Visiting the tomb of erstwhile love

It was a damp night, mind you damp and not wet. Chennai’s weather of late has been blowing hot and cold; with almost hot afternoons packed in humid sweat and reluctant drizzles well shy of being holistic downpours in the nights. So it was one of those nights and I was coming from a night show, to find my bike seat gently kissed by several raindrops, that had deceived the sky’s vigil. One of the primary cons of riding a bike during such times is, you can’t wear your lighter trousers. One, the raindrops leave an impression, not a good one- a wet smudge on the sitting area. And two, even if you vigilantly wipe your way off the previous possibility to preserve tushy dignity, there’s no way you can go unscathed, as the several puddles and inconsiderate vehicles on the way would somehow come together to leave a graffiti on the trousers.
Anyways I was wearing a pair of black trousers that night and it held very little consequence to the other happening of the night, primarily about which this piece is .This one’s about the route I took on my way back and the the trip it took me down the memory lane.

While coming back from the theatre, there are two routes to my place. One that goes through a residential  area and the other one that comes a little ahead, connecting me to the main road.  Over the last few years I’ve consciously and later subconsciously been ignoring the former stretch to take the latter. Initially, it felt like a can filled with worms, waiting to be opened up. Worms waiting to feed on my peace of mind. Then with efflux of time, I had grown oblivious and numb to this stretch’s magnetic negativity. It had come to only be a detour and the route that led to the main road had become an obvious choice.
But today was different, I was itching to take the former route. Not to confront the can of worms, but to take stock of my quality of peace. Curiosity had the better of me and there I was in the stretch I had forbidden as a sort of reality check. This trip was straddling between literal and figurative, for so much in my life had transpired in this L shaped stretch, the gravitas of which was getting to me as I was rumbling through it, metre by metre.

A few hundred metres into this road- painted in shadows of the trees behind -came this compound wall on the left. There was nothing fancy about it, just another neglected-marshy structure raised to mark the periphery of the house. But to me, it marked a new beginning. Back then it was always enveloped from the road by a fleet of school vans parked in front of it. It was our second date, I had just kissed her for the first time inside a deserted Mcrennett a little ahead on the corner of the road. She was pink with amusement and I was a cat, who had had his first taste of meat. We soon left hand-in-hand to take a stroll, incidentally my first walk with someone from the fairer sex. She was a bundle of nerves, obviously given that her folks stayed not far away from there and she was walking with a person who had just earmarked her left cheek with his saliva. Fairly educated on each other’s favourites, we had run out of topics and were in a mood for something non-verbal. The secluded compound wall on the right, stood there with anticipation and we got the cue. I lifted and perched her on it facing me, as I placed my hands on either side of her on the wall. Before we realised, I was kissing all over her face like a caveman, rocking back and forth like doing push-ups in a near state of trance. Together we had debased base one here.

As I drove ahead, came the Mcrennett I had mentioned a little earlier on the corner of the road. Apart from being the unwilling witness and stage to our first sacrilege, it had seen a lot of us. It used to be a favourite hangout, for it didn’t pinch on my wallet hard and it served the best cheese puff known to humanity. We’ve spoken about movies, debated about choice of careers, stolen kisses when no one’s around and have even gone for each other’s necks when arguments turned futile.

We were sparrows constructing nests on unnoticed loft corners of houses with little information to its owners, raising our own little monuments in common places of others surreptitiously.

As I turned right came this place, preceded by a newly fitted majestic metal gate. Back then, there used to be no gate. It was just a long winding driveway that led to a nursery school. We fondly called it “nursery”. Only both of us knew what nursery meant, when among a group of friends. So why were two grown-ups frequenting a nursery? This under lit place became uninhabited in the evening and the unregulated driveway that preceded the nursery, with tall trees on either side, became a tantalising prospect for long walks and the accoutrements that ensued.

Here, we became night creatures that made merry after sunset. Unlike the owls, we couldn’t see too well, but we didn’t complain. We could feel and listen to each other like  in no other place with heightened awareness- finding rhythm in our heartbeats, warmth in our touches, wetness in our lips and dexterity in the fingers to render clothes vestigial. This is where we caught up every time before being away for a while and this is where we came together after being away for a while. This was our ersatz room, before we got a real one.

