“I look to the sky at night and admire the beauty of the stars.

I stand in awe of their brilliance;

They are as shining and constant

and they have been since the beginning of time.

They light the heavens and fill our hearts with wonder.

When one burns out, another takes its place;

for they are eternal.

Wherever you are, they guide you from their home high above the earth.

At times, they seem close enough to touch,

as they transport your dreams far away.

Their magic compels us to offer up wishes for their consideration.

They make us realize that even when the sky is the darkest,

a tiny beacon of light still shines through.

They are God’s reminder to us that some things really do go on forever”.

‘Stars’

by Sherri Anderson

Some things really do go on forever in the midst of this eternally changing and evanescent world.

The sky and the stars are source of solace for us. When we hear a shocking news or are in distress, we look at them first. We look at them for comfort and guidance . We depend on them to accept responsibility for the happenings beyond our control. We don’t look down and ask Mother Earth why she  gave birth to us . We look up and seek the help of the sky.Though for our physical eyes, Druva or Arundathi were not visible in the sky, as Ratnam correctly said, we knew they were there.

A lot of thoughts have gone into the formulation of the wedding ceremony. Deeply rooted in vedic tradition at every stage and keeping the holy fire as the witness, the system takes care of spiritual as well as social aspects. The prayers of the bride-groom, reveals utmost concern for the health and happiness of the bride and she is assured a prominent status in the husband’s family. She is in fact, given the status of the ‘queen’ of the family and all others brought under her affection and care.

The social aspects also are taken care of and plenty of fun and entertainment are provided. Tasty food, added to that, makes the function enjoyable and memorable to one and all.

Lalitha, who was behind us, looked unusually dull. “What happened sister-in-law, why are your eyes cloudy? ” I asked.

” I should not have fought with you, Athimbar “

“Why?”

” You won’t buy an ice cream for me, when I come to Hyderabad “

“Ha, ha, don’t worry. I will find an ice cream wallah as husband for you.. Hei, why do you look at the sky again?”

”To thank the Heavens for giving my sister a life partner like you” Her eyes were moist.

“What happened all of a sudden?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Sister’s husband is always lovable, I know. But I thought you are made of a different metal.”

 ” I am like any other girl, though a bit quarrelsome. You are not only lovable to me, but admirable too.” she continued in a low voice. “I enjoy your pranks, your erratic behaviour, your lively jokes and the very way you face problems. How is it possible for you, Athimbar to laugh at every thing and behave as if life is nothing but a movie?”

“Because life is nothing but a movie, my dear. Come back to your normal cranky mood, sister-in-law,” I taunted her.

She was worried that soon her sister would be leaving her. In a voice choked with emotion, she continued:” what a match the God has made in you! Akka is dreamily absent minded, seldom speaking unless spoken to, slow and shy in reply; where as, you talk to walls and doors voluntarily. You never worry about tomorrow, whereas she plans for many years ahead. You will love her dearly, I am sure, but you love others too as well and as dearly. For Akka, you are her world.”

She closed her eyes and looking up prayed, “Ente Sreekanteswara!” Make their journey a smooth affair and be with them always providing shadow”

” Lalitha, my prayers may go unanswered; but yours will never”, I took her hand in mine and said,” “because you are pure like the waters of the Ganges at her origin”

Bursting in tears and flinging her arms around her sister, she wept like a child. Ratnam patted her back.

“‘We are proud of you, Lalitha” she said,” Athimbar likes you so much that he is going to miss you”

”You are not to spend your lifetime looking at the stars.” Vadyar was calling us.” Your presence is required for some more time. Some more homams are there”

Now, I want to share my first night experience with you.

 “What! You shameless old man!”

I can here your angry words. But I appeal to you , “Please stay back and hear me”.  I would even go one step further and invite your youngsters too, so that they will enjoy the fun of my first night.

Thank you.  I hear your whisper giving your consent unwillingly, after making sure that your children are not around there,

The bedroom allotted to us for our first night, was a high-domed, spacious, well decorated hall at the eastern side of the Kaithamukku madam. I was impressed by the selected Ravi varma paintings on the wall and the large ebony wood  cot, placed in the centre .With its shining planks and ornamental carvings and the circular mirror, the cot had a royal look. So were the big doors at the entrance, which  perhaps belonged to a dismantled palace building.

