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Thursday, April 30, 2015

There's a Hole in My Bucket- and it refuses to go...

Many years back, don’t even begin to ask how many, infact in kindergarten, our class enacted Harry Belafonte’s "There's a Hole in My Bucket".  The song is actually a dialogue between two characters, Henry and Liza.  Henry has a leaky bucket, and Liza tells him to repair it. However, to fix the leaky bucket, he needs straw, to cut the straw, he needs a knife, to sharpen the knife he needs to wet the sharpening stone, to wet the stone, he needs water and to get water he needs a bucket- but in this case there is only that one leaky bucket.  The song, albeit humorous in tone, always left me wondering if Henry’s and Liza’s work ever got done. Did they manage to get the straw, sharpen the knife, wet the sharpening stone…. ? Did they finish off everything and then were able to relax, just chill, not worry about any more tasks or pending jobs?

So, now I know the answer. It is: No. Never.  Absolutely Not.  I laugh at the naivety of the kindergarten me. The laugh is hollow and cynical. I have also now understood why our vedic forefathers trotted off to the jungles in their vanprasthic stage of life. As a student of history one had always felt sorry for the oldies- banished to the wild jungles while the youngsters whoopeed in joy and wished each other ‘happy freedom day’. But now I realize that the oldies must have broken into a foxtrot or a waltz or done a bhangra as soon as they rounded a corner and were out of sight.

I know you must be wondering what makes me feel so. Allow me to take you through just a day of my life. So, one of us switches on the living room air conditioner. There is a series of staccato sounds and I  understand something is not right. I rush and switch off all electrical appliances and electronics. News floats from downstairs that there has been a fire in the meter. I ring up the electrician, thanking my stars for having  paid his exorbitant charges without a fuss at his last visit. He saunters in an hour later. Transpires that major work needs to be carried out. He gives a lonnnng list of what all has to be bought. By the time one has mentally calculated the kharcha the husband has given him money to buy all the stuff. I totter off to the kitchen. The maid gives me one of those looks- you know the look that says: why am I  stuck in a house which has no bijli. I smile wanly . She announces that her mum is not well in the village and she has to leave. I dig out a beautiful suit I know she has been coveting and buy peace. The electrician comes back with a small packet to show for that humungous list and does some magic and presto –we have light in the house.However, with the light comes the smell of some wires burning- the main panel of the burglar alarm system has got burnt!!

 I dig out the bulging file in which we keep all the receipts/ guarantee cards etc and fish out the company’s customer care number to lodge my complaint. They promise to send someone soon. I keep the phone down only to get a call from my bank. My signature is not tallying on some document and could I please come and to the needful. I toodle off to the bank to do the needful before the husband comes to know. One can very clearly visualize the ‘haven’t I being telling you to be more focused when doing important things like signing …’.

I come back home  and the daughter announces that she will make some really nice, chilled cold coffee for me. I am not too sure if it is a good idea given that she barely knows her way round the kitchen but too exhausted to demur just give in. Ten minutes later she comes with two tall glasses of lovely cold coffee and the news that four of her friends are ‘dropping in for ten minutes’ to say hi to their Anju aunty. The ten minutes, but naturally, stretch till after dinner. They finally pile into a car, promising to come visit ‘very soon’. The living room looks as if a hurricane has hit it and I try and bring some order to it.

Almost as an afterthought I check my mail. The publisher has signed off with ‘warmest regards’ but before that has inquired about the status of the work and also reminded  that the deadline for the submission of the work is looming large.

Oh! for the life of the jungles.


  1. You write so beautifully Anju... I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.... it felt like you were almost speaking to me. :-)

    1. You are very kind, Archana. Thank you ;):)

  2. It almost felt like you were speaking to me. So many things taking place in our life on a daily minute to minute basis makes us go crazy.... But this is life!!
    I liked this post.. a lot...