‘Ayya, anaeka kodi Namskarams. I was longing to have a glance of you, even from a mile away. Now you are standing before me like Kothanda Ramaswamy ’
That was Naidu, an old friend, who had borrowed money from me last time, on the day I returned from USA, telling me a lie that his wife was in the hospital.
‘Your wife has returned from hospital, Naidu?’, I enquired purely out of curiosity in her good health.
‘Ha, ha, Emi Sir, which husband will allow his wife to stay in the hospital, that long?’
‘But she was sick!’
‘Eami Sir, who said she was sick ?’
‘You said so and borrowed 7000 Rs. for treatment’
‘Eami Sir, I took money from yoU!!! . You took ten thousand rupees from me. I’m here to collect the money ‘
‘Ok, I will give back your money. Wait a minute. I will call your wife as a witness. She is inside my kitchen’
‘Eami, Sir, eami mattaladuthunaru? What are you talking ? How can my wife be inside your kitchen?’
‘She came to complain about your atrocities. I won’t say that she loves me, but she likes me. She likes me because I’m not a drunkard like you. Shall I tell you what happened last night between you, in your house? ‘
‘Devuda, Devuda! Don’t tell me. You haven’t borrowed a single pie from you. I borrowed from you 7000 Rs. and I will return that money. You are not Kothandrmudu. You are Kaladevudu. Anthakudu. Ayya, pothunanu. I’m going. I’m going’
‘Your wife? Take her with you’
‘Oddu Sami, oddu. Let her be here only’
The man who went away angrily and abusing me returned soon, weeping,
‘Pantalu, my wife passed away when you were not in India’
I felt sad for him. And bad for me too, for telling him a lie that she was inside my kitchen, though I sincerely wished, she were anywhere in my house, not necessarily in the kitchen.