Beating around the bush
By Priyangwada Perera Ceylon Today Features
Dimagi came home after school. She got down from her van and opened the gate and walked in. She is usually very excited to be back at home after school.
That being a Friday, it is even more exciting with the promise of a weekend off. Much to the surprise of her excited dog, unlike other days, she showed less excitement. Both her parents were at home that day. This was yet another reason for her to feel good. Somehow, none of this contributed to make her feel more cheery. She took a wash and changed her clothes before walking to the kitchen. Her mother was laying the table. She sat down as Amma started to serve her food.
“Amma, will both you and Thaththa be at home on Sunday?” Dimagi asked her mother.
“Yes,” her mother replied.
“The whole day?” she wanted to reconfirm. As the second question came her way, the mother looked at her.
“Yes,” she said again.
“Do you have any special work to do in the evening?” Dimagi asked again. Her mother was thoughtful for a while. “Well, I was hoping to go and help aunty Sulo with the special pudding she wanted to make. But she had another emergency and we had a change of plans. That sets my evening free. Thaththa was also speaking of a welfare society meeting.
Yet, I am not sure whether it is actually taking place or not,” she said. There, she paused. “Why were you asking all this? What was all this beating around the bush?” she asked. Dimagi looked at her mother. She looked behind herself. Then she actually did a swirl and checked all around her. Her face had a puzzled look and her mother asked what happened to her.
“Amma where is the bush? Plus, who beats around the bush? I thought these kinds of things are done by natives who go hunting in the olden days. To be honest, I would love to do some beating around the bush, though.
Can you remember that two act play we did when we were in Grade 3? I played a little Red Indian boy where I had to do a lot of beating of drums and dancing around a bush, chanting something to Gods. That was how we prayed for rain,” she said and started laughing out loud.
She started doing that dance, around an imaginary fire. Her mother was laughing. “Is this how you beat around the bush, Amma?” she asked and immediately went near a small bush in the garden and started beating with a small stick. As if Dimagi remembered the old play, she was chanting some nonsense too, just the way she acted when she was a tiny kid. Her mother was laughing. Halfway down the act Dimagi herself was laughing. It was so funny that her mother had to sit on the stone bench.
“No, Dimagi. Please stop it. You are so funny that I can barely catch my breath. Beating around the bush is not what you just did, my dear. That is something totally different.” Dimagi the little Red Indian stopped dancing around the bush and looked at her mother. “Yes, darling. The phrase has nothing whatsoever to do with a bush or beating.
It means when you want something, instead of directly getting to the subject or asking about it, you just say a lot of other things that go round it. Except for addressing the real problem, you go in circles. You never come to what you want to say or do. That is why it is said to ‘beating around the bush’. Mother was done with explaining.
“Oh dear, I thought it was something you do for real. Amma, I asked all those questions about you or Thaththa being at home, because I wanted to go to Oshani’s place in the evening. I did not want to trouble you unnecessarily and that is why I wanted to make sure you are not occupied. But I was beating around the bush. I could have plainly told you that I would like to go there. I could have asked whether it is possible to arrange it,” Dimagi said thoughtfully. “Yes, my darling. It saves a lot of trouble. You can go to Oshani’s house. I can find the time to go and drop you at her house,” the mother promised Dimagi.