I sat down by his side and Thatha was rocking on his easy chair. He continued his story from where he had stopped. ‘Keshava, that song…. You know what it means?’ immediately I answered ‘that wife and husband are one’ he looked astonished. ‘Good, good you know lot of things already ‘ But sir, you told this much in the hotel. I want to know more…’ I asked giving a hint of my curious nature. ‘Yes, you will hear about it more. Go and switch on the lights in the balcony and here. It’s evening time, the house should be lit brightly. Go now…’ he sent me and I finished the job in a few seconds. ‘You are quick, come. Sit. It means that life is like a song, The song of emotions is the sign of prosperity, life is like veena (instrument) provides the music of life, the moment of oneness is one of joy. It’s a good message. Though there are two hearts beating, the tune is the same. And once united, we will never separate again. The song of emotions is the sign of prosperity, life is like veena (instrument) provides the music of life ’ he breathed heavily and fell silent.
Everything was strange from this evening. I had never seen Thatha behave so oddly. Of course there’s nothing odd about being nostalgic, but this was not how he was when I met him. The first time I was dropped off at Thatha’s house by my grand father, I was scared looking at this tall huge man with big eyes staring from behind thick rimmed glasses. The glasses had a big nose for support grayish black moustache which reminded me of Kannada movie villain. Only a black mole was missing on his cheek. You see, I have watched many movies in the tent. The rowdies look exactly like Thatha. But he was only dressed well than them, with a jubba pyjama. I wonder why he always wears white jubbas. Blue will also look good on him. I should tell him sometime…Hey, I am going off on a different line of thought here. On that day when I met him first, he came closer bent his head and looked at me adjusting his glasses. ‘Magu, what’s your name?’ he gently asked and only then I was consoled. You see, just anyone doesn’t call you Magu, only a good and honest man calls you Magu (kid). I displayed my 32 teeth and said ‘Keshava’. I must have whispered it very lightly because he brought his ear closer to my lips and asked me to repeat, this time I loudly and confidently said ‘Keshava sir’. He looked surprised, and slowly replied ‘Good, good. See Keshava, there’s lot of work for you.. you have to be an active boy. I don’t like these lazy boys who keep playing cricket outside. So don’t ever talk to them. They are a useless lot. Tell me what’s the use of playing cricket? Will someone from the Indian team select you looking at you playing here and breaking other people’s glasses……’ He continued to lecture on the subject but my mind slightly slipped away and I was no longer paying attention to him. My thoughts went back to my village, Kencha, Rudra, Manga and a whole team of us! How we used to slip away from school silently to far away playground and play ceaselessly. As I was entering the house through it’s screechy gate I had seen a team of 5 ‘city’ boys playing outside on the road. I was gaping at them and they all stopped playing and looked at me. It was a sympathetic look. I knew I was in the wrong place and once I entered the house there was again lot of shouting and playing. But Thatha was a good man, he is nothing like that ‘Boothayya’ I had read in the books. There is only one problem here, he speaks a lot. I turned my attention to what he was saying….. ’Look Magu, there should be no loitering around the parks and roads when there’s no work. These ‘Poli’ (spoilt) kids will influence you too. You should stay away from these people…. Now let me show you around the house and explain you the duties. Speaking about duties, when I was a school master, my students were excellent…. ‘ and I failed again to give him my un-divided attention. A few words fell on my ears but I kept staring at the huge ceiling above and the plaster that was peeling off.