Madhavan Going to Arizona (SILICON CASTLES: novel Chapter-1:Sreedevi Krishnan)

Published on 03 November, 2021
Madhavan Going to Arizona (SILICON CASTLES: novel Chapter-1:Sreedevi Krishnan)
Madhavan was wide awake but was reluctant to give up the luxury of feeling the warmth of the sun rays on his face falling on him through the bedroom window and the chirping of the birds twittering from the Gulmohar trees on the road side. The vegetable vendor called from a distance ,"Kai kurry ,vendakkai  pavakkai murungakkai" , and with it, was his Amma's voice ...
" Kanna, get up, you have to go to Tambaram to meet Raghavan mama. Your Appa and Harini had already left . You must be there  latest by 11am"

Amma's  call, the aroma of her filter coffee and the fragrance from the incense lit before the various Gods on the Kitchen shelf,  made him conscious of the day's schedule . He realized that " Madhavan going  to America' week' is over . He was really flying to America tomorrow. Madhavan shuddered at the thought. He  had not seen the inside of a plane . He wondered how  he would spend about twenty hours of travel time to Arizona . Studying in Tamil medium School , how would he be able to speak in English?  At Engineering College, he envied  smartly dressed boys, discussing latest albums, and Hollywood movies  in English , accompanying pretty girls to the  canteen, while he sat on the corner sipping his coffee  all alone . Girls ridiculed him , suppressing their giggling , whenever he passed by. He had been a joke for all his classmates.

But with the  admission to Arizona State University   Madhavan became the talk of Besant Nagar. Other parents pointed to him as a role model who was making his parents proud. Even the teachers pointed out to him as a sort of a hero. The same teachers who wrote on his progress report 'Average student , a loner, does not seem to have friends, indifferent to sports and group activities', now suddenly found a' genius' in him.

Madhavan remembered Appa's advice almost every night ," Look Madhu , I wanted to be an Engineer but my father could not afford to meet the expense . Soon after getting a schoolteacher's job I got married but after a year I joined for post graduation . With sheer hard work and determination I have become a Professor  now . My uncle Sir Rangachari had studied under a street lamp, you have electricity ,you have all the textbooks you want . All you have to do is sit and study . When you become an IIT engineer , our family status will go very high and you would get marriage proposals from the cream of Iyengar families'
Appa would always break into the poem,  always the quotation,
' if you could give that unforgiving minute,
   Sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
   Yours is the earth and that's in it
And what is more,you'll be a man my son'
 
When Madhavan got admission to the Engineering college in Chennai, his father lamented, " you should've got IIT ...my fate"', thumping his forehead  
It is his Paati who came with sweets and temple prasadam for him that week end and kept on chatting with Amma


Sitting up and running his fingers through his poonool Madhavan   glanced at Amma's half open blue bag with  Chennai works inscribed on it . He vaguely remembered Amma coming inside the room and putting something inside his suitcase  


He  got up, unpacked Amma's bag and counted  twenty four chandrika soaps for his fungal infection for two years.   Ayurvedic powder to give him vigor and vitality,  as the ads claimed . Madhavan felt a lump in his throat . He knew Amma's life revolved around him and the contents of the bag were  bought   from Amma's secret music lessons  to their neighbor , the Customs Officer's daughter. Madhavan looked around and noticed his parents' black and white wedding picture on the stool . His Appa had always wanted to fix it on the bedroom wall but never got around to it.
 Looking at the 25 year old  picture ,Madhavan realized the changes in their looks; both   looked unrecognizable .


