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JeevanAdi

 

As you know, it is not my habit to interfere in a husband-wife quarrel, but yesterday, had to break my vow and speak to Kalyani, my friend Kuppu’s wife:

‘Kalyani, hope everything is fine at home now that Kuppu is working for home’, I started my conversation in a mild tone. 

‘Working for home or from home?’, there was anger in her voice, but I kept my cool.

‘Both. Anyway, you should not have asked him to get up early morning and clean the home front with cow dung water and also clean the kitchen platform the same way before going to bed. No Brahmin woman,  no Indian woman, no any woman anywhere in the world, will ask her husband to perform such a dirty job’

There was silence for a moment on the other end. 

‘Mama,  Kuppuswamy is your friend, just friend. Tomorrow you may unfriend him. Or he may unfriend for your unwanted interference in his family life or for talking to his wife without his permission. But, for me he is my husband. He my God! He is the head of this family. My interest is to take care of his health. I want him to receive the pre dawn Sun’s rays ( the words she used was ‘soorya velicham’ ) on his chest and body’

‘That’s fine. But why cow dung cleaning?’

‘In which age are you ? Don’t you know cow dung and cow’s urine have the potential to kill Corona virus?’

‘Why don’t you get that protection for yourself. Your life is equally important for the family’

‘You called  it a dirty  job. You don’t mind my doing it?  And what is cow dung? Is he not handling it with reverence while doing homam? Is he not applying vibhoothi all over his body, now a days thrice a day? 

That apart, for me, for my family, none is more important than Kuppuswamy. Come what may, I will go to any extend to protect him. He  is my life (jeevanAdi is the word’, she used)’

‘But, Kalyani, asking your husband to do cow dung cleaning——‘

‘If you were my husband I would ask you to do. My husband is my —-)

‘Jeeva nAdi’, I completed and kept down the phone .

The plight of men working from home !!!😀😀😀

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Small, small pleasures

Amid the unpleasant messages emanating from near and far, from East, South, West and North and uncertainty of life itself, my face blossomed this morning when Megh. Kept before me hot kaappi, along with a shining plate filled with ‘adai’( a dosa variety), plus vellum (jaggery pieces) and butter, for my breakfast. 

What is so big about it? A routine ! 

A small pleasure!

Oh, man! First of all you don’t know the taste of ‘adai’ + those two side sweeties. Then, you’re ignorant of my age. Next, you don’t know how difficult it is to procure things here. 

For you, it is a ‘routine’, a small pleasure!

It is the small, small pleasures which enthrall me! When my daughter or daughters in law, look at my face, after serving food, to judge whether I liked the food or not, I’m instantly transferred to the world of Apsaras, as I know what is eating in a hotel or what is self serving food, when I lived alone. 

When my two children, pressed my legs, to remove my leg pain and my daughter and daughters in law and grandchilden were waiting their turn to help me, I wished I had more than two legs. But alas, no hope as even Brahma Deva with four heads or Lord Subrahmaina with Six heads,  had only two legs, though they had many hands. Even Ravana with ten heads (if you don’t like me quoting gods ) had only two legs. The  possibility of my having more legs is ruled out. So, I was happy with small pleasure of getting my legs pressed by my two children.

I desired to have more heads too, when my youngest son Srikanth cut my hair amazingly well. My Son in law too offered to do that service for me but I ran away! He would have converted me to a Korean, which is his speciality ! You can’t blame him. His profession is such that he comes in contact with people of all countries. 

There is no big or small in enjoying. Enjoy life as it unfolds while preparing your mind for the worst. That is how I reached this  far.  Living is not a ‘tamasha’ fun, especially during the present Corona regime, but you can derive some tamasha by enjoying a simple breakfast 🍳 r even leg pain! 

 

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Disastrous Corona

I haven’t seen before, the world in such a desperately gloomy state as now. Thousands of innocent lives are just wiped off in no time, like animals and birds caught in a wild fire, leaving behind their families heart-broken . The tragic part is that the patients know they are dying ; they know their kin won’t be anywhere near them in their last moment and even their dead bodies would be approached with fear and hesitation.

Unparalleled agony!  Is that all our bodies worth ? 

Yes, to be truthful, our body sans life is worthless though we treat it with some respect till dumped beneath the ground or burnt to ashes! It is a mark of dignity which humanity retains for itself as our treatment , good or bad, is immaterial to the body, as it is lifeless! 

