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Mother Day musings Two

 

I remember with reverence some good women, who loved and cared me like their own child. 

My mother’s eldest sister, our Periammai, stand on the top among those. 

Parukutty Periammai, was with our family throughout my childhood. We were six kids and she spent the best of her life, helping my mother to bring us up, though she had her own small family in Vaikkom . 

It was she who introduced me to Lord Vaikkathappan, with the famous devotional kids are taught to recite at dusk before the Sandhya deepam, lamp of worship:

നരനായിങ്ങനെ ജനിച്ചു ഭൂമിയിൽ 

നരകവാരിധി നടുവിൽ ഞാൻ 

നരകത്തിൽ നിന്ന് കര കേറ്റിടേണം 

തിരു വൈയ്ക്കം വാഴും ശിവ ശംഭോ! 

ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ! 

ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ !

‘I’m born as a human in this world, which is nothing but a horrible sea of sufferings. Lift me up, from this hell, Vaikkathappa!’’

‘Hell, this world !!! How ??’, I used to wonder as a child, but when I grew up, knew the reason for her prayer out of dejection;  she had  lost ten babies in stillbirth or miscarriage and only the eleventh one survived who grew well, took care of her till her last breath. She had other reasons too to cry but was smiling often and laughing loudly.

“Vaikkathappan left behind a child to cremate my body and do my anthia kriyas! Why not I rejoice and enjoy life !’, was her reply for my query how she could be always happy despite many reverses in her life ? 

She took me to Kanchi when I was a child.  It was perhaps at the Chengalpet Jn, that two village women also waiting for the train like us, enquired Periammai how I was related to her . 

She replied ‘en payyan than’ ( he is my son). That woman turning her face whispered to her companion, 

‘thaayi karuppa irukka; payyan sevappa rasa vaattam irukku!!’

A charming son like a prince for a dark skinned

mother!’

‘Her husband would have been handsome like a king,’ was the reply for that.

It was true. Her husband, Venkitachalam, was a six-footer, fair skinned , with a wide chest and long hands. He was a policeman, proud and short tempered .

The casual compliment of the village woman, on the Chengalpet Jn, however, got glued to my mind, stayed there for long and I believed that I was really ‘charming like a prince’.! That delusion was almost leading to a disaster when a heavenly intervention saved me. 

This was what happened. I met and interviewed many girls to select a life partner bid didn’t find a single princess among them to match the charm of the prince viz.myself! 

Time flew and my parents thought that I was destined to remain as a life long bachelor.

Periammai was so aggressively affectionate towards me that during one of my journeys towards Kerala, along with family, when I didn’t  halt at Madras,  she came to the Madras Railway station carrying a big mud vessel full of boiled and cooled waster! You know the length of the platforms  and how difficult task it would have been for a woman of 50/60, to tread the long crowded platform , carrying a mud pot filled with water! 

She stayed with me during my bachelor days at Hyderabad and became so popular among my friends that there was a big crowd to see her off at the Secunderabad Railway station 

some women with moist eyes and some men with sad face as if they were seeing off their own relative for a distant journey.  

I think it was her love and soothing words and helping attitude towards one and all, more than her conversation or story-telling skill or prescription of home remedies  that made her so popular and dear to all my friends in a short period of a couple of months. 

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Tips for a happy mariage draft

 

I know that it is the husband and the wife, who have to chart out their programs and procedure for a happy marriage. Even in the earlier days, when the formal education was not wide spread, our womenfolk had the wisdom and common sense to set right things in a family, when the situations demanded. Moreover, mostly they lived in a combined family and even otherwise, suggestions and advises were forthcoming from the experienced elders, and those were welcomed and often accepted. External help was hardly sought. It is now, when the couple themselves  are better informed that they seek the help from an external agency, a paradox but a hard truth due to the complexity we managed to dump upon our lifestyle.
A tip now and then from friends and relatives might be of use to some, though I am not very sure on this aspect. Anyway, here are a few tips, collected and developed:
1. Always consult one another when making big decisions.
Both of you are equally interested in the welfare of the family and therefore, a supportive idea is bound to emerge from mutual consultation. And apart from that,  the feeling and satisfaction that ‘my opinion is sought’, strengthens the bond.
Are we not consulting our friends and colleagues? Then, why not life partners ?
‘What does she know?’ is a wrong approach. She or he might know something new or something you have forgotten.
2. Don’t compare your marriage with others’ – you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
One person is never like another; one pair is never like another. We are human beings, not materials made by machines. So comparison has no meaning. You take into consideration your need, your capabilities, your resources, your demerits and then act.
Many parents have the habit of comparing their children’s performance in studies with their classmates.
“Did your son clear the IIT entrance?”. Many parents wanted to know when the results were out. When I told them, ‘no’, they were satisfied.
How can my son be like another in shape, intelligence, performance or in any respect?
‘Neighbor’s envy and owner’s pride” was a popular advertisement a few years ago.
3.Compromises are part of life. While traveling in a public transport, while driving your own car,  even while working in your own office or worshiping in a temple – at every place you have to be prepared for compromises.
In a family life, it is all the more required. Compromise is adjusting and not surrendering. You can compromise with your boss, with the man, animal or vehicle on the road but not with your spouse?
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What is a successful life ?

