Sunday, November 09, 2008

Indebted

This is a humble attempt at writing a story and its pretty long too...Do read when you have all the time in the world....and the story is heavily flavoured in malayalam...Please excuse coz this is my longest post too..:-)

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As he woke up to the rings of palli mani * , Appachen had as usual made kattan kaapi ** ... Almost every day as he lazily pulled the bed sheet below half open eyes and turned towards the teapoy he knew what awaited him…The glass of kaapi glowing under the sunlight glimmering through the window and wafts of steam swaying and then disappearing, drunk in that daylight glory. Appachen knew, he loved it.

Joemon also knew Appachen would be back soon and he ran towards the nearby brook armed with Ummukiri*** secure in his cuddled palm. On his way he plucked a fresh coconut leaf which he would need to fashion a crude tongue cleaner like most people in his village did.

"Appachennu tooth paste medichaal enthaa?"

He asked himself while spitting out the salt flavored Ummukiri.

"hmm...chilappol Appachennu Colgate ishtallayirkkum "

He kept murmuring to himself…


Feeling bored with the usual routine he began twisting his head against the fingers stationery in his mouth and soon started laughing thinking how silly it was to brush that way. In a few minutes he was done and cupping his hands into the stream he splashed water on his face. After wiping with the thorthu he walked leisurely back home.

He forgot to drink Kaapi that Sunday.

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Josekutty is a sturdy man with a frame that was slender yet tough, although he was way beyond his youth.... Farmers all look the same, he tells anyone who comment about his excellent physique.. As he walked back home from the church he was greeted by Thomas who was sitting in the chayakkada(teashop)..

"Josekuttyee…How are you doing…Christmas is coming soon."

"hmmm"

Josekutty answered back with disinterest, eager to stop any further conversation…
"Christmas is coming soon" That was a statement and a reminder at the same time.
He kept wondering as he walked briskly towards home.

"Appachaa am here…." Joemon yelled.

Joemon was crouching near the hen roost and playing with the colorful pullet in it.

"Ah….are you still there? Get ready for the Sunday class..."

He ran towards Appachen and looked inside the bag he was carrying. There was just some muringa(drumstick) which he plucked on his way home. Joemon wondered how long it has been since they had some fish for lunch on Sundays but he didn't want to ask Appachen...

He held appachen's hand and they walked towards house.

The spartan home tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town was abode of Joemon ever since he remembered….There was nothing much to say about the house which looked like a artifact of past while neighboring houses were adapting to modernity of life….There was no television ..no mixie…and no telephone…

Appachen went straight to the kitchen and started fire in the aduppu…After putting rice on the aduppu he went outside to the parambu…He had more mouths to feed. But he was interrupted by Joemon…

"Appachaa…ente uduppu thechitilla"

Joemon was getting ready for the Sunday class and Appachen hurriedly went inside and took the shirt from his hand to iron …It was taking lot of time for the isthirri petti to warm up…it seemed like an indefinite wait just like his life.

"Christmas is coming soon."

Why were those words still ringing in my ears? Appachen mulled over as he bid goodbye to Joemon. While he stood on the verandah watching his son walk away, he twitched when he heard the rice boil and threatening to dislodge the lid. And he hurried back to the kitchen.

After making lunch he set out to the parambu to feed the other two in their house. They started bleating as they heard the master walking towards them. Malutty the goat and her little lamb Appoos. He collected fresh leaves soaked them in the gruel and fed them.

There was lot of work to do…Wash Joemon's clothes…plough the fields….sell the jackfruits and ground the coffee….And he set out to what was most important...because Joemon had school next day.

It wasn't long before he came running from the class. He threw his sling bag and ran to the parambu to meet two of his best friends…

There was the obvious bleat and Joemon smiled as he ran towards Malutty and Appoos.

"Appoose…ninakku Kanji kittyo"

Before he could ask Malutty the same, both began licking his sweaty hands…the salty sweat was probably a dessert for the lambs…Joemon began giggling because it tickled him.

He began caressing Appoos head and looked into the eyes of Malutty. Malutty looked back in satisfaction and understanding. She knew Appoos was always safe with Joemon.

"Mone….Don't waste your time…Don't you want to have Kanji?"

"Appachaa…I am coming!!"

Joemon bid goodbye to his friends and ran back home.

"Mone…Don't waste your time like this…if you want to go to SB College like Paul chettan"

"What will Paul chettan do after that?"

"He will work and make good money…He can buy anything he wants after that"

Joemon paused while Appachen said that during the simple meal Appachen had prepared...Kanji with muringa thoran and chammanthi podi….There was a lot to aspire for!

