Tag Archives: Malabaars

Nog Pen Story van Tough Love

Een keer 'n gunsteling oom van my het my 'n pen. Hierdie oom het 'n soldaat in die Indiese Army op daardie tydstip. Soldate wat gebruik word om elke jaar of so by die huis kom vir 'n paar maande, en gee geskenke aan almal in die uitgebreide familie. Daar was 'n gevoel van reg oor die hele ding, en ek het nooit gedink die gawe takers dat hulle dalk iets kon gee terug asook. Gedurende die afgelope paar dekades, dinge verander. Die gawe takers sou stroom om die ryk “Golf Malayalees” (Keralite trekarbeiders in die Midde-Ooste) daardeur erg verminder die sosiale stand van die armes soldate.

In elk geval, hierdie pen wat ek van my oom was 'n mooi mat-goud eksemplaar van 'n merk genoem Crest, moontlik oor die Chinese grens aan die voet van die Himalaja gesmokkel en verkry deur my oom. Ek was 'n bietjie trots op hierdie gesogte besitting van my, as ek dink ek het al my besittings in later jare. Maar die pen het nie so lank — dit het deur 'n ouer seun met wie ek 'n tafel gedurende 'n toets in die somer van te deel gesteel 1977.

Ek was platgeslaan deur die verlies. Meer as dit, Ek was bang vir die verhuring van my ma weet want ek het geweet dat sy nie gaan vriendelik neem dit. Ek dink ek moet meer versigtig gewees het en het die pen op my persoon te alle tye. Seker genoeg, my ma was briesend van woede oor die verlies van hierdie geskenk van haar broer. 'N voorstander van die taai liefde, sy het my vertel om te gaan soek die pen, en nie om terug te keer sonder dat dit. Nou, dit was 'n gevaarlike skuif. Wat my ma het nie waardeer, was dat ek het die meeste voorskrifte letterlik. Ek het nog nie. Dit was reeds laat in die aand wanneer ek op my hopeloos dwalende, en dit is onwaarskynlik dat ek sal terug te keer op alle, want ek was nie veronderstel om te, nie sonder die pen.

My pa by die huis kom 'n paar uur later, en was geskok oor die wending. Hy het beslis nie in moeilike liefde glo, ver van dit. Of miskien het hy 'n gevoel van my letterlike ingesteldheid, nadat 'n slagoffer van dit vroeër. In elk geval, Hy het op soek na my en my gekry doelloos ronddwaal my opgesluit skool sowat tien kilometer van die huis af.

Ouerskap is 'n balans. Jy het taai liefde uit te oefen, sodat jou kind moet nie bereid wees om vir die harde wêreld later in die lewe. Jy het liefde en liefde te wys, asook sodat jou kind kan voel emosioneel veilige. Jy het om te voorsien vir jou om jou kind sonder om te bederf, of jy sou eindig bederf hulle. Jy het om hulle vryheid en ruimte te gee om te groei, maar jy moet nie losstaande en ongevoelig geword. Tuning jou gedrag aan die regterkant steek op so baie dimensies is wat ouerskap 'n moeilike kuns te bemeester. Wat maak dit regtig scary is die feit dat jy net een skoot op dit. As jy dit verkeerd, die rimpels van jou foute kan baie langer as wat jy kan dink. Sodra toe ek ontsteld met hom, my seun (ver wyser as sy ses jaar dan) het vir my gesê dat ek moes versigtig wees, want hy sou behandel word sy kinders die manier waarop ek hom behandel. Maar dan, ons weet dit reeds, doen ons nie?

My ma het my voor te berei vir 'n onvergeeflike werklike wêreld, en my vader genoeg goedheid gekoester in my. Die kombinasie is miskien nie te sleg nie. Maar ons almal wil graag beter as ons ouers doen. In my geval, Ek gebruik 'n eenvoudige truuk my gedrag en behandeling van my kinders te moduleer. Ek probeer om myself te beeld by die ontvangs van die einde van die genoemde behandeling. As ek moet voel onversorg vir of onregverdig behandel, die gedrag moet fine-tuning.

