This city is a strange place; let me tell you that one thing for sure. In our village, the women folk wake up at five thirty and start sweeping the front yards. They make so much noise that it wakes everyone in the household, what with all that scrubbing the ground with cow dung; it’s definitely going to make lot of noise. And there is always the local gossip among women in the neighborhood. But one thing I have concluded in all these years is that all women, atleast in the village are true artists or they were simply too good in geometry. You should watch them drawing those intricate rangoli designs. Simply superb. But what about here, no one wakes up early in the morning. Only the old people I see in parks walking and talking and laughing loudly. Some of them also exercise in the parks. ‘Parks are very important in cities’ Thatha always said. Strange, I never see any woman with their hands colored rangoli on early mornings.
Early that morning I found myself tucked in bed, I must have slept in Thatha’s room after he fell silent. I started the day with my regular chores. Thatha returned from his morning walk and I met him at the spacious verandah as I was sweeping ‘I didn’t want to wake you up today. You were sleeping peacefully’ he said in a gentle voice and placed the walking stick right in its place. ‘Sir, I must have dozed off. I am sorry.’ I said apologizing. ‘It’s ok Magu, carry on now. That was a heavy dose for you yesterday I think’ he mumbled slightly embarrassed and walked away.
They told me. Even before Thatha had opened the topic, I heard stories about Jayamma in my village. There were a lot of rumors back in the village about Thatha and Jayamma. Before I tell you the rumors about this couple, I should tell you something about Thatha’s history. In a village, everyone knows Who, Where, How, Why of everyone else. May be Thatha thinks he is forgotten by the people, but it’s never so. The stories are told from mouth to mouth passed down from generation to generation. And so it reached my ears, my grandmother told me everything she knew about Thatha. Thatha was the fourth son in a family of six. They belonged to a rich family of landlords. ‘They have enough money to feed the entire village for a whole century’ my grandmother said. The children were a bunch of arrogant idiots except for Thatha, he wanted to study. The others only believed in tormenting the poor all the time, Thatha never approved this behavior. So he kept himself as far away from the village, far from his people. My grandmother said that Thatha was clever and all, no doubts about it. On the day he had passed metriculation, his family celebrated the occasion lavishly. They announced a dinner for all the poor and there were special prayers offered in the temple. She said she would never forget that day in her life. ‘The food the rich eat gives them that glow on their face and also makes them intoxicated with wealth. That’s why they act like mad elephants, always troubling the poor.’ she commented. Thatha was not there to celebrate his success. Some villagers found him sitting under the huge mango tree and writing something. ‘People knew he was different from the rest. A bit foolish in the head. Always looking at the sky and muttering things no one understood. He carried with him paper and pen, everywhere he went. These educated people are a big mystery’ she sighed.