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Oh! Parama Sukham – Chapter 02

Tannersville, Greene County, NY. Image source .Tannersville, Greene County, NY. Image source .
A turbid mind can turn anything upside down
The ammaman didn’t have much respect for some of his ancestors. He had heard that one Nanumenon had forcibly evicted a poor farmer family from his land and a kombi menon had misbehaved with a worker woman. Any ancestor in Kerala would have indulged in such acts. but that was not the point there. Even one Rishy’s curse is unbearable. So, imagine the magnitude of the sin committed to attract the wrath of seven Rishies. Could it be Vembu menon’s refusal for a nagaprathishta , snake-temple, on a land which he had earmarked for a coconut plant, the cause of curse?
That was, however, not the time to plunge into the blunders of the past. Ammaman rushed after Parasu and brought him back to the chair. “Swamy, namkku onnu murukkam “.  He invited parasu for a chew of betel leaves. 


The betel chewing had an instant remedy for tension build up within and without.  It was a reliable relaxant. Dispute in the family and community had been talked over and settled in betel session. No wonder why partaking of betel from the bride’s hand found a place in the wedding ceremony. Our ancestors were not fools not to expect ‘tushum,tushum’ in the family life.
We didn’t have frequent get together or birthday parties . Some major events like weddings or buying and selling of properties used to be finalized on simple head to head meeting or group discussions on thinnais, front platform of the houses or temple premises. ‘Murukkan’ pan chewing was a must for such gatherings. And another important aspect was there was no caste-disparity or status segregation for chewing pan. You could see a landlord asking for some betel leaves or chuunambu, calcium paste from his low-caste farmer.
 
“How did the saptharishies come into the picture ? ” Amman enquired  after the first dose of chew was pushed in and the waste juice expelled. ” They are benevolent souls, I have heard”
“They would have been pestered by mosquitoes ” Parasu replied, “and even by their wives”


” Quite possible ” Amman agreed,” If wives and mosquitoes go berserk even gods are helpless. 


Swamy, I have been observing of late that something or other is going wrong in this family. One of my nieces  fell in love with an young man belonging to another caste, cows are yielding less milk, coconut trees are getting infected, children  are falling sick, some members of the family are clashing on petty issues etc ”
”Do the kids wet their mats often in sleep ?” Parasu enquired as if  the solution for all the problems in the ‘tharavadu’ depends on the reply for that single question. “Let me find out ” said Amman and threw the question into the kitchen. ”Dakashayani, rathri kochangal paayil mootram ozikkunnundo ?”
”Undae”  fut, came the reply. ‘they do’.
Parasu did not react. His silence was more disturbing than his prediction.
When you say something it gives some idea, if not all, about your thoughts.
“Say something” I pleaded to Ammalu when she sat in a corner, with bloated cheeks,  silently after a petty quarrel. She moved away.


“Don’t I have freedom in this house to push a laddu in my mouth ?” She asked when she returned after some time. That was the first time I realized that wife’s job is not just feeding us.  If your wife is not talking to you, don’t worry. 
She might be enjoying a laddu. But too many laddus are not good for health. If she keeps mum for hours together, it is not laddu in her mouth but something not so sweet in her heart.


Another day, when she was in a less angry mood, asked, ” is it only my job to deliver your kids ?”


“I think so ” I replied, “and be proud of it “
There was a sunrise on her face. Women grasp things fast.


” Why are you staring at that corner for so long ?” Amman anxiously asked Parasu, ” and why is  your face so gloomy ?
Ammaman’s anxiety was turning into fear.  A turbid mind can turn anything upside down. 


“Entha santhy?” What is the remedy? Ammaman asked, His voice had become unsteady.
Parasu majestically walked to the frontage, closed his eyes, bent his head before the tulasi plant and looked at the sky, for a few minutes.
Then, in a measured tone of a judge awarding capital punishment to a prisoner, predicted, “much worse things are yet to come”, collected his betel leaf casket and walked towards the main gate. Ammaman, with folded hands, followed and requested him to stay back and suggest a way to lift the family out of the curse, it had fallen into.
“Come tomorrow morning to my house” Parasu said. “In the meantime, hand -over, your horoscope now, so that I can study it during night and be ready with a solution, when we meet tomorrow”.
” Shall I accompany you”,  Amman  enquired, “it is getting dark”
“No need, my kavadies, ( sea shells, which an astrologer uses for knowing the position of stars ) will protect me “


Then Parasu explained how he was actually protected by the shells, when he was crossing a jungle along with a friend, at midnight. A ‘yakshi’, a woman spirit, jumped from a palm tree and carried away his friend for eating. She could not approach parasu as he was surrounded by the kavadies who had taken the shape of bears. “Kavadikal karadikaal aayi -shells became bears ” Amman praised Paarsu. “Ningal oru mahaan aanu- you are a great man!”
Parasu quoted a Sanskrit verse to confirm Amman’s opinion.


 Neither he nor  Amman understood its meaning.


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