Tuesday, July 30, 2013

God of Small Things

Sometimes, sometimes often certain individuals come into ones thoughts. They come in like gentle whiff of fresh soothing air, and tickle ones hair pits, one’s heart and soul. As the native Indians, the Sioux say, “The heart soars like an eagle”! Perhaps I may be too enkindled about the feeling the thoughts bring forth? Nevertheless they bring sweet memories in an otherwise cantankerous, perfidious world and people.

In this world nothing comes free and everything has a price more than any value and altruism is a premium trait, if not a dying or a dead aberration perhaps noticeable in a few. In such a society this man who I must call as P, for the shortened version of his name and his relationship to me (he was my father’s first cousin and elder to he ). I called him “Perappan”. He was an exception,insofar as I knew in his relationship to me and my sister at least!

Memories of him dates back to my very young age of about six or seven and he lived with us , which was then a joint family of sorts .He was unmarried and died a bachelor boy well into his eighties. He was an early riser and used to engage in serious manual labour. The vegetable garden which was then a prideful thing was his creation. He used to gather about fifty odd buckets of water from the perennial well to water his fave garden. Spinach, Egg plants, cucumber, gourds, red chilies’, bananas, and yam the list was endless! Then the cows- the baths he used to give them (I in tow as an assistant of sorts) by the well.

I remember walking about with him questioning and inquisitive about his work here and the one he did there. Sometimes he would relent and let me do the little job when I was petulant about his refusing to let me do something along with him.

He was a craftsman .That doesn't mean he sculptured femme fatales, charming princes and abstract forms raved by the vain. He was a simple tailor. A maker of men’s formal wear, the tuxedos and suits and he was quite well known in a small elite circle for his exceptional skills in tailoring. The patterns that dissolved into ones symmetry, that coalesced as a second skin!

If I had had tasted the little things in early life that a child holds close to his heart they were from him. He was in a way my God of small things.

The first Chandamamam ( Ambiliammavan) monthly  children’s book till they ceased publication , the occasional matinĂ©e movies, the circus , the fairs  , the visits to the zoo and the beach, the overwhelming journeys in the admired double decker bus that were grand relics in Thiruvananthapuram, the refreshments and short eats out in  restaurant, the Parry’s chocolates and toffees, the peanut chikkis, the regular supply of shirts and trousers, the unfailing supply of firecrackers for Deepavali , the little doles ( Vishu kaineetam) for Vishu, my first  shuttle badminton racket…...! Thank God! If there is one, he was the one, the God of small things, things that now I feel made my life as a little child. They now tower large. Seem to be huge, very big, priceless and of incalculable value. Things that all the bullion may not suffice to square off. Things that are priceless but are invaluable the most.

I remember him desolate when I strayed a while in my early teens and in shady grouping of supposed friends. .Shiver me timbers!

Years later when he was living with his nephew (his sister’s son), I used to go to him often when I was in Thpuram, sit with him for a while. He was always pleasantly thrilled to see me and perhaps he also may have sighed that I did not disappoint him as he once feared I would. When I bade bye to him at the end of each visit, I used to leave in his palm one hundred Rupee bill. I often noticed a glint in his eyes, a shimmer. Gradually when he was ploughed under by dementia, he used to just sit in the chair and smile when I held his hands. The familiarness, recognition and the glint in his eyes ebbed not too gradually. They became washy from age and I saw he was surely going down, the smile too. The last time I saw him, he was not smiling, but sat with a void look into the distant, or was it into the blank vapidness of the white wall in front. The eyes were of living dead – no glint, no shimmer, and was foggy.


....Petty Witter said...

Such a moving story. I wonder how many of us have/had our own God of Small Things. I know I did.

Balachandran V said...

Touching... Couldn't leave without a word.

rama said...

Really interesting account of some one so close to you.I also remember some of my uncles who were a joy to be with. While they were young they used to be so active surprising everyone. I remember my perriappa used to cycle from Anna Nagar in Madras to Besant Nager, just to visit us have some tiffin and coffee, chat for a while and then off he would go home in his cycle. He used love reading all the latest English books. And he used to walk everyday for about 8 kilometers. How they had the stamina one cannot understand.
Thanks for sharing your story, reading it, brought back good memories of my perriappa.

SuKupedia ™ :) :) said...

very touching Anil ... God of small things like the title and the meaning behind it.. i am sure to find atleast one if i look into my life...

BK Chowla, said...

Very touching.very emotional

Usha Menon said...

Ah, this is very touching and sad story, Anil.

anilkurup said...

@Petty Witter,

I guess we all might have had little things that enriched our being and people who aided that however distant.

@ Balachandra,

Thanks Bals.

@ rama,

Indeed we all have , possible , people or a person who made a difference with little things.

@ Sukupedia,

Sure you will. Thank you.

@ BK Chowla,

Thanks , just memories came into my mind. Thanks

@ Usha Menon,

Touching, yes sure for all of us who can empathize with such people and their actions. Sad, I do not think so. All good things to have to end. doesn't it? And he died ripe old of 88.

adithyasaravana said...

Hmmm.. the firsts - we remember always. :"Things that are priceless but are invaluable the most".. I remember the first watch presented to me by my mama.. and how excited I was. Also, the first geometry box..

It is about the appreciation of these priceless but invaluable things that we are supposed to teach our kids..

Meera Sundararajan said...

There are some people who touch our lives in ways that we cannot forget. If it happens when we are children we are very influenced by it. You are lucky to have had someone so close to you other than your parents. Sadly, joint/extended families are dying out today and with that dies the opportunity to reach out and be reached out by people like your uncle!!

rudraprayaga said...

Joint family of course had its charm and uniqueness.And so also has this post the same.
This post made me land on the sand of nostalgia where I had a cousin-uncle who performed the same art gardening and cultivation.He bade adieu last month.

Haddock said...

A touching one Anil.
It is painful when a person who is so close is struck by dementia and fail to recognise us.

anilkurup said...

@ Haddock,

Thank you for the appreciation. He died some eighteen years back. It just happened that I reminisced him something made me.

NRIGirl said...

A heart warming story Anil. I am glad I didn't miss it.

Glad to be back. Yours is the first blog I visit upon my return - every single time. Thank you for the new posts, can't wait to catch up.

Happy Kitten said...

Touching! How well you familiarized him to us. Your Perappan truly deserves this tribute.