Monday, March 16, 2015

On That Fateful Day - Part 4

Grandma came into his room and closed the door to keep away all intrusions and prying eyes if any.

“Now, listen to me Yuva. What I'm going to tell you is an absolute secret. I'm telling you only because I feel I'm obliged to tell you.”

Yuva sat upright, completely focused on his grandma. He touched his Adam's apple and said, “I swear, I won't tell it to anyone.”

“Long, long ago.”


“Really, it's not a joke; it was a long time ago, during the time of my great great grandfather.”

“Why are whirling your index finger, grandma?”

“Don't interrupt me Yuva. It's a flashback, that’s why I'm whirling my fingers. That's the way it's done,” and she continued, “It was my great great grandfather. He obviously belonged to the much esteemed Iyer family. But he was someone who was loved by everyone. He was always kind and amicable. Most of his friends were meat-eaters. He was called a radical for being so chummy with the meat-eaters.”

“Meat-eaters? You mean ——

“Of course, I mean the Non-Brahmins.”

“Big deal, huh? Even all my friends are Non-Brahmins.”

“That's different now. We are talking about the times of my great great grandfather, show some respect. And if you interrupt me again, I won’t tell you anything.”

“Ok, I won't,” said Yuva and put his finger on his lips, signifying he won't talk anymore.

“My great great Grandfa——, I'm so tired of saying so many greats, hereafter I'll just refer to him by his name, Manikantan Iyer” she said and looking at sky she closed her eyes and said, “Sorry, no offense grandpa.”

The idea of great great grandfather felt funny and incomprehensible to Yuva, for he thought his grandpa and grandma are the oldest people of all, and here she was talking about her great great grandfather, which means he would be his great great great great grandfather. “Uffff! Too many greats!” He thought.

“Grandpa Manikantan was always waging bets. He loved bets and winning them though he lost good deal of them. It didn’t bother him, for he was born into an affluent family. One day his friends claimed, they were more religious than him. That was an outrageous remark to him. Obviously they can't be more religious than the learned and scholarly Manikantan Grandpa. They then made a bet, that they can prove that they are more religious. And the wager was a family heirloom. After accepting the bet Grandpa Manikantan knew he had no other way but to win it, for if he loses the family heirloom his father would certainly kill him, for honor is more important than a son.”

Yuva wanted to say, “The hell with honor being more important than son,” but before he could open his mouth grandma fiercely swayed her head gesturing to him not to interrupt.

“Manikantan Grandpa's friends said that they always abstain from eating non-vegetarian food on auspicious days, renouncing those foods on Festivals, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. They asked grandpa what he was abstaining from on those auspicious days. Grandpa suddenly found himself neck-deep in an embarrassing conundrum, for his family, like all Brahmin families are already complete vegetarians, and what is left for them to abstain from on those days? But the ramifications of losing the bet would be disastrous. So he lied that he abstained from eating Onion and garlic on those auspicious days.”

“That's it?” Asked Yuva, with big eyes and a wide mouth, implausibility written all over it.

“Not so soon, little one. Everyone knew onions and garlic are at the border of Rajasic food, the food which stimulates passion, but in those times they weren't looked down upon much, and everyone enjoyed onion and garlic, almost with everything. So his friends contested his statement. Then in front of assembled people he pulled off a stunt, brought a very ancient looking palm leaf book and pretended to read from it, that onion and garlic actually belong to the border of the Rajasic and the Tamasic food, the food which breeds ignorance. Not many people were learned in those days and they also never expected a learned one to lie, so they believed him. The other learned ones are also agreed, since otherwise it seems like they were ignorant of ancient texts, since Manikantan grandpa obviously had read from a very ancient book, and they added they themselves abstain from onion and garlic on any auspicious day.

“The news creped from one household to another, like a forest fire in the summer, and before you know everyone vouched that they don’t go near onion and garlic on auspicious days, and thus it became a custom. 

"So you see in a way, it’s my family, which was responsible for your punishment today.”

“Whoa! That's a heck of a story, who told you this,” asked Yuva

“I once got his dairy in an old trunk in the ancestral house. It was in that.”

