A few days back, I read a story titled Shit. (The Goat Thief by Perumal Murugan) I read the story twice. Amma was angry with me since I devoured her red lays too. Green lays stock is again over. Perhaps it feels nice to know that the provision store aunty now trusts me. “Neen regular customer ma, amele duddu kodu. Parvagilla”
To console Amma, I decided to narrate her the shit story. She didn’t know what Shit meant. I told her it is a translation of “Pee.” She made a wild guess and asked me, Malabadrathe bagge na? (Is it about constipation?) I gave a half-suppressed laugh and said no. It is about a plastic tumbler that looked pregnant when filled with beer. I made sure I pictured her the humor that the author has penned. I wanted her to laugh and laugh. We got lost giggling at many things.
Dead frogs, rats, lizards, and cockroaches reminded her something. It was an ancient LG Television at home. This TV then made a nest in Ammamma’s home. One day when Acharappa was watching the boogeyman who would pulverize a clock on his head or eat worms while entering, it suddenly stopped working.
He enhanced his waspish action and started hitting the TV’s head. Amma switched it off, then switched it on and then a little dusting too. Nothing worked. LG’s life was nevermore good here. Amma then called the technician and he found out a kutty grave inside.
He smirked and asserted “Yappa, balligal smashanane idhe illi.” (there is a graveyard for lizards) A small lizard family (maybe the mother, father, and the baby) had eternally rested on the control board inside the TV. It worked after sending him out.
The author talks about his home which is messed up and looks lively only when some kind lady sweeps it. I knew Amma wouldn’t resist, she advertised that my place looks happy only because of her. Yes! ma I am blessed to have you – she wouldn’t finish attacking otherwise. Her tongue is sharp and she is a roast master. I get shaped out at least twice a day. The howls of wild animals reminded her of my father snorting. I was glad that she began telling a few things about him.
The stucco floor reminded her of the old home. The comrades in the story philosophize the stinky home to that of a stinky society. I spoke immediately. This is exactly how aunty ponders about her son’s grades. Shut up, Amma said. No other choice.
Phenyl is everywhere an answer for fetid. Ajji never forgets to write lemon-flavored phenyl in the monthly grocery list. The shit smell had become a rascal for a long time that Murugan sir says it moved freely in his house. Amma, out of nowhere, randomly recaptured the famous Mohini devva in Kannada. I recently discovered that it’s not Mohiniya but Oh iniya. Shambala unearths such things when she is bored.
The story is a blend of humanistic affected superiority, class privilege, and gaiety. I was mocked by my thoughts towards the end. Intentionally or accidentally I have had empty talks. The story is stimulating.
Dear fellows discuss social evils and frame solutions. Dear fellows only denied giving the bicycle. The tumbler that was adorned once was left alone on the floor in the end – the man who cleaned shit drank water in the tumbler.
The story explores a normal rural life on one side and the condition of a manual scavenger on the other side. It is like how aunty says periods are natural; how a woman tolerates the intense pain; how everyone should normalize it. But at the end of the day, the same aunty doesn’t let me inside her home for five days each month.
When will her stinky fables shut up?