Hierdie truuk nie al die tyd werk nie, want dit kom gewoonlik na die feit. Ons eerste tree in reaksie op 'n situasie, voordat ons tyd 'n rasionele kostevoordeel-analise te doen. Daar moet 'n ander manier van doen dit reg wees. Mag dit is net 'n kwessie van die ontwikkeling van 'n baie geduld en vriendelikheid. Jy weet, daar is tye wanneer Ek wens ek kon my pa vra.

Eye Catcher

Lang tyd gelede, my tiener-bende het 'n mooi meisie wat ons die eye catcher genoem. Een van my vriende in die bende dring daarop aan dat hy vorendag gekom met die naam, Alhoewel ek duidelik onthou dat dit was ek wat die eerste keer gebruik dit. Ek onthou, want dit was van die laaste bladsy van Indië Vandag van die tyd, wat het 'n kolom met die titel “Branders oog.” Maar my vriend het altyd meer verwoord as ek nie, en dit is heel moontlik dat hy gevat onder die catchy naam sonder enige hulp van Indië Vandag.

Tyd het gevlieg, en vandag het gister geword. Gedurende die jaar wat strek van daardie ouderdom van onskuld en nou, wanneer ons bende ontmoet (een keer 'n jaar of so in die begin, een keer 'n dekade van wyle), die eye catcher was 'n onderwerp wat altyd opgekom. en sodra, een van ons het gewonder of ons sal praat oor haar as ons ontmoet op die ouderdom van vyftig, wat onbegryplik ver dan. (Weer, Ek dink ek was die een wat saam met dit; mag wees Ek wil krediet te neem vir elke pittige ding wat gebeur rondom my.)

Nou met die verre vyftig net om die draai, Ek wonder. Was dit die prisma van adolessensie wat skoonheid versterk, of was sy regtig dat opvallende? Nou, natuurlik, die tand van die tyd sal sekerlik het afgestomp enige skoonheid sy in besit neem, en gemaak sinici van die wat sien nie waarna hulle na prismas van adolessensie en verwoesting van tyd oorweeg. Ek dink ek verkies om nie die antwoord ken. Dikwels is die vaag foto's met vervaag kleure is mooier as die kakelbont werklikheid in 'n hoë definisie.

Dit is soortgelyk aan die krapperige Malabaars liedjies wat ek luister na my motor. My Engelssprekende gesin lag vir my wanneer ek dit doen. Aan hulle, die lirieke nie sin maak nie, die maat is dom, en die soet melodie van Yesudas is byna bruto, soos koue pannekoek swem in verjaar stroop. Ek blameer hulle nie. Selfs vir my, dit is nie net die woorde en die geluide wat my hart bind aan die liedjies; dit is die vervaag kleure van die verlede. Dit is die gesigte en tonele wat die liedjies te bring na vore, soos die geur van Junie reën, die oranje kleur van die modderige slaggate, en die hoë klapper bome teen blou lug en wit cumulus, liggies wieg hul koppe in bekragtig wat ook al avonture die dag het in die winkel. En die gesigte van die eenvoudige siele wat hul rol uit op daardie stadium van die lewe en buig uit. Herinneringe van 'n paradys verloor.

Maar daardie spelers het hul deel goed genoeg is om hulself afdruk op die liedjies vir 'n goeie. En met die twilights loer oor die horison nou, Ek wonder dikwels — wat gaan ek agter te laat? What are you?

A Parker Pen van Singapoer

Gedurende die vroeë deel van die vorige eeu, Daar was beduidende migrasie van Chinese en Indiërs na Singapoer. Die meeste van die immigrante van Indiese oorsprong was etniese Tamils, wat is die rede waarom Tamil is 'n amptelike taal hier. Maar sommige het gekom van my Malabaars-praat geboorteland van Kerala. Onder hulle was Natarajan wat, vyftig jaar later, saam met my sal deel sy indrukke van Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose en die Indiese Nasionale Weermag van die veertigerjare. Natarajan sou, deur die destydse, word genoem die Singapoer Oupa (Singapoer Appuppa), en joga leer my, verduidelik die mistieke aspekte van dit 'n bietjie, sê dinge soos, “'N Praktisyn joga, selfs wanneer hy in 'n skare, is nie heeltemal 'n deel van dit.” Ek het hierdie stelling onthou toe 'n vriend van my by die werk het opgemerk dat ek geloop onaangeraak (soort van soos Tim Robbins in die Shawshank Redemption) deur die korporatiewe gewoel, wat, natuurlik, mag gewees het 'n beleefde manier van die roeping van my lui.

