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Asoka and TArana

This happened in a Chennai wedding, long ago. The boy was related to me. Like all other boys and girls related to me, this guy too was a good one, with clean habits.
After the wedding lunch, he casually opened a small packet of ‘Asoka’ scented nut power, a popular brand those days and emptied it into his mouth, which was almost opened all the time since two days, wondering what all wonders awaited him post wedding. Chewing two or three betel leaves along with a cut piece of arecanut or a pinch of its powder, after marriage feast, was in vogue those days, but the girl, who had become his wife a short-while ago did not approve of it. She appeared from nowhere and stared at the boy who had become her hubby a short- while ago.
“No”, she didn’t say but her eyes did. The boy shivered, looked at her pathetically as if she had noticed his winks at a girl in the crowd and blabbered, ‘’only today. I’m not habituated taking ‘supari’. In fact, I’m not habituated consuming even alcohol”. Some such silly words the newly wed boys used to blabber those days.
I have a habit of extending a helping hand to humbled husbands. I went to his rescue.
“He did it under my instruction’, I told the bride boldly looking at her. “The Sastras say, the bride groom, after lunch, should have a small dose of ‘Asoka’ nut powder”
When you go to help someone in trouble, there are always people who resist. “Did the Sastras specify the brand?” unnecessarily intervened an old man, seated next to me. The old men had that habit those days. Now I don’t know, as I avoid them.
“Yes”, I affirmed and quoted ‘Amara, Nirjara, Devaa ‘ slokam , which had nothing to do with the subject except that the first word has some resemblance with ‘Asoka’.
My friend, as I expected, didn’t know the meaning. The girl opened her mouth in amazement. “Uncle, there is another sloka starting with ‘Asoka sthAana sthara’ which too prescribes enjoying ‘Asoka’ nut powder. I am sorry, I forgot that Sastra stipulation”
But, there she was caught. The old man became alert. “That is from VishnusahasranAma, which is not a Sastra. SP quoted the correct apt one”. The great Bharthruhari had said that scholars, not those with gold armlets or neck chains, are revered, wherever they go. I wore neither armlets nor a necklace, but I had scholarship with me.
If you know Sastras and quote the appropriate prescription, you are bound to get support.
I have a habit of extending a helping hand to wives in trouble, too. I went to the girl’s rescue.
“Mahavishnu had two wives and therefore he had the habit of enjoying two brands of scented nut powder, ‘Asoka’ and ‘TArana’, post lunch. What other justification do you need?” I asked the old guy, who was inserting a big dose of black powder into his nostril. He sneezed out the whole powder along with some liquid forcefully, which spread on my shirt and discolored it. A good Samaritan should always expect some such punishments.
What happened to ‘Asoka’ and ‘ TArana’ in the privacy of the newlyweds in the new night, I didn’t know and was not my concern too.
Nor is yours, I hope!
“Give a handful from your plenty to those whose hands are empty”
Awaken by the autumn

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