What are Google Platform Tools?

What are the Google Platform Tools? Well to put it simply they are a set of tools which are essential if you plan to mess around with your android smart phone. These set of tools interface with the android platform through tools like adb, fastboot and systrace. These are tools you would definitely need if you plan to install custom ROM’s on your android smart phones.

You can download the latest version of the Google platform tools from the link given below. The link is the official link on the Android site. It has links for different operating systems.

These tools are required to access the phone especially when you have messed up the Custom ROM installation. In case your phone is ‘dead’ or not responding. Please note these tools are common for all android phones.

Follow the steps as described on the site to install on your PC. This is important as you would need the tools to be fully functional when running on your PC.

Download the Google Platform Tools for various operating systems:




Extract the downloaded platform tools package to any folder you like (e.g. your home directory or the standard applications directory). Now you need to add this directory to the PATH of your operating system, enabling you to call the tools from any folder. Depending on your Operating system this can be achieved differently:


  • Download and install the Universal adb driver.
  • Press [WIN] + [PAUSE] to open the “System” window
  • On the left, click the “Advanced system settings” button
  • Open the “Advanced” tab
  • At the bottom of this tab, click the “Environment Variables” button
  • Edit the “PATH” variable and append a semicolon followed by the path you extracted your tools to (e.g. ;C:UsersAndyadb-fastbootplatform-tools)
  • Reboot your PC


  • Depending on your distribution the “.bash_profile” or the “.profile” file in your home folder and add following lines substituing the path with the path where you extraced your tools
 if [ -d "$HOME/adb-fastboot/platform-tools" ] ; then
    export PATH=$HOME/adb-fastboot/platform-tools:$PATH"
  • Log out and back in

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The Gold Coin

“I want you to finish your homework by the time I am back from my walk,” said Pankajakshan, “I send you to a good school. You have good teachers. Yet look at your marks! You have barely made passing grades in three subjects.” Deepu, Pankajakshan’ s son said nothing.

There was nothing he could say when his father was in a bad mood. Any comments and wise cracks would result in a slap. It could get worse at times.  Pankajakshan was a police constable attached to the Neyyarinkara Police Station. Life had been tough for Pankajakshan as a child.  The son of a poor farmer, there were days when he and his siblings went to sleep on an empty stomach. He wanted to avoid that kind of a life for his son. He wanted his son to be educated and get a good government job. He personally supervised Deepu ’s studies, when time permitted. Those teaching sessions would end disastrously for poor Deepu. He would get confused and end up making simple mistakes. That would annoy Pankajakshan.

Deepu ’s mother Sharadha had given up intervening. Whenever she tried it Pankajakshan would turn on her. Then mother and son would both get bruised for their efforts. The best way to handle these ‘study’ sessions would be to finish off the homework and hope for the best. This latest incident was triggered by the report card Deepu had brought home. Deepu or Deepak was in the fourth standard in the Neyyarinkara Government school. He was not dull, neither was he the top ranker in his class. Yet, Deepu loved to read. He devoured comics and magazines for children. He had read more books in that genre than any other student in his class.

Deepu knew he had to finish his homework in an hour. That was the time it took his father to finish his walk. Pankajakshan was putting on weight. Gopalan the new inspector who had taken charge at the Neyyarinkara Police Station was very particular about the fitness of his men.   Pankajakshan decided he would walk for five kilometers every day to cut the flab. It was the first day of his new exercise regimen and he was about to set out.

“What have you got for home work today Deepu?” said Sharadha who saw her husband disappearing round the bend on the road.

“Mathematics.  I have some sums on fractions and then English and Malayalam,” said Deepu.

“Finish it fast before your father comes.  Let me help you with the math sums.”

Sharada sat with her son and helped him with the fractions. They then turned to Malayalam. Half an hour later all that remained was the English.

“You have to write ten sentences on a butterfly,” said Sharada, “I know, you can easily do that. I have some work in the kitchen. Let me finish that. Call me if you need any help.”

“I can write that on my own,” said Deepu. He was good in English. Sharada knew that and reassured went to the kitchen.  Pankajakshan was very particular about the time when he got his food.  Breakfast had to be at seven in the morning.  His lunch was at the police station. Dinner was to be at nine p.m. sharp. Any delays and he would throw a fit.  It was already six in the evening and Sharada had to rush.

Deepu opened his English exercise book.  He wrote down the title of his essay, ‘The Butterfly’. Then he left a line and started.

