Srini huddled to a corner,sobbing.
“I am not going to part with my share,” she thought. She knew that when Amma (mother) comes to know about their fight,she would pounce upon her,bestowing the lion’s share of thrashing,reserved as return gifts to their daily fights.
Srini though was fond of her little brother Sree but when it was the question of mangoes, her yearning taste buds annulled her decency and entered into squabble with dearest brother. Amma came running to the wails of Sree. He yelled and shrieked for the small slice of Mango squashed in Srini’s palms. She smiled at the triviality of their locking-horns and went about scheduling the events of the upcoming wedding of her youngest brother-in-law. She did not care to nullify the push and pulls of Srini and Sri.
Srinidhi (aka Srini) and Sreejit (aka Sree) where the youngest in a Hindu undivided family.Their father had three brothers ,two were elder to him and the house stood illuminated like a bride for celebrating the matrimony of the youngest.
Srini was scarcely eight and she had been a witness and spectator to the daily bickerings of the fifteen odd members of their family. The day started with the morning clamor of bed tea by the mail members of the family-the otherwise morning call of the rooster subdued and mellowed. She could hear her elder brothers and sisters howling at each other for the occupation of washrooms. She was the onlooker when conflicts erupted for hair bands, clips ,ribbons……………kohls and endless beauty aids which could animate a female face. She spied the usual altercation in the kitchen –that “ I “ (whosoever it may be) was more burdened than “She” ……….the “I” and “She” however played hopscotch and changed places every week.She delighted in the mayhem that was a usual feature at the breakfast table-where “My wife” was praised over “His wife” for culinary skills, while the kids thrilled at the fact that every week introduced them to new flavors. Srini felt ghastly when grandfather was served spicy food and he would roam around teary eyed throughout the day, for the fact that his daughter-in-law who took turn to cook for the week had a piquant taste.
Patience and peace inhabited a faraway land and wisdom drowned in the nearby pond.
Srini gobbled the mango slice and slipped into deep slumber.
Today she woke up to the recital of “Suprabhatam” . “Oh! today is the wedding day.” A voice echoed in her heart. She climbed down the stairs to find everyone decked up.
An hour later, dressed up in Pattu pavada(read silk skirt and top) Srini saw the bride and the groom, hand in hand circulating around the sacred fire. An array of rituals followed before Srini grabbed a moment to chat with the new bride.
“Why did you marry Uncle? He is always fighting” said Srini. Her aunt looked up amazed and asked “What on earth does he fight for?”
He fights for the toothpaste in the morning,for towels after his bath,for rice and pudding during lunch,for an extra share of mangoes,for ev…vvveeerryy thing,emphasized Srini and her aunt burst into peals of laughter.
“Srini” whispered her new aunt-Chitra aunty, “I am a magician,I will spell magic on him and he will never fight.”
Srini laughed heartily.
Days and months saw Chitra Aunty as an impeccable manager lending an ear ,an advise and a sympathetic nod to every confrontation.
She was allocated the last week of every month to display her culinary skills. However she managed to sneak inside the kitchen for helpful tips to her elder sisters-in-law and was graceful enough to let them enjoy the appreciations awarded for delicacies articulated by her. She convinced the ladies of the house to cater to the taste buds of their old and ill father-in-law .She reminded them as to what would they have done if it was their own father.She moulded the children of the house to inculcate the sense of kinship and sharing among themselves.She nudged them at right places and coaxed them to be branches of one tree rather than scattered weeds.She gave “herself” to them ,rather than being a coy new bride,she held the bridle to redirect ways and to churn out positivity and peace.
Srini now heard the morning call of the rooster.The brickbats which displayed ‘normalcy’ to her had gave way to ‘peace’.The morning tea was not preceded by yells,neither the morning abolutions and the mayhem at the breakfast table gave way to consideration and adoration to serving hands.
She wondered how being normal differed from place to place and individual to individual.Even her normal self had changed-from craving for an extra mango slice to feeding that extra slice to Sreejit.
What is being normal Srini thought?
Every man to assess for themselves,she concluded.
Or is there anything by the name of “normal”