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My childhood friends chapter 5 'vritha kantakshopam'

“The black dog costs 30 bucks in this rich country.” Projecting a carry bag, Sam  returned from the duty-free shop in the Dubai airport, where I was waiting to catch my connecting flight to Hyderabad.“White dog might, perhaps, be cheaper.” I commented.
“Ha, ha, ha, I was not mentioning the cost of a canine”. Displaying a black carton from the paper bag, he explained, the ‘black dog’ is the brand name of this whiskey.”
“Matters little as I am not interested in either “ I answered.
Sam  was my classmate in the ‘Padathil’ elementary school and later in the high school. He failed to score enough marks to enter the portal of the Government Victoria College, which was just across our PMM high school. He didn’t weep or leave the house in desperation but his father was sad, as he believed that educational qualification was the only ladder to go up in life.
I was meeting my school friend after several years. He was in the same flight, but in the executive class, a few seats ahead of mine. “Excuse me, haven’t we met somewhere?”  He came close to me and inquired, adjusting his eye glasses and hearing aids, looking sternly into my eyes.  I scratched my head as I couldn’t locate him. “Vritha kantakshopam”, he whispered into my ear, while a rivulet of smile flew through his withered face.
Those words stirred my mind and within a moment, emerged the memory of our Samskritham teacher, a soft spoken scholar, who became flamboyant only while teaching the grammar, looking angrily at a boy in trousers up to his knees and viboothi all over his forehead and hands.
‘’You are Samkaran”, I was about to scream but controlled my excitement, tried to jump out of my seat to hug him; the strap across my waist prevented.
“Vritha kantakshopam”- That was how our Sanskrit teacher Bramhasri Ananthanaryana Sarma , encapsulated his anger  after all his efforts to  make Samkaran  recite just one slokam , failed.
“There is absolutely no meaning in wasting my vocal energy on you,” was the implied meaning of that desperate expression emitted with a sigh.
The name gifted to him by the parents, following the tradition, was ‘Samkaran’, after his grandfather which got expanded to ‘ Sathanoor Sarveswara iyer  Samkaran’, while printing his passport. His father used to emphasize on ‘m’ and remind him that the letter ‘m’ was not same as ‘n’.  The abbreviation to Sathanoor , from the original Pallanchathanoor, itself was a decision which pained his father, but the less conventional son took the liberty of reducing the length by a few letters.
After qualifying for a stenographer’s post, he joined a company in Bombay and that was the foundation stone for his raise in career. I used to drop at his home, on the way back from the college and was happy to learn that my friend who missed the college was doing really well in Bombay. Though we didn’t have any contacts, I learned that he had established his own business unit and was prospering.
Success after success in business lavishly lightening his life, he thought that he had everything and looked upon others as lesser humans. The princess to share his life was yet to be born, he thought and went on rejecting the eligible girls, who applied in response to his matrimonial advertisements as he found none of them fit to share his rich and rosy life.  Birthdays came and passed away. Suddenly he realized that the birthdays were coming too frequently, uninvited. While cutting the birthday cake, amidst the greetings and applause of his friends and sycophants, in the star hotels, he realized that that he was not cutting the soft, sweet cake but the knife was slicing and separating his very life components. Stay in the luxury of star hotels and flying in jets and floating in limousines alone doesn’t make life. Life is for living and he was not living, he thought. With the earning of a few small coins, his father had provided food and shelter for him and his four siblings. His parents created them and developed them. ‘What have I created and whom have I developed?’ he started musing. Those thoughts opened up a floodgate of changes in him. I wanted to create my own and develop my products as my parents did, and leave behind a son or a daughter, who might remember me once a while,when I leave for ever, he started thinking.  Serious searching  for girls from his own community, caste, and religion started, but his attractive profile had something wanting in them, for the girls of his requirement.