‘I am a butterfly. I have two pairs of wings…’

Here Deepu stopped.  He started to think.

‘How many pairs of wings does a butterfly have?’

‘Is it one or two?’

He was not sure. Then he had an idea.

‘There would be butterflies in the garden. I could catch one and count its wings. That will be the correct way of doing this.’ He thought.

He put his books aside and ran out. The house had a small garden. The garden had a large number of flowering plants. Some were planted on the ground and some were in huge clay pots.  Deepu looked around for a butterfly.  He could not see any.

“Maybe they are also doing their homework!” said Deepu to himself and laughed.

He tried shaking the leaves of the plants. He had seen butterflies hiding behind the leaves. By shaking the leaves, he hoped to get some to come out of their hiding place.  Then he saw a frog.  Deepu thought he had an ugly face.  The frog was looking at him.

“What are you doing in my garden?” said Deepu. The frog did not answer but stared back at him.

Deepu looked around for a stick. This was going to be fun. He found a small twig and picking it up he went up to the frog. He was about to poke, when it jumped. Deepu exploded with laughter. He chased it around the garden. It would jump a few feet and wait. Then as Deepu came close it would jump again.

“Have you finished your homework?”

It was Pankajakshan and he was back from his walk.

Deepu stopped running and lied, “Yes.”

He hoped Pankajakshan would go for his bath first and then ask him to bring his homework. By then he would have completed his essay on the butterfly. That hope was dashed immediately.

“Show me your homework,” said his father.

It was the sound of Pankajakshan shouting that brought Sharada running from the kitchen. Deepu was crying.

“What happened?” said Sharadha.

“You want to know what happened?” said Pankajakshan, “Your son has not only not completed his homework he is also training to becoming a liar.”

Pankajakshan then turned towards Deepu and said, “Did I not tell you to compete your homework by the time I returned from my walk?”

Deepu nodded his head through the tears.

“Then why were you playing in the garden, if your homework was not complete?” said Pankajakshan and slapped him.

“Please do not hit him. He has already completed his Mathematics and Malayalam homework. It is just ten lines that he needs to write for English. He will do it now,” said Sharada pleading her son’s case.

“Not only has he not listened to me, he lied about it,” said Pankajakshan shouting.

“Father, I am sorry. I will not lie again,” said Deepu between sobs.

“Next time this happens I will break your bones,” said Pankajakshan. He then turned at Sharadha, “Is the water for my bath ready?”

“Yes, it is in the bathroom,” said Sharada.

As her husband went for his bath, Sharada hugged her son tightly.

“Are you alright? Does it hurt?”

Deepu did not reply. He shook his head and pushed his mother away. He went to the table and picking up his exercise book and began writing.

‘I am a butterfly. I have two pairs of wings. I can fly and go from one place to other. No one controls me. I am free to do what I want.…’

The next day, on his way back from school, Deepu saw huge tents being set up on the ground near the railway station. He saw a few of his class mates there and ran over to them.

“It is a group of gypsies. They have set up some tents where they will be holding some shows,” said one of the children in the group.

“Shows? What shows?” said Deepu.

“Circus shows, clown acts, flamethrowers, magic tricks.”

“This should be fun.” said Deepu.

“Amma, there is a circus show in the village. Will you take me there?” said Deepu.

Sharadha was washing utensils in the kitchen.

“Ask you father, Deepu. You know I do not go anywhere on my own.”

Deepu thought about it for a minute and then realized that the chances of his father taking him next to impossible.

“Amma, father never has the time. He is always either working or scolding me. Why can you not take me? I promise, I will hold your hand all the time.”

“Deepu, this is a village. Women do not go out unaccompanied. A male member of the family should be with them when they go out.”

“I am a male member of the family. I will be there with you!”

Sharadha smiled.

“Maybe after ten years you can come with me. Till then I have to go along with your father.”

Deepu thought about it some more.

“Amma, Lata aunty, the bank manager’s wife, she goes to the market alone. I have seen her buying grocery while I go to school.”

“Deepu, Lata aunty is a not from this village. She studied in a college and is from the city. She can go where she wants.”

His mother ‘s explanation did not make sense to Deepu.