“He just wrote it there, for everyone to read? How careless of him.”

“Of course not. It was not in plain Tamil. He coded it, into seemingly gibberish, cleverly using Tamil and Sanskrit, I'll tell you some other day what he did.”

“Grandma, what’s that heirloom?”

“Hmmm... I've searched all over our ancestral house, but could never find it. I don't know what it is. I can only imagine how valuable it would be. It still remains a mystery to me.”

On That Fateful Day - part 3

continued from part 2

Yuva went back to his room and his grandma was sitting in the chair with the fuming hot coffee cup on his table. He took it and was savoring it when he felt he heard a sob and turned around and looked at his grandma. She was sitting there with her hand on the arm of the chair and her face hidden in her elbow. She was crying.

Yuva went near her and said, “Don't cry like a woman, Grandma.”

She rose, wiping her tears, saying, “yeah” before grasping his joke. She then smiled in a bittersweet way and said, pinching his cheeks, “Such a naughty boy, just like your father.” And after a little pause she added, “I'm sorry Yuva.”

“Why the hell are you apologizing?”

“In a way, I was a reason for your punishment.”

Yuva squirted his coffee, “What? Do you mean to say you provoked him to hit me?”

“What the hell are you talking? Why would I do such a ghastly thing?”

“Then, how can you be the reason for my punishment?”

“That, I can’t tell you. I’m sorry.”

But Yuva was not to be cowed so easily. He’s already a mildly inquisitive boy and he was at his wit’s end when his grandma apologized, “No, I must get to the bottom of it,” he thought and persisted with his badgering. And frustrated at his insolence she gave him a death stare, something which always made anyone flinch at her, for that stare made her look like a mad witch. But Yuva was not someone who lived there and hence had no idea he had to succumb to that stare, so he glared back right at her for his curiosity won over him.

Never before did grandma get a stare back, and with this unprecedented glaring she had gotten back from Yuva she was baffled and was lost at a suitable comeback and could do nothing else but to yield and share the secret with him.

She moved closer to him, took a deep breath and said, “This will be our little secret, don't tell anyone.” Just when she was about to tell AD, entered, bringing a plate of dhoklas with him. She stood up and said, “I've asked him to make dhoklas, I know you love them. AD, give it to him and wait for him to eat and take the tray away. Yuva, I'll give your grandpa his coffee and come back.”

After she left, Yuva said, “Sorry AD, I've accidentally slipped off the news about alarm. Well, don't worry too much, I'll promise I'll do whatever I can to help you get away from the penalty, if any.”

AD gave a grateful nod and brought the plate near Yuva and said, “Here, dhoklas.”

“Umm! Wah, wah! Nice AD. They taste just like the way they do in Gujarat. How can you cook these so yummy?”

“Sahib insults me? Of course, I make nice-nice dhoklas. I Gujarati,” replied AD, in his broken English.

“Wow AD, you're a gujju? I never knew that. But your name's AD what kind of Gujarati name is that?”

“A phor (for) Abhay, sahib, meaning phearless (fearless).”

“And what does the 'D' mean?”

“It is my phamily (Family) name, sahib.”

“Yeah, what's that?”

“No, sahib make phun (fun) of my phamily name, I not tell.”

“You won’t say to me? Common, we are friends. No secrets.”

“Yes, Sahib is very kind, just like his phather (father).”

“See, now you should tell me,” said Yuva handing back the tray having finished eating the dhoklas.

AD dropped down to Yuva and whispered in his ear, “Daruwalla,” and immediately left the room as if he suddenly remembered that he had forgotten the milk on the stove.

Yuva didn’t understand why he ran like that. He pieced the names together and said aloud, 'Abhay Daruwalla', and went into a fit of unstoppable giggles and grins, for, though Abhay meant fearless, 'Abhay Daruwalla' also translated to something along the lines of, 'Hey you drunkard' and/or 'Hey you liquor brewer'.


On That Fateful Day - part 2

continued from part 1

Yuva bit his tongue and said, “Wait, you mean to say you didn’t know about it?”

