The respected womenfolk who came for Bommakolu, called me aside, when Ammalu was busy inside.
“SP Sir, Ammalu is a wonderful girl”. No woman says that about another woman and I therefore anticipated them to ask the next question, the purpose for which they had approached me.
“Yes she is” I admitted, “she is a girl and she is wonderful”
“SP Sir, what is your opinion about old men?” . The cat comes out of the bag. So, they are determined to browbeat me.
“They are a nuisance”.
Ladies, how many like you haven’t I seen in life ?
They didn’t expect such an instant and juicy reply from me.. I continued,”It is much easier to manage kids and pets than old men. Kids, you can send out for playing, give homework or sit out and if nothing works, you can shout or even strike. Pets, you can chain. None of these will come to your support with oldies”
“Wah! What a wisdom!” In one voice they exclaimed, “Sir, show us the way. We all have an old bird in our tree. We call him Garuda, but he is an owl, doing nothing but keeping an eye on our movements, nagging, murmuring and crying when our husband returns from the office”.
“Request the old man in your house to twist kaimurukku”.
Women generally are good guessers , but they didn’t expect my blow.
Ammalu peered in, hearing the word murukku, followed by pin drop silence and sudden burst of claps.
“But, Sir, how? Even many of us don’t know that trick ; how do you expect the old man in our house to know twisting murukku?” Each of them flashed the same question.
“That exactly is the reason why you should give him the task”
“If he refuses?” A wise lady asked a valid question.
“Tell him that his grand child wants to eat the snack made by him and he wants only murukku. No grand pa will say, ‘no'”
“It will keep him busy the whole day,” I continued.” Moreover, he gets good exercise for his fingers and palm. The sitting on the floor eases the rigidity of his back and legs. He will get up several times to visit restroom, come back and sit- all theses are relaxation techniques.
Old people are easy preys for addiction and he will go to bed moving his fingers. And the next day he will look at your face anxiously expecting the same request,you made the previous day. But he has already made a mess yesterday and you won’t ask him to twist murukku again, So,quietly, you show him the rosary, the string of Tulsi beads, hanging from the hook along with the picture of a god in the pooja room. He will start moving the beads and sit in a corner, closing his eyes. After a few hours, when he gets bored, give him two small balls and ask him to keep rotating in his palms.
His son, observing his dad playing with balls, when he returns late from office, will ask you, how it happened. You explain to him. He will hug you and praise your intelligence. You tell him, smilingly, “you twist murukku this Sunday and improve blood circulation in your hands, back, neck and legs. You need the exercise more than your dad”
I stopped, looked around as if what came out of my mouth was only a milli of my intelligence and enquired, ” any more question, sweet ladies?”
One lady, overcome by emotion, came forward to hug me, a usual practice here, but withdrew reluctantly observing Ammalu’s stern face.
“She is a girl and she is wonderful ” I commented. The good lady was not pleased. But my old lady was.