Friday, September 30, 2016

This tendency to cock a snook at the law should never be encouraged!

Of late, there's been an increasing tendency, in many quarters, to cock a snook at the law/disobey legitimate orders. There's no question of permitting anyone to take liberties with the law because if it were to be permitted, how do we say that we're civilised? If someone is unhappy with a decision handed over by the court, they've the option of appealing against the decision. It's definitely not civilised behaviour to pooh pooh a decision because the perpetrators should remember that they can also be at the receiving end and will receive no one's support at that juncture. Let's take a few of the unfortunate cases that are going on currently and the people who should have taken charge, defused the situation and ensured that the law was upheld, remain mute spectators!

  (a) No entry for the media in Kerala's courts despite the Chief Justice's assurances.

        The media has been banned from the High Court and every other court in Kerala since
        19 Jul, after lawyers attacked media persons in Kochi and various cities questioning wide
        coverage over the arrest of a government pleader who allegedly molested a woman on a public
        road. 

        Today, after the Chief Justice of Kerala had guaranteed the safety of the reporters and invited
        the media to resume reporting in the High Court, the correspondents of the print and visual
        media were physically threatened by a group of lawyers and forced to leave the court's
        premises. The Thursday'c reconciliation meeting chaired by the Chief Justice had television
        and newspaper editors, office bearers of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association, several
        senior judges and senior counsels like MK Damodaran and S Sreekumar.

        My take. The errant lawyers must be identified and read out the 'riot act', forthwith. They
                         cannot be allowed to get away scotfree. The press must be allowed to carry out
                         their functions unhindered, as hitherto.

    (b) Karnataka's refusal to share the Cauvery waters.

          The Supreme Court of India had passed orders, recently, to Karnataka to release the Cauvery
          waters to Tamilnadu towards the last fortnight of September and even the quantities were
          clearly stipulated, to tide over the current lean period.

          Karnataka has refused to release the water citing inadequacy and even its legislative
          assembly passes a unanimous(?) resolution stating that it will not release the Cauvery waters to
          Tamilnadu!

         My take. Not only is the Karnataka government disobeying the highest court of law in the
                         country but is also questioning the federal structure of government. Karnataka,
                         should be made to release the waters forthwith and censured for its high handedness.

     (c) BCCI's reluctance to enforce the Lodha Committee report.

           Despite a clear road map provided by the Supreme Court appointed Lodha Committee
           to clean up cricket's administration and the running of affairs at the BCCI, the board has
           refused to carry out the cleansing action.

           The BCCI was always seen, by an outsider, as an organisation with immense wealth where
           everything goes, from sleaze to corruption, as brought out during the investigations. The IPL
           version is the dirtiest distortion of the "gentleman's game of cricket".

           My take. Is this body so powerful to have the audacity to disregard the apex court's
                           directives? A direct intervention, by the court, to ensure transparency in every
                           level of cricket administration is long overdue. It's appalling to see tainted guys
                           going around without being punished!


Tailpiece.

The defiance to laws is a global phenomenon too. China's refusal to accept the International Court of Justice's directives, from the Hague, regarding the use of the South China Sea is a blatant case of a nation refusing to accept the sanctity of international laws that ensure peaceful coexistence between nations.

Can't help but laugh when it offers itself to arbitrate between India and Pakistan, in the current scenario!

   

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Finally, India has done it!

In a daring and audacious move, the commandos of the Para Special Forces, along with the ground troops of the Indian Army, conducted raids causing great destruction to terror camps, terrorists-in-waiting to infiltrate into India and the Pakistani military men guarding them, deep within Pakistani territory.

The 'surgical strikes' had commenced around 0030 hrs when our commandos had crossed the Line of Control, launched their attacks at 0230 hrs on seven terrorist launch pads located in the hilly, thickly forested terrain located about 1.5 to 6.5 kms deep within Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and returned home, before sunrise sans casualties, except for two cases of minor injuries. The camps were altitudes between 2,000 and 6,000 ft. 

Most of us had got fed up over a period of time, over sickening reports of terrorists attacking army posts/civilians areas at will and in the process of retaliation/overcoming the terrorists lose our fine army men. The government of the day used to raise the details of the raids on international fora, hand over clinching evidence to the Pakistani government but to no avail. There weren't official condemnation even from the countries, who're supposed to be good friends, with Pakistan having the last laugh at being let away every time. 

The surgical strikes have stunned the Pakistanis, for sure. Their reactions subsequent to the operations clearly expose the complete disarray and the loss of face. In that country, the armed forces is looked up in awe and it's that organisation that has taken the beating. It can't confirm or deny the strikes because it has always maintained that there were no terror camps on its soil. The Pakistanis who had come on the various news channels - for panel discussions, today - were either hysterical or incoherent!

It's known knowledge that the Pakistanis are bad losers. It can come up with the dirtiest of tricks, in retaliation, to salvage its lost pride(What pride can a country, which uses terrorism as state policy, have, I wonder?). So we cannot afford to lower our guard and must stay fully prepared to neutralise any of its misadventure!  

My salutes to the Indian Army for its professionalism in carrying out successful operations in copybook style! It just shows the tremendous teamwork, attention to detail from intelligence gathering over a period of time and the tremendous love for the country!! And kudos to the government for the apt and courageous decision making.

Proud to be an Indian!


Tailpiece.

An insight into the Pakistani terror modules.

(a) The Indian Army is aware of 40-50 terrorist training camps operating in Pakistan. There are
      apparently three kinds of camps - those for recruitment, training and launching attacks.
(b) The recruitment camps in PoK exist between Muzaffarabad and Lahore.
(c) Training, here, lasts 30 - 35 days.
(d) From here, the brainwashed young men are sent to other camps to learn about arms, navigation
      radio telephony.
(e) The launching camps have 10 - 30 terrorists, including handlers and instructors.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Changed aspirations......interesting!

Research shows that the millennial generation - who're now 30 to 35 yrs old -  rarely buy houses and even more rarely, cars! The traditional measure of success - owning an apartment and/or a car - is out of date. The current generation of young people differs from their parents' generation and they have other values.

The concept of ownership is no longer relevant as the youngsters of today change their jobs very often. The point is that people now don't want prosperity and stability; all they want is flexible schedules coupled with financial and geographical independence. They've no interest in material things. It would get clearer if one were to understand their thought process:-

   (a) Why own a car if you can take a car?
           (i) It's almost a personal car with a driver.
          (ii) It's not more expensive than having your own car.
         (iii) Buying things makes you worry and the more expensive, makes you worry about their
                condition.
         (iv) A car can be scratched or suffer a breakdown!

   (b) Why buy a house in a beautiful place and go there only for vacation?
           (i) You don't have to buy a property in a country you love.
          (ii) You can take on a mortgage for forty years or accept the fact that you can spend your whole
                 life in a rented place.
         (iii) You'll probably change your job in the next few years and if you rent, nothing prevents you
                 from moving closer to the office.
         (iv) You can be robbed.
          (v) People seem to have lost interest in material things.

