” I expected at least two more ‘paramasukhams’ and a few more head movements” P.M.S teased and applauded, “that is the correct attitude. Enjoy even ills, worries and hurdles. Never get enslaved to negative thoughts. Everything is never lost. At least a bit will be at the bottom of your vessel, with which you can feed thousand hungry stomachs, if you have the blessings of the God. It took years for me to realize this truth. You are blessed that you can smile and even joke not only at jolts but even at blows. ” Those comments from the father of nine girls in whose face I had never seen a wrinkle of disappointment, is still retained in my memory.
“Thanks for that, periappa ” I addressed him for the first time, as my wife used to and enquired what went wrong in Charm-teacher relationship.
” Athai will tell you that story, but not now ” P.M.S, slapped on my bottom affectionately and alerted that it was time for me to get ready for the first function in the morning, ‘vratham’.
The melody waves from the nadaswaram, passing through the clear, cool morning breeze vibrated the clouds and birds in the sky and plants and animals near the Kaithamukku madam . However, many of our group members remained unmoved by those waves; they were worried why the morning coffee was delayed. When the whole world is illumined by the benevolent moon light, there are people who sit inside the house and look for the spiders on the roof , under candle light.
As per the practice followed, Vidwan Thangaswamy was ready to accompany the bride’s party to the bed rooms of the groom and his people, to wake them up. But the groom and many of his relatives were already awake.They hardly slept the previous night and there was no need for the musicians to enter their rooms making sound. But Venku ayyan, who had joined our group on his own, in the pretext of helping my father, was not prepared to settle for anything less. “Let us all go back to our respective bed rooms and lie down” he suggested with a serious tone. The bride’s party accompanied by the band should come there and wake up our members. Customs are to be honored, under any circumstances.”
“Are you crazy, Venku?” my father contained him. Looking at Athai, he said, “Give him a third decoction coffee; that will keep his mouth closed for a while.”
My father, before we landed at the kaithamukku matam, the PMS house where the wedding took place, had given clear instruction to us that none in our group should take any undue advantage as bride groom’s privilege and even if there were some shortfalls from the girl’s side, we should accept them with grace . ” Remember, every one including my eldest son”, he cautioned looking deep into my eyes, ” what is to take place is a happy reunion of two wings of the same family.
Tell me if you have any grievance but never a word to the PMS family. Be graceful in your behavior”
Still, there were people like venku ayyan, trenched in traditions so deep that they identified themselves with the aprons they wear, forgetting that aprons need change or at least a wash !
Apart from Venku ayyan, another person was unhappy with my father’s intervention- his son, me. It was my dream to be woken up by a band. I have been eagerly waiting for that luxury, from the day I heard about my marriage fixation. I shouldn’t jump out of my bed, the moment I hear the first beat of the accompanying ‘thavil,’ I had planned, but wait for a while till one or two keerthanas are completed. But the watchful eyes of Appa were everywhere.
Right from my childhood, I had a fascination for ‘nadaswaram’. My maternal grand father, for sometime, was the ‘karyasthan’or manager at the Kalpathy Viswanatha swamy temple and its trustee, the Raja Etiikkombi achan, had allowed him to stay in a portion of his house, close to the temple, where I was born. I vividly remember My ‘thatha’ driving the tastefully decorated palanquin, carrying the deity and several children, including me, to the accompaniment of nadaswaram vidwans. His abundant tuft, well tied and tilted to one side and wagging to the waves of music, his pearl studded ear ornaments, bright ‘spadika malai- dazzling chain made of crystal beads, snow-white sacred ash marks at the appropriate places, better brightened by and on his ebony frame, whip on his right hand and “aug, aug” sound – all these are fresh, in my memory. Even after shifting our residence to Olavakkode, I used to eagerly wait for the swarlapanas, carried by the cool night winds across the Kalpathy waters. Father, never allowed us to move out of house, during night hours.