There was an old record player with a shining bugle, placed on a velvet cloth. The records of old- time masters like Veenai Danammal and Karaikkudi Arunachalam were nicely placed near it, covered by a muslin cloth. Nearby was an old Thambura, in a corner, well protected from dust. The presence of all these were  understandable but not that of a big jack fruit along with a long knife and a bottle of coconut oil and a few plates, placed on  a long heavy wooden  bench, at one end of the room.

The exterior of the room, however, was noisy. The well with its wooden roller screaming at every touch was close to the bed room as well as the cowshed . The noise  from the workshop, adjoining the bedroom, was much beyond the level of tolerance. Apparently, PMS had employed some labour force to expedite the pending orders for furniture.  .

Ratnam was least disturbed. She was trying her fingers on the strings of the musical instrument.

“Couldn’t your uncle find a better place for us, in this big house?” I asked as politely as I could, concealing my anger. Selecting a star hotel as venue was not in vogue, then.

“Everyone in this house has an emotional attachment to this room, because either they were born here or delivered here or both, right from my great grandfather’s time. I too was born here and so were my brother, sister and all the nine daughters of PMS. All my elder cousins spent their first nights here and…”‘

‘’And they are all proud and happy mothers today?”

“Of course.” she replied with family pride brightening her eyes.

“Don’t you think that it would be ideal to handover this room to a maternity hospital?”

 “The innocent one didn’t catch my joke. ”Periappa will never part with this house and especially this bed room”

“I see your point” Whether I saw her point or not, one thing was clear. I couldn’t bail out of that room! It had witnessed several just-married couple and just-delivered mothers.

So, the next issue was to see how best I could convert it, to serve the purpose. I looked around; the shutters of the large windows were inoperable. Bed-sheets were available in the cupboard . I collected a few and provided a temporary enclosure.

Then I went towards the doors and tried to close them.’GIRRRRRRRRRR” they screamed. Even Narasimha baghavan wouldn’t have yelled so ferociously, when he jumped out of the pillar.  Hearing that yelling, the entire crowd from the ‘Madom’ should have come running towards our bed room; but none came. Perhaps, that was the practice; no help whatsoever, once you are married and dumped into your bedroom.

We look at the sky for its benevolent intervention and help at such hours. I did it and to my horror, I noticed that the huge doors had no stoppers!

Situation was serious. If I leave my hold on the partially closed doors, they will return to the original position with vengeance. Other alternative was to push them some more, though they would protest again and hold them in that position with the help of some heavy objects.

I looked around. There were two movable heavy objects in the room; the cot and the bench. To move the cot, you need at least ten people or a big elephant and to move the bench, five, or a baby elephant. Both are impractical solutions.

“Shall I call boxer uncle?” Ratnam al last, came out with a bright idea.

” Please do. So that he would close the door and stand in that position through out the night?”

“So what?” I thought she would ask. Thank God. She didn’t.

“Why don’t I go out and seek the help of someone to fix the door stoppers?” I thought. But somehow, I didn’t like that idea. P.M.S. was a popular man and his son-in-law jumping out of the bed room, looking for a door stopper would become hot news for the local dailies.

There was only one option left; somehow I would close the doors and keep holding them, through out the night. Ratnam could sleep comfortably. Not a bad idea at all. But I thought again. First night, I presume, is not to be spent that way, holding the doors pressed from inside!

Right from the moment we entered the bed room, Ratnam was busy tuning her musical instrument and humming some songs, unaware of the big battle I was fighting alone. I didn’t like that. She has to be somehow involved in my activities. It is at that time, the big jack fruit grabbed my attention. With much difficulty I cut the fruit into two and then into several peaces. I separated the bright yellow fruits from their messy background with Ratnam’s help .She arranged them neatly in half a dozen big plates. We came out of the room, carrying the fruit plates.

People were so happy to have the tasty fruit; they didn’t ask why we came out. Only one person, the patriarch of the family, P.M.S, enquired taking the trouble of spitting out the tobacco juice.

” Pradama rathry sukham ayo, makkalea? (hope you enjoyed your first night, children?”)

“Oh!  pradhama rathri sukham, Parama sukham” I replied, grinning and pushing  a  fruit into his mouth.

