A long time ago an off-spin bowler called Tilak Raj - frustrated at being unable to find a place in the Delhi cricket team - came to Vadodara and found a regular place in the Ranji side. One day a batsman called Ravi Shastri stopped by and hoicked all six balls from one Tilak Raj over for sixes. Years passed but whenever Tilak Raj let a long hop slip, copious laughter could be heard around the stadium followed by a chant that went "Ra-vi-shas-tri!"
We all have our embarrassing moments that haunt us forever. And since I've got plenty I thought I'd occasionally use a Taxicab Confessions type of post to see if I can get rid of my demons. Here is the first one.
When I was a kid I was expected to help with the household chores. I ended up running most errands especially those that involved trips to the general store. Occasionally Mum would give me a note with something scribbled on it and say "Beta, just show this to the storekeeper and he'll give you a package. Pay for it and bring it home". Once I left the house I used to note that the word "Carefree" was written on it.
I didn't know what it was but since Mum didn't want to ask for it herself and didn't want to embarrass her son either, I figured it was something to be reticent about. So Little Aspi would walk up to the counter, feel his ears turn red, show the paper to the baniya, try to ignore the slight curl of the lips and bring the package home. Often I tried to figure out why this object was such a big secret - it seemed soft enough. Heck, it didn't smell bad either.
All of this was extremely painful because of a storekeeper called Laalu who would find new ways to torture me each time. Often he would unfold the note on the counter and smirk "Abey, which size do you want? Heh heh" I would come home in tears. Many times, if Laalu was manning the store, I would go right back home and keep checking every hour to see if the coast was clear for me to go buy the mysterious item. None of this I let Mum in on.
Then one fine Summer, my favorite cousin-sister (lets call her Raveena Tandon for now) hit puberty and this became the hot topic of discussion. As such I learned much that vacation about you know, periods.
One of the side-effects of this particular state for Raveena was that my highly conservative grandma wouldn't allow her to touch anything in the kitchen. Raveena would place me on special lookout all afternoon while she romped around the kitchen touching everything in it as an act of rebellion. Why once I even found her hugging the refrigerator. I didn't understand this until years later when I read this by Gloria Steinem in Ms. In any case, that Summer I finally learned what Carefree was.
So back to the errand situation. Armed with this new knowledge, I developed a cocky confidence. I even walked in one day to buy it with Laalu manning the store. And of course Laalu asked me the question with a snicker to which I shot back "Whatever your Ma uses, give me half that size".
Now three things are worth noting here. First, I probably invented "Your Mama" jokes but never get credit for it. Second and third, not only was this a very misogynist path for me to tread but also didn't make very much sense. But such is the conditioning men undergo to feel shame whenever one of their womenfolk is mentioned by a gairmard, that Laalu turned a nice shade of purple. Immense satisfaction coursed through my body.
Laalu never made fun of me again and I went back to mere awkward discomfort at running this errand.