My Stories—continue. More about my cousin
BY SATHEESAN RANGORATH
Normal household routines were changed on arrival of my cousin. My mother had an additional person to look after and take care of his needs. The atmosphere in the house turned a bit cloudy, as Mani Ettan was not very co-operative. He started to go to school
along with my father carrying a heavy lunch box and books. A couple of weeks went on with out much of any incidents except his adolescent eccentricity. In those days, electricity was rare so is water heaters and heating devises. Public water distribution system was also rare. My mother had to carry water from a Well about hundred feet away. Bathrooms were absent in households .People used to take bath in personal ponds or nearby streams and rivers. On the top of steps, a shed was erected as bath shed, which also served as cover for women who usually take bath before noon after they finish cooking. It was also a place for exchanging gossips among them. The place also served for making hot water in big copper vessels. For heating water, firewoods,dried coconut palm leaves and stems were used. Tooth powder was made of fine grounded charcoal mixed with salt, Pepper and eucalyptus.
Since his arrival I started to get up late, as he does not like me reading loudly although, I did not found him reading his lesson. When I get up, he will be sitting in front of his plate eating his breakfast. My mother and father were busy in doing their daily routine chores.My sister used to be in bed, as she had nothing to do early in the morning. I think during this time I got an opportunity to observe the mystery of morning. The full chorus and symphony of nature. Every living organism starts embracing the wonderful fabric of mother nature. My hidden love for poetry must have rooted in my mind during this time.
My cousin started going to school with my father and found to be somewhat studious, quite contrary to what we had heard about him, but his good nature did not last long. After a week he found our neighbor’s son as his friend and he stared to go to school along with him. After a week or two complaints started pouring in about him. It was reported that he was not punctual at school. Secondly, it was heard from his friend that he started to eat his lunch on his way to school. In addition, complained to his class teacher that he was not given lunch or money to buy lunch. Being a colleague of my father, he reported this to my father. My father was very angry one evening, when he returned from school and told my mother what was happening. My mother asked father to stay calm and said she will handle the situation. Next day she prepared his lunch, handed over to my father, and asked him to give it to Mani Ettan at the lunch break. This solved the problem temporarily, but soon there were other complaints about him. Instead of going to school, he spent his days in the nearby coffee shop and returned home while other students came back from school. It was also reported that he started bullying other students and teasing girl students, all these behavior made my father upset and he tried to correct him in peaceful manner with out any success. One day my father came back from school early and was very angry stating his desperation about my cousin. This time he really had done a very notorious thing by pelting stones to a beehive near the school, which disturbed the Wild bees and some students got stings from the bees. This created an embarrassing situation for my father. He was waiting for my cousin to return home from school.After tea he asked him, why he did that, he refused to answer and said he did not do it, this made my father more angry and he slapped him on the face. He fell down and pretended unconscious. But he was alright after some time and went his way to his study area. However, this incident made my father concerned and he wrote to grandma and aunty all about the incidents. It was decided that he will continue stay with us until the school term is over.
There after my father did not interfere in my cousin’s affairs and left him to his fate.During this time I found him making new friends and was fully engaged in playing Volley ball and weight lifting. I often wondered about his strength as he was lifting big boulders over his head. Another aspect about him was his heavy eating habits. Food served at our home was not enough for him and he used to eat one full jackfruit in every alternate day! He ate papaya, mangoes and other locally available fruits. He and his friends jointly hunted rabbits and Pork and barbecued them in fire and ate it.
Fishes were in abundance to his taste.
I remember that once he took me to a temple festival in the nearby village. Although, my father did not like my going along with him, he had permitted me somehow. temple Ground was fully packed with worshippers, hawkers, small businessmen, drummers and decorated elephants. Some sort of a devotional dance was going on; the dancers were wearing some fearful masks and over their head had placed huge glittering coloured crowns. This made the dancers wonderful. There were different set of dancers, some representing divinity, others of devilish nature. As I am writing about it now, I can understand the real symbolism behind those masks and characters. Everywhere good and evil co exists. If there is no place for badness goodness is not understood. To understand goodness you need to know badness as well.
We returned home very late in the night and I had a sprain on the angle while we were crossing a small fencing on ourway. Next day I found my foot swelling and was very afraid to show to my father, as he would not approve my carelessness. When my father left for school, my mother applied some herbal oil and made me shake my foot by tying a grinding stone on a string . With much effort and pain I swung the stone tyed rope. By evening my foot became alright. I Hope to continue my story in the next blog.