Cardiff, 1976

Hi! I’m 5  ½ yrs old now. I go  to a bigger school that has different buildings for different levels of schooling. My sister goes to a playschool now.

My class teacher is a grandmotherly figure, who is very nice and loving. My classmates are all fun loving and we have a great time during lunch breaks.

I’ve learnt some funny rhymes. I’ll share one with you :

‘Tarzan of the jungle

Had a belly ache,

Went to the toilet,

……PHrrrrrrr… Too Late.’       ( put your tongue out between your lips and let air come out with some force. Try it. Its fun) *

Are there any toilets in the jungle? Naa, I don’t think so.

When school gets over, we three siblings stand near the exit gate and wait for mother to come. Many kids continue to play on the jungle gym near my class block. They would repeatedly say ‘F— you’ or F— off’ in differing tones. I would hear kids playfully reciting these words while I walked from my block to the exit gate. I had no idea about its meaning.

One day I asked my mother about these words. Maybe my pronunciation was not proper so she did not understand what I was saying. So I pulled her to where the kids were playing. She heard them using these words in various forms.

My mother then softly but firmly told me that I was never to repeat these words as they were very bad words. This was serious, as it was the first time that my mother told me not to say something because it was bad.

During my stay at my grandparents place in Patna, I was quite the villain when it came to saying bad words and getting away with it. I was told that I could speak sentences before I could walk. That is, by the time I turned One, I was speaking  short sentences fluently. No stutters or stammers. By the time I completed 2, I was proficient in use of swear words like ‘kutta’ ( a dog), ‘kameena’ (rascal), ‘pagal’ (mad), and many more. Except me, no one swore at my grandmother’s place. I have no idea how I learned those words. Guess I had a knack of catching cuss words.

It was the era of Hindi Movies featuring action and revenge. The era of cuss words like ‘kutta’and ‘kameena’ and “khoon pee jaunga”. I was learning cuss words without knowing that they were not to be spoken as part of normal speech.

My sister was born by the time I turned two. It was then that I became the sole responsibility of my Mausi (Mother’s youngest sister). She was 17 years old then.

I had recently learnt another bad word. The female word for a dog. Why are bad words fun to say? I don’t know. Maybe it is thrilling to say something that should not be uttered. I started uttering this new bad word. My Mausi was shocked on hearing it and told me not to repeat it. I said it again and again and again. My aunt flicked me on my lips with her fingers. I said it again. She flicked on my lips again. This continued and my lips got swollen. Just then my grandmother realised what was happening and came to my rescue and scolded her youngest daughter.  She said, ‘ How can you do this to a child, who is without the care of her parents’. My grandmother had saved me. What a pampered, temperamental child I was. My aunt felt shame at her actions. I stopped swearing.

But today in this Cardiff school I learnt that there are some words even more dangerous as they are never to be spoken.

*(I still remember a few more limerics, which are unfit to be published here. I had no idea about the meanings at that point of time)