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Mother Day musings Two


I remember with reverence some good women, who loved and cared me like their own child. 

My mother’s eldest sister, our Periammai, stand on the top among those. 

Parukutty Periammai, was with our family throughout my childhood. We were six kids and she spent the best of her life, helping my mother to bring us up, though she had her own small family in Vaikkom . 

It was she who introduced me to Lord Vaikkathappan, with the famous devotional kids are taught to recite at dusk before the Sandhya deepam, lamp of worship:

നരനായിങ്ങനെ ജനിച്ചു ഭൂമിയിൽ 

നരകവാരിധി നടുവിൽ ഞാൻ 

നരകത്തിൽ നിന്ന് കര കേറ്റിടേണം 

തിരു വൈയ്ക്കം വാഴും ശിവ ശംഭോ! 

ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ! 

ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ ശിവ ശംഭോ ശംഭോ !

‘I’m born as a human in this world, which is nothing but a horrible sea of sufferings. Lift me up, from this hell, Vaikkathappa!’’

‘Hell, this world !!! How ??’, I used to wonder as a child, but when I grew up, knew the reason for her prayer out of dejection;  she had  lost ten babies in stillbirth or miscarriage and only the eleventh one survived who grew well, took care of her till her last breath. She had other reasons too to cry but was smiling often and laughing loudly.

“Vaikkathappan left behind a child to cremate my body and do my anthia kriyas! Why not I rejoice and enjoy life !’, was her reply for my query how she could be always happy despite many reverses in her life ? 

She took me to Kanchi when I was a child.  It was perhaps at the Chengalpet Jn, that two village women also waiting for the train like us, enquired Periammai how I was related to her . 

She replied ‘en payyan than’ ( he is my son). That woman turning her face whispered to her companion, 

‘thaayi karuppa irukka; payyan sevappa rasa vaattam irukku!!’

A charming son like a prince for a dark skinned


‘Her husband would have been handsome like a king,’ was the reply for that.

It was true. Her husband, Venkitachalam, was a six-footer, fair skinned , with a wide chest and long hands. He was a policeman, proud and short tempered .

The casual compliment of the village woman, on the Chengalpet Jn, however, got glued to my mind, stayed there for long and I believed that I was really ‘charming like a prince’.! That delusion was almost leading to a disaster when a heavenly intervention saved me. 

This was what happened. I met and interviewed many girls to select a life partner bid didn’t find a single princess among them to match the charm of the prince viz.myself! 

Time flew and my parents thought that I was destined to remain as a life long bachelor.

Periammai was so aggressively affectionate towards me that during one of my journeys towards Kerala, along with family, when I didn’t  halt at Madras,  she came to the Madras Railway station carrying a big mud vessel full of boiled and cooled waster! You know the length of the platforms  and how difficult task it would have been for a woman of 50/60, to tread the long crowded platform , carrying a mud pot filled with water! 

She stayed with me during my bachelor days at Hyderabad and became so popular among my friends that there was a big crowd to see her off at the Secunderabad Railway station 

some women with moist eyes and some men with sad face as if they were seeing off their own relative for a distant journey.  

I think it was her love and soothing words and helping attitude towards one and all, more than her conversation or story-telling skill or prescription of home remedies  that made her so popular and dear to all my friends in a short period of a couple of months. 

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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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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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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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Annam Brahma:

Annam Brahma. 

I was not ‘mad’ after food, till I grew old, though I did like food always and ate well. 

During my bachelor days in ‘Panchavadi’ a 10 years- long period, I used to have lunch in our Lab. canteen and for dinner used to walk eight miles to the Taj Hotel in Secunderabad, along with roommates. In between we had an old man as a cook for a short period till he disappeared with the treasures  in our kitchen – few aluminum vessels, dented and disfigured . At times the kind women in our neighborhood Rajam Mami and Kolathu Mami used to feed us.

Excellent food,  I enjoyed for three decades when my wife was alive.  

Then again food was not a big attraction except during the fairly long periods, spent with my children in USA. 