The next day, on his way back he again went by the circus tents. All the arrangements were now complete. A gate had been set up and the first show was to start from that night. Deepu looked all around. There was no one in sight. He walked up to a corner of the tent, lifted the thick canvas and slipped in. Inside there were small tents everywhere. There were people running around. Everyone was busy practicing their act for the night’s performance. Deepu saw young children doing acrobatics, turning cartwheels. Some were jumping through hoops. He saw a man juggling brightly colored balls. There was a well-built man lifting weights in a corner. Deepu did not know where to look. The whole place was a treasure trove of adventure and excitement.

“Who let you in.” A voice from behind made Deepu jump.

He saw a tall, thin man with a long moustache standing. With him stood a young girl. She must have been his age. Both of them stood there staring at Deepu.

“I… I came in through the… I slipped through…,” Deepu said fumbling with his response. He was scared.

“So, you were trying to sneak in and avoid paying the entry ticket. This time I am letting you go. Come back in the evening with your parents and first buy a ticket.”

“My father does not have the time. He is a police constable and is very busy and my mother cannot come without my father,” said Deepu a sad look on his face. He turned and started walking towards the gate.

“Wait!” said the man. Deepu stopped.

The man came up to him and looked at him. His face looked considerably softer now.

“Do you want to watch the show?” said the man.

Deepu nodded his head.

“Ok! Let me see what can be done about it,” said the man, “I am assuming you do not have any money?”

Deepu shook his head.

“Then we have a problem,” said the man. He closed his eyes and stood there like a statue. Then he began waving his hands in the air. He was mumbling in some strange language. His whole body shook as if he had a fever. Swaying as if to a rhythm which only he could hear, he clapped his hands loudly.

“Check your shirt pocket,” said the man.

Deepu did not understand what was happening but he obeyed. He put his fingers into his shirt-pocket. The next moment Deepu let out a shout of surprise. He found a large gold colored coin in his pocket.

“How did that coin get in my pocket?” said Deepu. He was certain it was not there before. He had never seen that coin before.

“This is a magic coin. You have been chosen by the guardian spirits. They have decided that from now on you will be the owner of this coin. Whenever you want to come in the tent, just show this to the man at the gate and he would let you in.”

Deepu had a big smile on his face as he thanked the man and ran out. He was very happy. It was the first time in his life that he felt wanted, special.

“Have I not told you not to speak to strangers?” said Sharadha. Deepu had come home and told his mother everything that happened that day.

“Amma, they are good people. Why would they hurt me?”

“I do not want you to go there anymore.”

“Amma!” Deepu protested but it was of use.

His mother was adamant. She forbade him from going into the circus tent. His father did not have the time to take him there. He went to his room and sat there looking at the gold coin in his hand.

The circus was in the village for a week. Every day the shows would start at seven p.m. and end by nine p.m. Everyday Deepu would take out the coin and look at it for a long time. Then with a sigh he would put it back. He knew his parents well enough to know that they would not take him to the circus. All his friends at school had seen the show. Some had seen it multiple times. The whole day in class the children would talk about how the strong man had lifted a table in one hand or how the juggler had juggled five knives. Deepu would listen to them and sigh. He had seen some of them practice that day, but that was boring. He wanted to see them in full costume with the music blaring and the people clapping in the background.

Then the last day for the circus dawned. Deepu got up early. He knew what he was going to do that day. He would finish his homework early and then go and watch the circus. He knew what the end result of this ‘bravery’ would be. Not only his father it was possible even his mother would spank him for going out of the house that late, but he was determined. This was the first time in the eight years of his life, that a circus had come to his village and he was not going to miss it.

“What are you doing with your head in the books?” said Sharadha amazed to see Deepu surrounded by books. He had finished his lunch after coming home and immediately sat down to do his homework.

“I have a lot of homework today,” said Deepu.

“Are you not going out to play?” said Sharadha.

Deepu shook his head.

“Amma I will call you if I need any help.”

“I just finished washing all the dirty dishes. Now I will go and take a short nap. I will help you in the evening.”
Deepu worked feverishly. Strangely it seemed today there was more homework than normal. There was English, mathematics, general science and social studies books before him. He completed the work in one book and reached for the next. Time and again his mind would go to his plans for that night. He had planned everything down to the minute. He was targeting to finish his homework by six. That was also the time his mother would go for her bath.  After her bath, which took more than half an hour as she also washed all the dirty clothes in the bathroom, she usually came out by six forty.  Next, she went to the puja room and would sit there, chant prayers and read from the scriptures for half an hour. From the prayer room she would go straight to the kitchen and begin preparing dinner. If Deepu had any doubts in his homework he would ask her for help and she would shout out the answers while working in the kitchen.

