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Another short trip to Kerala – part 1

A good start I thought, when I could hire an auto with meter, the moment I got down the Trichur Railway station, just paying a fee of Re. 1, in a counter across. I still consider the Vadkkunnathan, lord Shiva, the presiding deity of this town as my ‘annadaada’, feeder, as it was here that I started working, soon after my studies. The reminiscence of my starting earning and short stay in this lovely town, filled my heart with happiness when my vehicle circumambulated the temple garden with the shrine at its center. Paying a remote obeisance to Vadakkunathan ( as the temple was closed), I went to meet Chacku, my bachelor room mate and ex-colleague.
He was as excited as a child,meeting his classmates after the summer holidays, though I never miss meeting him, every time I go to Guruvayoor.
“Irikku- take your seat”, he said pointing out a chair next to him. I looked at him and wondered whether he was the same handsome six-footer, immaculately dressed, when he joined our team, fresh from the college, some three months after I entered the Trichur unit of the ‘Anaemia and Protein malnutrition’ project work, in 1959. When our Institute was shifted from Connor to Hyderabad in the end of that year, we too were transferred along with the local unit.On landing at the Secunderabad railway station, we took shelter in a lodge opposite and shared a room. For the bed bugs there, the young blood of ours, was a feast. Jacob temporarily shifted to YMCA . I was able to procure a good house, showing my sacred thread to the house owners to prove my Brahminhood, in a village close to our work place.  I named it as ‘Panchavady’, when another four of my colleagues including Jacob, joined me. For almost ten years we lived together there and it was one of the most enjoyable periods in the life of all of us. Chacku was a decent gentleman in every respect, though that doesn’t mean that the others were neither decent nor gentlemen. He was always well-dressed, scrupulous, strict in his work, soft spoken and a no nonsense bachelor. One by one, all the inmates, except him, got married when we left Panchavadi. He still remains as a bachelor and lives alone in an apartment which he bought after retirement. It is well furnished but he doesn’t even prepare coffee and one of the hotels feed him, against payment.
While in service, he hardly used to look at the face of a girl and talk, though girls were plenty as our colleges. ‘He could have,’ I felt seeing him, living alone in his old age.
As we were meeting  in the shadow of the passing away of our room mate, Nair, mostly we talked about him, when Chacku commented,” moonu vadi murinju- three stumps of panchavadi are down”, referring to the death of  Emmanual, artist Darmadathan and Nair, who lived along with us in the ‘Panchavadi’
”Thanikku vallathum vannal, sahayathinnarenkilum unto- you have any one in case of an emergency?” I asked him, sadness, worry and anxiety, chocking my throat, on the plight of one of my bachelor room mates and long time friend and colleagues.
”Don’t worry on that account; I have a few relatives around here”.  He consoled me.
I had a wash. He offered me cola which I didn’t want. Went for a short nap and when I got up, saw him meddling with my electric shaver.
”How useful is this?” H e enquired.
“Very useful,” I replied. No need of a brush or soap, just rotate the blades on your face and in a few seconds the job is over. Ideal for an idle person like me. Take it if you like. I will buy another one, when I go to USA shortly.”
”Get me one, when you come next time”.
I gave him a new wrist watch, which I had brought for him from America. He liked it, but liked the one which was around my waist better. I removed it and gave it him. He was as happy as a child receiving the gift of a toy . The one which I took back and wore on wrist was loose. He brought his tool box and spent half an hour to adjust the size of the chain to fit my wrist. Then he took me to an adjacent restaurant for food.
While leaving his apartment, he thrust a few small notes and coins into my shirt pocket. ” This will be helpful to you for your petty expenses”. He said.
I remembered my  brother, Vicha, at ‘Anantha Jyothi’, who feeds me. He too handed over  a few small notes and coins when I was leaving for my Kerala trip . ‘Anna, ithu vetchukko” He said the same words, as Chacku.'”This will be useful for your petty expenses”
The hearts of some are big. Pettiness is unknown to them. And that is how the world thrives.
Feb 3, 2013

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