‘This place looks crowded today. I wonder from where all these people come from right at the same time I want have my cup of coffee in peace. Come along with me, you boy!’ said Sampathkumaracharya, my employer to me clutching my hand tightly. I am not a small boy; I don’t know when he’s going to realize that. I am a ten year old boy who can look after himself. ‘Sir, there’s a seat for two here. Let’s rush before….’ I ran even without finishing my sentence completely to occupy the wooden bench before a couple standing close by could succeed.
‘Good magu (kid)! You are quick in action. I like that. You will reach heights in your life untouched by others’ Thatha said happily. I smiled like a happy dog. ‘Bearer, Bearer!’ he shouted loudly and the man wearing a red uniform with a dirty wiping towel over his shoulders appeared on the scene. ‘Two cups of coffee, fast’ Thatha ordered and the ‘bearer’ scribbled on his note pad and disappeared into the crowd. I continued looking at him. The kitchen, he must be going in to the kitchen. I wonder how many people are employed here to work. There are atleast, wait let me count on my fingers 1.2.3……
Jeeva Veenae Needu Nidithadha Sangeetha
Bhavageethae Baalinolumaeya Sankaetha
Indhu Milanadha Santhosha , Sukha Santhosha
Shuba Sandhesha Sandhesha , Sandhesha..voo
Thatha was lost in his thoughts. It seemed he wasn’t there any more. I was frightened. I tapped him slowly over his shoulder. No reaction! How can he die so soon! Does that mean I have to go back to the village? I have seen dead people, they don’t move just like how Thatha is sitting now.
‘Grmph…..’ Thatha stirred in his seat and I was the happiest person in the whole world. But I didn’t want to show it. I stayed calm. ‘That song, you heard that song?’ Thatha asked me in a serious voice. I had never heard that song. We didn’t have radio in our village, I wanted to say. But Thatha returned to his state of motionlessness.
Nidhiyuva Managalu Eradu , Nidithadha Raagavu Ondhae
Minchuva kan Nanchina Sanchu Indhu Ondhae
Prathisuva Hridhayavu Eradu , Papadha vaeravu Ondhae
Saeruva Shuba Samayadhae , Viraha Iradhu Mundhae
I concentrated on the song this time. I wanted to say something smart when Thatha asked me a question, to impress him. Our coffee arrived in what seemed neat and clean steel tumblers. I grabbed it the second the ‘Bearer’ left it. My fingers almost burnt.
Thatha sipped on the coffee, the song still haunted him. I wonder how he could hear the song, it was so light. My sharp ears could only hear bits of it. Thatha turned towards me and asked ‘Do you know what that words of that song mean?’ and I tried hard to say something nice but gave up. I nodded like a total idiot! ‘I will tell you everything about that song, listen carefully. It’s a very special song.’ He sipped on coffee and carefully placed the tumbler down on the table, I saw his hands were shivering. He adjusted his broad big spectacles and adjusted his voice and began ‘ It says about how husband and wife are ‘one’ always’ with a rushed voice. And sipped coffee again. I felt he cut short a long speech into just one sentence then I tried hard hearing again,
Jeeva Veenae Needu Nidithadha Sangeetha
It seemed that the song finally ended and Thatha came out of his strange state and explained himself in a clearer way, not that I demanded! ‘You see magu (kid), long before you were born may be in the 1970’s when our super star VishnuVardhan had thick lovely curly hair and was smart as a young lad he had acted in this kannada movie. What’s its name! ‘Hombisilu (Sunshine)’ and the actress was… Why! It was the beautiful heroine of our times, Aarthi. Both looked the best at that time of prime youth. I have watched this movie 16 times you know! Wonderful movie, you should watch it.’ he pointed a finger. I looked in to his eyes directly for the first time, they looked wet but full of life. ‘But what does the song tell about sir….’ I enquired curiously. Something in the song shook him, I want to know why. He is my employer, I surely want to know every detail about his life. So why not start from now I thought.
‘Sir, Bill! The man in red dirty uniform re-appeared’ Thatha took twelve rupees from his long jubba ( shirt) and placed it in the small tray in front of him. The bill was ten rupees and the fellow got a tip of two rupees. He gestured something like ‘thanks’ and shied away into a long dark alley. I walked close behind Thatha, I didn’t want to lose myself here and become a red uniformed ‘bearer’. Meanwhile as we walked out of Janata hotel in Malleshwaram, the roads were as crowded as it was inside. Today was Saturday, shopping day here I think. Thatha held my finger so that I shouldn’t lose my way, or probably because he shouldn’t lose the way in his story telling business. We walked silently towards home which was about ten minutes from hotel, across the market. The house from outside looked big, very big for one person to stay. Now we are two, but it’s still big enough. But it’s old and not fancy. The gate makes a lot of sound when opened and the plaster is peeling off the walls. I can’t complain about all this I am only a servant.