And the most important among all, every purchase will go down in price over time. Moreover, people don't like hearing about your possessions but they do like hearing about your experiences. Social interaction is crucial towards making you feel happy or otherwise. Happiness and a sense of well being - spending money on new experiences is much more profitable than buying new things. They bring more joy and help in making friends!

Experience is the only thing that matters. It won't go down in value and no one can steal it! And always remember, even a bad experience can become a good story!!

The youth, today, has reconsidered the concept of success which now means, 'Successful people don't buy property, they rent'. In fact, in the USA, this generation is known as the 'generation of renters'.


Tailpiece.

Did our parents and to a great extent we, get it right then? Well, we'd followed the existing trends that were relevant to the times because:-

    (a) We weren't able to travel as often as people do now.
    (b) The concept of fun was different.
    (c) There weren't many opportunities to start a new business.
    (d) Therefore, our parents and we invested in houses and cars! Nothing wrong with that!!

Note. Courtesy, a message that I'd received a few days ago, on What'sApp!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I hope we've got it right this time!

Every time, in the past, we've made a hue and cry over dastardly terrorist attacks - aided, directed and executed by Pakistan - through chest thumping and making statements on the world fora. The response was always the same - lip service sympathy even from the nations that we expected a stronger response. The cries of wrongdoing whimpered within days and the rogue country, Pakistan, went away scot free each time, without any punitive action!

Probably, it's also used to such half hearted measures from the Indian side before its supporters - and mind you, there are plenty of them among us who extol the virtues of Track II Diplomacy, which is nothing but a forum where well heeled Indians and Pakistanis wine and dine and keep merry in the name of searching for that elusive peace between the two countries. This needs to stop and be discouraged, in fact, I'd go a step further to say that the government should not provide visas for such unproductive "People to people interactions" till Pakistan takes steps to stop sending terrorists into this country and shut down the numerous terrorist training camps dotting all over its countryside.

Let's see the steps taken/being taken by India post-Uri:-

    (a) A point-by-point rebuttal of Nawaz Sharif's points at the United Nations General Assembly
          meet by the Indian envoy, followed by our foreign minister.
    (b) A review of the Indus Waters Treaty with the sole aim of removing the undue advantage that
          Pakistan has because of our magnanimity.
    (c) A review of the 'most favoured nation' status given to Pakistan, in trade.
    (d) The call for the boycott of the forthcoming SAARC meet in Islamabad, in November.

And how about a few surgical strikes to destroy the terrorist training camps, deep within Pakistani territory, by our elite special forces without permitting any reaction time? And they can't complain or retaliate as it destroys their long parroted alibi of 'no training camps on its soil'.

The flip side is that India would be shutting down all the channels of communication with that country. Would it be worth it? I feel that the steps taken are in the right direction to put across to that country, that, this time we mean business and do not intend to be mere crybabies, like in the past.

So, what we seem to be doing this time is that we've shunned half hearted measures in dealing with Pakistan. Some might laugh at my foolhardy optimism, but maybe these actions would spur that country to shed its roguishness and put it on a sure path of development to attaining all round prosperity and make it a strong country, which is in India's interest..........I only hope that we aren't late!


Tailpiece.

Today was Shri Haridas Menon's 'sanchayanam' on the 11th day after his passing away. Had gone across to the cremation point to say my silent prayers to the patriarch, though it was a private affair for the male members of the family. What I noticed were the differences in the ceremonies that were prevalent between the areas of northern and southern Kerala, which I could discern as I'd gone through it, myself on 11 Sep for my mom. They were:-

      (a) The protagonists used their bare hands to pick up the ashes.
            The custom, down south, is to pick them up with spatulas made out the of the base of the
            betel nut leaf, solely for the purpose, by the 'karmi'.
      (b) As many pieces of the ashes were collected from the cremation pit and put into a big urn.
            They were meant to be immersed in the sea, at the nearby Panchavati, forthwith.
            Only three pieces viz. from the region of the head, the middle and the feet are collected.  
      (c) A few pieces were taken out of the collection, put into a plastic tin and buried near a Jack
            tree for immersion after a year. There was no requirement of lighting the lamp every evening
            Chettan's son, Raju, had told me in answer to my specific query.
            Down south, it's a must that a wick is lit every evening till the final immersion of the ashes.
      (d) Only a sapling of banana was planted at the cremation pit by Pushpaakaran and grains were
            spread all over the site by Raju and the grandson.
            It was ginger plants at the head, a coconut sapling at the middle and a strain of Colocasia
            Esculanta(Commonly known as 'taro') at the feet, with grains all over!

I suppose these differences are inconsequential and doesn't affect the soul's gravitation to its next destination!
              

Monday, September 26, 2016

A few other happenings........

Met Subha - one of the officers and very efficient - at the bank, when I'd gone to transfer over Rs.14 grand into our caretaker's account as work was underway to remove the weeds/grass around the rubber trees. Had not seen her last week when I'd told Jayakumar, the Manager, about my mom's passing away. She'd made it a point to come across to me when I broke the news. There were instant tears in her eyes and she barely managed to say that she's shocked and sad. Siva, the accountant and yet another well wisher was also attentive and had expressed his sorrow.

       *                                       *                                            *

Ramesh, the auto rickshaw guy, had come to me to excitedly report that his little daughter had got the first prize for the Independence day elocution. The speech that the young one had presented in front of an audience, on the occasion, had fetched her the coveted prize. I queried as to why he had delayed this information, feeling sad that mom had missed the glad tidings. She'd read through my effort then and chipped in with her ideas! He has said that he'd get his daughter to us one of these days!!

       *                                       *                                             *

Meanwhile, the body of the late Haridas Menon of the Warriath House has been reduced to ashes in the cremation pit at the backyard of his ancestral house. We can see the spot from our house. Tomorrow is his 'sanchayanam' when the ashes will be collected for immersion in the sea at Panchavati, a few kilometers from here.

I dunno whether it's a coincidence. Death has visited all the three houses of the Warriath parambu/garden. First it was Asha's dad, more than a month earlier and he was 92 years of age. Then was mom, followed two weeks later by the Warriath chettan, who was 91. Mom was the youngest of the three, at 81!

        *                                       *                                             *

Had called up Dr. Gopalachary, the dentist, who'd removed mom's problem creating molar, a year back. He was stunned hearing about mom and recalled as to how simple, elegant and so full of life she was! So were Sobhini and her daughter, Seena, who'd carried out a regimen of ayurveda massage for three weeks, almost two years ago. Mom had the treatment discontinued after the third week - it was to go on for 41/2 weeks - as she didn't find the massage with the hot oils comfortable! They'd recalled her pleasant demeanour and outgoing nature. I'd met the comrade - the local CPI leader who'd visited our house many a time - during my walk when I informed him about mom's passing away. He recalled his last conversation with her when she was quite eloquent about her father! The bakery owner seemed to be equally bewildered with the news and could, then, understand my long absence in the past weeks.


Tailpiece.

Had a long chat late, this evening, with my cousin Reshmi and her husband, Suresh who has been diagnose with oral cancer below the left molar on the lower jaw. I hope I've been able to pep them up enough.......tomorrow he needs to undergo another test after which, the doctor will ascertain the exact date of surgery.



