Sunday, April 20, 2008

Porrutam* and the Monkey God

*porruttam = compatibility
**anjaneya= hanuman
***periamma- literally translates into Big Mother but means mothers elder sister. In in my case literaaly BIG mother.
****Katcheri - live concerts(usually carnatic music) But in this case it was hindustani

Last weekend was a long restful weekend with both Saturday and Sunday work free. So Saturday was spent cleaning, and doing multiple chores around the house, fair amount of sleeping and television watching till brain turned into mush which surprisingly left mind and body refreshed and ready for the long Sunday ahead of me. What does one do with ones mother on a sunday?

A visit to the Anjaneya** temple it was. The temple is not far away from my house and my mother and I used to visit it frequently when I was a child. It was many years since I had been there and amma was understandably bored with Sunday plans that involved movies and shopping. (How else does one entertain mothers. Please give tips. Bizzarely she hates spas so those are out). So having kickstarted the anjaneya visit plan (and being forced to change into kurta salwar from jeans) amma and I were at the gate when periamma*** arrived at the gate huffing and puffing. We invited periamma in, helped her regain her composure with some cold badam milk (too hot for filter coffee) and we told her that we were just on our way to the temple.
"Perfect" she exclaimed. "that means there is full porrutam"

Amma and I looked at each other puzzled.

"I have a jaadagam****" she continued brandishing a white envelope touched with tumeric and rice paste on the edges "for our dear own mem here. And you were going to the temple too! Clearly the boy is perfect for her. Such a porrutam"

Amma started nodding in slow agreement while I continued to look skeptical. Perimma in response to my skeptical look gushed on "Anjaneya also. definite porrutam"

"Isn't Anjaneya a bhramachari? How does he increase porrutam? He advocates a lifetime of bachelor-ism" I asked.

Periamma was stumped for a moment "but he is big and strong" she countered feebly

"And also a monkey. So boy will also be like a monkey?" I asked.

"shiva shiva" chorused amma and periamma.

"Dont say things like that, you will never get married. Insulting the gods" admonished periamma and muttered something about what happened with Harbhajan and insulting words.

So we set off, amma, periamma and me to the anjaneya temple , did our archanams, pradakshinams. The aanjaneya seemed much smaller than I remembered. When I was younger i remembered it as a huge towering idol carved on a single piece of stone.

Periamma advised amma to place the envelope containing jaadagam at anjaneyas feet, which my amma ignored mainly to avoid the clamour in front of aajaneya.

We sat in the cool court yard for the customary 15 minutes, primarily for a wheezing periamma to recover her breath. She seems to find the shortest of walks quite an exertion these days.

"But i have both my children settled off. why do i need energy these days?" she asked giving amma a sidelong look of admonishment combined with an encouragement to follow her own example, when i commented on her short breathedness. "As long as I have enough breath to arrange your marriage too." she continued looking at my mother, "dont worry. ill take care of all this" she pointed dismissively at me. And in that moment the fact that they were sisters suddenly came into focus so strongly. They were as different as sisters could be. Periamma was usually cheerful while amma would be gloomy. Periamma stole money and cut classes and watched movies. Amma attended classes and took notes and got good marks. They recounted stories of their youth, who stoles whose silk skirt and made a hole in it, who tattled to mother about this and that.

After a pleasant fifteen twenty minutes in the cool coutyard with strains of some classical katcheri***** floating in the background, we made our way back squeezed in an auto which was reluctantly carrying us groaning on the uphill roads much like short breathed periamma. Meanwhile periamma seemed to have recovered her breath enough to tell me about the virtues of a boy with an MS degree and working in Bangalore and not balding and related to her son's in laws well to do siblings in the states. We stopped for ice cream at aavin and bought vadu mangas****** at the Hopcoms next door, periamma maintaining her continuous exposition of the boys merits stopping only for few sharp breaths undiscouraged by my silence and challenging it even with a shrewd "problem enna? love a? but it cant be true if its not turned into marriage no?' offering arguments and counter arguments, arguing herself into a state of confusion when my mother intervened and said "when time is ripe it will happen. after all its her own decision"

"No its not! somebody else has given the yes" triumphantly declared periamma much to my distress not unmixed with some curiosity and then added "its anjaneya's! he has said yes, I will execute" much like a arunachalam rajnikanth(if you dont get this reference i cannot even be bothered to explain it) "monkey like boy indeed!" she tutted and with that she clucked all the way back merrily to her home, fully energized by her get mem married project.