A few second later came this stretch inundated by tall walls that belonged in fortresses, baring faces of the neighbourhood politician and not so subtle slogans in fluorescent font. I could see a younger me going for the wall, as I discharged my bladder’s content in a blissful fountain. She used to be seated on the bike behind, embarrassed about my uncouth way of answering the nature’s call. As I got on the bike, proud and relieved, my comeuppance would come as she twisted my ear till I twirled along with it in tandem.

I pulled over my bike to take a leak. I was all alone by myself, with no one waiting behind to play mother as I sat to ride.

The L of the stretch was coming to an end as the subway in the end was becoming visible. She used to come out of this from the other side of the road, as I restlessly waited near it. I would check myself on the bike’s mirror a hundred times and would strike the best pose on , as she would pop out of the subway onto my bike in a hurry, to employ the harness on me. After dropping her back late in the evening, I would wait by it till she surfaced from the other side of the subway in one piece.In short, our days were bookbounded by this subway.

Over a decision, things that were very life itself had turned into distant memories I could only live vicariously. I  could revisit them, without craving to recreate. This stretch was like a black box that survived a crash. The drive was like going back to the place of accident after recovering- as a healed person – grateful about the second chance, stronger and peaceful. If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as good or bad in life as every experience culminates systematically in a memory. Good and bad are transitory, a mere reflection of the state of the mind from the time of impact.

The L had come to an end. And it felt like a place I was leaving place from, not one I was coming into.As I turned left to climb the flyover, I felt like Superman  emerging out of Krypton stronger than before. Life was one fear short.

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Teacher’s Day nostalgia

I’m three quarters short of stepping into the third decade in my life. My head is nothing but a cluttered space of learnings, lessons, predispositions, likes and stronger dislikes, tastes, preferences, habits and endless nostalgia. It wasn’t this way all the time. There was a time, when all it registered was the music of lullaby. It was a clean slate when I took my first baby step into PSBB, my first school.

My world was a place full of nameless objects without a curiosity to count and comfortable gibberish, before names and language dawned upon as necessary friction. It’s here I learnt to name call— for a syllabus —animate and inanimate things alphabetically. This is where my naive fingers became a counting apparatus, before algebra and logarithm came to break the cherry of numerical goodness.
Each little miscreant that steps into school is like a sown seed. Some turn out to be flower giving; some fruit bearing and others mere show pieces. But all of them, irrespective of their origin and purpose, need the dampness of soil and the warmth of the sun to become what they’re meant to be. Once they grow, so do their needs. While some grow up to be creepers, needing a scaffold to twirl around, some flourish autonomously with the occasional pruning on the rough edges. The garden metaphors- the soil, sunlight, scaffolding and the gardener are the teachers and mentors who curate the seed in each individual, till the blossom of self sustenance.

I’ve had many such wonderful teachers in my life. Some taught me maths; some accounts; some English; some science and some life itself. I remember one such person, my accounts sir- Mr.Devakumar. A stiff man in his late fifties, there was nothing conventional nor congenial about him. An air of mockery preceded him among the students. When the norm was for students to itch for a period to end, here was a man who had turned the cliche over its head. It could be a critical part of a crucial problem he would be solving on the board or a conversation he would be having with us, all it took was the ring of the school bell to bring him to a stand still. On the sound of it, the chalk would drop,mid air and the verbal exchange would halt mid syllable. You could pay him a crore, but you just couldn’t stop the man from evaporating  out of the class. We laughed at this demeanor. The nonchalant style of teaching accounts, where he would just teach the basics and expect everyone to figure things on their own. At least that’s what I thought. We would receive his assistance, but only when he saw desperation.

By the time I passed out of school I had become acquainted to the rhythm of debits and credits like a million other unimaginative dunces before me. But I had, that they didn’t was the street smartness I had picked from Devakumar in problem solving, inside and outside of books. This lighthearted approach to every situation in life.

And just like that this irreverent man who was supposed to teach me accounts had instead taught me to live life, I really don’t know, how much of this was intended by him, but the lessons from this phase of my life had left an indelible impression in my subconscious.  In a nation, that waits for an instance, any instance to worship certain designations; it is sometimes important to remember and respect the simple individuals behind these designations.

