She is not really a moody person. If by moody you mean someone whose moods change without one’s own volition, no, that’s not her then. But if observe very closely, you’ll notice that when she’s laughing very hard, to the point when there is a little wetness in the eye, she suddenly shuts up. Her face that was spilling in the million directions of laughter, pulls itself back.
Great aunts have a tendency to haunt. When she was eight years old, she used to laugh a lot more. One evening, she was convulsing with laughter as her cousins imitated the Malayali neighbours. Her great aunt called from the depths of the kitchen. The aunt’s name was VishalakshiThe vast-eyed one.. Bloodshot eyes like those of a drunkard or an insomniac. She grabbed the child’s arm with her slightly wet hands. Thin hands, her nerves and bones swelled and taut beyond the wrinkled hand, threatening to snap if stared at too hard. “Kutti”, says the old woman, “remember, if you laugh too much, you’ll have to compensate by crying. If you laugh so much, God is going to punish you for it. You’ll cry so much your eyes will look like they’ve been dipped in sugar syrup.”. The child had shuddered.
17 years later, she cursed Vishalakshi. Why hadn’t her grand aunt at least bothered to tell her how much laughter was too much? This fear of crying, had robbed of her ability to laugh. Half way into any laugh, and she would feel the threat of sadness creeping up on her. The threat accompanied with the image of a wet old hand grabbing the chubby forearm of a young child. Vishalakshi’s vast eyes would then grab laughter from her throat.