“Not until you told me now,” said grandpa his face reeking of despair at the loss of his favorite alarm, but not being able to attend to that matter now, for he has much bigger problem at his hands.

“Then why the hell did you slap the hell out of me? I thought it was for that goddamn fat old alarm.”

“It's not old, it's vintage. Well, in any case, we'll talk about it later I didn't hit you for such a trifle reason,” said grandpa, agony visible in his eyes for having to belittle the matter of alarm for the time being. “You remember what day today is?”

Brows knitted together in concentration with a glassy stare he sat meditatively, for it was never an easy job to guess what day or date it is during holidays. “Friday?” he said tentatively.

“Not that. I meant today is an auspicious day.”

“Oh, you mean that! Yeah, I know, today is Ganesh Chaturthi, of course, I know, I sat beside you during the pooja this morning.”

“That's why I hit you.”

“You hit me because it was Ganesh Chaturthi? Is that a sick joke?”

“Yuva please hear me out first. It is such an auspicious day and you ate your curd rice munching a raw onion. I mean, how can you do that?”

“Relax. You say like I've been munching my curd rice with raw meat? What’s wrong with an onion? Wasn’t it you who introduced me to the pleasures of munching raw onions and garlics?” questioned Yuva, his face so red now that it went well and uniform with the hand mark on his cheek.

“Onion is good food, but that doesn't mean you can eat them whenever you like. I myself don’t eat onion and garlic on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But I never put such restriction to you. But today was Ganesh Chaturthi, such an auspicious day. Onion, on such an auspicious day? Outrageous! Sacrilegious! Such profane practices will cause troubles in your fate. That's why I smacked you, to remind you so that you will never do such huge blunders again.”

“He's living in a godforsaken ashram, how the hell could you expect him to know all these picky things? Moreover, he's half-British, which anyone could tell that just by a mere glance at his complexion. Don’t expect him to remember all these things.” said grandma

“What nonsense you speak. He's Yuva Iyer, son of Vishnu Iyer, Grandson of the great Anantha Iyer. Living in an ashram is no excuse for someone with such a grand lineage to make light of our time-honored traditions. And mind you, just because his mother is British, he's not half-British. He's a full Tamilian, and Iyer.

“Look, I’m not asking him to become icon of Tamil culture fostering our traditions, for I know he’s a modern man, much like his father, all I’m asking him is not to malign them, at least during the time when he’ here, in this house, which served generations of some of the greatest Tamil scholars from times immemorial, and this house is as a revered as an ancient temple, by people all over the Madras and beyond, and I won’t allow it to be desecrated while I’m still alive.

“Now Yuva Iyer, come with me to the pooja room and let’s ask the Gods an apology for your offense this morning,” said grandpa finally swallowing his saliva and breaking a moment for air, for that big dialogue seemed to have sucked all the air out of his lungs. “Wait a minute, are you pure or do you have to take a bath?” asked grandpa, retying his dhoti and tightening it.

“What do you mean if I’m pure? Of course, I took a bath this morni ——”

“I meant, did you happen to attend to your nature’s call, the number two businesses, after your morning bath, in that case, take a bath again now.”

“No grandpa, nature didn’t call me after the calls in the morning, before my bath.”

“Well, well, in that case, wash your hands and feet, and then we’ll go the pooja room.”

Yuva washed his hand and feet and silently accompanied his grandpa to the pooja room, head hung low, caused by a little shame, for he felt he had wronged his grandpa.

“After that, come back here straight away, I'll heat the coffee by the time you come back,” said Grandma.

“Now, Yuva Iyer, I'm truly sorry. I'll buy you that Homes guy book you wanted so badly.”

“That’s Holmes, grandpa, not Homes”

“Whatever. I'll pray god that you'll become more sensible and start reading our rich, refined and sophisticated Tamil literature instead of these pages full of flapdoodle.”


On That Fateful Day

For a background info on Yuva, head on to the Yuva Prequel story.