Ambushes in the name of wedding invitation

“Wake up, your friend’s come.“, mom yelled.

It was a blissfully sleepy Sunday afternoon. At that hour even God comes second to sleep. A true friend doesn’t show up as a mark of friendship. An enthusiastic acquaintance from school days isn’t even supposed to be there. Yet there he was, immune to common courtesy. I wanted to train my rottweilers on him. Too bad they seized to exist outside my imagination.

Grumpily I snuggled out of the warm confines of my bedsheet. I checked the phone and there were two missed calls from him. So my right cheek didn’t develop a sudden ability to vibrate in the dream after all.

“Tell him, I’m not home.”
“Too late, I’ve already told him that you’re. He’s waiting in the hall.”, my mom walked out, switching off the fan.

My mother was unleashing this rude social experiment at me on a Sunday afternoon. So long to maternal promises of unconditional love.

After adjusting my hair, I reluctantly walked into the hall to see the perpetrator gleaming on my sofa. He had more gold apparels on him, than Xerxes from 300. On a casual weekend, he could be a bullion reserve to a third world country.

“Hi. I was asleep.”
“Ya da, your mom told me.”
Yet you’re here without a glimmer of discomfort.

“I called and you didn’t pick. So I just came.”
Wow. Decent people check if someone’s at home, before blessing them with their presence, asshole!
“That’s….sweet.But you could’ve just given me a call and I’d come to the wedding.”

“I wanted to see your parents and give my wedding invitation.”

Not see, ambush. And dude, the last we hung together, my balls were bald. And as special as you think our relation is, we’re not friends. As for my parents, they acknowledge the existence of the lizard on the wall above, better than yours,

He gave me what was supposed to be his invitation from a thick stack. It embodied everything that was him-his overall colorfulness,his sledgehammer subtlety and the obscene opulence. Had it been any more embellished, I could’ve pawned it for a home loan.

“Would you like some rosemilk kanna?”, mom interrupted our tête-à-tête with her host hat on.
Before I could turn that offer down on his behalf, he nodded willingly.
Maaaaaaa. Your rosemilk means ten more painful minutes with this prick from a scarred childhood, who doesn’t get the fuck-off on the forehead.

“So when are you getting married?”
“Not anytime soon da.”
“Then you’ll get married after thirty is it?”
Dude you’re really pushing it now. Not only are you overstaying an ungiven welcome, but stepping into unchartered territory to cover rosemilk leadtime.

“Why man. Do men hit menopause at that age?”
“No…..but it’s just”
“I’ve got a few things to do. So not anytime soon.”

The hall was loud with the awkward silence between us. And in a coordinated roll of the eyes I took a glance at the almost empty rosemilk glass and the clock. And voila….he finally got it and got up. God is omnipotent.

“Ok da. I’m starting. I’ve got a few more places to be.Come without fail okay.”
Atleast don’t surprise them.
“Even if meteors are falling, I’ll make it da.”

I opened the door for him and my resistance had finally paid off with his hard earned exit. I felt the relief that generally comes with a good dump after hours of constipation.

“Accompany him to his car and send him off properly”, mom mumbled while picking the tray.
“I don’t do that even for a friend. And definitely not for him. Maybe I can go to his car to ensure he doesn’t come back.”
“I think I’ve brought you up badly.”
“I can’t change that now, but my brand of courtesy ends at the door.”

Another disagreement on the count of courtesy with mom. No food and beverages at home for the next few days.But the threat of his visit had stop looming over my life.I had weathered the storm. Now I can go back to the heart of sweet sleep and try to undo the longest twenty minutes of my life, that I was never getting back. And also hide the rosemilk syrup from my mother.

 

The first time I met Kamal Haasan

 

All of us have a set of things to do and words to be spoken should we accidentally bump into God or a favorite personality, to make the most of the time without remaining awestruck for too long. I’ve always thought about how I would shake hands with Kamal with a firm grip without grabbing them, the first time I meet him in blood and flesh. He’s been my God cum favourite personality since the first time I stepped into the dark of a theatre playing Aboorva Sagotharagal. Ever since, his steep sand paper voice has changed in its meaning in my life from being just a lullaby to the very sound of my conscience. He’s the matinee idol, I’ve over the years come to subconsciously imitate in my articulation and gesticulation out of affection and some kind of entitlement. So I should’ve ideally genuflected at the sight of him, like a minion at the first sight of a mountain.