 

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal died at the young age of 33, but his achievement within that short span of life was amazing. 

His musical achievements were on par with that of the musical trinities.  He composed over 400 classical music compositions in both Carnatic and Hindustani style. He learned many languages, encouraged musicians and other artists. 

He was a great ruler and administrator. He established a well-formulated code of laws, courts of justice, introduced English education, constructed an observatory, installed the first Government printing press, established the first manuscripts library in Trivandrum . 

There were many great men like him,  Adi 

Sankaracharya, Mathematician Ramanjam etc, who died young after great achievements. Other mortals can’t even dream of a small percentage of what the great men achieved. 

Their life was successful?  Yes, you will say. 

But, in a personal level, when a close relative of mine, extremely benevolent, extraordinary intelligent, died at the peak of his life and career, I DIDN’T feel that his life was successful. He grew right before my eyes. I was witness for his humanitarian activities, compassion for all living beings, but with all that, he died miserably.  

On what ground do I say his life was successful? Going by his brilliant academic or his career achievements or the palatial houses he built or the love and affection he showered on his family? 

For me and his mother, it would have been enough had he scored average marks in studies and lived with minimum facilities, but lived long. 

We would have, then called his life as successful. 

What is the purpose of living for a hundred years, without name and fame and without enjoying the pleasures of life, you may ask.

That creates another question what is enjoyment ? Are not passing exams creditably and holding coveted positions, causes for enjoyment? You may ask. 

Btw, one thing I want to tell you. I had no courage to meet, face to face, the mother of the boy mentioned above. After a long gap of more than a year, when I gathered courage and met her, I didn’t console her with the words:

‘His life was successful. So, don’t worry’

No I didn’t say that. 

As a coward, I took shelter under an oft quoted one word- Vidhi ( Fate ) 

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Mystic smiles

 

We have a beautiful central park in our Habsiguda colony, close to my house, perhaps the best in the Twin Cities. The senior members of the colony, mostly retired Professors, Scientists and others , all in the twilight of their life, all with some health problems or other, may be minor but get exaggerated while mentioning, all having good credit balance in their bank account, but still grumbling, assemble there in evenings. 

 I happened to be in their company, one evening. A lady was passing through wearing a colorful sari. Purely out of inquisitiveness and ignorance, I asked the person sitting next to me: ‘Eamandi, athu Dharmavarama, Kancheevarama?’

Is it Dharmavaram silk or Kancheepuram silk(she wears)?’

Anything wrong in that ? But, a person sitting at the end of the bench, shouted at me, 

‘Vaayai moodum. Athu antha varavum illai, intha varavum illai. Ennodu Varam, ennodu samsaram’.

Polite translation in short : ‘shut up your mouth! She is not DharmAvaram, not Kanchipuram. She is my boon, my wife. 

(Please note that my comment was not about the woman but about her sari and he had no business to ask me to keep quiet, though she was his wife ) 

I never expected the presence of a Tamil speaking  mama, there. He had landed in our colony, while I was away. 

‘I’m sorry, mama’, I said, ‘your boon is my boon too’, 

I replied with a smile. 

‘What!’, he got up from his seat, ‘tomorrow you’ll say, my wife is your wife, ngaa?’

‘Never will I,  Sir, never. Your wife is your wife and will be your wife always’

He was satisfied.

Kasturi Iyengar is his name. A nice man. We became friends. Next day, he took me to his house and introduced me to his wife:

‘He is the one who complemented your sari, yesterday, in our Harithavanam Park’

It was a wrong way to introduce an old man, to one’s wife, but I didn’t say a word. I was scared that his wife would stare at me in contempt or even ask me to quit. No, she didn’t. In fact, her face turned to a Deepavali night.