In Habsiguda, my brother used to cook when his health was good, though at times he used to add sambar podi in rasam and rasa podi in sambar, or my sisters used to feed us or a part time cook for some time, or myself exhibiting my expertise in making Podiarisi Kanchi and praising it sky- high – you know all such tricks for survival. 

The real value of eating and enjoying food, I realized only when I saw, some relatives, young and old, unable to eat food due to some health problems, though excellent food was available to them. Seeing a relative eating a handful of rice, as prescribed by the doctor, brought from home, with no side dishes, while the entire guests  including me, were enjoying excellent food , in a wedding feast, brought tears to my eyes.

I adore my food now. Yes, I do. 

And I’m grateful to my Creator for retaining my body functions to enjoy and digest food.

Similarly I’m grateful to the same Bada Sahib, for giving me plenty of time to sleep and also for retaining my body functions to enjoy sleep. 

Some of my friends get up at three in the morning and disturb their better halves ( not with any ‘bad’ intentions as they are too old for that) but just to nag them, or despatch tons of ‘ happy day’ messages with or without photos to their FB friends.! 

After my Upanayanam, I was asked to pray God before and after eating. 

I left that habit. Have restated now. Food is God. 

Annam Brahma. 

हे न जाणावे साधारण ।

अन्‍न ब्रह्मरूप जाण ।

जे जीवनहेतु कारण ।

विश्‍वा यया ।। – श्री भावार्थदीपिका (श्री ज्ञानेश्‍वरी ३:३३)

Saint Dnyaneshvar says, ‘Food itself is Brahma’ The whole universe originates from, sustains on and merges into Brahma. Similarly, all living beings originate from, survive on and merge into food.


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Fathers Day musing


He taught me life. An ideal teacher, who made his own life or mansion, from a scratch.

Of all his practical lessons, the most important one I learned  was the affection and respect he gave to his mother, who was in her late 80s when I saw her, as a child. After closing his shop at around nine at night and finishing his bath and worship,  before going for his dinner, he used to spend some time with his mother, first making sure that her bed was comfortable, she had her food in time, her warm water flask was close by and other little, little comforts, which my mother would have already provided. He used to give her a short summary of what went on in the shop, from morning to evening, including presenting an abridged income and expenditure statement, for which there was no need and it was purely to give a feeling to the mother, that her son gave  her so much importance. 

Now, when when my sons spend a few minutes with me before going to bed, after a hectic day schedule, or when my daughter in laws and daughter treat me as if their prime duty is to take care of me  and not their children, I gratefully remember that tall man, with a wide chest, whom I called Appa, who left home in his very early days to earn and take care of his mother. He was her only support, having lost her husband and also a son.

He was semi educated but he ensured that his children were educated but for which our children won’t be what they are today. 

His common sense, will power, amazing conversation skill and witty talk and above all his gambheeryam and personal charm, none of his children could acquire. But, to face difficulties with calm, we have an inherited ability. 

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Time doesn’t wait for a nadaswaram

No nadaswaram procession

I grew up at Olavakkode, a Muslim- dominant area on this side of the Kalpathy river, the other bank being the famous Kalpathy village.
Our neighbor Vavukka’s family was like our extended family. The kids from that house, were my father’s pets and I remember a twins lying on my father’s lap, looking sharply at his forehead shining with white vibhoothi marks. A wedding reception of that family took place in our hall. Their womenfolk used to gather on the other side of our backyard fencing to chat with my mother, during evening hours. I have been continuing my friendship with a descendant, Siddappa and recently, on our way to the railways station , I stopped my vehicle to give him a packet of the herbal seeds for diabetics treatment.

Another Vavukka taught me cycling. He had a small pan shop, financed by my father and when it failed to fetch him sufficient income to feed his large family, my father made some other arrangement for his survival. He worked as a night watchman for sometime and his high pitch command to thieves to flee , ‘chalthae raho!’ still rattles in my ears. He was a thin, weak man and a minor touch from any trainee burglar was enough to push him to the ground.

