What are proverbs? They’re phrases containing the experience and observations of many generations; they’re the wisdom of the street and the philosophy of the common people and there’s one for every occasion.
As you read about my weekend, try to answer these 2 questions;
- Can you identify the theme of the proverbs used?
- Can you guess the ‘real’ meanings of the proverbs from the context?
I bought my father a mobile phone so I could keep in touch. But he told me he didn’t need it or know how to use it and to save money turned it off immediately, proving ‘you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’. He’s always been the same and will probably never change, after all ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.
I was thinking about how I could get my father to use his phone when my wife shouted from the kitchen “I hope you haven’t forgotten it’s my birthday tomorrow?” But of course I had. “It’s no big deal” I responded, ‘don’t make a mountain out of a molehill”. Not convinced, she reminded me that I’d recently forgotten our anniversary. “But that was last month” I told her, and “there’s no point in ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’”. I told her not to bring it up or we’d argue about it. “It’s better forgotten, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’”. Husband and wife should not fight or hurt each other, just as ‘dog does not eat dog’.
I thought I’d redeem myself by cooking my famous fried rice. My children love it and so offered to help. That’s what families are for ‘birds of a feather flock together’. I took them into the kitchen and explained what ingredients to use and in what quantities to use them. As my father says, what’s the point in having kids if they don’t help or ‘why keep a dog and bark yourself?’
Then, surprisingly I received a phone call from my father. I could hardly believe it! The radio was loud and the children were shouting so I went into another room to chat. He told me that he’d changed his mind about the phone and would leave it turned on and call me every week. I’d underestimated him; it seems ‘every dog has his day’.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, the children were being naughty, proving that ‘when the cat’s away the mice will play’. They’d experimented with the rice and added far too many herbs and spices in an attempt to improve its flavour. But it was a case of ‘curiosity killed the cat’. Curiosity also killed the meal. It was inedible and we all went to bed hungry.
The next morning, feeling guilty (and hungry), I woke up very early, quietly crept out of the house and went to the market to buy my wife some chocolates as a birthday present. ‘It’s the early bird that catches the worm’. When I woke her later and presented them with a cup of tea she smiled and said I knew you hadn’t really forgotten. “An elephant never forgets”. I replied, stuffing handfuls of chocolates into my mouth.
This article was first published in Prastuti, Anandabazar Patrika.