The next day after Joemon had left for school , Josekutty started his work in the parambu as usual…The usually silent neighbourhood was interrupted by the horn from an ambassador across the narrow road…

Two kids came running from the house and hugged the suitcase which the driver was unloading…Peter was back from gulf for his Christmas vacation…His wife and ammachi radiated in happiness…and his children seemed to already figuring out ways to open the suitcase.. Before getting inside the house Peter glanced at Josekutty…


"aaah...Josekuttyee pinee kaanam…innyum samayam ondello"

"yes…yes"


Josekutty went back to plough the ground but his thoughts were elsewhere…As he dug harder into the ground he mocked himself in wonder to unearth a nidhi !
Across the house Peter was enjoying a splendid meal set for him…

"hmm…aa Josekutty ithu verryum pacha pidichilla alle?"

"Well...he is a man of self-esteem...Do you think he will ever ask for a loan…I don't know how he is managing after the crops failed this time"

"Hmm…maybe that's why he still walks with his head held high in spite the troubles...Josekutty is a different man".


December was half way through and Joemon was happy with his school closing for vacations… He ran as usual to meet Malutty and Appoos for his daily conversation…

He promised Appoos that he will spend more time with him after the vacation begins…Joemon took out the banana which he had concealed in his pockets and fed it to his beloved Appoos…He had to occasionally turn back while Appoos relished the fruit, wary of Appachen who might be out in the Parambu…His lunch was not supposed to be shared.

Luckily Josekutty was relaxing on the chair after a tiring day and cooling himself by spinning the thorthu over his torso…

"How was your school today?"

"It was nice Appachaa….Father Vadakkedathil told us to enjoy the Christmas and pray for a good next year"

"Appachaa...Is Peter uncle back? I saw Rini and Varghese fighting over a ….."


Joemon paused…That was none of his business to check neighbours and he ran back outside…
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December 25th

After the midnight mass…Josekutty and Joemon were walking home…
The little village was lit up and the christmas stars hung outside homes tried to fight in vain with glory up in the sky….Ladies hurried home and Joemon could hear them discussing about the spread for breakfast which they had planned…

They reached home and it was 3:00 am…But he was not feeling sleepy after the long walk..

Joemon ran inside the house while Appachen waited to close the gate…Probably he was too shy to watch his son..

"Appachaa….Cycle!!! oru Cycleoo!!!!!"

Joemon's excitement was implicit...It was a gift which he never expected….however he secretly wished…But a Cycle!!!!

He ran towards Appachen and gave him a warm hug…Appachen's happiness knew no bounds as tears tricked from his face which he quickly wiped off before Joemon could see them..

That's when Joemon took out the Cycle and ran outside to show it to his friends…He heard the familiar bleat in the darkness…But did he miss one…

"Appachaa….where is Appoos?"

"Appoos poyyi mone…he wanted to stay elsewhere...so he left…You have Malutty anyways"


That's when the world came crashing for Joemon….Appoos is gone…

The next day morning he went again to the Parambu...Probably Appoos might have comeback…But all he could see was the sullen face of Malutty…He hugged Malutty and asked her why Appoos had left.

He did not understand her bleats for the first time...

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Josekutty was a proud father today…He thought that he was like Peter now….And Joemon would be proudly showing his cycle to friends when the school reopens…

Few days later Joemon was walking towards the church when he heard a familiar sound..

And that came from Chacko uncle's Yerichi kada

"Appoos ee"

He yelled as he entered Chacko's shop.

"hmm…yennaadaa.?"

"Appoos…Appoos akathu ondu"

"hmm…ninte Appannu kaashum kodithittum ondu"


Tears broke as Joemon began trembling...His feet went cold and his mouth dried…
Chacko could kill Appoos!!

He couldn't bear it and ran home...

"Appachaa…" he cried as he entered the house..

Hearing the desperate plea Josekutty came out from the kitchen…

"enna patti?"

"I saw Appoos….at Chacko uncle's shop…please don't kill him"


Josekutty was stunned and expressionless…He had sold Appoos for a Christmas gift…He just wanted to be like any other father…

Was he not? He wondered…

He hugged Joemon who was still crying….

"I ll get Appoos back…are you okay "

Joemon was now silent and just hugging his dad and resting on his shoulders…He did not speak..

The lingering silence was making another question in Josekutty’s mind very vociferous. He had attempted to ask it many times. He perceived intuitively – this is the moment.

"Do you want a mother…Mone?"

Joemon was still silent…and it was excruciating for Josekutty..

"Mone…then what do you want?"

Josekutty asked him again…

And Joemon lifted his face and with the faintest of smiles replied to his dad..

"Appachaa…I only want Appoos to have his Mother"

Josekutty stood up , and walked to the bedroom….He opened the suitcase and glanced at the photo of Theresa which he had kept beneath it…He smiled at her…almost murmuring…"Your son"

After putting a fresh shirt…He walked out towards Peter's house…It was time for a debt…

A debt worth having.


