Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Destination

          Evenings in the Natesan park always used to see him. Energetic, ever-smiling and a brisk walking personality. He used to be the center of attraction for his folks in the park. His friends in the park are mostly youth and of both genders. He spoke a lot. A lot!! He cracked jokes every now and then. He explained the methods used in Vedic Mathematics. When someone asked him how he was so fresh, his reply was, "I am seventy eight years old, but I still feel young and energetic. Fear of aging stops my same aged friends to stop. There is no limitations to be happy and there is no limitations to fear as well. I am happy. I like to be more happy and I don't fear thinking about my age. So the freshness." He used to be such a source  of energy. He - Krishnan.
                     
                           
           Krishnan's wife died four years ago. When one of his relatives asked him about how it was been without his wife. He replied, "She is not physically present anymore here. Don't ask me if she is still present as some spirit. I have not felt it. But the memories are always present. It is not difficult so far for me since I live with my son and his family. Also, I am not sick. So, no troubles for people around me as well."

          "What do you see in a dream? Sorry Subhash. I should not ask you this. But I like to know.", asked Krishnan to his then classmate. Subhash lost his vision sixteen years back due to diabetes.
          "Oh Krishna. A thesis on a blind's dream, is it?"
          "Yeah the same one. We used to discuss the same during college days. How could I go and ask it to a blind man?"
          "And you are asking this old blind friend of you, now."
          "I didn't mean any ..."
          "No. No. No. No hard feelings!! A man without a leg can dream of him running hundred meters in eight seconds. But blind....., I don't how I look now. Did my skin shrink? In my dreams my look is still 62 years old. But born blind, should be seeing nothing. They may not visualize stuff. In their mind, Sridevi may seem ugly. They should feel the touch in the dream. Would they dream? No idea."
         "You have the same skin as you had eight years back and your hair is still shiny and black." Both laughed.

          Krishnan used to play cricket on Sunday evenings with the kids in his colony. He used to walk three steps for his run-up and can spin the ball 15 degrees in both the ways. Kids fighted to have the old man in their team. He taught the art of spin to the kids over there.

          Krishnan spent his time in social networks in the evenings. He had contact with most of the friends in Facebook. He got a call in his cellphone.

          "Hello Mahadevan."
          "I am Gurunath."
          "Yeah, Gurunath. How are you? How is Mahadevan."
          "Appa is bed-ridden since two days. He is restless. He wants to see you. He is saying your name and he is saying his young days with you. Can you come over here?"
          "I will. I will say to my son and try to be there immediately. I will give you a call."

            Krishnan last cried on his father's demise at his age of 24. He never cried then. When his mother passed away, he did not shed a single drop. Same happened during his wife's demise as well. His son asked him the reason why one day.
       
           "My mother would have definitely cried when I entered this world. Your mother's entire family cried when she stepped into the car to start to Erachakulam from Shenkottai after our wedding. The pain. First one is of body and the second one is pain of separation. I used to kid your mom. I used to ask her was she dead, (Laughs). Life didn't stop there. The destination is not still met. Many miles to go. When do you think we reach the destination? Or else what is the destination of life?"
             "Destination...... Death?"
             "That is for unworthy bunch of people. I am a mathematics teacher. I taught my students something. Some became doctors. Some became engineers. Some teachers. Some financial experts. Some.. Some... There is a lot of such somes. One doctor student saves many lives. One teacher inherits many such teachers. So I can say I inherited knowledge. I inherited hope to my friends. I say not to fear death to my friends. They won't. Death is not such a fearsome one when we stop thinking about it and concentrating on something else. I inherited that thought as well. I have leukemia friend in my walking team. What will happen if she fears death? Sorry, I didn't give answer to your question. I am saying something else."
             "It is okay. I got the answer."

             Krishnan went through his childhood memories with Mahadevan. They used to fight for Sunday in perumal kovil on chathurthi days. Compose new songs to sing on Margazhi Bhajans. With this month being Margazhi, he started to revisit those days.

