If I say my village Soolamedu is not in
I go to the clinic by two wheeler (Hercules cycle). Though I travel the same route, the same paddy fields, the same banyan tree under which I fell down and broke my chin at eight years, the same pond which supplies water to the villagers and their buffaloes, the same thatched roof school which had, has and will have only primary classes; I enjoy my village everyday. I don’t know what craze I have for the useless village. If it is called craze, yes, then it is. I see same faces every day, even the school master. My son, Ramu is also studying under Mr.Chakravarthy under whom I studied. Bus comes thrice a day and where people are crowded is the bus stop; till now it is the only possible identification, even for the bus driver. Not only the atmosphere, but also the people’s hearts are not polluted. Even my wife kaveri told me the same. When kaveri, I and my only son go for a walk, everyone enquires and talk to us. The people here work hard. Whenever I talk about hard work, I just can’t stop thinking about kamalamma. Kamalamma is crossing her fifties now. The short, stout, dark kamalamma whose white teeth is coated with betel juice, grey hairs, near her ears and in top of her head, gets up early in the morning, pluck jasmine and sell it; then she works in paddy field; evening she sells vegetables. She strain so much for her daughter to get married. Like a pigeon’s nest, she also builds her assets slowly for a promising future of her daughter. She cares a lot about her daughter because she has no one else to take care of now. Her husband left her at a very early age. No one knows whether he lives or not. But kamalamma has his memories alive and her one inch dia kumkum on her forehead betrays that. One specialty about kamalamma is her constant smile evergreen as the mango trees of our village. I haven’t seen her sleeping, for I want to check whether she smiles even while sleeping or not. Though I respect kamalamma, I usually have no or very less words with kamalamma as I bother much about my white shirt which gets easily spoiled especially with kamalamma whose mouth is a perennial nozzle of betel juices.
Oh! I haven’t introduced myself. Of course, I have hardly introduced me as I’m known to everyone as doctor’s son. My father, an efficient ayurvedic doctor with no degree was the only degree he had. To follow his line, I too did diploma in ayurvedic medicine after my schooling, thus claiming a qualification for my father’s post. People believe that my father is more efficient. That’s true too. He had made the village healthy leaving no business for me. When I see my rusted name board reading “Hariharan, Diploma in ayurveda”, I sometimes feel why people don’t feel to call me ‘doctor’. But I have never bothered too much for it.
That Monday morning I reached my clinic. The muddy front portion witnessed the previous day’s rain. My cycle is full of mud. I came to the back yard. It was wonderful. It is always nice to look at the village after a rain. The trees and shrubs were happy. I saw the ground. A few mushrooms have come to our earth. And with it, patches of Riccia and some ferns also. I still could see the raindrops sticking to the clit of the Riccia’s doublet leaves. The gymnosperm is a frequent visitor to my clinic. The mushroom beside it brought back my good old childhood days memories. I used to pluck the mushroom and count the flaps in its bottom. Then keeping it over mud made fort, I claim it as my kingdom.
By concern over mushrooms and riccia, please don’t think that I’m a member of some green club working for the protection of the environment. I call them visitors because they are the only visitors to my clinic other than two lousy dogs which lie opposite to my clinic.
When I started my day with no work as usual, Kamala amma about whom I was telling came with a boy who must be around 12 years. That must be her grandson. The broad, short nose, huge eyes, joint eyebrows, in a perfect round black face which are exactly duplicate of Kamalamma’s supported my thought.
I understand that the boy is my patient. I tried my level best to show that I am very busy. I don’t know how far I succeeded. I asked the boy, “What happened?” Kamalamma interrupted, “he is dumb”. I asked sorry and asked Kamalamma. Kamalamma told, “He fell from the top of a building and have broken his hands”. Verifying the boy I understood and diagnosed it as a multiple fracture. Suddenly something flashed in my mind. The previous day when I went to market with my son Ramu, he was looking a kid’s cycle without taking his eyes. I asked him whether he liked it. He nodded his head with infinite expectations.
Until I saw the price as 800, I too was admiring at it. Ramu’s eyes came in front of my eyes and nothing did. I wanted to grab the opportunity for i define ‘luck’ as the same. I told Kamalamma that it requires 16 days to cure. I told her that oil per day costs Rs.75 and consultation Rs.5 totaling Rs.80 per day. Fifty rupees extra I collect every day for oil must be sufficient for me to fulfill ramu’s wish.
The treatment stared. Next day she came late and tired. When I enquired the reason, she told that to meet the oil cost every day, she has taken a part time job. I felt bad. But next jiffy, Ramu entered my mind I did not feel bad. The treatment went on smoothly.
Kamalamma loved the boy very much. Every day she enquires about his health. She ensures proper food and care for him. One day I saw her with her ear rings (the only gold ornament she owns) in a pawn broker’s shop and then bought new clothes for the boy with that money. Very soon my expected 16th day came. The cash tray completed 800. The boy is perfect now. I rushed to the market and came with the cycle which Ramu wanted. I was happy and started thinking how Ramu will react by seeing this.
Kamalamma came to me with the boy. I with the puzzled look asked, “now what?” She handed me a chit. “This boy cannot speak. So he couldn’t tell his address and he has written in this chit. Can you help me to know the same?” I was confused. “Is he not your grandson?”, I asked. Kamalamma smiled, “I have only one unmarried daughter. I saw this boy while coming from work one day “.
That was really a hard blow for me. Without my knowledge, Ramu’s cycle fell from my hands. And something ………, something else heavier fell down. Ah! That was my heart the worst thing I had ever known in the world.