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Yellow- pumpkin thokayal

Half past one, at night . Saturated silence inside the house and outside too unlike in Habsiguda where you can see at least some cattle on the road any time at night.  Despite spending over an hour this evening  working out in the gym and swimming , sleep, like an old- time mami is keeping away from me, tucking her ‘madisaru’ close to her thighs, treating me as an untouchable . I can see her, she can see me but she doesn’t want to come close to me. Luck and ill-luck too are sometime like that.You can see them, they can see you; but they won’t come and hug you. 
 I wake up from the bed and  casually go through the mail box, when my gloomy eye -lids stop flapping for a moment,  sighting the post from an overseas friend, an young lady, mother of a teenage son. I am deeply moved by what she has written. Permit me to share with you that letter which touched the finer fibers of my heart , with some minor editing and concealing her name .
” Good Morning Mama,
 Yesterday I made an ‘Yellow Pumpkin Thokayal’.  I have no words to say, It was so delicious.    I am not a cooking expert, actually I have learned some from the book after my marriage.  Still repairing and working on the menu’s of the same.  I was thinking of my Dad while having afternoon meal.  My Dad was a foodie and was  a great Dad.  Everyone says, I am exactly like him.  I am the middle child,  I was so  close to him.  We enjoy  eating my Mom’s  specialties  Bajji, Bonda, Neyyappam, Pokkoda, Murukku .  My sister and bro was close to Mom.  Enakku Peray ‘Appa Ponnu’. 
 No day passes without his loving memories.   During his last moments, I was in —- reading a book on Travelling experiences of  an Englishman on the holy lands of India.  It was so difficult for me put it in my mind that my father is no more.   I could not attend his funeral.  Poor Dad was calling out for me till his last breath.  My Passport was under renewal.  The last conversation I had with my Dad at home was ‘Dad I will bring Vicks Mittai for you and How much you need? Blah…blah..’  He passed away at the age of 76 due to  heart attack and was progressing memory loss.  (Diminishia)  It was the second blow immediately after the death of my —–  So many things happened in a short time.  Why I am writing all these,mama ? Leave it Mama. Everybody has their own ‘share of Karma’ to unload. 
Oh, Where did I leave?  Yeah…Mathan Kodal Thokayal… Mama, Why don’t you try this recipe it is very easy.  If you are interested to try I will write it for you?”
UNQUOTE ———————————–
I wash my face, come back to my seat and pen a short reply addressing her as ‘ ponnea ‘, my child , shut down the computer, reach for my bed .
No luck yet. Madisaru mami, the merciful sleep , is still keeping away from me.  My mind’s wings get stuck in the bushes of the personal grief of my friend as if that grief is my own. For a moment I think  what a fool I am ! Just a few days ago I took a vow that slowly I should free myself from the ‘asaapasam’ attachment from the worldly affairs or lead a life of detachment to attachment, as my young friend says, but now, I am getting entangled into a fresh attachment to this girl who was unknown till yesterday!
Yes, our relationship is not more than a week or ten days old. It all happened when I received a letter of appreciation from an unknown person, for my latest  Ammalu story.
 Quote again; 
 “Dear Mama,
 I read most of your write ups, I do laugh a lot after reading them.  By the way,  How come the neighbor lady’s Sari in your cupboard? Just curious to knowJ  You are a born writer MamaJ  You made my day !! 

