Next morning, I sat before my laptop to cancel my train ticket as suggested by athai, but my’ chapalabudhi’ (weakness for good food) for Noorani sadyai, asked me to wait.
“Contact Pitchu first”, it said. O.K; that is a point , but should I talk to Pitchu or Liz?
Since I met her in Virginia, I have spoken to Elizabeth on a few occasions and found her an affectionate girl and therefore decided to talk to her direct.
” Relax, Peri! Pitch has told me every thing “, she said the moment I started to mention about Pitchu’s family background.
That was a great relief. I called Seshumama and told him about my talk with Elizebeth .
” Now nothing to worry, mama! Relax, as Liz says. Do a few things : fix a European commode in one of your bath rooms and buy a few tissue paper rolls.; If there are no mosquito mesh for the windows and doors, get them fixed. And one more thing mama, Please tell athai that I am leaving now for Palakkad and will be back before Pitchu’s arrival ”
“Wait a minute”, Mama said,” I will call athai”
No, Please;tell her after I keep the phone down “.
I lifted my small travel- suitcase and rushed to the railway station, giving no chance to athai to ask me to cancel my trip.
I had spent several hours, as an young boy, watching at the beauty of the western ghats, as seen from our open bath room near the well at our back yard, at our Olavakkode house.The first thing I used to do as soon as I get up in the morning was to go near the well and watch the mesmerizing mountains and the water falls, with white clouds moving close to them, some above and some below, in different forms.
Even while standing at Jungfraujoch, the heighest platfrom of Europe and enjoying the marvelous mountain range at Sphnix Terrace in Switzerland, I thought about the vision of the western ghats from the backyard of my Olavakkode house. In the inimitable style of Chinmayanda, “The flavour of the jungles, the fragrance of the forests and the hymns of mountains” have always attracted me. As a college student, I used to follow my English professor, K.K. Neelakantan, into deep forests, for watching birds. Some of you might recall that Prof.K.K.N was an ornothologist and he used to write articles in the ‘Mathrubhumi’ weekly, under the pen name ‘ Induchoodan’ On some days, when it suddenly rains, no birds could be seen and on those days, taking shelter under some trees, KKN used to talk about Shakespeare, Shelly or Tolstoy. I remembered him gratefully when I visited the birthplace of some English poets in U.K.during my visit.
While pouring cold water over my head in the open bath room of my house, facing the western ghats, a pious idea came to mind; Why not break a coconut before the Chathappuram pulliar and proceed to Noorani?. Let Him remove the hurdles in the way and make Pitchumani’s visit a smooth affair.
Not a bad idea at all.
When I went to pick up a coconut from our cowshed, where once upon a time, a number of cows were housed and now only coconuts and some unwanted furniture are dumped, Pulliar said,
” Perias, you are picking up just one coconut to buy my blessings for such a big task: remember what you told Alamu mami, a few years ago, at the Eamcet center?”
Yes, how can I forget that scene, mami pacing at the entrance of the Eamcet center and asking me to break a coconut for Chathapputam Pulliar,” Just one coconut for such a big task, mami? Increase the number at least to three, please”
This is what I told her then. Now the task, C.P. has to intervene is much more difficult than getting EC in the Eamcet interview; so I should break three coconuts.
But, should I? After all it is not for my purpose but my friend’s. 3×8= Rs. 24.00 should I spend that much money ?
My tenant’s child was playing nearby and I went to him with my five fingers opened
” Appu, onno, moono, thodu monea”( touch one or three out of these fingers)
C.P. has defenitely influenced the kid. He not only touched all the five fingers of my right hand but pulled my left hand also, brought all the ten fingers together and continued with his play !! Now no more dillydallying.” C.P”s orders are clear. But ten is not an auspicious number ; so I picked up 11 coconuts in a bag and went to Chathappurma temple. But before breaking the coconuts, I prayed that since the number is much more than what I had in mind initially, C.P. should remove the hurdles of not only Seshumama’s family but mine too and keep the extra one coconut in my credit balance!
While returning from Chathappuram kovil, I saw an old mama sitting in the ‘thinnai’ of his house, bare-chested. I went to him and asked,” Ongulukku Juddu Krishnamuti yai theriumo, mama?” (you know Jaddu Krishnamurti?)
