She looks like a kindly old lady, but she is formidable.
She has very strong views on just about everything and mostly she keeps them to herself, to be revealed at an appropriate moment. That moment tends to be when something else is going on. I used to think this was because she is hard of hearing, but now I am beginning to see a pattern. I think she slips it in under the radar as a test balloon – let’s see what happens, she may be thinking. If the reaction is adverse, she can cover it up in the confusion of several conversations happening simultaneously.
This morning at breakfast, for instance:
I am helping myself to fruit (I AM HELPING MYSELF TO FRUIT) and Ravi is saying:
Ravi: I have this interesting . . .
Masiji: Why don’t you eat more fruit? I buy fruit; you never eat it.
Ravi: . . . idea.
Masiji: What’s the fun of buying fruit if no one eats it?
Mummy looks up, looks at Masiji, then looks at me quizzically.
Me: I’m eating fruit, Masiji.
Mummy is still looking at me trying to figure out what is going on.
Me: Look! (pointing to bowl full of fruit)
Masiji (to the ceiling): Hah! She never eats anything.
Ravi: So I have this interesting . . .
Mummy, to me: What is she saying?
Me: She’s saying I don’t eat enough fruit.
Masiji: You don’t eat enough of anything.
Ravi: . . . idea.
Masiji: Neither does she. I cut a papaya. Well, I have Padma cut a papaya. Have one piece, I say to her. Have two. Ah!Ca! she says. Grapes? NO! I buy all this fruit. Yesterday I went to the fruit stand.
Ravi: We could paint the roof white . . .
Masiji: Dehradun people are too dry. Like sticks.
Ravi: I read an article which says if you do . . .
Masiji: I asked for sweet oranges and you would think I had asked for mangoes in January.
Ravi gives up. Mummy smiles. I eat my fruit in silence.