The latest hot news in my family seems to be the fact that my little cousin failed to make it to the top three in the "jumbled words" competition.My visibly distressed grandfather prattled off snide remarks whenever possible and my cousin shook them all off like a duck shaking water off its back. When my mother, who happens to be his doting aunt, pointed out his lack of interest in knowing pretty much anything, my cousin stuck his lollipopped tongue at her, and immersed himself in Pogo channel.
My grandfather is the most amazing/amusing man I have ever known. He is almost like Peter Pan, stuck at 16. He talks about Macro-economics for full 2 hours, impromptu at that; Repeatedly tells me I owe him everything for making me read "Robert Louis Stevensen" when I was 8; Reads "Phantoms in the brain" with as much enthusiasm as my room-mate; Understands Wodehouse; gets gored by a bull after wearing a black T-shirt (which happened to be the bull's non-favourite colour); walks 8 kms a day; makes a zillion in stocks; talks how my company (everyone's company to think of it) will go bankrupt in two years. He is too good to be true. If there be a Mannaarkoil mafia, he would be The Don.
My grandfather's non-subtle remarks amused me now more than it amused me as a kid. It included facts like how I missed the Nobel in medicine by refusing to take it up as a profession. This is a man, who thought I had a shot at Olympics (in gymnatics, mind you), when I hung upside down on a tree at my back-yard. He even got me an ice-cream that day.
Contrary to the expectations that kids these days are more sensitive, my cousins seem to have taken it for a fact that to survive in my family filled with accomplished relatives, one needs a lot of selective deafness. One has to wade through a sea of criticism, not give into the genetically inherent intolerance of criticism and restrain from hitting the roof. I remember being the same age as my cousin is now and being asked what "half times half" was. I thought it was one and when I did, the crowd erupted with joyous throes of how they knew I will not clear JEE. I remember being weepy and heavily upset when my mother took it as a personal failure in her mathematical training of me.
My cousin after being asked what 10/2 was, replied that it might as well be four, but he liked to deal with "big numbers" not trifling things like tens and twos. Having said so, he munched on the Murukku my grandmother had made and listened to my Grandfather's horrified banter with not as much as a quirk in the eyebrow, and ran away to play guns.
When I listened to my cousin's very convincing argument of how his C grade was oodles better than "Samyuktha's A grade", I knew, Nobel or no Nobel, the kid will make it big in the corporate and will sit on his billions one day to laugh at people who had known trivial things like what 10/2 was- also at people who had cried for not knowing what half times half was.