Happy as a pig in mud
By Priyangwada Perera Ceylon Today Features
When Dumal’s uncle and aunt paid them a surprise visit, he was delighted. Dumal was the one who wanted to make sure that they were instantly made comfortable. Anyway, the aunt and uncle were his favourites. But there was also a special reason why Dumal was extra anxious about making them feel at home.
That was their little baby. Dumal took his ‘cousin-responsibilities’ pretty seriously. Ever since he heard that the little baby was coming to their house with her parents, Dumal was impatiently waiting. He loved the little girl so much and was eager to please her. “Amma, can we give the gift to Nangi?” he asked, going to the kitchen where his mother was preparing tea for them. Looking at little Dumal in all his earnestness, she smiled.
“No, darling. I know how excited you are about giving the gift to the little one but we will give it to them in a while. First let them have some tea and get settled. Then we can give it. Don’t worry, in less than half an hour we can give it to them.” Even though she said all this, seeing Dumal’s face become clouded, she changed her mind. “If you really want to give it, you can still do so. There is no need to wait for them to finish their tea,” she said and she could not help but notice Dumal’s face brighten.
To make Dumal feel better, his mother went and got the gift which they had wrapped and kept inside. Giving it to Dumal who was now jumping up and down in excitement, she went back to prepare tea.
This was the moment Dumal was waiting for. “Nanda, I can give the gift to Nangi, can’t I? It is alright to give it to her, right?” Dumal did not want to do something his uncle and aunt did not approve. That is the very reason he asked them before giving the gift to the baby’s hand. They laughed and nodded their heads. “Nangi is lucky to have such a big ayya who is ready with gifts. How is it that we do not get gifts as well?” joked Dumal’s uncle. Dumal did not pay attention to the jokes of the grownups. Instead he was concentrating on his baby-cousin’s reaction.
The little one was helped by her mother to unwrap the present. Seeing the big doll, with long hair and a pretty dress, little Tashi smiled. “Oh, Amma, see how happy Tashi nangi is. She is smiling and she has no teeth in her mouth,” Dumal shouted. As they all watched, Tashi sat down on the floor, with her big doll in her hands. Soon Tashi had no eyes for anyone else but the doll. She cuddled the doll, hugged the doll and held the doll with so much love. Seeing Tashi in her bliss, her mother said, “Did I not tell you, Dumal? Look at her. She is as happy as a pig in mud.” Hearing her aunt’s words, Dumal looked about in surprise.
“Oh, is that not a rude thing to say about Nangi?” Dumal asked, looking horrified. “I never thought Nanda would call Nangi a pig. That is such a bad thing to say. If Amma said that to me, I would have been very sad,” Dumal went on. This took Dumal’s aunty by surprise. “Oh dear, no, Dumal. Listen to me. I did not call her a pig. That was definitely not what I meant. But tell me, have you ever seen a pig in mud?” she asked.
“For real? You mean a real pig?” he replied with another question. “Well, even if it is on TV you know what it is like to be a pig,” he continued with a face full of disgust. “No, Dumal, you got me wrong. Have you seen how happy a pig is, when in mud? In fact that is where a pig is at its happiest. They love mud. Enjoy being in mud. Look at our little one.
Thanks to your beautiful gift, given with so much love, she is as happy as happy she can be,” Dumal’s aunt and uncle both explained. This time he understood. Looking at the little cousin, all busy with the doll, he realised it even better. “You are right. She has even forgotten me. She definitely is as happy as a pig in mud. Hey, you naughty piggy, you want to play with me,” he went near the little one and she squealed in delight.