Fiction: Adaptations

Brindha Vinodh

Brindha Vinodh

It was a warm July afternoon in the little town of Lalgudi, some twenty kilometers from the main city of Trichy in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. Seventy-two-year-old Ganesan sat on his chair, half-sleepy, after a simple but wholesome meal. He had made this a practice, of dozing off in the chair, his possession for more than four decades, all the repeated calls and the yelling of his wife Vanaja, to sleep on a comfortable cot inside, falling into his deaf ears.

“This man will never listen. It’s been forty years with him. Always adamant. With every single thing. Later in the evening, he will complain of a back pain and ask me to apply that old ointment. Refuses to change even to gels and sprays. He will never adapt. If only he had agreed to leave this native town and move to Mulund in Mumbai, twenty-five years back, near his younger brother’s residence, I would have at least had my co-sister to talk to everyday, would have helped her raise her two sons. Who will take care of him if I die first? 
What sin did we do to be an issueless couple?”

Vanaja lamented, and even as her rumblings
reverberated, between the walls of their 
antique, independent house, the postman 
opened the rickety gate, and in his stentorian 
tone, said “Post”- the only house in the street to receive a letter, and the only house in the street without a desktop or a laptop.

The stentorian tone rather awakened Ganesan. As he opened the sky-blue inland envelope, the very first line of the letter made him gasp in surprise!
It was from his younger brother, Kesavan, who had addressed “Dear brother Ganesan”-
in his inimitable, exquisite handwriting.

He called Vanaja, who came walking with her languid legs, adjusting her spectacles, her eyes riveted to the letter in Ganesan’s wrinkled hands.
“ Kesavan is coming here with his family. His wife, two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. He is going to settle down here in Lalgudi with his wife, while the others will get back to Mumbai. Remember, it’s been two years since we both talked to each other over phone?
He choked when I last spoke to him over phone, and we exchanged heated words. 
I cut the phone when he refused to come over and settle down here in Lalgudi. No idea what/who changed his mind,” Ganesan’s eyes shimmered tremulously, and that made Vanaja really euphoric. It had been two years since Ganesan had shown such ecstatic emotions.

In the next three days, Ganesan looked completely different. He had his silver hair neatly cut, his tiny white grass of beard trimmed, the best of his shirts pressed, 
his eyes sparkled like stars, and his lips glistened from smiles.

Four days later, Kesavan arrived, with all of his family members as promised, by flight. Ganesan and Kesavan embraced each other, they didn’t talk, but the language of their eyes conveyed all buried emotions.

A day later, Kesavan‘s grandchildren took selfies with Ganesan and Vanaja, and Kesavan’s sons posted these pictures on their instagram accounts. The eldest son even updated his Facebook status, “From Mulund to Lalgudi-rediscovering roots.” The last visit to Lalgudi by Kesavan and his wife was five years back, for a wedding from Kesavan’s wife’s side, near Lalgudi. 

While in the verandah, Vanaja and her co-sister chatted, they had so many stories to share, the egos of the brothers, the sudden change of mind of Kesavan, the pricking of conscience of Kesavan of leaving his aged older brother and his wife alone, the outdated mentality of Ganesan, and so many anecdotes to catch up from their old, nostalgic years, when Vanaja taught Kesavan’s wife the nuances of cooking their family’s recipes when she came as a newly-married bride, and so on. 

The two daughters-in-law of Kesavan meanwhile made coconut rice, lemon rice, a mixed vegetable curry- symbolic of togetherness-banana chips, and 
bought ice cream for a change of taste for Ganesan and Vanaja. Ganesan relished the taste of pista and strawberry scoop while Vanaja enjoyed plain vanilla. They took a picture of all together, neatly dressed, the next evening. The grandchildren even teased Vanaja, saying her cheeks blushed pink, as she sat next to Ganesan in the picture. Vanaja smiled shyly while Ganesan preferred to remain silent, even as he fondled their hairs. Vanaja loved how Ganesan chose to remain silent, his authoritarian tones all contained, how he seamlessly mingled with the young grandchildren.

She felt it was the best days of their lives ever. 
The next morning, as everyone woke up one by one, and greeted each other, Vanaja was still in bed, frozen. She breathed her last at four am peacefully.

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।