‘After leaving the college, no one has commented on my sari. Pl. come inside mama, please’, invited the kind lady. Her husband didn’t appreciate the warm welcome she offered, to a stranger. 

‘Komlam, actually he doesn’t deserve your appreciation as he didn’t appreciate your sari. He doesn’t even know the difference between silk and cotton. Yesterday, you were in fact wearing an ordinary cotton sari and he was enquiring what type of silk it was!’.  Ha, ha! 

He laughed. I thought laughing was OK, but why so loudly? 

I wanted to answer his laugh with a short explanation to the lady, lest she might think, I visit park only to comment on women’s wear. 

‘Whether it was a cotton or silk sari, madam, you looked gorgeous in that dress. You looked Fantastic! you looked amazing! It not the apparel but the person who donned it shone before my eyes and is shining before me, even know’

They lady was spellbound; her husband started shivering with anger.

‘Mama, you like laddu or Jangiri? I will prepare tomorrow, ’ You look like Regan (Lord Ranganatha) in standing pose’ 

I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. Could a woman be so kind to a stranger! Is she exaggerating my appearance or do I really look like Lord Ranganatha! 

‘Jangiri’, I replied in a soft tone. When I speak to women, usually, my voice turns mellifluous.

Mr. Kasturi leapt before me, like a predator before its prey.

‘You think my wife was a charakku master, chef, in hotel Saravanabhava?’, he fumed.

‘Laddu is easier for me to make, mama’, said Mrs.K .

‘Welcome. Whatever is convenient to you, Mami. Even a cup of coffee from your hands, with love, will be a boon for me’

‘OK, give him coffee with no sugar and pack him off’, her husband didn’t like her ultra hospitality to me. 

‘Mr. K, all sweets are same’, I replied in the tone of a philosopher and then turning to his wife added: ‘all women

 are women but your woman is a class by herself’.

Mrs. K’s face became the New York Central Park, in the Autumn . And Mr. K’s face was like Agni nakshatram summer days, in Palakkad.

I continued,

‘Mami, you are a sweet lady. You are a kind lady. Whatever you give me will be sweet, for me, as your words are sweet, your heart is sweet, your thoughts are sweet’

‘Let us fall at his feet and take his blessings’, Mami invited her hubby to join her. ‘He seems to be a blessed soul. Saraswathy Devi stays on his tongue. See his face. It is glowing’.

K. didn’t, probably, see any glow in my face.  Unwilling to stay there for another minute, he moved towards gate, from where Ammalu, was entering screaming at me, ‘where did you vanish good-for-nothing old man? I was searching for you in every corner of the park’

‘Mama, who is this woman abusing you?’, enquired anxiously the laddu lady.

‘All women abuse me madam. That is my Fate. You’re the only one who are kind to me’

K. Came back and wanted to kick me out and Ammalu wanted to punch my nose, but the sweet laddu lady smiled at me.

‘Don’t think she is smiling at you in sympathy, warned K. She is watching whether you’ll be bold, in the presence  of your wife, to praise her, as you were doing from the moment you entered’.

Hearing that Ammalu smiled. 

Seeing her smile, Mrs.K too smiled.

Who can decipher the width and depth of the smiles of women?

I sang:

I can fly up or dip deep

To learn the sky’s width and ocean’s depth.

But to know the secret of a woman’s smile

I should be born again and again

And ask about her wear 

(not when her hubby is near!)

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JeevanAdi

 

As you know, it is not my habit to interfere in a husband-wife quarrel, but yesterday, had to break my vow and speak to Kalyani, my friend Kuppu’s wife:

‘Kalyani, hope everything is fine at home now that Kuppu is working for home’, I started my conversation in a mild tone. 

‘Working for home or from home?’, there was anger in her voice, but I kept my cool.

‘Both. Anyway, you should not have asked him to get up early morning and clean the home front with cow dung water and also clean the kitchen platform the same way before going to bed. No Brahmin woman,  no Indian woman, no any woman anywhere in the world, will ask her husband to perform such a dirty job’

There was silence for a moment on the other end. 

‘Mama,  Kuppuswamy is your friend, just friend. Tomorrow you may unfriend him. Or he may unfriend for your unwanted interference in his family life or for talking to his wife without his permission. But, for me he is my husband. He my God! He is the head of this family. My interest is to take care of his health. I want him to receive the pre dawn Sun’s rays ( the words she used was ‘soorya velicham’ ) on his chest and body’

‘That’s fine. But why cow dung cleaning?’