By the time Deepu had finished and put aside the last book it was already six thirty. He   ran to the bedroom and took out a clean shirt from the cupboard. He could hear the sound of the tap running in the bathroom. He knew his mother was going to be there for at least another fifteen minutes. Deepu put on the clean shirt and slipped on the sandals he usually wore when going out.

“Amma, I would be in my room. I have finished all my homework and kept it on the table – if you want to check. I am reading a story book and do not want to be disturbed.”

Deepu went up to his room and shut the door from outside. He occasionally used to shut the door to his room when Sharadha switched on the radio or when she and Pankajakshan were having an argument. It kept the voices out of the room. Deepu used the same tactic now. His mother usually did not disturb him when he was reading. Deepu ran out of the house. Pankajakshan would be back from the police-station by eight. The evening walk had lasted one day only.  Life in a police station was hectic. Deepu was counting on that.

It took about ten minutes to walk from his home to the   ground where the circus tents had been setup. Deepu made it in five. He ran as fast as he could. As he neared the gates of the camp site he saw a huge crowd had already gathered.  People were lining up to buy tickets.  He saw some of his class mates holding on to the hands of their parents. They saw him and called his name. He did not respond. He went straight towards the gates.

“We start at seven. The ticket sale has not yet started. Buy a ticket first and then come here.” said the man at the gate in a mechanical tone. He said this daily to those who tried to get in early.

Deepu showed him the gold coin.

The man looked at it and then smiled at Deepu.

“I see you are the lucky child in this village! Go right in. The rules do not apply to you now.”

The man opened the gates partially and Deepu slid in. Deepu was inside a huge circular tent. He ran up and occupied a seat in the first row. He could not contain his excitement as he looked all around the enclosure. The tent was covered in a colorful canvas. There was a ring in the middle and the seats were all arranged around the ring. Huge electrical lights hung from bamboo poles and shone down at the ring. One by one the people started coming in. He had got in for free. It was the magic of his gold coin. He checked and reassured himself that the coin was still in his pocket.

Pankajakshan came home around eight in the evening. Sharadha had a glass of water ready for him by the time he had taken off his shoes.

“Where is Deepu?” said Pankajakshan.

“In his room. Reading some comic. He said he did not want to be disturbed,” said Sharadha, “he has finished all his homework. I checked his books.” She added that part quickly knowing how her husband’s mind worked.

“The boy does poorly in his exams and yet reads so many books.”

“He is smart. He puts in a lot of hard work,” said Sharadha.

“I hope for his sake all that hard work will reflect in his marks. Is the hot water for my bath ready?”

“Yes! I have put it in the bathroom.”

Pankajakshan had his bath and after a quick bow before the pictures of the Gods, he was ready to meet his son.

“Where is Deepu?” said Pankajakshan.

“In his room.”

“No! he is not there. I just checked.”

“He said he would be in his room,” said Sharadha.

She went to check Deepu ’s room.

“I told you I have already checked there.”

Sharadha came out. She was worried. She ran out and checked the compound around the house. Deepu was not there. She came in again.

“Where is he?” said Pankajakshan.

“He is not there in the house,” said Sharadha.

She was feeling slightly dizzy and held on to a chair for support. Suddenly her legs were feeling week.

“Have you checked the loft?” said Pankajakshan.

“No. I am worried. Where can he be. He was here when I went to have a bath.”

Pankajakshan took a torch and climbed up the stairs, which led to the loft. There he shone the light in all the corners. Except for the cob webs and the dust there was nothing there. He climbed down. Now Pankajakshan was worried.

“Did he say anything about going to his friend’s house?” he said.

“At this time of the night. He knows better than that,” said Sharadha and then thought that it was an idea worth checking. “Can you go and see if he is there.”

“I do not know who his friends are,” said Pankajakshan. Realizing for the first time how little he knew about his son.

“I will come with you,” said Sharadha.

She went to the kitchen and shut off the stove and covered all the food. They rushed out of the house in their haste forgetting to lock the doors. Suddenly all that seemed unimportant.

They went from one friend ’s house to another. Most of the houses were locked.

“Where is everybody,” said Pankajakshan.

“I do not know. I want my son. Oh God please I will never scold him again in my life. Please, please help me find my son.”

