The other day, here I was- doing sums that pretty much made me cringe. Still, math had me lovingly sheltered from the daily disorder that my two younger siblings almost invariably create. Okay, at least I thought I was safe, when a double-creamed, extra caramel coated little voice squeaked at my side-
“Apu! Ei Apu!” Ah sweetcheeks, don’t you see that Apu’s busy putting up a plausible study charade?
Well, a tone like that from this particular kid meant nothing but trouble, and I knew better than to actually listen with much heed- “Hmm? What is it?”
“What’s a butt?” my four year old little sister squealed with childish curiosity.
“But means kintu” I replied reluctantly, carefully brushing off second thoughts. However, making my worst fear come true, the little midget shook her head violently “Butt as in B-U-T-T, butt-eh”
A kid spends four solid years on the face of earth, finds nothing else interesting and goes around asking people about THIS particular word? Oh please, come on! I glanced at her once, and then at that epic Venn diagram ogling at me from the pages of my notebook. The shape sure looked dangerously suggestive.
“Kid, why don’t you ask somebody else?” In other words, this house is not exactly where you run around screaming it out at the top of your lungs.
“I tried, but…nobody tells me” the brat said with a super innocent, angelic sort of gloomy face “Ammu said janina and bhaiya said- why me? Go ask Saira banu ze bubblebutt”
Yeah you heard her- my younger brother came up with a lame little nickname for me. Stop giggling already.
Just as I thought of telling her the exact Bangla synonym, in came my mother wearing her ‘let’s see how you deal with this’ look. As you can see now, there officially remains no way out.
Now let me shed some light on my mother’s weird child rearing methods. Her philosophy of raising a four year old, or rather dealing with her embarrassing questions is ‘telling her what’s what’. But like all ‘mom-methods’ it’s not as simple as you think, because the explanation should be devoid of slang (yes, to her that ‘p’ word is an unforgivable Bangla slang) or suggestive physical gestures. Basically the elder sister is supposed to give her a clear idea and be discreet at the same time, but not all hush-hush. Secrecy, says my worldly wise mother, will make her curious still.
“Okay, where did you hear this in the first place?” I asked, trying to sound as less astounded as possible. “There was this time when bhaiya said somebody got his ‘butt kicked’, there’s Kick Buttowski on TV and football players give headbutts.”- Alright, this much sounds pretty harmless “and then bhaiya said something about Katrina Kaif’s butt!”
Awkward silence. Now what?
Silence was soon broken by some already wrong Bollywood lyrics gone horribly eccentric. My sister’s musical genius was on the loose again-
“I AM A SHEILA
SHEILA KI JAPANeeeeee”
-and some more mumbo-jumbo that I don’t even want to remember. First Saira banu bubblebutt, then that uncensored rating on Katrina’s figure- brother dear is so hopelessly grounded this time. Rewarding myself with the well deserved grin on the occasion, I decided to try my luck in avoiding the butt issue completely- “Oi! Porashuna nai? Who’s gonna do that piece of homework you were supposed to show me?” Lesson learned the hard way- NEVER talk to children about their studies. They come back right to the point, exactly where the conversation took an embarrassing turn. But hey, the damage was done. My sister was already stomping her feet on the ground-
“Apu, butt! Butt! BUTTTTTT!!!” her tantrum began, “Bolteiiiiii hobe!!!” Behind her, Ammu raised an eyebrow- ‘enough now, just get this over with’. I sighed and gave up on the face of a mother-daughter dual catastrophe- “Okay Sarah here goes; ‘butt’ is your bum.”
“Huh?” Of course, the meaning of ‘bum’ escaped her too; curse her lack of child vocabulary. So I opted for another- “Butt is your…your…Tushie” Yeah this sounds harmlessly cute enough for immature audience.
“OH! Tushi?? I’ll go and tell her that her name means butt!! Yaay! Thanks apuni.” So my little stalker leaves, dancing through the corridor and on the way to Tushi’s house. Yes there will be a few crying episodes between Sarah and Tushi after this little misunderstanding between us, but for now, oddly-named-kid-next-door saves my….yes, my rear end.