In elk geval, die Singapoer Oupa ('n neef van my vaderlike oupa) was nogal lief vir my pa, wat was onder die eerste Universiteit gegradueerdes van daardie deel van Kerala. Hy het vir hom 'n Parker pen van Singapoer as 'n gradeplegtigheid geskenk. Sommige vyftien jaar later, hierdie pen sal vir my 'n les wat nog nie ten volle geleer vier dekades op leer.

My father was very proud of his pen, die kwaliteit en stewigheid, en is spog met sy vriende een keer. “I wouldn’t be able to break it, even if I wanted to!” het hy gesê, sonder sy seun merk (Die uwe), al vier jaar dan met slegs 'n beperkte begrip van hipotetiese conditionals van hierdie soort. Volgende aand, toe hy terug gekom van die werk, Ek wag vir hom by die deur, stralend met trots, hou sy kosbare pen deeglik gekneus. “Pa, pa, Ek het dit gedoen! Ek het daarin geslaag om jou pen te breek vir jou!”

Hartseer as my vader gewees het, Hy het nie eens sy stem verhef. Hy het gevra, “Wat het jy gedoen dat, sy?” die gebruik van die té liefdevolle Malabaars woord vir “sy”. Ek was net te gretig om te verduidelik. “You said yesterday that you had been trying to break it, maar kon nie. Ek het dit vir julle!” Eerder kort op taalvaardigheid, Ek was al 'n bietjie te lank op fisika. I had placed the pen near the hinges of a door and used the lever action by closing it to accomplish my mission of crushing it. In werklikheid, Ek onthou die voorval toe ek probeer om my vrou te verduidelik (kort op fisika) waarom die deur prop geplaas naby aan die skarniere is die oortreding van die vloer teëls eerder as stop die deur.

My father tried to fix his Parker pen with scotch tape (wat genoem is sellofaan band op daardie tydstip) en rekkies. Later, hy het daarin geslaag om die liggaam van die pen te vervang, hoewel hy kon nooit heeltemal los die lek ink. Ek het nog steeds die pen, en hierdie blywende les in oneindige geduld.

Twee en 'n half jaar gelede, my pa oorlede. Gedurende die daaropvolgende selfondersoek, this close friend of mine asked me, “Wel, nou dat jy weet wat dit neem, hoe goed doen jy dink jy doen?” Ek dink nie ek doen wat goed, vir 'n paar lesse, selfs wanneer dit ten volle geleer, is net te moeilik om te sit in die praktyk.

Foto deur dailylifeofmojo cc

Moonwalkers

Dit is een van die vele samesweringsteorieë — dat die maanlanding nooit werklik plaasgevind het. Hoe kon die vlag fladder? Die foto's — is hulle regtig geneem op die maan, of in 'n ateljee in Navada?

Hier is 'n ander teorie. 'N bietjie bekend feit. Die foto is nie heeltemal vals. Dit is net dat NASA het net die helfte van die prentjie. Check dit uit:
Kyk na die skadu onder .
Het jy al ooit opgemerk hulle voor ?

Klik hier (of op die beeld) die hele prentjie te sien!

Die Wêreldse Malayalees

As 'n gemiddelde Singapoer hoor van die Wêreld Malayalee Konferensie, die eerste ding wat hulle sou sê, is, “Wêreld wat nou??” Malayalees is mense van die klein Indiese staat Kerala. Hulle is nie te met Maleiers verwar, Alhoewel sommige van die dinge wat ons met Maleise assosieer (soos Pratas en biriyani) kan teruggevoer word na Kerala.

Sulke kruis kulturele uitwisseling wys op 'n belangrike eienskap van Malayalees. Hulle is geneig om fan uit en, in hul eie klein maniere, die wêreld oorwin. Hulle verwelkom ook eksterne invloede heelhartig. Hulle is dalk die enigste mense (anders as die Chinese, natuurlik) wat gereeld gebruik om 'n Chinese wok vir kook of 'n Chinese netto vir die vang van hulle visse. Hulle het selfs die praktyk hul eie weergawe van Kung-fu, en by tye daarop aandring dat die Chinese eintlik geleer om dit van hulle.

