A Father Story: Chapter 3

Your Fervent Desire

I deliberately did not end chapter 2 by saying whether I would continue the story of the Favorite Daughter, aka Butterfingers, or whether I would move on to the other Favorite Daughters, aka Second FD and Third FD. Truth be told, I myself did not know.

Yes, I know that “I myself did not know” is extremely awkward, but it’s more accurate than “I did not know myself.” There has never been a time when I did not know myself. But English being as idiosyncratic as it is, occasionally an Indian American writer must dish out extremely awkward prose.

Still, I appreciate your attention to my prose, especially when it is extremely awkward, and when I make a spelling mistake.

Spelling

I was in three minds about whether to continue the saga of the Favorite Daughter (and given how much I know, I admit I was tempted). But since I was in three minds, I decided to forget about the Favorite Daughter and move on to the other two FDs.

Before I move on, I must draw your attention to a point that, at some point, may turn out to be crucial to this story. If it turns out not to be crucial to the story and you want to sue me for making a promise I did not keep, let me ask you to move your eyes back 43 words, to the word may in the previous sentence. The difference between may and will is akin to the difference between May and June.

To get to the point, the point is that at times people in three minds do decide. It’s only when one is in two minds that one cannot decide. Like Hamlet.
img_0778

No, I am not going to indulge your fervent desire for Hamlet. I have, out of goodness of heart, indulged it many times in the past, but this story is not about Hamlet and his father. Just because I titled it A Father Story and not The Father Story does not mean I can drag Hamlet and his father in to indulge your fervent desire for Hamlet.

And anyway, given your FD for Hamlet, you know already know that Hamlet is not about Hamlet and his father. It’s not even Hamlet and his stepfather – notwithstanding that his first lines relate to that lecherous, treacherous villain. (Which is the second kindest thing Hamlet can say about Claudius, the kindest being “A little more than kin, and less than kind.”)

Hamlet is about Hamlet and his mother. Nothing to do with an Oedipus complex. (He may be complex, but he can tell Gertrude from Ophelia.) Hamlet is about Hamlet and his mother because even though he must avenge his father’s death, when he finally does kill his father’s killer, it is to avenge his mother’s death.

Hamlet Act V scene ii

Chapter 3

 

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A Father Story: Chapter 1

Wreaking Havoc and Wrecking Saucers

A story officially begins at chapter 1, and the stats suggest that it is good to begin a story with a confession. So here I go again.

I confess I had deliberately left the plot twist out of the Prologue. My memory may not be what it used to be, but one thing I do remember about storytelling is that while it is perfectly acceptable to share the plot twist in chapter 1, it is never acceptable to do so in the Prologue.

Plot twist

I ended my Father’s Day post by mentioning my father’s love for dish soap. I didn’t know it was the plot twist then, but I know it now, as I look back with perfect hindsight.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Even an optometrist will tell you that, though they will never tell you your eyesight is 20/20. At least, that’s been my experience. Whenever I see my optometrist (and I do see him), he says, with a voracious gleam in his eye (and I can see it), “I hope you’re still a voracious reader?”

My perfect hindsight also showed me that love was the wrong word to describe what Papa felt for dish soap. It was a magnificent obsession. For a reason that will forever remain a mystery this side of eternity, he was particularly obsessed with how tea things should be washed.

After years of making everyone miserable (including himself) over the matter, Papa had the brilliant idea to buy his own saucepan, strainer, cup, and teaspoon. He initially condescended to share the family saucers, but this was extremely traumatic for the family. We used any saucer (when we dared use any saucer) with fear and trembling. Many a saucer was dropped and wrecked because the holder’s hand was trembling with fear. (Others were Furiously Dashed to the ground, but that’s a different FD story.)

broken saucer

It is a truth not so universally acknowledged in our more Feminist Days that women possess a Fine Delicacy of nerves. This sharing of saucers wreaked havoc on the nerves of the four Edwards women. Since we were Four Different personalities, we expressed it in Four Different ways.

Mummy turned to her sewing machine with a vengeance, for a vengeance. Since the machine was in their bedroom, the incessant whirring had the satisfying effect of disturbing Papa’s reading. Love may be patient and kind, but Mummy, being well-versed in Scripture, also knew that as you sew you reap.

SEW

We daughters had our own ways of dishing it out, and without dish soap. Since none of us was as scripturally inclined as Mummy, none of our ways were based on Scripture. They were effective, nonetheless.

Before I reveal what each of us did, I must tell you that there were three Edwards daughters. Each was a Favorite Daughter, I’m happy to say, but each was not equally favored. There was an ancient and firmly established favoritism hierarchy – a favoritism caste system, if you like, except that there was no fourth caste, there being only three daughters to feed, clothe, educate, and marry off.

To maintain my sisters’ privacy, and especially my own, I will refer to us as the Favorite Daughter, the Second Favorite Daughter, and the Third Favorite Daughter.

Chapter 1

The Plot Story: Chapter 5

Not-so-wee Chapter

If you thought my woes had ended with the punfriendly Miss Puniverse from Pune, you were wrong. Once Pundora’s box is punlocked, woes are punfortunately punstoppable.