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* church bells
** black coffee
*** flavoured charcoal

Folks do read this post in pareltank..

25 comments:

chip said...

lovely.... :)
love the nattumpuram settings..

Thomman said...

Indeed, a debt worth having. Once upon a time and a very good time it was, we had several short stories like this to read in high school, malayalam ofcourse. The post reminded me of that and when I say that it's beautifully written and strikes a chord, you know that I'm not joking.

VIDYA said...

:) Could picturise it while reading, Reminded me of an old malayalam movie ive never seen, meaning its typical old movie type setting, loved it. Maybe one day he ll get a Nidhi and Peter will be envious of him. Looking forward to part-2 when joemon grows up.

Mishmash ! said...

A very touching story....am unable to express the feelings I experienced while being in that village with those innocent faces......

that pallimani, ummikkiri ( dont even remember the last time i thought bt those days), eerkkili tongue cleaner and joemon's crying face.....vaayanakkare pidichu eruthi ennu parayille....athu pole :)

Beautiful...beautiful...and full of of life!!

Dhanya said...

hey nice one.. I was remembering my grandparents place when i read this.. typical nattinpuram..

freespirit said...

Very well written! And lo! we have a story teller :)

mathew said...

@all
Thanks for reading till the end..I am so glad to know you guys did.

@Shiffy
thank you..:-)

@Thomman
thanks a lot ...damn i missed enjoying all malayalam short stories coz they never taught malayalam in school!!

@Vidya
hahaha..this has no second part though..;-P

@Mishmash
thank you very much..For me the ummkkiri and all are reminscents of the past...Its was like a time machine for me writing this.

@Dhanya
hmm...miss the naatinpuram..ages since i have enjoyed that feeling of staying in a place far away from the maddening crowd..

@freespirit
Thanks a lot!!:-)

nimmi said...

I could actually visualise the whole story ....beautiful ...Most of the times I am rolling on the floor with laughter after reading ur posts ...but this was touching ......:))

saphire said...

:) same comment as the others..it was like a movie playin as i was readin!

Annie said...

Keep up this nostalgia so that u won't forget the roots. Indebtedness to keep the emotinal balance in society has become a must especially in kerala where more family suicides exist. Ur theme is apt for the time. Keeping parity to globlisation has become a question mark in front of us. Waiting for ur next cookery blog.

...nIShAntH... said...

Very well written .Splendid portrayal of our nattinpurams and the way people live there.Oh man!!..i so want to use that traditional tongue cleaner again ... :D.

You have been tagged for sure and eagerly waiting for more stories like this.

peace :)

Cris said...

You should do this more often, story writing..

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

What a beautiful story. Loved the setting. Really made me remember my young vacations to home with umikari and all that. I really was emotional after reading the story. Really nice of you to write this lovely story.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

What a beautiful story. Loved the setting. Really made me remember my young vacations to home with umikari and all that. I really was emotional after reading the story. Really nice of you to write this lovely story.

Philip said...

very good mathew, touching story. looking forward to more such stuff. tell you what, reading through the longish post was not half as difficult as you made it seem with the intro. if you have an interesting story to tell, length is not a problem [:)]

mathew said...

@nimmi
:-) Thank you very much..

@Saphire
that is a very motivating appreciation..:-D

@Annie
I think you have summed it perfectly...i was planning a prologue explaining this story..but you have covered the points well.

and thank for checking the other blog...I need to update that sometime..:-)

@nishant
thank you..yes..naatinpuram feeling is soon going to be extinct it seems..

@Cris
Thanks..:-)

@Abhi
Thanks bud...glad to know you enjoyed reading it.

@Philip
Thanks dude..am glad to know many enjoyed reading it..
yeah just was apprehensive havent never wrote anything this long...

confucius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
confucius said...

Its not a long post...not half as long as my series Hunter & Hunted ;). Really enjoyed reading it.. I could see everything you described as in a cinema...Would have loved it if was a much more bigger post...my advise for u is to write a novel in this set up .... Once again..lovely :)

Deepti said...

Nice one!!

di said...

very real and honest.. loved it. pls do it more often.

usha said...

beautiful post, Mathew..
the place, the people, their thoughts and emotions.. all too crisp and clear..
nice! :)

Ms Cris said...

Hullo you have been tagged :-)

silverine said...

Very nice story...touching too :) But the ending spoiled it for me though! Could not imagine Josekutty selling off his sons beloved Apoos!

നിലാവ് said...

A beautiful story, narrated so well. Waiting for, more of such stories from you! All the best.

ursjina said...

i Loved the end...and the style..reminded me of my granmas house..and dare u ..u made me cry..:(