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Let none suffer for food and clothes

The wish of every father, every mother

The Sun yet to shine bright
The women yet to tie their plait
Why hurry for breakfast,
Were you for a week, on fast?
Is it fair, not to share
Even with the lady dear
Seated so near?

Little Sidhu cried for milk,
For me, dad’s blessing clicked!

He didn’t say, ‘you’ll become rich
He didn’t say, ‘you’ll build a castle
He said, ‘you won’t suffer
For want of food,
For want of clothes’
And I haven’t so far
And I haven’t so far!

I see before my eyes
Young and able guys
Unable to eat, unable to drink.
Food they have in plenty
But, die stomach empty,
Their body machine’s wreck
Play havoc.

Like my father, I too pray
‘Let my children never suffer
For want of food
For want of clothes,
Let none in the world suffer
For food or clothes, ever’

Is not that the wish of every father?
Is not that the prayer of every mother?

File foto from New Jersey

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Spasm for santhosham



Superstition can even go to the extent of killing, though it is really difficult to decide what superstition is . My firm belief , may be superstitious for you. Even atheism is condemned as madness by some.

Superstition has killed people before and it is a pity it continues to kill even now when science and technology has much advanced. The recent report on the unbelievably cruel Killing of two grown up girls by their own parents , is heart- breaking . They were not uneducated people from a backward area. They were highly qualified. Even illiterate poor won’t commit such a heinous crime . But the parents thought they were performing their duty !!. You and me condemn their action as unpardonable but they feel they have done a noble task- yes, killing their dear daughters! That was what even those who encouraged widows to jump into the last pyre of their diseased husbands, too thought . That was those who killed animals before some deities too thought .

There were and still are prevalent what I call superstition but was a belief for my ancestors . One such is the spasm of eye lids or other body parts . My mother believed that twitching of her left eye was harbinger of some bad events. She used to worry that ‘something bad was happening ‘ to me in the far away Hyderabad and pestered my father to send a post card to find out that I was Ok . If she were alive now she would have still believed so, but her anxiety wouldn’t have lasted long as cell phones and FaceTime facilities are available now. ( the point to be noted is that as a mother she thought and worried about her son and not about herself or even about my father!!)

This belief (which I don’t have ) was there in our country from time immemorial. May have some reasons for that which I’m not aware of .

When Anjaneya entered Lanka, says a Malayalam poet :
ജനക നരപതി മകൾക്കും ദശാസ്യനും
ചെമ്മെ തുടിച്ചിതു വാമഭാഗം തുലോം

Janaka narapathi makal- King Janaka’s daughter. Sita
Dasaasyan. One with ten heads -Ravana
Vama bAgham – Left side

( Remember- VAmae bhoomisudhapuracha HanumAn —)

Thudichu.- fluttered

Meaning :
When Hanuman entered the gates of Lanka, for Sita Devi and Ravana, their left body parts had spasm( indicating good thing was going to happen to Sita and bad for Ravana)

During my young days ( not now 😐) while walking behind young ladies( unintentionally 😐) I used to wish and pray that my right eye(or any right part of my body 😐) should flutter but the spasm was always on the left !

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Let me be what I’m

Don’t please , compare me with you.

You may be a lion,  me a lamb,

You may be divine, me a devil

So what ? I’m me, my mother’s child.

I’m not all good or all bad,

I’m  with my own good and own  bad

I can’t become you and you can’t become me

I’m me, my mother ‘s child.

No duplicate copies in God’s press

All original, incomparable

So you be what you’re

Let me be what I’m.

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Isn’t it that yours ?

When I lose my way and go astray

When I slip and fall,

A hand lifts me up!

Isn’t that yours?

When I fight for my survival

About to be disarmed and defeated

An armory Impenetrable for the  enemy- sword comes from nowhere

And covers my chest

Isn’t that yours ?

When my hands go weak and the boat doesn’t move ,

The waves nears to swallow me

The shore moves towards me;

Aren’t you that shore ?

Will you my Lord ,

When my eyes fail to see, ears fail to hear,

Come close , very close to me,

And play your flute, go on playing

To cheer me up and lift me up ?

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FaceTime chat at a wrong time, with a wrong person

The -3 and -4 deg C Baltimore temp. dulls my spirit, despite the best protection provided by my children.  Most of the day time,  I spend sleeping if not,  eating.  Consequently nights turn a  nightmare !

