Mind Your Language
By Dr B Foogooa
My nephew Dave and his Irish spouse are back in Mauritius for a 2-week vacation. Having enjoyed her holiday last year, Jane persuaded Dave to visit his homeland again. And, of course, she wants to meet Ram Papa (RP), by all means.
So, they phone Jagdish, RP’s fourth son, at La Caverne, Vacoas, informing him of their arrival and also of their wish to have RP for lunch at their place, in Curepipe, on the coming Saturday.
Luckily, the weather is fine on that particular day. Dave and Jane are on the lawn, the former sheltered under a parasol and reading the morning paper and the latter sunbathing on a rocking chair. Sharp at 11.30, RP is at the gate, accompanied by his second eldest son, Mace (short for Mahesh). Jane rushes to let them in.
RP: Good morning, Miss Jane (kissing her gently).
Jane: Good morning, Ram Papa. You still look the same as last year.
RP: You too have not changed at all. I hope I am not deranging1 you.
Jane: Deranging? No, not at all.
RP introduces his son to her.
Jane: He does not resemble his brothers I met at Vacoas last year.
RP: Yes, you are right. All my children, daughters and sons are clear2. He is the only one who is thin and black like his uncle. Still, I love him.
After the formal meeting with Dave, his mother and his father, Bostomin, the latter hands out a carton of Benson and Hedges to RP. As it is lunch time, they all sit at the dining table straightaway.
Jane: Ram Papa, would you prefer whisky to some wine?
RP: Thank you, I don’t drink. Exceptionally, I take a small health3 while dining with my sons; just to make my spirit4 work!
Dave: Ram Papa, I am taking Jane to Quatre Bornes market tomorrow. They say one can get good stuff at reasonable prices there on Thursdays and Sundays.
RP: Miss Jane, I’ll advise you to be careful at the market because there is always a big crowd. Furthermore, you should not buy from the very first merchant5 you come across. You will have to merchandise6 as prices differ from one another. Only when buying cakes, fruits or peanuts from the merchants, there is no need to merchandise.
Jane: Dave, do merchants sell cakes and even peanuts here?
Dave: My dear, he means vendors; please let him talk or else he might be confused.
Jane: Ram Papa, how are you spending your retirement from work?
RP: Miss Jane, even Bostomin was not born when I, as a boy, started working in the fields. All my life, I have been working like a beef.7. I took my retreat8 at the age of 65 years while others do it at the age of 55 or 60! Now that my infants have arrived in life9, I can repose in complete tranquillity. I do not demand10 anything special from God, but only to allow me to close my eyes peacefully when it is time to depart from this world.
Lunch being over, RP and Mace are about to take leave of their hosts. RP says some words of thanks in Creole and adds in Bhojpuri, “Bhagwan toum log ke hanth, gaur accha say rakhe.”
Jane is having some difficulty understanding the parting words when RP volunteers to translate them into his very own English, “Miss Jane, I must thank you all for the tasty lunch, the nice company and, above all, the aromatic English tobacco. May God keep your arms and legs well.”11
Dr B Foogooa
3. A small tipple
7. An ox
9. Children have done well in life
11. May God keep you in good health
* Published in print edition on 30 July 2010
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