“I look to the sky at night and admire the beauty of the stars.

I stand in awe of their brilliance;

They are as shining and constant

and they have been since the beginning of time.

They light the heavens and fill our hearts with wonder.

When one burns out, another takes its place;

for they are eternal.

Wherever you are, they guide you from their home high above the earth.

At times, they seem close enough to touch,

as they transport your dreams far away.

Their magic compels us to offer up wishes for their consideration.

They make us realize that even when the sky is the darkest,

a tiny beacon of light still shines through.

They are God’s reminder to us that some things really do go on forever”.

‘Stars’

by Sherri Anderson

Some things really do go on forever in the midst of this eternally changing and evanescent world.

The sky and the stars are source of solace for us. When we hear a shocking news or are in distress, we look at them first. We look at them for comfort and guidance . We depend on them to accept responsibility for the happenings beyond our control. We don’t look down and ask Mother Earth why she  gave birth to us . We look up and seek the help of the sky.Though for our physical eyes, Druva or Arundathi were not visible in the sky, as Ratnam correctly said, we knew they were there.

A lot of thoughts have gone into the formulation of the wedding ceremony. Deeply rooted in vedic tradition at every stage and keeping the holy fire as the witness, the system takes care of spiritual as well as social aspects. The prayers of the bride-groom, reveals utmost concern for the health and happiness of the bride and she is assured a prominent status in the husband’s family. She is in fact, given the status of the ‘queen’ of the family and all others brought under her affection and care.

The social aspects also are taken care of and plenty of fun and entertainment are provided. Tasty food, added to that, makes the function enjoyable and memorable to one and all.

Lalitha, who was behind us, looked unusually dull. “What happened sister-in-law, why are your eyes cloudy? ” I asked.

” I should not have fought with you, Athimbar “

“Why?”

” You won’t buy an ice cream for me, when I come to Hyderabad “

“Ha, ha, don’t worry. I will find an ice cream wallah as husband for you.. Hei, why do you look at the sky again?”

”To thank the Heavens for giving my sister a life partner like you” Her eyes were moist.

“What happened all of a sudden?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Sister’s husband is always lovable, I know. But I thought you are made of a different metal.”

 ” I am like any other girl, though a bit quarrelsome. You are not only lovable to me, but admirable too.” she continued in a low voice. “I enjoy your pranks, your erratic behaviour, your lively jokes and the very way you face problems. How is it possible for you, Athimbar to laugh at every thing and behave as if life is nothing but a movie?”

“Because life is nothing but a movie, my dear. Come back to your normal cranky mood, sister-in-law,” I taunted her.

She was worried that soon her sister would be leaving her. In a voice choked with emotion, she continued:” what a match the God has made in you! Akka is dreamily absent minded, seldom speaking unless spoken to, slow and shy in reply; where as, you talk to walls and doors voluntarily. You never worry about tomorrow, whereas she plans for many years ahead. You will love her dearly, I am sure, but you love others too as well and as dearly. For Akka, you are her world.”

She closed her eyes and looking up prayed, “Ente Sreekanteswara!” Make their journey a smooth affair and be with them always providing shadow”

” Lalitha, my prayers may go unanswered; but yours will never”, I took her hand in mine and said,” “because you are pure like the waters of the Ganges at her origin”

Bursting in tears and flinging her arms around her sister, she wept like a child. Ratnam patted her back.

“‘We are proud of you, Lalitha” she said,” Athimbar likes you so much that he is going to miss you”

”You are not to spend your lifetime looking at the stars.” Vadyar was calling us.” Your presence is required for some more time. Some more homams are there”

Now, I want to share my first night experience with you.

 “What! You shameless old man!”

I can here your angry words. But I appeal to you , “Please stay back and hear me”.  I would even go one step further and invite your youngsters too, so that they will enjoy the fun of my first night.

Thank you.  I hear your whisper giving your consent unwillingly, after making sure that your children are not around there,

The bedroom allotted to us for our first night, was a high-domed, spacious, well decorated hall at the eastern side of the Kaithamukku madam. I was impressed by the selected Ravi varma paintings on the wall and the large ebony wood  cot, placed in the centre .With its shining planks and ornamental carvings and the circular mirror, the cot had a royal look. So were the big doors at the entrance, which  perhaps belonged to a dismantled palace building.

