Cartoon courtesy: RamKi.
Seshumama was proverbially a slow -action man. He takes an hour to eat his food, two hours to take bath and three to do his daily morning and evening poojas. We, in the village, loved the simple- minded, humble, soft spoken, slow walking , day-dreaming Sesh . He can be trusted as a reliable friend except for buying medicines of urgent need.
“Avasarmae illai- not at all in a hurry” was his catch phrase..
Everyone becomes old and mama too did. Nothing abnormal.
Yama, the Lord of Death came to pick him up. Again, nothing abnormal. What other works has he to do?
Due to traffic jam, Yamaji was delayed. Impressed by Sesh’s short stature, child -like face and virgin smile, Yamaji said, apologetically, “sorry for the delay,Sesh”
“Avasarmae illai” replied Sesh in his characteristic style, spread a new grass mat offering the divinity a royal seat and stood aside as a mark of respect.
“Chukku vellam or patchavellam? (medicated warm water or cold water?),” enquirerd madam Sesh to which her humble husband added, “sorry Sir. We don’t have the practice of drinking coffee or tea”
The god was immensely pleased with the simplicity and service attitude of the couple, which he exhibited by a hearty laugh. In every other home he visited to carry on his duty, he used to be cursed, abused.
Seshu making good of the pleasant mood of the divinity, requested, “can I have a body wash, Sir?”
“Why not?”. Yamaji was extremely liberal and added, having become familiar with Sesh’s pet phrase, “avasaramae illai. No hurry at all. take your own time”
Sesh did take his own time.
Yamaji waited near the bathroom door along with his mount.
An hour passed by. “Is he really having a body wash or a color wash?,” wondered the god, “even my mount doesn’t need this much time “.
The mount, water buffalo bowed his head, appreciating his master’s lavish praise.
Yama’s mobile was continuously ringing. For a moment he doubted whether the old Brahmin had given his the slip, through a back door. He peeped through a crack in the bathroom wall. Sesh was very much there, applying soap on the cover for his intestines.. Yama cursed his sinful mind for doubting the honesty of an old Brahmin.
At last, Sesh came out spreading the aroma of the Lifebuoy soap. Bowing to the divine guest and smiling at the water buffalo, who gave him a stern look, Sesh said,”thanks to your excellency for permitting my final bath in my loving bath room, which is my music hall, reading room and dreaming palace” . He added, hesitation breaking his each word,” I have never moved out of my house without performing my morning Sandhya worship. May I have my last wish fulfilled by the Lord of dharma and justice?” .
Yamaji liked Sesh’s addressing him as the Lord of dharma and justice but hesitated for a moment. In other houses, his victimms used to curse him as ‘maha paapi- great sinner’ . His cell was ringing continuously, calling for his presence at numerous places. He looked at the irritating instrument and at the innocent face of Sesh waiting for a reply. Sesh, making use of the time gap to his advantage, recited a hymn, starting with, “yamAya, DharmarAjAya” praising the Lord of the last breath.
“Carry on, Sesh” Yama permitted, intentionally omitting the appendix, ‘avasaram illai’.
The sandhya was taking abnormally long time to be completed. Even the gods in the Heaven do that, much faster. The animal which carries him, had become restless. But Yama, didn’t want to disturb Seshu’s worship. Seshu worships gods including Yama and he should not be disturbed. A noble thought.
Seshu, at last, came out with a genuine smile of thanks, but saying not a single word.
“Serve food on two leaves,” he ordered his wife, without waiting for the approval of the god, “and remember, our guest is from the heaven, not from the next village or neighboring town”
The divine stomach, having waited too long, too was begging for some feed. Without waiting for the master’s consent, the mount too nodded his head in appreciation.
The food was so enjoyable that Yama went for a short nap soon after eating. The mount too followed suit.
When Yamaji woke up, it was time for Seshu for the evening Sandhya.
“Shall I perform my evening prayers too? The Sun god is about to go down the hills. He is your respected pitashree, father, whom I worship thrice a day, without a break”
”Who worships my dad after the invention of a/cs?,” Yamaji mused and raised his hands up respectfully looking through window at the setting Sun.
There was an SMS from the Heaven threatening that Yama would lose his chair if not returned to his work immediately..
“Your main interest seems to be eating and sleeping and not lifting the stock”. The next line was in block letters– “A replacement Yama is awaiting at the gate with a brand new mount”. The message was crisp but alarming.
Yama woke up his mount and got ready to depart.
“I won’t take much time” Seshu assured, before commencing his prayers.
“Take your own time -avasaramae illai” Yama assured and swept from there.
While at the exit door, the Brahmin woman, respectfully mentioned, “Elai adai is the item for the evening snack”.
“Ah, Elai adai! When did I have it last !” He had half a mind to stay back and enjoy his favorite dish. In a corner of his mind appeared his dear mother, downloading a fresh stock of elaiadai. The aroma of the cooked plantain leaf amalgamated with the mix of jack fruit paste and other ingredients expanded Yama’s nostril diameters. ‘Damn with my chair! let me enjoy the elai adai,” Yamaji thought for a moment when the cell rang its final death alarm: “Count down started, one..”
Before the count ‘two’, Yama’s proverbially slow motion mount had reached the portal of the upper world from where the warnings were issued.
“Are you my black, stupid slow-motion water buffalo or the mufti-headed magic, white divine horse of the heavens?”, wondered Yamaji, looking proudly at his mount. He was about to wag his tail but withdrew, suddenly remembering that he was no more on the earth.
The attraction of power and chair was stronger than that of Mrs. Seshu’s elai adai.
The thought of Seshu sent a shiver through Yamaji’s veins.
”Dull-headed demon,” he cursed his mount,”you mortgaged your duty for a morsel of food”
The mount wanted to pierce the tummy of his master for throwing the blame on him, but controlled his anger realizing that he is not the only black animal in the world and his master could even chose a white buffalo which are available now in the market now.
“‘Shall I go back and get him?” enquired the obedient animal, controlling his anger. Yamaji thought for a moment about the simple-minded, Seshumama and his service-minded wife. He looked at the mount whose tongue was protruding and whispered in a jovial tone, “you black fellow, wants to go back and gulp elaiadai alone?”
“Avasaramae illai- not at all in a hurry,” He told the mount in a firm voice. The mount, appreciating the friendly whisper of his master was about to wag his tail, but instantly remembering that he was not a dog, moved his head and added, “avasaramae illai- not at all in a hurry.