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Mouth should open or shut when it should

We live on hopes and trusts . The belief that I will see the sunrise tomorrow gives me good sleep this night. The belief that my mouth will open again gives me courage to shut it after eating food or shouting at Ammalu . But for trust and belief , we will be living a life of fear and uncertainty.!

I used to teach a song to little Shasta, who is now with her maternal grandfather in Chennai

‘കാക്കെ, കാക്കെ, കൂടെവിടെ —-

‘KAkkae kAkkae koodevidae?! The same song I was teaching Ananu, 15 years ago

Imagine my agony if I can’t close my mouth to say ‘kae‘ after ‘Ka’ !

Imagine my agony if I can’t close my mouth to say ‘lu’ after ‘Amma ‘ while romancing with Ammalu.. you know what will be the consequence.?

She will yell : ‘even now Amma! Amma , Amma, always Amma!
Go to your Amma; she will bottle feed you’

Is this the age for me to be bottle-fed?

God is great ! After ‘kA’ I can say ‘kae ‘ !
Not a small matter! After ‘Amma’, I can say ‘lu’. Not a small matter!

You’re not unconvinced ?

Read this story :

Anantha Jyothi, my Habsiguda home. Sometime last year before my leaving for USA.

Soon after getting up from the bed, I open the main door to look at the rising Sun and pray ‘jayathu, jayathu Soorya ‘, as usual.

There stands in the opposite gate an angel wearing a Kerala sari, apparently the new tenant . I stand awe struck, my mouth wide opened at her charm , without noticing the fat man with a harsh look, obviously her husband, beside her. I try to shut my mouth realising that it is ungentlemanly to stay long in that position but alas, my mouth refuses to close!

‘Don’t turn your face,’ warns my intellect,’ Ammalu is watching you from the hall’

I become nervous as I can’t either stand at my door, mouth opened , like a ‘cheenganni’ or alligator when a newly married couple was watching from their house front, right opposite ; nor could I turn and face Ammalu!

Ammalu commands ‘get a salt packet, please’

‘Why salt in the morning ? Are you going to add salt instead of sugar in my morning coffee?, I wanted to ask her but my mouth refuses to move ! That was the first time in life I learned the fact that mouth has to close and open to perform its task and it can’t remain either opened or closed.

I walk down to the Kirana store, ignoring the surprised staring of the neighbors on both sides of the street at me, walking mouth wide opened, (like a cheenkanni.)

The agony was not over. To express my need to the shop owner, I had to open my mouth! My mouth was in the open state but I can’t say a word !

(Later, I learned that the husband of the damsel had used a Malayala mantravadam to keep my mouth motionless. Later , having learned from the neighbors that I’m a gentleman, he released the bondage using an antidote mantram)

We don’t bother to understand what a great system we are provided by God while sending us to this world ! Our mouth opens and closes; our eyes too, at our will ! Our hands and legs fold and unfold at our will! Our eyes move horizontally and vertically, our neck turns to our right and left, up and down. Our hand turns to scratch our back or leg moves to the front to kick a ball. These are great gifts by God and we won’t realize their importance till they protest.

Baghavan ! Keep my organs in tact, in working condition, well fabricated so that I can see what I like to , eat what I want to and close when I don’t want to see or eat or talk . Other than these, I have no activities in this world now !

Cartoon courtesy – my cousin Ramki Kumar, the popular wedding cartoonist of Chennai,

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Giving a small push

Wearing a gold colour silk Kurtha ( courtesy Megh) and a silk uthareeyam , I went to attend a Kutcheri, music concert, in the Secunderabad Keyes High School open air theater sometime ago..

The authorities offered me a seat in the front, respecting my age and presuming that either I’m a musician or a cloth shop owner willing to sponsor a day’s program, going by my silk clothes, kadukkans, kumkum pottu, ornamental walk stick etc

Within a few minutes after the program started , an young lady seated next , told me something which I couldn’t follow. She, then, wrote on the back of her entrance pass:

“Thampuran ! thAlam thetti’
-my Lord, your beats are wrong!
That is the general meaning. The concealed meaning is something is going wrong. Nothing can go wrong with me . So, I took the general meaning.

My hear aids, due to severe head shakes to show others that I was enjoying music, got loosened from their seats , scattered somewhere! I was not therefore hearing the music but didn’t want to show others I wasn’t. Hence my wrong Tharalam or beats .

There were nearly a thousand people attending the concert, many fully involved in the music . How to search for my two small instruments in that crowd ? I would be a nuisance if I start search, but there was no other way, as I can’t hear without the aids . Moreover , Vuday my son in law paid 1000/2000$s and I was told equally good quality is not available in India. The light was dim, my eye sight poor and my knees non cooperative . Not an easy job to bend down my head and body and crawl in between the rows of chairs occupied by men, women and children . Audience will object, musicians too . Young women might ignore me as an innocent old man but old women? No . They will never approve any one especially an old man touching even their cloth by accident and in the process if my hand happened to touch anywhere in their body even feet, that will be the end of Hastha nakshatram, Kanya rAsi jAthaya—

And moreover what a big man I’m ! what is my status in the society ! What is my prestige ! And how costly are the things I wear! Lucknow silk Kurtha , diamond kadukkens, pure gold neck chain and rings etc ! And me to crawl before the audience or under them ?

Never, never SP !

My neck started paining by too many shakes snd more over, the smell of decoction kApoi and hot vada, from the make shift restaurant in the premises, had started spreading in the air

I left for home.

Declaring in high pitch, ‘ Ammalu, kutcheri was pramadam! You missed a golden opportunity ‘, I entered my house.

Ammalu as usual against my bluffs , was cool and non-caring.

I was unhappy seeing her neglect.
‘You did really miss ‘ I repeated.

She looked deep into my eyes first, then smiled and said ;

‘What I missed was the amazing scene of your crawling in the little space on the floor between two rows of men, women and children, at times placing your hand on their laps resulting their screaming at you; I missed the scene of the baghavathar staring at you and the mridangist and violinist using force while handling the instruments to express their anger.’,

As if that insult was not enough , she added , ‘ you shouldn’t have bent your head before a woman to do thoppukaranam for searching the hear aids kneeling under her chair !’

I was silent for a minute, slowly raised my head with the proud of a gentleman husband told her ;

‘ Ammalu, can you ever imagine my head bowing down before a woman other than you, in this world ?’

My question instantly lifted her ego sky high and she brought the hear aid box from inside , kept those on the small table and advised ‘Now on, never forget to wear these while going out’

It is very easy to handle women if you know how to give a small push to their ego .

Cartoon courtesy.

My cousin Ramki Kumar, the popular wedding cartoonist of Chennai