“Di, today is Saraswati Poojai, don’t open your books and don’t study today.” Priya’s face lit up when I heard those words from amma. She wondered “Did I just hear that or am I dreaming?” Almost sensing the pleasure on her face, her mom quickly retorted “Just for today, tomorrow we will take the books out from Swami padi. You better start studying regularly for a couple of hours instead of mugging last minute before exams. Maths la last time 80 than kadaichudu” Although momentary but those words ‘don’t study today’ were like music to Priya’s ears. And that’s why throughout school this day holds a special place in her heart. The only day in the year when people in a tambrahm household would tell you to refrain from taking books in your hand.
Throughout her schooling Priya has been an ‘average’ student – average as per tambrahm standards (though she passed with distinction in all her exams). She never got a 100/100 in maths or science! “Achupichu, scoring subjects la aaravudu 80 vanguvala?” will be her mother’s standard reply.
Her father would help her with her maths homework; he was an MSc in maths. She would go to him with solved maths problems and he would give her a disappointed look. She would look at it and ask him if she has solved it right. He would say – “yes the answer is right but inda answer vandude adu ennadu – chakkaiya mangaya? If you have 25 sweets and you gave 17 to X, then how many do you have left?” Priya would say “25-17, 8 thaane, appa.” He would say, “Yes, answer right than but what is it, 8 bananas right? Who will write that? You lose marks in silly mistakes, Priya.”
That’s it – Amma starts polumbing that these silly mistakes are a result of
- Lack of concentration
- Anda ashatu naalu friends
- Picking out vegetables from sambhar and molagootal instead of eating them
- Knowing film song lyrics by heart and thus letting them occupy memory space in your brain!
- Not having thair sadam after eating kana-pina street food
And many such irrelevant conclusions.
Then comes the comparison – look at your anna. He is so good in studies, he doesn’t loiter around with crappy friends, he doesn’t back-answer his parents, and he eats all the vegetables without grumbling! Priya would always get angry at such comparison sessions. “Amma, how does eating vazhakai and chenai have anything to do with getting full marks in maths??? Some people like them, some don’t!” she would retort angrily.
“This is your problem, Priya. Vaaya kizhika maathram nanna padichirukkai nee.”
Priya chuckled as she remembered umpteen such arguments with her amma. Today as she lit the lamp and wrapped all the books in silk cloth on Saraswati poojai day, her 4 year old tugged her and asked for the 115th time, “Amma, why do we keep our books for poojai today?” Priya smiled as she lifted her in her arms and said, “It is my favourite day and in a few years I am sure you will love it too” 😀