Lying on the bed with a heater near my bed , I keep meddling with my iPhone and iPad much against the instruction from Meghana.

In my half-asleep, half- awake condition,  I click  on wrong letters on the keypad and on wrong icons on the FaceTime screen. One such mistake lead me to a bad start and a happy ending.

My wrong click on the video icon intended for a Fb friend  Kavitha,  unintentionally went to Savittha ,  another friend  who was not a fan of my face or what I write.   She had , sometime ago vowed not to look at my face again when I made a comment on her photo in the Facebook,’ ‘your grand daughter will look more appealing in the salwar kameez you’re wearing !’ . It was unnecessary for me to have made that insipid ,irritating remarks though BTW what I wrote was true. I didn’t expect a 70 plus orthodox woman in that dress but it was her choice and it was none of my concern. Had I used the accepted phrases such as ‘amazing’ ‘unbelievable’ etc , I would have been appreciated.

The moment I realized  my wrong handling and was about to turn off the camera with a polite ‘sorry madam’, her husband peeped into the camera and I shouted in excitement of meeting an old friend , ‘oh, Ramu, you ? What a surprise! And you look much younger to your age and your face hasn’t lost the sheen of our college days ‘ . No old man of nearly my age or a few decades younger  can have a shining face and my exclamation was due to my excitement of meeting a classmate unexpectedly though on the camera. But , Savitha madam didn’t take it so light. She screamed : you intruded into my privacy and now insulting me?’

‘Insulting you, how, mami?’, politely I responded.

Her husband had a hearty laugh . He was really on cloud 9 realizing that he looks young, a truth he was not aware of but had to be told by an old friend.

‘Where is Parvathi, your girl friend, Ramu?’ I enquired. My intention was only to know the whereabouts of another classmate.

Before he could reply, mami looked at his face in anger and asked,

‘Nghaa!  you had a girl friend too! Now I know why you are getting up at night and going to the kitchen ! To call you girl friend surreptitiously. Right?’

‘’Savi, at night I feel chewing some peanuts or biscuits’

‘I don’t trust your words’ His wife vowed . ‘Now on, I will never trust you ‘

Then, turning to me she said, ‘ mama, please tell me all about your friend ‘s college days. I should decide my future course of action’

I was in trouble.  ‘Future course of action! What it could be? I worried. Anytime Megh could enter in and ask me why I was still with my iPhone. Or it could be even my son. It is not a good habit chatting with Facebook friends at late night hours, that too within a fortnight after an eye surgery.

‘Mami, I feel terribly sleepy. Can I call you the moment I get up tomorrow and share all I know about Ramu’s college days ? . Where is Ramu? Let me say good bye to him ‘

‘He is snoring!  See, he is least interested in chatting with you though you old friends , are seeing each other’s face after long time . And see me, I’m  interested to continue our chat though your call was an intrusion into my privacy’

‘Easwaro rakshathu ‘ God save me! In fact He saved me.

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Spasm for santhosham

Superstition can even go to the extent of killing,  though it is really difficult to decide  what superstition is . My firm belief , may be superstitious for you. Even atheism  is condemned as madness by some.

Superstition has killed people before and it is a pity it continues to kill even now when science and technology has much advanced. The recent report on the unbelievably cruel Killing of two grown up girls by their own parents , is heart- breaking  . They were not uneducated people from a backward area. They were highly qualified. Even illiterate poor won’t commit such a  heinous crime . But the parents thought they were performing their duty !!. You and me condemn their action as unpardonable but they feel they have done a noble task- yes, killing their dear daughters! That was what even those who encouraged widows to jump into the last pyre of their diseased husbands,  too thought . That was those who killed animals before some deities too thought .

There were and still are prevalent what I call superstition but was a belief for my ancestors . One such is the spasm of eye lids or other body parts . My mother believed that twitching of her left eye was harbinger of some bad events. She used to worry that ‘something bad was happening ‘ to me in the far away Hyderabad and pestered my father to send a post card to find out that I was Ok . If she were alive now she would have still believed so, but her anxiety wouldn’t have lasted long as cell phones and FaceTime facilities are available now. ( the point to be noted is that as a mother she thought and worried about her son and not about herself or even about my father!!)