Yuva suddenly felt something heavy, weighing down his heart, and it felt as if something so laden was grabbing his heart and succeeding more by the minute. It almost gripped his entire chest and he was having difficulty in breathing, then after a few seconds, which seemed to linger for hours, tears came down washing down whatever was trying to choke him. He tried to run off to his room but fell head first suddenly as his knees became numb. His pain in his nose only helped in more tears. He walked off to his room and cried into his pillow and drifted into sleep. The red colored mark on his cheek still very much visible.

He loved his grandfather. Although they met for only a brief period of the time every year, they shared a bond similar to that of best friends. His paternal grandparents are the only family he has now, for his maternal grandparents hardly ever visited him. And now his grandfather has hit him. Not in a light teasing way he does whenever he listens to a joke, mind you, but he slapped Yuva so hard it choked him.


“Everyone becomes saintlike as they advance in their years on earth, but you've become quite the opposite, you're becoming a monster,” said Grandma barely able to control her anger.

“How can you say that to me, dear?” asked grandpa, with such a tone which indicated both remorse and woundedness.

“Or what? You always frowned upon his habits saying he was becoming un-Iyer like. And now you go on to hit the poor soul like he was your nemesis. For god's sake, he's our only grandchild, and the poor guy lost both of his parents. How can you beat him and that too so hard? And someone can make gloves for you just by looking at Yuva's cheek, which has your hand mark like its engraved,” said she, and went to Yuva's room with a hot porcelain cup in her hand which was fuming white clouds like a steam engine.

She put the cup on his bedside table and softly pulled a chair to the bed and sat on it waiting for him to wake up.

Grandpa came into the room, softly dragged another chair and set it beside that of grandma's and sat in it.

The fuming hot filter coffee was working its telltale magic. Yuva's nose twitched a little and then there was a slight twitch on his lips and he woke up groggily looking for coffee. He took the cup and took it to his mouth and almost drank it when he suddenly saw the audience sitting in his room. He then remembered it all, remembered why was he was sleeping at such an ungodly hour. Resisting his temptation, he set the cup back in its place and turned his head away from the hopeful audience.

Before sleeping he tried to think, if in any of the novel he has read, had there been ever a case where grandpa beats his grandson, he couldn’t think of any such situation, which angered him even more. Only Indian fathers had the right to hit their sons, but in his case even his dad never as much as patted him, for Vishnu, Yuva’s dad died before Yuva was big enough to wreck something in the house.

He was worried about the disclosure of the news about alarm since he and AD damaged it that morning, but didn’t think it would call for such a harsh punishment, moreover he thought he had at least a full day before he would have to confess about that since grandpa would touch that alarm again only in the night, to set it up, besides that alarm broke while in AD’s hands, so technically he can’t be blamed for it.

But why would grandpa beat him in such cruel way, what is more, he never seemed to have any use for that old alarm, since it was more of ritual for him to set it up, as he always woke up before it and stopped it before it even made any barely audible sound. It was always as if the alarm and grandpa are in an eternal race.

All Yuva wanted was to hear what kind of sound the alarm made. He and AD took turns in unwinding the key and thereby letting the alarm make its sound, helping it let go of the bottled up, or rather, wounded up potential energy and frustration. But after a couple of turns by him and AD, it stopped making the sound, even though it had few more turns of the key-unwinding left.

But the fact that his grandparents were waiting patiently by his bed by the time he woke up meant, he was in the command of situation and thus could make demands rather than negotiations for the pacification of the situation.

“That's filter coffee, your favorite, and your grandma made it especially for you. Why not drink it? You are always pestering her for a coffee.”

Yuva turned and faced his grandma and addressed her, “Grandma, call Bapuji or Vinobaji or anyone in the ashram, I'll be going back today.”

“Look at me, Yuva Iyer,” grandpa addressed him, he always called him by his full name, except in the case of AD, their servant. He didn’t feel it right to call a person just by his first name, always quoting, “If it's not meant to be used, why the deuce do we have it in our name? That's the proper way to call a person, with his/her full name.”

