14 December 2015


Posted by Vinoth Subramanian | Monday, December 14, 2015 Categories: , , , ,

From 1st September 2015 to 14th September 2015.
Every journey begins to halt somewhere. And, every halt sets up a new journey. For some travelers, it’s mandatory. For some travelers, it’s an option. For few, it’s fun. For few, it’s an experience. But, for me it was a search. A real search. I thought I was traveling from learning to earning. I was traveling from nothing to something. I was traveling from questions to answers.

Similarly, I was traveling from my native place Veppambattu to Erode. Fortunately, there was a reason for that journey. I was called for my certificate verification, and we planned to go on September 1st. It was mentioned in the call letter that I should report to Erode on or before 14 September 2015. The call letter came on August24th. But, some formalities delayed my journey.

Evangelin Saranya (my sister) called me while I was in the local train. I hesitated to attend the call. The train filled with noise and it added its noise as well. However, it showed the responsibility to leave us in central railway station. My father asked me to attend while we were traveling.
“Vinoth?” I didn’t hear it anyway. But, I knew that it would be her first utterance whenever she calls me. I was not far from sensing the reply which she wanted, and I replied.
“I started akka.” I knew that she didn’t hear my words. But, she would have understood.
“All the best. And, take care. Don’t forget to call me when you reach.” This should have been her immediate respond which I didn’t hear at all. Finally, the call got cut though neither of us had hung up.
I had already informed her though I was not satisfied. She called me back as I guessed. This time the tower didn’t betray us. Same word, same reply, same response and same wishes. But, both us were able to hear this time. What to do? Our logical minds understand things but, our emotional minds expect the special attention to our senses.

We had reached central railway station and bought two tickets through the help of my concession form.
“Only 100 rupees? Is it for both or quarter ticket?”
“No daddy. It is for both. Half ticket. The actual ticket costs rupees 200. With escort, it’s half.”
It was around11:30. But, the west coast hadn’t arrived. I was recollecting my previous journey with this train with my M.Phil classmate. My father and I were sprinting to catch the train. Leo was anxiously waiting for us. Finally, and fortunately, we were 10 minutes earlier that departure time. But, it was 7 months ago. This time no one was with us except us. The train had arrived around 11:50 in the morning. We found the disable coach and got inside. Both guard and railway police force didn’t allow anyone except people with disabilities and their escorts. The guard asked us to locked door and told not to unlock without his consent. Some people had already intruded inside the coach and got chased by the ticket checker. Only 7 of us inside the disable coach. My father called my mother and my brother and informed our departure.
“You should go home soon.” My father said to my brother over the phone.
“Your mother is not feeling well.” He added and disconnected the call.
It was true. She wasn’t well when we were leaving home. But, we had no other option. My father wanted to depart in the night and reach in the early morning to complete the formalities. But, I was not willing to do that and wanting to take a relaxed journey.
“Why do they do as this? They could have called you somewhere else near Chennai.” My father opened the conversation.
“We can’t predict daddy. This is only certificate verification, and the posting will be somewhere else I believe.”
“But where?”
“Who knows? Our computer instructor was called for his certificate verification in Coimbatore, but, got posting near to his place.”
“So, we have to wait till tomorrow. Right?”
“Do we have any other option? No right?”

We ate our lunch. My father began engaging in conversation with other passengers. I didn’t find anything intriguing. Kaatpadi had come. Two passengers came in. One was heavily injured on his leg, and other one seeming to be his escort. Guard didn’t hinder them and luckily allowed them inside.

My father asked me to sleep if wanted, I complied. I had enough space to repose but, he stopped and placed my head on his lap. Sleeping on his lap was not new to me at all. Both my brother and I had slept on his lap several occasions at our home. Those days, we were lazy to bring pillows and we slept. I would have slept well on his lap if it were another day. But, that day, I was scared of my tears, which might come out at anytime. My heart was longing for medicine, craving for remedy, and it knew very well that it can be cured only through the shoulders and laps of my beloved people. I would have been reposing on his lap nearly fifteen minutes. Too many thoughts were flashing in to my mind.
“I am traveling between my past miseries and the future mysteries. Each and every minute of my life is occupied with suspense, and it extends to my occupation also.” I said to myself.
“But, one thing should be taken care of, that is, I should spring from his lap before my thoughts and pains transfer in to tears.” My mind was observing my tears, which were getting ready to come out.
“God is really great in his creation, and tears are the best of all. The taste may be salt, but, the meaning is invariably bitter.” Had I continued further, I would have made him find my tears, which I didn’t want, and I got up. Fortunately, my eyes didn’t trickle them.
“Not wanting to sleep? Why did you get up?”
“Nothing daddy. Don’t feel sleepy at all.” I said and reclined on the couch. Train had crossed Salem. By the time, all of them had got down. Only we two were left in the coach. From the very beginning, we had been checking the presence of our bag, which was more significant than me. Nobody would sit when seats are available but, everybody would fight when they are occupied. We didn’t feel like sitting and stood in the door when all the other had left. I was happily roaming inside the coach nearly last an hour. Erode had come finally. The place of my future.
“It is 396 kilometer written in the ticket but, on board, it shows only 392. Should we go further?” My father asked. We clarified with the guard. Our confusion was about Erode and Erode junction. He said we were right and asked us to proceed to our purpose.

