"You Know Nothing " This is the staple refrain I have grown up on, introduced in my life, right after I was deemed old enough to graduate from nonsensical lullabies . I had the most joyful childhood one can imagine . There was absolutely no scarring incidents of mental torture or bullying.When the above remark was directed towards me - twice a day on an average - it was unbearably heavy with Love and Protective Care . The english phrase may sound slightly rude or abusive, but the vernacular original was almost like an endearment, dished out with the same sincere affection as would suffuse a remark about my nice ponytail or the tinsel stars brightening my report card. Being the last child in the extended family litter of 8 cousins, I was always treated with indulgence and humoring by members of all generations. Being babied by everyone had its benefits. Often the older kids were made to give in to me, solely as a tribute to my 'junior'ity. I have no qualms in admitting , at this late date, that I sometimes misused my privilege to extract my pound of flesh. Because, the older kids, who gave in, in presence of elders, often avenged their dishonour by making me a mere mascot in the outdoor games we played , never giving me a serious role that really counted, be it in cricket or Robber-police or I Spy . If i raised any objection, I was told pointblank, "you Know Nothing of the rules" Inspite of all that, the 8 of us were thick as thieves. I still remember the time the whole clan went to see the overcrowded Thiruvaroor Ther festival where a rural romeo tried to get fresh with me. My 7 bodyguards gave him such a scare that I doubt if he , in later years, could work up the gumption to make a pass at his own wife. But I had to live with never ending sermons for a whole week, on how to escape and ward off unwanted attention, because, what else, I Knew Nothing . My overprotective parents, though liberal with voicing the earth shaking truth that I Knew Nothing , dint seem to think it necessary to rectify the shortcoming in any department. It was like it dint even register with them. Be it in making plans for a vacation, buying new bedsheets, deciding on a movie to watch , I was drowned out with a You Know Nothing , in short order. Whats more, I cheerfully believed that too ! And left it all to my parents, with no regrets. But , later in life, when others started assuming that the phrase was something that came with the package deal called Manjula and religiously showered it on me at the lightest pretext , I was definitely not cheered. I may not have once known how to work out travel itineraries, but I definitely did have something called a commonsense and it was vexing when others dint acknowledge it, even donkey's birthdays later . Expecting the Baby Of The Family to remain a baby even at 25 or 35 is a bit looney, I would say, but who ever admits to sectional lunacy ? Marriage to Prince Charming did not get me out of this curse. Father was replaced by Husband. In the early days of marriage when there were stars, the honeymoon and other astral bodies in my eyes, having an overprotective man at my side seemed so romantic, so comforting. I believed in all lyrics Gulzar ever wrote . Three years down the line, it was not funny at all, Gulzar or no Gulzar. Being seven years older than me seemed to give the man inalienable rights to treat me as his juvenile ward. I only progressed from Knowing Nothing about bedspreads etc. to Knowing Nothing about Capital Gain Bonds, sinewave inverters, linen shirts and Mexican Restaurants. One consolation was that, unlike my Father, Hubby Dearest felt it worthwhile to educate me on things he thought I knew nothing about. Still, that dint guarantee my having a say in anything because , on a day to day basis, You -Know -Nothing continued to hold sway by sheer force of longnurtured habit, lovingly imparted education notwithstanding . So much so that if he did say I knew something, it would have unnerved me with suspicions of what he might be upto behind my back...... Tolerating a dear husband's idiosyncracy is one thing, but I realise I am not saint enough to forgive relatives (old and young), friends (near and far), taxi drivers (goodnatured and rude), ManiShankar Iyer ( the usual, the usual ) , temple priests (earnest and devious), when they pop the YouKnowNothing trope at me. I cant have a political opinion about secularism or casteism in our country, because , not ever having been a Minority or OBC, I Know Nothing . I cant advise my cousin to just ignore his Father in law's domestic interference, because not having live-in InLaws, I Know Nothing. I cant even drop a hint that an aunt could have a more peaceable life , if only she dint have a shortfuse . "You Know Nothing , because you have not had premenopausal hotflashes ." One day, this friend tries to stuff her protesting, 18 month old child with thick curdsrice at 7 pm, when at 6pm, the child has had a whole dosai with three tablespoons of Kissan Jam. Is that a child's stomach or a washerman's vat ? I try to reason out with the overanxious mother. Only to be told off : YouKnowNothing. True, I have raised no kids, but you dont have to be a fecund hen to say that the omlette is burnt .....And this same woman considered a bachelor's (Dr. Spock ) childcare manual the Ultimate Bible. What does this prove ? That its just me, right ? If Intelligent Design had decided that bats had to live upside down, ferns had to be nonflowering , I had to be the Knower of Nothing, who am I to question that superior intelligence ? Why blame others when after all, I came with the manufacturing defect of KnowingNothing. The ancient Gods saw fit to entrust this unique role to me ; I just have to be a graceful recipient and do my best to keep the fair name of the title untarnished. And so runs my life , me Knowing Nothing , but surviving nicely , thankyou. My acceptance of it has reached such a Zen-ith, that whenever someone says something about someone Knowing Nothing about something, I immediately take that personally. Surely they are talking about me ! Nobody in the whole wide world Knows Nothing, so thoroughly, so comprehensively,so irredeemably, so longstandingly , so famously, so indisputably like I do . This long lament is the direct result of my having chanced upon Cheeniya's sour and dour remark in one of his rambler FBs, that people sitting in AC rooms and airing idle comments are least qualified to do so, as they Know Nothing , having never experienced the grind of The LIG populace. I promptly accepted culpability. Because I was sitting in an AC room, slurping Almond Swirl icecream from a Corell bowl, when I dashed off my FB to his OP. And there he is, saying " You KnowNothing" not directly, but indirectly. 1+1 . Simple as that. My dear departed Father, my darling husband and the whole kit and caboodle of my clan with a wide spectrum of intellectual credentials, cant be wrong , can they ? A sweet old rambler added to the list just makes it merrier ! I only hope he was saying it in its nice vernacular form, with the proper affectionate tonal values, and not in stiff English or barking Italian , with tonal values usually reserved to address RaGa in private.