So there was this tag on Twitter called ThirdStandardClassics. It reminded me of some of the misconceptions I had in those glorious days.
First, I wondered where exactly this place called “Forin” was. Uma Chithi went to America, and she was supposed to be from Forin. Raju Thatha was from London, and he was also from Forin. Vadi Mama was said to be in this place full of kangaroos called Australia, and he too was…. From Forin. And Sidhart’s father got chocolates from “the Gulf”, also known as Forin. So confusing.
All I knew was Forin was really far away (I wondered if it was Far-in, and that my granny was actually pronouncing it right when the rest of them were merely ignorant), because Hemant in my class threatened me with “If you actoff meaaans I’ll kick you and you’ll go and fall in Forin”.
Right from Class 1, we got various threats of “This is the last morning* I’m giving you”, “This is your last morning”. Given that corporal punishment wasn’t exactly banned then, and Mrs. Meera Sarkar was one crazy female who slapped you if you lost your water bottle, I assumed it meant she’d hit you so badly, you wouldn’t live to see another morning. *Shudder*. [Aside: I had a phobia for the name Meera and always imagined witches to be dark-dark-skinned people with black curly hair and black lips so thin they’ll give a Motorazr a complex, because Meera Sarkar looked like that. Thankfully I didn’t have much of her, though my sister suffered like crazy with her].
And then, the bad-bad words. The usual ones – kaththe, kothi, naayi, handi were staple, and we routinely looked up words in other languages. I remember my friend Thrilok being in demand for bad-bad words in Tulu.
But once, there was a fight in class 1 where one boy called another a “Bleddy Bhaskar” [Someone else on Twitter said “Bledy Basket”]. They both had to kneel down for an hour or something.
At around the same time, there was this family friend called Bhaskar. I didn’t like him very much… he didn’t seem to like children. He gave the five-year-old me a formal smile instead of the usual ragging reserved for little children. It didn’t go down well with me, though I really detested the leg-pulling some of my parents’ friends indulged in.
So I assumed when someone yells “Bledy Bhaskar”, they are referring to this frown-faced guy. That he was such an evil person (when you’re a kid, you only have extremes) that his very name was a badword. I wondered for long why parents still continued to give their kids such names, inspite of this glowing example of a man who visited us every Friday. [I also used to assume that everyone had the same set of relatives you did, only they looked different. In my world-view, it was okay if your parents and grandparents had different names, but I assumed everyone had a Krithika-akka, a Vinu-anna, Seenu-mama… until I finished kindergarten. Hence, I assumed everyone would have a frown-faced Bhaskar-uncle who visited them every Friday. When I was in primary school, this notion stopped persisting, but at the back of my mind, I had a notion that adults knew everything]
For a very long time, I kept away from people named Bhaskar.
*It turned out to be ‘warning’. Such a relief that was.