  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I miss..........

Preamble.

* I must apologise to my readers for the melancholia that I've been churning out.....but I'm sure you      would understand my predicament.
* Today was the first Sunday, after the ill fated 04 Sep, that we spent at 'The Quarterdeck'.
* Mom seems to have traversed only a short distance away from us.......from the chair opposite us 
   into the new photograph on the mantelpiece with that naughty smile on her face! The consequences
   have been painful, to say the least.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The saffron surge.

The BJP's, two day, national council meeting at Kozhikode saw the surge of the saffron party, in the state, over the past years. That Modi's presence at the centre has contributed a great deal towards this factor is undisputed but the aspects of good governance during his tenure need to become discernible. How much of the enthusiasm and public support, that were on display, will convert themselves into votes needs to be seen. The party president's statement that the BJP will rule the state after the next elections seems to be, an ambitious target, not achievable under the prevailing circumstances! Perhaps, a realignment of political parties can swing it around as it's in a state of flux with the Congress, badly mauled by factionalism and the LDF's partners speaking in different tunes!

The Prime Minister's first public reaction to the terrorist at the Uri base certainly was statesmanlike, in that, he did not endorse the demand on the social media on waging a war with Pakistan to avenge the killings. His, 'Uri won't be forgotten, calling Pakistan to fight a war on poverty, unemployment and illiteracy with a firm resolve to do everything possible to isolate that country diplomatically', must be considered as a statesmanlike restraint despite the pressures on him from certain quarters to go gung ho!.......I suppose this is what democracy is all about!!

    *                                          *                                              *

There's yet another instance of a shootout by a gunman, in a crowded mall in Seattle, Washington on Friday evening. Such incidents seem to be on the rise in the land of plenty. Doesn't it go to prove that people of different cultures can conglomerate together in distant lads to pursue their professional dreams but never bother to integrate with the other communities or the locals? It's a dangerous trend because isolation between communities/races can lead to tensions that can flare up at the slightest provocation.......which is what the case is in all these unfortunate and tragic incidents.

I can recall two incidents that I was party to back here, in India. The first was in Pune, when four north Indian youth(Could be easily made out by the language that they used.....) pounced upon two locals and thrashed them badly at a traffic junction. I was restrained from going out to provide aid to the victim, by my friend, saying that these sort of fights keep taking place every now and then, a result of the huge migrant population in the IT sector who never bother to integrate with the local populace. I must hasten to add that the refusal to integrate is attributable to both the sides!

The second incident was while I was at Bangalore. An incident, similar to the one that I'd encountered at Pune, was enacted and the elderly couple, who were with me lamented that, "Bangalore was not the same as it used to be in the past!"


Tailpiece.

Development and wealth without the enlightenment of the minds do not augur well. I'm sure that there will be a way out when each one accepts the other as an equal and narrow divisions by virtue of race/religion/region will ultimately be dumped!    

Friday, September 23, 2016

I'm angry with the gods.

I'd got up a trifle early but stayed on in bed for a while more. At 6 I'd lit the lamp and opened the gate, but had already told myself that I wasn't going for the walk this morning. Narayanan had fetched up at 7 as discussed yesterday and he hugged me at the door, teary eyed. He was sad that he couldn't make it to the hospital on the 4th, when I'd called him prior to the ambulance's departure for Kottarakkara.

He'd brought the original and five copies of mom's death certificate and has promised to visit us yet again before he leaves for New Delhi, early next month. Before leaving, he'd mumbled, "Sir, you've grieved enough and continue to do so but please have your beard removed today itself." I'd told him that I had planned to go to the nearby hairdresser to remove my scraggy beard once the saloon opened at 9!

Rema was seen off to Palakkad from the nearby bus stop and I was off to the 'Amigos' soon after. Aiyappan, did a marvelous job and I'd dozed off while he went about his work silently and efficiently! After a quick bath I was off to my bank to pull out Rs.20 grand and on my way back, had handed it over to my neighbour because he'd pulled out the amount from the ATM and thrust it into my hand, as the ambulance was getting ready to leave the hospital, that cursed afternoon of 04 Sep.

The day, otherwise, passed off uneventfully. The walk in the evening was therapeutic as it calmed me and enabled to look at things objectively, philosophically. But while I passed the three temples, I'd paused in front of each of the gods to convey my anger and displeasure for having snatched mom away from me(The pent up frustration and emotions of the previous weeks had come out in torrents and I'd to let the gods know about my personal angst! I realised that my tears were flowing!!). I'd also made it a point to visit each and everyone whom I usually interact with during my walks, to convey the news of my mom's passing away.....Majid, the grocer struck with Myasthenia Gravis and his, second, Unni, Preman, the gentleman who sold sizzling hot groundnuts from his pushcart, Johnny, yet another grocer, Abdul, the baker, Lekha, the banana vendor, Oommer and Gopan of the Sahakarana medical shop and Biju of the ayurveda medicines' outlet....

Anil and Raju of the Sanjivani Palliative Care had fetched up at home, soon after I'd returned from my walk, to collect the entire lot of medicines bought for mom and the left overs, along with the adult diapers, for their needy patients based on my request to the gentlemen at the medical shop, earlier!

......Mom, I'd love to have you as my mom in my next birth, too. Hope you'd also like me to be your son?


Tailpiece.

(a) I've stopped saying my prayers as I just don't feel like it. Yes, I'm angry with the gods! Every passing day, without mom, is miserable.
(b) And mom's death has become 'official'!
(c) Mini had called up to say that she'd reached Bangalore about an hour and a half late!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

'Sahib, Maaji kidhar hai?'

We'd kicked off from home by a 5' to 7 which was quite delayed compared to my target of 6 o'clock! The caretaker was there to see us off and as per mom's previous actions, we'd handed over Rs.25/- at the road-side snake temple at Randalummoodu. We're off to Sanil's house at Ayoor to drop my sister, Mini and hand over the luggage! It was actually a movement 'backwards' but had to be done as her train to Bangalore was only in the evening.

After a sumptuous breakfast of idlis and interaction with everyone, we'd kicked off our journey to Guruvayur. Ayoor amma still does not seem to have come to terms with mom's passing away! She had held my hand a trifle longer as we bid farewell and Mini, of course, was sad.

The journey was uneventful with me trying to recapitulate mom's previous journeys with us that were joyous occasions. She used to keep us regaled with her stories and queries that were genuine and innocent. Her outlook towards life was disarmingly simple and she could be friendly with any one that she came across, be it the doorman at a hotel, the stewards, the security guys etc! Sasi, the manager at the Kalpakavadi Inn let out a cry and had instant tears in his eyes when I'd told him about mom! That was the level of relationship that she'd built up with people that she came across!!

Lunch was at the vegetarian eatery in Kalamasserry that we frequented and Thapa, at the security, showed his anguish to my answer - I'd pointed my finger heavenward - to his query of, "Sahib, maaji kidhar hai?" She'd shaken hands with him the last time!

