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21 January 2012

The Brolly Story

It's been almost a month since I last posted; even longer since I have seen a movie. I have spent this time merely getting myself to function. I feel like a rather tired Phoenix. Note that I haven't yet risen; just struggling to do so. It's nice to be back. It's nicer to know I was missed. :) Thank you. 

Like all things in this world today are outsourced, I decided that in my absence, my husband could pitch in to keep my blog going. 

He had come back from India a couple of months ago, and had regaled me with a very vivid tale of how my aunt, with much hand waving and emotional angst, had told an interested audience (that included him, his mother, and my mother) the sad story of her trials - with an umbrella. My husband said he was enthralled as much by the way she told it, as by the story itself. Once he ended, and I had stopped laughing, he thought it deserved to be put into verse. (Of course!)

Before we get to the versification of the tale, here is the tale itself:

My aunt's niece (no, not me; her sister's daughter) brought her a very colourful umbrella when she came down from Sharjah. (Yes, I know it smacks of bringing coal to Newcastle, but that is subject for another post.) Aunt was thrilled; until, she found that, once opened, it promptly shut. It didn't matter how much she tried; the button wouldn't work, and she couldn't keep it open. After much sweat and toil (and no cursing... my aunt is a lady!), she gave in, but did not give up. However, she knew that was not the end of the matter. How on earth was she going to get to use this wonderful umbrella if it wouldn't open and shut at will? 

My husband attempts to tell the tale of what happened next, as she strove to find a way to bend the umbrella to her will. Who won? Who lost? Read on...
The Umbrella
(and how it affected my wife's aunt and other people)

I hope this tale will not haunt
(You know I wish my readers well)
But a tale I will tell of my wife’s aunt
and the umbrella -- from hell.

It came to her from Sharjah, that place
where the Indian cricket team
has often preferred disgrace
to bolstering self esteem.

It was given to her by her niece
And of her, no more shall be said
Like old soothsayers who speak their piece,
she played her part, and fled.

An umbrella that was so glorious
it came carried by the wind
(Err… actually in an  A320 Airbus)
to a bustling part of Hind.

To a place where all was green,
Everything a verdant hue
Not another colour to disturb the scene
Not even the water was blue.

At this point my friends, I decree
I will change the rhyming sequence
from ABAB to AABB
(Good people, I crave your indulgence.)

The umbrella was met with cries of delight
My wife's aunt said, "This is just so right
I can use it to ward off the rain
And fight people off getting into a train.”

And so she picked it up and lovingly pressed
the button, on the handle that she guessed
would open this wondrous, amazing creation
But to her shock, horror, consternation...

The umbrella shot forth with violence
as if propelled by some malignance
Then, quivered for a moment, fully unfurled
and snapped back, closed to the world.

"My word," said my wife's aunt admiringly
"These foreign machines are built so powerfully,
and though I shrieked at its violent action
I am amazed by the strength of its reaction.

“But can I handle this instrument
even after ten eggs and a stimulant?
Is this umbrella too much for me?
Would keeping it be an exercise in futility?”

"Plus, it does not remain open, it closes,"
said watching relatives. "So we proposes
that to get it to work, you must first repair
it, so you can hold it up in the air."

My wife's aunt said, "That is so true
I guess that is what anybody would do
However, let us give it one more chance.”
The closed, sinister umbrella resembled a lance.

She pressed the button on the handle one more.
The umbrella leapt forth as if to gore
a passing relative, nephew, mother...
If it couldn’t get this one, it would settle for the other.

And then, alas, it closed itself shut again.
My wife's aunt hurriedly sought some champagne
To steady her nerves. (It should be said
she never drank alcohol if she could have tea instead.)

She hastened to the centre of the city
where sat a repairer of great felicity
'twas said the worst umbrellas he could repair
While lesser competitors gave in to despair.
In some places umbrellas are serious things,
and you know their ’not workings’
can fester and cause great pain
in a land of much, much, and more rain.

So she marched up to the repairer and stood in queue
‘til and finally when he came into view
"What can I do for you, my lady?" he said.
On seeing the umbrella he fell as if dead.

They revived him with slippers and onions,
Tickling him repeatedly on his bunions
And when he awoke, as white as a sheet
he covered his eyes and gazed at his feet.

In a voice so faint you could scarcely hear
he said, "Take that contraption away from here,
I will have nothing to do with that foreign thing.
if you had any pride you would not, it, here, bring.

“These alien things are of terrible manufacture
They do not work, but still they enrapture
our people. Oh, how can we rid them of this evil?
Pray take your umbrella and consign it to the devil.”

For though a Marxist, you see
he still believed in Swadeshi
Ideology may be imported
but foreign products must not be supported.

Then my wife’s aunt’s mood was buoyed by the news
that was imparted to her by a kindly muse
“There is a Deepam Kuda1 at the edge of town.
They can build umbrellas from even used nightgowns.”

