cat got your tongue?

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By 2018-01-07

By Priyangwada Perera

Dimuth was busy playing with his little sister. He was back home, after school. School had just started and he was in a new classroom for a brand new year.

His sister Dulani will be starting school the coming week. "So, we have a proud 1st Grader in the family in no time. Are you excited, Dulani?" Dimuth asked his sister. The mere mention of school got her excited that she started jumping up and down. "Yes, I can't wait for the weekend to finish. I can't believe that I am going to school with you. Oh I had to wait for so long. I feel I was in the nursery for such a long time." Dulani went on and on in excitement.

Dimuth, was half amused at his sisters excitement. 'So happy to be in Grade 1, she is such a baby. What will happen when she makes it to Grade 3 like me?' Dimuth felt very grown up. He also felt it his responsibility to teach his sister a few things about starting school. After all Dulani was his baby sister who acts as if she knows all about these things.
"Dul, this is my first advice to you. When you start school make sure you say 'Please', 'Thank you', 'Good Morning', and be polite at all times. That is the way to get into the good-books of the teachers. First impressions count a lot. If you get into trouble for bad behaviour at the start Dul, you are gone." Dimuth sounded like a fortune teller. "You will not get such tips from anyone else, remember that," he said with a lot of self-importance.

"Well, I understand. Thank you so much. But I am your only sister and it is only fair you tell me these things. Anyway, Ayya I don't think I have to worry too much about being in my teacher's good books. After all, aren't we always polite and well-mannered already? We are already in Amma's good books and I am sure that is good enough training," said Dulani. That was the truth because they were already well raised. But it hurt Dimuth's pride. He wanted to be the big-brother who helped his sister. That did not really work here, did it? 'These girls are way too much, trying to be over smart,' he thought to himself. Since Dimuth was busy being the wise brother to Dulani, he totally forgot that his father wanted him to clean the fish tank. Dimuth promised to do it soon after lunch but now it was past 6 O'clock.

Before Dimuth could even ask his sister to hurry up and help him with the cleaning, their father appeared. The big fish tank was placed in the veranda and it was one of the first things seen by someone entering their home. Dimuth was late. Their father had already seen the dirty fish tank. "Well, well, I can see you have lived up to your promise in the new year, Dimuth," their father's voice was cold. 'Is he very angry or is it just disappointment that is heard in his voice,' Dulani was trying to figure out. The girl and the boy said nothing. No excuses, no apologies. Only complete silence.

"Well, Dimuth, has the cat got your tongue?" Father sounded serious and Dimuth got even more frightened. But in an instant Dulani burst out laughing. "What did you just say, Thaththa? Did you mean to say that Ginger ate ayya's tongue? Haha how funny and how disgusting! Who would let Ginger eat ayya's tongue?" Half a minute ago she was scared but now she was laughing. Even Dimuth looked less tensed and managed to smile. He was also confused, no doubt. Surely, cats don't eat human tongues. "Eww... the more I think about it, the more I want to throw-up. Imagine Ginger eating ayya's tongue." Dulani's imagination was so rich that in her mind she could see it happening. One good thing resulted in it. Their father was smiling. "'Did the cat get your tongue' has a different meaning, children. Relax and for heaven's sake Dulani stop laughing. Let me explain it." He continued. "That is often asked when somebody has no answer. When you are guilty and have no answer to give, people ask 'Cat got your tongue?' It means whether you have lost your tongue." Seeing Dulani's amusement, their father somewhat cooled down. "It is my fault, Thaththa. I was hoping to do it. But I forgot all about it. I am so sorry," Dimuth spoke up. "Well, I see the cat hasn't got your tongue, after all. I am glad my son is still able to speak. Now, why don't we all get together and clean the fish tank?" Father said patting Dulani on the back.

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