The Pang of seeing such scenes is all the more heartbreaking for me, as I having seen here, in the normal course, dead bodies decorated and lead to the grave yard with great honor by friends and relatives gathered in large numbers wearing coats and boots. The parade of motor vehicles for a funeral is akin to a wedding procession. 

And now I’m totally grief-struck seeing dead  bodies bundled up in white cloth bags, dumped into van or ambulance for disposal.

Natural calamities devastate countries. But, here, the world is paying for one or two men’s mistake of eating corpses of bat or such silly animals! 

“Bats are known to carry multiple viruses without getting sick, according to the New York Times, which said they have caused human diseases in Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia, and are thought to be the reservoir for Ebola”, says a report. 

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When my kin remember me ?

‘Thinking of you, Appa’, said Aparna, my daughter, forwarding pictures of two of her preparations I like, , ‘ your favorites…Want to come back to Fl(Florida)?’,

While I was in Florida, my daughter in law , Meghana from Baltimore used to say often, ‘I remembered you today, Appa, while preparing Palpayasam etc. 

My mother too used to say, ‘Konthai, Elai adai undakkarathu, unnathan ninachukkiden’

(You came to my memory while preparing Elai adai’. 

My sisters in Hyderabad too used to remember me while preparing one dish or other.

If you think that I’m remember by my kin while preparing food items you’re wrong.

My wife used to say, ‘it was you whom I remembered when Seshu mama in the opposite house was yelling at his wife for nothing’,  though I never yelled  at my wife and always used to talk to her in honey-soaked padyams of Swathi Tirunal padams- ‘Panimathi mukhi baalae…”

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Corona virus

Though there is absolutely no reason for me  to worry about anything in life, as I’m well looked after by my children, my mouth is wide enough and in working conditions to yell at my children or eat what I want to, my ears are big enough to hear all unwanted sundry news, my eyes are wide enough to see good, bad, not so good and not so bad scenes,  I had a habit of worrying about many things before , such as : 

 my brother’s comforts, safety of my bank deposits, the havoc stray dogs and cattle would be committing in my house premises when my tenants leave the gates open when they go out, the weeds growing in my ‘thodi’ or vacant  land, whether my Habsiguda neighbor’s daughter in law gave birth to a boy or girl baby, when will Megh will take me to Hyderabad so that one button missing from one of my warm jackets can be fixed, etc, etc.  

Now with Covac19 Yekshi’s dark shadow spread everywhere, I worry about nothing else. I worry only about me, about my life. I realized suddenly that my life has a purpose ! 

I may not be required by others, but I need me !  And man, I’m not joking! May be a nobody to others but for me, I’m the most precious one in the world ! 

If me, a worthless old man of no consequence, who has lived his full life, who has nothing more to gain in life, who has nothing to contribute to his family or society, is so anxious to live, imagine how serious is the loss of valuable lives sucked in by the deadly virus and the suffering their families undergo! 

Life is precious, yours and others too.

Live it. Don’t spoil others chance to live their life

Only when money is lost one will realize the value of money

Only when the wife is gone, one will realize the value of wife

When life is gone?

Who is there to realize it?

There are people- your family, close relatives and friends

Live your life in dignity, with love and compassion . 

Don’t let an invisible, innocuous, insignificant virus take away your life. 

Stay safe inside! 

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I miss the woman who never missed me

 

‘We missed you’, said my good hearted close friends, when I returned to FB after a break. 

My memory goes back. 

The one person whose love for me was unquestionable, never uttered the  words – ‘I missed you’

‘Where is the question of missing your absence ? You’re always with me’- she used to dismiss my concern. 

Once, on office work I was away from home for two days . Soon after returning , I asked her, hoping for a reply which I  longed for, ‘did you miss me?’

‘Did you miss me ?’, she asked. That was a mild electric shock for me.  She never questioned me. 

Hardly I had  time to think about my family, when I was on work and I never told her a lie, never. 

I changed the topic and enquired, ‘did you see my wallet ?There was a lot of cash in it’. 

‘Your missed was your wallet! Yes, I found it under your pillow. There was Rs. 7and 30 paisa in it’

‘It is ok. keep it for your household expenses’.  

As no reply came from her appreciating my generous monetary support, I looked at the window curtains, pretending to enjoy their curves. 

‘Shall I change the curtains?’, she asked.

‘No need for another 20 years’, I was certain. 