At Deepam Kuda, she explained her predicament.
She dwelt on the obstinacy of the instrument.
"It won't open," she said, “it only closes,
even if I try it in different poses."

To demonstrate, she went through the action,
Pressed the button and watched the reaction.
The umbrella jumped as if propelled
by RDX, TNT and other materials as lethal

It nearly swept a laptop to the ground
and all the ladies who sat around
cried, "Ente Yesho2, that terrible thing
is possessed by some evil being."

Then, the umbrella refused to close.
It remained open, quivering, daring those
to shut it at their own peril.
As if, if they did, it would do them some evil.

"Josetta3," people cried in accents of despair
and from the workshop under the stair
came a person with a mien indomitable
who, in a forbidding tone asked, what had roused the rabble.

"She said it does not open, only closes;
But that is not true, we swear by our noses
It does what it wants when it feels like it
Can you take it down and fix it in the pit?”

He picked up the umbrella and looked it up and down
and on his face there appeared an intense frown
He disappeared into the depths from whence he came
My wife's aunt wondered if this meant he could tame.

But he came up from below with a look on his face
Shock and anger written all over the place
He held the umbrella at the end of his arm
as if to ward away some perilous harm

"Madam," he said, "it is all your fault
We tried everything down in the vault
to open and close it on command
by the press of a button or on demand.

“We tried every ruse, methods unorthodox
Both Nuclear fission and injections of botox
Non-linear algebra and synthetic biology
And the dark art of inversional chronology.

“Yet this umbrella, it will not yield
and much though you may try to keep it sealed
I think that it is plain to the eye
The fault of its malfunction lies with you, not I.”

Saying this he thrust the umbrella at her
And hastened backwards to make his departure
He headed away, that tormented soul
And left her holding the parasol

But my wife's aunt was made of sterner stuff
She decided to call the open umbrella’s bluff.
Seized the thing and disregarding the danger,
Beat it closed with a passing coat hanger

Then, using needle and thread she stitched it so fine
Bound it tightly with thread and with twine
Then she stood sternly to attention
Looked at the crowd with an earnest expression

“An umbrella it will not be, it does not function
I, however, will have no compunction
to make other uses of it, and with this trick
I will present it to my mother as a new walking stick.”

After that, she went to the centre of the city
Where sat the repairer, mentioned earlier in this ditty
“Ah madam,” you have found your way out of the fix
Now for you a local umbrella, wonly Rs. Three twenty six...”
So now she walks without a care
the new umbrella up in the air
And, when the centre of the city she passes
The repairer smiles through his 'Made in India'4 glasses.
The 'walking-stick’ can now be seen, hanging on the wall
Of my wife's aunt's mother's house's hall
People come to look at it and admire
The manufacture, the design, the very attire

Of this thing that was transformed by an act of will
By the wisdom, strength and a woman's skill
And so ends the story that I felt I must tell
Of my wife's aunt and her umbrella from hell.

1. Deepam Umbrellas
2. 'Oh, Jesus!'
3. Brother Jose
4. Shameless plug.
I always get my glasses made in India
For to help the local industry I do what I can
Who cares if the frame is from California
And the lenses from Japan

©Sadanand Warrier 2011

ps: Based on a true story. (operational word 'Based')
pps: Any similarity to characters and situations is deliberate and exaggerated.
ppps: Any fallout from the publication of this 'pome' shall be visited on the author and not on the poor blogger (ME!)who merely introduced the pome and gave it a public platform.


  1. Welcome back! Where have you been? And why haven't you been watching movies? Were you unwell? I wondered why you hadn't been posting anything all this while!

    Coming to the poem - it's hilarious, as always! :) I particularly loved the part about 'tickled him on his bunions' and the '...dark art of inversional chronology'  - brilliant! Did you send this to your aunt?

    ps: I also loved the postscripts. But while outsourcing is all very well, I wish it would only be complementary (or is it supplementary?) to your blog, not take its place. (No disrespect meant to your husband.)

  2. Sadu, you are a genius!
    Hilarous! Will be coming here often to read this when I have the blues!

  3. Ha, ha, ha! I'm so glad Tina send this to me! Hats off, Sadu. I haven't stopped laughing since! And thanks, Anu, for posting this. Tina had mentioned that you had not been posting for a long time.

    ps: Is there really a Deepam Umbrellas?

  4. Oh, delightful! :-) I loved this. Was beginning to smile as soon as I realised we had a Sadu poem coming up.

  5. Okay, why does my Comments sidebar tell me 'Tina' and this comes up as 'Rishi' - what are you guys doing? 

    It was either 'outsourcing' or letting the blog be. :) I decided you could all share the laughs. And yes, I sent it to my cousin who has promised to print it out and send it to his mother.

  6. Sadu looked modest and smiled when I passed on the message. :))

  7. Okay, so are you responsible for your wife's name changing to yours in the comments? *tapping foot gently but persistently*

    I've passed your comment to my husband, who grinned. And yes, there really is a shop called 'Deepam Umbrellas' in our hometown.

