Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Big Uncle with the Big Moustache

I was the first one to call him the Big Uncle. I was afraid of him as a child because of this one incident that had occurred when I was seven years old.

I had developed a boil on my right arm which hurt terribly. Everybody had said that the only thing to be done is to burst it. But nobody had the guts to actually do it. Even my mother refused to do it because it was too gruesome for her. Big Uncle stepped in to do the job. He saw me writhing with pain and knew something should be done about it. He came to me and said, “All it will take is one minute of pain, I promise. After that you will feel nothing. This thing will be gone.”

“What will you do?” I asked him, cautiously.

“Nothing, only burst it.” The thought left me shaking with fear. But Big Uncle said it so cheerfully that I was confused for a minute. I ran, not knowing what else to do.

The sun burnt down on me with a vengeance as I held on to my right elbow tightly. I was running away from the big uncle with the big moustache. My mother insisted that it is for my own good, but my seven year old self refused to believe that a man willing to twist my arm is trying to do me any good. I held on to my right elbow for dear life. The boil that had developed on it the day before, now was the size of a 25 Paise coin and was oozing menacingly. Wedding preparations were going on in Painkulam and there were enough people to hide a little girl like me. I quietly found a little corner in the veranda and sat there for a while.

“I told you, you cannot hide from me!” the voice made me tremble uncontrollably. I knew who it was before I recognized the big moustache among all the million faces swimming above me. His smile looked so endearing yet so frightening! “I’m telling you it will not take more than a minute. You will just feel a prick, that’s all. I promise.” I shook my head wildly. “Come on. I’ll give you lots of chocolate after that.”

I felt my eyes watering. I wanted to be brave and fight him. But I could see him losing patience by the minute. “Come quickly or I’ll have to take your hand forcibly” he said ominously. I shut my eyes and told myself, maybe he isn’t that bad. May be my mother is right, is it for my own good. The gigantic boil on my hand is not going to get any better. Might as well let him do whatever he wants with it. So, I gingerly stretched out my right arm. Instantly he grabbed it and twisted it in order to take a better look at the boil.

As if this wasn’t frightening enough, he took the boil between index finger and thumb and squeezed it hard. The pain was excruciating. I screamed so loud that the entire veranda went silent. It was over in a second. But the memory of the pain is still vivid in my mind.

My hand healed quickly after that and Big Uncle gave me goodies to eat afterwards; for being brave. I would take the jackfruit jams and the juicy mangoes and ignore whatever he said. I was still soar from the pain he had inflicted upon me.

Now when I look back on that day I realize, he was the bravest of all that day. Nobody else could muster up the courage to get rid of that awful boil and make me better. Not even my mother could stand touching the thing. I did not speak to Big Uncle for the rest of my stay at Painkulam that year. It took me a while to get over my fear of him. But I learnt quite quickly that, although he caused me some grief, it was for my own good. Over time, I have grown very fond of the Big Uncle with the Big Moustache and a Bigger Smile.