(Ogden Nash, I apologize)
by Ramesh Mahadevan
JUST a few weeks ago you rudely awoke me from my alcoholic sleep from
the airport yonder and forced me to 'pick you up'. You got my phone number
in India from a family friend, who I know has been dead for the past twenty
YOU pleaded with me to let you stay with me till you found a place for yourself (you said 'pile on') and now after several
episodes of Roseanne, your clumsy, oafish self is still here and I feel like a guest in my own house; yesterday, you even locked me out.
YOU never help me with cooking. One time when you actually chopped onions, you didn't realize you had to peel them too. You never help me with the dishes. One time when you volunteered to wash a plate, I had to use all my strength to stop you, because you were going to use the flush in my toilet.
YOU always sleep - at all hours of the day.
ON the days when you take showers, my 'post-shower-bathroom' would resemble the Dharavi slums during the monsoons.
YOU congregate with the other rookie desis and deride the Americans. You feel vastly superior to all these men and women
who run all your banks, universities and so forth.
YOU are very curious. You want to know why they have alphabets on the
phone dial. or if Time is better than Newsweek. You mispronounce every
third word; you'd say 'kentaact' for contact or say 'Mesaachoosets'.
YOU gulp a gallon of coke every two hours.
AND you still always sleep. In the middle of my living room. You assume a fetal position (or is it the Lotus ?) on my little love seat, perpendicularly bisecting yourself.
WHEN in KMart, you'd follow the blue light for two hours. On the second day of your arrival, you had it figured out that you will be able to buy a VCR in two months. There can't be a garage sale within a five mile distance from my place, without you in attendance.
YOU ask for the impossible things - a shaving brush, set squares, coconut oil, refills for your ballpoint pen, loincloth.
YOU are appalled that my music collection is more of Beethoven - Chaurasia - Lalgudi Jayaraman type and that I don't have any Richard Marx or Madonna.
WHEN I suggested we go out and drink and meet some friends of mine, some of whom are women, your non-sequitur was "I don't want to get AIDS during the very first week of my life in the USA". You will learn, perhaps.
AS you heap a huge pile of MY leftovers on MY plate and are about to set fire to it in MY microwave oven,
O, how I would love to shave off that young, image-building, spaghetti thin mustache of yours; how I would love to
surreptitiously drive away from the mall, just when you had accumulated three car-loads of sale items; how I would love to empty the contents of a Roach Motel in your pajamas.
YOU always sleep, and when you sleep, your mouth is pouted open to almost the size of a dollar coin and how I would love to tap my cigarette ash in it.
BUT I always wimp out and you always win.
YOU will live and live and one day, you too will write an ode to all these things.