Yes, Kalpathy was a river then! Young Kalpathians, who have been seeing only a canal, stagnated between Olavakkode and Kalpathy, will not believe my words. Like the divine flow of Bhagvath Geetha, between the warring groups, it used to flow slowly but majestically, between two rock ranges. Suppani vadyar, without the hindrance of a mechanical device to distort his bell metal voice, used to guide hundreds of Brahmins assembled on the steps leading to the Temple, while performing the ‘Maha sankalpam’ for our annulal upakarma ritual .The echo of his ‘Bharatha varshe, Bharatha khandea, (‘Bha’ not as in innocent ‘B’ for Balan or ‘P’ as in’Pavi’ but with the majesty due to that consonant), used to echo in the distant blue mountains and that would remain till midnight, when the cool moonlit waters used to repeat that sound, with a unique joy and satisfaction.
“Enna mukari vasikkarai – is this the way to play ‘mukari ragam?” Venku, asked the nagaswaram players, with the air of a popular musician or a respected critic.
“athu mukari alla sami, mohanama, – that is mohana ragam, not mukrari.” Kotchu Madhavi, the servant maid, who was swapping the floor, raised her head and corrected him.
“You, Trivandram people don’t know the art of making good coffee,” was the next remarks of the dissatisfied, Venku.
Kotchu, had a reply for that too. “Ithu kappi alla sami; chayaya – that is tea, not coffee. Coffee is on the other table”
Being a member of the groom’s party, he wanted to somehow belittle the host.
“Women are generally good looking in this house” was his next remark,” but their husbands are squinted eyed, potbellied or henpecked”
” This detestable babble should not be allowed to continue.” The wise servant maid decided and once servant women decides on anything, you know the result: Looking at Venku distastefully, she remarked “ningal manushan alla sami; madanu – you are not a human- an animal you are.”
I was surprised and also pleased to see Sharada teacher’s ‘Charm’, unusually well dressed and pleasantly smiling. That old decaying, depressed looks was replaced by a cool and composed appearance and there was a dignity and decency in his behavior. “Doesn’t he look like, Devanand?” I asked Ammu. “You have seen neither Devanand nor Johny Waker” replied the naughty daughter.
“Shall we play hide and seek?” I asked those around me, when I was blindfolded during ‘vratham’. “We are ready” was the spontaneous response. The response was from the elders; kids were yet to get up from their bed. You would have noticed, given an opportunity, elders will be more eager to join any games than young ones. They would have missed such opportunities during their childhood; their parents or teachers would have forced them to study and keeping the books in hand, they would have been dreaming of the playground and games. Those hidden dreams and desires raise their hood, later and continue to do so till the end. I have seen a respected retired judge, my neighbor, sucking juice from a mango fruit, holding the fruit in his hand, while going for morning walk! He was not insane. The unfulfilled ‘vasanas’ or aspirations of childhood has to come out one day or other, in one way or other. Had the son or daughter-in-law of the old man happened to see the sight of their respected father walking through the street, sucking juice from a ripe mango, they would have removed it from his hands and thrown it to the trash bin. The old man would, then, carry that ‘vasana’ to his next birth. If he has one of course- that depends on the judgments he would have passed on while in service or the way he treated his wife!.
The general tendency is to try to re- live the life already passed by, after a certain age. Only kids wants to grow and become ‘big’ except when they see their younger siblings on their mother’s laps. Youngsters do not want to go back the way they came through, unless youth has no charm for them. They would never like to leap into old age. No old man would get older; they would like to get younger, if there is a way for that. Unless the life is utterly intolerable, abysmally painful, none wants to get rid of it but it has to be forsaken. Anything which undergoes the process of birth, growth and degeneration has to face the process of termination too. There comes the concept of rebirth, for our solace. Complete one round , come back and enjoy the whole process. One more round, one more, one more like that. At every round, enjoy childhood, youth, manage or tolerate old age and then vanish. But one cannot run like that infinitely. Everything with a start has to have an end. That is moksham. When you had enough of the pains and pleasures of all the climates of your sojourn in this world, when you say willingly, ‘no more, no more ‘ Mother Divinity absorbs you as the fallen, dry fossil leaves are absorbed by the Mother earth. You have become an integral part of the earth. You have become THAT from which you sprouted.That is Advaitham. You do not exist as a separate entity. There is only ONE and YOU ARE THAT. “Thatwamasi “.
I love talking especially when there are people around to hear. There were enough and mostly elder ones.
“Hope you liked what I said ?” I enquired.
” Oh, we did ” They replied, “porum, coffee vandatchu- Enough. coffee is ready”