Old Gosal's Birthday

Good old Gosal had suffered a stroke. That was years before he departed to the nether world (God bless his soul), over a decade ago. The stroke has paralysed him, he was hospitalised, but proper medical aid revived him enough to remain with us for the years that followed. Though he could not regain complete use of all his limbs, his mind remained alert through his spicy and juicy letters from Mangalore. Undetered by his physical handicap, he poured out his mind on paper through a typewriter, bashing away at the keys with his left hand.

Just as well for his loved ones, numerous friends and fans. For old Gosal was renowned for his cynical wit and humour, and soldiery slang that no one wanted to be deprived of. He called a spade a spade, and had no time for the pseudo sophistication that has crept into our society. And he made no bones about telling you so. While his physical disabilities restricted his socialising, his fan mail though, doubled and trebled over the years.

I remember the time when old Gosal was made to celebrate his birthday, the following year after the stroke. We were then posted in Sikkim. Being miles away, we could only write and wish, and send him a parcel of Kalimpong cheese which he adored. The letter he typed out to us after the celebrated event, has still been preserved for posterity. Extracts from which, I'd like to quote:

"... A million thanks for your loving birthday greetings, which got here in good time. I was greatly moved by your card. Thanks also for the parcel. I was almost beginning to think some chap from the P&T must have snaffled it. Since cheese forms the staple item of our frugal diet, its arrival was eagerly awaited. Ta muchly, once again.

The birthday went off nicely, but only just. The gladhanders came mostly in the morning, when they were expected in the evening. This complicated matters, because they arrived with progeny who messed up the place with cake crumbs, bits of jack chips, -- and of course, spilt sweet drink all over. These people have brought up their children like pariahs who behave like hoodlums, while their parents and grandparents look on admiringly. The latter, who are educated and can afford servants, do not know the elementary good manners of leaving their brats at home, when visiting a house where there are only grown ups without domestics. I hope you are not like these proud parents.

The evening session was on similar lines. The neighbours arrived with their youngest spout, who was restless for lack of attention. Followed by the two old cats -- the Duchess and the Grand-Duchess -- with all their children and their grandchildren. Then came K.... and her two long tongued daughters who never missed a word of the conversation, to promptly spread the word around the very next morning. The place soon looked like a s...- house, with the furniture dragged out of place, and bits of uneaten samosa, cake and what have you, strewn all over the joint. I was never more glad to see the back of my guests than at midnight that day. The gladhanders left after filling up on grog and eats, and I do not care if I never see them again. It is a helluva strain on your mother, the one able bodied citizen left in the fami- ly, to organize and serve the bloody b....s whilst they sit and fill up, and mouth platitudes which they think I swallow hook line and sinker. I hope I am not around next year to see a repeat performance. Our friends and relations cannot be expected to have learnt good manners in the interval....!

Now comes the irksome task of replying to my birthday mail individually, and having to couch each one in sugary terms when I do not mean what I write ! There is also this mistaken impression that I have an inexhaustible store of trite expressions and witticisms that I can muster at the snap of a finger. If people only knew what a bore it is to me ! Gush, gush and more gush....." Unquote.

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