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The smell of the soil – chapter 07

A road in Moncombu. Buses ply to changanchery on this road

After Swamy’s pooja lasting for an hour, Seshu showed mami how to operate the dish washer, washing machine, coffee percolator and other appliances.
“Despite Ramya’s instruction not to handle these devises, I want to you learn the usage, so that you need not depend on her for minor kitchen activities.” He said to her. ” More over, will you allow her to cook, when she is on her monthly menstrual periods?”
” Siva, Siva-never” she replied, closing her ears with her palms,
  .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                refusing to hear a word more on that topic.
“To stand on your own legs, is the first thing you should learn in this country, because the youngsters are fully engaged during day time and even at night, they might have some pending office work to complete at home” .
 Seshu said, entering the main hall and after all were seated.”  In India, while driving though a city or village , you can stop your car and ask for the route. Here in highways, you have to go by your road map or mechanical guide, as there will be none on the road , to show you the way.  Moreover, you cannot stop the vehicle at seventy miles speed, anywhere and every where you like.  At the most, you can enquire in a gas station, that is our petrol bunk. Without knowing driving, you are a bird with no wings. Men and women in their eighties and nineties  drive their own vehicles, shop in malls, collect their provisions and load in their vehicle. None with a bamboo basket on his head carrying your load will be behind to help you, as we see in our towns. The shopping complex is away from the apartments and as you do in our place, you cannot walk down to buy milk or vegetables, putting a thorthumundu, towel on your shoulder. And no hawkers with push carts in front of your house. you cannot  stop a taxi or auto as we do in our towns, as there are no autos or cabs on the road . In the busy New York city taxis ply and you can hire them on the spot.  public transport is available freely there, and in most of the other cities, office goers have to use only their own cars.”
“Oh, athu periya budhimuttachae- it is really difficult, then”  remarked Swamy.
” Appo sayantharam denam kovilukku poka sathikkathu- I can’t go to temple every evening.” lamented Mami, with a gloomy face.
” I cannot go out even for a walk as the weather is bad ” Swami worried, “does it mean that whole day, we sit inside the house looking at each other’s face”
“Why not? your faces have not lost their charm yet” Seshu chuckled. “I will teach you to operate the computer. you both can learn within a few days. That devise is my constant companion. You can read your newspaper, hear music and send mails. By four,  Swan will be here with his mom. Then it is velai and pooram-festival here.”
“Inke jasthi thaangathu- we may not stay long here,”  remarked mami.
” You will continue to stay because this is your life-center, where your son and his family are . You will be prepared to sacrifice, as I am doing, all your other favorites  and would prefer to stay here . In due course, your longing for the smell of your soil will vanish.”  Seshu remarked, a naughty smile illumining his face.”
The couple delved into deep thoughts and after a while, Swamy asked, ” Seshu, what will you do, in a situation where you physical facilities neither permit you to travel to USA or make unsafe to live alone in our village.?
“Vrudhasramam- home for the aged. I have already decided on that” Seshu was categorical in his statement.
“There, at least some one will lift you up if you slip on the floor or face a stroke, and take you for medical assistance. At your own home , if you fall on the ground,  your wife cannot lift you and if she falls, you cannot lift her.  You may come out and shout for help and someone might come but no vehicle will be available or the hospitals might be ill equipped. Moreover, in the home for the aged, all are aged and therefore, you have many things to share, including your regrets of the past, retardation of the present and the uncertainty of the future.”
“What is there to he uncertain?” asked Swamy and chuckled.
“That is true,” Seshu agreed, ” anyway, it is too early for you to think about that, as you are now OK and Ramu will never allow you to go to Vrudhasramam”.
“You are right mama, I will never admit them in the Home for the aged”, Ramu, who entered, overhearing the conversation, from the kitchen side door, after parking his vehicle, said.  ” I will transport them here somehow every six months, obtain green cards so that they can live here indefinitely and go with us to India occasionally. And if they insist on staying at our native village, I will provide enough support, by hiring people at whatever be the cost. If that too doesn’t work, we will resign our jobs here, work in some cities in India and keep our parents with us.”
His parents were so proud of Ramu and tears swelled in their eyes.
” Ramu,  You are a worthy son and we are all proud of you”  Seshu, shook Ramu’s hand in appreciation and then without losing his composure, added, ” remember, it will be a Herculean task for you to act as you desire, as there is a third party in the game. Your little son, whom you would prefer to be educated here. Anyway, let us not worry about that now.
In my case, I have made up my mind, whatever be the objection from my son that my last resort will be the home for the aged, where I can breathe my last, smelling  the earth, which gave birth to me and my ancestors and my leftover can mix with that soil. I do not want my son or his wife or child make any sacrifice for me.”
“So, the smell of the soil is haunting you too !” Ramu asked smiling, and opened the back  door.” OK, take care, I was passing this way and just walked in to see, how you are doing “
“Chappittuttu poda , Ramu-eat food and go” requested his mom.
” No time now, mom.” In a few seconds, the crunching noise of the garage shutters rolling down, was heard.
At four, when Swan returned along with his mother, rushed to his room and made sure that all his cars were in tact.
“Old people are nice, no doubt, but that doesn’t mean that I can trust them with my cars,” he mused and then, in a flash, he was with them, holding their hands and commanding, ” come on, I will take you to the  restroom.”
Children keep up their words though they do not compromise on their toys.
I had ample time  this morning when I went thru ‘ the smell of the oil chapter7 and8
and the flow of language is like a lullaby. What you have described is verbatim is
the true state of life in U.S.A How do you find time to thatch the flowers into fragrant
strands which do not wilt for a very long time. One story is entirely different from the
other. You do not employ the situations conceptualised in new stories. You are
highly imaginative and thinking.
Where are you now? in Hyderabad? or in U.S.A?
anyway I am one of your ardent fans.keep writing.
with best wishes
pc ramabadran

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