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You Need a Woman of Action Only, Isn’t It?

Sumitra Singam

On Sundays, we went to Uncle Bheema’s house for the weekly measuring. My grandmother Paati would have calipers and a measuring tape. Uncle would be seated in the usual chair, his loincloth somehow hiding everything else while his left scrotum was out on display. It had been growing steadily since Lakshmi Sreenivasan turned down his offer of marriage. Paati had advised him to cut his losses and marry someone else, but he refused. He said it was a point of pride.

“Hmph,” Paati said. “Your so important pride looks like one big coconut only.”

Uncle Bheema would sigh, and develop a faraway look in his eye.

Paati said he was dreaming of an alternate life where he had married Lakshmi and had ten children.

“Paati, if I don’t get children, will my balls also swell like that?” I asked.

Paati clipped me over the head, “What nonsense. Bheema, if you don’t stop putting such ideas into your nephew’s head, I will crack that nether-coconut open and scrape out the insides to make kurma!”

My father Appa would take Paati aside, talk to her in a soothing voice. My mother Amma would make chai.

Uncle Bheema would take a cup, “Extra sugar please, it is the only thing that helps.”

“Helps with what, Uncle? Does it hurt?”

“Yes, it is my heart. My poor heart is very paining, Deepu,” he sighed the way MGR did in the filmies.

In the afternoon, people would visit. They said it was to inquire after Uncle’s health, but really it was to look at his balloon-testicle. They suggested ashwaghanda and cold baths.

“Do you know that Lakshmi has no suitors now?” Aunty Padma Govindan tittered. “Everyone is afraid of what might happen if she turns them down, isn’t it?”

“You’re worrying about Lakshmi? What about this budhdhu here? Who will marry him now? He is sitting here like a confused rooster guarding a golden egg only, isn’t it?” Paati said.

Then one day, Shimmy Shivshankar came to visit.

“That one wears the see-through chiffons only,” Aunty Padma Govindan said. Paati stiffened.

Shimmy wore a red sari that flowed like lava from a volcano, and she smelled of a deep and mysterious perfume like England and Amreeka. She sidled close to Uncle Bheema, dimples peeking out in her cheeks and waist. Quick as a flash she pulled out a hairpin and burst his balloon scrotum. It gave a relieved sigh.

Amma screamed. Paati shouted. Appa stood saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay, never mind.”

Uncle Bheema, totally unperturbed, beamed at her.

Shimmy laughed, “Arey, all you people coming here to ogle at my poor Bheema only. Nobody really wants to help him.”

Paati glared at her.

Shimmy laughed like a waterfall, her soft fingers against her plump mouth. “Don’t be angry, Mummyji. Can I call you Mummy? As your future daughter-in-law, it is my job to help you out of any and all such Pickles and Dilemmas, isn’t it? You are all sitting here saying ‘Aiyo what to do’ only, isn’t it? You need a Woman of Action. So, I Myself came to help you!”

She turned back to Uncle Bheema and whispered something to him, and they giggled, their foreheads touching.

Paati’s muscles started to work then. Her mouth had that dangerous twitch.

“Some chai?” Appa said to Paati.

“No, no, Mummyji! Sit! I will make chai. All this you leave to me only.” Shimmy took Uncle Bheema’s hand, and pulled him to the kitchen asking where the cardamom was. Uncle Bheema finally got up off his chair, and went with her, saying, “Yes, I think you should leave it to her, Amma.”

P.S.: Shimmy Shivshankar would like to share her special BDE Mixtape with you. She hopes you’ll have a listen, but maybe don’t tell Mummyji: 

Sumitra is a Malaysian-Indian-Australian coconut who writes in Naarm/Melbourne. This story was born because Anika Carpenter at The Flash Cabin made her do it on one of her amazing workshops. Please refer all complaints to Sumitra otherwise avoids writing about genitalia, but it seems to be happening quite a lot. Please send help via Twitter: @pleomorphic2