This belief (which I don’t have ) was there in our country from time immemorial.  May have some reasons for that which I’m not aware of .

When Anjaneya entered Lanka, says a Malayalam poet :

ജനകനരപതിമകൾക്കും  ദശാസ്യനുംn

ചെമ്മെതുടിച്ചിതുവാമഭാഗംതുലോം

  

Janaka narapathi makal- King Janaka’s daughter. Sita

Dasaasyan.  One with ten heads -Ravana

Vama bAgham – Left side

( Remember- VAmae bhoomisudhapuracha HanumAn —)

Thudichu.- fluttered

Meaning :

When Hanuman entered the gates of Lanka, for Sita Devi and Ravana, their left  body parts had spasm( indicating good thing was going to happen to Sita and bad for Ravana)

During my young days ( not now 😐) while walking behind young ladies( unintentionally 😐) I used to wish and pray that my right eye(or any right part of my body 😐) should flutter but the spasm was always on the left !

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Mouth should open or shut when it should

We live on hopes and trusts . The belief that I will see the sunrise tomorrow gives me good sleep this night. The belief that my mouth will open again gives me courage to shut it after eating food or shouting at Ammalu . But for trust and belief , we will be living a life of fear and uncertainty.!

I used to teach a song to little Shasta, who is now with her maternal grandfather in Chennai

‘കാക്കെ, കാക്കെ, കൂടെവിടെ —-

‘KAkkae kAkkae koodevidae?! The same song I was teaching Ananu, 15 years ago

Imagine my agony if I can’t close my mouth to say ‘kae‘ after ‘Ka’ !

Imagine my agony if I can’t close my mouth to say ‘lu’ after ‘Amma ‘ while romancing with Ammalu.. you know what will be the consequence.?

She will yell : ‘even now Amma! Amma , Amma, always Amma!
Go to your Amma; she will bottle feed you’

Is this the age for me to be bottle-fed?

God is great ! After ‘kA’ I can say ‘kae ‘ !
Not a small matter! After ‘Amma’, I can say ‘lu’. Not a small matter!

You’re not unconvinced ?

Read this story :

Anantha Jyothi, my Habsiguda home. Sometime last year before my leaving for USA.

Soon after getting up from the bed, I open the main door to look at the rising Sun and pray ‘jayathu, jayathu Soorya ‘, as usual.

There stands in the opposite gate an angel wearing a Kerala sari, apparently the new tenant . I stand awe struck, my mouth wide opened at her charm , without noticing the fat man with a harsh look, obviously her husband, beside her. I try to shut my mouth realising that it is ungentlemanly to stay long in that position but alas, my mouth refuses to close!

‘Don’t turn your face,’ warns my intellect,’ Ammalu is watching you from the hall’

I become nervous as I can’t either stand at my door, mouth opened , like a ‘cheenganni’ or alligator when a newly married couple was watching from their house front, right opposite ; nor could I turn and face Ammalu!

Ammalu commands ‘get a salt packet, please’

‘Why salt in the morning ? Are you going to add salt instead of sugar in my morning coffee?, I wanted to ask her but my mouth refuses to move ! That was the first time in life I learned the fact that mouth has to close and open to perform its task and it can’t remain either opened or closed.

I walk down to the Kirana store, ignoring the surprised staring of the neighbors on both sides of the street at me, walking mouth wide opened, (like a cheenkanni.)

The agony was not over. To express my need to the shop owner, I had to open my mouth! My mouth was in the open state but I can’t say a word !

(Later, I learned that the husband of the damsel had used a Malayala mantravadam to keep my mouth motionless. Later , having learned from the neighbors that I’m a gentleman, he released the bondage using an antidote mantram)

We don’t bother to understand what a great system we are provided by God while sending us to this world ! Our mouth opens and closes; our eyes too, at our will ! Our hands and legs fold and unfold at our will! Our eyes move horizontally and vertically, our neck turns to our right and left, up and down. Our hand turns to scratch our back or leg moves to the front to kick a ball. These are great gifts by God and we won’t realize their importance till they protest.

Baghavan ! Keep my organs in tact, in working condition, well fabricated so that I can see what I like to , eat what I want to and close when I don’t want to see or eat or talk . Other than these, I have no activities in this world now !