Dr  Ranganathan,  his Appa, who looked  every inch a Professor now ,then looked thin ,with an unruly mop of hair ,small,beady eyes covered with thick framed glasses  and the typical   school- teacher like centipede mustache .
Amma, Vasumathy , looked strikingly pretty with her lustrous hair adorned with jasmine buds,large,expressive eyes ,cheeks like malgova mambazham , as Paati used to describe , with clusters of diamonds like shining bees on her right nostril .
But cruel time had taken its toll on Amma. Her hair had thinned down  a lot with grey patches ,her beautiful eyes were covered by thickly framed glasses ,she was flat chested and painfully thin. twenty five years' of married life had taken its toll on her.
 He  looked again scrutinizingly at Appa's picture and made a comparison with his present look.
Now, he looked dignified and macho even with the slight paunch ,  thick framed spectacles  and a perpetual smile giving the false impression of. a cheerful personality . In a way , he was pleasant, except to his wife and his children! Madhavan always suspected his father's dislike and disapproval to him was because of his uncanny resemblance to his Amma. But how can he forget Amma's  innumerable sacrifices .No doubt  Appa was hard -working and that is   how he got  his Doctorate and professorship in the University. ..
' Madhu, come for food ", said Amma, interrupting his thoughts." Thank  God, you chose to go later ,perhaps this is your last lunch in Chennai,I tried to make your favorite dishes "


Seated on the wooden plank on the kitchen floor, Madhavan glanced at the steel containers with his favourite dishes,
Onion sambar pepper rasam. Papads, vendakkai poriyal..... '
Hitching her sari high and tucking it into her waist, Vasumathy bent and served hot rice with two spoonfuls of ghee and then generously poured sambar into it.
Carefully avoiding the red chilies and placing the curry leaves on the side of the plate , Madhavan mashed the rice and said ' Amma, don't bother to serve me ; sit with me and let's eat together for a change. You never sit with us, you always hurry through your meals and start once again tidying up the kitchen . You work so hard ..I hate to see you slogging like this."
' Kanna, how do you like the dishes ? After finishing my food , when you go to Raghavan mama's place, I will be able to relax. Hope Harini will come back; she is quite capable of staying there, enamoured by the flashy display of their wealth . Madhu, don't forget to wear the shirt and pants which you bought with Paati's money and don't forget to take the Kesari that I packed for her. She too, like you ,loves Kesari.
The rest of the time Madhavan pretended to be busy eating. He answered his Amma with smiles, nods and grunts and then went back to his room .


Wearing a bright blue checkered shirt and jeans Madhavan looked at the mirror. He could not believe the metamorphosis . He looked quite agreeable. Of course, he was not handsome but the fitting clothes,new shoes and the expensive sunglasses made him look like the other classmates who he used to envy in college.
With the new found confidence and self esteem, he hurriedly got the Kesari packet for Patti and ran to the bus stop . Before rushing to the bus stop , he had to subject himself to Aarathi' ritual of Amma, to ward off the evil eye ,especially when her son was looking so " handsome".


It was after office hours and the bus was not crowded. He reached Tambaram in half an hour . Seated at the window side, Madhavan  slept off  due to his heavy lunch. But the conductor's scream," Tambaram ,Tambaram stop", woke him up . He pushed through the crowd and he jumped out of the bus like a School boy, jumping out of his School van.


After about a five minutes' walk , Madhavan reached his uncle Raghavan's imposing bungalow with its carefully manicured lawn, flower beds. He was happy to note that the car was not there Heaving a sigh of relief Madhavan realized that Raghavan mama must have gone to drop Appa in the college and Rama chithi , Gouthami and Harini must be shopping , so he could spend time with Paati whom he loved and admired .


When Madhavan was walking towards the out house where his Patty lived, their cook stopped him and said, " Sir, please come in . Memsaab wanted you to have little food and ice cream. By the time you finish food they will be back after shopping ," gesturing towards the drawing room.
"No."Madhavan replied, "I 'm full. When they come back, I will come inside. Till then, I can chat with my Paati. God knows when I am going to see her again?" Madhavan was choked with unshed tears ,
The cook was also fond of the old lady, who was self-sufficient and maintained her distance from her son and family.
"That's true , she is going to be eighty . Go on, sir. Get her blessings for your American trip '


