The dead came alive!!!

[Last week I left you all in the railway station along with Komala’s in-laws, while narrating the incident which happened in my 16th age.]

All settled down safely, took their bath and had a tasty, sumptuous meal. Sambandhi Ammal (Komala’s would be mother in law) with her paternal, maternal aunts, sisters in law, and kith and kin went to the room where Komala stayed. I was loitering there between the kitchen and hall, doing this and that, lending my ears to their conversation. They were spying whether the ornaments Komala wore on her neck, ears and wrist belonged to her or borrowed from someone. They interviewed for about an hour and then left the place to much of our relief.

Janvasam was conducted in a pompous and colourful way in the evening. The groom’s chariot was with seven beautiful horses. Obviously, only two were real. The decorated chariot was accompanied by colorful lights emitted by crackers and musical notes oozing out from Nadasvaram. Bridegroom Aanantharaman with decorum and at the same time with the dignity of an executive entered the Mantap. At night, the groom’s sister and brother in law forgo the dinner which drove us all panic.

On investigation, it was found that, when all were given Chandan and sugar as a sign of respect, Groom’s sister was left out by mistake. This, she considered as planned disgrace and refused to attend the dinner. It was not possible for others to enjoy the dinner leaving them. Komala’s father Mr.Ramanujam was almost flat before her and somehow smoothened and brought them to the dining hall… He murmured in the kitchen.” Let the holy thread be tied for my child …I’ll have my turn then”. I did not know other than to pray Lord Thyagesha for a successful completion of the function. From that time, it became my duty to supply coffee, lime juice and so on to the sambandhi people every now and then.

Kasiyathra is one of the important incidents in the marriage. Groom Anantharaman, got ready to play his part. His father gave him a coconut and insisted him to hand it over to Vedathri mama (aged about 70- 80) and get his blessings. Only then, all were reminded and started searching for him. All rushed in different directions in search of him. I went to Jayaram uncle (neighbor) who was happily chewing the beetle nut , asked if he ever came across a person who used to limp while walking. He readily replied, “Oh! Yes, I saw him just 45 minutes ago. He went into Kamalalayam to have his bath”. So saying he started readying his next doze of beetle nut.

The ball of fear started rolling in my stomach. How to tell others that mama, who went for taking bath, is missing for the past 45 minutes? I slowly approached Narayanan and disclosed the matter. Bridegroom’s cousin Sriram, Narayanan and I stepped down Kamalalayam in search of him. The dhothi was still flagging to get dried; near it was the upper cloth (Angavasthram). But mama was still missing. The tank appeared calm and serene. There was no one who tried to bathe there. Here too Jayaraman Iyer confirmed that Mama came there to have a dip. But mama was still missing.

Whole body throbbed with fear. Narayanan and Sriram searched in all directions. I just consoled myself that we would have missed him somewhere while crossing and he might have gone back to the marriage hall. So thinking, I entered the house once again.

“Hello Mohan! Were you able to get back mama?” This was Jayaraman mama.

“No uncle, he was not in the tank. I think he would have come back here”, I replied.

“Hi! I’m sitting here constantly just munching my betel nut. I saw him getting down into the tank, but didn’t see him come back. The steps are slippery; you know very well, if one slips he directly has to attain moksha. It is said that if one is born in Tiruvarur, he/she is sure to enter heaven. Vedatri mama has got his end like this! Don’t alarm others now. He is aged and has gone once for all. Till the holy thread is tied, don’t breathe out the news to anyone. Understand?” casually saying, he got up to spit out the betel essence.

Not knowing what to do, I entered in. Their search for uncle did not stop the other proceedings of the marriage. ‘Kasi Yatra was over. The fun while exchanging the garland between the bride and the groom was also over. They were seated in the swing and the colour balls were thrown on all sides around them. Funny songs were sung and there was a loud roar of laughter. In spite of all these, I smelt something unusual in that situation. Sambandhi lady was murmuring something. Komala’s maternal aunt was responding her in a low tone. In between, groom’s father shouted, “Where is Vedatri uncle?” and rushed away!

I enquired Komala’s sister about what had happened. They had given milk and fruit in a silver cup. A small boy had promised to wash it. But he had disappeared with it. They feared it was not a good omen.If so; they would not have lost the bowl. Sambandhi Ammal was more worried at the loss of the bowl which was one among the bride’s presentations. My idea of explaining about the disappearance of Vedatri mama retreated as I did not want to confuse more. I thought of sharing my feelings with someone else in Vadagarai Street and stepped down. I saw someone coming at a distance limping. I very much wished that person to be Vedatri mama. To my surprise, it was Vedatri mama! Narayanan and Sriram too rushed from the other side of me.

“What child! Is it time for Muhurtham? I just wanted to have the darshan of Vishnu before the marriage. Hence I went to the temple! Here it is! Take the tulasi leaves!” mama was conversing very casually.

