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Musing from a barber's chair

26 degree F. ( – ) 3 degree C. Chill wind. Despite thick coverage, even the walk from the car to the barber sop was difficult. The shop is a neat one, though small, run by Koreans. There is a small temple inside with two Apple fruits placed before the deity.
In Olavakode, a suburb of the Palakkad town, there was a barber shop, close to our house. The owner was Pazhaniyandi, a congress leader who claimed that he went to jail several times and on one such occasion, Gandhiji was in the opposite room and on another Nehruji was in the room next to his. “You should see Gandhiji’s smile and Nehruji’s skin colour” he used to tell every customer, “the first one was silver and the second one gold”. I used to admire his facial expressions when he explained his jail days. Having exposed to the talks of freedom struggle whole day, we children had almost become mini freedom fighters mentally and the barber’s spirited narration of his jail experience was a thriller for me. My hero -worship of him, was however, short -lived. I happened to meet his wife, on the way to school and she told me, “Nuna, kutty, nuna.. VayapolitchAl ayaalu nunayae Parayoo- he is a lier. He tells nothing but lies”
Back home, I enquired Appa and he clarified,’ what she said was true, though earlier, before Pazhani married second time, she used to tell everybody that her husband had followed Gandhiji in his DandiyAtra and went to jail along with him several times.
The truth is Pazhani never crossed the ValayAr forests”
However, I used to admire his khadhi dress, neatly pressed and his Malayalam sparingly mixed with Hindi, which he claimed was the result of his association with Congress leaders in Delhi. And also his song, which he whispered into my ears, while passing the scissors through my hair:
“Porbandharil janichoo Gandhi, Kas-
ThorbhAyiyae veli kazitchoo Gandhi.
Nirayae kollayaditchoru British
Dorayae thoorae erinjoo Gandhi”
Loosely translated, it means, Gandhiji, born in Porbandhar, married to Kasthurbha , threw out the British, who looted us.
Those days, Britishers used to be addressed as ‘Dorais’. Did our ‘Doraiswamy’ and
‘Appadurai’ names originate from Dorai?
That stanza, later I recovered, was from a book titled, ‘Gandhi nAmAvali’ – a cheap book available from a roadside bookseller opposite to our house.
That was the time when the names of Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel, Moulana AzAd and other leaders were floating in the air, soon after Independence.
Even in the midst of such an atmosphere of reverence for the National leaders, I remember having heard a lone voice of protest from a Kalpathy uncle who used to pass through my house shouting abuses against Gandhiji and Nehru. “Traitors!” he used to curse them. Don’t know what was his grouse against them.
One or two rebels were always there in any society. Good for health.
If there is a rebel child in your house, don’t scold or yell at him. Go deep and find out the causes for his protest. There might be something in the surrounding which he disagrees with. The parent should have patience to delve into his mind and ascertain what he dislikes. A rebel child will be of invariably independent thinking also intelligent
and helpful too. Much depends how the parents mould him. It is better to articulate his protest than suppressing deep into his heart and remain silent.
Suppressed feelings will come out one day as an explosion.
Baltimore,
Jan31, 2015
Sent from my iPad

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