“Look at me, Yuva Iyer, I'm sorry that I hit you. I hit you for your own good. I don't have any grudge upon you. All I'm trying to do is make you a better person. That thing which you did was something that can't be escaped from punishment. I used to hit your father even more.”

“And what happened?” Grandma interjected, “He went on to marry a British girl, not that she was bad. She was a darling, though.”

“If I hadn't hit him, he would have gone on to become even worse.”

“How worse can it get?” yelled Grandma.

“Hey, hey, time-out. Talk with me. What did I do that attracted such sound slapping from you? You need to get your facts right before hitting me. It wasn't me. It was AD who spoiled the alarm. It got spoiled while in his hands.”

“Wait? You mean to say you and AD dinged the alarm? Why are always moving about with that servant and destroying my things?”

Yuva bit his tongue and said, “Wait, you mean to say you didn’t know about it?”

continued in part 2

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Lost Book - Part 2

continued from part 1

Later in the night after dinner Yuva went to their usual weekend spot, on a terrace of the ashram building, under the canopy of stars and she was lying down there with her right hand in her mouth, awkwardly trying to get rid of some fiber from dinner that got wedged between her molars. Seeing the silhouette of approaching Yuva she instantly brought her hand down and adjusted a little, trying to induct some grace into her posture, hoping he didn’t look him in her earlier pose.

He gave her the book saying, “I swear I didn’t open it since Gandhiji gave it back”

Shruthy suddenly sat upright and plucked the book out of his hands, horrified, she asked, “Gandhiji? Why was it with Gandhiji? Holy cow! I must have accidently put it on his table when I went to give him his letters. Did he say anything about me?”

“No, he thought it was my book, I didn’t care much to dispel him of his illusion. “

“So he thought it was yours? Thank God!”

“Why, what would happen if he knew it was your book?”

“Nothing, it’s um, nothing, just like that.”

“So let me see your progress, till where did you read?”

She showed him, where she folded the corner of the page to keep track.

“Hey, that’s not a good practice to dog-ear them, books get hurt,” said Yuva, and suddenly started laughing.

“Why are you laughing?” She asked confused.

“You didn’t want to take my book, because you made some progress on your book? And wanted to read only from it?” asked Yuva struggling to keep a straight face.

“Yes, what’s so funny?”

“And all this time the only pages you’ve read so far are: the title page, introduction, preface and acknowledgements. You didn’t yet start the story,” saying which Yuva couldn't restrain  himself any longer and guffawed boisterously putting on display all of his teeth. 

“So what? Anything is a progress?” She hit him on his head with the book and stood up and turned away giving a hurt look.

Yuva was still unable to control his laugh, put his hand on his mouth to muffle it and was biting his lips, and tried saying sorry, but it was too difficult given his laugh.

“You boys are so immature and will never understand girls.” she said and left him and went back to her room.

Only after going into her room, she opened the mid pages, where she doodles and decorated ‘YS’, which meant ‘Yuva and Shruthy’, and consequently she was more anxious to get her book back than to read the story. She wasn’t a fan of crime mysteries all she cared about was that the book was given by Yuva. She remembered the way he looked when he innocently promised and her lips acquired a graceful curve at that memory. After all, boys should approach first, she thought, and covered her blanket and sunk into mesmerizing dreams.


While on the bed before drifting into his sleep, Gandhiji reflected about the book again, and recalled the doodle, ‘YS’, and thought to himself, “Poor child, might be missing his mother a lot, YS, Yuva Scott, obviously, kid fancies his mother’s surname, poor child! I should make a note not to scold him even if he’s done something wrong; after all he’s a lonely kid.”

The Lost Book

For a background info on Yuva, head on to the Yuva Prequel story.

“No Yuva, please try to understand, I’ve already made some progress in the book and want to continue from it, moreover, you yourself lectured me about how books are intimately personal things.”

Yuva said, “Is that your Malayali custom or something? Read only from your books? You lost your book, and I’m offering my copy, that’s it, why so fuss about it. I don’t think you can get another copy easily,” itching to add, “I’d have never given my book to anyone else, but not you. For you Shruthy, I don’t mind sharing my books, or anything else for that matter.” Her presence made him swallow twice the regular times, before making any sound, for she is an angel to him, even when she was in her dirtiest dress after her community work at the ashram.

