The Clue

©2013 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved

The little things in life….subtle and seemingly insignificant… always provide the clue 🙂

The game is given away, inevitably, by one tiny nugget of information that goes by, initially at least, unnoticed.

I remember a funny incident that happened a while ago. My son was attending one of his regular air force cadet camps at the air force base about 200 kilometres from Sydney. It was a seven day camp with vigorous and rigorous training schedules. Up at the crack of dawn, exercise, marching, activities, etc etc. Mobile phones were strictly prohibited during the day, and could only be accessed after the cadets retired to their respective rooms around nine o’clock at night.

‘Be sure to call me as soon as you arrive’, I said to my son, who gave me an absent minded nod.

‘Did you hear me?’ I repeated, and this time got the ‘rolled-eyes’ typical of (most) teenagers instead of the nod.

The first day went by, and….surprise!….NO CALL !!!

I must have called about ten times, and each time, the voice mail message came on.

“Give him time” hubby said patiently. There we were, a classic case of Fathers being from Mars and Mothers being from Venus. Haven’t the Martians realised by now that Venusians love to worry, worry, worry?

By the time ten o clock came around, and still no call, I had worked myself into a state of wild panic. I stormed around the house, furious and mad with worry. Everyone stayed well out of my way. The general buzz-phrase in the household was: “mum is officially on the warpath”.

Believe it or not, TWO days went by without the promised call. I must have called a few hundred times.

“What’s the point of calling every three seconds?” hubby asked with martian patience. “He has probably left the phone on ‘silent’ and forgotten all about it”. This statement received its well deserved Venusian wrath. “How dare he leave it on silent? These kids of today…..hopeless….” I spluttered.

Seeing my mounting worry, hubby decided to do me a kind favour. ‘Give me your mobile’, he said. ‘I will send him a text message from you’.

‘Why can’t you text him from your own phone?’ I asked, confused.

‘Well, because I’m going to say he is banned from playing PlayStation 3 when he gets back because of his irresponsibility in not calling.’. I understood. Hubby often admonishes the kids when they have been naughty by saying ‘no television today’ or ‘No Playstation 3″ and yet, only about half an hour later, the threat is forgotten, and I find them all (father and kids) cuddled together watching a movie. The message would have greater impact coming from me, because everyone knows, when Mum forbids something, she means it.

After hitting the ‘send’ button, he showed me the message he had typed. ‘You will not be allowed PlayStation 3 for a week because you forgot to call as promised. Love, Mumma’

I took one look at the message and burst out laughing.

‘What’s wrong’? my other half asked in mild confusion.

I shook my head, still laughing. “He will know straight away that it wasn’t me who sent this message”

“What do you mean?”. More confusion!

“Just wait and watch”

We finally got a call on Day 3. “Sorry”, my son said grumpily. ‘I had left it on silent’ (Typical!)

‘Don’t you realise that I worry?’ I asked. We spoke for a bit about this and that, and finally my son asked to speak to his father. ‘Hi Baba’ he said. ‘Why did you send me that text message? It wasn’t my fault. I had forgotten the phone was on silent. Why do I have to be banned from PS 3?”

Hubby was astounded. How had his son figured out the message had come from him? I was listening to the conversation as the speaker phone was on, and trying hard to keep a straight face.

“The message was from your mum”, hubby said with a brave attempt at indignation.

“Baba, the message was from you! I know it”

“How do you know?”. The indignation was vanishing rapidly, to be replaced with disbelief.

“When Aai (‘mum’ in Marathi) sends me texts, she never signs ‘Love, Mumma’. She just writes ‘Love, Aai’. I knew straight away she hadn’t sent me that text.’

There was total silence, and then I burst out laughing. ‘I told you!’ I mouthed silently

The little things….seemingly small and insignificant….always provide the clue.

How strange that the author of such a cleverly worded and well thought out message was discovered merely by virtue of one tiny word.

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