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DRAWSTRING DRAMA

DRAWSTRING DRAMA ( From Memories of My Childhood)

We had a long sunny verandah. There was only one entrance to the house and that was at an extreme end of the verandah. There was our bathroom to the right hand side as you entered and two closed doors of the adjoining apartment which mostly remained vacant. As you must have seen in many spooky movies that closed doors can be dangerous, they too weren’t any different. I don’t understand why diaphanous beings have to pass through the doors when they have the ability to egress through the walls. They should know that the doors by virtue of their design are more scary than the walls because the doors can open suddenly and bring gaping darkness of the hell to view but the walls can’t part or fall apart that fast. In a way, one has a lead time, but sudden opening of a door can leave the victim with no room for an escape.

Doors have frame work where fragile glass panes are inserted and some of those are broken and replaced with pieces of cardboard and children often have the curiosity of looking through the recesses during the day time. The haunting memories of their daytime discussions come visiting them again, if they happen to pass by those doors at night.. I swear I had heard many whispers and muffled voices coming from those closed doors during day time and I assure you they were true and not hallucinations because my hearing was good and dependable when I was a child. Those muffled voices heard in the day become real screams, guffaws and banshees in the night. I also do not understand why apparitions take to troubling the children after having lived their lives on earth. Do the children ever do that to them? Can’t they choose to do something else?

That’s how the children think at least. The long verandah had been partitioned towards our living quarter, a little clear of those two closed doors of the partitioned apartment, half of which we a riotous gay family of six people lived in, while the other half of the apartment, remained hauntingly quiet. The partition actually served as a screen between the verandah and the kitchen. Beyond the the partition door of the verandah was our kitchen and then there were two rooms at right angle to it.

There is one serious defect in the characteristics of light, that it travels in a straight line. I do not remember having ever wet the bed nor do I remember if ever my younger siblings too suffered the embarrassment of pardonable incontinence, so common among the children, although, we lived in the chilly climes of Shimla. Maybe, because our mother would make us go to the bathroom before sleeping, it helped. No excuse was good enough to convince her. Maine kar liya tha, mujhe aya nahin..nothing would work and my this inability of not being able to convince the women has stood the test of time though I can’t say so about my other abilities if any I possess. I don’t mean to say that the women have been asking me to go to the toilet before getting in bed and nor do I mean to imply that as a matter of habit I go to the toilet before getting in bed with women, what I mean to say is that, I  I haven’t been good at convincing the women. I have failed mostly and most often miserably, ending up feeling miserable or seeing them feel so.

My mother wasn’t bossy like, the one who was in my destiny.  Hahahah…no laughing matter it is, but she was persuasive, a sweet charmer but focused. They all have a way of getting what they want. From that weaponry of tears to tearing you apart by their piercing looks, they are quite conversant with their arsenal and its fire power. Well, I had to go to the bathroom, but I would put a condition on her that she should keep talking to me ( I always extract some conditional concessions from the women I come across). I would then run to the toilet looking all the while at a thin, feeble shaft of life cutting a weak slice of assurance on a distant floor.

It’s not easy to run while looking backwards especially when one has to cross some doors open and some that may open any moment and remembering all the while  that even the apparitions run or walk with their heads facing backwards. It is difficult when you are doing it but imagine coming across someone who is doing it with the adroitness of a  magician! It’s even more difficult to pee while looking backwards because human male’s appendage, though handy needs deft handling and guidance, attention and monitoring, besides there is a danger that when you look back you find someone other than your mother talking to you.    

In those days fancy elastic waistbands had not caught on and child’s dignity and gender secret was held in pajamas with draw strings tied at the waist. The ends of these strings would often get lost in the duct or passage through which it is passed around for tying Pajamas at the waist, leaving a child in tears, distress and even in panic because it was and for me even today it is difficult to retrieve the lost end easily. It needs skill if the end hasn’t run far deep in the conduit  and very often it’s irretrievable. In such case it has to be pulled out all the way and run through the conduit all over again, using a guide. In cases where it hasn’t been lost far deep in the duct ( I am unable to find the technical word used for the passage made by folding the cloth over at the top end and stitching it back to make a tunnel run all along the periphery. I would love to know the exact word if someone can tell me for what is called “Nefa” in Hindi/Urdu) hairpins or other pins the women keep tucked around and expertise is required. This expertise is a feminine skill and is passed on from mother to daughter because females at such delicate moments of distress can’t summon or requisition help. This skill thus is essential for every mother or would be mother.

The scope and chance of retrieval of the lost string end, differs from case to case and each case needs a close examination. This close examination is as uncomfortable as anatomical examination of a patient by a doctor of opposite sex. A good look at your armory by the one trusted with the job of helping you out can’t be avoided, and the discomfort can’t be expressed.  Except for the mother none can be trusted without a degree of discomfort and a few degrees of distrust but even between the mother and the son, the level of discomfort rises with age, being zero at three to teasing until five, to shyness till seven and embarrassment at ten.

When I was in high school, I learnt from my mother that there is a custom among certain Pahadi (people of the hills) tribes that the groom before leaving the house for getting his bride home,  has to put his mouth at his mother’s breast. A very sweet custom and symbolic that no matter how big the son may become, he should not forget that he continues to be the child to his mother, always. This obviously is not done elaborately these days and the son just tucks his head under his mothers chunni, everyone smiles and the formality is over.

To save the ends of the draw string, some wise mothers tie the ends together with one captive knot in the loop. The ends of this tied draw string can’t be lost in the conduit but it needs a real skill to tie it. I never could master that skill and even now, tie it clumsily or is it a subconscious cry for assistance, I don’t know but no one cares, nor do I. To draw a short story long 🙂 of drawstring, let me tell you that the chance undoing a knot of a drawstring is inversely proportional to your urgency. If you have reached such a stage of urgency that a trickle is imminent, you almost certainly will pull the wrong end of the string and it will end up in a sailor’s knot needing further assistance which sometime has to be the teeth, most often someone else’s teeth. You can use some sharp pointed objects for untangling it but the proximity and the importance of the organ defeats your idea and courage. When you are young you can reach your own mouth to the knot but when grown up you can’t do that and you can’t let every mouth offer help.

 

But let’s accept the fact that women are much smarter in untangling the knots except the ones they tie with you. Coming to that, I must admit that they are very good at certain things that men may fumble with for hours. For example needling a thread or needling you, fastening the hooks at the back without seeing them, impromptu speech, distinguishing between shades of colours, hackling, noticing details, hearing what’s not been said and keeping a watchful eye at their husbands and their children wherever they may be busy doing their own work.

Anyway to make sure that I won’t have to spend an extra second at the job, I would get my string knot opened by my mother or was it done by her to make sure that I don’t wet my pajamas at night I don’t remember, but I would run to the bathroom holding the string ends in my hand and come back and tie the knot or get it tied up in the security of the bedroom. It may be some fun to read it now but sincerely, it was not much fun then.

Note:- All pictures are from the internet and have been used here for representation purpose only.

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Navneet Bakshi

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Ushasurya
Ushasurya
1 year ago

Did you ever meet any ghost ? That would make another lovely blog like this one :))))))

Chander Kiran
Chander Kiran
1 year ago

Dear Navneet, you bring the memories of childhood alive …we had common fears and experiences …it is a very well written article

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