I should never be so blunt in my talk, I realized. Late realization, though.
I was meeting her after four years. She was standing on the road side waiting for me when I was returning from the Friday vegetable market, holding bags in both hands.
‘Hi, ChintAmani, why do you look so sad?’, I enquired.
‘My mAmanAr passed away. And my name is not ChintAmani, mAma!’
‘I’m sorry that I didn’t remember your name. But not sorry for your father in law’s death. He was after all, eighty plus’
‘How could you talk so heartless? He was your friend. He was a nice man, very kind’
‘MAsilAmani, good or bad, friend or foe, one has to die. What is there to still worry over the death of an eighty plus man? Discard that dull look from your face and smile,’ I encouraged her.
‘MAma, my name is not MAsilAmani. My name is not Mani at all.
You are seeing only money everywhere not manushan- man. Your long stay in USA has made you money-minded’
Che, unnecessarily, I earned her wrath. I should talk nicely now on, I decided.
The next lady I met was, Marakathavalłi (and I’m sure about the correctness of her name) . I knew that she lost her mother in law three years before. The moment I saw her, keeping the bags on the ground, I hugged her and wiped off my eyes.
‘MAma, what happened? Why are you weeping?’, she enquired.
‘I’m weeping for your mother in law’
‘MAma, she passed away three years ago and in fact , it was good for her and also for us that she died without much suffering. She was eighty plus and how long you expect people to live? Every one has to go one day or other. You should have known this simple truth!’
I turned back to change my facial expression, when the lady whom I met before, was standing behind me smiling.
‘MAma, are you OK?’ She enquired.
‘Radhamani. I want to go back to USA. There, I don’t have to worry whether to laugh or smile if an old mother -in -law or father- in-law passes away’
‘MAma, my name is not Radhamani?’ She was quick to point out.
Who bothers what ‘mani’ you are? Money is not my problem; women are.