“Nothing; absolutely nothing,” I replied still my eyes partially closed. “I had a craving for one billionth of that cosmic energy, to face life; but I simply got absorbed in His majestic beauty. What a cosmic charm!” I lost words. How powerless words are in such situations!
While coming out of the temple, my father took P.M.S. aside and said,” It is a matter of shame for all of us that we played a cruel joke on our children. It may not be intentional, but it was easily preventable with a little more care and attention. I am not particularly blaming anyone. But we spoiled the lifetime memory of the children for which all of us are responsible” He continued: I want you to do one thing, P.M.S! Pack them off to Kanyakumari this after noon, in your car. None should know about this. See that they are accommodated in a good hotel preferably for more than one night and none accompanies”
I don’t know how this message leaked; by the time we got ready for the trip, there were nearly twenty families, who wanted to accompany us. We had to arrange a big bus. The whole crowd was with us everywhere, in the temple, in the boat, in the lovely sands from where we watched the sunset and sunrise and in the hotel. The seasonal rush at the tourist spot was so heavy that after accommodating the guests in the available hotel rooms, I slept inside the bus and I don’t know where my wife slept. The first night, in the blessed bed room with creaking doors, was merrier.
We returned the next day and got ready for our return trip to Palakkad
It was time to say ‘good bye’. Amman was sitting in a corner and it was obvious that he was trying hard to control his emotion. “Life without Ratnam is going to be tuff-‘korae vishamama,”. He put it very mildly; he was not used to strong words.
“Life with your daughter is going to be ‘vishamam’ (difficult ) for me!” I quipped, ” life with her is going to be ‘valarae vishamam’ (very difficult for me ) .
“Bless us, Periappa!” I touched the feet of P.M.S. “Every thing is large with you: your frame, your mind, your family, your status, your name and fame. Let a fraction of that greatness pass on to my body”
‘‘I noticed the glow in your face, when you mentioned about my family size.” It was his face which glowed, when he said those words.”I never worried that I had nine daughters as many others would have. In fact I was happy and proud”
“That was the first thing I noticed when I landed here. Periappa! Remember. There is always room for one more”
‘That is exactly my worry!” His wife replied. We all had a hearty laugh.
“Don’t forget me, konthai” said P.M.S. hugging me close to his chest.
“Can I? “ I asked him,” One person I will remember ever, when I go to bed is my P.M.S Periappa.”
“I erred and apologise to you for my carelessness” He pleaded for my forgiveness.
” Absolutely no need” I held his hands and laughed. “You have done it purposely to institute in our mind the importance of being together. A stage might come in the life for every couple, when one may long for the dissociation from the other, though temporarily. I know it is absurd to say so, especially on this occasion but as you know facts are facts. If it happens to us, you want us to remember the first night. Isn’t it so? But tell me Periappa! Why a jack fruit in the bed room and not banana or apple?”
“You are intelligent; otherwise you wouldn’t have said, what you said now. So, ponder a bit ; you will get the answer”
“Ha, ha, ha I know the answer now. Hard and thorny exterior; cut it open and go deep .Plenty of hard seeds, encased in sweet, juicy, colourful fruits. Oh I go it, I got it. I laud your imagination. Shall I go further?”
‘’Enough! Reserve your poetic imagination for solitary moments” We laughed together. Those standing close by, with a sense of humour also laughed. Others do not matter; ignore those who do not follow jokes and those who cannot tolerate jokes.
He patted me affectionately. “Just realize that banana with no seeds and apple with a few, are no comparison with the kingly Jack fruit, with plenty of seeds.”
“And the sweet, juicy and colourful fruits encasing the hard seeds” I reinforced his statement.
I had no words when I went to Athai for her blessings. She was a synonym for sacrifice .We just hugged each other, till her tears wet my hairs and face.
“I am greatly indebted to you, Parasu, for binding me with this big family of loving people” I expressed my sincere gratitude to my cousin.” And also for giving me a wonderful life-partner, from the sacred soil of Anantha Padmanabhan and Sreekanteswaran. When I hear the call, ‘Ente sreekanteswara’ from the cavern of the heart of devotees passing through the temple, my soul vibrates and reaches the Himalyan heights of elated bliss. My ‘Rudram’ and ‘chamakam” rarely took me to such heights Yes, earlier, I did have such experience while the tram in which I was commuting, passed through the street close to the Kalighat temple. People irrespective of caste or ideology they follow, touch their hand on their chest and cry” Ma’. That ‘Ma’ call, Parasu, shakes and kindles your soul.
The path of my married life is laid by you I will never forget this help”:
Parsu, I noticed for the first time, was moved. He blessed me placing his hands over my head.
The Trivandram railway station was full of our relatives and friends, who had come in colourful dress and shining ornaments, to see us off. Amman, holding his umbrella, was wiping his moist eyes; my mother-in-law was consoling him. P.M.S , his wife and daughters behind him, was pacing up and down the platform. Athai, silently but with a heavy heart, was holding her niece close to her chest. Parasu was supervising the loading of luggage, vessels and eatables on to the compartment. sharada teacher Baghyam and Ammu were holding my hands and standing on my sides.Chami anna was standing aloof, making hand movements as if to say, “these are all part of life; anyway all the best”.
“Lalitha rushed in, when our luggage was loaded; she was helping Parasu in that work.
“I love you so much athimbar” she was sobbing when she held my hands
“Then rush into the compartment” I said, “Oh, you don’t have your suitcase; that doesn’t matter. You can use your sister’s wardrobe. And there is no time to buy the ticket. Hide below the seat like a mouse but don’t pop up your head, to watch the movement of the ticket collector”
She didn’t laugh; she wept.
When the green signal flag fluttered, Venku ayyan rushed in to announce that Ratnam’s six aunts with their husbands would join us at Kollam and would stay with us at our Palakkad house, for a week, till we return to Hyderabad. Magnificent gesture!
Before I recovered from the shock inflicted by that news, P.M.S ,walking along with the just-moving train, asked. “Hope you enjoyed everything here. Sukham aayille, makkalea?”
“What is that second Parmasukham for?” My father enquired with a mischievous smile.
“For the gesture of the six aunts and uncles” I replied, with an equally mischievous smile.
Ratnam too smiled. I knew the meaning of that.
That revealed her happiness on my appreciating the gesture of her six aunts and uncles!
She would have also realised that Paramasukham has only one meaning on all occasions. That is PARAMA SUKHAM!