Speak of the Devil
By Dilshani Palugaswewa Ceylon Today Features
The kids were playing in the garden after they returned from school when they heard the neighbour’s car pull up to their garage, “Hey Lina!” Kayla said as she got off the car looking over to her neighbour’s garden. “Hey Kayla,” Lina and her brother Marcus shouted in response across the fence, making sure their voice carries over to where Lina shut the door of her car. Adjacent to the parked car, Kayla’s grandmother woke up to the door banging and the loud kids in her neighbourhood shouting at the top of their lungs to get their granddaughter’s attention.
Kayla runs over to Lina and Marcus who are also still in their uniforms too. “Can you come inside to play like we usually do. We haven’t played with each other for over more than a week now,” a disheartened Lina sighed at the thought of not having spent time with her friend. “Please,” she pleaded, before Kayla interrupted her to lower her voice because her grandmother was still staying with her family. “Shhh,” she gestured putting her finger on her lip, “I can’t, because grandma doesn’t like us making noise and she isn’t too keen on me playing with you and your twin brother who is three years younger to me.
She says, because I am 12 years-old, I should get into the habit of hitting the books every day for at least an hour. So, mama said to wait untill she leaves for me to come over and play as usual, that way, I can play without my grandma shouting at me for not studying after school!” Kayla said looking on the brighter side. “Perhaps, we can play longer than usual, you know just to catch up!” Marcus chimed in.
As Marcus finished sharing his take on the matter, there was a crisp noise all the kids were alerted too, like footsteps against wet grass moving closer. “Oh no!” Marcus exclaimed as his eyes widened and he remarked with fright, “Speak of the devil.” Before Lina and Kayla could understand what he meant by that, they were met with a rather displeased old lady walking towards them in scurried manner. She halted a metre away from where the kids were standing and discussing matters of high importance. With her hands on her hips and a slight eye twitch, she posed a rhetorical question to Marcus “What did you call me?”
“A devil,” Lina said without skipping a beat. “No no, that’s not what Marcus meant,” Kayla said trying to help ease the tense situation. “Gran, Lina doesn’t mean anything bad.”
“Actually, I did,” Lina said boldly, disregarding the attempt her friend was making to calm her grandmother down who had heard a few wrong words off a rather innocent conversation. “You don’t have to be scared Kayla, we are with you. Your grandmother cannot be mean to you. And just because you are older than us, doesn’t mean you can’t take time out to play with us,” Lina blurted as she turned to her brother for assurance, “Right, Marcus?”
The sudden escalation in the conversation had a perplexed Marcus catch the drift of helpless Kayla who was now stuck in an unfortunate situation like she was firefighter desperately trying to put out a raging fire. “Oh no Lina, you’ve got the wrong idea of the idiom ‘Speak of the devil’. I didn’t mean Kayla’s grandmother is an actual devil.”
“But you said the word ‘devil’ what else could that mean,” a highly confused Lina questioned her brother in response.
“It’s and idiom,” both Marcus and Kayla echoed together as they attempted to finally clear the doubts of Lina and Kayla’s grandmother. “The idiom means that the person you were just talking about appeared in front of you,” Kayla explained to Lina while Marcus profusely nodded in guilt for creating the unfortunate situation.
“Ahh,” Lina said in realisation. “I am so sorry that I said you’re a devil,” Lina said apologetically to Kayla’s grandmother. The old lady appreciated Lina’s apology with a nod and a smile and everything seemed to have be alright, but Lina had a follow up remark that no one saw coming. “I just assumed because you are an old lady and you shout at Kayla for playing with us, you fit the picture of a devil we read in books.”
Marcus and Kayla lock eyes in horror and jump to save the situation again, “she’s loves to joke,” Lina said in haste while Marcus added “And most of them aren’t funny!”
Although Kayla’s grandmother left without responding she felt the need to let her mother know what had happened. They all returned to their houses safe and sound – it was only a yelling Lina received from her mother when she learnt about the incident because Kayla’s grandma did not fail to tell her, but apart from that, all ended well.