Monday, March 16, 2015

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.”


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