The bush was thick and dense. And he was hidden well behind it. “No. They’re not gonna find me here”, he said to himself, half believing what he said… He breathed a sigh of relief and took a rare moment of rest. It was risky, but he chanced it; he dropped his guard. It felt like old times.Oh, how he missed the old carefree days, never having to worry about them dropping on him. No. No more of that shall he have. He was now the hunted; the prey. He had seen the hunts before. Friends… family… all who had fallen long ago… and yet, like a fool, he believed his own time was far far away… a mirage so far off that…
Wait! What was that??
Someone calling his name. Another trap. No. It can’t end now. It was time to move. Quickly. Quietly. He would evade them yet.
Man goes through several stages in life; from doodying a diaper to flunking chemistry to half drowning in beer in an office night, he goes through a variety of transitions.
There comes a time when loving relatives load their metaphorical guns and start shooting. This stage starts in such a transient manner that most people can’t pinpoint when the first shot was fired.
I can. To the day.
Hunting season for Hamish Joy was declared on the 23rd of April, 2007. This was the day my pretty little cousin, Dileepa John, got hitched and traded in her name for the brand new, sleeker “Dileepa Rinil”
It was a lovely occasion, of course. As the groom smugly claimed his prize, flashes flashed, etching the event on digicam memory. Kodak moments that Mastercard can’t buy, so to speak. It was as I was dipping my greedy face into the scrumptious banquet when suddenly, unexpectedly, and sneakily.. the first shot fired.
In hindsight, I see I should and could have foreseen the ambush. But as it happened, I was blissfully unaware… Blissfully ignorant… Blissfully carefree…
It was a close aunt who flung the first arrow. “So, Hamish… When are YOU getting married?” I gagged. I reeled. I almost toppled my chair and landed flat on my back, risking spine injuries.
No. She was joking. Ha ha. What a kidder, I said to myself laughing it off as best as I could. Not that it was a great joke, mind you. It wasn’t – Not by a long shot. But I couldnt just hurt her feelings, could I? I laughed politely and moved off, happy to see the end of the whole thing.
How was I supposed to know that was only the beginning? The floodgates were wide open. Uncles, aunts, and even some cousins started popping all over the place with flaming arrows all aimed at my nose. When people you trusted and believed in turn on you, what do you do??
I ducked and dodged like a veteran soldier trapped behind enemy lines, not that I’m saying veteran soldiers restrict themselves to ducking and dodging when they are behind enemy lines. I’m sure they find nobler pursuits to follow. But ducking and dodging seemed pretty much all I could do. There was no effective ammunition I could have used when attacked…
“Hey, Hamish… So… When are you getting married?”
– “Huh! Like… when are YOU getting married??”
(Ha! That will show them)
– “What do you mean? I AM married. Married your uncle a whole long back. Many glorious years. That’s why I keep telling you… “
(Uh-oh. I just stepped into a mine field. Gotta create a diversion…)
– “Whoa. Wait, auntie.. Your shoelaces are untied.”
– “Shoelaces. Shoelaces”
– “What laces? I’m wearing slippers. Are you alright, Hammy?”
(No time for strategies. Must pull off a hasty retreat. Forget honour and saving face. Must make a run for it)
– “Hey, watch it!! You should be more careful, Hammy.You know… you wouldn’t have tripped over your shoelaces if you were married… you could have blah blah blah…”
(Groan! Nice going, jackass!!)
Nope. No ammunition. None at all. Somehow I came through the party fine, but the plague apparently persisted. Whenever I see married relatives now, I get paranoid. I keep awake at night; due to an absurd notion that if I let my guard down, I may wake up married.