When Thatha was telling me his story, I imagined in my mind every single incident that he was narrating. I was the director of the cinema and I was my own audience. I imagined young Thatha in his prime youth, in boot cut pant with bright colored polka dotted shirt. He would have looked like our Annavru. I imagined him (with all the creativity I was blessed with) in the scene where he met Jayamma for the first time. After he walked out of the house, I said “CUT! Good shot!” In my mind. This whole experience was new to me but it’s a very exciting experience. I was on my journey of becoming the best director in ‘sandalwood’. But right now I was looking for a character to play Jayamma, as per the rumors back in my village was not exactly a ‘damsel’ or anything close to one. And it was very difficult to marry her off. People also felt she was ‘different’. More on the ‘talkative side’. Nothing like how Thatha had praised endlessly. Now who can I cast for that role…. It’s not a small decision to make. She’s my movie’s heroine. Opposite to someone of the stature of Annavru…. I better take my time. And also verify my sources back home.
Jayamma had passed away ten years back and Thatha was a widower. He seemed too merry to be one though. This always stimulated the ‘detective’ in me to act accordingly and investigate. I loved detective movies. And watched them regularly. Before any of the audience guessed who the murderer was, I would have. There was this talent in me. Usually these murder stories had a secret motive. ‘What was your motive Mr.SK?’ I would ask myself. ‘Dowry? Domestic violence? Boredom? Did you kill her’ I rehearsed in a James Bond style. ‘Whatever it was, I will find out.’ I told my reflection in the mirror and finally ended by saying ‘Keshava, ChennaKeshava’. That was the best Bond performance I ever saw. This detective thing is not very easy you see. I started thinking in my free time about the different kinds of movies I watched. There must be a secret room in which I can find ‘the evidence’ even today. I drew a map of the house on the backside of the advertisement pamphlets. And I planned to check in each and every room during the nap time. Back in my village, I watched ‘Crime story everyday’. I wanted to become a police detective and catch the bad criminals. Or I can even make a movie on police.
‘Keshava, come over here’ Thatha called me lovingly. He’s beginning to like this foundling. ‘Sir!’ I said sincerely. ‘Wanted to talk to you.’ he said. His voice scared me, though it was gentle. What did I do today! I ran in to the kitchen first, just in case I had left the milk boiling. No, I hadn’t. Safe. I then retired to a corner where he majestically seated himself on the easy chair. ‘I want to tell you my story Keshava. You can many lessons from my life. About love, about hate, about the various patterns of behaviors in humans and many such things, I will tell you all’ he said. But during the whole monologue never did he once look in to my eyes. There was a mixture of guilt, shame and pride in his voice. I waited patiently. ‘Trraaasshh…’ a loud crack of breaking glass came from Thatha’s bedroom. I rushed immediately but I knew what caused the sound. I had done it several times myself before. Just to ensure it was the cricket ball which caused the commotion I ran towards my master’s bedroom. Thatha followed angrily. ‘These boys are done! They are over today. Fetch my walking stick, let’s go and confront those rascals!’ cried Thatha in rage. Back in action, I thought. I fetched him his walking stick; secretly in my mind I was hoping he gives those rascals a good scare today. And out we went together. Its going to be an interesting afternoon, we are coming for you little rascals! The ball was in my hand and I knew they want it back at any cost, even if they had to fight with ‘Dodda mane Ajja’ (big house grandpa). They stood in a line outside the gate ready to welcome us. Their faces had sunken to the size of the ball; they avoided looking at Thatha but searched constantly for the ball. Meanwhile I slowly revealed the ball from behind and began playing with it, throwing it up in the air. Their eyes followed the ball and their heads moved up and down. Thatha cleared his throat and began ‘hey, you rascals broke my window pane! How dare you! You people are going to become the citizens of India tomorrow and look at yourselves now. You shabby, useless, good for nothing boys! What will the country gain from you?’ his voice was fierce. I was scared; I stopped playing with the ball and hid behind him. The intensity of scolding of Thatha is directly proportional to the intensity of their scolding to me. Wow, I am a good mathematician also now. Thanks to Thatha.