Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meenakshi





Some faces can never go away from memory. They are etched in us. And elapse of time seldom eclipses or erases the face.. Even before adolescent days, I was sent to my ancestral house to spend summer vacations. The white sands of that place bordering the sea, with its un- demarcated boundaries between families and homes was indeed a vast expanse, a canvas that an adolescent mind saw as a never ending horizon.

It was there that I happened to know Meenakshi. This must have been in my early teen.
She was pretty and cute little girl perhaps thirteen or fourteen of age. her facial expressions where captivating and her eyes always seem to tell  the wonder the world is .She was sparkling and loaded with life. She used to join us (I and a retinue of cousins) when we venture out to the mango groves and the lily ponds that where strewn all over. She was always effervescent amongst us and in what ever we did and where ever we went. The day used to begin at around 6 in the morn when we children from different house holds used to scamper around the vast expanse and beneath the mango trees in search of  ripe fruits that may have fallen down during the night. And Meenakshi was always the first to be around. It was a sort of early bird gets the food kind of situation.. Hours used to be spent in the ponds frolicking and yelling, splashing water and diving deep and surfacing from nowhere. Meenakshi was ubiquitous in all and every where. She was the daughter of Kaikeki Amma..  Kaiki as we used to call the elder woman used to do house hold chores there. She used to venture to around four houses that where spread around .Meenakshi was the last child of her long line of seven children. Being the youngest of the siblings she had to at times absorb the audacious attitude of some of her big ones. Meenakshi used to tell me how much she loved her family her, mother, father and the sisters and brothers. The family was maintaining on a kind of collective pooling of resources that they bring home. And Meenakshi being the little one was let to enjoy some of the spoils and indulge at times, (but all that was free was always with a rider).

Every visit to the land of fun and frolic during each summer holidays, and Meenakshi  seemed to be growing in splendour  and lure. During one summer, I noticed that Meenakshi was not around to charm the holidays. I was told that she was married and had gone away with her spouse. I felt a bit forlorn for not only having lost her presence,but out of a bit of envy as well.

Years went by and I met her again during one of my visits to the ancestral home. She was into the mid forties and the travesty of life, I felt had corroded her beautiful face. There where streaks of grey on her forehead. The cheerful girl who used to charm and pleasant with her presence was now doing house hold chores for sustenance. Where she always used to sport a saffron hot red sindhooram , her fore head  was pale.. Her family had hit it rich and moved away .They where now free from all the trappings of the country side and was immersed in affluence and pomp. Meenakshi told me that she visits her mother on most week ends. The old woman Kaikeki Amma who used to vex to meet ends working as house maid now employs a retinue of servants at her beck and call. She owns a rich farm as well. Meenakshi’s life had fallen by the wayside to ill luck and bad times. And she had to come back from the city she lived after her wedding, and take up what Kaikeki Amma , her mother did long before- work as maid at various house hold.

I asked her if she could not approach her family for assistance. She smiled wryly and said nothing. Then she whispered with a faint sob, that she went to see her mother to pay for the half liter of milk she takes home for herself from her mother's dairy farm. And all that her mother could tell her was to remind that she did not pay the month’s bill on time and that the price of milk is not what she pays. Her mother did not see that she was devoid of even the last strand of gold chain she used to wear. And that she had to sell it as a last resort to burn the kitchen stove. Kaikeki Amma  either failed, or did not notice or simply turned her eyes away from the glaring fact that how bereft her daughter Meenakshi  was.

6 comments:

Ayesha Parveen said...

Yes, it happens. Sometimes, one's own parents are worse than enemies. Example, the "honour" killings by fathers and brothers!
You have expressed 'Meenakshi' very well, bringing out the difference in her appearance and personality.
Keep writing :)
Best wishes,
Ayesha

A New Beginning said...

Your post started with streaks of love and ended on a sad note. I dont understand how people change, and in this case its her own mother.
Youve described Meenakshi so beautifully :) Loved your description and the post just left me zapped :)
Wonderful indeed!

amalg999 said...

Reading between and also behind,the lines, I have come to the following conclusions :

Your KAIKEKI is a a vile and ignorant, travesty of a mother and hence has forfeited the title "MOTHER". The very word "mother" denotes unfathomable and continuous love for her own flesh and blood; her children. A mother is the anchor of the family. Without her, the family is just driftwood, no matter how much they try to salvage her absence. These and more are her qualities which make us what we are !

But, your Kaikeki is a woman who has half a dozen hungry mouths to feed on a meager income. In her calculations, the quicker she sends them out of the house to earn their living, the less of a problem would they be for HER ! It is not only her poverty which forces her to do it, but also the fear of responsibility of not only bringing up her children, but also of the immense burden of marrying them off !

So, once the family fortunes turns for the better ( the means adopted by them would make even Madame Bovary ashamed!), she begins to put on airs of her perverted ideas of aristocracy, which has buried deep, the so-called "love" for her offsprings. Her "love" is built solidly on wealth ! The more the wealth, the more the "love" ! If her children were as poor as Meenakshi, she would have treated them the same as she treats Meenakshi.

While Meenakshi is working as a maid, her siblings are living luxurious lives, not deigning to lend a helping hand to their penurious sibling. If they did, it was with an eye of taking away whatever meagre possessions which she had ! But, the poor devils what can they do ? They have the genes of their parents and so such behavior seems justifiable to them Or, maybe, they are afraid that if they do help Meenakshi, their own riches will wither away, due to bad luck, which, they think, enshrouds her. The plain truth is that they are SELFISH !!! If they were not, then they would not have let Meenakshi languish in her dismal condition. Would YOU ?

Sometimes, there are some aberrations in the genes. Gentle parents have a violent child and violent parents have a peace-loving child ! Such seems to be the case with Meenakshi. In spite of being ignored by her siblings, she genuinely loves them and her parents. But they, unfortunately ( or fortunately ! ) do not reciprocate. They find fault with her for no valid reason and they tell her so. But, being of a different nature, she brushes these away with silent heart-felt, hot tears and continues to visit her money-minded mother. She goes to her mother for comfort and in return what does she get ? A very cold and calculating shoulder ! A now-rich mother abrading her for not paying her the money for the half litre of milk, which she sells to her own children. Not that she is living in penury ! But old habits die hard !!! ( hehehe ).

A child' love for its mother is sometimes, as great as a mother's love for her child ! And so it is with Meenakshi !

This, is a cross which Meenakshi must carry on her over-burdened shoulders !!!

It has been said : " Blessed are the meek, for, they shall inherit the earh ".

amalg999 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Balachandran V said...

Beautifully sad. Like a page from M T 's stories....

anilkurup said...

@ayesha praveen

U seems to be a rare visitor to Blogging. I saw ur last blog was in June