Raman Menon hailed from a well respected family of upper caste Nairs’ in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin. The aristocracy that Menon clans among Nairs’ claim is more self acclaimed than bestowed by extra terrestrial largesse or by former princes. They generally are like the British aristocracy of India with the stiff upper lip and the “Gaulish”, or even flattened nose up in the air. They seem to believe and convey the spirit of pristine Nair heritage and culture.
But Raman Menon seldom cared much for the trappings of the surname .He was an ambitious and fun loving person. He held a respected position in the State bureaucracy, added to his family lineage and its social standing the ground was set to propel him into a much higher orbit. He was young, handsome and with masculine charm.
He married into a family of Menons’ from Plaghat which was in the erstwhile Madras Presidency. The bride was a well educated, sophisticated lass an ‘haute couture’ and alumni of Yale in the USA. But the alliance was perhaps a serious flaw in the course of Raman Menon’s life. The incompatibility of the relationship saw Mr.Menon file for divorce after much acrimony. And the marriage ended with the bang it made when it began. Mr. Menon was stressed out on the course to the divorce and after. The marriage lasted about a year and it was a year of utmost turmoil.
Not to be lurched out in search of a compatible partner, the Menons’ arranged another bride for the young man – a distant cousin. Raman Menon was married again .But the ghoulish ill luck serenaded with Mr Menon as tragedy as nothing else can be, the bride died less than six months into the marriage. She died of lymphoma. It was again darkness at noon. Raman Menon was in tatters his life devastated. A rising professional graph twisted like a mangled ladder and Mr.Menon was at loss to pick up the threads yet again. Innuendos did the round, cruel ones too about Mr Menon’s ill-luck and why fate will never give comfort or longevity to the woman who is his consort.
He vanished from the society and from the country. He settled in a foreign land and never came back to the country or the town of his birth and life. He, an agnostic became a theist and joined a Hindu religious outfit. He spent all his leisure and time outside work at the ashram. He changed his name to Sudhama. He lived frugal and walked about like an ascetic. Unlike the fellow members of the society who saw their liaison with the congregation as a luxury never to be parted with, Raman Menon was hermitic. He ate the insipid food that devotees brought. While he travelled outside, he walked much distance like a nomad, living on the tit bits from compassionate beings. He reminded of the Jain monks on the long road to what they believe is nirvana and salvation. Very rarely did he open up, but that was only to confide that this life at the ashram was his dream and a Calling.
A person who claimed agnostic beliefs, now when tragedy struck him in succession turns into a hermit and ascetic! A person who harboured utopian fantasies and dreams about living! Though the story is real, here the tragic happenings in the man’s life are only a metaphor which we all have to face at different times in our lives. And to less fortunate souls the tempest stays longer. Tragedy need not be per se, but may be dejection, disgust, frustrations, devastations or anything that is good enough to stress us out, persistently. And then it can be the time for woolgathering and hope for bliss and mirth in things we would have loved to indulge! For some it will begin the frantic groping for an escape route.
There is indeed a life out there, like I mentioned in the post “The Road Not Taken” that beckons but is not mine anymore. When it did matter, when I could have trodden the “road not taken”, I did not. In fact it was more out of conditioning and also unawareness of its pathos. I feel awed and envious about some friends and ordinary men who despite the constraints they face could manage much extraordinary. That they have not taken a cowardly path of an ill clad, unwashed, smelly absconder who claims abstinence ,but in fact are great escape artists who can put Houdini to his pale shadowy self. .But have within the limitations of social living, has managed to visit a life of the liberated and wanderer, like birds that transcend land and sea to migrate, occasional journeys of bliss and mirth! To the dream that is Zion, a travellers Zion.
But alas, man will not see the paradise in hand ,that will aid him with wings to fly towards the fantastic that are his dreams and only if he knows what it is for a paradise to be lost, shall he see the beacon that always was alight.