  8. I told him I was seriously thinking of digging up all his old efforts, editing them, and publishing them as a book of nonsense verse. :))

  9. Anu, I must admit I am, though I really do not know why it should have. :( I read this post late in the night on our home computer and when I wrote my comment, it brought me to the log in page - Tina hadn't logged out and I didn't bother to log in. I used the same email id, but changed the name. At the time, Tina's comment was under her name. Today morning, Tina checked in to see if you had replied, I guess, and informed me that I had changed the name on her comment too.

    In effect, what I'm saying is, it's not my fault, milord, it's your comment system's. :))

  10. Ha! Though I must admit that using Disqus often mangles the comments yet; I would have thought they would use the default name associated with the email account, though. Unfortunately, I cannot change the name on the comments, :( so Tina will have to be content with having her comment there. I would suggest you log in under your own email id from now on... :))

  11. Welcome back, Anu, if only in partnership with your husband. He does have a turn for humorous verse, doesn't he? I laughed so much through this one that I had to go and read his other 'laments' again! Tell him I wish he would write more. He certainly will have some loyal readers. Does he also write, by the way, or is it just 'outsourcing' as you called it? Like a loyal better-half? :)

  12. Sridhar you really don't want to read me most times. I dabble on the dark side sometimes in Physics. I wrote this on the request of a friend when the CERN discovery of neutrinos travelling faster than light came up. For those who like neutrinos and need to know more there is a link in the title
    A celebration of neutrinos..or the non-Theory of the Fermi interactionWell, there you have it We've got our own back haven't weForever cast as the poor cousin"No charge", they said with gravityNeglected of course by the scientific communityAnd now we've gone and done itWe've proved our primacyForget all that maudlinnonsense. We are the latest celebrity,Oh yes, we took the opportunity.And a drink this calls for, doesn't it?We've left those photons behind for a larkThey're still huffing and puffing somewhere in GenevaWhile we're in Gran Sasso, enjoying our 60 nanoseconds in the dark.  

  13. Adding my voice to everyone else's - welcome back; even if only in part.

    I'm beginning to like Sadu's 'pomes' :) and will definitely be in line to buy a book if you edit and introduce his poems the way you have been doing. (You mean he's written more of them? Want! Want!) I could visualise your aunt telling this story - do tell me she's seen this literary effort?? :))

  14. Nothing is a sacred cow, you mean! :) I like this one and yes, I did check out the link. You need to write a poem on the dark side of Physics (and physicists). As Anu said, maybe a book is, or should be, in the offing? :))

  15. Like Mark Twain said "Sacred cows make the best hamburgers".

  16. This is great!  I needed this after returning from the nursing home to bring a smile back to my face - a visit to the nursing home is enough to put anyone in a depressed mood!  Please convey my thanks to your husband, and tell him to keep the 'pomes' coming!

  17. Sorry to learn you were not well but I guess you are doing fine now considering this hilarious tryst with the umbrella and this wonderful poem by your husband. I thoroughly enjoyed it, next time you have seen a film which maybe has not appealed to you and are not to keen on reviewing I suggest you get your husband to 'versify' the review, it would be great.

  18. Since you have managed to get him to post another one of his poems... :))

  19. Since you have managed to get him to post another one of his poems... :))

  20. Thanks, Ruhi. You can see another one of his poems in response to Sridhar's comment. I sent the poem to my cousin - he's promised to print it out and mail it to my aunt. :)

  21. Good to see you back here, Lalitha. Glad to make things seem brighter. I hope things are slowly getting better there, and your father's recuperating well?

  22. Shilpi, feeling much better, thank you; still not up to a post of my own, so I decided I might as well put my husband to work. I passed on your idea to my husband (I thought it was brilliant!) - he said bad movies don't inspire him, but I'm working on that. :) Maybe you will get your wish!

  23. I wish I could answer truthfully to that question of yours and say, Yes, but the truth is that No, his progress is not as expected, and we are all frustrated here.  That is why I need something to smile about, and the story of that umbrella with a mind of its own was definitely something to smile about!

  24. I'm sorry to hear that, Lalitha; I can understand the frustration, coupled with all the physical and emotional turmoil. I'm glad this poem made you smile. *hugs*

  25. Sorry to hear that, Lalitha! Hope the situation turns better soon and you don't have this situation of uncertainity anymore!

  26. Sorry to hear that, Lalitha! Hope the situation turns better soon and you don't have this situation of uncertainity anymore!

  27. Hello,
    Er... does this self-opening, self-shutting umbrella not have a hidden meaning? I mean you know, the dear lady pressing the button and all... :-)))

  28. No umbrellas from Sharjah do not have hidden meanings. They are subject to strict supervision and are always passed with a suitable for children under above five and under twelve certificate.
    This  is embossed inside each umbrella in ancient Aramaic and Arabic.
    Them as cannot read it are free to drawn their own conclusions. Caveat Emptor


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