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 3. Everything in the house seemed to be on the 'pause button', as I'd left with mom to the hospital, on the 4th and brought back memories. There was another task that had to be done and after a quick cup of tea, the three of us had called on the Warriath family to condole chettan's death - chechi looks devastated. They're eager to hear about my mom and her last journey which I was only eager to oblige them with. Incidentally, Chettan has been cremated within their ancestral compound behind our house.

Chettan and chechi were away at Kozhikode, for an ayurvedic treatment for the former, when mom's end had come about and we'd proceeded to Kottarakkara. On their return, chettan seems to have been bewildered by the sight of our closed house with our car parked on the porch. His query was as to why we'd left the car unlike our usual forays. The others didn't inform him about mom as they feared fatal reaction.........I found it weird but kept my opinion to myself!

We also spent time with our immediate neighbours who'd insisted on providing us with tea.

Since Rema was with us there was plenty of conversation and recall of pleasant memories. Mom's absence wasn't felt........


Tailpiece.

Mom's clothes, her medicine box, the toiletries and so many other of her personal effects make me refuse to believe that she's no more with us!..............Mom, why did you've to go?   

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mom has become one with the elements!

The day had begun at 3 o'clock at the Raj Nivas, today. The seven of us had gone through our chores to set off for Varkala, about 55 kms from here and the departure was scheduled at 5. Unni and his Xylo had reached our gate by a quarter to 5 and it was only then that I'd dug out the urn containing mom's ashes. The externals were cleared off the mud, the old cloth that covered it was replaced with a spanking new red cloth and we set off, on the dot at 5.

It had poured rather heavily till an hour before our departure but the sky had cleared as we began our journey with the meagre remnants of mom's earthly being. I had sat on the pillion seat and held on to the urn that was most precious to me at that point of time and to ensure that nothing untoward would happen, I'd strapped myself to the seat(It isn't compulsory out here, but that's another matter altogether on which I wouldn't like to dwell upon at this juncture).

I kept holding the urn firmly on my lap to compensate for the many missed opportunities of hugging my mom when she was amid us and so very close to me! Did she ever wish it? I dunno what sort of a son I was to her but she doesn't have to complain anymore about my spending a lot of time on the computer/personal work and losing time on our interactions!.......Why do I've to rue over wasted opportunities once those moments have passed and can never have them again?

We reached the Varkala beach by a half past 6 and without much ado assigned a portly 'karmi' sitting on the sands - among many others - to guide us through the 'bali' because he appeared to be knowledgeable about the proceedings and except for Lekha and Usha ammayi, the rest had sat down to take orders from him, He was assisted by a spirited assistant who supplied us with the ingredients on the diktats of his boss. The folks from Thiruvananthapuram arrived a trifle late and Indira kunjamma and Suma kunjamma joined us after taking a dip in the sea.

Somewhere after 0715 hrs, I'd stood at a spot facing northward, where the waves lapped at knee deep level and tipped the urn - perched on my head - backwards, finally dropping it into the sea......the symbolic act of handing over mom's last remnants of her earthly form to the five elements! Chandramathykutty Amma, the eldest daughter of PN Panicker and Chempakakutty Amma, wife of KK Nair, mother of Rajeev, Rema and Renjini, grandmother of Ashwin and Shamily and retired Post Mistress of Kura PO, had become one with the elements!

Tailpiece.

(a) We'd all gone to the Janardanaswamy temple, perched atop, for a 'darshan'. It was a short, quick affair. Suma kunjamma had sponsored our breakfast before they left for Paravoor while we hurtled homeward.

(b) After lunch, we'd gone to look up Pidavoor amma. We could only hug each other to convey our melancholy.

(c) Akin to 'con trg'(Continuity Training) for pilots in the aviation net when the type of aircraft changes, I drove Rema's car first, to go to Pidavoor and later in the evening, to drop Padmakumar at the bus stand! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sorry dad!

I was up soon after 5 and a sadness had enveloped me right from then. The ceremonies, post mom's death, were coming to an end and as one believes, her noble soul is being released to its next destination as the layers of its attachment to us were being systematically demolished over the past fortnight, through them.

Today's the 16th day's 'bali', outside the premises of the Raj Nivas, my parents' house. Aniyan, the caretaker's younger son, had come with his car on the dot at 7, to chauffeur me and my young maman to the venue which wasn't far from our place. Vasudevan Namboodiri was my guide for the purpose and he received us with extraordinary warmth that my heart told me - almost instantly upon seeing him - that he was the right person to perform the ceremony for mom.

Without much ado, he conducted me through the procedural sequence and no sooner than the final offering was placed at a corner of the interlocking-tiled courtyard, a jet black crow had swooped in and flown off with its share! Post ceremony, he'd offered a cup of tea, each, to the three of us and has told me that he'd visit us on his next visit to Guruvayur, which he does often as his brother, a banker, lives there.

Meanwhile, Madhu and Sindhu, the late Sukumara Pillai's children had fetched up and were awaiting their turn after me. Mr. Pillai, who was the son of Mr. Pappu Pillai, the first peon of the High School where my sisters had done their schooling, had passed into the mist of time on the same date as mom and Mani had guided Madhu, after me till the 5th day!

When I was a kid, my parents used to ask me as to whom among them I liked more and if I remember right, I was always diplomatic by saying that I liked the both of them with the same intensity. Taking a cue from there, I was adamant that I went through the 16 day rituals for mom on the same lines as I'd followed for dad, 4 yrs and 8 months back, without any deviation.......to the last detail of lying on the floor on a mat all these nights.

But, today, I realised the moment of truth, which is, that I love my mom a wee bit more......Sorry dad! .........And knowing him, he wouldn't mind!!


Tailpiece.

1. The rest of the day passed off uneventfully. Soman, of the local BSNL office had brought his son, an engineering graduate, for my advice on which profession he should pursue. Later on I'd come to know that my mom had assured Soman - during one of her previous visits - that her son would find his son a job(?).

2. Tomorrow, we set off early morning to Varkala, Papanasam to immerse mom's ashes in the Arabian Sea just as we'd done dad's.

3. Padmakumar had fetched up from Palakkad around 2200 hrs to take part in the proceedings. Mom's sisters, a brother and my cousins will fetch up from Thiruvananthapuram and will be in attendance!  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mani plays his role and moves on.

The day had begun earlier than the previous ones but the ceremony was carried out on a grand scale because:-

    (a) It was the 15th day 'bali' and the last of the ceremonies within the premises of the Raj Nivas.
         Tomorrow's is gonna be in a 'madhom' - a family that's been traditionally into the conduct of
          similar ceremonies - close by and only I'm supposed to attend.
    (b)The offerings, after the ceremonies over the previous fortnight, were placed for the crows to
         feast on, while today's was meant for the fishes!

The preparation of the offerings were on similar lines as in the previous days and once the rice was cooked on the make shift stove of stones, I was escorted by Mani - with the offering on my head - out of the house and into the stream which is our compound's natural boundary towards the north. After completing the entire sequence of ceremonies, I'd removed the long red sash tied around my waist - this piece of cloth was cut out of the shroud that covered mom's body and shut her earthly form, forever, from us prior to its offer to the fire - and released it into the flowing waters of the stream. It was time to return to the starting point where Mani had given us oil to apply on our heads and sent us for the bath that would 'cleanse' us from the left over effects of death!

