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Oh! Parama Sukham – Chapter 05

Family life is a flower garden;it need to be nourised
When nothing else to prescribe, hope acts as a wonderful drug. But hope is not a substitute for fact 

A most agonizing awaiting it was – to have a glance of the girl whom I had never met before though she would be mine the next morning. On such occasions, pleasure and pain, anxiety and helplessness play carom in your mind and each  movement of the coins increases your heart-beat. I was as restless as a cat locked inside a house.It was a self-inflicted, utterly meaningless, mental torture -I realize now, as we do in many cases when reason displaces emotion, although I admit that there was a charm in that waiting which I would have missed if, instead of finer feelings, reason was the master of the day. Reason has often pushed me to a corner and allowed emotions to have a hay day which did cost me heavily at times.Every relative, close and not that close, friends and even sub-ordinate workers were introduced to my elders but there was no talk or  trace of the bride.  Silver, brass and  copper vessels, jewels,  clothes  and all sundry  materials to be sent along with the girl to her husband’s house were presented with unwanted gestures  and   explanations but there was no talk or trace of the girl who was to occupy the center stage soon.  It appeared that the  men and women  had gathered there only to chit chat, gossip and celebrate their union and not ours.I sharpened again and again my eyes and ears in vain, not to miss my girl’s  shadow or gurgle.
”This stick for ‘kasi yatra’ was specially brought from Nagerkoil”- someone announced proudly. ” Who wants your stick, man ? ” I wanted to ask him, but didn’t.
‘Before disappointment could devastate my mood, I could hear the authoritative high pitch of  my father:
“P.M.S!” he called  the family head and chief host,” where is my daughter-in-law? I am seeing here, half the women population of this town but not her!”
You are so sweet, dad.
“I am just waiting for an auspicious moment to release my golden parrot.” P.M.S replied respectfully but firmly.
“I hope it won’t be very far” my father commented, “ my worry is that my son, in the meantime, doesn’t pick up a sparrow or dove and fly away. I see quite a few of them around here and for them, the auspicious time would have already started.”
“Damn with his auspicious time” Parasu decried the delay in presenting the bride.
When I asked him whether I could sneak in Parasu replied, ” you can’t do that. you are the bride groom. Your father and other elders are still here and only your mom has gone inside”.  He sat in a corner, had a good chew got up and called me outside and advised showing the compound wall. “There is only one way, a bit dangerous though” he said, “jump over that wall with the help of that hanging tree-branch. I just saw your  girl  pulling water from the well, behind the wall. Meet her and return quickly. The whole operation should be over within five minutes; I will wait here. But remember, I won’t be responsible for the consequence, which might be bad, if  you are caught red-handed ”
l had never done that before-crossing the compound walls intentionally though purely out of juvenile and later adolescent and later middle- aged madness, I had attempted to peep through the window to know what was happening on the other side of my own house in odd hours.  But now out of sheer necessity, I was prepared to 0bey my cousin’s caring advice , instead of waiting in the hall and looking at the face of every moving object, clad in pattusari.
“promise me that you will not go away” I pleaded, worrying how bad the situation could go, if I were caught by some pattar who would have straight walked into his matured middle age and later to a monotonous old age without crossing through the vibrant and valuable young age.
Pardon me for my crime if you can, I did cross the Wall although with some minor bruises.
Clearing the dust and mud on my clothes,  I looked up towards the well.  Ah, ‘ she’ was there pulling water from the well.
I went near and whispered, gasping.
“Look here, daughter of Krishna Iyer! Excuse me for addressing you, the way our epic characters are addressed. I don’t know your pet name and the name given in the invitation card is too long. Parasu has given only five minutes for the whole operation; I can’t afford to spend two minutes out of that, for addressing you, by that long name.
“Now, let me come to the point. I have come to marry you as suggested by my parents. Though you are not my dream girl, I like you. Now three minutes are over.
You can have a good look at me. I am now turning 360 degrees so that you can have my back view too.
Say ‘yes’. I will jump over that compound wall and go back, the way I came. Say ‘no’, I will jump into this well. By appearance you don’t seem to have the strength to pull me out of the well.  Four minutes are over.
“And, I warn you, I don’t know swimming”
She looked at my face  and cooed  with a mischievous smile,” I will never allow you to jump into the well as I liked the way you jumped over the compound wall. But wait a minute, please. Let me have a word with my elder sister, whose name is printed on the invitation card, before I say ‘yes’ to you.  Now, how many minutes are over, athimbar( sister’s husband)?”