But coming to think, what I actually did when I met him for the first time was a lot different than just reverential. Funny in fact. But weird most certainly. So he was the chief guest for my school culturals that year, 2005 I suppose. With a moustache that only looked thick next to a girl my age, a mushroom cut for a hair statement and trouser worn just an inch below the chest, I was in the eleventh grade and looked every bit a junior artist from a tacky B grade.

To leave a startling first impression on Thalaivar, I had left no stone unturned. I would’ve done a fifty more push ups that day than usual to look firmer in my uniform, shampooed my hair to a bouncy extent and wore a neck piece that— coming to think of now — made my sexual orientation questionable. I didn’t know how my chest being firmer or my bouncy hair smelling fruity was going to make his trip to my school any more special. But at sixteen you’re allowed your share of screw ups at trying to impress.

Anyways I was there since morning by the doors of the auditorium. Sadly I wasn’t a volunteer. Had I been one, I could’ve been a part of the entourage to take him to the dais. Luckier, could’ve stood next to him for the whole time. But wretched me wasn’t. So I had to do the next best thing to get the front row seat to the shindig.

I’d heard before that Kamal was a chronic late comer to events. I didn’t take it seriously till his car appeared outside the venue, three hours past the scheduled time. People from outside were trying to percolate into the hall, which already— with crowd ballooned inside beyond it’s capacity — was a couple of members away from a stampede. Evergreen tracks from his movies were inundating the air, which by then seemed to transmit electricity from the collective palpable excitement of wolf whistling teenagers. As soon as he walked through those doors, all hells broke loose as the roof came down with the raucous. Sporting a black V-neck half sleeve shirt with a pair of black chinos, he was every bit the debonair presence that had captured the imagination of more than a generation from the silver screen.

At the aisle of a row, I was still a several seconds away from him. He was sauntering in my direction. The seconds in my time frame became slower than minutes, as my demigod was about to cross my path. As I was taking in every bit of the moment, I was ruminating the things to do when I would be parallel to him.
Should I ambush his trajectory for a shake hand or an awkward hug? It felt a little too outrageous for my sensibility. And not only that, it would’ve drawn a lot of attention, which makes me uncomfortably nervous. Maybe I should just wave at him. But that would be too generic an expression of my unconditional love for him.
The window for decision had closed as he was a row away.

I’m going to leave a mark on him, like the way he did on me.

Before my brain could process that course of action, the index finger in my right hand had already began to act. In one quick motion, I swiftly scratched his ample forearm with my nail as he went past me. It took a moment for him to realise that he’d been scratched, by then he was a row before cursing the charlatan who’d done that. I didn’t know what I was thinking, thankfully the deafening crowd around, kept me invisible.

I did manage to leave a mark on him!

Every time I reminisce this anecdote, I can’t get myself to stop laughing. What a stupid seventeen year old have I been. Wish I had known figurative from literal back then, Thalaivar would’ve been one scar less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ari Gold cravings

I’m seeing someone“, Melissa blurts coldly.
Ari breaks down to tears instantly.
Aren’t you going to  say something?
What is there to say?

Well, for the uninitiated Ari Gold‘s a character from the series, Entourage and Melissa’s his wife. The above is an excerpt from their conversation, when their wedlock hits a roadblock. Entourage’s a vivid fly on the wall account about Hollywood actors, their shenanigans, the psyche of the entourage that sticks to them, the men who run the showbiz and the hardball they play to levitate their image.
Ari rates amongst my most favourite men, alongside Kamal Haasan and Chandler. This notwithstanding the unabashed bastard he is. Foul mouthed and irreverent, he would be Osama if political incorrectness was terrorism. But there’s something endearing about all this. Below all the pungency, the pompousness, he’s a nice guy.

