Manojavam was going to die a natural death and anyone knowing him personally wouldn’t misconstrue it as an overstatement if one stressed ‘natural’ again. After all, he was 100 years old and almost, slowly, inching towards 101: just like how a cricket batsman would momentarily slowdown and take a new guard after scoring a century. They say wisdom grows with age, and his certainly did. The gleaned wisdom over a lifetime had sought refuge in the abundant luminescent white hair, the many undulating morsels of cheek muscles bravely protruding out from in between the wrinkles and the intensely deep eyes that had seen the tortuous journey called life, uninterruptedly, for ten decades. His six year old great grand daughter Priya, who was mad about her great grandpa, was told that he had gone into deep meditation. That was the best possible way Satish, her father, could make her understand the medical condition of her great grandpa.
Manojavam’s wife Manjula, a nonagenarian, was eagerly waiting for him to recover. Never during the 70 years of their marriage life, had she seen him so helpless. A month before he had walked three kilometres to a government office to officially confirm that he was alive and collect his pension for the month. While coming back he also had bought fresh vegetables from the market. He entered the house and sat on a chair. He had cheerfully asked Manjula for a glass of water and as he held it in his hands it slipped and both Manojavam and the glass hit the ground hard. It was a massive heart attack. The doctors were surprised that he could survive the ordeal of the surgery. The doctor, clearly disappointed at Tendulkar’s retirement, put it very aptly when he remarked “It is like 90 year old Sachin Tendulkar successfully facing the wrath of the 24 year old Dale Steyn”. He had just been shifted to the ward. As Manjula sat next to him, caressing his hair, with her eyes closed and head resting on the wall, her inner eyes were busy screening the memories of the yesteryears.
The scene that was currently on was the one when she first met Manojavam, which, by the way, was an accident in every sense of the term. Manjula was then 19 years old and also an L-board rider of her new bicycle. When she rode, people got confused whether she had a problem with balancing or balance had a problem with managing her. But somehow she managed to achieve the required displacement. They say things get done smoothly only on two occasions, one when there is perfect understanding and the other when there is perfect misunderstanding. In her case, it was the perfect misunderstanding between her and balance that got the job done. But her joyous rounds on her bicycle were marred with unfortunate incidents of poor people accidentally subjected to the impulse which would bring the joint momentum of the cycle and its rider immediately to zero. On that fateful day Manojavam was nominated by God to be subjected to such a treatment. He was dressed impeccably that day. White shirt that would make any modern day detergent bow down in shame, dark grey bellbottom pants that would leave Rajesh Khanna under a spell of jealousy, a tightly wound leather belt and a neatly polished pair of formal shoes. He was about to attend his first interview and was waiting for the bus. He placed his file on the platform beside him and bent over to tie the loosened shoelaces. The next thing he knew was that four or five people lifted him from the gutter adjacent to the road. An infuriated Manojavam, after cleaning up, walked towards the culprit gathering the choicest of words but instantaneously turned dumb when he noticed the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen offering the most convincing of apologies. He thought that if eyes could talk so beautifully then what about the lips that were yet to break their silence. She uttered, according to him, the most romantic “Sorry” and rode past him. As she left, he felt lighter by about 300 grams. Why wouldn’t he? She had stolen his heart. That evening both of them thought about the beautiful little story that God had written keeping them in mind. But little did they realise that God had indeed planned a saga, and the incident that day was only the prologue. After three weeks Manjula had found the right “balance” in her life, as Manojavam would walk along and hold the handle of the bicycle as she rode. Manojavam never dared to walk past her; he already had experienced the outcome first-hand, but always would walk along with her. Little did they know that God was teaching them the mantra leading to a successful marriage. After seven months they had decided, with full acceptance from both families, that they were ready to take the “SEVEN PHERAS”. When he was about to tie the nuptial knot, both looked at each other. She could feel the deep love for her in his eyes. His eyes were so intense.
A sudden movement interrupted her thoughts and she at once came back to the present. He had regained consciousness and was looking right at her. The love for her that she saw in his eyes had not diminished even by an iota. His eyes even now were so intense. “Janu, how are you?” she asked as tears rolled down her eyes. “Manju, I want to eat the Masala Dosa that your prepare the best” he remarked. She smiled and nodded. Food was one of the reasons why their bonding was so strong …………………………..
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. I have chosen to narrate a single story in parts and each part would be in response to that days prompt. Hope all of you like it.