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Babu Miyya (standard:humor, 1807 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 16 2010Views/Reads: 1765/1045Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A funny story on family affairs



Subba Rao 

The name Babu Miyya brings back fond memories of my aunt, passed away
some years ago. Babu Miyya rented a small storefront shop from my aunt 
and uncle. He was an old man always dressed in traditional Muslim 
garb-baggy white trousers and long loose shirt with white skullcap. His 
gray beard trimmed in shape of a narrow projectile away from his chin 
kept his right hand busy in constant motion of grooming. The dark rings 
around his deep eyes could be a sign of poor health or just tiredness 
from standing in his shop from early morning to late evenings. 

Babu Miyy was a permanent fixture in his shop, always in standing
position behind the greasy glass counters. He sold milk, yogurt, ghee 
or clarified butter, and lassi or sweet and sour buttermilk.   It is 
the lassi that made Babu Miyya very popular in the area. People from 
various walks of life dropped by his shop at any time of day to get a 
glass of refreshing lassi. He was a man of few words; spoke very little 
with his customers, nothing more than what was needed to complete a 

Every time I visited my aunt, Babu Miyya was there in his shop behind
the glass counter glaring at the street traffic. He seldom made any 
gestures of recognition when we made eye contact. Once in a while, I 
stepped inside his shop to order a glass of lassi, while sipping I 
would secretly stare at him hoping that he would strike a conversation, 
but never he did.  The rancid smells emanating from storage of milk 
products perpetually occupied the air space in the shop. There was a 
small doorway at the back of his shop that allowed Babu Miyya to enter 
my aunt's front yard to collect tap water and supply milk and butter 
milk to her. 

My aunt, my mother's older sister, lived several hundred miles away from
our town. I visited her only during summer vacation. I was very fond of 
her as she always had kind words for me.  She was a short woman with 
very fair skin and fat abdomen, slept on her stomach while reading or 
listening to radio, perhaps her soft underbelly provided cushion like 
comfort to her. As a young boy, I was fascinated by a small hand held 
betel nut cracker my aunt used to chop betel nuts into fine flakes to 
chew all day long.  Her teeth were turned brown from constant chewing 
of betel nuts. Once in a while I begged for few pieces of nuts to chew, 
she gave a few reluctantly, and made me to promise not to make a habit 
of it. 

In her bathroom, I saw for the very first time a large galvanized steel
tub with water in which she relaxed after regular shower. 

“Can I use your tub,” I asked her one day as I felt like jumping into
the tub filled with water. 

“You don't' have asthma and backaches like I have, only asthmatics like
me need tub baths,” she said in a quiet voice. 

In several visits I made to her house, never had I heard harsh words
coming out of her mouth. She always spoke with a smile and yet she 
never gave any gift not even a candy. Later on in my adult life I 
realized that my aunt was a penny pincher. She was very fortunate to 
have a husband like my uncle. He treated her like a doll with utmost 
care, provided her with a maid and a cook so that she didn't have to 
exert herself particularly with her asthma. Perhaps, she was too 
comfortable and with no household chores, became fat and helpless. 

My uncle was a high-level civil servant in-charge of inspecting and
issuing operating permits to various businesses. This led him to travel 
and collect gifts from the business owners. He accepted gifts in any 
shape or form, such as shoes, clothing, cooking utensils, construction 
materials, home decorative items and even cold cash sometimes. 

In total contrast to my aunt, my uncle was tall, dark skinned and
generous. Every time I visited their home, he gave me treats to eat but 
the only catch was that I ended up massaging his feet while he relaxed 
in an easy chair. His three children, my cousins always escaped the 

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