Sulaiman was father’s vandikkaran, cart man. I have, in my blog, a moving story on him, titled, ‘Sulaiman’s fourth wedding.

Thangal, a mulla from the neighboring mosque used to give us black thread sanctified by Alla’s name, to tie around waist.

My second sister’s wedding took place at our house. There was some disturbance in the town then, due to a quarrel between two communities. It didn’t affect the wedding, though, the boy’s mother, a close relative of my father, was angry that she was denied a nadaswaram procession from the bus stop to our home. The reason was there was a mosque on the way and temporarily noisy processions before the mosque was suspended by the police.

‘Amman, (uncle), I won’t move an inch from here, unless I’m taken to the wedding hall with due respect’, said the lady to my father.

My father known for his diplomacy and wits, responded,
‘Lakshmi, Nee inkeyae irunthuko. You stay back; I will take your son and others, complete the wedding and come back, to take you home in a royal procession. By then, I’m sure the situation will turn normal’

That lady, my father, my sister, her husband, her son- all have vanished from the world. Only memories stay back and time  doesn’t wait for a nadaswaram procession to move on!

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Anantha Jyothy’, my Habsiguda house


‘Anantha Jyothy’, my Habsiguda house – takes birth. Bhoomipooja, nearly four decades ago, in the presence of my mother, who was fortunately available at Hyderabad then. She did stay for short periods in this house later, but my father did not, though I was happy that he lived to see the completion of the house to comment ‘a hundred people can be served food at a time, in your two halls, Konthai!’. (The old people always thought about serving food to others! )

Earlier, when he came to see the vacant land, the approach roads were not good as the housing colony was just taking shape. He had to pass through a water -clogged patch when he commented: ‘ to reach your house, I have to swim or fly’.

Swimming was no problem for him and I would have brought him by a helicopter, if necessary, but he passed away before I could shift to my house. That house, though a Nalukettu, a big one, didn’t have modern facilities but my parents preferred to continue to stay there. To reach the bathroom and toilet, they had to carry an umbrella during rains, but that was not a problem for them- for us too when we were children. When I went during holidays, I saw a snake happily crawling over my sisters when they were sleeping on a veranda with openings to the backyard! But for them, that house was Swargam , paradise, as my mother used to claim proudly!

I say the same now, to my children !

As my son Atchu said, ‘it is not the walls and doors that make the house, but the memories and sentiments surrounding it’

My children are aware of my sentiments but they insist on my staying with them, considering my age and health aspects. Let me hold on here, as long as I can!

But how long?

The lady with dark glasses in the foto is Dr. Malathy Damodaranmy, daughter of EMS Nambudiripad.
Dr. Malathy was my college at NIN. Damodarans were my neighbors in the NIN campus too and we chose the neighboring plots hoping to live close by. It didn’t happen.

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My pooja room- it’s bright and dark days




My pooja room is an integral part of the springs and winters of
my life. I have seen its golden as well as its dark days. My Moorthis dwelling in that tiny room reflected my waxing and waning!

For my Appa of usually advanced thinking, there were a few conservative ideas such as Sakunam, to which he struck religiously. The braking coconut exactly into two haves for the Vishukani was an indication for him that things would move smooth for the ensuing year.

After placing a handful of Bilwa leaves which my Mohanasister had brought, on the idol of Mahadeva in my almost abandoned home shrine and seeing the coconut breaking into identical halves, I felt that the Moorthis in my shrine have pardoned me for neglecting them for months and years and were assuring me an easy walk through.

After all, this small abode was once a center of serious spiritual activities. Melodious metal bell sound could be heard in the mornings and at times in the evenings too, from this holy place, following my rhythmic recitation of Vedic humans. The early morning Sun rays used to reverently reach, through the big ventilators on the front wall, to tough the feet of the Moorthis here. The big brass lamps, in rows, used to shine with multiple wicks on special occasions and on other days one or two moderate lamps but always spreading brightness.