Maybe there’s more to my adulation. I identify with him or immodestly put, he’s a lot like me. I’m aware and have been told when I haven’t been, what a human repellent I’m. All my life, I’ve barely been the guy to be found kind or considerate at first sight. Just like Ari, I’m a jack fruit kind of personality, with my thorny exterior being a red herring to the sweetness within.
It is quite fascinating when a favourite character and alter ego merge. Even more, when he goes through the same things you’ve been through once. The fourth wall breaks. You just don’t root for him to be alright. You emote with him; actually like him after a point.
This is exactly where I found myself through the final season of the entourage.

Ari’s wife leaves him over his incessant cussing and mercurial temper.Suddenly his trigger mouthed persona is reduced to a moping bundle, who seeks solace in mediocre gatherings. It took me back to days when I was going through the motions in life post my break up, with every iota of desire sucked from within. She told me about how embarrassed she was before her friends, every time I would use cuss words. Embarrassed?!
Wasn’t she supposed to embrace me for the foulmouthed asshole I was. It stung. I could empathize with him, when he got dumped. The vantage point we gave to our sweethearts, only to be shot from there.

She needed a break from me to discover new things, when I begged her to take me back, months after my break up. I couldn’t believe the low hanging fruit, my self respect had turned in the name of love. My king sized ego, self respect…whatever had become a luxury I couldn’t afford anymore. Beggars couldn’t pick.  Just like me, Ari too was left high and dry.
Bitch found some one else! I’m sorry. But I couldn’t see the man I revered, shrink in humiliation. God, at forty something he’s still quite the women killer and yet he had to go through all this. I remembered the shame I felt to my very soul when I came to know from her, my sweetheart of five years, that she was considering someone. Apparently he was an antithesis of the aberration I was. Fuck, has her lips that belonged to me been tasted by another man? Has her beautiful body made love to another man? The very thought was reducing me to an insecure shadow of myself. I knew logically that we weren’t working, this had to happen and we had to move on, but this was insulting and I just couldn’t swallow the bitter pill life was shoving up my throat.

Like Ari’s wife she was the calmer person between the two of us. All the years, I didn’t know about the implosion happening beneath that calm demeanor, much like him. The break-up, brought out years of pent up anger from their system.The roles reversed, it was our turn to bear the brunt. If he was asked to stay away from their house, I was kicked out of her church in public display.
It was strange to see a character in a TV show, going through his break-up, beat by beat, just like me. Worlds apart, we were the same lines dipping southwards in the graph of love.

What happened in the final episode put a tear or two under my eye, drew a wide grin across my face. He was heard, she took him back.  Notwithstanding the fact that it was a rerun, I was as affected by the magnitude of that moment, just like the first time. Unlike me, Ari wouldn’t become cynical about love. Unlike me, he got another shot. It was magical to vicariously live a different outcome to a similar story through an alter ego. If only, life was written by TV writers.

On the road to romance

It was a damp night, mind you damp and not wet. Chennai’s weather of late has been blowing hot and cold; with almost hot afternoons packed in humid sweat and reluctant drizzles well shy of being holistic downpours in the nights. So it was one of those nights and I was coming from a night show, to find my bike seat gently kissed by several raindrops, that had deceived the sky’s vigil. One of the primary cons of riding a bike during such times is, you can’t wear your lighter trousers. One, the raindrops leave an impression, not a good one- a wet smudge on the sitting area. And two, even if you vigilantly wipe your way off the previous possibility to preserve tushy dignity, there’s no way you can go unscathed, as the several puddles and inconsiderate vehicles on the way would somehow come together to leave a graffiti on the trousers.
Anyways I was wearing a pair of black trousers that night and it held very little consequence to the other happening of the night, primarily about which this piece is .This one’s about the route I took on my way back and the the trip it took me down the memory lane.

While coming back from the theatre, there are two routes to my place. One that goes through a residential  area and the other one that comes a little ahead, connecting me to the main road.  Over the last few years I’ve consciously and later subconsciously been ignoring the former stretch to take the latter. Initially, it felt like a can filled with worms, waiting to be opened up. Worms waiting to feed on my peace of mind. Then with efflux of time, I had grown oblivious and numb to this stretch’s magnetic negativity. It had come to only be a detour and the route that led to the main road had become an obvious choice.
But today was different, I was itching to take the former route. Not to confront the can of worms, but to take stock of my quality of peace. Curiosity had the better of me and there I was in the stretch I had forbidden as a sort of reality check. This trip was straddling between literal and figurative, for so much in my life had transpired in this L shaped stretch, the gravitas of which was getting to me as I was rumbling through it, metre by metre.

