “Take it, take it, if you like it”, adding another huge ladle of gravy on my plate. I was taken aback.
On ordinary day, when she was drying some grains on a gunny sack over our compound, I shared an understanding with her of how healthy was to diet on mix grains. She looked at my face and with a pleasing consent, said, “If you like the grains, take it, take it”. I was definitely taken aback again, absolutely a bashful one. First, I can’t take into pocket someone’s grain when I do not work for it. Secondly, goodness, what do I do with the raw grains?
On other days, when there were brass pots laid under the sun with the heads down and all blacken buttocks up, I wouldn’t take the courage to commend a thing of the pots. You wouldn’t have seen a backpacker loading his haversack up into the bus when you also at the same time see some black-buttock pots clinging onto it. Take it, take it – oh no.