There was absolutely no need for me to go to him or ask that question and I could have gone to the bus stop straight and catch a bus to Noorani. But as athai used to say, my budhi is a kurukshethram where there are 101 Kauruvas against 5 pandavas.
“Appidi inge arum illaye”( there is no one here with that name), mama replied. Then I explained to him what all I know about the philosopher and also quoted from one of his lectures:
” The moment you stop asking questions you are already dead–which is generally what has happened to older people. They have ceased to enquire because their mind is burdened with information, with what others have said; they have accepted and are fixed in tradition. As long as you are asking questions you are breathing through, but the moment you begin to accept, you are psychologically dead. So right through life don’t accept, but inquire, investigate. Then you will find that your mind is really extra ordinary, it has no end, and to such a mind there is no death”
Assuming that mama knew no English, I translated the quotation in Palakkad Tamil and asked him,”Ippo theringitho?”(understood?)
Mama glancing me from head to toe, asked
‘”Intha thengai enthukku odachai?” ( why did you break coconuts?)
I explained to him that it was for removing the hurdles and I did because every one was doing it.
‘” So, you neither enquired nor investigated as wanted by your philosopher whom you are quoting, right? You did not even bother to question the statement of J.K and find out the truth yourself, right? So,You are psychologically dead, right ?”
I started sweating and said,”konjam vellam kidaikkuma?”( water,please)
“Ullae mamikittae poyi vankikko”(get inside and take from my wife)
I went inside and mami offered me a seat, gave me not only water but some payasaprasadam too. She was tall, fair and her serene look and the big kumkuma pottu on her forehead were enough to bow my head before her. I did not learn any lesson from the rebuff I received from mama just a few minutes ago and therefore, instead of coming out thanking her for her courtesy, I asked a foolish question,
Onga athilai,ANAI IRUKKA,mami?”(is there an elephant in your house?)
” Irukke, rendennam, pinnale poyi paru”( yes, two are there , look at the backyard)
Lo and behold ! there were two elephants at their backyard.
When I got up to escape from there, I noticed a photo hanging on the wall on my right side. It was a farewell photo in a University campus as could be guessed by the dress of the people .
“That is mama’s farewell photo at Cambridge. He taught philosophy there for ten years; next month, he is going to USA, for participating in an international conference”.
Even without bothering to pick up the bag in which I had brought my coconuts and which I had left on a bench in mami’s ‘koodam’ I ran like a deer followed by a hunter, unable to face the staggering burden of my self-created miseries and halted only at the bus- stop.
I acquired the habit of poking my nose into the affairs of other people, perhaps from Venku athai, a distant relative of mine, who comes often to Hyderabad,after quarreling with her son and daughter in law, a nice couple. The problem with Venku athai is that she is too inquisitive and she doesn’t like to be kept in dark about any matters in any of the families known to her. I used to receive a number of phone calls and immediately after I keep down the phone, she would ask ‘arathu ? ( who called?), If I tell her the name of the person who called, then she will ask,” Enna sonnan ? ( what did he say?)’ It is neither possible for me to tell her nor necessary for her to know the details of the calls I receive. If I go to office late on a particular day, she would ask,” enna lata porai?”
why going late?) If my P.S. calls more than once a day, Venku athai would ask “Intha ponnenna summa phone panra . Avulukku kalyanam acho?”( this girl is calling often; is she married?). Like this…. Another ‘auspicious’ habit of this lady is to find fault with any good thing that comes to her notice. If you show her an expensive Kanchi pattu, she will say ‘ Ippo nanna irukku; ana oru nanaile chayam pokum.” ( it is o.k now, but will loose it’s shade once you wash it) The pity is once she has said ‘ chayam pokum’ certainly it would so happen and neither I , who is not superstitious nor the chettiar who sold the expensive sari know how only that particular sari, lost the original colour and charisma, as predicted by Venku athai. She is now 90 and going strong and the joke in our circle is that even Yama, the god of death is avoiding her. His worry is if she curses him to death, who will kill him? How to find a killer for the killer? Anyway that is Venku athai and don’t ask me why I follow her steps sometimes.
It is better to forget that episode till I poke my nose into another affair and get it crushed !!
As Athai predicted, I did attend a few more sasthapreedis, other than Norani, but reached back home in time, to receive Pitchu family.
This is a hilarious take, plz. I see a buddha baba, a certain nalayak samy, is already dipping his dart into poison to fire it…