There was an interesting post in my mail inbox ,which I wanted to share with Ammalu. In response to my urgent call she came slowly and gently towards the computer. Adjusting her extra thick eye glass, she glanced at the monitor and quietly withdrew with a remark, ” ithu Hindi allava-This is in Hindi, I can’t read”
” This is English, Ammalu”. My immediate reaction had a tinge of anger, disappointment and helplessness but changing my tone to dispel her feeling that I was belittling her, I said, “don’t worry. I will take you to an eye specialist and we will change your glasses”
“What is wrong with my eyesight,?” she questioned ignoring my attempt for reconciliation, “I didn’t pull any one’s nose, due to poor eye sight”
That unnecessary and untimely remark was based on an innocuous, ignorable action of mine, last Monday. Ammani Amma , my neighbor with a prominent nose, came and sat near me, with a basket full of flowers, while I started performing my Gayatri Japam. I am irregular in doing the japam but when I do it , I close my eyes and fully concentrate on the mantram and it could be due to this over-concentration that, one inhale process pushed more than the required quantity of air into the wind pipe. It got encapsulated in the vast vacant space in my brain and consequently for a moment, I was confused and instead of opening my nostril for the release of the excess air , I pulled the prominent nose of the graceful lady who was sitting close by. It was purely an unintentional act, exclusively due to the excess air pressure and my inadequate eye sight would have extended a helping hand in the innocuous action. It is also possible that unknowingly, I would have slipped into a catnap, which is not unusual for a man of my age, especially when involved in performing a long japam.
Hearing a scream, I woke up and opened my eyes. It took a few minutes for me to realize that the nose which I was holding was not mine but my neighbor’s.
The worst part was Ammalu was standing near me. Otherwise perhaps, my good neighbor with a prominent nose, would have taken the issue lightly considering our long acquittance and that was the first time I pulled her nose, though she worked under me for many years, while in service. Throwing an unpleasant idiotic smile , I continued with the japam as if nothing had happened, but Ammalu took away the panchaptram with an order, ” Porum onga japam, enthirungo- enough of your japam, get up”
” Ammini , sorry for what has happened”. Ammalu tried to pacify the neighbor , after removing the traces of viboothy from her nose .” Sit six yards away from him when you come here next time. He is developing funny habits these days”
” I am also surprised ,” agreed the graceful lady, ” he did this never before while in service, though he pulled my hands once or twice”
” I am not surprised, Ammini” Ammalu looked at me with an unfriendly face and turned towards her friend, instantly changing her facial expression. ” come have a cup of coffee ”
“‘Oh, that is OK, Ammalu” the gracious lady commented,” after all he did pull only my nose, not my legs ”
May her tribe increase. After enjoying Ammalu’s hot copy, she went back. I thought that was the end of the matter.
But that was not to be . .
Ammini returned soon with her husband.. Gopalan Nair.
“Pull my nose, if you dare, swamy” . He thundered, bringing his face close to mine.
”But how,?” I asked innocently, “you have no nose worth pulling?” Nair’s nose was insignificant like his intelligence and it is said that the astrologer who matched his horoscope with Ammini’s, before recommending their wedding, took the disparity in the size of the noses as one of the reasons to predict that the couple would enjoy a long married life.
“Then, pull my ear ” Nair demanded.
I thought for a moment. Poor Nair, in the presence of his wife, wanted to become a hero and I should not deprive him of that privilege. He might punch my nose in retaliation to prove that he was capable of revenging the insult suffered by her.
But that is not worrisome as his hands are shaky and even if he missed his aim I had nothing to loose as all my teeth had said good-bye to my mouth, one by one, long back.
If not nose, something on his face, I should pull to retain his honor, I decided and pulled his ear.
A small cigarette piece which he had hidden behind the ear, fell down and his wife noticed and picked it up and with a stern look at him, turned towards me and with folded hands appealed , ” Swamy, I don’t mind your pulling my nose every time I come to your house, if that can expose my husband’s habits, as you did now . He has been given strict instruction by the doctor not to smoke but he has been doing it stealthily ”
Like a magnanimous senior of multifarious talents, I consoled Ammini,
“husbands will always have something to hide from their wives”
Ammalu nodded in agreement and added, “but, they should be alert”
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