Cartoon courtesy – my cousin Ramki Kumar, the popular wedding cartoonist of Chennai,

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Giving a small push

Wearing a gold colour silk Kurtha ( courtesy Megh) and a silk uthareeyam , I went to attend a Kutcheri, music concert, in the Secunderabad Keyes High School open air theater sometime ago..

The authorities offered me a seat in the front, respecting my age and presuming that either I’m a musician or a cloth shop owner willing to sponsor a day’s program, going by my silk clothes, kadukkans, kumkum pottu, ornamental walk stick etc

Within a few minutes after the program started , an young lady seated next , told me something which I couldn’t follow. She, then, wrote on the back of her entrance pass:

“Thampuran ! thAlam thetti’
-my Lord, your beats are wrong!
That is the general meaning. The concealed meaning is something is going wrong. Nothing can go wrong with me . So, I took the general meaning.

My hear aids, due to severe head shakes to show others that I was enjoying music, got loosened from their seats , scattered somewhere! I was not therefore hearing the music but didn’t want to show others I wasn’t. Hence my wrong Tharalam or beats .

There were nearly a thousand people attending the concert, many fully involved in the music . How to search for my two small instruments in that crowd ? I would be a nuisance if I start search, but there was no other way, as I can’t hear without the aids . Moreover , Vuday my son in law paid 1000/2000$s and I was told equally good quality is not available in India. The light was dim, my eye sight poor and my knees non cooperative . Not an easy job to bend down my head and body and crawl in between the rows of chairs occupied by men, women and children . Audience will object, musicians too . Young women might ignore me as an innocent old man but old women? No . They will never approve any one especially an old man touching even their cloth by accident and in the process if my hand happened to touch anywhere in their body even feet, that will be the end of Hastha nakshatram, Kanya rAsi jAthaya—

And moreover what a big man I’m ! what is my status in the society ! What is my prestige ! And how costly are the things I wear! Lucknow silk Kurtha , diamond kadukkens, pure gold neck chain and rings etc ! And me to crawl before the audience or under them ?

Never, never SP !

My neck started paining by too many shakes snd more over, the smell of decoction kApoi and hot vada, from the make shift restaurant in the premises, had started spreading in the air

I left for home.

Declaring in high pitch, ‘ Ammalu, kutcheri was pramadam! You missed a golden opportunity ‘, I entered my house.

Ammalu as usual against my bluffs , was cool and non-caring.

I was unhappy seeing her neglect.
‘You did really miss ‘ I repeated.

She looked deep into my eyes first, then smiled and said ;

‘What I missed was the amazing scene of your crawling in the little space on the floor between two rows of men, women and children, at times placing your hand on their laps resulting their screaming at you; I missed the scene of the baghavathar staring at you and the mridangist and violinist using force while handling the instruments to express their anger.’,

As if that insult was not enough , she added , ‘ you shouldn’t have bent your head before a woman to do thoppukaranam for searching the hear aids kneeling under her chair !’

I was silent for a minute, slowly raised my head with the proud of a gentleman husband told her ;

‘ Ammalu, can you ever imagine my head bowing down before a woman other than you, in this world ?’

My question instantly lifted her ego sky high and she brought the hear aid box from inside , kept those on the small table and advised ‘Now on, never forget to wear these while going out’

It is very easy to handle women if you know how to give a small push to their ego .

Cartoon courtesy.

My cousin Ramki Kumar, the popular wedding cartoonist of Chennai

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Short poems

I long for the sun when it rains ; I long for the rains when it shines.

Whether  it shines or rains, I long for you, my moon light !

——————————

Why did you touch me, if you don’t want to hug me ?

Not to you, not to you, Death.

———————————

‘Oh, what a relief my most loving hubby! You are miles and miles away.’

‘What a pity, my most adored honey!

No ‘freight -to-pay’ courier service from here to send my heart, packed in a marble paper, to you’

‘That is OK, my Charm!. Let that non-vibrant product be safe where it is.’

‘The problem my precious gem, is that, it has become vibrant, the moment I left you’

—————————

The opposite forces, churned the ocean inside me,

Excellent output-

Divine damsels, diamonds, pearls ,

fresh fruits, fragrant flowers,

Many more. 

Everyone jumped into to share and went away with the loots!  