My children used to get up from their cradles hearing my Rudrajapam or other hymns and their cries never hampered the flow of the recitation of my Stotrams nor the sound of my singing stopped their cries. Absolute symphony was there in the main living hall which expanded to this small shrine.
Though my children may not now remember a single line from my recitation, the essence of our culture, though not the rituals, got embedded into their system. That was a big victory for me. They became spiritual in the real sense and live a honest life without the interpolations or interference of religious restrictions and regulations. They mean what they say. They say what they feel. They are free birds now but their wings derived velocity from my Vedic hymns. I believe so; they may not.

All those became old stories when an year-long tempest lambasted my family in 1999 and blew off its roof in the early days of the current Millenium. The year 2000 started with a thunderous thrash. The lady of the house left us for ever. Atchuth was 16 and Srikanth 14, then.

Then on, for many days a solitary lamp silently glowed with no accompaniment of hymns or metallic sounds, inside my pooja room. I had abandoned all routine religious activities.

The house did wake up again in joy with the preparations for the weddings of my eldest son and daughter, which took place in August 2001.

The arrival of Meghana and Vuday changed the whole scenario of dullness into delightful vibrations and their cheerful parents and other relatives wiped off every tinge of black ink from our lives. No going back since then. God opened two big doors after closing the main door.

During my absence of four years Vicha Anna did what he could best.

My Moorthies stand by me and tolerate everything I do and that is their keerthi.

I can’t close this write up without sharing with you some light- weight stuff.

‘Neivedyam’, me from the pooja room, turning head towards the kitchen.

‘See to your right’. Response from inside

After some time, ‘karpooram’. My demand.

‘See to your left’

‘I don’t see any of those here.’

‘Surprising! What do you see then?’

‘Only your face’

‘Enough of your worship. Get up and rock the cradle’

Not always, occasionally, did such dialogue took place between us.

Pooja is for what after all?

You know the answer.

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you’re a Sundarakuttan



Almost all oldies, except me and including my brother Vicha, feel that they have all the problems under the sky but unrecognized or underestimated by others.

Early morning today, he neighed from his bed, ‘Anna, odivaa, come rushing!’

‘Enna aatchu Vicha! Are you still on the plain or flying up?,’ I enquired and went to him.

‘Press, press, here, one inch above, not there -two inches
below, just to the right, no to the left, a bit below’

I massaged applying the balm Megh had brought.

‘Chukku vellam !’ Medicated water, he wanted.

I gave him that.

‘Kaapi!,’ he ordered. I made him hot coffee.

He enjoyed the coffee and remarked:.

‘You don’t realize my struggles. You have a habit of taking everything light!😔’

‘Fool! I take everything light, that is why I’m here to press your back, foregoing my luxurious of living with my children’

He couldn’t have heard. Still he laughed! I love this old man born two years after me. He is a SudhAtma. A pure soul.

Real fun enjoying his company. What do the children know about my exciting life here? They feel Appa is struggling. ‘Don’t go near the stove’, warns Sarath. How can I avoid that, though there is a part time cook.
‘Appa, don’t walk to Habsiguda,’ warns Megh. How can I avoid that. Aparna, Atchu and through face time, whether my eyes, ears, hands and legs are safe in their respective places. They are my children. I’m fit like a fiddle.

Vicha’s back pain will vanish soon. Then, he will start singing Pattanathar and KalyAnasouganthikam kathakali songs. I too will join him. That will be real fun, for both. Not for our neighbors as they are not deaf, partially or fully, like us!

I sang for him an instant multilingual composition:

‘You’re a Sundarakuttan ( handsome boy)
Don’t trouble this ‘chettan’ (elder brother)
You are a Sundarakuttan!

Vicha, no more are you a ‘batcha'(child)
Though your health not ‘atcha'(good)
See how the world is ‘patcha’ ( green)!

You’re a Sundarakuttan!
Your shirt shines, but no button!
‘Athee!’ ( my god!) goes down your dothi,
Man you’re mind, not a kothi( monkey)

You’re a Sundarakuttan!
Don’t trouble this chettan
Vicha, you ‘re a sunderakuttan!

In the picture below Vicha Anna, soon after getting up, enjoying the beauty of his face, before the mirror!