A few hundred metres into this road- painted in shadows of the trees behind -came this compound wall on the left. There was nothing fancy about it, just another neglected-marshy structure raised to mark the periphery of the house. But to me, it marked a new beginning. Back then it was always enveloped from the road by a fleet of school vans parked in front of it. It was our second date, I had just kissed her for the first time inside a deserted Mcrennett a little ahead on the corner of the road. She was pink with amusement and I was a cat, who had had his first taste of meat. We soon left hand-in-hand to take a stroll, incidentally my first walk with someone from the fairer sex. She was a bundle of nerves, obviously given that her folks stayed not far away from there and she was walking with a person who had just earmarked her left cheek with his saliva. Fairly educated on each other’s favourites, we had run out of topics and were in a mood for something non-verbal. The secluded compound wall on the right, stood there with anticipation and we got the cue. I lifted and perched her on it facing me, as I placed my hands on either side of her on the wall. Before we realised, I was kissing all over her face like a caveman, rocking back and forth like doing push-ups in a near state of trance. Together we had debased base one here.

As I drove ahead, came the Mcrennett I had mentioned a little earlier on the corner of the road. Apart from being the unwilling witness and stage to our first sacrilege, it had seen a lot of us. It used to be a favourite hangout, for it didn’t pinch on my wallet hard and it served the best cheese puff known to humanity. We’ve spoken about movies, debated about choice of careers, stolen kisses when no one’s around and have even gone for each other’s necks when arguments turned futile.

We were sparrows constructing nests on unnoticed loft corners of houses with little information to its owners, raising our own little monuments in common places of others surreptitiously.

As I turned right came this place, preceded by a newly fitted majestic metal gate. Back then, there used to be no gate. It was just a long winding driveway that led to a nursery school. We fondly called it “nursery”. Only both of us knew what nursery meant, when among a group of friends. So why were two grown-ups frequenting a nursery? This under lit place became uninhabited in the evening and the unregulated driveway that preceded the nursery, with tall trees on either side, became a tantalising prospect for long walks and the accoutrements that ensued.

Here, we became night creatures that made merry after sunset. Unlike the owls, we couldn’t see too well, but we didn’t complain. We could feel and listen to each other like  in no other place with heightened awareness- finding rhythm in our heartbeats, warmth in our touches, wetness in our lips and dexterity in the fingers to render clothes vestigial. This is where we caught up every time before being away for a while and this is where we came together after being away for a while. This was our ersatz room, before we got a real one.

A few second later came this stretch inundated by tall walls that belonged in fortresses, baring faces of the neighbourhood politician and not so subtle slogans in fluorescent font. I could see a younger me going for the wall, as I discharged my bladder’s content in a blissful fountain. She used to be seated on the bike behind, embarrassed about my uncouth way of answering the nature’s call. As I got on the bike, proud and relieved, my comeuppance would come as she twisted my ear till I twirled along with it in tandem.

I pulled over my bike to take a leak. I was all alone by myself, with no one waiting behind to play mother as I sat to ride.

The L of the stretch was coming to an end as the subway in the end was becoming visible. She used to come out of this from the other side of the road, as I restlessly waited near it. I would check myself on the bike’s mirror a hundred times and would strike the best pose on , as she would pop out of the subway onto my bike in a hurry, to employ the harness on me. After dropping her back late in the evening, I would wait by it till she surfaced from the other side of the subway in one piece.In short, our days were bookbounded by this subway.

Over a decision, things that were very life itself had turned into distant memories I could only live vicariously. I  could revisit them, without craving to recreate. This stretch was like a black box that survived a crash. The drive was like going back to the place of accident after recovering- as a healed person – grateful about the second chance, stronger and peaceful. If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as good or bad in life as every experience culminates systematically in a memory. Good and bad are transitory, a mere reflection of the state of the mind from the time of impact.

