We just got back after a blissful but hot two weeks in India. Trips to India inspire my creativity because there is so much happening. And I don’t usually have a plan when I am there, which is the right space for creativity to strike.

An image showing Thinnai – like an open verandah on ground floor.

My ancestral home in my village is an old-style one with an open interior and made for joint families. It was built at a time when people spent most of their time outdoors and came home to sleep, eat and chill with others. And in line with that, we have something called ‘Thinnai’, which was built so that air circulation is the most, and you could sit there and look out to the street through the gate. The best way to beat the heat is to sit outside without a fan or AC as your body adjusts to the natural heat. So, one morning I was sitting on the Thinnai with a tumbler of tea and my journal in hand.

Suliyan – the local guy in the village who does ‘landscaping’, showed up at the door. He called out to my mom and sat outside. My mom had asked him to cut the growth around our house so that we could keep the jungle from creeping in. He is an older guy with curly brown hair that is sun peppered and right now sprinkled with bits of leaves. He wore a brown undershirt – it is so hot people rarely wear shirts. And it was so hot he had his lungi pulled over his shorts. He had his curved axe or sickle with which he hacked at the trees. He sharpened his axe at the platform’s ledge while he was waiting.

Image of a local wearing lungi

After a few minutes, my mom came out and said, ‘I already gave you Fifty Rupees, and I will give you another Fifty for today.’ He got visibly upset, raised his voice, and asked my mom, ‘Why – I do good work and get paid more if I go to the shop. I need Hundred.’ My mom looked him in the eye and said, ‘You do good work, eh?’ Suliyan did not budge. And my mom is a master negotiator and was testing the waters to see if she could get away with paying him Fifty. She handed him a hundred rupee note when she realized that he was not going to budge. Suliyan got up to leave, and as he was leaving, my mom told him not to use that money on booze and get into fights with other people. He softened his stance and gave my mom a toothy smile like a child who had been caught red-handed. He asked my mom, ‘Who told you about the fight? Laxmi from the shop next door?’ They both laughed and went their ways. My mom went into the kitchen, and Suliyan went off to spend his hard-earned Hundred rupees probably on booze.

I have been watching this fascinating scene unfold in front of my eyes. They both knew their script – my mom knew what would happen, Suliyan knew what would happen, but they both had to play it out. The minute the drama was over – they both stepped out of character. And I am sure if my dad had come out, it would have been a different script. Thinking back on it, I should applaud both of them for brilliant acting.

This made me wonder about all the scripts we all play out – some that work for us, some that don’t. If we realize that we wrote the script and have the power to change it, we can rewrite the scripts that don’t work for us.

What script will you rewrite?

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