Dear Ammalu,

Hope you are enjoying your holidays with that old nagging woman, your beloved mother and my respected mother-in-law. I am sure that you would have, within the short period of stay with you rmom, achieved what you missed here and for which you went there-peace and happiness.

Things are smooth here, absolutely smooth, Ammalu. The arrangements you had made before leaving home, are working in perfect harmony, except one or two. You should not have asked that barrel-bellied Pankajam mami in the opposite house to take care of me. I should have taken care of myself in a much better way.

“You are alone, why do you need two packets of milk? ” She asked yesterday morning and carried away the milk sachets. In return, she gave me half a tumbler of thrice-diluted coffee. The tumbler was shaky and she waited to ensure that while drinking I did not touch the rim with my lips. I poured half of the contents on my dress while struggling to lift it well above the mouth. Mami grabbed the vessel from my hand, murmuring, “Ammalu onkali vetchukkindu eppady kudumpam nadaaharalo? How does your wife tolerate you?” You know that I need at least two cups of fresh, strong coffee in the morning. While I expected her to come with another tumbler of coffee, what she brought was a cartload of school uniform of her children with a request, ‘ithai koncham isthri pottu thango, chummathane irukkel’=press these clothes, please; you have anyway no other work to do”

When I told her that I have never pressed clothes in my life time and Ammalu does that for me, she threw a smile at my face and also a remark, “I know you can do that; you are intelligent ” I was immensely pleased ; no other woman including you have said that I am intelligent.

I did press the school uniform although in the process the front of a shirt and back of a nicker got charred. Mami will ask for the replacement when she notices the damage. Tell me from where you buy school uniform?

I forgot to switch off the gas stove, before I went out. The side portion tenant Subbamma, who was alerted by the repeated whistles of the cooker and charred smell, broke open the kitchen door with the help of her husband and put off the stove. They scolded me for my carelessness when I returned but that was not a big issue. The damaged back door however became a big issue when a smuggler found his way through that to enter into the bed room at night and opened the steel cupboard, the key for which was conveniently available, hanging from a close- by peg. Nothing was lost as there was nothing inside, as you had carried away your pattu saris and jewels. The ‘Lalithambal sobhanam’ and ‘Chthrputhran’ story books are safe inside.

The servant woman entered this morning through the broken kitchen door, as I was sleeping, noticed the opened steel cupboard and an old sari inside which she recognized as our neighbor Ammini amma’s. That sari, it seems was kept for drying on the rod adjoining our compound wall and the house lady forgot to pick it up, before going to bed. This morning when she found it missing, she suspected the servant woman and scolded her when she went there for the routine cleaning work. That cotton sari is pathetically aged and pitiably torn. It cannot tempt any one to steal, least of all, a servant maid.

Seeing the same sari in our cupboard which was lying wide opened, the servant maid rushed to the neighbor’s house and brought the Nair couple to see the atrocity committed by me. Their scream not only woke me up but brought all our neighbors into our bed room. Anger and hatred gushing out of his crooked eyes, Nair shouted at me “edo, ente baryade sari thante almarayil enghane vannu –how did my wife’s sari reach your cupboard ?”

”How do I know, ask your wife ” I expressed my innocence , rubbing my eyes wondering how the cupboard was opened, how that sari reached there and why should so many people gather to watch a torn sari.

My hidden intelligence suddenly woke up and I told Nair with a smile and assuring voice. ‘Look, Nair, You know that I will not misbehave with your wife as she is elder to me in age”

“Elder engane , Samiyude vayassentha – how do you say I am elder to you, what is your age?” Inquired Ammini Amma and I told my age after reducing it by ten years. She too reduced her age by ten years which landed us in problem. Nair was not convinced that I am younger to his wife and therefore suspected foul play on my part, although in a way he was happy that his wife was growing younger.

”The only possibility of your wife’s sari coming to my cupboard is through the burglar. Having found nothing valuable inside my cupboard much against his expectation and having found a sari hanging on the rod while escaping, he would have picked it up and thrown inside my cupboard, in utter desperation and disappointment” With the dignity of a tribal head addressing his men and delivering justice, I told them. His wife was almost convinced that I did not misbehave with her although the husband still looked at me with his suspicious crooked eyes .

”Nadakkadi, namakku pokam ‘ He told his wife, “Let us go now and we will take up this issue when his wife returns..Till then let the sari be in the cupboard. “So, the matter is amicably settled for the time being and it is for you to do the rest.

Anyway, the servant maid has stopped coming for work and I did the sweeping and cleaning today-this on the negative side. The positive aspect is Pankajam mami did not come today to pick up the milk sachets or to offer me half a tumbler of thrice diluted coffee. Her husband warned her, ‘ethukkum jagrathaiya irudi- anyway, be careful (with that guy ie.me )

The kitchen door will be repaired and put back; it may cost some three hundred bucks. I don’t want another torn sari in our cupboard.

There was another small problem last night. I had forgotten to push the drainage pipe of the washing machine into the outlet with the result, soapy water spread all over our floor and also leaked into the side portion through the open space below the connecting door. Their new Kashmir carpet was completely drenched and they are demanding a replacement. I have cleverly bargained and made them agree for a petrol wash which they will get done but I will pay the cost.It will cost us a thousand bucks, says Subbamma though her husband’s estimate is much less. It will be anyway cheaper than buying a new one, is it not? Pankajam mami has assessed me accurately.

These are the developments here since you left day before yesterday. Things are smooth here, absolutely smooth Ammalu.

Your mom used to chide me as an ‘appavi aambadayan’- a worthless husband. Tell her my worthiness now, please.

While the train was moving, you remember, you said that the life will be really dull for me, in your absence-“ongalukku boradikkumea, nan illatta” Are you now convinced that it is not so?

Take care

Affectionately yours,

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Comments

n. saikrishna​n

n.saikrishnan@gmail.com

Sir,

namaskarams. I am reading your post early in the morning in US. I have burst out laughing and my wife became suspicious- “is he ok?”. Thanks for helping me to start the day with a laugh.Have a nice day!

regards

saikrishnan

Camp: Stamford, CT

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ello from Uma Subu !! Abu Dhabi !!‏

02-05-2011

Dear Mama,

I read most of your write ups, I do laugh a lot after reading them. By the way, How come the neighbor lady’s Sari in your cupboard? Just curious to knowJ You are a born writer MamaJ You made my day !!

Regards,

UMA SUBU

http://indiatempletour.blogspot.com/

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Vimal Kumar <vimal_iyer@yahoo.com>

Dear Subramaniam

EXCELLENT !!! Keep Posting like this….really enjoyed !!! ha ha

Regds

Vimal Iyer

Dubai

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HaHahaha.

I wish my dad was around to read this. He would have loved the tongu-in-cheek humour.

I am still grinning as I think of your outrageous story. Your wife must have been an epitome of patience if she really had to put up with all this when she was away trying to relax at her porundaam 🙂

But I guess you are just kidding.

LOL.

Bhavani.

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