The last vestige of the ceremonies conducted over the previous fortnight were, then, removed by Mani and immersed in the stream and he was given his 'dakshina', before he cast off finishing our brief relationship that had played out its purpose!

        *                            *                               *

Lekha's nephew, from Dubai, had fetched up with his entire family just after I'd lit the wick on the urn with mom's ashes. They're here, with us, for over an hour!


Tailpiece.

The five of us relived our childhood and remembered many of the incidents of those halcyon days while being part of the joint family system!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A fortnight without mom.

Into the 14th day without mom. Life has lost its lustre. Can't still believe that she's reached a level from where she'll never respond!

Mani was on time and together, we'd gone through yet another cycle. He has gotten to be close and it would be his swansong, when we finish the 15th day's 'bali' tomorrow. He has already taken permission to call me up whenever he wanted. Today, yet again, the crows and the birds swooped in after a half past 7 - mom's tea drinking time till the very day she took her flight to eternity!

Rema, Mini, Lekha and I went through to minute details about mom's last days - her winsome ways, adamant stands, friendly overtures to strangers, the insistence of shutting the doors and the drawing of the curtains every evening after I was back from my walk and so many other things that were the hallmarks of the dynamic personality that was Chandramathykutty Amma! Life at 'The Quarterdeck' is gonna be difficult where her strong presence will be missed......

The only satisfaction - for whatever its worth - would be that she was so full of life in that house till that fateful Sunday, when I'd coaxed her to visit the hospital and the both of us had set off in the ambulance. The aftermath has already been narrated and we'd sped in the freezer ambulance to Raj Nivas from the premises of the hospital to facilitate mom's tryst with dad as she'd desired. As I sit punching the keys of my laptop, she views me from her lively photograph across and seems to have understood by now, as to why I spend 'so much time on the computer!'

.....My younger uncle, Krishna Kumar, had fetched up by sunset as we lit the wick for mom's ashes. It was nice to catch up with him after the last few days. He'd taken pains to get us some tapioca from his backyard and a bottle of fresh mango pickle made by his wife!


Tailpiece.

The tragic death of 17 Indian soldiers, in an army unit located at Uri, thanks to a Fidayeen attack, is sad news. It's high time that we bloody nosed the Pakistanis for their unacceptable behaviour! I salute the brave and my heart goes out to the families of the martyrs. My tears and prayers!!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Adieu Chetta!

Today I'd got up along with the alarm and was ready well in time. Mani and I'd performed the ceremony and placed the offering ahead of the usual time. The crows and the sparrows were ready for it. Did I see the woodpecker? Not quite sure.

The forenoon had passed off uneventfully. Suma kunjamma was at hand, regaling us with her stories while being actively involved in the activities of the kitchen! She left by the Saranya bus at 1630 hrs and had reached Thiruvananthapuram about 21/2 hours later.

Unni, Balu and Kochunni - Appukuttan kochachhan's sons - drove in from Thiruvananthapuram to spend time with us and Unni chettan had also come by. He told everybody the reason for having skipped his brother's daughter's wedding. During her betrothal, he had walked across to his brother's house and pressed the bell, to partake in the proceedings. Somebody had asked as to who it was at the bell and the soon-to-be-bride said it rather loudly, "O, it's that man from the house next door". 

His niece's indifferent 'description about him' put him off and he quietly retraced his steps back to his house. He, then, decided to opt for his medical review on the date of her wedding and had thus, remained absent raising many an eye brow of the neighbourhood!

...........Our guests left soon after, giving me just enough time to wash, change and light the wick at mom's urn of ashes! Sasi, from our neighbourhood, had dropped by and it was while chatting with him that my neighbour at Guruvayur had called me to inform us that the 90 year old Hariyettan of the Warriath House had passed away about fifteen minutes earlier! He was in the ICU of the Rajah Hospital for serious respiratory disorder during the previous 24 hrs.

The old man was an ex Co-operative Banker, extremely active for his age by overseeing agricultural activities like the plucking, counting and selling of coconuts of his farm, engaging tractors to plough the field and was currently involved in reducing the extent of a natural water tank! He used to move around with his short bamboo walking stick and drop by at our house, along with his wife, quite often to chat with mom and us. A kind gentleman, who was quite fond of the 'Captain and his wife' in his neighbourhood!

When we'd left our house on 04 Sep, they're away at Kozhikode for an ayurvedic treatment for him. On their return upon hearing about my mom's passing away, I've been told that he was deeply affected!

RIP, Chetta! My tears and prayers!! Here's wishing that Chechi and your children have the strength to pass through these stressful times!!!


Tailpiece.

(a) Did the news of my mom's passing away dampen your enthusiasm to live, Chetta?

(b) Deaths in each of the three houses of the Warriath Garden, within a short span of time..........is it a cosmic interlude, I wonder?

(c) The caretaker, Vijayan, stayed with us after Sasi's exit and told us about his feelings for my parents!   

Friday, September 16, 2016

Another of those quiet days.

Had heard the alarm go off at a quarter past 5, but knowing that it was a bit early, I'd decided to stay on bed a while longer. Soon enough, I was back in deep slumber but the alarm clock in my body did wake me up and I found that it was a half past 5! I'd gone through the paces of my routines and bath but found that Mani had already fetched up.

Seeing me breeze towards him, he'd asked me to relax when I told him that I considered his time to be precious and therefore, not to be frittered away. His reaction gladdened me, when he said that not very many thought on similar lines! The crows and the birds took a while to swoop in on the offering....and when they finally did, it was beyond a half past 7!! Mani's explanation, "Sir, they'll come at the same time when your mom usually broke her fast". He'd a point because mom used to have her tea and rusks around that time.

Lekha was poised to go to Kottarakkara to get a few jobs done and buy some things but the plan had to be postponed for tomorrow as most of the shops remained closed on the occasion of the 'Chathaya Dinam', today. Calls were a plenty but Gopi, Sanil's cousin from Delhi, and his brother Santhakumar started the long train before they're off to the ENT specialist in the neighbourhood who fondly remembered mom having visited him, years ago.

The caretaker, Vijayan's family gave us a trip down memory lane by their visit in the evening. Syamala, Usha, Muthu, her husband, Madhu and daughter, Bhadra along with their sister, Sreedevi's - she's at work in Dubai - daughter, Sreelekshmi gladdened us with their bonhomie and a host of anecdotes from the past - mom being the central character, all the way.

Syamala stayed on with us for the lighting of the wick at the buried urn carrying mom's ashes at the stroke of sunset.


Tailpiece.

Another day gone, one more day closer to leave for 'The Quarterdeck' and I ain't enthusiastic because Amma is here!  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is the zest for life ebbing?