‘As you wish. Have your coffee’

While I was enjoying the hot decoction kaappy from a brass tumbler in the selected company of crisp pokkoda, she sat near me and said,

‘I have absolutely no complaint on your not remembering me while on tour. All husbands are like you, once they’re immersed in their work. Women, on the other hand, by nature, never  forget their partners however busy they’re , especially while having their food or when they see a good sari’

‘When they see a good sari?’, I intervened, ‘ These days, wives do their own shopping’. 

‘You won’t understand the feelings of a woman when her husband selects and buys a dress for her’. 

A couple of years later, during our journey to Kerala, our train stopped at Erode junction for about 20 minutes. 

‘Tirupur bedsheets and banians  are sold in the stalls here’, she suggested. ‘Why don’t you buy half a dozen banians for you?’

I went and returned with a good cotton sari for her. She didn’t say a word, but her eyes turned moist. 

Later, I have crossed the Erode station, alone, many times. Not once did I get down the train.  

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I can make anything to happen

 

:

‘Which idiot is calling me at midnight?’,  I yelled and opened the front door, eyes half closed and half opened. The huge figure wrapped in a big sari, the lady in the opposite house was there and I rubbed my eyes to make sure that it was not a dream.  Damsels from heaven used to appear in my dreams earlier but of late, only negative feminine characters of Ramayana are visiting me in sleep.  But this is not a dream, it is real.  I’m awake!

‘Meera, eami sangathi ? You?  In this midnight? What is the matter?’, I muttered, giving respect to her gender and age.

‘Pada, take me to the Saibaba maternity home’, she ordered in her hoarse voice.

‘Santhosha vartha meeru naakku cheppalaeaethae’. Oh, congrats! You didn’t give me the happy news earlier ‘

I looked at her middle part but was difficult to gauge whether she was pregnant or not as the entire front portion looked like a vadu mangai bharani, the pickle storage barrel, covered with a color cloth.

‘Not me, my daughter in law Ramalakshmi. Jeldi randi. come fast’.

I pleaded my helplessness . ‘ I’m not a doctor, not even a midwife, in what way I am going to be useful to your DIL?

I have never delivered a baby ’

‘You can make it happen. You have an obligation, nay responsibility, my Rama says. 

‘Obligation, responsibility, my God, what am I hearing! I was shocked. ‘upon God, I’m telling you, I have no obligation, no responsibility. I’m totally innocent, harmless, came here just a couple of months ago, friends m USA . I was away for the whole last year’ 

‘Don’t tell me stories. ‘I want SP, I want now’,  says my daughter in law’

‘But, for her I was uncle, while in good moods or thatha while in not-that – good mood. She never used to call me SP’

‘SP!’

‘You too call me SP?’

‘She is waiting for you, carrying a baby ready to come out, which will happen, the moment you land there. You have to make that happen’.

Putting a shirt on, I followed her reluctantly.

‘Uncle, I’m in a critical position,’ Rama was in tears.

‘ It is going to be Caesarian for me. My husband wants my baby to be a boy and he has gone to Tirupathy seeking Lord Venkateswara’s help. The doctor has posted my case for tomorrow morning and I need 40k before 8am.. I have my husband’s two ATM cards but don’t know the passwords. . I know two passwords but the relevant cards are not with me. The moment my husband is back, your money will be returned ‘

‘If the Baby happens to be a girl again and your husband in utter dejection goes back to Tirupathy, what will you do?’ asked the old lady. 

Wrong question in wrong time, which deserved no reply. But, the daughter in law had a reply, which shook me to my roots.

‘Shut up, mom. I’m sure my next baby will be a male and I know that SP will make it happen ‘.

While I was standing stunned without knowing what to say, Rama asked, ‘SP, will you please go home and get your ATM card? There is an ATM center right across the road’.

‘SP will make it happen’, assured the mother and asked the riksha wallah to take me home and bring me back safely.

‘And come again tomorrow morning with sweets to bless the baby, your baby!’,  the mother -to-be-soon again ordered, while I was coming out.

‘My baby?’, I turned back and asked, anger unavoidably reddening my query.

‘We too are your babies, SP’, hailed happily both the wise women! 

‘You too, my baby, madam?’, I turned my sharp eyes towards the obese old lady . 

‘Me too’, she declared clearly, loudly and vehemently .

My doubts are cleared. I can make anything to happen!

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Our Habsiguda neighbor

 

‘Loppudu raavochaa, can I come in, Sastrygaru?’

