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An observation lapse

“Observe your body”- I was giving my co-traveler in the Chennai mail, an unsolicited advice, a practice which I have been following from the day I became eligible for concessional travel in Indian Railways.
”What is there to observe?” he protested as I expected and added sarcasm -smeared commentary, “I know about my body, from head to toe and in fact, that is the first thing I learned when I started learning!”
“How intelligently he talks!” His wife, sitting close to him, opposite to my seat, admired. Husbands are lucky, some at least.
Their two children, Appu and Ammu, probably between 8 and 12, turned their attention towards their mother, perhaps wondering why that unusual gesture to dad, from their mom. The granny, who was reading a Tamil magazine, lifted her head and looked surprisingly at her daughter in law. Mothers know their daughters better than you and me.
As far as intelligence is considered, I never admit my IQ was ever low, even before I became a ‘senior citizen’ and  when I crossed that barrier, I realized that my intelligence was in full bloom, competing with  my belly. Therefore, I stuck to my message, as I do invariably, when my statements are challenged.
“We all, generally, look at our body and not observe it. It pays enormously, if We  take the trouble of ‘observing’ our body and look for any abnormal growth, bend of fingers, swelling, rashes, itches, dots,  moles, dents and so on. ”
Assertive words always carry weight. Those near my seat, except the kids and the elderly lady, started self search keenly, looking for any growth, bend etc, since they left their house, an hour or two before.
Looking authoritatively at the audience, I continued, “is there any variation in the shape of your eyes, lips? Please hear carefully: If there is a tumor in the brain, there could be a slight deviation in your eyes and for a woman who put dots on her forehead; she might miss the center of the forehead. That is a warning not to be neglected.”
Assertive words always carry weight, I repeat. You may wonder why I should do that. Anyway, the old lady, kept aside her book, turned towards her daughter in law, raising her eyebrows which made the eye glass frame too to rise and queried in a hurry,
“In which bag did you, the queen of carelessness, insert my hand-mirror?”
“Ask your son, ma,” the queen responded calmly, “who else has the habit of meddling with others bags?”
I had no time to waste on such petty issues.
“Any new development should be looked into and consultation done with a physician”, I paused for a minute to enjoy a chew from my betel-leaf casket and continued, ” are your steps steady? Is your waste-discharge proper? Does your digestive system crave for more food and too often and does your bladder hurry to expel the fluid-stock? If you have any of these symptoms, better consult a doctor.”
My co-passengers were now convinced that my words deserved better attention.
“The front-center portion of your body has a tendency to show its importance, by bulging, if you continue to intake starchy food and don’t burn the extra calories, by physical exercise.  Once the belly bloats, it doesn’t shrink like a balloon, which has only air to lose “.
Now, the children who were ignoring me for some time, laughed.
“How funny if the belly bursts like a balloon?” commented Ammu. “Can I give you a punch and see how it bursts, thatha? ” Appu approached me with a folded fist. Her parents and the granny, who was still searching for the hand mirror, enjoyed the children’s prank. I continued:
“Keep a watch for similar abnormalities in other members of your family too. And also note their behavioral changes. If your kitchen reverberates too often with the noise of the vessels dropped by your wife, it may be a sign of protest at your receiving too many calls from your woman assistant or to draw your attention to your stinginess in pruning her shopping list”.
The young lady nodded her head in approval, the old one stared at me and the husband laughed ‘ha,ha’ but stopped suddenly when his wife sternly looked at him. I turned to her as she appeared to be in a mood to hear more.
” If your husband yells, searching for his misplaced eye-glasses or mobile phone and that too often, better borrow a blood pressure apparatus or inquire from his colleagues, whether his boss quarrels with his wife too often. When your son or daughter grows up, if they condemn our traditional ways as outdated, waste and worthless,  too loudly, be prepared to face a cyclonic storm soon at home; your offspring has chosen the life partner from a different caste or religion.. For every action, there is a cause, whether there is a cure or not”.
Now the elders became more attentive, while the children continued to play.” I can’t imagine Ramu, standing before me holding the hand of a girl with no ‘pottu’ on her forehead but holding the framed picture of Yesu ( Jesus Christ), her eyes searching an ideal place on the wall to install the picture in her hand.” lamented the young lady. Suddenly, she gazed at the old woman and raising her voice to a limited level, being aware that she was not at her kitchen said, “your son almost did something like that, before our wedding and if you are under the impression that I am unaware of his adventure, you are wrong, Amma.” The old lady neglected the rebuke, her son tried to laugh ‘ha,ha’ but instantly stopped fearing  the stern look of his wife. The children were least concerned.
“And observe what is happening in your neighborhood, society, town, state, country and beyond that. Any tremor anywhere in the world could shake your bed.” I warned.
“And throw you out,” commented a youngster, who intruded from the next bay. “Should we not observe the other planets too, uncle?” he questioned me with a smile, sarcasm writ large on his face.
” There you are, young man!” cleverly blotting out my anger to slap him, I said, ” yes we should; that was why your dad, carrying a bunch of horoscopes approached an astrologer, to find out whether any planet would throw you and the girl you are  about to marry, out of the bed you would  share with her.”
“Oh, are you an astrologer too, uncle?” The young blood could not control its surge, ‘how did you know that my dad went to consult an astrologer?”
Now I could afford to ignore him.
“The most difficult task is to keep your mind under constant observation.” I continued.
“Controlling the entry of unwanted guests into your big house is much easier than regulating the invasion of unwanted, unhealthy, unproductive thoughts into your mind.”
“The thoughts about my girl friend can’t be unwanted as I welcome those, can’t be unhealthy as my health improves by those and can’t be unproductive as my happiness improves when I think about those.” quipped the youngster, obviously angry at my not acknowledging his accepting me.
” I welcome that statement and appreciate your courage, though–” I paused.
“Though?” inquired the youngster.
“Wonder why you didn’t include the horoscope of that girl friend, in the bunch carried by your dad”
“Uncle you are simply great!” The youngster could not contain his esteem for me. He came closer to me and hugged.
That bonhomie didn’t last long.
“Thatha, one stone is missing from your kadukkan, ear-top!” remarked Appu, pointing his finger towards my left ear.
“Uncle failed to observe that” commented the youngster from the next bay.
“Foolish young man!” I raised my voice and challenged him.” My eyes can’t see my eyes, my eyes can’t see my ears, my eyes, though most prominent in my face, can’t see my face. Can your eyes see your eyes, ears and face? Why that lapse in the creation? Why did not the creator make a provision to turn our head one full round, by 360 degrees?  Ravana had ten heads; those could sprout again if sliced but even one head would not turn around. Why, why?”. Words were outpouring like arrows and the youngster from the next bay raised his eyebrow perhaps, wondering how the 360 degree turn of the neck was related to the drop of a stone from my kadukkan.
My Creator obviously didn’t appreciate my charge.
“Thatha, your shirt buttons are unaligned with the loops!” The Creator made Appu to point out another lapse in my observation.
”This hand mirror might help you to realign the buttons.” the old lady, who had successfully retrieved the mirror from her own hand bag, extended it, smiling through the corner of her mouth.
“The shirt buttons are not at uncle’s back and his eyes can certainly observe them, without turning his neck 360 degrees,” commented the daughter in law.
”How intelligently you talk!” her husband returned the compliment.
My face shrunk. Appu was sad to see that. His face too shrunk.
” Don’t worry thatha.” Ammu consoled and sat close to me. “I will realign the buttons.”  She did that when I hugged her close to my chest.
——
 

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