             Kannan, his son reached home. Krishnan went to him asked him to book a Tatkal ticket for him. Kannan was hesitant to send his father to Erachakulam alone. 
             "You are seventy eight. You can be healthy and still feel young but I am not sending you alone. I cannot take leave. I have people coming in from Korea for meeting. Radha has her concerts. I am concerned."
              "I have 12 days of leave left for the year daddy. Lemme go with thatha. It has been seven years since I have been to Erachakulam." Krishnan smiled at Nithya. 
             "Ok book and pack.", said Kannan.
             "Have you not coming for Vani Mahal kucheri?" Asked Radha.
             "Overdose of your Thodis and Kuntaravaralis, lemme spend some time with thatha."
Kannan became happy with Nithya's reply and booked them the tickets himself.
              
              Krishnan and Nithya boarded the train. Both were allocated lower birth. One old pair came and sat along with them. Time crossed 9. The lady came to Nithya and requested if she could take the upper birth since her husband could not climb to upper birth.
             "What about you?", asked Krishnan. 
             "I too cannot climb up there. I will sleep in the floor. If there are some youngsters in the near seats, I will ask them to change."
             "Why should you sleep in the floor? Sleep comfortably in the lower birth. I will take the upper.", said Krishnan and started to climb.
             "Why difficulty in the old age?"
             "See. Railways is not seeing age for allotting births and all. They believe people are like me. Grey hair but strong knees. No worries. Sleep well."

               Train reached Nagercoil and they went to Erachakulam by auto. Krishnan went to Mahadevan's residence. He sat near Mahadevan's legs.
                "Mahadeva!!" Mahadevan started to cry on hearing his friend calling him in a friendly way.
                "I will return back in evening Kanyakumari if you cry like this."
                "I have become like this. Not able to wipe my own ass."
                "Have you not been like this before?"
                "Who would want to be like this?"
                "Oh! Did you wipe your own ass when your six or seven months old?"
                "Am I a kid?"
                "Sure not. You were till three days before. But not now."
                "Son of a. Stop speaking philosophies."
                "Stop crying. Let me try to stop."
                "I won't cry till you leave back." 
                Both laughed.
                "My father is smiling after four days", said Gurunath. Krishnan patted his back and went to other houses in the street.
                
                 Nithya and Krishnan started to Suchindram to visit Thanumalaya temple. While waiting for bus in Erachakulam bus stop, Krishnan saw a scooter going towards the village. Krishnan called Nithya and showed her the number. He asked the significance.
                 "1729. You have said 246 times. It is Ramanujam number. My friends. My friends of friends. Whoever came  to our house knows it. Also 2592. Mahaveer's garland."
                 "Yeah 2 to the power of 5 multiplied by 9 to the power of 2 is 2592. You see the beauty."
                 "Seventieth time."
                  In the two days, Krishnan spoke with Nithya whenever he is out travelling to Kanyakumari and other places. Not a single moment of silence was there. It was like two mid twenties friend speaking with each other.
                   In Nagercoil bus stand, one man of mid thirties came and greeted Krishan.
                   "I am Shenbagam pillai, your student. Now I am teaching mathematics in SLB, the same school where you taught me Mathematics and life."
                    Krishnan smiled and congratulated him. He felt proud the entire evening and explained inheritance of knowledge to Nithya.