In the middle of the street, on the pitch – dark street she started to cry. Pankajakshan did not cry but he was worried. Thoughts raced through his mind. He remembered how he had felt when he had seen Deepu for the first time at the hospital, the day he was born. He remembered how happy he had felt when he had taken his first step. He remembered when he had fallen asleep on his chest. Then he remembered how he had trashed the boy the last time he had come home with a bad report card.

‘Has he left the house because of me?’ thought Pankajakshan, ‘Why would he want to stay in the house. All that I do is beat him.’

Then his eyes feel on a poster stuck to the wall of a house. It was an announcement of the circus show in the village. Sharadha saw it at the same time.

“Can he have gone there?” they both said together.

The circus show was in full swing.  The jugglers, the strong man and the acrobats had all finished their acts. The last act of the day the magic show was underway. Deepu sitting in the front rows had enjoyed himself all through the evening. He had gasped with surprise when the magic show had started. It was the same man who had given him the coin. His hands were hurting with clapping but that did not stop him from clapping.

“There he is!” said Sharada as her keen eyes spotted her son on the other side of the ring.

“Thank God!” said Pankajakshan. He started walking towards his son.

“Now for the last act of my performance I will make a boy disappear. I want a volunteer from the audience,” said the magician to the crowd.

Deepu raised both his arms and began jumping around. There were a lot of children who had their arms raised. The magician spotted Deepu. He recognized the child immediately.

“Now for this act I will ask a boy who is the bravest and most intelligent child in this village to step forward,” said the Magician and pointed at Deepu.

Deepu could not contain his joy and jumped into the ring. As Sharadha and Pankajakshan gasped Deepu ran straight towards the Magician.

“Deepu, Deepu!” Pankajakshan said and was about to jump into the ring when he heard someone calling his name. He knew that voice.

“Pankajakshan, what are you trying to do?” said Inspector Gopalan. He was in the audience and was along with his wife and two children.

“Sir! that is my boy.”

“That is not what I asked. What are you trying to do in the ring?”

“Sir I want to stop him from going there.”

“Pankajakshan! It is a magic show. The children are enjoying it. The whole village is here. Do not spoil their fun.”

Pankajakshan stepped back. He stood there on the sidelines along with Sharadha.

“I am going to hypnotize this boy,” said the magician. He waved his arms around Deepu and made strange signs with his fingers all around Deepu ’s face.  Deepu who was standing there closed his eyes and then as if asleep, fell into the arms of the Magician’s assistant.

The magician’s assistant placed Deepu in a big black box. Then he proceeded to dramatically closed each door of the box.  The magician then put a large black cloth over the box and began waving his arms around. He was mumbling in a strange language as he started walking around the box.  There was pin drop silence in the tent.

“Watch closely,” he said in a stage whisper.

He pulled of the cloth covering the box and slowly opened the box.  It was empty. The audience clapped and some of the rowdy boys even whistled their appreciation.

The lights were switched off and the show ended.

Sharadha and Pankajakshan gasped in horror. Deepu was nowhere to be seen. Husband and wife ran outside the tent. The people who had come to watch the show started to leave and were crowding all the gates. In the sea of faces they were not able to spot Deepu.

“Where is my son?” said Sharadha, “Oh God, have I lost him again, twice in the same day!”

“Wait here, said Pankajakshan, “I am going to beat the truth out of that magician.”

He walked towards the place where the circus folks were all standing. The show in the village had ended. They were discussing when to dismantle the tents.

“Where is my son?” said Pankajakshan as he spotted the magician. He was smoking a cigarette in a corner.

“Your son?”

“The boy you put in the box.”

“Oh! you mean the sad boy. He ran away when he saw you two.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your son saw the two of you trying to catch him in between the show. He was so scared that as soon as he came out of the box he ran away. I think by now he would have reached your house.”

Pankajakshan and Sharadha turned and ran back home.

As the magician saw them leave he turned to the young girl by his side and said, “So these are the bad parents who would not let their only child see a magic show. I wish I had used these two for my ‘saw-in-half’ trick!” the girl laughed and the magician joined her in the laughter.

Pankajakshan and Sharadha saw the doors of their house wide open. They rushed in and went straight towards Deepu’ s room. The door was closed. As they pushed it open, both of them let out a sigh of relief. Deepu was sleeping in his bed. They tiptoed to his bed and sat on either side.

