Venkat looked very annoyed.Did'nt Amma have anything else to do?Why pick on him now,when he had hundreds of other things(not really,but arbitrarily quantifying them made him feel good!) to do? It was alwayz one thing or the other.He had forgotten to bring green chillies and Cilantro from the market this time.It waz the "I told u so" look that irritated him even more.Mom waz pretty non-chalant about it,basking in her error-free deduction that her dear son would alwayz forget something or other from her complicated grocery list.
The list,had venkat jotted it down,would have shown him why he had difficulty remembering them all,since it waz a colorful spectrum of items.It ranged from the miniscule mustard seeds(1 packet) to the mighty Rangasamy&Sons IR-Ponni-rice(20kgs).
Interspersed in the list would be
Lots of dhalls(Moong,Channa,Toor,Oily Toor) in various proportions(1 kg,2.5kg,3by4kg--Mom would vary the proportions according to the seasons,festivals and onset of the arrival of assorted relatives!).
A very specific and unique brand of hair dye that smelled weird but had a very attractive model,(Mom never went for the Godrej Hair dye..somehow felt it waz too very mild!).
Dabur chyavanaprash for the well being of his Grandpa(He remembered Bala telling him once that it enhanced sexual performance,So,venkat waz even more curious about why Grandpa wanted it!).
Ragavita for him(He waz strictly forbidden to drink coffee or tea,though the order would be relaxed on special occasions and even then,the concoction would be lopsidedly milky than anything resembling Tea/Coffee).
Narasu's Coffee for everybody else(Venkat,having just studied Sabesan's coffee,grew even more suspicious about the coffee company mixing something in its Coffee beans to make it more addictive!).
A really cheap and low quality Tea for the unwelcome guests(read Venkat's friends!) who kept bombarding the house(Mum waz a real economic genius.With little sops like these,she would even manage to extract little errands from Venkat's friends!).
Super501 bar soaps,Surf detergent,Sabena dishwashing powder(Mom never trusted the servant maid..she waz of the staunch opinion that if she did not keep an Hawk's eye on the servant,all the bar soaps would vanish in a week!).
Two or three different kinds of oils(OK oil-2 litres--Made Venkat curious about how they kept the names of oils like this,Sunflower Oil-5 litres, Castor oil-1 litre(for curing stomach ache in the family!). Venkat always dreaded buying oil,because the shopkeeper,as if he had something against Venkat who looked clean and dressed well as opposed to his own unkempt hair and oily breath, would alwayz spill the oil on the sides of the can,making life miserable for Venkat. Added to it waz the balancing act he would have to do while transporting the oil without spillage from the shop to his home(What would happen if some girl sees his Chetak looking all sticky and oily?).
Toothpowder for Grandpa,Toothpaste for the rest of them,(Mom waz captivated by the advertisements dished out on the TV.Once it would be Colgate,next time it would be Promise,next time it could be Babool,Babool--Paise Vasool.She waz a great experimenter,and it waz always a matter of suspense for the family to get up in the morning and find out what brand of tootpaste waz being inflicted upon them!).
Curry leaves,Coriander leaves,dhania,methi-Mom left the quantity to Venkat's discretion,telling him to get a 'handful'.This 'handful' measure had 'trouble' written all over it,because the shop keeper would insist on something more realistically measurable,and Venkat would vaguely repeat what his mom had instructed much to the shopkeeper's consternation.Venkat knew that either way he waz trapped,since it waz either too little or too much but never the right quantity for his mother.His escape route on such occasions would be to blame it all on the shopkeeper-if it waz too much then it waz the shopkeeper's hand,else,it waz his son's hand that became the measuring cup for the curry leaves!
Venkat would'nt have had second thoughts of jotting down Carefree(or Stayfree or Whisper or whatever!) that waz necessary for the womenfolk of his home.But,it kind of embarassed him now, that, he wanted to reverse the course of history,if he had the powers.
Venkat kicked off his 1991 Bajaj Chetak to a roaring start,transferring all his anger on his accelarator.As he whizzed past the ubiquitous Gandhi street,took a right on Diwan Bahadhur road and joined the mind-blowing traffic in R.s.Puram,he suddenly felt good.It waz'nt all that bad as it seemed to be..After all,Mom had agreed that he could keep the change(all of Rs.12.50..what he could not discern waz that this waz how mom bribed him!) and also he could buy that new chocolate being advertised on the TV.So,he could go to Subiksha and eat out with his friends today.Absent mindedly he picked up some green chillies, paid for it with a sheepish grin on his face.The shopkeeper asked him whether he needed anything else...
Venkat thought for a moment and said ---
"No!That would be it!"