Clad in a colourful sari, the air hostess, standing erect at the entrance of the flight, like a lamp post wrapped with colour papers, greeted me with a warm “Namaskar” and folded hands. I was pleased by her gesture, unusual for a girl of her age and blessed her, “Deergha sumaghali bhava!”
“What does it mean, panditji ?” she enquired.
“May your mangal sootre last long; may your husband live long ”
“But I am unmarried” she replied.
“You will get married soon,” I replied confidently.
“Will I? Thank you so much Panditji. I am sure you are an astrologer”
One or two passengers behind me hurriedly extended their hands towards me to read their palms and predict their future. Gracefully nodding my head, I asked them to wait by a hand signal and made Ammalu comfortable in the window seat.
When I turned my neck after lodging the hand luggage, I could see my cousin, Parasu, sitting behind our row.
“You here, Parasu?” I expressed my astonishment and inquired, “When did you jump the prison wall ?”
There was a mild commotion in the nearby seats and the occupants turned their attention towards my cousin, raising their eye brows in appreciation of his presumptive stature of a politician.
Parasu enjoyed their glow in the eyes and looked down at his pants feeling sorry for not donning the Pancha the Telugu politicians usually wear.
“On parole,” he mentioned casually, as it was like coming out of his Kavassery village and walking down to the nearest bus stop.
When I was about to occupy my central seat near Ammalu, The Lamp-post girl, approached addressing me “Appa!”.
Astounded, Ammalu tried to get up from her seat; the seat belt prevented. I signaled to resume her seat and told the girl, “Appa’ is ‘father’ in Tamil. To the best of my knowledge I am not your papa ”
” I am prepared to trust your words although the element of doubt in your statement worries me”
“What is there to worry, child. One can’t be definite on such issues”
“You look so pious. Your tuft, ‘kadukkan’ on your ears, ash mark and pottu on your forehead?”
“What has my tuft to do with the play of my mind? That of course, doesn’t mean that I am an indecent man. It is just to warn you that in the case of OTHER PEOPLE, you shouldn’t go by the appearance alone.”
“Anyway, you blessed me a long married life”
“Any fool who blesses you, is not your ‘Appa'”
“I know that . But I will call you ‘Appa’ only. That is how father-in-law too is addressed in Tamil, I am told.”
Ammalu, now shocked, made another attempt to raise.
“But I am not your father-in-law either ” I was now firmer in my reply to the girl.
“And there is no element of doubt in this statement, as I know my sons. What say Ammalu?” I turned towards her but she was yet to come to a conclusion whether I am that girl’s father or father in law.
” You will shortly be one soon. Because your son loves me”
That was a lambast from the Lamp- post girl.
This time Ammalu removed her seat-belt and pounced at the girl, “ennadi olararai? what non -sense are you talking?'”
” Calm down Ammalu” I pacified her, “one day or other this is bound to happen. which one is the only question to be asked ”
“Which one ? how many sons do you have?”
The lovely girl’s long eyebrows curved up. “For the time being, three. If God permits and the lady by my side grants me another boon, by the time I go back-—“
“Am I your duplicating machine ?” Ammalu asked with a naughty smile and chided me,” a greedy wolf”
“Not really?” I was in high spirit. ” Remember the bumper crop our parents had”
The LP girl was waiting for an opportunity for our romantic dialogue to end.
“How was it that my lover told me that he is the only son and will inherit a large estate, two breweries and three 5-star hotels, when his father pops off?” She asked.
“My possessions are contained in this bag and in the hand suitcase in the cabin above”.
I showed her my bags and added, “the other movable asset is the mother of my children sitting here, though by virtue of her size whether you will able to move her away is a matter of concern”
Parasu who was overhearing our conversation, intervened. The boy you are talking about, I mean your lover, is a tall guy, right?” He asked her.
“Yes sir,” she replied, “he is the most handsome boy, I ever met. He is fair and has curly hairs like yours”
“Then, he is my son. And I am the possessor of all the properties you mentioned”
“Could be” I endorsed, “Child, now address him as “Appa”
”I am sorry for the trouble I gave you, uncle” The innocent one apologized.
“Kiran told me that his father was leaving for US by this flight and it is easy to identify him by his dothy and hence, I troubled you, Sir. Now I will speak to that gentleman”
“But that ‘gentleman’ in not wearing dothy” Ammalu chipped in.
“That doesn’t matter now. He is in possession of a large estate, two breweries and three 5-star hotels anyway.”
I was worried that crooked Parasu might take advantage of that innocent girl’s plight and I wanted to save her.
“Child, think twice before you talk to him. He has already transferred all those properties in his daughter’s name . That was the reason why my son loved and subsequently married her”.
“Who is telling lie, who is telling truth, I’m totally confused”.
“Both of them are liars” Ammalu commented and added, “Your Kiran too is a lier”
“Madam, Kiran too?”
“Yes, undoubtedly. Do you know where does he come from?”
“Hyderabad, he said”
“He didn’t tell me that”
“And you didn’t ask. You know his parents?”
“No, they are very wealthy, he said”
“You don’t have any other information about him?”
“No, but I can collect”
“Ok. Do that. Then, you approach this gentleman whose card I’m giving you.
He is closely related to us. Treat him as your close relative and consult him before you move an inch in your love. I too will be in contact with him and learn the progress.
Where do your parents live?”
She pointed to the roof of the plane, with swollen eyes
“Sorry,” said Ammalu, “we are your parents now on.
My fear is Kiran’s intentions are not good. You are good looking; have a good job. A boy who tries to win the heart of girl declaring his wealthy background, without giving any other particulars, not even his house address, can’t be very trustworthy. . Thai is my assessment. Anyway we will find a solution”
Ammalu hugged the girl heartily and both were silent for sometime.
The air hostess said, “excuse me, mom” and went to receive another passenger.
“So, Ammalu, our family is growing further,” I taunted her, “madam to mom is a big jump”
“It is, I’m proud of my new status”. Her happiness was blossoming on her eyes.
Nove. 15, 2011
From: email@example.com Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 13:52:54 +0530
Dear SP, VVS, Chris Iyer and the few others who post their original writings from time to time,
This is to assure you that I look forward to them, and read them with pleasure.
SP’s recent post on his experiences inside the aircraft kept me in a tickled state for hours after reading them and I would often break into mysterious smiles while thinking about it much to to the consternation of my wife and others who wonder what it is around me that I find so amusing. They are of course unaware of what I had been reading a few minutes ago.
With best wishes
Sent from my iPad