Deepu was not asleep, he had just reached home a few minutes back. He was lying there with his eyes closed. He felt his father’s hand on his back. Pankajakshan patted his son for a long time while Sharadha sat there with tears in her eyes. They realized how precious the boy was to them. Neither of them said a word, but both knew that there would be changes in the house. Changes in the way they looked after their son. It was only when they came close to losing him that they realized how important he was in their lives.

As they went out of the room, Deepu opened his eyes. He knew something had happened in the room. Neither of them had scolded him. He had expected a thrashing from his father at the least. That did not happen. Instead his father was patting his back. Something told Deepu that things were going to change. Change for the better. Deepu smiled in the dark. He opened his fist and in it he had the gold coin. The magical gold coin that changed his life. With a smile on his face Deepu fell asleep.

Age and Wisdom

“Is your grandfather sleeping?” said Krishnan to the boy who opened the door. He was standing outside his friend Raman’s house.

“My grandfather died ten years ago” said the boy.

“Died…Don’t you live here?” said Krishnan

“No! I live in the house across the street,” said the boy as he ran past Krishnan who entered the house.

“Grandfather is having his breakfast. He has asked you to join him,” said another boy who came running out of the house.

“No that is ok. I just had my breakfast. Who was that boy who just opened the door and ran out?”

“That was Ismail. He lives in the house across the street. Every morning he comes here and has breakfast with us.”

“Do they not make breakfast in his house?”

“They make it a bit late. He has two breakfasts in the morning. After he finishes off here, he runs over to his house and eats his second breakfast there.”

“No wonder he was in such a hurry! He must be Abdul Kadir’s grandson.”

“His father’s name is Basheer. I don’t know any Abdul Kadir in that house.”

“That is because Kadir died ten years back. That is before you were born.”

The boy shrugged his shoulders and ran back in.

Appupan says he does not want to eat. He had his breakfast.” Krishnan could hear the boy shouting inside the house.

He smiled. The old boy had addressed him as Appupan or grandfather. Krishnan had never married so had no grandchildren.

“Since Raman is having his breakfast. I might as well check the books here,” said Krishnan.

He went towards the book shelf. The wooden book shelf was six feet tall and about six feet wide. Books were stacked in neat rows on the shelf. He picked up a thick volume from the shelf. He went over to a chair near the window, sat down and began reading.

“Did you know there is a reference to the Ganges in Dante’s Divine Comedy?”

said Krishnan as he saw his friend Raman Unni come out.

“Where did you get Divine Comedy from?” said Raman.

“From your book shelf where else” said Krishnan.

“It must be one of Sumi’s old text books. She did her Masters in Literature. Most of the books on the shelf were purchased by her. After she became a lecturer she moved out of the house. Now all that remains are the books.”

“You have a great collection of books in that shelf. How many have you read?”

“Not even one. I do not like to read highbrow books. I am more of a light fiction reader.”

“These are classics my friend. You can explore the world, its history, art and culture through these books. The best part is you can do all that exploring from the comfort of your living room!”

“I hated reading in school. Now it is too late to change.”

Krishnan shook his head and said, “So what do you read these day?”

“I saw an article in the newspaper yesterday. There is a new cure for cancer. Doctors in U.K have come out with a wonder medicine. It is still being tested, but they are optimistic. They think it can detect and destroy cancerous cells in the body.”

“Maybe it can be cured if detected in the initial stages. I do not think there is a cure in the final stages.”

“This cure is going to be released commercially soon.”

“Any way who wants to live forever. You are eighty-two years old now. That makes you one year younger than me. You married early, had children, then your children married. Now you are a grandfather. If that girl, your grand-daughter marries, who knows you might even get to be a great-grand father! What more do you want from life?”

“I do not want to suffer. I do not want to end up with a disease like cancer. I want a painless death!”

“If wishes were horses … you know the rest don’t you! Let us not waste our time arguing. Remember today the panchayat library is being inaugurated.”

“Oh yes! I forgot all about that. Give me a minute I will get a shawl and come.”

The two old men walked towards the library. There was no hurry. The function was at ten. It was only eight thirty. As they passed the gates of the Neyyarinkara Shree Krishna Temple, Raman stopped.

“Wait here. I have to pray. I will not take long,” said Raman and entered the temple gates.

“But you came here in the morning!”

“It does not hurt to say a quick prayer. Wait for me here.”

Krishnan moved over to a shady place and looked around for a place to sit.

“Uncle, come and sit in my shop,” said Unni who was the owner of a tailor shop nearby.