Numerous emails have arrived from the continent of Europe, mostly commending me for how I conducted myself during the breakup. The most notable commendations come from Lisbon, Portugal (saying I have the dignity of Magellan); Athens, Greece (saying I have the integrity of Odysseus); Tirana, Albania (saying I have the nobility of Mother Teresa); and Stockholm, Sweden (saying I deserve the Nobel Prize for nobility).

A nice person in Nice, France, says Winkie has an existential problem and something must be done about it immédiatement. He can’t be guillotined now it’s a capital offence, but he should be put in the Bastille so he’s not a menace to society. (The Singaporean version was that Winkie should be fined, since he can’t be caned.)

Of the two emails from Italy, one comes from the place I most want to visit: Florence. The writer is a wealthy dowager who very graciously invites me to stay in her villa and bask under the Tuscan sun for as long as I wish. The only condition is that I must eat pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because that’s all she eats.

The dowager has apparently not read “Insult to Injuria Formae,” where I say I’ve said ciao to pasta, but I nevertheless appreciate her offer. It almost makes up for her compatriot’s email, which comes from a man in Rome who did something I’d describe as the most unkindest cut if it weren’t bad grammar. I’m still too shaken to speak about it, but I’m thankful that the cut has at least left me alive. Perhaps it’s because the Ides of March are come and gone.

*****

Several writers have shared (many at considerable length) their own breakup stories. If I were handing out prizes, the one from Vladivostok, Russia, would win hands down. It makes my breakup with Winkie look about as romantic as an Everly Brothers number. The story is one of doomed love, and in the end the writer’s lover kills herself by jumping in front of a train. Now why hasn’t he thought of making this into a book or movie?

Speaking of movies, several Bollywood directors have written asking for the film rights. One says his best scriptwriter is already working on a script titled Winky aur Pinky. He tells me it’s a love story with a happy ending. Does Bollywood have any other kind?

I’m guessing there’ll be the bare minimum of dialogue, delivered by people wearing the bare minimum. There’ll be tons of blood and gore (done with paint, because the public can see through ketchup). And of course, there’ll be singing and dancing galore (but not to or of Everly Brothers numbers). All I need to do is sign the dotted line and I’ll be richer by one crore eleven lakhs. I desperately need one crore eleven lakhs, but not desperately enough to be called Pinky. What’s more, I object to the liberties they have taken with Winkie’s name.

*****

While on the subject of love, I might as well tell you about the email from Santiago, Chile. Santiago (for that’s also the writer’s name) has offered to take Winkie’s place. His letter was written in Spanish – perhaps he thought I knew the language, having lived in LA for so long, but I only know “No hablo español.” I also know that “muchas gracias” means “thanks much,” and seeing it at the beginning and end of his email I assumed that he was writing to thank me for my definition of plot. Naturally, I wanted to read it in its entirety.

I copy-and-pasted Santiago’s letter into the online translator and it turned out to be a passionate declaration of love – passionate being the operative word. Truth be told, the letter was replete with a certain kind of content. Knowing how you detest that sort of stuff, I won’t repeat it.

*****

Contrary to what you may be thinking, the email from Santiago in Santiago was not my favorite. It wasn’t even my second favorite. That comes from my favorite place: Wigtown, Scotland.

The writer is one Mrs. M. C. Duff, who thanks me for being such a nice wee lassie and mentioning Robbie Burns in “The Definition of Plot.” Mrs. M. C. Duff is a new reader. She found my blog by searching for “gang aft a-gley wordpress,” and it thrilled her wee heart that I’d said Robbie Burns had put it lucidly (everyone else calls it gibberish).

Thanks to Robbie Burns, Mrs. M. C. Duff has read everything I’ve published – on my blog, that is. She hasn’t yet read my book but promises to check it out when it’s available at her library. I’d ask her to buy Pioneer Boulevard on Amazon or at one of Wigtown’s many bookstores, but I won’t. Paying for what I write will ruin her track record, and I’d never want to ruin the track record of anyone who said wee Winkie was a naughty lad to make such a nice wee lassie cry.

After reading everything I’ve published on my blog, Mrs. M. C. Duff visited the About page, through which she found the About page of my website. There she discovered that her wee town is my favorite place, so she has invited me over for a wee cuppa. She says if I will bring the tea, milk, and sugar, she’ll provide the water. Which, all things considered, is pretty generous.

*****

My favorite email comes from a penguin reader in Antarctica, who signs off as Major Ursa Le Guin (I’m guessing that’s a penguin name). He says my post “How I Became A Writer” was “pretty warm,” which I take is the Cold Continent’s equivalent of pretty cool. Not knowing that I dislike politics, Maj. Le Guin has sent me his treatise on Antarctican politics, The Boiling Plot.

Despite my distaste for politics, The Boiling Plot was an absorbing read, but I can’t discuss it with you because the major has asked me not to discuss it with the hoi polloi. (Actually, he used a far more insulting term for you, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.) If you want to know what’s in The Boiling Plot, you’ll just have to write your own plot story and hope that Maj. Le Guin finds it interesting enough to contact you.