Some friends complain that they are not receiving adequate attention from their children living abroad. Some go to the extend of saying that their children were ‘good’ before their wedding, implying that they had become ‘bad’ after wedding!

I got vexed with one of them and asked, ‘pray, what is your complain against your sons? They are gems, as I know’

‘They are not giving green signal for my marrying a woman I like’, was the answer from a man of my age!

I jumped from my seat and was about to throttle his neck when Ammalu, held me back, but I did yell at him:

‘You can’t see without glasses, can’t hear with out aids, can’t walk without a sticker but you want to marry?’

‘That exactly is the reason,’ he replied and smiled. Ammalu too joined in his smile.

My children are very kind to me, too kind I would say. I know they will be, till I ask them for permission for—— .
No, I won’t. Ammalu will never let me go out of her grips.

Last week, during their daily FaceTime interaction, I casually mentioned that my podiarisi, broken parboiled rice, stock was getting exhausted. On the third day, I received a small bag of Kerala mattai arisi, through Amazon home delivery.

As per my usual practice , I searched and found out the price printed on the bag. Rs. 850 for 5 kg! .My blood circulation stopped for a moment. ( it restarted, as it can’t afford to stay immobile for long). For five kilos, I would not have paid more than 250 Rs. In our Malayali shop. The carton says the contents is an Organic stuff. Ok, another 50 Rs.

Three nights, I didn’t sleep ( of course, I slept during daytimes ).

I decided to yell at them for wasting their hard earned money , when they call next time, but my matured brain made me to do some minor calculations:

It was so nice of my son Srikanth to have told his wife Hamsa, about my need, by my just mentioning that my stock was depleting and it was so nice of her to have ordered Kerala mattai. Either my son didn’t mention the name ‘podiarisi’ in his hurry to fulfill my need or in her hurry to oblige him, she heard only ‘arisi’ or the ‘podi’ stuff was not available with Amazon. But for me, what was important was , my son without waiting for a minute, told his wife and she obeyed. Both are important. Equally important.

‘He could have asked me,’why podiarisi? Why not the Goduma arisi, broken wheat, you’re eating now?’
And again Hamsa could have asked her hubby, ‘you get an indent early morning from your dad( she would not have said ‘that old man from Habsiguda’, as my children think that I’m not old now and it will take many more years for me to become old)
and instantly pass on to me?’

And if I shout at them, they may not shout back ( as they were not face to face), but next time when I genuinely has a demand, they will give my indent a cold shoulder.

Considering all these points, I told them in the typical FB language, ‘amazing. You did a good job’. Then after a minute, added, ‘next time before ordering, please consult me’. So, my message was conveyed in a ‘polished’ way

Just because my children are extremely considerate, I should not take undue advantage. No father at my age can. As my friend Dr. Kidambi Vasudevan of Florida has proclaimed on the wall poster in his house, ‘be nice to your children; they decide your nursing home’

But, deep inside me that feeling that they paid more for the stuff, was irritating. So, after two days, I told them, 850 Rs. was a big amount to be spent on mattai arisi. It is after all mattai!

‘What does ‘mattai’ mean, appa?’, Hamsa asked. ‘Is it same as mottai?’. She was not born in Palakkad, not even in India and therefore, her doubt was understandable.

‘Mattai’ is ordinary, not high quality and ‘mottai’ is shaven head.

‘Mattai, why Appa? You said it is nutritious?’ Was her next question.
‘Probably because it is unpolished and therefore miss the outward appearance of polished rice’, I replied.

‘But, it is nutritious though it is unpolished!’, she exclaimed.

‘Yes, you’re right my child’, I said and added, ‘many unpolished things in this world are good, like me, though the external appearance may be unappealing, again like me:

‘Appa!’, intervened Megh, ‘you’re unpolished! How polished you were in telling us that the amount we paid was unacceptable to you!’

After a second, Sharath quipped, ‘Dad, a special Margarita treat in the Italian restaurant for you, the day you land here, for claiming that your external appearance is unappealing.
You’re more stylish than all of us’.

I’m stylish ! I’m sitting now with a ‘thorthumundu’ on my shoulder!

Yes, he has a point. Partially wet thorthumundu on the upper torso, is the stylish body cover for the sweaty Hyderabad now.

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