Whenever I threw tantrums as a kid, my grandma used three methods to appease me. I always fell for them.
When I cried or got difficult she used to say “Inga vaa..unakku oru pandam tharen” – “Come here I’ll give you a “thing”. Actually the word “pandam” is not used often in common speech.. it is a word like “thingumajig” It was some kind of a “spell” actually.. and I always fell for it..
After this lure, she took me to the kitchen and gave me something to eat or play with.. something very ingenious.. like a icing sugar doll in a tiny velvet bag.. or an old wooden carved box.. or a hairless doll head. These things were treasures in her trove.. I dont know if she was like Cinderella’s godmother conjuring things up in her kitchen when nobody was looking…
The other thing she said was “Naa unaku appuchi tharen” ..now “appuchi” is more interesting than “pandam”.. appuchi was some very interesting eatable.. like “thenkozhal” or a limp biscuit or appalaam or a piece of jaggery.. or some powdered sweet.. perhaps some powdered ladoo that is at the bottom of the empty dabba.. But these things were yummier than fresh sweets or biscuits.. and I immediately forgot all about crying..
The third thing was a “samaacharam”.. she’d say “Inga vaayen..unakku oru samaacharam solren” Now this was a good lure too.. a distraction.. this “samaacharam” was a piece of information or news. She’d to place me on her lap and say something nice… like “After appa comes back from office I’ll ask him to buy baby (kozhandai) a chocolate” or she’d say what the cat did on the wall or what the mouse did in the kitchen. This method was not foolproof though. I often remembered why I was crying while she was in the process of telling me the “samaacharam” or this “samaacharam” itself was not so interesting.. so I used to go back to whining and crying. Then it was the “pandam” or the “appuchhi” again..
These memories returned to me today when I saw her saying these things to my three-year-old niece.
Now my grandma and me share a special relationship..some special childhood memories include the story of goldilocks she told me every day. Every day! I asked her for the same story over and over again.. The story went like this..
There was a little girl called goldilocks who had golden hair. She was a very naughty girl. One day she went into the woods without telling her mom about it, which was wrong. Then she found a little cottage in the middle of the woods. This was no ordinary cottage. It belonged to three bears. The appa karadi, the amma karadi and the kutti karadi.(papa bear, mama bear and little bear) Goldilocks did not know of this of course. That day the three bears had gone on a picnic to find honey. So there was nobody in the cottage.
Before they left for picnic amma karadi had made some porridge and kept it on the table for them to eat when they came back. Now, goldilocks saw three chairs in the house. The first chair was appa karadi’s, the second one was amma’s and the third was kutti’s. She sat on appa’s biggggg chair it was tooooooooo big and hard for her. She sat on kutti’s little chair and it broke into pieces under her weight. Then she sat on amma’s chair it was just the right size and soft and cushiony. Then she saw three bowls of porridge on the table. She tasted the some from the biggest bowl and it was toooo hot and burnt her tongue. She tasted some from the medium (the word grandma used was “nadu tharam”) bowl and it was too cold and bland. She tasted some from the little bowl and it was warm and just the right taste. So she ate all the porridge that belonged to the little bear. After eating she went into the bedroom and found three beds. She climbed into appa karadi’s huge bed and it was tooooo big and hard for her. She got off and climbed on to nadu thara karadi’s bed (from this point my grandma started calling amma karadi as naduthara karadi(medium bear)) This bed was toooo soft and full of laces and frills. She got down and went to the kutti bear’s bed. She found it to be just the right size and softness. So she started sleeping in it.
After some time the three bears came back home. (Now I was horrified..and every time she said that I was.. )Appa bear started sniffing the air and concluded that there was someone in their house. Just then kutti bear started crying. They noticed that his chair is broken to pieces. So amma bear pacified him and appa bear promised to build him a new chair. Then they decided to have porridge. Then the kutti bear cried louder than ever. His porridge bowl was empty. So amma bear took a little bit of appa’s porridge and a bit from hers and mixed the two and fed little bear. (I lovvvvvved this idea of amma karadi)
Then they went into the bed room and what do they find? (I was wide-eyed and gaping at this point) Goldilocks sleeping on kutti karadi’s bed…. achacho… what is she going to do now? The three karadis were surprised to find this girl here and they started talking among themselves. Suddenly, goldilocks woke up to find three bears surrounding her bed. (Imagine!!) So she jumped out of the bed and jumped out of the window and raaaaannnnnn into the woods. Then she nevvvvver came back.
I made her tell this story every day atleast 3 times. Then there was this other thing I used to love about her.. every night before I slept she made me tell a shloka – “Ramaskandam” which was supposed to keep nightmares away. After this she sang a song for me.. it was a devotional song.. “karpaga valli nin porpadhangal pidithhen nargathi arulvaai amma” – but I have never heard it fully coz I usually slept off before she finished.
My grandma bear is the sweetest of all..