The L had come to an end. And it felt like a place I was leaving place from, not one I was coming into.As I turned left to climb the flyover, I felt like Superman  emerging out of Krypton stronger than before. Life was one fear short.

Preserving Thatha

I will sow. Then you will enjoy the fruits. And then your children. Then theirs. But the seed, I sowed.
-Thevar Magan

All families have this person, whose glory they prostrate before, eyes welled up. Family elders pass on anecdotes that made this man, someone worth remembering during dinner times, decades later.- These retellings are as much to them as it to us – a measure towards preserving a recall value for posterity in our thoughts and memories, à la image of Gandhi in currency notes. This morning we were talking about one such person, we’ve never let go under the debris of time- my maternal great grand dad. A really great grand dad he was, if I’m allowed some average quality word play.

So what is about him that we spoke, actually spoke again, to get overwhelmed? Nothing new. Pretty much the same stuff we covered the last time and the several times before, probably with the sequence changed. It started with how he played a hand, actually a big one, in us getting our first home.It was early in the nineties, dad had pulled every string that he could and stretched every bit of will power he could possibly, to build our first home. Yet we fell a little short on the final settlement to the builder. This Shylock mould of builder would see one bleed, but not part with his property till the last penny of settlement.
Like now even back then, a man’s words weren’t construed to be money or money’s equivalent. And like in most times, most friends and family had quit his side even before luck could, when they were needed the most. It was at this point that Thatha intervened, when earth below feet our feet was shrinking. Thatha as he was referred to fondly by kith and kin was an elegant elder, clad in spot free white drapes. A clean faced crossover between Bhishma and Gandolf- like most great men -he too was a man of few words and often than not was the calm in the storm to his close ones. We didn’t know at that point that life to us for the next few years or so would become –Cometh the hour, Cometh the Thatha.

 

Coming back to the builder anecdote, as soon as Thatha came to know about our situation, he descended with help wrapped in a thin piece of cloth that looked like two lakhs rupees. And this was not even the best part. He gave the money to dad and chose to wait in his car for him to get the key to the house. He wanted this to be dad’s victory alone. His very own moment under the sun. Among people who bickered for and stole credit from others, here was a man who chose to be in the backdrop as a quiet fulcrum to a young man’s dream. I could’ve been born a few years earlier. Big deal I would be a few years older now. But I would’ve been able to appreciate this wonderful predecessor of mine beyond his physical features. Remember him beyond his wrinkled kind face. I would’ve probably known the importance of the brief tenures on his weary lap. I was like a toddler, who made paper boats out of a stack of currency notes.

In dad, he saw his younger self- the same fire in the belly, the altruistic persona,arrow like ambition and a strong will. And thanks to dad, he found himself in doppelganger territory, that he was hoping to be with his own sons. In him, dad saw a dad he never had. A father like figure, a surgeon to expose a wound before. A mentor to confide in, whose concern went beyond free advices.

Thatha‘s was a fine administrative mind as well. There are truckloads of folklore in this genre like the one Amma brought up later, about how his logistical reshuffle added a few decades and life to my grandpa, who was pretty much a vegetable for medical experiments till then. Or the one where he chipped in to help dad move into his first office space.
Coming to think of it, he’s been there in every significant first step we had taken, as an invisible walker to hold on to. No wonder his funeral was such an animated day. As someone in his third grade, it just meant a day off from school. Like a blissful fool, I was taking stock of people who looked funny when they broke down.  I saw this graceful giant rested peacefully on the floor of his abode, as hundreds of people stood there in morbid disbelief. Here was an octogenarian who had lead a glorious life and died a peaceful death. But to most men like us, that day marked life ahead without a guardian angel looking out. Looking back now, we see impressions of a pair of feet in the sands of time, that had  diligently walked along with us till we made shore.

As the quote in the beginning, Thatha was the one to sow. We continue to be the fruit bearers.True story. Then, what about some good stuff we continue to do, to make lives around us a little sunnier? Probably his anecdotes were the seeds that were sown in us. Maybe these were the fruits we bore on his behalf to the world, his legacy. After all, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right?

 

 

 

 

Thatha– Tamil word for grandfather