My revised birthday plans

From installing the second-biggest overhead tank on our street to putting an end to the dynastic rule of Marimuthu the iron-wala

October 28, 2022 05:10 pm | Updated October 29, 2022 03:35 pm IST



Every year, my birthday routine has gone more or less along a set path. As the sun rises, my wife and a couple of sturdy aides pick me up from outside our neighbourhood TASMAC (overseas readers, that is the acronym for the state-owned liquor outlets of Tamil Nadu). After re-uniting me with my smart-casual outfit from the previous night – striped lungi and the Lacoste tee that Avadhani Uncle gifted me in 1998 – which have somehow abandoned me during the previous evening’s revelry, I am hosed down thoroughly and taken sopping wet to the neighbourhood temple. There, without an iota of shame or remorse, every year, I would look god in the eye and vow to mend my ways.

This year, however, I have decided that I should do something useful for the entire community.

Given hereunder is my plan:

I think my birthday is a great day to inaugurate our new overhead tank, a project that has been in the making for over a decade. This delay, mind you, has been caused entirely by certain people in our building’s welfare association who, for 25 years, have been taking the credit for everything without ever taking the blame. My plan is to unveil the tank in a surprise move and dedicate it to the residents of my building. Yes, they are paying for it. But, so what, I can still dedicate it to them.

I’ll have you know it is the second biggest overhead tank on our street. When our neighbour from across the street, Kanakasabhai, has his house demolished to build flats, ours will become the biggest.

Next, I plan to put an end to the dynastic rule of Marimuthu the iron-wala. Those who are familiar with my open letter to him already know how much I have suffered because of his ironing my jeans with a front crease.

I think it’s time his cousins, brothers-in-law, second wife’s son from her first marriage, uncle from Dubai, mother brought out of old-age home and ‘co-brother’ from Jamshedpur, are given some competition.

Every street here has a cart owned by a family member, I say! What kind of monopoly is this?

I think we need new istriwalas, and I’ve got just the guys. My currently unemployed extended family from Konaseema has been looking for new opportunities.

Wait, there is more. As part of the celebrations, Kanakam and Rojabai, the women who assist us at home, and Muthusingam our apartment handyman, will go round Adyar in an auto equipped with loudspeakers, making my childhood achievements known to the commoners.

My fighting skills, my humility, my sense of humour, my tree-climbing technique, the story of how I braved death and got tickets for Sholay, how I won the fancy-dress competition dressed as Krishnadeva Raya (which everyone mistakenly assumed was the concierge at Connemara) and other uplifting anecdotes from my youth will be belted out as songs by Rojabai in her fine baritone.

No mention will be made of my three consecutive zeros in calculus in class 11 or the time I was beaten by a female police officer at the Osibisa concert.

After feasting on payasam (the traditional sweet dish made of milk, sugar, vermicelli; add Absolut to taste), I will video call all my international friends – mostly classmates who left India as-is-where-is for various legal reasons – from Japan, Bulgaria, North Korea and Kazakhstan and discuss future collaborations in the Ayurvedic, space travel, animal husbandry and beauty parlour sectors.

Big things are in store for all you lucky fellows!

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology.

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