Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Eyes of the society ...

Kannan was on vacation for a few days and visiting Appa Amma for a few days at least was the most divine of them all. They would sit till late night and chat about all that happened in the past, people, events, fun, sad memories, all were shared during those days, though Appa would sleep off  while the chat continued. These few days were also not so different. 

After a late night chat, and a nap, Kannan woke up early to visit the nearby temple

"Amma .... I will be back soon, going to the temple"

The morning breeze, the smell of incense and burning oil lamps in the air, the sound of the leaves in the trees whispering good luck to all those who walk by, the birds at their best, sounds of the devotional songs played loud from the temple, the vendors selling pooja items calling out for people to buy all that they need for the offerings. The whole atmosphere was different from the rest of the mornings Kannan enjoys in Dubai. As he entered the temple he saw a familiar face, a  woman in her mid forties with a smiling face, taller than usual, fair complexioned, slim, in a pink churidar, with metal framed glasses walk out of the temple gates with a cute child, her son, dressed in white shirt and denim shorts and moving towards her two wheeler, a white Honda Activa.

"Is that ..." Kannan tried to recollect the face, the smile ...

He removed his slippers near the pillar where there was a guy sitting to take care of them, as the mystery of the missing slippers was a common story in all temples. Kannan smiled at him and walked the stone steps through the temple gates. he had gone just a few steps and he remembered.

"Vijayakka... Vasundhara Mami's daughter ... Akka's college mate... their old neighbor in Vasant Nagar"

Kannan was just in school when Akka and Vijayakka were in college together. They were good friends as being neighbors, they used to be together when they went to college or returned. 

"She looks just the same, just a few grey hairs may be... for all that they had to go through" Kannan thought.

Flashes of memories took him back to those days. Vasundhara Mami and Krishnan Mama were staying opposite to their house and Vijayakka was their only daughter. They say it was a love marriage, but from the outside it seemed only marriage as the love had been washed out by liquor. Krishnan Mama who was an officer in a bank came every evening only drunk, not even knowing how to get out of the auto rickshaw he travelled in or to open the gates to enter the house.

"Appa ..." the helpless voice of Vijayakka could be heard almost every day by 8pm, when he used to come home drunk, not in senses. Vasundhara Mami would be holding on to the grilled gates of the house, with eyes wet with tears, seeing his plight. The two ladies would then drag him into the house with great difficulty. The next morning would greet Krishnan Mama at his best, well dressed prim and proper as if yesterday was just a dream.

That evening, it was the regular load shedding and the colony was lit with only candles and kerosene hurricane lamps or emergency light in some houses. The sound of the auto rickshaw stopping in front of Vijayakka's house could be heard. Vijayakka was standing outside waiting for her dad. But there was silence and Kannan saw Vasundhara Mami run to the auto rickshaw locking the grill with a lock. The auto sped across the colony roads in no time...

Vijayakka would never have to helplessly drag her Appa anymore. The ordeal was over or was yet to begin for the two women. 

"Krishnan, Vijaya's father...he passed away" Kannan heard Amma tell Appa in the morning as he was getting ready to go to office.

On his way to the school, Kannan saw people gathering and heard cries from that house. He saw Amma too go inside Vijayakka's house as he reached the end of the colony road. 

A week or two passed when everything was back to normal again. Vasundhara Mami would wear her helmet and whiz away to office, but without the usual smile on her face and Vijayakka continued her studies and would go with Akka to college. 

One evening when Kannan was returning home from his evening playtime, he saw Swaminathan mama talking to Amma, pointing fingers at Vijayakka's house.

"You know that woman is not good, she is having an affair with the contractor who was rebuilding the house... the news is out in her office too" Swami mama told Amma

Amma was silent. The news had spread like wild fire and the colony had hushed whispers about the affair. A kind man who wanted to help the two women in distress gets a bad name. Thanks to the society. Vasundhara Mami and Vijayakka remained home for weeks after work and study. Life was being made difficult for them by gossip mongers. 

That was the time when a Mama and Mami had shifted to the upstairs’ portion of Vijayakka's house. They were very pious. Mami was seen only wearing the 9 yard traditional brahmin saree and Mama would be doing his Suryavandanam from the balcony. Everyone saw the tall fair good looking Mami with the brass pot full of water watering the Tulsi pot in the balcony, every morning. People had great regards for this devout couple. Kannan even heard the watchman telling the milkman

"Sad that pious couple has to live in that characterless woman's house"

A month or two passed. A Police vehicle, an old blue Willy's with the typical black soft top, stopped in front of Vijayakka's house. The people around started peeping through the windows to know how Vasundhara Mami would be arrested and for what reason. The Inspector stepped out from the front of the vehicle. Two constables stepped out of the back of the vehicle. Watchman was seen running to the venue of mystery. The constables opened the gates and stepped in. Kannan saw the fear in Vijayakka's face and a tear in Vasundhara Mami's face.

But for the surprise of everyone, they went upstairs, and what was left to see was the sight of the so called "traditional" Mama and Mami coming down the stairs with handcuffs on

"for immoral traffic on a large scale" said many who enjoyed gossips

That remained the talk of the colony for weeks. Kannan never understood what people meant by "Large scale", but yes, the cat was out of the bag.

"Go quick... the darshan would be over in a few minutes for now" Kannan was brought back to the present by the temple staff, whom he knew well, but not his name. After coming back Kannan kept pondering over just one thing. 

"Why does the society have a say on everyone's life ...".

Vasundhara Mami had to face the brunt of the ruthless tongue of the society and so was Vijayakka taunted with vile comments by many. Kannan came to know from Amma that Vasundhara Mami passed away a few months back, and after that Vijayakka and her husband shifted to a house close by. Life has a lot in store and some said and some unsaid ...but society has a say on anyone and everyone. Strange but true...

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