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The mango tree at the back of my kitchen



The mango tree at the back of kitchen whispered – from my blog 

Time 3.30 pm. Vicha ‘s electronic brain clock woke him up from his post-lunch nap. 

‘Anna, kaappi’

‘Wait man, let me solve this Sudoku four star’

After a minute or two-

‘Anna, still with Sudoku ?’

‘Vicha, kappi has to be made. It doesn’t flow from the water tap’

‘Sari’ . Ok. He agreed that kaappi doesn’t flow from water tap. 

I rushed  into the kitchen. To make coffee you need just two things, decoction and milk. No sugar for thammudu. Where is milk?  In the fridge. Very good.

Where is decoction?  

I could locate the filter, but it was empty. No problem. Srikanth had neatly labeled the dabbas. Picked up coffee -power dabba.

The holes of the upper mini barrel were all blocked. No problem. Let me clear the blocks with a needle. Where is the needle ! Searched everywhere. Not found.

(There is a box full of insulin syringes with thin needles, but my brain, had gone for a Kerala hartal)

A flash inside. Brain woke up like undesirable desires rising at my heart,  at times. Bad comparison. It is ok. Bad also is a part of life. Bad makes good strong. Black makes white whiter. White is often forgotten; black stays longer. 

White has gone leaving black behind. That’s why all these problems .

There is a solution for every problem. I switched on the stove and holding the percolator carefully with tongs, heated its bottom so as to burn the coffee granules stuck in the holes. 

The holes are meant for free flow. All holes! If there is a block in just one hole, life loses charm! 

After a minute or two- 

The bottom of the percolator turned black. No problem. That stain could be removed. 

Some stains remain for ever.  Man goes, but stains stay back.

Left the heated percolator on the kitchen platform and went to get milk from the fridge.

‘Don’t heat the milk now; let the decoction be ready’, 

Vicha’s advice from the hall. 

Opened the coffee powder dubba, removed the powder and just lifted the percolator with two fingers. It was still red -hot! I forgot. It didn’t .

Ohoooooooooo! The fingers got burnt! Ohooooooooo.

Rushed towards the tap to pour water on the fingers. Oooooo, pooooo! Tap turned but water didn’t fall. No tank in the tank. 

If there’s is no water in the overhead tank, you open a dozen taps, not a drop will come down! 

Tanks should never be allowed to go empty- any tank, even the one in our head or heart! 

‘Vicha, switch on the motor’, I yelled. 

He didn’t hear. I was not surprised. He was thinking about kaappi! 

‘Anna, kaappi aacho?’ Is coffee ready?’

‘Unduraa. I will blast your head.’, I screamed 

Now he heard, accurately.

‘Where is that?’, he enquired. 

You ask me any question, I can answer. But don’t ask where your head is! 

‘How difficult is the job of a house wife!’ I thought and praised mentally the woman who silently served coffee, 3/4 times daily, just for asking and even without asking for the whole family, friends and frequent visitors, for many years. She would have been appreciating seated on the mango tree branch, somewhere. Why somewhere, she might be right on the tree behind the kitchen. Why behind the kitchen, why not on the one near the well? Kitchen was the place where she spent most of her life. 

I praised my intelligence too.

‘Had I not used the tongs and directly held the filter in my hand and heated?’ Not two fingers, the whole hand would have been burnt. I was indeed a wise man.

‘Anna, should I come and help you?’

‘Oddu Raja, oddu. Your coffee is almost ready’

‘Kappi unda, illaya- are you going to give me coffee or not?’

I looked at the stove. Oh my god! The milk had boiled and boiled and boiled, had spilt on the burner, putting off the flame, leaving the base of the vessel charred. I was standing almost touching it but didn’t notice the overflow of its anger. 

Not surprising- I had stood  touching a woman, but failed to see her overflowing anger. Anyway that was when I was young. When you are young, you fail to see the face of your wife and when you long to see her front, she had gone and you see only her back, that too from far, far away.

Wrong! I see her face right behind the kitchen wall, from the mango tree. 

‘Anna—-‘ Thammudu reminds again. What to do now? No milk in stock. Shall I go out and buy a packet from the shop on the circle road? Poor Vicha is going dry with no kaappi which keeps him alive, though limping.

At that critical moment, the embodiment of immense mercy,

Saraswathy Devi, who had abandoned me for the past two months, inspired my mind and I sang aloud, for the first time in the last two months, a popular Kathakali padam, loudly:


“ajitha hare jaya madhava vishno!

ajitha hare jaayaa maadhava vishno!

ajitha hare jaya madhava vishno”

Viswanatha Iyer, heard his favorite Padam and responded, skipping the next few lines, in high pitch. That is how that padam had to be sung.

“paladinam aayi njanum balabhadranuja ninne paladhinamayi njanum balabhadranuja ninne nalamodu kaanmathinnu kaliyalleruchikunnu

nalamodu kaanmathinnu kaliyalleruchikunnu”

He wanted to convey that he too, like Sudhama, was waiting long, not to meet Lord Krishna, but for his favorite kaappi.

‘Pavam, neenkal- poor you! ‘, the mango tree  at the back of the kitchen,whispered .



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