Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Bedtime Story ...

"Narayan" Kannan called out to his 16 year old sweetheart
"Son... it’s time for the bed time story" said Kannan
"I'm coming Appa..." said Narayan

Kannan, at 56 was all excited and was restless like a five-year-old. Dinner was over and Kannan walked towards the garden outside the house and to wait for his son Narayan. 

"I am here outside in the garden Narayana ..."

The nightfall had a special feeling in the hill station. Kannan had been living there, with Narayan, for more than a year now. The stars were shining so close to the mountain, Kannan felt he was in the paradise. It was a full moon night and the moonlight was like a spot light on the Garden. The white full plate on the sky with heavenly mead porridge in it, waiting to feed the hungry shining stars around it. Kannan breathed in fresh air with the smell of pine cones and eucalyptus all around. 

"Appa .... Thatha used to tell you stories?" Narayan asked. The bright young eyes of Narayan were shining just like the stars when he asked the question. Tall, bright faced, with long hair like his Appa and in the loose white pyjama kurta, Narayan looked more angelic in the moonlight. Kannan laughed at Narayan's question and started looking at his son, who looked the same as when he was in his teens, if not better. 

"I and Akka very well know that in Ramayana Dasarath had four children and they were Ram, Lakshman, Bharath and Shatrughna... Thanks to your Gopal Thatha"

Kannan sat down on the white cast iron garden chair with soft cushions on it, in the green lawn lit by the moon. He sipped the cup of coffee Narayan gave him with a smile. It has been a hard to break habit for Kannan since childhood that he could sleep well only if he had coffee. 

"Me and Akka used to pester your Gopal Thatha to tell us stories ...” said Kannan thinking about his childhood days.

The house used to be doldrums of activities at night. Amma settling with her daily chores of washing after dinner, Appa patting the bed to make it for all, Kannan and Pachai working on their bags for the next day at school and everyone would be busy bees after dinner. Once the sheets were on, the blankets in place and the last dish washed all would be at the gateway to the dream world, the bedroom. Amma would be tired and would be the first to hit the bed. Appa would be joined by Pachai and Kannan with their regular requests...

"Appa story ... Appa story ...."

And Appa would start with a smile. Tired after a whole day's work in his eyes so red like an apple, he would make all the efforts to keep them open. Kannan would sit on his stomach and beat his chest to tell them a story. Each one of them would be in their respective positions, Amma on the left corner, then Kannan with his favorite black blanket, Appa next and then Pachai. 

"In a far of land called Ayodhya, there was a king called Dasarath. He had four sons. Eldest was Ram, then Lakshman, then Bharat and then Shatrugna ... They grew up together and their upanayanam (Initiation) function was conducted ..."

By the time he reached the portion of the four sons being initiated spiritually Appa would have initiated his dream trip to sleep. His eyes would close with the days fatigue and his big nose and mouth start with a light snore. As soon as he dozed off, from both sides the attack would start

"Appa Appa ... then what happened???" Kannan and Pachai together.

Appa would startle and wake up with a jolt and start all over again

"There was a very nice king in Ayodhya, and he was called Dasarath. He had four sons. Eldest was Ram, then Lakshman, then Bharat and then Shatrugna ... They grew up together and their upanayanam (Initiation) function was conducted ..."

Again the sleep fairy would have put Appa to sleep again. The way the Ramayana start would differ but the content remained the same. For a very long time Kannan and Pachai only knew the initial part of Ramayana as Appa had only one story to tell them. The sleep fairy would finally put everyone to rest... gifting each one with dreams of their choice. Amma would dream of buying a new refrigerator or a new house or about her brothers, Appa would be dreaming about the account statements or balance sheets or profit and loss accounts, Kannan would be dreaming about the school drama or the cousins and friends, and Pachai obviously would be having dreams about writing exams and studies alone.

"That’s what we knew about Ramayana from your Gopal Thatha" concluded Kannan with a chuckle
Narayan laughed a hearty one and said
"Appa... it’s too cold outside ... I know you like cold, but it’s no fun to fall sick in this mountain... come ... come inside.... bedtime story time"

They both walked in a hug and went to the warm and cozy bedroom. Kannan removed his home shoes and kept it in the rack, Narayan followed. As Kannan tucked Narayan to bed and got himself inside a warm quilt, Narayan took a book out switched the bed light on and switched off the main lights of the bedroom. 

Kannan hugged Narayan in a warm hug and looked at his son eagerly, when he started

“Once upon a time in a far off beach, it rained heavily and the sea got rough. The sea hit the land and lashed all its anger on him. The land smiled and held her in his arms. He said to her, 
"I will be there for you always...."
The summer sun scorched the land and he was burning hot as if he had fever. The waves hit the sand gently and said
"shhhhh ... everything will be all right" and washed away all his tears...."

By the time Narayan finished the line, Kannan was fast asleep in a hug. Since the time Narayan could read, every night was a bedtime story time and Narayan would read the very same story to his Appa to put him to sleep. Narayan smiled, carefully, without making any sounds folded the book written by his Appa for kids years back, switched the reading lamp off and tucked himself to the hug and slept, waiting for another day and another night, when he would read the story again find his Appa sleeping with a smile,  hugging him.

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