Shruthy said, “I want to start exactly where I’ve left it, and I don’t remember exactly till where I’ve read, and I’m sure it’ll turn up soon, besides, who else in this ashram would steal an English novel other than you and I don’t think you’ll steal a book which you yourself gifted me.”


“You didn’t steal it right?” she asked him sarcastically.

“Why would I do that, knowing fully well that means extra work for me?”

“It’d have been much better if you just did what I asked and told me the story yourself instead giving me a book,” said Shruthy. Yuva talks a lot about the recent novel he got and she asked him to tell a story, but he refused, saying the mystery stories are not meant to be said aloud.

“I told you before and I’m telling you again, it’s a Sherlock Holmes novel, you should read it yourself, there’s no fun in telling a crime mystery.”

“Why do you like crime-mysteries anyway? Aren’t they all the same? Read one and you’ve read them all?”  She asked Yuva, and murmured, “Such a knucklehead you’re, who gifts a girl a crime mystery novel?”

“What did you say? I mean your last sentence, I didn’t get that.”

“Nothing, I was just asking if you would help me look for the book.”


“Hey, but promise me that you won’t open the book if you find it. Just give it to me, ok? Shruthy said, and as Yuva was about to say something, she added, with a helpless look, “No, please don’t ask any questions.”

Giving her a puzzled look Yuva finally said, “Ok, I promise you.”

“No cheating, say the full sentence.”

“So shrewd you’re, aren’t you? Ok. I promise that even if I find your book I won’t look into it, until I bring it to you.”

They’ve searched high and low for two weeks, but couldn’t find it. One Saturday night, while cleaning Gandhiji’s desk, he found the book he was searching for, The Hound of Baskerville.

That night after dinner, while talking with Gandhiji, he said, in a casual tone, “The hound is so spooky, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, seriously, a fire breathing hound? That’s a first of its —” Gandhiji suddenly stopped, realizing he was lured into answering that question, and after a brief silence, he laughed mirthlessly, saying, with a defeated expression on his face, “Ha-ha, very intelligent, you little smartypants! You made me confess that I was reading the novel without even asking me, but, um, please don’t —

“That’s fine Bapuji.” Yuva cut in sharply, before Gandhiji completed his say, “I can understand you preferring that people rather don’t know that you read English novels. Chill! No worries, I won't breathe a word of it.”

“Thank you Yuva, I found this book on my table, I knew it’s yours and I just wanted to have a look, but after reading a chapter I wasn’t able to control my urge to finish it, and yeah, I’ve to agree with you, this Holmes guy is incredible.”

continued in part 2

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Madrasapattinam #2

continued from part 1

It was more or less confirmed that British is at last going to leave India, and India was on the verge of Independence. It will take some time, and just the perfunctory transition of powers everywhere is what might cost some time. Independence was in the air. There were talks of Democracy.

It was a little more than a year when Yuva met Gandhiji again. As soon as he noticed Yuva approaching him, he waved away all the people crowding him and hugged Yuva.

“What magic have you weaved you young wizard? How did you manage to get the British out of Madras? You don't even provide the details in your letters,” asked Gandhiji.

“You can think of me as Sherlock, I choose not to give away too many details before the case is solved.”

“Sherlock huh?  That's so British. You'll never stop reminding me that you are half British.”

“I'm half British alright, but you've made me a complete Gujarati. Ah! I missed dhoklas.”

“You can have as many dhoklas as you desire, but first tell me how you accomplished the task.”

Bapuji, human emotions are tied to fairly simple things in life without which life is tiring, like the way it was for me without dhoklas.” Yuva continued, “What I did was using the influence my grandparents have and relatives got with the Tamilian community, I've instigated some rumors and made them propagate them.”

“Rumors? What sort of rumors? And why would they have such an impact?” asked Gandhiji unable to control his curiosity.