First, we thought of getting a room in railway station itself. And, we asked some official regarding that. As we didn’t get proper response from them, I told my father to search it outside. We enquired both about the bank and the lodge.
“The IOB regional office is nearly three kilometer away from railway station sir and, you can find a lodge near to the bus-stand.” An auto-driver told.
“What about the distance between bus-stand and regional?” My father asked.
“The bust-stand is not far from regional office.” He answered. We found a lodge near railway station and, not satisfied. Got the bus, found another lodge in the bus-stand, found it dirty, complained and came out. Finally after some long strides, we got a decent lodge.

Rajeshwari Lodge.
The receptionist said we could get room, which costs 1000 rupees and 400 is refundable. He asked the purpose of our arrival. My father answered him got the key.
Room number 17, located on the first floor. We opened it and the door was ajar. It was neatly arrayed. On the right, a caught, two beds, on the left side, near the door, there was a shelf. Then, there was a table occupied with a water jug, television and a telephone. Beneath that, there was an empty chair. The room was not big but an ordinary one. Moving further, there was a window on the left corner closed by a screen. On the right, after the cot, there was an attached bathroom. We refreshed ourselves. I switched on my mobile and called my brother. By the time, my father was already talking to my mother, informing them we had reached. Once again, my father called and insisted my brother to go home promptly for my mother was ill. Neither of us felt hungry. But, we decided to finish our supper soon. Eating had become a duty for us. We came out, locked the room and walked on the road to find the hotel. After a long search, we found a hotel and finished our duty. It was not even 8 P.M when we returned to our room.
I called my sister (Saranya) and told the whole. We might have talked nearly 10 minutes as we had many things to discuss. I said I will call in the next day. We hung up.
Some messages, some missed calls have arrived to my mobile. I kept it aside. The height of the pillow was not sufficient for me to lie. I lifted it a little, placed it on the wall and reposed. My father had switched on the television already. Felt boring it seemed, he switched it off back and lied on the cot.

“Say something.”
“What to say? Your brother has not yet gone home I think.” He called him and scolded this time.
“Tell about your love story. You have once said that someone has deceived you. How did it happen? Why did it happen?” I didn’t feel hesitant to ask that. I knew that he would begin his story, and he began!

“There was a man named Balaraman, working railway as a government staff. As we were all belonging to same village, we got chances to meet now and then. He was a neither a stranger nor close to me. Once I was coming back to my house, I saw him struggling on the road. He walked, sat under a tree, got up, walked to some extends, sat under another tree and then walked again. He was coughing, shivering and terribly sweating. I stopped my bicycle before him.
“What happened?” I enquired him. He turned back and said,
“It’s wheezing. I had it before, and now, it increased I think.”
He used to address me ‘son-in-law’ whenever we meet, and, he called me in the same manner.
“Can you drop me at my home?”
I took him on my cycle and rode it to his house. Then, it perpetuated whenever I met him on the road. I was working in a printing press. My office timing was matching with his. I plaintively confronted him whenever I came out of my office. Hence, I decided to drop him daily. The whole family started hinging on me it seemed. I started buying groceries, rice and other basic materials for them. He treated me as his own son though he called me ‘son-in-law’ for fun. Sometimes, he offered money for my service but I never received it on my hand. I didn’t feel like getting money for my service. He had a daughter, but, I seldom talked to her. In fact, I talked to her as a stranger that’s all. His wife, on the other hand, was a wicked woman. She was fully caste oriented I noticed.  However, it didn’t affect the relationship between Balaraman and me.

Days were gliding. All of a sudden, one day, he asked me.
“Will you marry my daughter?”
I was shocked! To be honest, I never had such thought on his daughter. I used to meet her when I go to his house, and, used to talk if necessary. But, he put me in an awkward position.
“I don’t have anything of the sort.” I declared and dropped him in his house as usual.
“You know. I am not the kind of a father. Moreover, I am not a person who runs behind caste! I know you since your birth. I am not saying it for fun and to stimulate your desire. I like you; hence, I want to give you my daughter.”
I hesitated for some minutes and said.
“Now also I repeat the same that I don’t have such thought. But, if you’re willing I have no objection.” I said and left the place.

My mother, (your grandma) was waiting for me to reach home. She had never eaten with me. First, she used to serve me, would wait till I finish, and then only she would take the leaf to eat. She casually started warning me about going to his house often. I didn’t heed, and didn’t respond to her words also.
I went to his home. I saw her. But, this time, with love. Things were going in favor of me. They started calling me often for everything and my mother started scolding me as well. I told her the whole and asked her to mind the business.
One day, when I reached home, my mother was waiting as usual. She asked me to eat soon. She was serving as wont.  But, I noticed carefully and found that something was wrong. She didn’t talk anything and continuously forcing me to eat. I heard some holler outside.
“Mani?” Some familiar voice had screamed my name.
“No.” My mother replied loudly. I was startled. Soon, without noticing her reply, the man had entered inside.
“Do you know?” he focused me carefully and said.
I was washing my hand and asked.
“What happed?”
“There is some problem in Balaram’s house. He got angry and went with a rope and locked the room. People are searching you! I told your mother! Didn’t she tell you?”
I stared at her with infernal fury.
“No! He just came in not even three minutes! He’s quick in eating! Just now finished! You came when I was about to tell him.” My mother somehow finished. Once again I threw an angry look at her and sprinted to my lover’s house.