                   After finishing the morning Bhajans in the temple, Krishnan went to meet Mahadevan. Mahadevan was alone.
                  "Gurunath and his wife started to work early. Ramal has gone to Siva temple. Akilash went to play cricket."
                  "Okay. Good to see you being confident."
                  "Krishna!! I want to urinate."
Krishnan searched for urine bag and kept it under Mahadevan's private part. Drops came out of Mahadevan's eyes.
                   "I am a sinner.", said Mahadevan.
                   "Is urinating a sin?"
                   "You always speak like this. What is the prasadam today?"
                   "Venpongal."
                   "How we fight for Thanu mama's pongal those days. Nowadays, they are doing it just for doing. There is no sincerity at all."
                    "Who is coming to temple?"
                    "Entire street would be there at 4 for Margazhi Bhajans. Those are the days. Who came today?"
                    "Four. Five including me. Hari's son played harmonium. I can hear only air and no music. Girija is singing well. As long as she is there, it will be good. Who are ready to come at 4? Those days are gone. Nithya is still sleeping. It is 7 already. No one is wishing to see sun when it rises."
                   "Yeah", said Mahadevan. 
                    
In the evening, Krishnan saw the Ramanujam number scooter and stopped the person.
                   "I am Krishnan. I am from Perumalcoil street. Now I reside in Chennai. I have not seen you before."
                   "Yeah. I am not native person of this village. I shifted here since I was posted to SBT Erachakulam branch. I am cashier there."
                   "Oh good. I am a Mathematician and taught Maths. I am asking this on curiosity. Do you know about the number on your number plate."
                   "My son wanted this number. He said this is Ramanujam number and insisted on this."
                   "Oh good. What is your son doing?"
                   "He is studying eighth standard at SLB."
                   "Good. Convey my wishes to your son and (took the pen from his pocket) give this pen to him."
                   "Thanks", said the cashier and left. The words of inheritance ran through Krishnan's mind. He felt a satisfied teacher in himself. 

                    Next day Krishnan wanted to bath in the pond. He went to pond in the evening and started to swim. Nithya searched for Krishnan everywhere. Someone said her that Krishnan was in pond. She came there and asked him to come back. 
                    "Thatha, you are not a teenager. What if something bad happens?"
                    "Nothing has happened."
                    "Thatha. I am responsible now. Why are you doing like this?"
                    "Nithya! What will happen? I may stop breathing. What is the guarantee for a fifteen years boy to comeback safely? Is it there I should not swim on 78. Here is where I bathed all days. Those days we did not have bathroom. This pond will not take me inside. It is more than a pond for me. We used to bath here 3 30 in the morning and used to go for temple sharply at 4 for Margazhi Poona. I see my gray hair on mirror daily. That is why I am here at 5 in the evening when there is more light. Somehow I too started to fear. Isn't it? Tomorrow we will be leaving back to Chennai and u wanted to take bath in the pond atleast once."

Nithya gave the towel to him to get dry and they started to room to pack stuffs.

Next day morning, Nithya too joined Krishnan in morning Bhajans. Krishnan went to Mahadevan's home.

Mahadevan was reading newspaper.

                "Mahadevan! What is the news for the day?"
                "Modi lost in Delhi. Someone, Kejrewal won. Educated person is becoming CM. Good sign for the country."
                "Good. Kamaraj. Didn't he do well. Nice and pure persons become CM. Education is just an advantage."
                "You become CM Krishna." Both laughs.
                "I am leaving today. Be brave. Ramal is always there. Call me two three days once.". 
                "Your visit helped me better than doctor's medicines."
                "Ok see you."
                "Come for Panguni utharam."
                "Definitely."
 
Two months later,

               "Hello. Good evening Gurunath"
               "Good evening mama. One good news mama. Appa started to sit in the bed."
               "Oh. Is it? Give the phone to him."
               "Mahadevan! You sat. You have to walk when I come for Panguni utharam."
               "Why walk? Let us swim in the pond."
               "Good. I have booked the tickets already. This time Kannan and his mistress will come with me. No leave for Nithya."
                "Ok. Shall I cut the telephone?"
                "Ok."

Krishnan called Nithya and conveyed the news. Kannan and Radha went on a trip to Korea and would be coming only on the next day.

Kannan came the next day and went to Krishnan's room. He used to walk in the park by this time. He went near his father and found him no more. All his relatives came for his last rites. Everyone was seen crying except Nithya. Krishnan inherited some of principles to atleast one in the crowd.