Vanakkam. En Peru Mowgli, enakku innoru peru irukku, banian jatti
I am from the place which produces it in excessive quantity for this world. That was not the reason for this name.
I lived in a big compound where nearly 6 families and two companies where there. My house was right behind a temple. That temple was very small like me, and it also grew along with me till the time I lived there. I never saw it growing after that. I always wondered how come temples keep growing. Anyways that is not the reason for my name.
First thing I do as soon as I reach home from school is remove shoes, put socks for washing and polish the shoe. Next remove the launch box, open it and keep it in washing basin. After this, I remove my school dress and put for washing. From that time till my mom scolds me or hits me for the day or I break something for the day or do a mistake of breaking someone’s head or leg, I would be roaming only with my inner garments, which is banian and jatti.
I loved to roam around like that. It was so comfortable. I would go wearing only that to buy things from nearby shop for home, to watch tv in nithi’s house or in kala akka’s house. The whole compound knows about this.
In one of the banian companies, there was balasamy anna, he was the owner of that company. He only gave me that name after seeing me roaming like that. Everyone in that compound also liked it and kept calling me with that name. This never was a trouble to me, but not for my mom, like all other mothers she was not okay to hear it, she wanted to hear praising names, not like this. So every time I go out like that, I would get either scolding or beating in steel or wooden ruler, though I loved steel rulers, which I borrowed from my class mates once or twice, I dint like the same ruler when I used to get beating out of it. It is a painful experience.
The beatings never stopped me from doing that. I think after seeing this attitude of mine my aunt gave me that tribal, aadhivaasi, makeup for my fancy dress competition. Other reason was that I was a muradan, tarzan , and had big lips because of sucking my thumb during my childhood, there is a legend that I have nearly spoiled all the sofas and bed and even my grandmothers toupee for that habit, people who have done that as kid knows the pleasure of it.
One fine evening after my usual school day, I went to kala akka’s home for watching tv. It was late for my study time. I was there with my usual costume, banian jatti. If my mom gets to know it, that day also I would get beatings. So after seeing time, I decided that I should run fast and sneek in to home without grabbing her attention, but as usual fate had its own plan.
I started running home. kala akka’s home is on the left side of the temple. There is a pathway between their compound and temple’s compound, that is the way through which we used to go to my house if we are walking, it crosses nithi’s home and that first company, after that is the entrance to our compound with veetukkara aatha’s, owner, house in the middle with their two sons on either side, we were in the far left, straight behind the temple and opposite were two small portions with one having a bachelor and other having a poor family. On the far right was balasamy anna’s company.
I started running from kala akka’s home. Adjacent to their house they had a small bike mechanic shop, as soon as you cross that shop on the right is the pathway to my compound. Exactly at this point there is a big drainage, this drainage is always open, it runs along that main road till it reaches a river, which was once upon a time important source of water and now the biggest drainage for my city, something like koovam for Chennai, which was less than a kilometer from there. The main road and my compound’s passage are connected with two big black flat stones, karungal slab, to cross that drainage. Those slabs were always shaking so you have to be careful.
The scene that was created that evening by my fate got registered to me very strongly as those were my initial days when my mind was registering things. I ran from kala akka’s house and took my right by keeping my right leg on the right side karungal. Then there was a black out for a second or even a minute or an eternity, but I was snapped out of it immediately also. I was being pulled by that mechanic anna and there was a big crowd by now on that small junction. As it was evening peak hours, the main road passer bys were also stopping by. The stone had given me away under my feet. I had twisted to fall into the puddle of black liquid that was flowing through that ditch towards the once upon great river. I was clogging its flow for a brief moment before I was pulled out of it.
Only thing that was running in my mind was how much I am gonna get beat for coming out in banian jatti and also now that is fully dirty and black as I had fallen here. I thought this time i might even get soodu i.e., taking a long spoon, keeping in fire, making it hot and then keeping it on your leg, hand, back, thigh or anywhere, it is mercy of the mother in anger. It is told that this cure’s many adangapidari diseases.
I heard my mom running towards me. I was shivering in that heat. Everyone where giving their comments to play their part. My mom pulled me inside the compound. veetukkara aatha, that old hag, told that I should not cross that compound gate’s pipe and be washed there itself. She always enjoyed when I get beating’s. Like everyone of you would have had a old hag in your life, I had her. She would always be first to complain to my mom when I did something wrong and would stand to watch me get scolding or beating. That day also she was enjoying the show and was telling something to infuriate my mother more.
As my mom washed me with the water that was flowing down from that gate’s pipe, all the dirt and black fluid I had taken from the ditch was going back to the source and will continue its flow, but before it continues to do its work, it has to get all the scolding that I was hearing and should get lathered and carry that new friend along, mysore sandal soap’s lather.
My mother was feeling very bad. She was feeling that whole world was laughing at her. She was telling that if I keep my leg outside my house again without her permission, then it would be broken. She was swearing many more things. Then she was crying. This is a usual ritual. When I do something like this and get beaten up by her, she would end up crying and would give me loads of advice. As usual my sibling was enjoying this show.
That evening after finishing two soaps and throwing away a pair of my banian jatti, I was standing in front of god and promising that I would listen to my mom and be a good kid. I would not be running around like this and get bad names. For everything, I would be standing in front of god to swear not to repeat it.
God was an important part of my life.
Look for more Dejavu’s….
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PS: I wanted to write something else, and even after giving it a very deep though, I am not able to get the line on which I was thinking. Hopefully I write on that. This is one thing that happens with me, I lose track of everything. Anyways I would try to keep writing this daily so we don’t lose touch of the story.