Internasionale en kosmopolitiese in hul unieke maniere vir duisende jare, Malayalees is 'n mengsel van teenoorgesteldes, en Kerala 'n minderjarige ekonomiese en sosiologiese raaisel. Malayalees geesdriftig Christenskap en Moslem gelowe wanneer hulle aanvanklike sendelinge en gesante buite hul plekke van oorsprong gewaag. Maar, Hulle het ook verwelkom Marxisme en ateïsme met gelyke ywer.

Op 'n gemiddelde, Kerala het 'n per-capita inkomste onder die wêreld se armste, maar al die ander ekonomiese aanwysers is op 'n gelyke voet met die wêreld se rykste. In die gesondheid aanwysers soos lewensverwagting, per-capita aantal dokters, en kindersterftes, Kerala bestuur die VSA te spieël op sowat 'n tiende van die per capita rykdom. Kerala is die eerste (en miskien die enigste) derde wêreld provinsie spog beter as 90% geletterdheid, en is omtrent die enigste plek in Indië en China met meer vroue as mans.

Singapoer het 'n spesiale plek in die Malayalee hart. Onder hul aanvanklike ondernemings buite Kerala gedurende die koloniale era, Malayalees geteiken Singapoer as 'n gewilde bestemming. Miskien as gevolg van hierdie historiese voorliefde, Malayalees gevind dat dit hul natuurlike Wêreld Malayalee konferensie hier gasheer.

Singapoer het ook sagte plekkie vir Malayalees en hul bydraes. Die konferensie self sal geseënd wees deur die teenwoordigheid van die president van Singapoer, Mnr. S. R. Nathan en die Minister van Buitelandse Sake, Mnr. George Yeo. President Nathan sal die Malayalee Heritage en Kultuur Exhibition begin, en Minister Yeo sal 'n belangrike noot toespraak by die Sakekamer gee.

Die erfenis en kultuur, dateer terug tot meer as twee duisend jaar, is iets wat elke Malayalee is met reg trots wees. Die uitstalling sal alles van die grot gravures showcase antieke skip gebou tegnologie.

Verder gaan as die historiese en kulturele affiniteite, Kerala ook is 'n besigheid bondgenoot na Singapoer, veral in rou seekos. Singapoer, in hul eie reg, verskaf 'n bestendige stroom van beleggings en toeriste te Kerala.

Ekotoerisme is inderdaad een van die top-aantreklikhede Malayalees sal showcase tydens die konferensie. Aard is té goed vir Kerala, met die golwende heuwels van die Wes-Ghat mildelik eien die Mons Oons en jaloers bewaak die Malayalees teen enige moontlike plundering van hul groen rykdom. Geseën met 'n gematigde klimaat ongewoon aan die tropiese enklawe dat dit, en met die hipnotiese skoonheid van die mistige groen heuwels en tee plantasies, Kerala is inderdaad 'n paradys wag, miskien onwillig, ontdek te word.

Dit Wêreld Malayalalee Konferensie, met sy kulturele vertonings en erfenis uitstallings, sal vertoon wat Kerala het om te bied aan die wêreld, van toerisme en kultuur te sakegeleenthede en talent swembad. Dit sal ook showcase Singapoer aan die Malayalee diaspora en leer hulle 'n ding of twee oor administratiewe doeltreffendheid, netheid en besigheid verbinding.

Is jy 'n Malayali?

As jy nie kan inpas vier passasiers in die voorste sitplek van 'n ambassadeur taxi, terwyl dit in die agterkant is daar agt passasiers en twee kinders met hul koppe by die venster uit te steek, kanse is, jy 'n Mallu gaan jou niggie se troue by te woon.

As jy nie kan loop, ry 'n 100 cc motorfiets sonder 'n valhelm gedra en speel sokker terwyl geklee in 'n Lungi vasgebind halfmast, Malayali status!

As jou oorlede pa verlaat om 'n gedeelte van 'n ou huis as jou erfenis, en jy het dit in “Chaya cadre,” Ja, jy is 'n Malayali.

