Mind Your Language
By Dr B Foogooa
In the early 1960s, Bhai Dewa visits his daughter shanti, who is married to Tom, an Irishman. They live in Dublin with their only 5 year-old son.
Shanti is a nurse and Tom a teller working in a National bank. The latter and his family have visited Mauritius a few times. So, Bhai Dewa and Tom are not at all strangers. Instead, not only are they close relatives, but also good friends.
While dining, as is customary in Europe, Tom and his father-in-law BD would take an alcoholic drink. They would then chat for hours since Tom is very amused by the way BD expresses himself. So, one Saturday evening after dinner, Tom asks him about his life, hobby and plans for his retirement.
Tom: BD, apart from your work, do you have any hobby?
BD: Tom, as you know, I was born in the village of Bambous Virieux and have always lived between the sea and the mountains. Hence, in my free time, I often go to the sea and look for a small curry for the family.
Tom: BD, is it possible to get a fish curry straight from the sea?
Shanti (intervening): No dear, he means he goes to catch a few fish only for the family’s consumption, and not a fishing expedition on a large scale. And, this has nothing to do with a cooked curry.
BD (continues): Tom, as I was a forester, I had another advantage. I used to hold a permit to carry a gun. Therefore, the sea being sometimes rough, I would go to the forest to hunt for hares. And, moreover, I like taking a small health1 at dinner. As snack, I prefer a few pieces of animals2. I cannot understand people taking a drink and eating vegetables.
Tom: BD, did you like your job so much that you spent almost 45 years in the forest?
BD: Yes, Tom dear. I liked my job very much. Besides, unlike some of my colleagues and friends, I never took any bribe as a government officer. I only accepted a small tea3 whenever I rendered a service to anyone.
Tom: BD, please tell us about your brothers and sisters, since you come from a large family, as Shanti tells me.
BD: Yes, I have two proper4 sisters, five brothers and one half-brother.
Tom: Half-brother? Shanti never told me that!
BD: Yes, a half-brother, but Shanti does not know him. Actually, my mother had a son with her first husband. The latter, unfortunately, died in a car accident, leaving behind my 26 year-old mother and a 2 year-old son. Afterwards, my mother made a house5 with my father.
Tom: Do you often see your half-brother and are you good friends?
BD: We are good friends, but I am the only one to pay him a visit once a year, since he lives far from us in the city of the Cavern6 at Vacoas. Nevertheless, he and his family are very glad to receive me. By the way, Shanti does not remember her daddi.
Tom (astonished and bewildered): But, how come BD, are you not Shanti’s daddy.
BD: No, she passed away a long time ago. Shanti was then only three years old.
Shanti (again coming to Tom’s rescue): Listen Tom, he means my grand-mother. In Hindi, daddi means grandmother, and dadda grandfather.
Tom: (laughing heartily): Oh, I see. BD, why didn’t you visit us when you were still in service.
BD: My colleagues used to spend their vacancy7 abroad. But, as for me, I wanted to save my money for my family, which is luckily a small one. This is why I keep telling Shanti it’s high time she had another baby. And then, to attach her tube8, because it is not advisable to have a large family these days.
Tom: Do you mean to say that we should have only two children.
BD: Yes. Otherwise, when you have many children, they pass misery9.
Dr B Foogooa
- A small drink, that can become a large one
- Meat or fish
- An insignificant backshish
- Own brothers sisters
- Settled down with my father
- A region of Vacoas called La Caverne
- Tubal ligation
- Have a hard time
* Published in print edition on 27 May 2011