“You might not entirely approve of what has transpired, but this was what happened. I was able to spread the rumors that Hindi would become the country's official language. In the beginning people didn't believe it; they reasoned how could a language as young as Hindi can be made a national Language when India has one of the most ancient languages in the world: Tamil. Then with a little theatricality I've disguised myself as a British general, thanks to my English mother I only had to change my dress and speak using correct language, and talked with a couple of large gatherings and confirmed the rumors indeed were true, as the people who can speak Hindi can be found throughout India and it's relatively n easy language to learn.

Tamilians were very upset, and they wanted a democratic solution for choosing a national language and approached the Tamil elders regarding the dispute. You certainly know that our family has long been a respected family for we've had great poets and musicians. The Tamil elders committee had many of my family members. They came up with this solution, which was provided by me of course, the reason for this situation is the omnipresence of Hindi, so they asked the people not to talk in Hindi and also asked the North Indian settlers to leave.

“Initially they were reluctant to leave but then I started campaigning against the presence of North Indians in Madras and asked people to be hostile to them. And almost after a year they could bear it no longer and most of them moved out, some to their native places, and some to upper coastal states. The campaign was as successful as a boundary that came from the middle of a bat.”

Goddamnit! Off with your cricket references, it's not swadeshi. If you can't help using metaphors use Gilli Danda for god's sake. But still I don't get it, why the presence or absence of North Indians in Madras would have any effect on Britishers?” asked Gandhiji looking gobsmacked.

“Because, the Britishers love, no, they literally live on tea. Although Tamilians are the best for making filter coffee, have no frigging idea how to make tea. And for years, all the tea they got while in Madras was from the Chai wallahs from the north Indian settlers. And once the North Indians moved out there was no way they could get Tea, and after trying tea from locals they've realized why all the locals take coffee but not tea. It's an unwritten law of kitchen. One can't be good at making both coffee and tea. And a Britisher without Tea is like a Green Lantern without his ring.”

“What the hell is a Green lantern? “

“Sorry, I forgot you don't follow US comics, to translate it’s like saying gunmen without his gun, or like a sea without the water. Already they are facing a colossal protest all over India, and in Madras where the Britishers have always traditionally felt home now couldn't even get their basic life requirements. And without their life force the Tea, they felt their stay here was no longer worth it.”

“Yuva, that's brilliant, had I known this I would have launched a Quit Tea campaign and we would have gotten independence decades ago, but in this process you've said a big lie and as per rule you should be banished from the ashram.”

“Well, everything is fair in love and war, and the lie which I propagated was for country's good and not for my personal gain, if you still think I deserve a punishment I'll gladly accept, after all I love you as my own father and Lord Ram has even gone to Forests for his dad.”

“But I'm not Dasharatha. Whatever you did was for a good cause, but the ashram ideology is to 'Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.' so it's against my principles. But I love more than I love my own son. I can't punish you, and for you I can overlook my principles, so don't worry, I'll do what is necessary to absolve you of your sin.”

“What do you mean? How can you do that?”

Gandhiji moved closer to Yuva and whispered, “What if you didn't tell a lie? What if Hindi is going to be our national language? Then there is no lie in what you said.”

“But that's not true. During your discussions, everyone voted for English to be the national language.”

“Yes, I know. But here I promise you Yuva Iyer, son of Vishnu my closest friend, I'll do everything in my power to make Hindi the national language of India.  And this should remain our little secret.” said Gandhiji with a resolute voice and smiled a little in smug way and added, “Come now let's have dhoklas.”

“Thank you Bapuji. I also want my chai after all I'm half British remember? I've too been starved of my life force – tea.”

Madrasapattinam #1

For a background info on Yuva, head on to the Yuva Prequel story.

On a monsoon day after the Quit India movement, Gandhiji was suffering from a mild fever and stayed back in the ashram and was being attended to by Yuva. 

“You need to get that shroud away”, suddenly said Yuva. 

“What shroud?” asked a perplexed Gandhiji. 

“That thing which engulfed you internally and had been bothering you, you look so desperate and lost.” 

Hmmm! Easier said than done.... Yuva, come here.”

Yuva sat on Gandhiji’s string bed and moved nearer to him. 

