Sunday, May 08, 2005

A trip, a cousin, and lots of stories

This is exciting. I'm making a short trip to Indore at the end of this month and, like last month's journey, there will be plenty of stories to tell. Especially since the family of relatives I'll be with tend to have a funny take on most things. The youngest member of that family, now 15, is especially delightful. He spends lunchtimes with friends inventing quirky urdu poetry.

His story is by far the most interesting - like magic realism - in what is an overwhelmingly large clan. The youngest son of the youngest son in a brood of eight, he emerged crying, and that's all the sound he could make for years. For three years he strained but remained largely silent. What does one do? Treatment, surely, but doctors said not much could be done. So everyone took turns conversing with him and, in some time, the sounds he had begun forcing out became coherent. Then, suddenly, within months, he spoke with more clarity - both in sound and thought - as if it was nothing new. He spoke as quickly as words could come out. Barely would one end before the next began. There were no fullstops, no commas, no silence, and all day long he was a fountain of speech. The more stunning thing was that he thought as quickly as he spoke, which led us teenage cousins to believe that we had a genius on our hands.

So Indore, with its kaanch mandir (glass temple) and markets and havelis (palaces) and a cousin who can't keep quiet, beckons. This is all rather exciting.


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