Tuesday, December 19, 2006

11th Commandment - Thou shalt not argue

Yesterday Parukkutty fell
Into a hole, dark as a well
A hole which we'll call "argument"
Later she knew, 't was time misspent.

Parukkutty was in a pub drinking beer and wondering if the waiter thought she was pretty. Her friends were animatedly voicing their opinions about, hmm… lets see… stuff. When Parukkutty was in her formative years, Parukkutty's Dad had gone hoarse trying to get her to read the newspaper and listen to the television news. But that was easily solved, because they had a Thulasi plant in their backyard that her father had planted for such occasions. He plucked a few leaves off it, masticated well (a friend of Parukkutty's was asked by a handsome dentist if she masticated and she blushed to her roots because she thought it was something that boys did when they were alone, but that’s beside the point) and swallowed it. His voice regained its former grandeur in no time.

So there she was, nodding intelligently at the right moments and asking safe questions. Typical safe question when someone talks about the war in the Middle East "How do you actually pronounce Lebanon – LebaNON or LebaNUN?" And the guys generally loved talking to her; she would look deep into their eyes and hang onto every word. This was a good arrangement for both parties; because in the meanwhile Parukkutty would be filming mental scenes of her getting lost in the forests on the way to Ponmudi because her bus had broken down and getting rescued by a liberal and underdressed group of men who all looked like Adonis.

Then she fell into the hole (Refer poem above). The conversation in the hole was more or less along these lines. To preserve the anonymity of the people who fell into the hole, colours have been used to represent subjects of discussion.

Beer mugs were banged on the tables, chairs were scraped forward and tongues were drawn. Decibel levels were steep.

Guy 1: "I think Blue is the best."
Parukkutty, looking astonished: "Oh, no! Red is the best."
Girl who thought she knew everything (Girl 1): "How can you say that?!! Everybody who is proud of their heritage should be ashamed of liking Red."
Parukkutty: "But I like Red a lot."
Guy 2: "Come on!! Red has got only three letters. Look at Blue, it has four. How can someone even think that Red is better?"
Another girl who liked Red (Girl 2): "Actually, Blue should just have been spelt 'blu'. Things started going wrong right from the moment they spelt it 'blue'."
Parukkutty, stunned at the lucidity of that argument: "Exactly."
Girl 1: "57 students in my class liked Blue".
Guy married to Girl 2 and who according to this transitive property, also liked Red (Guy 3): "But what is the percentage?"
Girl 2: "Huh?"
Guy 3: "What is the percentage? This 57. What is that in percentage of students?"
Girl 2: "50 %" (looking very rebellious because she herself didn’t like the statistics).
Parukkutty: "In my school, almost 90 % of the students liked Red."
Guy 2: "Were all the students allowed to participate in the polls? Or were the ones who liked Blue not allowed to?"
Parukkutty, pointing her fork menacingly: "No. There was no such bloody screening."
Guy who had kept quiet so far and acted as if the hole was beneath his standards, but could no longer resist the pull (Guy 4): "What is the idea here? What are you trying to prove? The preamble of this discussion is … (Point where Parukkutty digressed to Ponmudi again.)"
After a minute or two...
Parukkutty, jerked back from a Ram Teri Ganga Maili scene of herself in the forest spring, but looking very thoughtful: "I think there is a point there."
Guy 2: "Parukkutty, do you think your children will like Red? Come on, tell me."
Parukkutty: "Absolutely."
Guy 2: "Aha! You think so?! You just wait and see, OK?"

Everyone was talking over everyone else and Parukkutty heard a voice in her head: "Shut up, damn it! All of you just shut up." She shook her head to clear it and said to Guy 2 that his teeth were so yellow because he probably brushed his teeth with blue toothpaste. He looked crushed.

Things started looking very ugly. Girl 1 was standing up and stamping her feet on the floor at irregular intervals and trying to get everybody's attention. Guy 4 was leaning forward to convince Girl 2 who was at the other diagonal end of the table and in the process spilling beer all over Guy 2's lap. Guy 3 was shaking his head to and fro. Guy 1 who did not agree with Guy 3, was shaking his head fro and to.

At some blurred point in time, they marched out of the pub amidst stares of disgust from neighbouring tables and a weak smile from the waitress. The next morning Guy 3 told Parukkutty that the voice in her head actually came from a man at the next table. And thus, it came to that Parukkutty added the 11th commandment to her confession checklist.

- Aval

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