Total Pageviews

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Would Go on the Logs!

uthor:....... Raa. Ganapathi
Source:....... KaruNaikkadalil sila alaigaL, pages 73-77
Publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Jun. 2005 Edition)

The Place: Among the few villages in the name Rishivantiyam in Tamilnadu, the Rishivantiyam of the Thanjavur district. A lonely, old house on the border of the village. 

The Time: A short while before the daybreak in the 1930s.

"Where is he? Where is he?", saying these words aloud in a fit of anger, an old brahmin widow looks to her left as far as her eyes would go on the street. (On her right, the village suddenly ends.)

After getting inside her house, she comes out again and sprinkles cow-dung-dissolved water, dipping her hand in and out of a bucket, on the bare ground in front of her house. The gomaya jalam falls onto the ground in noisy splashes, and the expletives muttered under the Paattiammai's breath scatter with a greater force and noise.

"He would go on the logs! ( katteyla poRavan!) Should I get such a milkman? Me, an old woman (kezhavi), who had kept her front door open, somehow dozed a little while, but should he not wake me up calling out and clapping his hands four times? What arrogance! He had entered the house right royally and poured the milk in the vessel I had kept at the entrance to the kitchen! Let him go on the logs! Wherever has he gone within this short while!"

"Gone nowhere, PaattI? He is only here!" The man who went and stood before her, speaking these words, was sAkSAt Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya SwamigaL!

Paattiammai was shaken. Her hands could not be raised, her legs were motionless and she could not find her voice. She stood dumb and motionless. 'Is that PeriyavaaL? PeriyavaaL, really? At the gate of my broken hut, when it is just beginning to dawn? And what a racket have I made! He admits himself as going in the manner I said! What a brainless sinner I am, have I done something that could be a mahA apacAram?'

As he assuaged the anxiety of the old woman, there was a mischievous little look in SriCharaNar's divya netras! He said gently: "Don't be afraid PaattI! The milkman repeatedly called out! You had slept well! Since you did not turn up, for your sake, I disguised myself as you and received the milk and kept it inside. He was not in error. And you are also not in error. Only I have done a thievish act!"

This is what had happened. PeriyavaaL, who was touring village after village, had come to Rishivantiyam the previous night in his mena (palanquin). The palanquin bearers had a tough time and it was probably the second yAma into the night. So he had asked them to halt under the shades of a tree on the outskirts of the village and ordered them to retire for the night. Himself he squeezed into his mena in the usual way. The tree they sheltered under was on the rear side of PaattiammaL's house.

Just a muhUrta before the dawn, the creaky noise of Paattiammai releasing the antique bolt of her front door was heard. PeriyavaaL, who usually gets up around three or three thirty, heard it clearly, sitting inside his mena. He noticed the old woman peep from the entrance, and since there was no sight of the milkman, give him her usual under-the-breath expletives and get inside. Since there was no second screech from the door, he understood that the woman had not bolted her front door. In his usual wont of not missing anything, he also heard as the suprabatha gItam the madhura svarAs of the rotton back door that touched the floor as it was wrenched open. He understood that the woman was in the backyard. Since this noise was not repeated after sometime, he remembered that the woman had gone inside her house, without closing the back door.

Then the milkman came. He called out several times.

'Poor woman, Paatti has gone into a nap.' SriCharaNar understood, as grace welled up in his heart. He thought of mixing a little fun and mischief with that grace. There was a white shawl at the corner of the mena that came handy to his conspiracy. He came out of the mena covering himself fully with the white shawl. It turned convenient for him that the palanquin bearers were fast asleep at a short distance. With darkness still on, he drew himself step by step to the rear of the old woman's house, climbed over the short wall--yes, without shirking anything in this saMskAra of thievery!--got down at the garden side, and went inside house through the open back door, registering his footsteps. He came to the courtyard via the backside verandah and saw the empty milk vessel kept near the kitchen door. He took it, crossed the old woman who was having a second nap at a corner of the hall, and came to the front door, drawing the shawl tightly over him. He kept the milk vessel on the raised portico (thiNNai).

Where was the time for the rustic, busy milkman to raise his head and look at the person who received the milk? Would he have thought even in his dream that at that still dark hour of the morning, Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya SwamigaL would take the appearance of a poor, old woman? He poured the milk into the vessel in a single stroke and marched away.

The duplicate Paattiammai kept the milk vessel near the kitchen door and got back to his mena, looking expectantly at how the old woman would continue the comic play he had started. We have already witnessed that scene!

Kannan (Krishna) stole the milk and got admonished. But this man receives the milk in stealth doing a service to the old woman, gets a rebuke (of going on the logs) that Kannan never got and proudly tells the scold that he was fit to receive her expletives!

As she heard the details, Paattiammai was shocked and helpless. A man fit to be given the welcoming honours of a king or a deva, coming as a humble man for the sake of this heap of sorrow ( avala piNDam), registering his feet all through her house, receiving the milk and then getting back! What words had she used at that God?

As the old woman stood helpless not knowing how to seek his pardon and babbling incoherently with tears pouring over her eyes, SriCharaNar with a bright face told her, "What you said was not a rebuke at all! You only said the truth! Am I not going on the logs? Don't I not wander on a wooden palanquin? Even when I walk, don't I wear my wooden sandals and go?"

The Great Giver who lets even the rebukers live, did a bhASyam even for her rebuke.

No comments:

Post a Comment