‘In which age are you ? Don’t you know cow dung and cow’s urine have the potential to kill Corona virus?’

‘Why don’t you get that protection for yourself. Your life is equally important for the family’

‘You called  it a dirty  job. You don’t mind my doing it?  And what is cow dung? Is he not handling it with reverence while doing homam? Is he not applying vibhoothi all over his body, now a days thrice a day? 

That apart, for me, for my family, none is more important than Kuppuswamy. Come what may, I will go to any extend to protect him. He  is my life (jeevanAdi is the word’, she used)’

‘But, Kalyani, asking your husband to do cow dung cleaning——‘

‘If you were my husband I would ask you to do. My husband is my —-)

‘Jeeva nAdi’, I completed and kept down the phone .

The plight of men working from home !!!😀😀😀

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Small, small pleasures

Amid the unpleasant messages emanating from near and far, from East, South, West and North and uncertainty of life itself, my face blossomed this morning when Megh. Kept before me hot kaappi, along with a shining plate filled with ‘adai’( a dosa variety), plus vellum (jaggery pieces) and butter, for my breakfast. 

What is so big about it? A routine ! 

A small pleasure!

Oh, man! First of all you don’t know the taste of ‘adai’ + those two side sweeties. Then, you’re ignorant of my age. Next, you don’t know how difficult it is to procure things here. 

For you, it is a ‘routine’, a small pleasure!

It is the small, small pleasures which enthrall me! When my daughter or daughters in law, look at my face, after serving food, to judge whether I liked the food or not, I’m instantly transferred to the world of Apsaras, as I know what is eating in a hotel or what is self serving food, when I lived alone. 

When my two children, pressed my legs, to remove my leg pain and my daughter and daughters in law and grandchilden were waiting their turn to help me, I wished I had more than two legs. But alas, no hope as even Brahma Deva with four heads or Lord Subrahmaina with Six heads,  had only two legs, though they had many hands. Even Ravana with ten heads (if you don’t like me quoting gods ) had only two legs. The  possibility of my having more legs is ruled out. So, I was happy with small pleasure of getting my legs pressed by my two children.

I desired to have more heads too, when my youngest son Srikanth cut my hair amazingly well. My Son in law too offered to do that service for me but I ran away! He would have converted me to a Korean, which is his speciality ! You can’t blame him. His profession is such that he comes in contact with people of all countries. 

There is no big or small in enjoying. Enjoy life as it unfolds while preparing your mind for the worst. That is how I reached this  far.  Living is not a ‘tamasha’ fun, especially during the present Corona regime, but you can derive some tamasha by enjoying a simple breakfast 🍳 r even leg pain! 

 

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Disastrous Corona

I haven’t seen before, the world in such a desperately gloomy state as now. Thousands of innocent lives are just wiped off in no time, like animals and birds caught in a wild fire, leaving behind their families heart-broken . The tragic part is that the patients know they are dying ; they know their kin won’t be anywhere near them in their last moment and even their dead bodies would be approached with fear and hesitation.

Unparalleled agony!  Is that all our bodies worth ? 

Yes, to be truthful, our body sans life is worthless though we treat it with some respect till dumped beneath the ground or burnt to ashes! It is a mark of dignity which humanity retains for itself as our treatment , good or bad, is immaterial to the body, as it is lifeless! 

The Pang of seeing such scenes is all the more heartbreaking for me, as I having seen here, in the normal course, dead bodies decorated and lead to the grave yard with great honor by friends and relatives gathered in large numbers wearing coats and boots. The parade of motor vehicles for a funeral is akin to a wedding procession. 

And now I’m totally grief-struck seeing dead  bodies bundled up in white cloth bags, dumped into van or ambulance for disposal.

Natural calamities devastate countries. But, here, the world is paying for one or two men’s mistake of eating corpses of bat or such silly animals! 

“Bats are known to carry multiple viruses without getting sick, according to the New York Times, which said they have caused human diseases in Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia, and are thought to be the reservoir for Ebola”, says a report. 

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When my kin remember me ?

‘Thinking of you, Appa’, said Aparna, my daughter, forwarding pictures of two of her preparations I like, , ‘ your favorites…Want to come back to Fl(Florida)?’,

While I was in Florida, my daughter in law , Meghana from Baltimore used to say often, ‘I remembered you today, Appa, while preparing Palpayasam etc. 

