Fairy tale land!
Salt N' Pepper
AIJAZ A BABA
Like most kids my nephew Afaan likes to listen to fairy tales. One day when nobody else happened to be around to lull him to sleep with a tale he turned to me to do the needful. Now story telling has never been my cup of tea. The only story I remember is that of the legendary thirsty crow but Afaan was in no mood to listen to this one because I had already narrated it a couple of dozen times. He wanted a story with fortresses and castles and fairies and giants and all the stuff. Much as I tried I could recall nothing of the sort. To get out of this sticky situation I made a rash promise, “What say you if I take you to see a real fortress some day?” I told the little feller.
Alas for nothing do they tell you not to make false promises to a child. With this false promise I got myself out of a tight situation only to land in a far tighter squeeze. Afaan agreed to sleep without a bedtime story that day but my troubles were to start the following morrow as the little fellow started pestering me day and night to take him to see a real fortress. He started with this cute act (putting out his lower lip and all that!) to coax me into fulfilling my rash promise. I ignored him. A complete cessation of communication followed. Well I thought, even this has its advantages. Besides nothing is everlasting, not even a nephew’s sulk! Then one day I discovered (in a rather painful manner!) a couple of wicked looking drawing pins in my favourite easy-chair. I took it as an accident and put it down to someone having been rather careless. Other acts of aggression followed. The final straw was the discovery of a dead cockroach in my cup of tea, discovered late in the process of drinking my tea when I was down to the dregs so as to say. I decided that it was time to sue for peace! I cranked up my good old thinking apparatus and though rather rusty with long disuse it did come up with an idea to save the situation!
“Do you know what a fortress looks like?” I asked the lad.
“Yes! I have read about forts and even seen pictures of them in my story books.” He said with the complacence of the well-informed. “They are supposed to be heavily guarded by lots of soldiers and guns thrust out through spaces in the walls!”
This kind of information was quite conducive to my plans. The very next day I took the little feller on a ‘sight-seeing’ tour. I chose a route which passes by this huge ‘camp’ of security forces with lots of barricades, whorls upon whorls of barbed wire, bunkers and watch towers.
“Have a look at this one!” I nudged him.
“My this is a real fort!” he whistled. We circled this place a couple of times till the sentries got suspicious and shouted at us giving little Afaan a real fright. The little fellow gripped my arm tightly and indicated that he wanted a change of scenery.
Some time later we came upon a house which was heavily guarded with multiple bunkers atop the wall.
“Is that a fort as well?” Afaan asked.
“No! It is…well, it is a castle!” I said. “Do you know what a castle is?”
He nodded his head in the affirmative. “Yes it is like…where kings live?” he suggested.
“Or again evil spirits or wicked demons and giants and ogres!” I added to his knowledge. Actually the house belonged to a notorious ‘government-gunman’.
“Well I did keep my promise didn’t I?” I asked the little fellow. A visibly impressed Afaan nodded in the affirmative and I heaved a sigh of relief.
The fallout of this ‘informative’ tour was that Afaan keeps discovering new ‘forts’ and ‘castles’ every day. In fact he has built up quite a ‘collection’! He will even show you a list if you ask him to. The other day he told me that he had shown this ‘list’ to one of his teachers.
“What did she say?” I asked
“She said that we are living in a historical error,” was his response.
“Uh…uh! She must have said ‘historical era’.” I corrected him.
“No! She said we live in a historical error!” he was rather obstinate about it. Now it is no use arguing with a child and besides somehow ‘historical error’ did not sound all that wrong either…
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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