Since the last time the family had gathered together in one place, two toddlers had been added to the family banyan branches, and it was time to take a family photograph. “Let’s leave at 5 p.m. sharp, so we can get done with the photographs by 6 p.m. sharp!.” Sharp words indeed for one trying to finish that blasted book, lying flat on the bed. Just 100 pages to go.
Let me paint the 3:59 p.m. picture for you and the 4:02 picture for readers to compare and contrast. There is no point in saying that the bustle started at 4 p.m. sharp. How did it start. Where did it all start from? These become questions and relevant ones at that.
If a cameraman were to walk into the old parents’ flat, there would have been no one in the camera’s span of vision. A wild-ish whoop and some loud vroom-vroom sounds could be heard at ground level, where two toddler boys were lying on their stomachs and putting hot wheels cars through the paces in the afternoon heat. Every now and then the cars would fly through the painstakingly constructed hoops, and zoom under the sofas in the sitting room. The boys would then roll over and then sidle up on their bellies under the sofa to retrieve the car, and come out looking like they had dipped themselves into the vacuum’s cleaner’s dust bag. Their cheeks were not the rosy little cheeks that their mothers lovingly spoke and sang off while they were babies, but rather ones that could use the detergents being relentlessly advertised on the muted television near them.
The 3-seater sofa housed a young, handsome boy with a ghastly beard in a supine position. He had clapped on large earphones that did not invite conversation. The sofa under which the toddlers had to crawl to retrieve their cars had on it another young man (not as young as the supine one, but with an equally ghastly beard) snoozing mildly in front of his laptop. This young man had piled into his afternoon biriyani plate saying he needed to complete work on an important document.
Two lazy chairs were reclined to full-back: On one of them rested the Calorie Master, who after a fitful serving of 500 calories of Biriyani, was preparing himself for the rigors of a photographic session.(https://nourishncherish.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/newtons-sixth-law-of-motion/)
The other lazy chair found a septuagenarian who boo-ed at calorie counters and baa-ed at document writers, ate his heartful of his wife’s famous biriyani and snored peacefully. He did not seem to notice The Hindu newspaper placed on his tummy that mildly fluttered up and down with his breathing.
On the floor lay a pyol (paai), and on it lay a restless gentleman reading a Tamil book while keeping a benevolent eye on the men folk. The biriyani was working its wonders in his stomach too.
Further inside, in the bedrooms, three females lay reading quietly in one room while the fan whirred overhead and the incessant water dripped from the water filter into the stainless steel bucket below. In another bedroom lay two others fast asleep – content in the afternoon heat, while a septuagenarian lady lay musing about when she should get started with the evening coffee. There is little point in getting the old lady out of the kitchen when her family is around. If she isn’t in there, she is thinking of what she could be doing in there to fatten up her loving brood.
The clock clicked sturdily and moved towards the 4:00 mark. It was at this time that the s.lady saw the clock and leaped out of bed. “Shouldn’t we get started if we have to leave at 5 o’clock sharp? “ , she said in her best school-teacher-addressing-the assembly-without-mike voice that had the following effect on the populace:
(1) The sleeping ladies moaned and shoo-ed her out. (Amma! What are you bellowing like this for? )
(2) The females reading in the opposite bedroom leapt in their beds. It never is pleasant to be reminded of frivolous things like dressing up when a book needs reading. (Aaaaghhggghwwwhhhh! Paati! Amma! Paati! Awggrhhh!)
(3) The Calorie Master stirred and fumbled the word ‘Coffee’ through the fleeing mists of sleep
(4) The s. who boo-ed and baa-ed slept on since he had prudently switched off his hearing aid for just such emergencies.
(5) The man on the pyol was happy that the house stirred. These quiet afternoons were draining for the man of action.
(6) The bearded fellow with the earphones could have remained at rest in a South Indian wedding hall with the nadaswaram blaring nearby. But he too stirred.
(7) The toddler boys behaved as if nothing at all happened. (Lightning McQueen is now rounding on the turn and chasing Chick Hicks. Now Chick Hicks is falling through the loop and yes…he is flying through the race and oh no…..he went under the sofa again.)
8) The document writer’s laptop slid from his lap, and he showed remarkable agility and managed to catch it before it plopped onto either of the toddler’s heads as they dove under his foot to retrieve Chick Hicks. This sudden jerk to reality gave him a peeved look, and he too managed a swear word that got him chastised by the toddlers (Blimey is a bad word!)
Where a minute before, soporific peace reigned, now confusion did.
Children walked up and down looking important.
The girls asking whether they needed to change, (Yes! ), and the boys looking for their misplaced toy cars, planes and headsets. (No!)
It is but a question of time before the question of dress pops up. Oh the drama.
What kind of clothes? It is an important photograph said everyone to no one.
Part 3: Dressing Up for the Family Photo.