When I see all those middle-aged couples amble sedately along the road or the walking tracks, I can only sigh, that is if I am not panting to catch up with the L&M. I sigh louder when I see the younger couples clinging to each other and holding hands as they walk side by side. I can’t ever remember such a thing even during the early days of our marriage, except when he lovingly held my hand on certain occasions – which happened to be the times when he did so to prevent me from bolting from one of those 007 movies that he dragged me to, remember?
Coming back to the park while the other couples turn to each other and talk, I talk to his back; sometimes I shout to his back as he strides ahead. This is not something that has developed with age, but has always been so.
Here I must pause to ask the forgiveness of my feminist sisters who must be ready to banish me from the sisterhood forever for not only addressing him as my Lord and Master but also faithfully following in his footsteps – literally, as I try trot after him like a panting puppy.
To be fair to myself, I don’t take it lying down. I do make my displeasure evident — to his back of course. And if he is not too far, he hears me and turns back to mumble a sorry and retrace his steps to my side. The poor guy genuinely tries walking alongside. Not for long, before the itch to stretch his legs overtakes him and his strides lengthen imperceptibly and then visibly, increasing the distance between us. And I sigh again. (Wonder if Baba Ramdev has some kind of pranayam consisting solely of sighs. If he does, I am an expert at it.)
I can’t blame the L&M entirely, because he can’t help his long legs as much as I can’t help being short and also an SMS to boot. And now you’d have guessed what the acronyms in the title stand for. No? Then you are as much an SMS as me. Ok, ok, I will end the suspense and tell you: I am the Slow Motion Sundari (SMS) and he is the Daddy Long Legs (DLL)!
Of late we have decided to go our separate ways at least in the park. On the way to and back it is still me following faithfully in his footsteps!
Let me tell you about the SMS:
Even as a kid I used to laugh last – not because I laughed the best, but because I couldn’t understand the joke when it was being narrated. As the others burst out laughing, I would look somberly at them, with a poker face. They might have dismissed me as a humourless thing. Little did the others know that I was furiously trying to decipher the joke. And then, viola! It would dawn on me and I would burst out laughing, after everyone else had stopped of course. And it annoyed the others, not only because I was such a slowpoke but also because my laugh was like a donkey’s braying that went on and on. Sometimes they would find it so hilarious to see me roll on the ground laughing, that they would start laughing afresh – at yours truly.
Even that was fine, but there used to be times when I would laugh days, weeks and even months after hearing a joke. I would suddenly remember the joke and begin laughing, tears rolling down my cheeks, unable to stop to enlighten the others as to the cause of my uncontrollable mirth. I didn’t need laughter clubs where they laugh artificially at nothing in particular. I could summon a belly laugh at will, just by remembering some funny event or a particularly good joke.
I am no Churchill, that master of repartees, but still, I wish I could be a little quick on the uptake when confronted by a comment. Alas. I would be frantically thinking of an acid retort when the moment would have passed and I would be left looking stupidly at the person who made the comment. And me being ME, I would not stop thinking about it. After an hour of brooding over it, I would have the perfect repartee ever, but sadly no one to deliver it to!
That’s how slow I am. You could call me a ‘lubait’ as my nephew would call the tube-light, when he was a kid. The only problem was that sometimes the lubait never came on and became a ‘fuse-light’ instead.
Will you believe me if I told you that I used to be called ‘mollamma’? Molla in Tamil means slow. It happened like this: one day I was running and tripped and fell. (That’s what happens when you hurry. Now you know why I am a SMS!) My elder sister called out, ‘Mollamma!’ (go slow, child!), and the name stuck. So whenever I did anything at my normal pace — which was SLOW — I was called Mollamma.
The SMS ate slowly too. While everyone else had finished their lunch/dinner, I would still be eating my first roti. No amount of scolding, cajoling, teasing or any other means made the morsel of roti — chewed to a pulp and beyond — go down my throat. My older brother warned that it would get digested completely and turn into something else in my mouth itself if I didn’t swallow it quickly enough. Curiously it only made me gag, but not swallow. My concerned parents even consulted doctors to find out if something was wrong with my gullet, but they could find nothing wrong. It was simply the SMS at work.
I would hold a piece of burfi or some equally small piece of eatable and nibble tiny morsels of it, sometimes quashing the whole thing in my sweaty palm. Often my second oldest brother would come and take a sizeable piece of it away, ostensibly to ‘help me finish it’, having finished his own share. Needless to say the SMS would begin crying still not gulping down but holding the remnants of the burfi! Today the L&M has taken over the job of relieving me of my share. You already know what he does to the popcorn, don’t you?
If there had been some contest for slow eating, I would have won it hands down. This habit continued well into adulthood, with the only change being that if I needed to eat fast, I would eat miniscule quantities. After marriage, my father-in-law would tease me, ‘Eat a little slower and we will join you for dinner.’ It had no effect as usual, though I tried to eat faster and choked, much to his alarm.
The brats unashamedly capitalized on the SMS syndrome while surfing channels. By the time my ears relayed the message that my favourite song was playing in a particular channel, to the brain in super-slow motion and I screamed, ‘stop stop!’, they would have jumped ten channels. They would dutifully surf backwards a couple of channels and say that that I must have imagined it!
You can imagine the catastrophic consequences when the SMS also begins growing older, with the reflexes slowing down as a natural consequence. Even though the L&M’s reflexes are slowing down too, it is in proportion to mine.
And so the distance remains, as the SMS continues to run after her DLL, in slow motion of course!
(Photo credit: colchaspaz.com)