Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Obsessions ...

"Good evening" 
said Kannan and waved at the security of the building as he drove the car into his parking. The exchange of smiles was friendly and warm. Every time Kannan saw him he would wave and smile. This was a practice which started after once Kannan saw Kevin, the security guy a little grumpy

"What happened, you don’t smile" 
Kannan looked at the tall, think Kenyan with white well pressed shirt with the logo of the security company, trim blue trousers and a black shining belt with a silver buckle. He seemed never to smile.

"No... I am security... I have a serious job" was his reply in a typical African accent.

Kannan smiled back and said... "I understand your job is serious Kevin, but you can smile to me... I won’t tell anyone..." Kannan winked and added "It's our secret ..."

He gently smiled and as the car moved by him he waved his hand and said "Hakuna Matata"

And since then there were no worries, but smiles on his face. Every time they pass by each other they would smile and greet with a smile.

The day was very long and started too early when the sky was being graded with brighter colors on one end of the horizon whereas the higher the sky went, the darker it remained. The day went on erasing the night’s dark shades till dusk when Kannan was returning when the covers were up for the evening. 

"You look tired..." asked Kevin, the smiling security man who greeted with a "Habariako Mazuri sana"

"Jambo mambo Kevin" said Kannan as he got out of the car with his Camera bag..."Was out to shoot nature and the heat shot me throughout the day"

Kevin ran to Kannan and took the bag from him and held his arm and took him towards the lift. 

"You should drink a loth of wather" said Kevin and smiled.

With a smile on the tired face, Kannan waved Kevin Good night and went to his apartment. The cool home welcomed him with arms wide open. Kannan carelessly threw his jacket on the sofa, removed his watch and placed it on the table and started removing the rings on his fingers....

That one is the navaratna ring... nine precious stones representing the nine planets
That’s the snake ring he bought from Nepal
That one was Amma's gift and Kannan wanted a bigger snake ring than the previous one with the eyes of hessonite.
That one is a prayer ring... holy
That one was a gift from his friend... for good luck

The rings were not for superstitions, but he loved wearing them. Not one but six of them. That’s what obsession does for any man. Kannan was no different. There are a few things which have been Kannan's obsession since childhood. Like any young boy, he also aspired initially to be a truck driver, then a train coach driver and once he started seeing aircrafts fly high, he also wanted to a pilot. But there were not the three obsessions. 

He loved taking pictures and camera became his first love. Appa had a Click III camera, a company which has been closed long ago, the contemporaries of Agfa and Olympus. It was a 120 mm film, with manual forward clicks, without flash. It would need scorching sun to get a clear picture. Still Kannan was hooked on to it till he got a Konica Pop 10 camera when he was 15. The passion has given him a collection of different cameras today and the love still remains. 

He loved reading, and books became a world of his own and last but not the least he loved rings in his fingers. As a young boy Kannan was always fascinated by the red coral ring in Appa's ring finger. He never removed it, unless when Kannan would carefully remove while Appa is asleep on Sunday afternoons. The young mind of Kannan always thought of that particular ring as a symbol of power or something that only Appa has. He would keep looking at the Gold ring with an oval red Coral in the middle and small gold florets done around it. 

Appa was half asleep after the Sunday lunch and young Kannan was on the ring as usual
"Appa.... can I have this ring when I grow up"
Tell me Appa... can I have this ring when I grow big"
"Hmm..." Appa responded in sleep
"Appa..." Kannan shook Appa for an answer
"Okay you can have... I will get you one for your poonal (Upanayanam or the initiation thread ceremony)" said Appa

Then the relevant and incessant question for the next few weeks was obvious "Appa... when is my poonal"
And the day cam... nine years and the invites were printed for the upanayanam of Chiranjeevi, Chi: for short, Kannan Iyer on February 26th of 1984. Kannan was not excited for the other reasons, neither social nor religious. He was excited that he would also have a coral ring like what Appa wears... the symbol of power. The functions were conducted in pomp and splendor like marriage as it is one of the very important functions in life for the community. As the name signifies it is the upa nayanam or the opening of the mind’s eye towards divinity, though no one understands it, and dub it as the day when a thread is worn to show that he is a Brahmin.

But the celebration in Young Kannan's mind was looking at the small shining Gold ring with a Coral in the centre and similar floral design around it... just like Appa's ring. Kannan kept looking at it till he went to sleep and would start admiring it when he would wake up. The novelty remained till the day he went to Appa's Nephew’s wedding in Seergazhi in Tamil Nadu. The trip was long and tiring, but Kannan could not hold back the excitement in seeing all the sights all the way. By the time he reached the mandapam, everyone headed to the dining hall and wanted to quickly finish dinner and get some sleep before the next day’s morning function. The dinner time had slow buzzes of talks between the elders and there were the florist working on the decoration, the catering people cutting vegetables for the next day, there were a few serving dinner on one corner of the hall. 

"Viswanathan, Gopal, Lakshmi... the function will start at 5 in the morning so be ready" said Periathimbar, Appa's Sisters husband, whose son was getting married the next day.

Kannan was walking back after washing his hands and shining the ring on his finger, saw Appa nod in the typical fashion which people say it’s the style of Palakkad. He had his favorite Click II Camera dangling on his neck in a reddish brown leather bag which cased the black compact Camera. Both his loved possessions with him, he was the happiest boy in the mandapam.

"Appa... how is it" asked Kannan showing his ring
Appa smiled and said "Good.... very good"

The travel had made everyone tired and were trying to get some sleep when in about an hour the whole mandapam was woken up by loud cries. 

"That’s Kannan" "That’s Gopal's son", "Who is crying at this hour" those who heard started rushing towards the room.

There was already a crowd gathered inside the room. Kannan was soaked in tears and face had gone red. 

"What happened" those who stood around kept asking.
"Did he wake up seeing a nightmare?"
"It should be stomach ache"
"Did he fall?"
Questions started popping up. 
"Give him some air please... "Appa said who was sitting next to the crying Kannan. The screams were getting loud when Appa replied "His ring is stuck in his  
finger... it’s swollen, and the ring is stuck in his finger"

The small ring finger was as fat as the thumb by then and was turning blue. Kannan was writing in pain and was shouting as loud as possible. Probably the Guinness World Record Invigilators needed to be there so that he would have set a new record for shouting loud in the dead of the night. 15 minutes passed when a goldsmith was woken up from sleep by someone and he walked into he mandapam, where the cries and screams welcomes him. He  
sat down next to Kannan and opened his small silver box. He was wearing a white shirt and dhoti with a frame like think body and curly oil dripping hair. Even at that hour of the night the red kumkum on his forehead remained as is. He took out a small plier like device and took it towards Kannan's ring. The thought that the ring would be cut made Kannan scream louder, both in pain and grief. The plier worked and the screaming stopped. The ring was cut and the finger started turning pink again. For years, the marriage was referred to among relatives, as the one where Kannan's ring was cut in the night.

Kannan thought of that incident which he had heard from most of his relatives about how loud he screamed, and smiled. The obsession for rings still remains. And so does clicking pictures. He quickly had a hot shower and came to bed and switched on the bed lights to be with his third obsession..... read till he slept for the night with all the sweet memories of the day and thought for a second....

"Am I obsessed with my memories" but it made Kannan smile... So its okay.

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