Then comes the venom, the ferocious dragon 

Of death and disaster, 

None present to stop the spread of the avalalanche

Of death and disaster

To explain its ferocity, have I no word.

Like a lightning from the dark, black clouds,

Neelakanta, you dropped in 

And in  a gulp, swallowed the poison,

I’m still looking for the reason! 

The Devas didn’t worry, nor the Yakshas,

Kinnaras, Gandharvas .

One woman, from the hills

Flashed in , pressed your neck

And stopped the movement down

Of the deadly poison! 

I worship that Shibhani

Who gave us back our Shiba 

——————

A single flower can make a festival, 

A single word a poem, 

A single glance can create hope

A single woman many lives! 

—————————————-

 

 

 

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Sundarakandam is sundaram. Page 3

While treading the tedious, tormenting forests, following her husband’s steps, and even subsequently, the horrible incidents of her last day in the Palace would have been haunting Sita.

But, in captivity under the simsupa tree in the the Asoka grove of Ravana, her nightmare might have been the day of kidnapping by the demon king and her misjudgment of Lakshmana’s character and the rebukes, she showered on him.

‘How could Kaikeyi mother be so cruel to hand over the bark pieces for me to wear, she herself being a woman!’, Sita would have mused, for several days after leaving Ayodhya. ‘She cared neither for her heart-broken husband nor for the respected seniors like Sumantra and Sidhartha who pleaded with her to reconsider her arrogant and unjustified imposition to the king. She didn’t not care even for Raja Guru VasishtA’s advice.

‘There was not even a shade of change in her face,’ says the saint poet:

नैवसाक्षुभ्यते देवी न च स्म परिदूयते |

न चास्या मुखवर्णस्य विक्रिया लक्ष्यते तदा || २-३५-३७

naivasaakshubhyate devii na cha sma pariduuyate |

na chaasyaa mukhavarNasya vikriyaa lakshyate tadaa || 2-35-37

That queen Kaikeyi, however, was neither excited nor repented in her heart nor was any change observed in the colour of her face. 

Her mukhavarnam remained the same!

Once it was clear that the cruel woman would never change her imposition, the king orders to provide plenty of weapons, fighters and all materials required for a fearless and comfortable living in the forest for Rama, but even that was not agreeable to Kaikeyi.

aayudhaani cha mukhyaani naagaraaH shakaTaani cha |

anugachchhantu kaakutthsam vyaadhaashchaaraNyagocharaaH || 2-36-5

“Let important weapons, chiefs of police and vehicles, hunters knowing the secrets of forest accompany Rama(scion of Kakutsa)”

धान्य कोशः च यः कश्चित् धन कोशः च मामकः |

तौ रामम् अनुगच्चेताम् वसन्तम् निर्जने वने || २-३६-७

dhaanya koshaH ca yaH kashcit dhana koshaH ca maamakaH |

tau raamam anugacchetaam vasantam nirjane vane || 2-36-7

Let the granary and the treasury belonging to me be sent to Rama residing in the uninhabited forest.

No, even that was not acceptable to Kaikeyi.

How could Kaikeyi be so cruel ? We too wonder.

अथ चीराणि कैकेयी स्वयम् आहृत्य राघवम् |

उवाच परिधत्स्व इति जन ओघे निरपत्रपा || २-३७-६

‘Put these on,’ she told Rama to wear the bark pieces, she herself had brought shamelessly, to the gathering of men.

परिधत्स्व इति demanded Kaikeyi- ‘don these’

She, निरपत्रपा – shameless ( woman ).

Rama and Lakshmana wore the ascetic garb but Sita struggled with those when Rama helped her to wear them. 

What a treatment to the eldest daughter in law of the great Raghuvamsam! 

Sita’s leaving the palace was her decision but Kaikeyi endorsed and encouraged it. She also opposed the orders of the king to send men and materials for a comfortable living in the forest. It was a well planned strategy to keep Rama away from Ayodhya, along with his wife and most loving brother so that Bharatha’s throne is safe and secure.

A careful study of these two chapters will reveal that there was a concealed ambition in Kaikeyi’s mind to make her son the monarch by somehow sidelining Rama. Mandara became an ignition torch. Selfishness was in Kaikeyi’s blood .

For me, it looks that the palace coup was well planned in advance, in Kaikeyi’s mind.