I haven't been able to reconcile, as yet, to a life without mom. As I see her elegant, loving and smiling face from a recent photograph of her's, on the smallish table in the sitting room of the Raj Nivas, an overwhelming sense of guilt sweeps me for not doing enough before letting her pass into the mist of time. Consider these:-

    * Why did I take her along and traverse almost 600 kms to attend a wedding while she was on a
        course of antibiotics for her urinary tract infection? The weakness consequent to the trip 
        persisted till her last breath. She was also insistent on meeting up with Pidavoor amma who'd
        had a fall recently! 

    * Why did I not seek the indulgence of Guruvayoorappan to take care of her? Last time, I'd done a
        'sayanapradakshinam' for her early recovery and good health!

    * Why did I not get her hospitalised while seeing her weakness persist? The two visits by the
        medical specialist and his assurance that I'd nothing to worry, along with the suggestion of fine
        tuning the dosage of the Syndopa Plus for her Parkinson's Syndrome after the weekend, had 
        lulled me into a false sense of relief! 

     * Why did I not hug her while at the ICU and egg her on to fight it out rather than just gesturing
        with my hands after calling her attention? That should have done the trick and mom would have 
        been amid us even now and I shall always blame me for that unacceptable faux pas!

The zest for life begins to ebb when one loses one's near and dear ones. Appooppan, Ammoomma, Ammachi, Muthachan, Dad and now, Mom...........the list is endless. They'd showered me with their unrestrained love and affection and have made me what I am. The emptiness caused by their absence is biting.....


Tailpiece.

Life has not been easy over the last few days despite the close company of Lekha and my sisters, with relations and friends coming by, to console us, with a remarkable regularity.

PS.

There were rains early morning and Mani had come late. The wetness of the ground made the activation of the makeshift stove difficult which delayed the cooking of the rice that was to be provided as offering consequent to the 'bali' ceremony!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A different onam.

Our first onam without mom.....Our caretaker, Vijayan and his wife, Syamala got lunch for us sans the 'paayasam'. It was a superb lunch. Damn sweet of them!

Telephone calls, smses and messages on What'sApp kept coming in.

And then came Sumangala and her brother and sister. She was with us for 20 years, helping mom in her housework while mom and dad were particular about her education - she finished her graduation and is now, a teacher in a school, nearby. Her husband, working abroad in Kuwait, is arriving tomorrow early morning on a month's leave. Subhash, her brother, is a successful businessman, operating from Sreeperumbudur, concentrating on packing material and their leading customer is Saint Gobain!

I remember Subhash during his younger days, when he and his family used to insist on my helping him to join the Indian Navy. It never did work out owing to many reasons while his cousin could successfully pass the recruitment examination and enroll in the IN. For Subhash and his family, it was a loss of face and they're angry with me for 'not having seen him through'. He'd joined an engineering firm concentrating on the construction business and one fine morning, he took the train to Madras to draw his future. The result of his hard work is there for all to see.......he's now a successful businessman. This evening, standing near my mom's cremation spot, he attributed his success to my parents and yours truly. He was determined to make it big after his failure to join the IN and it was that resoluteness that saw him overcome the bad days! His wife, Rajani, a son studying in class III and a daughter, in pre-school is his small world.

Susheela, their eldest sister, is an 'Anganwadi teacher' doing well, whose husband is expected from Saudi Arabia on a month's leave, tomorrow at 10 AM. Her education was also taken care of by my parents when she used to help mom, before her younger sister had come in!

They'd fetched up to pay their homage to mom and dad.......finding it difficult to reconcile to my mom's passing away!


Tailpiece.

(a) Susheela, had also contested the panchayat elections, in '05, on an LDF ticket and came third, behind mom.

(b) Padmakumar left for Palakkad on completion of leave, this evening at 2215 hrs. Our strength has, now, reduced to four! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mom's Mollykutty comes calling.

Mani and I went through the day's proceedings with clockwork precision. The crows and the birds have got used to the new source of food and hence, didn't waste much time in swooping in on the offering! Padmakumar, left for his house after breakfast, to spend time with his mother, who's recouping slowly but steadily from her recent fall.

Lekha had gone to Kottarakkara to get, most importantly, a few medicines that were low on stock and to replenish the provisions required for our stay in the coming days. She was back in an hour, commuting up and down by auto rickshaws!

Rema's neighbours - Praveen and Babita - who'd commenced their journey early morning from Palakkad reached us by lunchtime. Mom had taken a liking for 'Mollykutty' - that's her nickname for the diminutive young lady with a million volt smile - during her visits to Palakkad and relished her interactions with Praveen. They'd not heeded to her invites to 'The Quarterdeck' at Guruvayur because of their professional preoccupation - he's a self made businessman dealing with machinery spares, operating from Coimbatore while she's a veterinary surgeon at Palakkad!

They're told about my mom's last days and anecdotes by the four of us - lest we missed out on the details! The two of them were exceptional listeners and were eager to hear more of our narration and by the time they're off to Thiruvananthapuram, it was teatime!

          *                                          *                                            *

Earlier, my friend, RK Singh had called up to offer his condolences and we ended up catching up with each other's news over a telecon that lasted almost an hour! He's settling down at Ahmedabad - in fact, midway between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar - and is currently overseeing the furnishing of a his three BHK flat in which he has offered a bedroom for us, if and when we were to visit him and Usha! He's aware of the thrill that I get while I attend the Dussehra celebrations out there!!

It was damn sweet of him.....

           *                                         *                                            *

Meanwhile calls, messages and mail continue to pour in!


Tailpiece.

(a) The madness over the Cauvery waters continues. Sadly, we don't seem to have tall leaders who are capable of putting a sense of reasoning, mature thoughts and a sense of fair play into the minds of the rampaging public towards their fellow countrymen. Sad!

(b) Based on messages received from friends, classmates and course mates over the What'sApp, I understand that the three service chiefs have told the government that the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission were not being implemented in the armed forces as they do not fulfill the aspirations of the men in uniform! I laud the chiefs for taking a stand.....it would be prudent for the government to take note of the servicemen's grievances and rewrite the recommendations, without any further delay!!

             

Monday, September 12, 2016

The crowd is dwindling!

This morning, Raj Nivas was agog with activity from a half past 3. My sisters were busy packing breakfast and lunch for the team, consisting of Sanil, Achu and Ammu, poised to leave for Bangalore in Mini's car. The distance to be covered was about 670 kms through Punalur, Shencottai, Rajapalayam, Thirumangalam, Salem, Hosur to Gottigere, at Banagalore.

They'd kicked off by a quarter to 6. Sanil and Achu took turns behind the wheel and since we're monitoring them thanks to the GPS, their real time position was known to us all the while. They'd reached their destination by a quarter to 5 and soon after, we heard of the mayhem let loose in the city of Bangalore, on a silly thing like the sharing of the Cauvery waters! Let me make it clear, waters have to be shared amicably by the adjoining states without any damn hesitation!!

          *                                         *                                              *

Burning of vehicles on either side of the border between the two states and causing collateral damage just cannot be accepted. The reason - the order by the Supreme Court regarding the sharing of the Cauvery waters! Consequently, tempers have risen, emotions have been stoked by the mischief mongers and the mayhem is there for all to see. I'm sure the law and order machinery of the state will rise to the occasion, round up the culprits at the earliest and justice will be delivered.

