spit take Society

Margazhi mob

“How dare you rear end us and say sorry!” said the younger one. I detected a hint of Kentucky. Or was it Kallakurichi?

“How dare you rear end us and say sorry!” said the younger one. I detected a hint of Kentucky. Or was it Kallakurichi?  

Yesterday, while reversing out of a busy road known for silks and jewellery, I realised something was wrong.

The ker-thunk of my rear bumper and the sudden appearance of a mid-sized mob with waggy fingers around our vehicle gave me the heads up.

By the time I unbuckled my seat belt (yes, I wear it, I’m a middle-aged sissy) and got out, my sexual orientation, my status as a special-needs person, my pana-thimmuru, and the virtues, or the lack thereof, of the female members of my family were already on the discussion panel.

Nudging my way out of the mob (okay, so there were five people, but where I come from that’s a mob), I inspected the damage. Neither my car nor the car I’d bumped into had so much as a scratch.

“I’m sorry,” I said, ignoring the driver who was doing a very good Tamil imitation of Arnab Goswami, addressing the two women who had got out of the car. “Entirely my fault.”

“How dare you,” said the senior of the two women. She had a Pallapatti-Palo Alto twang.

“Madam, I’m sorry,” I said. “If you want your car looked at, please do so. I’ll give you my phone number.”

“How dare you rear end us and say sorry!” said the younger one. I detected a hint of Kentucky. Or was it Kallakurichi?

“Honest mistake, madam,” I said. “Entirely my fault.”

“This is precisely what is wrong with this country,” said the senior. “We don’t tolerate this kind of nonsense in Professorville.”

The driver had turned from Arnab on steroids to MR Radha on song. He was rolling up the cuffs of his shirt (he had forgotten he was wearing a half-sleeved ‘Make America Great Again’ tee), dribbling from a corner of his mouth, looking around for support from onlookers (the rest of the ‘mob’, realising there wasn’t going to be sex or violence in the scene, had skulked off), goose-stepping, practising his street-fighting moves and repeatedly referring to my lack of manhood.

“No, no,” said the second lady, “this is the problem with the younger generation...” She stopped, espying the bags under my eyes, and the grey hair peeping out from under my amateur dye job. “Er... If someone your age behaves like this instead of being a role model, imagine how the kids will be...”

“Madam,” I said. “Didn’t you hear me? I’m agreeing with you. My fault. See (pointing to the bumper), no damage done...”

The driver was doing push-ups and stretches now for the imminent fight-unto-death. He had also phoned three different supporters, probably telling them that a replacement for Vadivelu had been found who could be taken in a meen vandi from street to street.

That’s when my wife came into the scene.

Seruppu kaitti adippaen,” she said to the driver calmly. (Translation for the benefit of my non-Madras readers: Will take off a slipper and hit you.)

All three offended parties stopped dead in their tracks.

“Now get into your car and quietly buzz off,” she said.

All three of them obediently got into the car and drove off. Saved. Or so I thought.

The car reversed and came to a stop right next to ours.

“Excuse me, ma,” said the senior of the ladies, addressing my wife. “Are you free tomorrow?”

“Er...” said my wife.

“Tomorrow is my second granddaughter’s third arangetram,” said the older woman, handing out an invite. “Do come with family and friends. She is a disciple of Natya Bibhatsa Kalavidhwansa Kanakavalli Sundaravadanan of San Jose.”

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

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 2:22:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/margazhi-mob/article30358613.ece

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