Amy Aunty watched wide eyed and her lower jaw hung open and her tongue lolled as the man on the screen, the famous politician and author Kashi Mashoor, held forth on his latest book. She felt a deep loathing for the short haired lady who kept interrupting him.
“Shucks, woman won’t you allow him to speak!” cried Amy Aunty and in her extreme annoyance swung her broom like the venerable MSD notching a helicopter shot. The litter that she had painfully swept up flew in all directions causing Amy Aunty to curse herself loudly using TUT (Two Unparliamentary Terms).
When the interview was over Amy Aunty sat for a long time in her Thinker pose; the broom handle for support. God! Kashi Mashoor! How did he know so many words? And she used to be proud that she could speak ‘the language’. Ah! She had neglected her learning because of her stupid job. What could she do now? She definitely wanted to learn more words and spatter them around like Dr Mashoor and send people scurrying for their dictionaries. She decided to ask the Bearded Devil who was rumoured to be a Shakespeare expert in the colony. She glanced at the clock; it was half past eight in the night. Was it a little too late to visit someone who was barely an acquaintance? Naah. Nothing should come in the way of learning, reasoned Amy Aunty and threw a dupatta over her shoulders locked her house and set off in the darkness. She only briefly paused before the mirror to consider whether she should set off the blue dupatta with matching earrings but then she decided against it. Intellectuals, she reasoned were always careless about their dress.
It was only when she reached BD’s house and spied him sitting on his veranda reading that it occurred to Amy Aunty that she didn’t even know the man’s name. She couldn’t possibly call him Bearded or Devil and she didn’t want to call him ‘sir’. The lady in the interview had gone on Kashi-Kashi-ing the great Dr Mashroor. That was cool. Finally Amy Aunty settled for a theatrical cough.
BD padded across the driveway. Amy Aunty grew a trifle nervous since he was rumoured to have ‘minced Shakespeare and drunk’ him. She told him of her little desire.
“Excellent!” squeaked Bearded. Amy Aunty was surprised that a man who had minced and drunk Shakespeare should have a squeaky voice. “All you have to do is study a page from the dictionary every day and read some Shakespeare. Begin with the tragedies.” BD bobbed on the balls of his feet in sheer excitement.
Dutifully after supper, Amy Aunty sat at her desk and opened the dictionary that she had been given for ‘passing the senior secondary examination with distinction’. A1, A2, A3…a1, a2, a3…A1, A2, A3…aardvark a nocturnal badger sized…how boring!
What else was Goddess Google for? She set to work immediately. She would definitely impress her boss and colleagues tomorrow; not to speak of the stupid colony residents who always ganged up to spy on her.
Amy Aunty got her first opportunity as she locked her gate the next morning.
“Look here, Amy,” said her neighbour Mythili itching for a fight. “I’ve told you time and again to cut off this mango tree of yours. All the leaves are falling here on my courtyard and it is a job sweeping them.”
“Oh, don’t be such a virago, Myee,” beamed Amy Aunty. Till then she had never called her neighbour anything but Mythili. But last night’s Kashi Kashi-ing had had a lasting impact. “I know you don’t personally sweep them. Besides you shamelessly ingurgitate the two large bottles of mango pickle that I give you every season.”
Amy Aunty bent down and pretended to smooth the edge of her crisp cotton sari and when she straightened Mythili had still not shut her mouth.
“Byee,” called Amy Aunty cheerily.
At the office she was slightly late because she had missed her usual bus as she had been gloating about Mythili’s open mouth. She knew her boss Toble would definitely have something to say about it. (Yes, Toble was his name. He was the unfortunate victim of a naming fad that was sweeping the land during the time of his birth of combining the first syllable of the parents’ name to name the child; a kind of symbolic union. You see, his father was Tony and mother Blessy. And Toble bore his name stoically. It could have been worse. Craig could have married April.)
“Why late today, Amy?” he asked her trying to sound casual and uninterested. She finished keying in her password looked up and said airily, “Oh Tob, it’s these college going hirquitickes, you know. The bus was full of them. So I had to take another bus. You can’t blame them, that’s their age. I suspect I saw a couple of them osculate, right there on the bus.”
Amy Aunty continued to tap away nonchalantly for a few heart stopping seconds before looking up at Toble. He had vanished into his cabin and through the glass partition she could see him dive for his dictionary. She sneaked a peek at Narmada on her right who turned away abruptly and became very interested in something on her computer screen. Success!
Amy Aunty was a trifle disappointed that no other opportunity to show her skills presented itself before lunch time. During lunch Sundaram, the accountant came over to Narmada to show her the new topic trending on Twitter. Moonwalking Water Buffaloes. Sindhu and Narmada and Sundaram were all talking non-stop in great excitement about moonwalking water buffaloes. They ignored Amy Aunty as usual (uncool, erm…not very up to date you see) during their Twitter discussions. Today, she was determined to interrupt.
“Sundu,” she addressed Sundaram (argghh they all called him Sunny) “I often wonder why they use the octothorpe, you see.”
“In front of a trending topic, I mean.”
The silence continued as Amy Aunty finished her lunch smugly and proceeded to the sink to wash her lunch box. Moonwalking water buffaloes lay forgotten. Even when she came back to fill her bottle at the dispenser, they hadn’t recovered.
She continued her stunning spree.
“Don’t be an agelast,” she told Sanjeev from HR. “Cultivate a sense of humour.”
And when she took her payslip to Anjali from Accounts and argued about the augend and the addend and whether they had substituted an obelus for a plus sign, they called Emergency.
Emergency English Expression Help, that is, whose chairman is the redoubtable, you guessed it right, Dr Kashi Mashoor of course.
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