           *                                         *                                              *

Rathnavalli teacher, all of 78 years and a good friend of mom, came to offer her condolences. She was immensely sad and told us a lot many anecdotes of mom. As she spoke, looking at my mom's recent photograph on the mantelpiece, her tears were unstoppable while flowing down her cheeks!
Susheelakutty and Ramachandran came in soon after and spent some time with us. We're meeting them after a long gap. Ramachandrettan had come in with his son, Sarath accompanied by his wife, Anjana and their three year old daughter, Yukta who kept us regaled by her continuous chatter and had fallen in love with me by the end of her stay!!

           *                                         *                                              *

It was the second evening of lighting the wick at the stowage point of my mom's ashes.


Tailpiece.

1. Am not saying in hindsight but I was sure that mom would take care of her son-in-law and the grandchildren, throughout their journey and ensure that no harm befell them, the Cauvery 'tamasha' notwithstanding! But thinking back on it, a car with Karnataka registration traversed through a stretch of 600 kms of Tamilnadu's countryside and the Hosur road towards the end!!

2. Parul and Sanjay Khare had called up to offer their condolences and comfort me, late in the evening. Damn sweet of them!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

'The Sanchayanam'.

Today was mom's sanchayanam. The PN Panicker family was complete except for a few absentees, who'd reasons to be away. The day had begun early as the entire lot had to finish their bath and therefore, many were up and about, going about their chores by about a half past 4!

Mani had come around at his usual time and we'd embarked on the 'bali' soon after. The offerings were ready which had takers in a few crows and sparrows, with the woodpecker majestically, amidst them! The guests had begun to arrive by a quarter to 8 and soon after, the executive committee members of the local Nair Service Society's 'karayogam' had descended to help Mani, my 'sa'arthi' to navigate through the day's proceedings.

It's on the sanchayanam day that the following take place:-

    (a) The ashes(A charred piece of bone, to be precise) are sifted out from the cremation spot, from
          the areas of the head, the abdomen and the feet.
    (b) Each of the three pieces is washed thoroughly with cow's urine, tender coconut water, milk,
          curd and rose water and deposited into the small earthenware pot. Burning incense sticks and
          flowers were also put along with it.
    (c) The cremation spot is covered with mud to make a longish mound where the following were
          planted - tender turmeric saplings at the head, a coconut sapling at the abdomen, a specific
          variety of Colocasia Esculenta, its botanical name but commonly known as 'taro', at the feet
          with a wide variety of grains sprinkled all over the mound.

It was an emotional experience to sight the charred pieces of bones lying scattered all over the surface of the shallow patch, where mom's pyre had been lit, six days ago. The towering personality and the small bundle of intense activity, that was my dear mom, had been reduced to small, charred pieces of bone! The earthenware pot, wrapped in red silk, was lowered into a hole in the earth, beside a jack tree and a piece of sugarcane, that I'd used as a walking stick just before,

It will be this earthenware pot, with mom's ashes, that will be taken for immersion at the Papanasam, at Varkala on the 17th day after the cremation.


Tailpiece.

1. A lot many people, including relatives, had taken part in the two hour ceremony after which, I 'd gone around thanking everyone for their presence, with folded hands.

2. The guests left after breakfast, the immediate family after lunch leaving our small family to ourselves. A wick was lit - at sunset - at the spot where my mom's ashes-in-the-earthenware-pot was secured.

3. Rathnavalli teacher, had sent her son and family to offer her condolences. Damn sweet of her!

4. Earlier, in the morning, I'd silently gone time wise through the happenings of last Sunday and reminded the family at 1158 hrs that it was at this time that the hospital staff had tried to revive mom but to no avail!!


       

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Preparing for the 'Sanchayanam'.

The day had begun on the usual note with Mani fetching up at 20' past 6 and the proceedings getting on in right earnest. The crows were in attendance and I've been noticing a lonely woodpecker in attendance all these days!

         *                                      *                                        *

My smaller uncle has come with another information which he was reluctant to part with because of its serious import. Mom had passed away on the 'Atham' day of the Malayalam calendar. It has ramifications on the person who's carrying out the ceremony - meaning your's truly. A 'Mrityunjaya Homam' needs to be done, the frequency and the exact set of 'pujas' will be informed by the family astrologer. In fact, he seems to have asked him as to whether I believed in these things! I need to play this down and quietly, guide the attention away......because these things have a way of putting unnecessary pressures on the people who love me! I'm of the firm belief that one's end is pre-ordained and it's simply futile to dwell upon such information!!

          *                                      *                                         *

The house had started filling up with the folks from Thiruvananthapuram. Meanwhile, Sanil, Ammu, my little maman and Usha ammayi had gone for the final round of marketing for the ceremony tomorrow. Vijayan, our caretaker, brought in the difficult ones that needed to be tapped from the resources around which only he was familiar with!

          *                                       *                                         *

Jayasree's parents, from Bombay, along with Ramachandrettan had dropped by just before lunch and so did Omanakuttan, who was on his way to Konni, with a friend. By evening, the house was full and the sleeping slots oversubscribed. It was an exuberant dinner prior to which there were a lot of anecdotes about mom that were narrated!


Tailpiece.

Mom's first photograph that's around is when she was three along with her parents, her uncle and aunt and her grandparents! She was not happy with the dress that was chosen for the occasion.......and hence, is teary eyed!!(The explanation was given by herself!)

The next is her school group photograph while she was in class X, at the Cotton Hill Girls' High School, Thiruvananthapuram. She's clad in a long flowery skirt and blouse....looks very beautiful.

The third in the chronological order is while she was at the College for Women, Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram and she's dressed in a saree-blouse combination, smack in the first row, center!

And then, comes her first photograph with dad, post marriage.........time really has flown!


Friday, September 9, 2016

NSS Nair, HGTA.

One of the first callers this morning was N Sivasankaran Nair, High Grade Telegraph Assistant(Retd), all of 83 yrs. His story was a nostalgic peep into history in respect of my mom's professional journey as a Branch Post Mistress(BPM).

The Kura Post Office was inaugurated in '60 with N Krishna Panicker, my paternal grandfather, as its first BPM in pursuit of his philanthropic efforts and Sivasankaran Nair was the postman. After about two years, my grandfather had his youngest daughter, Varadamma, to take over from him but she wasn't very keen about the job and was replaced by his daughter-in-law, Sarojini, who, too, had a very short tenure. It was in early '63 that mom took over as BPM, Kura after my paternal grandfather had prevailed upon my maternal grandfather, who was in a deep dilemma because he knew that his daughter wasn't keen to go to Thalavoor, near Kottarakkara, as she was fond of pursuing a profession in a city, preferably Thiruvananthapuram!

Sivasankaran Nair, further underscored my mom's dedication towards her work with the following:-

     (a) She was meticulous in everything that she did.
     (b) Her superiors were impressed with her efficiency and most of them knew her dad!
     (c) She taught her subordinates the right work ethics and practices and
     (d) She'd sacrificed her professional advancement for the sake of her children's education!