——– “
While typing out the usual note of thanks,  I noticed that she has a blog and visited it. I was impressed with the  simple style of presentation and the quality of the contents and conveyed my opinion to her.
 From then on, almost everyday she has been writing to me about her personal life and  family matters as if I am a close relative. Remember, she knows nothing about me, whether I am a good or bad man, saint or scoundrel. Yes, I hear your saying that,’ if she has been reading your posts she would have known that you are not a saint and the possibility of your being the opposite is not remote ” Agreed. truth coming from any corner has to be accepted . Anyway the fact is her compassion towards me is so pristine that even while sharing her grief, she thought about the pumpkin thokayal, a favorite side dish and desired how nice iit would be if I too could enjoy it !  And  I know her hardly for a week ! My eyes are getting moist. How blessed I am!  
 ‘Damn with my  vow of detachment ‘ I said  and  went through some of  the letters  received from my net friends.. How many sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, my stories have earned for me ! I have met  hardly half a dozen of them  but how close most  of them have become by sharing their personal life with me, laughing with me,crying with me ! A Malayalee settled in an oil country floating in fortune,whom I knew hardly two weeks ago, weeps on the net, making me also weeping when he writes, “Uncle  my father had no money to buy medicines for his TB and other ailments, suffered for twelve years and died miserably in abject poverty “
 A devoted middle aged man who has been sacked from service for no fault of him says , “Mama, tell me when you come to India,; I want to do sashtangam with ‘Abhivadaye’. ” My dear thammudu,brother, you have been performing sandhya regularly for the past 45 years and mother Gayathri will run away if you come anywhere near me. The other gods have already done that.
Appa has friends all over the world” my children used to say.That is an exaggeration emanated out of affection .But it is a fact that I have  friends  reading my posts in many countries; and they read my post because our friendship ! .And I am proud of their love for me .
No, it is not time yet for me  for detachment in life when I love this world so much,my children, grand children, brothers sisters,uncles and aunts,family and  friends, living and lived, trees and woods, animals and birds, Madras music festivals and madisaru mamies, palpayasam and pumpkin thokayal  and every thing static or movable and above all my gods who are static in temples but so vibrant,so vigilant and so motivating  within my heart. 
I think I should sleep now. See you tomorrow, if I am able to get  the frame of my eye glasses repaired. Yes, It got distorted under the pressure of my frame. There is a limit for the load  carrying capacity of anything  and  a small frame of spectacles  is not meant to carry a large frame of mine and therefore it  was bound to get disfigured. And at times, even minor objects, if got crippled, can create major problems- my Ammalu for example ( she is still with my dear MIL and that is why  I  am writing so boldly . And if she happened to see the mail, I will tell her  how much importance I have given her, comparing her to my spectacles-I see the world through her, she is my eye sight, without her I am blind, she is my world etc. etc.poor things she believes me and that is why we are so happy, made for each other !)
 Hei, wait a minute – before I remove my truncated eye-glass frame from my equally truncated nose —
” Truncated nose ?” I hear your query, ” we presume the madisaru mami has come very close to you”
 Oh, don’t worry about my nose. Mamies do not punch my nose .why should they, when they have sharper tools ? I am joking.  Women are kind.
My nose became  ‘chappai’ when an elder brother from this group punched  it  in a friendly duel , unintentionally but a bit forcefully. Such things happen in a family.You recall just a few minutes before I boasted about my assets of brothers, sisters etc.
Oh, here is a post appearing  on the screen, a short one, commenting on my latest Ammalu story, from a super senior  net friend, in his seventies, eighties or even above. I  jump and hit the roof, unable to control my laughter:
“Ada brahmanaa ! Ennodu alpasanthoshathai kedukkavantha kodali allava neer ? Ommdu Ammalu letterai pathupputtu, Ennodu Ammalu aathai vittu asaimatten enkaral -what a spoil- sport you are ! After seeing your letter to your wife,  my wife refuses to move away from the house even for a short while “
Love and regards,
May 7  2011

3 thoughts on “Yellow- pumpkin thokayal

  1. My name is Perinkulam Ramanathan. Obviously, , my father’s place of birth was Perinkulam, and there are many many Perinkulams in USA where I live. To be exact, I am in New Jersey, where a good number of Kerala pattars reside. But I see of course more of Tamil Iyers and Telugu families, and a lot more Hindiwallas, whose language I don’t understand. I grew up and studied in Koduvayur where the headmaster was my chittappa, Perinkulam Venkateswara Iyer, whose son Perinkulam Natarajan is here in New Jersey. I never learned Hindi because in the Hindi class the kids were throwing paper balls at the Hindi master. I was the only one trying to pay attention to him.
    But without the knowledge of Hindi or Gujarati, you cannot shop in Indian groceries in New Jersey. Thanks to the Gujaratis, we have access to Indian spices and puzungal arisi without which I cannot exist.
    I am probably as old as you are, but in good health, thanks to my yoga practice and yoga teaching. I will be close to 80 years of age soon. I want to reach that milestone and therefore I am fully active.
    The doctor who gave me an annual checkup recently told me that my heart is as strong as that of a marathon runner and she declared I am perfectly healthy, which I confirm from the way I feel.
    Time to go and teach a yoga class. The Americans have perfected the art of teaching yoga even though they may not be aware of the esoteric practices of yoga which only a great yoga master like Sri Krishnamacharya (who lived 100 years) can instruct.
    More later.
    My congratulations to you for the impeccable way you express the language. Hats off to you.
    Feel free to write to me of course!
    I am fascinated by your articles some of which I have read. You write like the famous writer R. K. Narayanan whom I met briefly when he visited USA. You speak your mind and are not afraid to say what you think. You are full of wit and humor and your eloquence in writing is very evident.

  2. Are you related to Chandrasekhar in NJ…husband of Geetha
    Pleas let me know

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