There was an old record player with a shining bugle, placed on a velvet cloth. The records of old- time masters like Veenai Danammal and Karaikkudi Arunachalam were nicely placed near it, covered by a muslin cloth. Nearby was an old Thambura, in a corner, well protected from dust. The presence of all these were  understandable but not that of a big jack fruit along with a long knife and a bottle of coconut oil and a few plates, placed on  a long heavy wooden  bench, at one end of the room.

The exterior of the room, however, was noisy. The well with its wooden roller screaming at every touch was close to the bed room as well as the cowshed . The noise  from the workshop, adjoining the bedroom, was much beyond the level of tolerance. Apparently, PMS had employed some labour force to expedite the pending orders for furniture.  .

Ratnam was least disturbed. She was trying her fingers on the strings of the musical instrument.

“Couldn’t your uncle find a better place for us, in this big house?” I asked as politely as I could, concealing my anger. Selecting a star hotel as venue was not in vogue, then.

“Everyone in this house has an emotional attachment to this room, because either they were born here or delivered here or both, right from my great grandfather’s time. I too was born here and so were my brother, sister and all the nine daughters of PMS. All my elder cousins spent their first nights here and…”‘

‘’And they are all proud and happy mothers today?”

“Of course.” she replied with family pride brightening her eyes.

“Don’t you think that it would be ideal to handover this room to a maternity hospital?”

 “The innocent one didn’t catch my joke. ”Periappa will never part with this house and especially this bed room”

“I see your point” Whether I saw her point or not, one thing was clear. I couldn’t bail out of that room! It had witnessed several just-married couple and just-delivered mothers.

So, the next issue was to see how best I could convert it, to serve the purpose. I looked around; the shutters of the large windows were inoperable. Bed-sheets were available in the cupboard . I collected a few and provided a temporary enclosure.

Then I went towards the doors and tried to close them.’GIRRRRRRRRRR” they screamed. Even Narasimha baghavan wouldn’t have yelled so ferociously, when he jumped out of the pillar.  Hearing that yelling, the entire crowd from the ‘Madom’ should have come running towards our bed room; but none came. Perhaps, that was the practice; no help whatsoever, once you are married and dumped into your bedroom.

We look at the sky for its benevolent intervention and help at such hours. I did it and to my horror, I noticed that the huge doors had no stoppers!

Situation was serious. If I leave my hold on the partially closed doors, they will return to the original position with vengeance. Other alternative was to push them some more, though they would protest again and hold them in that position with the help of some heavy objects.

I looked around. There were two movable heavy objects in the room; the cot and the bench. To move the cot, you need at least ten people or a big elephant and to move the bench, five, or a baby elephant. Both are impractical solutions.

“Shall I call boxer uncle?” Ratnam al last, came out with a bright idea.

” Please do. So that he would close the door and stand in that position through out the night?”

“So what?” I thought she would ask. Thank God. She didn’t.

“Why don’t I go out and seek the help of someone to fix the door stoppers?” I thought. But somehow, I didn’t like that idea. P.M.S. was a popular man and his son-in-law jumping out of the bed room, looking for a door stopper would become hot news for the local dailies.

There was only one option left; somehow I would close the doors and keep holding them, through out the night. Ratnam could sleep comfortably. Not a bad idea at all. But I thought again. First night, I presume, is not to be spent that way, holding the doors pressed from inside!

Right from the moment we entered the bed room, Ratnam was busy tuning her musical instrument and humming some songs, unaware of the big battle I was fighting alone. I didn’t like that. She has to be somehow involved in my activities. It is at that time, the big jack fruit grabbed my attention. With much difficulty I cut the fruit into two and then into several peaces. I separated the bright yellow fruits from their messy background with Ratnam’s help .She arranged them neatly in half a dozen big plates. We came out of the room, carrying the fruit plates.

People were so happy to have the tasty fruit; they didn’t ask why we came out. Only one person, the patriarch of the family, P.M.S, enquired taking the trouble of spitting out the tobacco juice.

” Pradama rathry sukham ayo, makkalea? (hope you enjoyed your first night, children?”)

“Oh!  pradhama rathri sukham, Parama sukham” I replied, grinning and pushing  a  fruit into his mouth.

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