Well, Shit.

Nothing unusual about today’s incident, by the way. It is a perfectly normal, very natural occurrence in every child’s life. And yet, because I see humour in practically every situation [tragedy or someone’s misfortune being obvious examples of exclusions], this one was no exception.

Let’s set the stage here: I live in an old building, unimaginatively regular in shape, with three wings. The flats in each wing are again unimaginatively grouped in the corners, and accessed by a central staircase. Each flat has one bathroom area, consisting of a loo, a bathing spot, and a little vestibule which separate these two spaces from the rest of the house. Now, the loos and the bathing spots each have windows with louvres. The windows have frosted glass, for obvious reasons, and overlook a central open space in the bowels [#sorrynotsorry] of the building.

Why am I describing the architecture of my building in such minutiae? Because it will explain the acoustics of the incident I am about to describe.

If I am in either the bathroom or the loo, I can hear everything in the adjoining flats’ bathrooms and loos. If they don’t shut the external doors of the vestibule, then I can also hear faint sounds from the rest of their flats. This has proven to be quite disconcerting on occasion, especially when a husband and wife are having a, um, domestic, and I am forced to listen to her poor opinion of him, his actions, his morals, and his overall appearance [ouch], and his take on how she is such a pain. On these occasions, I have judged that my activities can safely be postponed to a less fraught moment, and I bolt.

But today. Today was different. Today a mum was teaching her young son how to clean his bottom, after he was done with his morning job. Just to be clear, normal and very natural. But not something I have overheard often, especially when the last child in my family was, well, me.

The hysterical part of this wasn’t the lesson in itself: it was that she was giving him verbal instructions, while clearly standing over him and supervising, and speaking in a broad Bihari accent. THAT was funny.

The following phrases ensued [apologies to non-Hindi speakers; translations don’t these phrases justice]:

Ungli use karo apna. [Use your finger.]
– Nahi, uss haath ka. Yeh wala haath nahi.
[Not that hand. The other hand.]
– Ragadke. Aur ragado. Aur. Aur. Ragado beta. Saaf honi chahiye.
[Scrub. Scrub more. More. More. Scrub, child. It should be clean.]
– Jahan se goti nikalta hai. Woh acche se ragado.
[The spot where the ‘goti’ {a term literally meaning marble or small ball, but often used in other ways colloquially. In this instance, shit.} exits. Scrub that properly.]
– Hogaya? Mein dekhun?
[Done? Should I look?]
– Haath dho. Dono!
[Wash your hand(s). Both!]
– Nakhun ke neeche se ragado. Haath pura saaf hona chahiye.
[Scrub from under your fingernails. Your hands should be completely clean.]

I held in my laughter because they would certainly hear me otherwise. And I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone. But dear lord, it was funny.


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