Rosy, his personal assistant, who scrutinized and tabled the matrimonial responses, was a lovely girl.“She is sincere, hard working, neatly files the papers, and efficiently organizes meetings and why not I choose her as the field for my planting?” he asked himself. “No, my parents in the heaven will never agree for this. My Appa did not approve of even a change of alphabet in my name and how will he agree for a lineage from an alien culture?” the other part of his heart questioned.
Another birthday (damn birthdays, how did they develop wings?’) and all usual tamashas;  more matrimonial advertisements, Rosy neatly arranging and tabulating them but no progress.
He stopped brooding over that issue. ‘Time for action’ he decided and acted. “Will you marry me?”, he asked Rosy, one fine evening, presenting her a bouquet of flowers and kneeling before her, raising his head in anticipation of a favorable reply.
‘Yes”, she cooed and the next Sunday, a priest in colorful attire, declared them husband and wife.
“If you come late by an hour from the office, I will jump into the Coovam river,” she assured him. The single candle in a star hotel room was the witness for her assurance.
“Now I know why she mentioned Coovam river and not the Arabian sea,” quipped Sam, flashing a smile, explaining by hand motion, how Rosy touched her heart, while giving that assurance.
The candle was short-lived; so was their marriage.
Leaving her two kids, 4 and 2 behind, Rosy went after a rickshaw puller.
“Rosy married you for your wealth and status but why did she go after a rickshaw-puller, leaving all the luxuries and her own tiny kids, behind?” I inquired.
“Sivasu, the human mind is very complicated and you can’t explain its intricacy or irrational behavior.  She would have got fed up with the lavishness of luxury and longed for a life of wants”
“Didn’t you remarry?
“No, marriage is only once and it has a purpose, Appa used to say”.
“How did you bring up the children, alone?”
“No problem, money can purchase any thing and a helper woman was least expensive. She gave my children food and bath and I gave them plenty of love.”  He stood up and wide- opened his hands to show the enormousness, of the love he showered on his children.
“Oh, ‘money can buy everything’ I didn’t know that.”
“Don’t be cruel.  I named my Elder son as Sathanoor Samkaran Subramanian ,’ sath’ in short and the younger one, Sathanoor Samkaran  Chithambaran, ‘Chith’ in short .
“Are they settled in life?”
“Yes, they are.  Sath married Dharmambal and they have a child, ‘Samkh’ for Samkaran, my name; He is looking after my business and Chith teaches Samskritham in a high school.”
“Sath is for Sathanoor and Chith Is for Chithambaram, their maternal grandfather, right?” I asked and added with a smile, “and, our Anantharaman Sir’s memory also continues to live?”
“Yes, it does and it should. He gave me a key to solve my problems” I gazed at him unable to fathom the meaning of his observation.
“Vritha kantakshopam’ yes, he spared no efforts to teach me but I couldn’t. So, when things go beyond my control, as it happened in the case of my matrimonial attempts and subsequent relationship with Rose, Brahmasri’s ‘vritha kantakshopam’ came to my help and I used to console myself, ‘why waste my efforts and energy on these issues, whose destiny was already finalized?’ That attitude helped me to go forward, instead of sitting in a corner and mourning. Otherwise my children wouldn’t have reached the present level.”
Hearing the announcement for boarding his flight to London, Sam got up and whispered something silently, before taking leave of me.
“Reciting some prayers?” I inquired.
“Yes, Brahamasri’s ‘ Aathmaneyvaathamana bandhu,
Aathmasya  ripurathmana.’
Yes, Sivasu, ‘I am my friend, my enemy too’
“So, you did learn that slokam, at last? “
“Yes, I did. Learned hard way; such things stay.”
‘Hei, Sam, you are leaving behind your white dog, sorry, your black dog.” He turned back and said,“I have no need for that; bought it for you.” He moved a few steps further, paused and turned to tell me, “Dogs are faithful, black or white.”
I looked deep into his eyes. The thin streak of smile failed to conceal his inner pain.
“What happened man,  ‘vritha kantakshepam’ has gone ‘vritha-waste?” I inquired, unable to conquer my inner pain on the agony of my classmate.
He heard but didn’t wait to answer.
His ‘black dog’ was sitting sad, besides me.
Love and regards,
Nov 30, 2012

Dear Sri.Sivasubramanian Perinkulam,

Good one, I liked it. You have a knack with words and create the scene you describe.
[email protected]

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