Roads Scholar

Road Runner and Maaaaaaaaaa... at lunch

Road Runner

If you’re on the highway and Road Runner goes beep beep.
Just step aside or might end up in a heap.
Road Runner, Road Runner runs on the road all day.
Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
That coyote is really a crazy clown,
When will he learn he can never mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone,
Just runnin’ down the road’s his idea of having fun.

***                               ***                            ***

Ani and I were best friends from school through PU, after which she wandered into home science, and I  managed to finish my degree in science before straying serendipitously into journalism. In that time, I missed  Ani‘s wedding,(and more, as I found out later)  and one day I decided to putter over on my Luna to Luxandria ( Lakkasandra, where the old Alma Mater is, and Ani‘s home) and reconnect.

When I knocked, it was an urgently pregnant Ani who opened the  door. and in our excitement of  finding each other again, although we caught up on most things, she forgot to tell me her husband’s name, let alone what his profession was, and when I finally did find out, the bundle of joy had been delivered , named Jenu (knick kname only) and she was on the verge of turning four.

Oh! and her dad’s name is Swamy. Madikehalli Ranga Swamy. Pot-village Colour Lord . Jenu (whose good name, as they say in Namesake, is Neethi) was a rebellious Jerry Mouse, who refused to talk to me on being introduced, and for the next two-three years, gave me a hard time by answering the phone when I called, and forgetting  to tell her mother about it, and I  listened many times to her mother and Jenu slugging it out over why Jenu ought to eat her lunch.

It is all the more exasperating to  remember that this annoying habit  lasted until cellphones became a reality, and vanished as soon as everyone became cell-empowered, and it didn’t matter if Jerry Mice left you holding for 20 minutes. My attempts to get over such mortification  at the hands of an  infante’ terrible by  gently teasing her, didn’t fool her , and a couple of times she worriedly wondered why Ani was friends with me—  aunty thumba fun madthaare ma.

Suddenly, Jerry Mouse was growing up very fast. She was now Road Runner.

That’s her mother there, in the picture, going after her with fork and knife. As usual, she’s brought back her dabba, with the chapati and curry packed lovingly by her maaa……. intact and untouched, and her mother is furious and frustrated. “what can I do? I didn’t feel like eating”, is her bland explanation as her mother rages and rants.

Ani and I read the books appropriate for our age through school and college, and her greatest grouse is the Road Runner would never touch a book. I too tried. Every year, for her birthday I gave her a book– Enid Blytons mostly, but when I borrowed Malory Towers three-in-one after gifting it to her with the fervent plea, READ, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, the Road Runner never even noticed it had gone.

She was busy playing with kids half  her size and age or twice her size and age ,  on the street , and we wondered why they doted on her, particularly the six-footer (almost) who followed her around in Scooby Doo-usque proportions.

We planned a trip to Delhi and Jaipur, and hoping she would not be bland about it, we asked her to run down  to LuvSat’s  cyber  cafe down the road and download some info on these places. She never did. We harangued her, and on the third day, she couldn’t take it anymore. “What can I do? Shilpa didn’t give me print out!

Between us, Ani and I had decided Jenu didn’t want to use her brains, because she believed overuse could wear it out, fray it thin. We often wondered if she paid attention .   She certainly had to be called more than twice if her eyes were peeled on the TV.

We found her once,  lolling on the couch with her best friend,  Ananya, and they were watching a very bad print of a movie.

Which movie is that? I asked, and it was Ananya who answered, “How to lose a man in ten  days”, without taking her eyes off the TV. Jenu, as always, looked gloriously vague. But  I suspect she puts on an act. Because when Ani and I were once  talking about J Lo’s  awkward posterior, she interrupted  with asperity, “you are just jealous of  her”. We were too surprised  to laugh, which we did only after she had run off to be Road Runner, and concluded that she  was a thinking kid, after all. Ani who spent six  years telling her daughter she was 32 every birthday, could no pull that trick on Jenu any more.

She still doesn’t read much. She reads a little though. (Alchemist, a Sidney Sheldon and a couple of Jeffrey Archers. After counting her entire library, you might still have a couple of fingers and all your toes left ) Better than George Bush,  what a relief!  I never bothered buying her Harry Potter. At least she made an effort to get t the story from Shilpa and Ananya,  and watched the movies, and talked the talk that left people thinking she knew more than she was telling.

She always had a good head for business, and at any time, was richer than her mother, thanks largely to her maternal uncle Jithu’s  penchant for borrowing from her at heavy interest.

Almost as if she did it when we  blinked, the bland, disinterested (we thought) little girl has grown into a sensitive, caring young woman who can be depended upon to handle a crisis if she were plunged into it at the deep end. In other words, her  mother, who never learnt to drive,  will never want for a chauffeur now.

In a year, Road Runner will no longer be a teen. We have a pal, and a winner in her. No one could make  her change her ways, at least not her mother. She did  it all herself, mostly . The Roads Scholar!

Dear  little Road Runner never bothers anyone,( except her mum)
Just runnin’ down the road’s her  idea of having fun.

Happy Birthday Jenu.