My maiden US visit. Chapter. 2

Prof. Nandur, my sambandhi, came with his car to take us to the airport. He weighed the two suitcases and found that the weight was about 65 kilos, the maximum limit permitted by the Airline those days.

Before his arrival, I asked Ammalu to allot some space for me in one of her suit cases.

“No” she said. It was a firm and final ‘No’ “When a woman clad in colorful sari, asks for a favor, you do it instantly, blindly and smilingly, least worrying about the consequences,” she fumed. “I am going to USA for the first time and I would like to carry for our children, nephews and other relatives, a few things. Did you ever think about it? And should I not have enough stock of clothes for a six months – stay there? . Did you ever think about it ?”

If Prof. Nandur had not entered in asking,’what is going on here, babies?’, Ammalu would have unleashed a few more, ‘did you ever think about it?’.

“The suitcases are so heavy. What on earth are you carrying to US?” Nandur enquired.

“I am yet to pack my things,” I confessed, ” these are the gifts from my friends and neighbors to be delivered to their kin in US”

I have never seen his mouth so wide-opened. “You are elder to me; I should be choosy in my words,” he admonished me. ”’Sir, you haven’t grown much since your childhood. You have no perception about time, distance or money. Indians are scattered in that vast country and you think that your son, busy with his works from 7 to 7, five days a week, will have time to dispatch these goods to different destinations? And why should he bear the cost?”

He had one more question.”And, where is your luggage, your own personal stuff for six months- stay there?”

“‘paropakartha midam sareeramandi -this body is to serve others”

“This is not service, this is stupidity”’ He lamented. The gate opened and entered in my friend Kesava Varrior, an Ayurvedic physician, carrying a big bag in his hand.

“I want to send some medicines, just one or two small bottles of ‘arishtams and Kashayams’ along with some ‘lehyam and choornam’, to a client in Pennsylvania. They are life-saving products. You won’t refuse them, I know, as you have a big heart”

“Yes, his heart has vacant space, not his suit cases,” intervened Nandur, “and your arishtams and aavam bottles can be loaded into it”

“Varrior, my two suitcases are already full with others’ gift items and I am left with only a cabin luggage to carry my personal belongings,” I explained, ” still, I will accommodate your life savers in my cabin luggage. Please pack them, leaving a small area for two sets of dress for me and a pouch holding tooth paste, shaver .

That was before 9/11 and liquids could be carried in cabin luggage.

“Don’t worry about your dress, medicines, books and other things. I have already packed in my suitcase” Ammalu said.

“I will never get a wife like you in America even if I stay there for six years, Ammalu!”

“Why in America, no where in the world you will find a woman like Amnalu madam”
Prof. Nandur commented and asked the servant to load the luggage into his big Vehicle.

While the suitcases were getting loaded, Varrior reminded that I was leaving on an inauspicious ‘thithi’.

“Pull out the luggage” he yelled at the professor and turned towards me asking,’how did you miss such an important point?”

“I am not the one who ignores the thithies, stars and planets, Varrior.. I have left a pack of rice and dal in my neighbor’s house, yesterday, to ward off the evil”. Professor blinked. He never knew the existence of such tricks to fool the stars and planets, which are bent upon troubling us.

When the car was about to move, Mrs. Misra came running towards the vehicle, moving heavily all the fat she had accumulated at her front and back, all these years..

“Pick up this luggage also” the prof. taunted me.

Mr Misra, passed away a few months before. Though we were close friends, his wife had no business to come in the opposite direction, when I was proceeding on a long trip. To come across a widow while going for a long trip is not a good omen. But when Mrs. Misra bent her head down to touch my feet, I noticed the ‘kumkum’ mark on her head.
.
“Bless me for a long married life. I have a fresh husband now, Mr.Sarma”

“Ye, khyaji, fresh husband, like fresh vegetable?” I enquired.

“Ha ji, we got married just a few hours ago. I am Mrs. Sarma now. Sarmaji is a very nice man”

“He is, I am sure” I concurred with her assessment and added, ”otherwise he wouldn’t have married you:”

I gave her my blessings so that Mr. Sarma will live long sparing his wife the trouble of seeking another fresh husband and boarded the car. The professor now and then looked through the side window and grumbled: ‘No more fresh baggage or fresh husbands, I hope”

“How could Mrs. Misra so shamelessly claim that she had become Mrs. Sarma, without flapping an eye-lid,” I commented. ” She used to fast for her husband every Monday, every Thursday and every Saturday ?”

“She is a very practical woman” said Ammalu. “She has no children. She needs a human companion. Moreover, even for buying an aspirin tablet or a sachet of milk, she has to go out herself”

“So, she married Mr. Chowle for buying an aspirin tablet or a sachet of milk, you mean?” I joked.

“Not exactly. But milk and medicines too are essential for life”. Ammalu continued with her argument,” if Mishraji were alive and had to remarry, you wouldn’t have any objection! Different rules , ha?”

“It is something new to me ” Prof. clarified, ” I have never heard madam talking more than monosyllables ”

“It not new to me, Nandur ” I confronted, “being a speech pathologist, how do you say any woman could talk monosyllables ? And see her stupidity. On one hand she wants to ensure that Kesava Varrior’s life saving medicines reach the patient and on the other does not like a lonely, aged woman remarrying —-”

”To get her an Aspirin tablet ” Nandur intervened. Ammalu smiled and Nandur added, facing me, “a woman’s mind is more difficult to read, than your stories”

To continue

Ammalu did not appear to have been convinced with my reply. ”A life-loyalty and memory to be sacrificed at the altar of a small need ? How could she, just by moving a little finger, cast away the torrents of affectionate actions, animated debates, astronomical aspirations, symmetrical and asymmetrical thoughts accumulated through years of sharing life together ? ”

“But Mishraji is no more” I replied and I was clear about it.

” Mere death cannot wipe away the husband-wife relation ship.” She too was equally firm in her conviction.

“Mere death?” I asked, “how foolishly you are!”

“Death is just a recurring event as the Life is ; as the weather is. as the sun and the moon are” Amnalu, unusually, is in a talkative mood today.

She cooled down and murmured, “the husband my die, the wife may die but their relationship never dies”

“It is something new to me ” Prof. clarified, ” I have never heard madam talking more than monosyllables ”

“It not new to me, Nandur ” I confronted, “being a speech pathologist, how do you say any woman could talk monosyllables ? And see her stupidity. On one hand she wants to ensure that Kesava Varrior’s life saving medicines reach the patient and on the other does not like a lonely, aged woman remarrying —-”

”To get her an Aspirin tablet ” Nandur intervened. Ammalu smiled and Nandur added, facing me, “a woman’s mind is more difficult to read, than your stories”

To continue.

Sent from my iPad

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