by Ben Huberman
We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?
I do have one, and she is my sister-in-law married to my elder brother Lala. I don’t call her by name, and as a mark of respect call her Apa.
She has strange habits, and one of them is washing her hands continuously. Meanwhile the water keeps running. She washes — examines her hands — washes — examines, and the cycle goes on. Maybe some speck of dirt keeps on hanging.
Another one is using an old shoulder bag. My sister, and I had the misguided notion that if we gifted her enough bags, she would stop using the old one. No such luck. The old yellow one is always in use. Some day if I can find enough bravery in myself to sneak into her home to throw out the old bag, I may do the deed.
When we (my late husband R, and I) would visit Lala’s place, Apa would sit down with us. Lala would do the running around to serve us tea, or soft drinks, and I would try to dissuade him from serving us, or help him.
R as usual would be irked by Apa’s manners. Going back home, he would say, “why does your brother puts up with his wife? Or why doesn’t he get another one?”
Thank God, Apa wasn’t there to hear it, otherwise her mental image of a good guy would have been destroyed.
Washing, cooking, cleaning, everything is done by Lala. He washes Apa’s clothes, and irons them for her too. The irony is that Lala is not well, and has landed in Intensive Care Unit several times. He is diabetic, having a heart condition.
I sometimes wonder what’s going to happen, when Lala is no longer there for her.