My arrow disastrously deviated from its object and hit at a dangerously deceptive-looking atom bomb. I had crossed the wall, expecting to visualize a lightning; but I had to listen to a thunder. Things were definitely going out of my control. I became crazy.
Then “she” came like a  much awaited  dawn  from behind the clouds and her bejeweled hands   flew a mild slap on the other girl’s  face and  turning towards me , she said, ” I apologize for  my sister’s naughty  behavior”
“So, it looks you are my dream girl!” I managed to say a few words, though not very coherently.  She didn’t have the dazzle of a cine star or the sophistication of a city girl. She was fair, slim, simple, unassuming, tender like  a jasmine creeper and fragrant like a lotus flower. What attracted me most was her innocent smile,  brightening her calm face . I liked her.  However, as a matter of abundant caution, I didn’t open my mouth this time.
“Hope you didn’t get hurt while jumping over the wall! Why all this ‘vepralam’- restlessness and mischief?” she asked with an innocent look. “You could have straight come inside. You are our close relative and have every right to come inside the house and  talk to me.”
Was it so simple?
It was; otherwise the moment the egg broke, the bird would not have risen high so fast and soared so high beyond the clouds.
“How do you feel now?” I asked her while walking together towards the drawing room where the two families had assembled.
“Feeling like a princess in a fairy tale,” she said, slowly, dreamily, ” when her prince crosses a high wall to meet her”
When we entered the  drawing room, my father’s powerful eyes didn’t miss to notice the satisfaction on my face. In those days, we were not aware of the ‘thumbs up’ signal. So we just smiled.
“Chellappetty edudi-get my betel- leaf casket!” he commanded mother.
There were many messages in that command. His approval of the girl, his satisfaction in my approval of the girl and her approval of me and above all, the elation that the family name was kept up by my concurrence to my father’s decision taken without consulting me.
After the introduction was over, we had a wash and snacks with coffee was served. Chami pattar, finished his eating quickly and entered the kitchen. With an air of authority, he boasted to the person standing there, “I am bridegroom’s  maternal uncle”
“Welcome, sir!” the person in the kitchen, greeted, “may I be of any service to you?”
“I want you to pack immediately eight or ten iddlies, two or three  dosas, undiluted chutney and chilly powder separately, along with some sweet cakes. The hot coffee could be in a big flask.
“Sir, you are our respected guest and we, from the girl’s side, are here to obey your orders. All the more so, because you are the maternal uncle of the bride groom. You alone have the right to shift  the groom on your shoulders tomorrow morning and help him to throw garlands on the neck or head of the bride, depending on their- height parity and your stamina.
It is therefore, absolutely necessary to build-up your comically thin body-frame. I am not revealing a secret; the girl’s maternal uncle, like you, also is a weight-lifter and if necessary you can depend on him, to shift your whole family on his shoulders.
“I have finished my eating and  I cannot eat more than two iddlies. The packets I am asking for, are for my wife who is sick and therefore  unable to come to the dining hall”
“That is fine. Please wait for five minutes”
While handing over the food packets, he said,“ Please take care of your sick wife; the load you are carrying might perhaps injure her digestion track”
When Chamipattar was leaving the kitchen, with the packets in his hand, the kitchen supervisor called him.
“I know that you are in a hurry, but I am compelled to detain you for one more minute.Come closer please. I want to reveal a secret to you” He then whispered in pattar’s ear.
” You could have thought of some other relationship; I am the maternal uncle of the bride groom!”
Pattar was shocked and tried to escape from there, but my uncle would not allow that. “However, you have saved me from a traumatic tomorrow”
Pattar blinked and my uncle explained,” I need not carry the bride groom on my shoulders tomorrow, you see, because you have to do that job.
But sir, remember my caution: the opponent is a monstrous weight-lifter.”
Pattar struggled to escape from there but my uncle would not leave his hold on him.
“Try to recollect,” he told him, ”you might perhaps, be the bridegroom’s paternal uncle”
“Could be”
“Then, shall I pack a few more packets?”
Chamipattar did not wait to answer. He rushed with the packets in his hand towards  a house, not far away.
You know what; He had a ‘sambandham’-extra-marital relationship with a non-brahmin woman, long ago, while he was working  at T’puram. In fact, the main purpose of his visit to the city was to say hello to his sweet-heart. Who won’t like to carry a gift to his woman, meeting after a big gap and could there be a better gift, than the one he had in his hand, which he got free?

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