Paati was sitting on a straw mat in her furniture- less room. Her rolled up bedding was propped against the wall and her nine- yards sari on a clothes- string . She was muttering some Sanskrit slokas. The moment she saw Madhavan , her sunken eyes showed a special gleam. She gave a toothless grin and asked , "Where would you sit ? Take that stool ", pointing towards the corner. "Madhavan, we will sit and chat , but before that I must make you my filter coffee"
"No ,Paati, I just came to seek your blessings . I am flying tomorrow .. Amma sent Kesari for you . We both love Kesari, right?"
Paati opened the packet , using her thumb and index finger, pinched a little bit of the sweet and flicked it in her mouth, careful not to touch her mouth with her hands . She made a series of smacking sounds and said " How tasty , your Amma is a great cook. For that matter , she's good at everything -music, sewing,house- keeping.. everything ..unlike this Rama . If her cook takes a day's leave , they get food from the hotel. Clutching his hand firmly ,Paati lowered her voice and whispered," All the coconut trees ,fruit trees, mango, guava and chikoo and all ...I had planted them," stretching and showing her wrinkled hands ," with my own hands . You were then a small baby . Harini was not even born . I used to babysit you .That's why I am so attached to you. By the time Harini was born I moved to stay with your Raghu mama. You know how I was shifted to this Out house? Very interesting"
Though he had heard it from Amma, he was interested in Paati's version of the story. She had a photographic memory and narrated it like a story. So Madhavan wanted to  encourage her and said .."Please tell Paati. I enjoy your stories, you're a great story- teller. C'mon ,Paati"
"When your cousin, Gouthami was just born, Raghu retired from the navy and became the Captain of merchant naval ships . Raghu and Rama had to shift from Bombay to Chennai.  I was living with them to help with babysitting little gouthami. In The very first month , Rama made some modifications in the house for her womens club party. My room had very thick curtains that were put to match with the other curtains , then she took away all my Pooja articles and brass vessels, got them polished and put them in various places. Whoever would come  to that house, admired her antique collection . I never understood how a Nefertiti statuette should be placed near the Nataraja idol and a gondola next to a kuthuvilakku.'


" For my daughter-in- law I am a useless, illiterate woman and my opinion should be totally ignored..
When I looked after  their house and priorities like a faithful dog, what did I get in return? One day, I had taken one small brass lamp with a small figure of Goddess Lakshmi for my prayers to light it. Rama went really mad ,saying that I was a villager who did not know the antique value of the figurine . I told Raghu that evening, I cannot stay with Rama any longer..how about shifting me to a single room apartment ? When I was waiting, at least , for a token protest....do you know what he said? This evening, I 'll shift the gas connection to the outhouse, that's more spacious than a one room apartment. That's how I am here ..."
Leaning her head on Madhu's shoulder , she said , " I know you have gajakesariyogam, you will reach the highest position. But never,ever forget your mother's love and her affection for you. I have pinned all my hopes on you. Time flies , I remember when you were just a baby, in no time you have become an engineer. So in a few years, you would make a house bigger than this . You must get married to a kind hearted, nice girl who would be with you in all your future ventures ." Tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Paati, you are crying when I am going to America, which I actually dread, for you and my Amma . Believe me, I shall give you all this and much more. For that, I need your blessings . You know this checked shirt and jeans is your present . I got it with your gift money '
Paati wiped off her tears and hugged her grandson.
"Paati , " looking at the watch , Madhu said , ``I must go right now  to Dr Sundaram's place to get a parcel for their son who is in Arizona. In fact, he will be coming to the airport in Arizona to pick me up.

He then fell at Paati's veined and wrinkled feet,looked away and went off, as he did not want Patty to see his tears.

Madhu did not have to spend much time with Raghavan mama and Rama chithi. Raghavan mama gave his instructions and said in a loud voice ' Be careful man.. study well.. ASU is a prestigious University, okay ? Keep in touch. '
At the airport Appa advised him not to even try an egg there .  He felt like hugging and kissing his Amma but such things are not done in a Brahmin family . He never saw his father touching Amma's hand , on the contrary, he has actually seen him literally throwing the food on her plate, on her menstrual days .
 Madhu clutched his Amma's feet and pressed it as if to convey that he will give her a life and liberate her from these shackles .She was trying to control her tears but the effort showed in her quivering lips and reddened tip of nose...   Can Amma hear the sobs from his heart?
His lips did not move but his heart was crying...
 