As jy het meer as 5 familie werk in die Golf, Big Time Malayali…

As jy die woorde “Mol Chinchu + Jinchu Mol” geskryf op die agterste venster van jou Omni motor, Ja, jy is 'n Malaayli.

As jy verwys na jou man as “Kettiyon, ithiyan, pil paneel Appan,” raai wat — jy is 'n sentrale Travancore Siriese Christen Malayali.

As jy het 'n Tamilian geparkeer in die voorkant van jou huis elke Sondag, stryk jou klere, kanse is 'n jy is 'n Midde-Klas Malayali.

As jy het meer as drie werknemer vakbonde by jou werkplek, dan vra nie meer, jy is inderdaad 'n Malayali.

As jy in die krag gestem het 'n Hoof Minister wat nie geslaag het in die 4de graad vra dan geen verdere, JY IS 'n Malayali.

As jy het ten minste twee familielede wat in die VSA in die gesondheid sektor , Ja! Malayali!

As jy godsdienstig koop 'n lotto kaartjie elke week, dan is jy in die Malayali Sone!

As jy 'n vrou as beskryf “charrakku,” yep, Malayali!

As jy voortdurend verwys na piesang as “uitgeruil” of pizza as “pee,” jy is 'n Malayali..

As jy gebruik klapper olie in plaas van verfynde groente-olie en kan nie uitvind waarom mense in jou gesin het aangebore hart probleme, jy dalk 'n Malayali.

As jy gaan uit 'n fliek te sien by die plaaslike teater met jou Wifey dra al die goud juweliersware begaafde na haar deur haar ouers, jy is 'n nuut getroude Malayali.

As jy en jou vrou en drie kinders aantrek in jou beste Sondag en gaan uit biriyani te hê op Kayikka se op 'n 100 cc Bajaj Mobike, jy 'n opwaarts mobiele Malayali van Cochin.

As jou idee van haute cuisine is kappa en Meen kerrie, dan, Ja, jy is 'n Malayali.

As jy vleis puttu vir ontbyt, beesvleis olathu vir middagete, en beesvleis kerrie met 'borotta’ vir aandete, ja, beslis Malalyali.

As jou naam Wislon, en jou vrou se naam is Baby, en jy noem jou dogter Wilby, het geen twyfel glad, jy is 'n standaard Malayali.

As die meeste van die huise op jou blok word kots geel geverf, fluorescent groen, en helder pienk, Malayali beslis Malappuram.

As jy bind 'n handdoek om jou kop en bars in 'n hees weergawe van die lied “Largate” nadat drie glase grok, dan is jy 'n hardcore Malayali.

As jy appetizers noem bedien met alkoholiese drank as “touchings,” dan is jy een helse Malayali.

As die plaaslike grok winkeleienaar weet jy deur jou troeteldier se naam, en jy noem hom “Porinju Chetta” (kekekekekek), dan is jy ware Malayali.

As jy siek is en jou Wifey vryf “Bicks” in jou neus en gee jou “kurumulaku Rasam” met chakkara, (ouma se resep) te help verlig jou simptome, damn!! Jy is Malayali.

As jy hoef nie enige verklarings vir enige van die bogenoemde, Jy weet dat jy is die ware Jakob, A blou bloed Malayali. Lal Salaam.

And the Wind Whispered…

[This post is my translation of an excellent short story by one of the most gifted storytellers of our time, O.V.Vijayan. The translation from Malayalam is a feeble effort, because such distant translations are not merely between languages, but cultures. The untranslatable expressions are marked with asterisks. Enjoy!]

Reached Kanjikad from Palghat by Coimbatore street. From there on, it was unpaved dirt road to the mountains. Even the rough taxi Jeep found that hard to take. This was Theyunni’s second trip here in the last ten years and he had no complaints about the roughness now.

“Ditch ahead”, Driver said, glancing at the dirt road in front.

“If you want to stop here, it’s okay”, Theyunni offered, “I can walk.”

It’s about two miles from here. Accustomed as he was to the comfort of limousine rides between airports and star hotels, the prospect of the hard hike did not discourage Theyunni.

“Nah. We’ll go slow, sit tight.”

“Okay.”

The Jeep carefully negotiated the winding mountain road. Theyunni glanced at the wild valley as if for the first time. The sunshine cooled by the hillside, the east winds tunnelled through the mountain passes and roaring towards Palghat…

“The trees are all gone, aren’t they, Driver?”, Theyunni observed.

“All downed. Was forests here till about five years ago. Elephants used to come down.”

Ja, last time when he was here, there were huge trees on either side. Trees he didn’t know the names of. There were crickets all around carrying on with their shrill orchestra. Theyunni recalled that journey. He was coming back to Bombay after a European trip and his wife was at the airport. Sy het gesê, “There is a letter from home, looks like *Brother’s handwriting.”

“Wonder what is happening. Didn’t you open it, Phoebe?”

“You know I don’t open your letters.”

When the car was moving towards Juhu, Theyunni stole a glance at Phoebe’s face behind the wheel. Like a flawless marble sculpture with golden hair dancing in the wind. It was against her culture to open her husband’s letters. There were many things in her culture that attracted him — her confident courage in kissing him in that garden few years ago, proclaiming, “I love you”. If the relationship were to turn sour in the years to come, the honesty and integrity that would make her say, “I do not love you any more, we have to get divorced”. These were the challenges that inspired him. He remembered the journey home to tell *Father that he was in love with Phoebe, his fellow-student at Stanford. Father did not say anything against it, just smiled his sweet, thoughtful smile. It was *Mother — “We had Devaki’s horoscope looked at…”

Devaki was a distant relative. The daughter of some in-land farmer. Hiding his contempt for horoscopes, Theyunni comforted Mother, “That is not much, Mother. We didn’t give our word.”

Nobody said anything for a while. Then Mother said, “Isn’t understanding as big as word? It’s like Devaki has married you in her heart.”

“It’s the boy’s decision, Madhavi,” Father said, “Why do you want to say this and that?”

Mother withdrew herself, “I didn’t say anything…”

“Don’t worry about Mother’s complaints, Kutta. So, do you like this Phoebe?”

Theyunni was a little embarrassed, “Yes.”

“Will an American girl like to live in this old family house of ours, Kutta?”, Mother inquired.

“Why wouldn’t she?”

Father said, “It’s not as though they are going to come live here, is dit?”

“So Father and Son have decided that as well,” Mother said, “that they don’t want to live here?”

“Wherever we live, we’ll come here first, Mother.”

Theyunni saw Mother’s eyes well up. After blessing Phoebe and wishing Devaki well in her life, Mother said, “I won’t ask you to change your mind. Maar, will you look after Father, Kutta?”

“Of course.”

“You remember how he used to be? His body is getting old…”

Father intervened again with his smile, “Madhavi, why do you say such things and make him unhappy? Don’t pay any attention to her, Kutta.”

Even during the novelty of his love, Theyunni could feel *Devaki’s true meaning in his *rustic heart — the farmer bride who would sweep the floor and light the evening lamp. Mother said, “There was only one thing on my mind — your sister-in-law is not able-bodied. If it had been Devaki, there was a hope that she would look after your father in his old age…”

Theyunni didn’t say anything then. Even in the later years, he couldn’t say anything about that. Phoebe, who never opened her husband’s letters, drove skillfully through the streets of Juhu. When Father fell sick years after the marriage, Phoebe advised, “Your little town is actually a village. Why don’t we take him to a good hospital in a city? We can easily afford that.”

What Father needed was nearness and touch to die peacefully. Theyunni came home alone with those and saw him off. Mother also died in the old family house. Phoebe was back at Stanford then. She sent a formal condolence telegram. *Devaki‘s meaning again filled his mind.

In Juhu, Theyunni read Brother’s letter. “I’m not doing too well, Kutta. Just to let you know. I won’t ask you to take time off your busy schedule and come by these forests. Just think of me, same effect as seeing. Didn’t even let Sreekumar know. I was worried that he might get anxious and take a trip — not easy to come here from Cambridge, is dit? If only your sister-in-law had been alive… Weaknesses of an old heart…”

The Jeep continued it’s laborious journey negotiating an occasional ditch and gutter.

“Sorry about the trouble, Driver,” Theyunni tried to comfort the driver.

“Nah, just doing my job.”

Must be another mile from here. It was after his wife’s death that Brother decided to resign from service and move to the high lands. Theyunni vehemently opposed that decision. “Why are you moving to this god-forsaken land in Palghat among leopards and wild boars? Verder, you could be in service for another 10 jaar. Even after retiring, you know that a nuclear physicist can do so many things…”

Brother’s reply came, “There are debts that one owes — to one’s country, one’s community, one’s family. I feel that I have repaid my dues to the best of my ability. There are some other obligations that I have to take care of. That’s is why I’m seeking refuge in these valleys.”

Brother never mentioned what those obligations were. Theyunni didn’t inquire either.

The soft-spoken Brother took a decision only after much reasoning; it was not easy to make him go back on them. Later, Brother wrote about his camp-site: about four miles off the road, there were fertile lands lying just outside the woods. Brother built a house there, among coconut palms, vegetables, mango trees… Dirt walls, wooden ceiling and roofs of clay tiles. It was at some distance from anywhere. Egter, there was a farmer, Ponnuswami, living in a hut nearby. Brother could ask Ponnuswami for help if needed. Apart from that, he was quite alone in that valley. Theyunni could not figure out the meaning of that penance and forgot about it. Years went by. But when Phoebe handed over that unopened letter, he suddenly felt that he should go there in a hurry.

“Wel, Phoebe, I’ll go and see what’s going on.”

“What is the name of that place? Kanjikad, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Brother had invited me to go and see the mountains.”

“Ja, I remember.”

“Must be a perfect place for get-away vacation. But it’s dangerous to get sick there. Why don’t you bring him here? We could have him treated at Jeslock or something.”

Phoebe was repeating her suggestion on treatments. Theyunni remembered the last time the suggestion was offered and it made him uneasy.

“We can’t get inside his mind, Phoebe. I’ll go there and see.”

That was how Theyunni came here for the first time, ten years ago. Not only was he anxious about Brother’s health and solitary life, he also wanted to give Brother a piece of his mind about the untimely penance. When he took a taxi from Coimbatore airport to go to Kanjikad, his mind was filled with impatience and hard feelings towards Brother. The driver got discouraged by the sight of ditches and gutters in the dirt road. It didn’t take too much to provoke Theyunni.

“I could break the axile if I drove up this way,” complained the driver who was Tamil.

“How much does this stupid car of yours cost?”

“Jammer Sir, didn’t mean to…”

“If your car breaks, let it break. I’ll give you what it costs. Drive.”

When he got off the car, Theyunni saw Brother taking a walk in the field — looking bright and healthy.

“Why did you come all this way, Kutta?”, Brother commented on the advisability of the trip.

“You can say that. Living in the forests, writing letters about getting sick, how could I ignore it?”

“Come in.” Brother took him inside the house.

Theyunni looked around and found everything unsatisfactory. “Why do you punish yourself like this?”

“Do I look as though this is punishment?”

Nobody said anything for a while. Then Theyunni inquired, “Who treated you while you were ill?”

“Teat?! Nobody!”

“What am I supposed to say about that?”

Brother smiled, “You don’t get it, doen jy, Kutta?”

“What do you do for food?”

“I have asked Ponnuswami’s wife to show up. To cook something for you. Me, this is all I eat.”

He pointed to the husks of two young coconuts in the basket. “That was breakfast. Two more for dinner.”

“That is you diet?!”

“Not just diet, medicine as well!”

When it got dark, Theyunni wanted to know, “Brother, what if some thieves show up?”

Brother laughed heartily, “Four white *mundu, four cotton shawls, two towels and some clay pots. That’s all this house holds. The thief is quite peaceful by nature, it’s our avarice that makes him do this and that!”

After dinner, they laid down to sleep — op die vloer, on sleeping mats. For Theyunni, it was the first time in a long while without the air conditioner. The winds roared outside the house. Through the mountain passes, like the loud waves in an uptide.

“Kutta”

“Ja, Brother?”

“You hear that?”

“The winds, reg?”

“Ja, but to you hear them?”

“Ja, Ek doen. Why do you ask?”

Brother was silent for a while in the darkness. Then he said, “Doen nie, you don’t hear them.”

It was with the same dissatisfaction at Brother’s life in the wilderness that Theyunni went back to Bombay. Brother said, seeing him off, “It was a mistake, Kutta. A weakness. Felt like writing to you when I was ill; I won’t bother you like this again. There aren’t any illnesses that these valleys can’t cure. And if there are, do humans have medicines for them?”

Nou, it was ten years after those words that Theyunni was coming back. Phoebe was not with him any more. She showed her natural honesty and told him that the love between them had dried out. Theyunni did not fly from Bombay. He took the train to Palghat along with numerous other people. Like in his childhood, in second class. Two day journey. Hills and woods and rivers and villages slowly went by in the window as the train ambled towards Palghat. The old family house was no longer there. So he rested in a hotel and set out for Kanjikad the next morning. His gruffiness during the last journey ten years ago had disappeared now. Theyunni felt that his peacefulness was spreading to the fellow passengers and even the landscapes.

The Jeep driver also was friendliness personified.

“Hard trip, isn’t it, Driver?”

“Nah, we are quite used to these. A little worried about your trouble, that is all.”

Brother’s fences and steps appeared at a distance.

“Over there, Driver.”

“Isolated house, isn’t it, Sir?”

“Yes.”

Ponnuswami was waiting by the house. He stepped down to welcome Theyunni. They looked at each other; Ponnuswami wiped his tears.

“He had asked me not to telegram, that is why I wrote a letter instead.” Ponnuswami said, “I am sorry.”

“Not at all, you were respecting Brother’s wishes. I understand.”

Ponnuswami walked over to the backyard. There was a small plot where a Thulasi plant was beginning to take root. Ash remnants of the pyre around it.

“This is it,” Ponnuswami said. “The bones were dropped in the Peroor river. If there are some other rituals you want to do… Maar,…”

“Ja, Ponnuswami?”

“He said that no rituals were necessary. That he had uprooted the rituals. I am not educated, just thought that he was talking about some sacred state.”

“That must be what he meant.”

“Is Sreekumar coming up?”

“I had telephoned him from Bombay. He is not coming. He had told me one thing — that this land and house are for you.”

Ponnuswami had gone beyond such earthly things. “He also had told me the same thing; I didn’t want to tell you. Maar, I don’t need any of this. You or Sreekumar could sell these…”

“Brother’s wishes, Ponnuswami. We must respect them.”

“Wel, if you insist.”

“How many children do you have?”

“Four.”

“Wel, this will be a good place for them to grow up in.”

Ponnuswami bowed once again, “If you ever want to come back and live here, my family and I will get out of here for you.”

“That won’t be necessary, Ponnuswami.”

I don’t deserve to live here, Theyunni said to himself. They got back into the house.

“You take rest. I will get you a young coconut from the fields.”

“The driver is waiting in the Jeep outside. Ask him to come inside and have something to drink.”

When Ponnuswami brought the young coconuts, Theyunni said, “You can go home now, if you like. I’m fine.”

Ponnuswami left. Theyunni said to the driver. “Do you think you can stay here overnight?”

The driver expressed his disagreement through silence.

“Didn’t plan that way when we set out,” Theyunni said. “This is Brother’s house. I came here because he died, couldn’t get here before.”

The driver turned attentive. Theyunni continued, “Feel like sleeping here for a night.”

The driver’s disagreement melted away silently. “I can stay.”

“I can pay you whatever you want for staying.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

Time turned red and went down on the hilltops. Theyunni went inside and went through Brother’s wooden box. Three white mundu’s, laundered, three cotton shawls and two towels. Theyunni’s sadness dripped into them. When he went to bed, he was not sad any more, a kind of gratified grief. A fulfillment of love and traditions. He slept with the childhood dreams of fairy tales. Late in the night, he woke up. He listened to the music of the winds. After this night, it would be the trip back to the city. Theyunni could feel Brother’s kindness in the winds. The winds muttered the unknown *Manthras that marked the end of that kindness and life, sommige *distant baby voices… A night full of sacred whispers, this was the *justification of lifetime.

Theyunni listened to the whispers and slept, awaiting the morning.