As Ammamma came hobbling in, ‘What prasad today Ammamma?’,asked Ashish.
‘Today is ekadashi so only fruits’, she said.
‘Don’t tell me that we have to survive with fruits too’, said Amit.
‘No,no for you both I will prepare rice dal and some sabji,don’t worry’, she said.
‘Thank God’, both said out in unison.
‘Yes, you should thank Him’, said Ammamma.
‘What…what did you say?’, said Amit.
‘I said that yes,you should thank Him’, said Ammamma. Then changing the topic she said, ‘what is that?’
‘It is an advertisement for a cafe, ammamma which is open 24 hours’, said Aashish.
‘Really…there is another line which is open 24 hours’, said she
‘Which one?’, asked Amit
‘Prayer’, she said,’there is no time restriction, you can always pray to Him’. She said it sarcastically. The boys rarely prayed or went to the temple
‘Ammamma aren’t you tired of singing glories of your Him’, said Amit. Aashish nudged him to lower his voice, ‘I mean either you are praying,or singing etc etc about him’, said Amit.
‘I haven’t troubled you, have I’, said she.
‘It is not about us Ammamma; it is about you. Don’t you need to take some rest’, said Aashish.
‘But what work do I do, just some simple cooking, that is all’, said Ammamma.
‘No Ammamma, I have never seen you sit and you say, what do I do’, said Amit.
Ammamma gave her toothless grin and sat down. Ammamma was not really the boys grandmother,she was their great grandmother. As was the custom those days, she had been married young and so was her daughter. And so at the age of 88 Ammamma had two teenagers as her great grandsons. Aashish and Amit wete twins of her grand daughter who had come to visit her during their summer holidays.
‘When I got married and came to this house at the age of 9. I used to sleep in this very room along with my mother in law. It was only much later that me and your Ajja got a room upstairs. My typical day used to start with milking the cows. After that I would sit for grinding. Those grinding stones over there’, she pointed to a corner. The boys nodded. She continued,’Those stones would always be busy, morning we would grind for some or the other chutney, then for some gravy for afternoon and so on. Look at my muscles, still strong, never went to a gym’.
‘Then what would you do Ammamma’, asked Aashish.
‘There was no end to work here. Draw water from the well and fill it in the big drums in the bathroom, make a fire to heat up water. Sweep, mop, cut vegetables, never ending work’.
‘You never used to go out’, asked Amit
‘We used to. Every Saturday to the Venkatraman Temple. Visit our relatives and occasionally there would be Yakshagana’, said she and then after some moments, ‘Everyone has gone away from our neighbourhood, it used to be so lively. Festivals, occasions we celebrated together, Pickles, papad we used to make together.Now everyone has shifted from here. No one has time now’.
‘Is that why you are busy with Him now’, asked Amit.
Ammamma gave her toothless grin again. ‘Unlike you we never had TV or mobiles. However busy we were we had to pluck flowers and make garlands for the deity. Every evening we used to sing bhajans while we lit diyas. Occasionally a sadhu would visit our village and we would assemble in the temple to listen to his discourse. So you see these practices were inculcated in us from a young age’. The boys listened attentively. Once a sadhu uttered this shloka; your Ajja and I liked it so much that we decided to follow it to the end of our life’.
Which shloka?’ asked Aashish.
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam atmanam mat-parayanah
Your Ajja till his last moment attended mangal arati and would ring the bell, And on one ekadashi while ringing the bell, he fell down and that was it’, her voice choked,’ Such a glorious death, I only wish that I too meet such a fate’.
The boys had no words but they hugged her tight.
Today is Day 7 of Write Tribe Festival of Words
So today is the last day of the challenge. When I first thought of incorporating Bhagavad Gita shlokas into my posts, I was apprehensive. Firstly is it proper to use sacred text for fiction. Why not? Bhagavad Gita is a guideline as to how we should lead our lives. When I thought of stories on basis of the picture prompts, I found that I had a relevant shloka for each. My second apprehension was will I be able to do justice to the shloka. I thought I should try rather than speculate. Thirdly, I thought will the readers like it. Or rather will there be any readers at all for such a take. Again I wouldn’t know until I tried. There were other obstacles too.I fell sick in the middle of the week but thankfully my posts were ready.
So thank you folks for being a part of this yatra.