The Vishnu temple is very near Thiruvarur Thyagarajar temple! After his bath, mama had gone to the temple. I thanked Perumal and Lord Thyagaraja!

Jayaram mama was sitting in the same place at the entrance. I didn’t tell him anything. Can I tell him,’ the dead came alive!’?

In spite of all hubbubs, the marriage ended well. Both Narayanan and I went to Komala’s room as we had not talked with her all these hours! We were shocked to see her crying! She had seen the groom smoking! This perturbed her as how to be with him throughout her life! Her mother consoled her that, she had tolerated Komala’s father who is interested in using tobacco. She was firm in her thought that her daughter would get used to such things in the course of time.

The next morning, Narayanan and I packed the things of Komala. Sambandhi ammal came with a list. She centered her look on me and ordered,”Pack the things carefully! Already a silver bowl is missing. Hope your friend is reliable. Anyway, Sriram, you be with him.” That lady had seen me from the time she got down from the train till this minute. Her words disturbed me a little. I ignored it for the sake of Narayanan and Komalam.

The lunch was over. Food packets for the travel were ready. All were just relaxing.

Narayanan’s father said,” Sambandhi, if any mistake has been committed, kindly forgive.”

Groom’s father replied,” what is this? We have become one and now Komala is our daughter. We will take care of her. You need not worry even a little.”

It seemed that they would take care of Komalam really well.

When they came, I hired 6 carts and now I brought 7 carts, to board the luggage and to send Komala and her husband in a separate cart. When I went to ask for the hiring charges to Narayanan, his father was also there. So I asked him money. He replied curt and right,” only when they came the groom’s side should spend. But now only they have to spend. Ask Sambandhi after dropping. He is aware of all the courtesies.” Just ten minutes ago he apologized to them. Now the same tongue has turned this way. I was afraid, if Sambandhi also turns a deaf ear what to do? He presented rs.5 to Nadaswara vidwan, rs.10 to the cook and sari and dhothi as a sign of reverence to Sambandhi. So he must also be aware of this routine. Anyway out of fear I begged 20 rupees from my mother and deposited it in my pocket.?

Before I reached the station in my bicycle, they prepared to load their luggage in the train with the help of porter. (When they arrived first, I only loaded the luggage using coolies.) He was aware of all Sampradhayam and courtesies. Hence I expected him to pay the fare of the cart. But,” Mohan! We are starting! You need not wait until the train departs! You can start if you wish!” So saying, he walked towards the platform. He did not even give chance for me to ask for the fare. Komala alone just waved her hands and took leave of me!

O.k. I have to somehow manage my mother! So thinking I gave rs.18 towards the fare for the carts and just started my vehicle. If Narayanan had been in my place, he too would have done only like this! Is it not! This gave me some satisfaction. This incident happened in 1968.

This is 1998! I just informed you even in my last sharing that I am undertaking marriage contracts for the past 18 years! In the month of February, Mr.Venkatesan from Los Angles rang up to me! He had got my phone number through my friend. He requested me to take up all the works of his marriage which was by the next month. He assured to send the details through fax and I received them too within an hour!

He fell in love with his colleague Ms.Jeyanthi. Her mother alone didn’t accept their proposal. Her brother, and sister who were in the different corners of the world had promised to attend the marriage. He was so deep in love with Jeyanthi that he felt he himself should meet with the marriage expenses. So he asked me to give the budget which would be settled by his father.

His father was aged. He did not want to disturb him for everything. So I printed the invitation and sent it to U.S through Fedex courier. I was all in all in charge of this marriage. Starting from arranging the mantap, each and every work was carried out by me with care. Just a day before marriage, Groom’s sister and her husband came from Germany. Her brother came from Canada. Groom and Bride came in the same flight from U.S. Except their travel expenses all the other expenses were borne by Venkatesan only. Not because Jeyanthi belonged to a poor family but because he wanted to taste the nectar of happiness in marrying Jeyanthi till its last drop!

Jeyanthi’s brother and sister showed their happiness differently. Starting from Venkatesan’s 90 yr. old grandma up to 1 and half yrs. old Swetha (sister’s daughter) all were presented with Sari, dothi, gown and so on suitably. Jeyanthi’s mother, who refused to come out of ego, was enquiring about the happenings every half an hour, over phone, from Trichy!

They were here just for 1 and half days. Within that short span of time, the way in which both the families were taking care of each other was amazing! The love and respect the youngsters showered on the senior citizens of both the families was real and pleasing! The care and satisfaction exhibited by the parents of Venkatesan and other elders was really wonderful! Some 30 years back, Komala’s father in law stated that they had become ONE! But only now I experienced the real meaning of BECOMING ONE!

Hundred acre and fifty acre married in Tanjore! Do you wonder what it is?! Wait until next week!

(All the incidents narrated here are my own experiences! Only the names are changed)