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25 April 2008

The Kuttichathan wins....

If having a new job wasn’t time consuming enough, I decided to start a blog. Looking after my toddler and playing cook-maid-washerwoman-chauffeur to my teenager must have fried my brains. I never realised that creating a blog was one thing, and maintaining it, quite another ball game altogether.

My blog was originally named '3warriersand1kuttichathan'. Krishnadas will grin when he reads this – he has been pulling my leg ever since my first kuttichathan article appeared in print. It seems almost as though, one way or another, my kuttichathan will make his presence felt.

I had a friend look over my blog - just look at it, you know - and tell me what he thought of it - and the first thing Vasanth said was, "Gosh, what a mouthful" - well, so it is, and who is to blame for that, may I ask? Vasanth's wife, Lata.

Here I was, muddling along fine, somewhere in the dark ages with my name intact, and I wrote a story about a kuttichathan – my very first, as it happens, and it appeared on Sulekha.com, back when the site was still an online magazine. Once it was published, I made the mistake of sending it to Lata to read. That was it - from then on, my name was changed without so much as a by-your-leave or if-you -please.

She refers to me as Kuttichathan among her (very) large circle of friends. I have had people come up to me at parties, and Lata will introduce me to them and they will all, without exception say, “Oh, you are Kuttichathan!” Many of them do not even know my real name. If you can't beat them, join them; therefore, here we were, in all our glory - my family and I - 3 Warriers and 1 kuttichathan - on a blog this time around.

My resident kuttichathan dislikes his name being taken over by me, and never mind if it wasn't my fault in the first place. I know what happens when my kuttichathan gets angry - I lose things. So, out of sheer cowardice, I changed the name.

My kuttichathan is still annoyed. If I did not wheedle him into a good mood, I would spend the next few days picking my valuables out of the trash. It’s amazing how he can never be found when you want him. I traipsed through my house ‘from cellar to dome’ and finally found him hiding behind some cardboard boxes in the attic. I would not have spotted him there either if a spotted lampshade had not wiggled indignantly. I endeavoured to coax him out of his sulks. By now, he had disappeared, much like a Jack-in-the-box, but now that I knew where he was, I was prepared to wait.

I decided to sit down on a convenient cardboard box, which the attic was liberally littered with, and eat some raw mango dipped in chilli powder and salt. Why that, do you ask? Well, because that is his favourite food. It brings back memories of the old banyan tree he used to live in, in Kerala, before he travelled to Bombay with my father-in-law. Well, that was a mistake, as he is often wont to complain, when he is in an expansive mood.

My father-in-law (he wasn’t my father-in-law then; in fact, I wasn’t even born, as my kuttichathan is so fond of telling me) was playing cards with his cronies under the banyan tree, and the kuttichathan decided to steal his trump card. Now, one thing you could not, should not do, is ever, ever, interrupt my father-in-law while he played cards. Well, came the time when he needed his trump card, and it was floating in the air somewhere above his head. My incensed father-in-law (who was not yet my father-in-law because I wasn’t yet born) grabbed at the card, and by some mischance grabbed the kuttichathan, who was in no hurry to give up his ace.

Well, card and kuttichathan were duly shuffled into the card pack. And that is how the kuttichathan came to Bombay. How he came to the US is another story.

Anyway, one crunch and the kuttichathan popped out from under his lampshade. He cannot see very clearly, but he can smell things at a hundred paces. He was willing to be mollified and when the biggest slice of mango disappeared from my plate, I knew he had unbent enough to listen to me.

So while I explained and apologised for circumstances over which I had no control, he muttered under his breath and pieces of mango continued to disappear. I caught a few words, here and there, and not one had anything to do with what I was saying to him. Finally, I could bear it no longer. Looking in the direction I assumed him to be, I said as sternly as I could – “EXPLAIN”. A smug voice launched into a long harangue about identity theft, from a completely different direction.

And then switching conversational gears with utmost insouciance, he began with the most talked about marriage of last year. But, of course, the kuttichathan has an eye for a pretty woman. My kuttichathan’s fascination with Aishwarya Rai started when he saw her dance to Dola re dola on You Tube. (Did I mention he used to live on the shelf above the computer?) He wished he were with them on the visit to Tirupati. Apparently, that is one temple he has never gone to, because he was scared they would cut his hair off. My kuttichathan is very vain.

Kuttichathans cannot keep to one topic for long, so like all gossips he switched to his latest peeve, the IPL. My kuttichathan is old-fashioned and prefers to see leisurely cricket with breaks for lunch and tea, and players in dazzling white. “What is this rubbish?” he growled. I start with appetisers and by the time I reach for dessert, the match is over! I can either celebrate with an after dinner liqueur or drown my sorrows in liquor!”

He was gnashing his teeth as he spoke when suddenly, I heard a gasp of delight somewhere near my left ear. He must have caught sight of the laptop on which I was typing this article as unobtrusively as I could. I could hear him dance around the attic. He had won! I had written about him again, even though I swore I wouldn’t. As I left the attic, however, I heard a crash and some extremely unparliamentary language. My kuttichathan had obviously fallen through the insulation and was trying to pull himself out. I closed the attic door softly, and left him to his struggles. Finally, I had the last laugh.

© Anuradha Warrier
April 2008

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