This my 2.5 year old tattoo.
Like any well-bred, cultured, family-fearing, marwadi woman, I didn’t publicize it too much. So, just imagine how I cringed when bai (my naani, maternal grandma) said, “meetu, what happened to your foot?” Within a fraction of a second, she realized what it was . And her instantaneous reaction was, “I want one too” So that cringe that you had imagined, you can replace that with awe. “A small one, a dot, on my forehead, where I used to put bindi” BUT STILL!
My bai, I always knew, is too cool for her age and time. She’s an entrepreneur at age 74, no less. Her first question to me, whenever we meet is, “how’s your work?” Not “How are you?” Not “How’s jamaai-babu (son-in-law dear)?” Not “How are the kids?” If you are not a marwadi or haven’t known one, you cannot imagine how much it means to be asked about your work before the rest of what is supposed to compose your life. But that is another subject, another time.
My bai, I love her to the core, she is easily one of my favoritest people. My bai, maybe the only person, who brings a tear every time I think of her, just because of the awesome person she is. My bai is not easily impressed, she knows no other way than to call a spade a spade. My bai who I’d hate to disappoint.
My bai wanted a tattoo!!!! and one more !
So, yesterday, finally, two years after she announced it, I took her and my mom (who also wanted a similar permanent dot) to a tattoo artist. Why two years? Amidst general lethargy, I think I wanted to be sure she wanted it. It’s for-life and on-your-face (all pun intended) after all.
And what a fun two hours they were…
The tattoo artist (Rahul) was late by about half an hour, so I took bai, mom and maasi (maternal aunt) to a snazzy coffee shop. Wobbling along with the support of her walking stick, she said, “this place smells bad”. I think it was the smell of some non-vegetarian dishes. But my mom tried, “it’s coffee”. tee-hee-hee. Bai didn’t look convinced. tee-hee-hee-not! For the sake of reference, she doesn’t eat onion and garlic because they smell awful.
I was duly scolded, “what kind of a windfall permits you to spend Rs. 400 on coffee?” But how could I tell her that the way she smacked her lips in appreciation, after every sip of her cold coffee, made every naya paisa worth it?
Later, at the tattoo parlor, the guys took ages to set the whole thing up. And bai was getting impatient. “What are these boys upto? Why so many machines? Why is this guy wearing such a big ear ring? What are these boys upto again?” Just when I was going to remark, that’s how things are in Pune, slow and slower. I remembered just in time that bai is from a teeny-tiny village in Karnataka. “That tattoo street-hawker in the village, I think she died, she doesn’t do her rounds any more. She’d have finished 4 tattoos by now.” HA HA. True that, I’m sure.
Meanwhile, Rahul couldn’t get over the fact that this old woman wanted this “dot” as a tattoo. “What aaji (granny)? Tired of wearing a bindi?” And pat came bai’s reply, “Why are you wearing that obnoxious earing?”
When the process finally began, bai
made the remark of the evening, “God alone knows how many onions this guy has eaten!” ALL of us (including Rahul) had a ROFL minute or so. He was duly embarrassed, and I was once again in awe of my uninhibited bai.
How she must’ve curbed herself from saying the right thing all those years as a daughter-in-law and wife. :-/
An hour and a few laughs later we came out with two dots and memories, permanent.
(oh yeah! and mom got her tattoo too. )