The market, Salonica

The market, Salonica
The market, Salonica

Friday, 8 July 2016

I’m a big deaf one

“Have a comfort break,” I said to Kirin. The lesson had just started. 

“Why do you need a comfort break?” 

            It was Mummy’s voice, straightaway, from the passage. She walked in suspiciously.

“He needs some water,” I replied.

“Are you eating chocolate?” she asked.

“He’s got some biscuits,” I replied. “He was hungry.”

When I mentioned the comfort break, I didn’t think Mummy could hear, but she has sharp ears. I had used the term ironically. Perhaps she’d heard that, too. After she came in, Kirin had not spoken. I realised I was answering for him. Defending Kirin, I was, in fact, defending myself. It was something else that Mummy might notice.

“Make sure you listen!” she said. With Mummy, it’s all questions and commands. She went out, and we relaxed.

“You should listen to Mummy,” I told him. “She can uncover all forms of naughtiness, instantly.”

Kirin was wearing a new T-shirt. It had I’m a big deal #1on the front. I studied it, then said, as if I was reading aloud: “I’m a big deaf one.”

He chuckled, then pointed at the sofa. A chocolate Easter egg was sitting in the middle, by itself, like a jewel on a cushion, the silver wrapping holed at one end.

“I wouldn’t keep it there,” I said. “The mice’ll get it. Small creatures never stop eating.”

He dropped some Polos on the floor.

Leave them,” I said when he bent down. “The baby mice can play with them. They can squeeze through the holes.”

“We don’t have baby mice.”

“Yes, you do. You just haven’t seen them. They come out at night, and they’re very small, like you. They have small brains. Like you. I have a big brain.”

For his school homework, Kirin had to make some sentences with words that ended in -less. He was, for once, very focused. He put his arm around his work, as if he was cuddling it, to hide what he was writing. When he was ready, he pushed his book over, casually, for me to read.

My tutor is heartless.
My tutor’s life is meaningless.
I know what ‘endless’ means.

It was a long lesson.

“These are excellent sentences,” I said. But he was bored already.

“What’s the time now?” he asked.

“Sh. Mummy’ll hear.”

“She’s on the phone.”

When you’re being good, Mummy’s always on the phone, so she doesn’t know. When you’re being bad, she’s always listening.”

She has, of course, banned all toys from the lesson, but he smuggles them in. A while ago, we thought up a way to talk about them which she wouldn’t understand. Instead of car, we say three-letter word. For ball, four-letter word won’t do. We’ve made it three-and-half.

“Can I have that three-letter word?” I say, in a loud voice, when I’ve had enough of his Batmobile, and nobody gets into trouble.

There was another exercise. He had to guess the words with missing letters. Each time, three consonants were given, in the right order. It was difficult – for me, anyway. One of them I couldn’t do at all. The consonants were m, p and t.

“Armpit!” cried Kirin. He produced a toy car. I couldn’t say no.

At the end of the lesson, Mummy came in as usual. Kirin’s face was shining. He told her he’d got armpit before I did.

“He said it’s his favourite word!”

It was true. I’d said that. Mummy smirked. I’d noticed it lately, now and then, the strange shadow of mirth on her jaw.

“I may have exaggerated.”

She smirked again.