“I have a confession to make.”

“Are you going to say that you loved someone while you're in England but broke up?”

“Yes, I mean no,” Gandhiji panicked, “How the hell did you deduce? You’ve got spies on me?”

“Relax, don’t get so worked up, I was just kidding. So it’s indeed true, after all. Who was she?”

“Forget it Yuva, it’s a long and sad story,” said Gandhiji, staring the dirty yellow wall.

“Why are you looking at the wall? Why did you not marry the love of your life, Bapuji?”

“It’s etiquette to stare onto a wall when talking about a long lost love. You’re too young to understand that. Make a note of this; ‘If you want your love to become your cherished memory forever, never marry your love,’” replied Gandhiji looking back at him and added, “Besides, am not a Madrassi to get hooked with a Britisher. Now let’s get back to business.”

“Of course you want to get back to business; after all you’re a Gujarati, only you gujjus can jump from a discussion of love to business,” chuckled Yuva.

Yuva, I’m serious.”

He was tempted to say, 'No you're Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi' but decided against it. “Ok, I'm sorry, just thought a little humor might aid you. So, what's the confession about?”

“You realize how effectively British has suppressed the Quit India movement? I believed it was a foolproof campaign, one that will definitely ensure India its independence. But the way it failed, I'm not even sure if I'm on the right path. Do you suppose I made a mistake when I didn't support the likes of Bhagat Singh and Bose? I always believed nothing in the world is worthy of bloodshed. But frankly, I'm not sure anymore.”

Ufffff!  Just a minute, that's a lot to digest. I'm convinced it's the fever that's making you talk this way. Remember what you told me when I was a little kid. To quote you, 'There's a reason why people are not given horns or claws, but a mouth which can speak, Humankind is blessed with intelligence so that they can talk and reason with people without retorting to violence'  I still believe in that.” 

“Then why did the Quit India movement fail? You know what's even more alarming? Many Businesses men from India didn't support the movement as they were being profited by the heavy wartime expenditure of England. And several Civil service officers didn't support the movement, particularly in Madras where it's of utmost importance to have a successful campaign. Without weakening the hold of the British on Madras it's impossible to attain independence.” explained Gandhiji. 

“What makes you consider Madras would play a vital role in the freedom struggle?” asked Yuva, “I thought Bengal was the most important province.”

“The reasons are one too many. It's a coast with access to other British colonies in Southeast Asia. And Madras is the place where they had one of the first governor generals and the English school system. Can you believe they have around 200 English schools in the Madras region alone? Madras has the oldest British church, which witnessed marriages of the legendary Elihu Yale, after whom the Yale University derives its name and of Robert Clive. They've even opened a damn cricket stadium there.

“Tamil people have always been most welcome and when the British entered from the South they made good friends there and got intertwined. They've made Madras like a second England, it's a municipal corporation. They've started a bank and even made a new structure they're calling a mall. Heck, Madras reminds me of London more than London reminds me of London.

“Britishers are deep-rooted in Madras, and even Germans understood the vitality of Madras. It is Madras they've bombed during World War 1 in their fight against England.”

After a prolonged silence Yuva spoke, “So you think if we can somehow drive them out of Madras, we have a possibility of Independence?”

“Definitely, I'd bet all my money.”

“Yeah right, like you've got a lot,” said Yuva with a wink and added, “You worry about the rest of India I'll take care of Madras, and after all I'm half Tamilian.” 

“You? And here I was thinking I was being delusional because of my fever. Also, it's safe to say I look more like a Tamilian than you do, thanks to your complexion which is not swadeshi if you ask me,”

“Ha-ha, very funny. Jokes aside, trust me on this. I'll leave to my Grandparents house tomorrow.”

“You're so young and naive, and have no idea what you're signing up for, give me one good reason why I should trust you with a matter as important as this.”

“Because, you and your entire team including your strategist Nehru dada are clueless what to do.”

“Fair enough! I'll ask Vinobha ji to escort you to Madras.”

“Next time I meet you, you can almost certainly expect a positive result.” 

continued in part 2

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