My mother too used to say, ‘Konthai, Elai adai undakkarathu, unnathan ninachukkiden’

(You came to my memory while preparing Elai adai’. 

My sisters in Hyderabad too used to remember me while preparing one dish or other.

If you think that I’m remember by my kin while preparing food items you’re wrong.

My wife used to say, ‘it was you whom I remembered when Seshu mama in the opposite house was yelling at his wife for nothing’,  though I never yelled  at my wife and always used to talk to her in honey-soaked padyams of Swathi Tirunal padams- ‘Panimathi mukhi baalae…”

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Corona virus

Though there is absolutely no reason for me  to worry about anything in life, as I’m well looked after by my children, my mouth is wide enough and in working conditions to yell at my children or eat what I want to, my ears are big enough to hear all unwanted sundry news, my eyes are wide enough to see good, bad, not so good and not so bad scenes,  I had a habit of worrying about many things before , such as : 

 my brother’s comforts, safety of my bank deposits, the havoc stray dogs and cattle would be committing in my house premises when my tenants leave the gates open when they go out, the weeds growing in my ‘thodi’ or vacant  land, whether my Habsiguda neighbor’s daughter in law gave birth to a boy or girl baby, when will Megh will take me to Hyderabad so that one button missing from one of my warm jackets can be fixed, etc, etc.  

Now with Covac19 Yekshi’s dark shadow spread everywhere, I worry about nothing else. I worry only about me, about my life. I realized suddenly that my life has a purpose ! 

I may not be required by others, but I need me !  And man, I’m not joking! May be a nobody to others but for me, I’m the most precious one in the world ! 

If me, a worthless old man of no consequence, who has lived his full life, who has nothing more to gain in life, who has nothing to contribute to his family or society, is so anxious to live, imagine how serious is the loss of valuable lives sucked in by the deadly virus and the suffering their families undergo! 

Life is precious, yours and others too.

Live it. Don’t spoil others chance to live their life

Only when money is lost one will realize the value of money

Only when the wife is gone, one will realize the value of wife

When life is gone?

Who is there to realize it?

There are people- your family, close relatives and friends

Live your life in dignity, with love and compassion . 

Don’t let an invisible, innocuous, insignificant virus take away your life. 

Stay safe inside! 

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I miss the woman who never missed me

 

‘We missed you’, said my good hearted close friends, when I returned to FB after a break. 

My memory goes back. 

The one person whose love for me was unquestionable, never uttered the  words – ‘I missed you’

‘Where is the question of missing your absence ? You’re always with me’- she used to dismiss my concern. 

Once, on office work I was away from home for two days . Soon after returning , I asked her, hoping for a reply which I  longed for, ‘did you miss me?’

‘Did you miss me ?’, she asked. That was a mild electric shock for me.  She never questioned me. 

Hardly I had  time to think about my family, when I was on work and I never told her a lie, never. 

I changed the topic and enquired, ‘did you see my wallet ?There was a lot of cash in it’. 

‘Your missed was your wallet! Yes, I found it under your pillow. There was Rs. 7and 30 paisa in it’

‘It is ok. keep it for your household expenses’.  

As no reply came from her appreciating my generous monetary support, I looked at the window curtains, pretending to enjoy their curves. 

‘Shall I change the curtains?’, she asked.

‘No need for another 20 years’, I was certain. 

‘As you wish. Have your coffee’

While I was enjoying the hot decoction kaappy from a brass tumbler in the selected company of crisp pokkoda, she sat near me and said,

‘I have absolutely no complaint on your not remembering me while on tour. All husbands are like you, once they’re immersed in their work. Women, on the other hand, by nature, never  forget their partners however busy they’re , especially while having their food or when they see a good sari’

‘When they see a good sari?’, I intervened, ‘ These days, wives do their own shopping’. 

‘You won’t understand the feelings of a woman when her husband selects and buys a dress for her’. 

A couple of years later, during our journey to Kerala, our train stopped at Erode junction for about 20 minutes. 

‘Tirupur bedsheets and banians  are sold in the stalls here’, she suggested. ‘Why don’t you buy half a dozen banians for you?’

I went and returned with a good cotton sari for her. She didn’t say a word, but her eyes turned moist. 

Later, I have crossed the Erode station, alone, many times. Not once did I get down the train.