People were mustering in front of his house and shouting his name. I went inside, knocked the door and asked him to unlock it. He tossed the rope, came forward and opened the door. I started scolding him. He didn’t let anyone inside except me and closed the door again.
“People are deceiving me. My wife and my mother-in-law are trying to get my daughter married to your friend Madhi. I can’t accept it. I will never accept it! I decided! You are my son-in-law! And you must be my son-in-law!”
“Come out first. Let us decide it later. Madhi is my friend he won’t betray me like that. Above all, your daughter also loves me sincerely. Don’t do stupid things here.” I said and dragged him out. Madhi and I were thickest friends since childhood. Both looked similar in appearance too. The entire village knows that he and I always stay together. We had been like more than friends. Some people would comment us as brothers from different wombs. Your grandma also liked him a lot. On the other side, she always had some wrangles with me regarding this issue. She had been cautioning me, and, I had been depicting my hostility to her.

Nearly three months would have slipped I think. Suddenly, Balaraman, (her father) passed away. It was a natural death. The whole family was literally collapsed. I had been with them all the time and completed all the formalities. She needed someone to console. I spent more time with her. The railway department came forward to offer his job to her. I had been with her throughout the process. It wasn’t very easy to get the job. But, eventually, she got it. Meanwhile, she wanted to go for typewriting class. My job was to drop her and pick her up. I did it with my bicycle. She had replaced her father. She began going for her new government. Her grandma and mother were convincing her to get married to my friend for they belonged to same cost. On the other side, Madhi’s family also was washing his brain and stimulating his desire. I didn’t heed anything. As usual, your grandma started,
“Listen to me now! At least now! Once again I tell you, they will betray you. They’re all rich men. Moreover, she has a government job now. Try to come out of everything and focus on your work.”
“You focus on your work.” I retorted and went out. I got the news that both her family and family were readying for their engagement. I asked Madhi. He confirmed it. Having no other option, I flew to her house. She was standing outside. I stopped my bicycle and asked,
“Is it true? Are they arranging for this? Have you given your consent?” She remained quiet and finally nodded her head and confirmed it.
“Open your lip and speak. Are you going to marry him?”
“Yes.” She uttered this time. I straitened my bicycle and saw her again. She began to say something.
“But, it doesn’t mean I don’t love…” I didn’t hear the rest for my bicycle was angrier than I.”

I thought he finished his story. Intervened by asking,
“Daddy? How long it was hurting you?”
“Not even an hour.”
“What? Why? How?”
“In fact, I really felt guilty for disrespecting your grandma. She had foreseen everything but, love had folded my eyes.” He said and continued,
“There I swore to myself that I should get someone as my wife before she gets married to him. For that, I started searching my life partner with the help of your grandpa (my mother’s brother-in-law). He started looting my money in the name of bride searching. On the other side, they got engaged. Finally, they got married on 2nd February 1988.”
I understood the winner. I know my parents’ wedding day. But, I waited for him to say on his own.
“They got married on 2nd February 1988, and, ours was 24th January 1988.”
“It was an absolute and an unpardonable betrayal! Both of them betrayed you! Your friend should not have done this to you! That too, after knowing everything?”
“Yes. He knew everything but, money and wealth changed his mind.”
I paused for some seconds and asked him again.
“Daddy? Did you feel? Did you feel when she denied you? Did you get offended by her words? How long it hurt you?”
“To be honest, I got angry when she denied me; I got angry when they deceived me. But, I was not hurt. As I said, I felt guilty for disobeying my mother’s words. After some days, my ex-lover has said to someone that she had married my friend since he had been looking like me.”
“Didn’t she feel ashamed of herself?” I replied in anger.
After a snicker, he said,
“I was able to tolerate everything, almost all things, except those words.”
“What did she say?”
“She didn’t say anything. After your birth, one of her relatives has told her. It still hurts me.”
I was inquisitive to ask him but, he didn’t even let me ask and disclosed those words. When he said that, I understood his searing pain, excruciated heart, inexplicable sufferings, ineluctable struggles and the miserable path which he traveled so far. It was indeed, indeed a powerful word. Undoubtedly painful word! I had pulverized his pleasure I realized. My birth had defeated his victory I realized. At that night, I realized the importance of my job. I realized the purpose of my travel. I realized my role as his son. It wasn’t a bed time story to sleep I realized. And, It was his life time story to awake I realized. After hearing those words, I could not sleep at that night I realized. But, I had to sleep for the next day event I realized. I slept by chewing those words. It was echoing inside me. My father was trying to sleep beside me. But, once again, I recollected those words, which were uttered to my father’s ex-lover by her relative.
“You should feel happy for not marrying Subramani. Else, you would have been a mother to a blind child.”
To be continued


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