‘You’re already 10 yards inside my house. And I’m not a Sastry or Sanyasi, madam’

‘From the day one,  I came as a tenant in your opposite house, I wanted to ask you one question ‘

‘You came there just a few hours ago. Anyway what is that you wanted ask me? Want broomstick or drinking water? ‘

‘No Sir, you are a witty person’

‘No, I’m a dirty person to the neighbors who invade my house early morning. Your question please, old lady’

‘You’re young?’

‘You’re not old? Your question? ‘

‘I wanted to ask you why I don’t see a woman in your house ‘

‘There are three, all my wives. Sleeping in the top bedrooms.

Anything else you wanted to know?’

‘You seems to be angry . You’re perhaps hungry too. Shall I get you some food from my house?’

‘Yes, please get me chakkara pongal and chakkaravattu upperi . That is what I take for breakfast’

‘I haven’t even heard those names ‘

‘Then don’t bother me. I am waiting for an important guest’

‘May I know who he is? ‘

‘Not your concern. The visitor is a ‘she’

‘Then, I won’t interfere. I’m out of your way. Before I take leave, can I see your kitchen, please?’

‘Why not my bedroom? Why are you troubling me, madam?

On the very first day of our meeting, you have earned my dislike’

‘My intention is to say hello to your wife and not to trouble you, Sir’

‘Which wife? I have three ‘

‘No, Sastry garu. You don’t have a woman in your life. Had you one, your eyes would be glittering seeing a new woman in the neighborhood. The moisture has left your life, your heart, your mind , may be long ago,  as I can see only sand  dunes everywhere inside you’

‘Inside me? And if I’m right, you’re seeing me for the first time!’

‘Women can see the inside and outside of a man, in a matter of seconds. 

What shall I get you now, coffee or tea?’

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We create our own cages

‘Appa, no parties, no temple, no air travel’- my children’s 

‘sit inside ‘ instruction to me.  It seems Corona Yakshi’s preferred breakfast is oldies like me and therefore, I should avoid going out. 

I looked around, gazed at the ceiling, walls, swimming pool, paintings on the wall and sang a couple of lines, from a Vallathol poetry :

ബന്ദുര കാഞ്ചന കൂട്ടിലാണെങ്കിലും 

ബന്ധനം ബന്ധനം തന്നെ പാരിൽ 

Roughly means-

You may be inside a cage made of gold, but cage is a cage. 

Many times, we create our own cages! 

Yes, we do! Many of our beliefs fall into this category. Many of our dislikes , contempt of men, materials and matters fall into this category.  

In the olden days, the forced self isolation was more prevent. 

This happened long ago.

A professor wakes up hearing knocks on the front door and opens it.  His eldest sister has arrived from a distant place by the  morning train.

His face should have bloomed as she was coming home after a long time. It didn’t. His face, in fact, shrunk. Reason-she was a widow and that day was Friday . The whole day he spent worrying about the calamities awaiting to pounce on him, due to the inauspicious thing happened in the morning. 

In the evening the sister asked him, ‘what is troubling you, my dear brother? Come on, open up your heart. I’m your eldest sister and if not to me with whom will you share your grievances?’

The fifty year old professor, placing his head on the lap of his sixty year old sister wept silently cursing himself for the devilish thoughts that overtook him in the morning. The sister who could not even imagine that her beloved brother would have despised her visit in the morning, sang a lullaby of their young days:

‘Omana thinkal kidavo, nalla

Komalathamara poovo?’

He could no more control his tears which flew down and wet the woman’s clothes. He got up and prostrated before the elderly woman without saying a word. 

He was happy that the load he was carrying in his heart could be unloaded  and she too was happy that her brother’s face brightened

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Only marriage can tell you

‘SP Sir, your friend is critical. His pulse  rate is going down rapidly. His eyes are not opening’ 

‘Don’t lose hope sister. Ask his wife to stand close to the bed for ten minutes and call me’

‘Sir, success! The moment Mrs. Seshu went close to her husband, his pulse rate went up. It is normal now. But, he pushed my hands away.  I’m yet to change his dressing’

‘No cause for concern. He pushed your hands away from his body thinking those  belonged to his wife. Next time, if he repeats, stay put and observe what he does’

‘SP Sir, Success! I waited near his bed. His hands were searching for my hands. I could do my job. He likes his wife, obviously. Wonder why, earlier, he behaved as if he disliked  her’

‘Are you married, Sister?’

‘Not yet’

‘You will know the answer when you get married ‘