Once airborne,  Madhavan's  initial sadness and even nervousness vanished. He gaped at the very fair ,charming air hostess, clad in her printed silk sari, smiling at him  radiantly with her deep-red lips and pointing towards the ' fasten seatbelt' sign. When he fumbled with it , she came and bent low over him and fastened the belt with a brisk, professional click. When he mumbled ' Thanks', she again smiled at him benevolently and said, "You are welcome." What a delightful experience.. he was reveling in the pleasure of the air hostess's touch. He also thanked his stars for being the only young man there and so was the sole beneficiary to her  attention.

Then came the first and rarest chance of his life!  An equally pretty and smart air hostess started enacting the flight safety procedures.
She mimed, cavorted, stretched, smiled, donned an oxygen mask and pointed her with her lovely fingers
with deep red painted nails at escape hatches.
Madhavan forgot all his apprehensions and fears . What a chance to openly ogle at the pair of breasts reveaLed by the strategically pinned up sari!
Madhavan remembered the pains he had to take to ogle at his pretty smartly dressed classmates under cover of heavy textbooks and the young girls who came to his Amma for music lessons with long pavadai and waist length blouses with darts giving the suggestion of fuller breasts .
Now pretty women were at his beck and call . He learnt the trick of getting their attention for his endless needs of newspaper,water, juice ,coffee ..!
With a couple of Bloody Mary's, Madhavan slipped into a dream world  where   the air hostess  was dozing off beside him sharing his blanket..
Landing announcement made Madhavan come back to the present . Fastening the seat belt, he realized his  beautiful dream of a life which he had always coveted was beginning to be converted into a reality. That gave him immense confidence in himself ...he was beaming...
At first finishing his studies ...then a job  ,a wife... a dream home, he muttered almost aloud.
Samgeev 2021-11-03 15:45:59
I am glad that E Malayalee is publishing this wonderful novel.
Thuppan Nampoothiri 2021-11-03 22:25:38
ശ്രീദേവി അന്തർജ്ജനം എഴുത്തൊക്കെ പൊടിപൊടിക്കുണു അല്ലേ? മാധവന്റെ കന്നി വിമാനയാത്രയിലെ വിവരണങ്ങൾ നോമിന് ഇഷ്ടായി ട്ടോ. മാധവന്റെ അമ്മയുടെ അടുത്ത് പാട്ടു പഠിക്കാൻ വരുന്ന പെൺകുട്ടികളുടെ അരക്കെട്ട് വരെ നീണ്ടു കിടക്കുന്ന ഉടുപ്പിൽ മാർവിടഭംഗികൂട്ടാൻ തുന്നിപിടിപ്പിച്ച ഭാഗത്തേക്ക് ഒളികണ്ണാൽ നോക്കി നിർവൃതിയടഞ്ഞിരുന്ന അയാൾ ആകാശസുന്ദരികളുടെ മാദക സൗന്ദര്യം മറയില്ലാതെ ആസ്വദിക്കുന്നത് എത്ര മനോഹരമായി വർണ്ണിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു. പകുതി അയ്യൻങ്കാരായ ശ്രീദേവി അവരുടെ ജീവിതശൈലിയും പകർത്തിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. എന്തായാലും മാധവൻ പേര് പോലെ കള്ളകണ്ണനാണ്. അമേരിക്കയിൽ വെണ്ണ കക്കാനും, ചേലകൾ മോഷ്ടിക്കാനും ചെറുക്കൻ വേണ്ടെന്നു വയ്ക്കാൻ വഴിയില്ല. ഓ അമേരിക്കയിൽ അതൊന്നും ഇല്ലാലോ അല്ലെ/? ഏതായാലും ചന്ദ്രിക സോപ്പ് തേച്ച് മാധവൻ അയ്യങ്കാർ കോളേജിലും മറ്റിടങ്ങളിലും പോകരുത്. സംജീവൻ എന്ന എഴുത്തുകാരൻ നോവൽ ബഹുകേമമാണെന്നു എഴുതിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. അയാൾ വായിച്ചുകാണും. അതുകൊണ്ട് നോമും കാത്തിരിക്കാം. ഇത്തിരി സെക്സ് ഒക്കെ വേണെന്ന് ച്ചാൽ കയറ്റിക്കോളൂ.
മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക