Many moons back, when myself was in 2nd or 3rd standard, a funny incident happened. As its popular for all fairer sex to get educated in software engineering, Fashion technology et all, it was the art of sewing and embedroidary in those Indira Gandhian days.
Statutory warning : Do not enact the following events. Read at own risk.
It was considered Chic by girls and used as a popular tool to palm off their daughters to unsuspecting grooms by their parents. An added ability to sing and cook was mandatory. The era of pants/shirts/chuddidhars for fairer sex had not yet made thier apperance. There were streakes of hippi culture getting poupular and our barbers were swaying to Elvis even when they did not understand a word of the noise!
My mothers elder sister had just moved in from Tamil Nadu, back to Bangalore due to her sons transferable job. Since I had 3 cousines, my aunt hatched the usual plan and started sending all the 3 of them to the Tailoring class run by my mother – opposite to our residence.
Since they did not know kannada at that time, my aunt used to escort them ( I also doubted that she wanted to ensure them to attend classes without fail!) to and fro on daily basis.
One such day, I was just playing cops and robbers with imaginary people, hiding behind pillers and saying Booo on unsuspecting people at the class, Jaya aunt came and sat down with a heavy breath. Looked like she was running a temperature.
Lucky as she was, there was a doctor shop next door who was well known to us. The good doctor gave some 12 packets containing white, brown tablets for 3 days – 4 times and the most pungent decoction of god knows what in a small bottle – suspected to be paracetamol.
He said its viral fever and would last the course and die normaly. I smiled since otherwise patients would die before the fever! Its allways good to see the doctor when somebody is getting the medicine heh!
Jaya aunt ate one prescription set of medicine and put down all the packets, bottle on the small table and waited for my cousines to finish the classes. Meanwhile somebody reported that one of the sewing machines was struck with a broken needle.
Scolding them, mother proceeded to remove the bobin holder which I watched gleefully and enacted when nobody was around, found the pedal too tight. She wanted to lubricate it and asked me ‘Dai – get me the machine oil , its on the top shelf of the room behind”.
She would buy sewing machine oil in bulk as there were 20+ machines and was cheap. Infact she had struck a deal with the repair man who would deposit a new brown bottle every month. I just carefully put a piece of paper around it, it was smelly and I didnt want any oil on my hands – gave it to mother.
The bobbin holder was lubricated and I took back the bottle and kept it temporarily on the table as my friend Nagesh called me for a session of chowka bara – Ludo .
Jaya aunt and my cousines disappeared for next 4 days. We assumed that they were taking good care of her and on the 5th day, a week looking but out of fever Jaya aunt came trodling in with some Grapes and sat down with a sigh – What is bangalore coming to – its getting hot in march itself!
She proceeded to fill on all the happenings for the last 4 days including a very big complaint on the smell of the medicine. Mother said “No, we all take the same medicine even our mohan takes it – its very very bitter but good for your health. See you already are back on your feets due to that”. The good doctor was getting a great exposure.
Jaya aunt had brought the bottle back as evidence. It was empty – she had drunk it but mother just opened the bottled to peer inside and some familiar smell hit her nostrils.
She had a funny expression and went to the back storage room to check. As suspected there was the sewing machine oil bottle. She opened it and brought it to front yard as the light was quite dim in the back room and smelt it.
She burst out laughing so much that I had never seen her laugh until tears in eyes. Not even when I brought a good report card back with 30 in maths!
Jaya aunt had exchanged the brown looking bottles that day. Instead of paracetamol she had managed to drink pure sewing machine oil and got rid of the fever. Paradoxically mother had not required the oil lest she would have found out the switch immideatly.
Even today when ever we meet, we tease her on this. We do not know how she survived that ordeal and actually is still alive to tell the tale.