He'd left Kura PO, in mid '64, on promotion and ever since, had been following my mom's activities. To prove it, he'd whipped open his wallet to show me an old newspaper cutting that spoke of Chandramathykutty Amma's interaction with the kids of a nearby school, on the occasion of a Reading Day(Vaayana Dinam)! He, further, added that he'd fetched up at my paternal grandfather's residence soon after his passing away and rued the fact that it has been repeated in the case of my mom too! Sivasankaran Nair, despite his age, came as a pillion on his grandson's mobike!!

Incidentally, mom had retired as the BPM, Kura in Dec '96. During her long innings, she'd endeared herself to the people with her genuine concern for their welfare and well being!


Tailpiece.

1. Dharettan, my cousin's husband, Sreekumar, Varadamma bua's second son, Aji, Rema's younger brother-in-law were the others who'd dropped by in the course of the day.
2. Sanil, Lekha and Ammu had gone to Kottarakkara to buy things for the ceremony, day after!
3. My younger maman and his wife fetched up by supper time and they're gonna be with us for the next few days. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A quiet day.

Mani had fetched up, as usual, at a 20' past 6. The 'Bali' ceremony started soon after and surprisingly, he made a hash of it. His face showed that he'd a very late night with plenty of booze to keep him company! The result was there for all to see or were there any other reasons? The things that were not available were camphor to get the fire in the makeshift stove moving, the Re.1 coin along with the betel leaf and nut..........The crow never fetched up, upsetting even my own prediction for today.

....Or have I done anything wrong that has upset mom's soul, I wonder......

           *                                 *                                 *

Babu Sahadev, my classmate, had called from Canada to covey his condolences. He'd recalled his stays at 'The Quarterdeck' and the thrill that mom had while hosting them. When his voice broke, I'd to put him at ease!

Ajith, had called from his ashram this afternoon and he sounded distraught at the news about my mom. He was relaxed when I'd recounted the thrill that mom had, on receiving the eight volumes of the Mahabhagavatham that he'd sent for her on the Janamashtami day!

Narayanan seems to be smarting from not having seen my mom's mortal remains despite my informing him! I've given him the task of registering online, for mom's death certificate and he was only too happy to oblige. Damn sweet of him! Probably, it reins in his despair!! The application needs to be forwarded within the next two days.

            *                                 *                                  *

Lekha, Sanil and Ammu had gone out for the purchase of items that would be required over the weekend and for the 'Sanchayanam' on Sunday! They reached, after finishing all the work, a trifle after a half past 1.


Tailpiece.

A quiet but hectic day and the sun kept it quite warm in the afternoon!





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm yet to shed tears for mom!

The morning had begun at 0530 hrs for me, today. I was ready to kick off the ceremony but Mani was late by about 20', as usual!

    *                                        *                                            *

The immortal lines from Poonthaanam's 'Njaanappaana' was wafting through the loudspeakers of a nearby temple. Its famous line highlighting the fallibility of life viz. "Kandu kandennirikkum janangale kandillennu varuthunnathum bhawan.".......Roughly translated, the people who are seen around cease to be seen, courtesy you, my Lord! 

So very appropriate to the occasion!!

     *                                       *                                            *

A crow sat in attendance on the mango tree, right at the beginning, unlike what it was during the past two days. I was thrilled and Mani kept repeating to it that it would be provided food shortly. It followed us to the spot where I'd left the day's offering and swooped in for its feed, leaving us thrilled!

Actually, the crows had taken a couple of days to realise that food was available at this spot and from now on, they'll come every morning till the last day or even beyond till they realise that the source of food has ceased to exist!

      *                                       *                                            *

Vishnu and Benoy, of the JSS, Kollam, had come with the documents for my signatures. They should now be able to pay the salaries to our team, before Onam and after the return of the Director, from Delhi, tomorrow.

       *                                      *                                             *

I realise that I haven't shed tears for my mom as yet, wonder why? Is it because I was privy to the extreme agony that she was going through while at the ICU? Her sideways glance at me when I called out to her to fight it out, haunts me still, as I stood helpless without being of any support to her at that critical juncture.


Tailpiece.

1. The medical practitioner from the nearby Athira Clinic, who'd helped my parents with their minor medical ailments in the past, had dropped by to offer his condolences. It was he who said that mom must have undergone a breakdown of the central nervous system and consequentially, suffered multiple organ failures within a short period - a medical situation, often faced by elderly people! He was voluble in his admiration for my mom's stoic nature and sense of humour.

2. Ammu, Lekha and Sanil had gone to Ayur in the afternoon, to look up Sanil's mom who has been depressed and sad after seeing the lifeless body of my mom last Sunday. Enroute, Ammu had gone into the post office at Kottarakkara to post a letter to one of mom's admirers and in the process met Unni, the postman, whose first stint was with my mom, years back. Perhaps, this meeting was ordained by her to ensure his presence this Sunday, when the 7th day ceremony takes place! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Snippets.

1. Why didn't the crows fetch up?

I was up and awake by a half past 4. Sleep was comfortable but I'd got on with my chores to be on time for the ceremony, scheduled to start at 6. Mani fetched up late by about 20', was profusely apologetic and without much ado, had begun with the proceedings. The cooking of the rice on a makeshift stove of stones, mixed thoroughly with milk and curd for the offering, was rolled into three differing balls and placed on a banana leaf. Clapping with my wet hands, the crows were invited to pick up the balls of rice but alas, none had come.

Mani's explanation, "Sir, these days the population of the crows is dwindling. Don't worry!" To me it was a source of mirth but I controlled my reactions with a poker face. This guy, definitely, has a good sense of humour!

But the fact was that the crows didn't fetch up and it was the same case yesterday, too! But some thing or the other had kept me occupied and I hadn't monitored the subsequent disposal of the offerings! ...........Is mom's soul unhappy?

2. A train of people.

There was a train of people today, who'd expressed various shades of emotions at the passing away of my mom and there was a thread of connectivity through each of their narrations simply proving the larger-than-life persona of Chandramathykutty Amma, the eldest daughter of the legendary PN Panicker and wife of the quiet yet resolute KK Nair. Here are a few sound bytes:-

  (a) Rajan. He was my mom's campaign manager when she'd stood for the panchayat elections
        in 2005. Teary eyed, he still considers that the verdict - she'd lost by a paltry 9 votes - was
        unfair. He recalled as to how she'd cared for each of her team and insisted that they wouldn't
        resort to foul means to win. He remembers her speeches laden with humour and full of reason.

  (b) Gopala Panicker. The 85 year old gentleman used to tap our rubber trees once upon a time and           escort my dad on his trips/errands whenever amma was not accompanying him. He was shocked         that his prediction about a break in her life line would come true, too fast!

  (c) Thaazhvara Gopi sir. 72 year old ex-school teacher had begun as a young lad, in his late teens,
        with PN Panicker while he was trail blazing the Library Movement. They used to pay numerous
        visits to Raj Nivas and he talks of the hospitality provided at the house by 'Amma'.


Tailpiece.

Venu and Molly had come to offer their condolences. There were many others who'd called, sent messages and mail expressing their sadness at her passing away.