Kick the bucket
By Priyangwada Perera Ceylon Today Features
Shavi was having breakfast with his parents when the telephone rang. His Dad went to answer the phone. “Shavi, call is for you. It is Dilan,” his Dad said as he walked back to the chair.
Shavi ran to the phone. It was a short call. Parents heard him saying “What?” and then he went “Oh”, and before he could finish his sentence the caller had cut the line.
Shavi looked quite puzzled as he walked back to the table. His parents saw something was wrong. But they waited for Shavi to tell them.
“Amma, I think Dilan is going mad,” Shavi said with a concerned look. Both the parents looked up at Shavi as soon as he said this. His mother could not help but smile. “Well, Shavi, what went on? Has it got anything to do with the telephone call that you just received?” she asked.
His father knew that it definitely had to do with the call Shavi got. “Well, how did you just realise your friend is ‘going mad’? You barely spoke five words. I do not know about Dilan going mad, but you look very upset and we are concerned about you,” he said.
“Oh, Amma and Thaththa if you heard what Dilan said you would not worry about me. You will understand why I am looking as puzzled. But you would still not be able to figure out what is wrong with Dilan,” Shavi said in full confidence.
“Alright, Putha. Just tell us what Dilan said and both of us will understand whether your doubts are valid,” both the parents said. They were curious enough to know about this discussion.
“You know Dilan’s grandmother is sick, right?” he asked and both parents nodded their heads.
“Calling me now, he told me that his grandmother might kick the bucket. I am confused as to why Dilan said such a thing. But then, perhaps I should be happy. If his grandmother is fit enough to kick a bucket, her condition must have improved, right? But I just cannot understand why on earth she has to kick the bucket now,” Shavi went on explaining. But to his utmost surprise he saw the faces of his parents changing.
His father spoke in a very serious tone. “Putha, was it Dilan who said this to you now?” he asked and Shavi nodded his head to say ‘yes’. His father looked at his mother but Shavi could not understand what that look meant. However, his father turned to him again. “Shavi, I do not think Dilan used the right words here. What he said has nothing to do with his Grandpa getting well enough to go kick a bucket for no reason.” Something about the tone his father said all this, made Shavi uncomfortable. His father sounded very serious and grave.
“But, Thaththa why? I do not understand any of this. Could you please explain? I have never been so confused with anything,” Shavi said.
His mother came to his rescue. “Well, Putha, it actually means that his grandpa might die. It is not a nice way of saying things. But it refers to death. It is quite informal but the meaning is death,” she said.
Shavi went red in the face. He was a well mannered child who was always careful with his words. “Oh I am so sorry, Amma and Thaththa. I never meant to be insensitive. It is just that Dilan told me that way,” Shavi was apologetic. His parents knew it was no fault of Shavi’s.
“Maybe Shavi heard it being said by someone and without thinking much about it he thought it sounded ‘cool’,” his father said.
“Whoever that said such a thing could not have been a decent person,” Shavi said. “I would never have referred to a sick grandparent or anyone in such a way,” the boy said.
His parents were happy to hear that. “Yes, keep up your good manners. Words can be fun and attractive but not every word and phrase is suitable to be used in all places,” they said while ruffling Shavi’s hair.