Do you remember being a third grader?. Those are times when what we value is much different from what we bother to value now. Yet many incidents from those times get stuck in us keeping us aware that we too were kids.
Though I am not quite sure of all that were important to me at that age, I am sure studies definitely was not a priority. But this post is not about me but about sudhi (I have changed the real name). Well not really about Sudhi, but about his dad.
While I used to walk to the school along with the neighborhood kids, sudhi who lived a bit far used to be dropped at school by his dad. When I say dropped, it does not mean dropped in the car as many of our kids today are used to. His dad would walk with him and come all the way to the classroom and see that he is safely seated there.
His dad I felt was a kind of cool dude in those times because he had a knife tucked inside a thick belt that he tied over his mundu (dhoti), a practice in those days to prevent the dhoti from falling off amidst the busy life. Stories are plenty of such wardrobe malfunction happening with many and they ending up on the streets with the dhoti down and packets of grocery in the hand and unfortunately nothing beneath the dhoti that can save them from the embarrassment of being naked in public.
In those days we don’t have plastic bags, we had our groceries covered in old newspapers and tied with choodi (twines made of coir taken from the coconut husk) which makes you immobile by the time you complete the purchase of the list that is given from home.
Though every household had a reusable shopping bag we called sanji (bag in Malayalam) the fate of such bags was always to be forgotten back home or anywhere you might have sat for a while en-route the shop. So habitually the guy whose dhoti falls never had a sanji and always ended being an exhibitionist.
But Sudhi’s dad was probably not that way, he like many others in those days had a long shorts much like the Bermudas of today (often tailored by the neighborhood tailor from extra cloth pieces of a shirt or pants. Some even had few different colored cloths from left over blouse pieces and skirts that would give it such a flamboyant look that it could be a big market to reintroduce them again now.
So he wore a belt in spite of the shorts inside and the knife I was talking about sometimes was put into the side pockets of this short from where he used to take it. Well how did I know about a knife that Sudhi’s dad had?
Most days when Sudhi and his dad comes to the class, before entering the class Sudhi would tell his dad to sharpen his pencil. In those days the guy with the sharpest pencil was a king. Sudhi’s dad would take his knife and artistically start sharpening his pencils.
We would be sitting inside the class looking at it. We would look at our pencils which have been sharpened by colorful sharpeners but were so flimsy and odd. But for sudhi his pencils would have its writing pigment so sharp and healthy.
The sides of the pencil where the knife would have played his dad’s artistry would look so sophisticated with powerful cuts that any kid would love to have. As a third grader what made you admire people was much different from what we do now. But I guess that age it was so honest for us to think so. We admired the artist and never felt bad of the guy who was related to the artist.
To be honest during that age I always felt bad that my dad never carried a knife. I thought it was so cool to have a dad who carried a knife and I always wondered what would it take my dad to start carrying one so he could sharpen my pencil with the same elegance as Sudhi’s.
Later I figured out that Sudhi’s dad kept his knife to cut arecanut to use with his betel leaves and sadly my dad did not have the habit of chewing betel. It was beyond my ability to make my dad start the habit of chewing betel leaves. If he had the habit of chewing betel leaves may be I would have had sharp pointed pencils in my third grade… Well that was my thoughts in those days I guess….