“Thanks, Unni. How is your father Gangadharan now? The last time I heard he had slipped and fractured his leg.”

“He is recovering. He is in his seventies… so you know… recovery is a bit slow.”

“I know. I am eighty-three. At my age there is no recovery! Did he slip in your house?”

“No uncle. He had gone to stay with my sister in Trivandrum. She has built a new house near Pattom. It is a huge house with lots of rooms. The floor was made of polished granite. It was slippery and Father slippedin.”

“My son Mohan, also wanted to convert all the flooring in my house to marble. I told him the rough cement floor we have at present is good enough for me. After my death, he is free to do whatever he wants. He can change it to marble, wood, concrete whatever…”

They could see Raman returning from the temple, his forehead adorned with a sandal wood paste tilak.

“‘Religion is the opium of the masses’ do you know who said that?” said Krishnan.

“Karl Marx,” said Unni.

“Right. See what it does to old people Unni! Stay away from religion and opium!”

Unni laughed as the two friends walked away.

“You are an atheist by choice. That does not give you the right to convert others to communism,” said Raman.

“Tell me my friend, what has religion done for you?” said Krishnan.

“It gives me a sense of reassurance. A feeling that someone is there looking out for me,” said Raman.

“Does that make you happy -safe?”

“Yes. I get a handsome pension. In fact, today I am earning more money as pension than what I got as salary when I was working!”

“That is your definition of being happy- making money?”

“Yes! What else is there in life. If you have money you have everything.”

They had reached the Panchayat Library inauguration venue. The show organizers were still arranging the chairs, setting up the microphones and adjusting the loudspeakers. About fifty chairs had been arranged in neat rows. Raman and Krishnan occupied two chairs in front.

“I have a cough since yesterday night,” said Raman, “Do you think it could be something serious?”


“Are you not listening? I said I have a cough since last night.”

“What cough? I have not heard you cough even once in the last two hours.”

“It comes all of a sudden,” said Raman. He tried coughing a couple of times.

“Do not make it up if it is not there.  For now, keep quiet and listen to what these people have to say.”

Two hours later the two friends were on their way back home.

“You know sometimes I wonder who will take care of me when I fall ill,” said Raman.

“Our village library should have better quality books. Something like what Kurup has at his house. I wonder if Kurup would lend some of his books to the panchayat library,” said Krishnan.

“I wonder if my children would take care of me if I were to fall seriously ill,” said Raman.

“Maybe we should ask him. Let us go to his house and talk to him,” said Krishnan.

“Do you think that is a good idea to talk to only one of them?” said Raman.

“One of them?” said Krishnan.

“Only Devan stays with me here in Neyyarinkara.  Sunil and Suma are in Trivandrum,” said Raman.

“What are you talking about? I am talking about going to meet Kurup.”


“Gopinathan Kurup.

“Why are we talking about him?”

“We should go and meet him.” Said Krishnan.

“I am talking about who will take care of me when I fall ill.”

“I am talking about us asking Kurup to loan some books for the Panchayat Library.”

“Why do we need more books in the library?”

Krishnan shook his head. “Are you coming or not?”

“You know Kurup remarried recently?”

“Yes, I heard, he married some woman he met at the festival in the temple.”

Everyone knew Kurup in the village. He lived in a huge house near the temple. He never refused any request for help. People with financial problems went to his house, told him about their problems and he helped them with small sums of money. They were free to return the money whenever they had it. He never charged any interest for this ‘help’.

`               “During the morning hours he can always be seen in the verandah reading a newspaper,” said Raman.

“I know, I have come here a couple of times to talk to him, “said Krishnan.

“Kurup!” said Raman.

There was no response.

“Kurup!” said Raman now almost shouting the name out.

Still there was no response. They looked around.

“That is strange. What was the name of that boy who worked for Kurup?”

“Satyan,” said Krishnan.

“Satya!  Satya!” said Raman.

There was no response.

“May be there is no one here,” said Krishnan, “Let us go.”

They turned and made their way towards the gates.

“What do you want?” they heard a woman’s voice from inside the house.

“We came to meet Kurup,” said Krishnan as the woman came out.

“What do you want from him? If it is money then forget it. You villagers are a bunch of free-loaders. Everyone is trying to get some money out of him.”

“Now look here,” said Krishnan, his voice tinged with anger, “We came to meet Kurup. Not everyone in this village lives on hand-outs.”

“I know your type very well,” said the woman.

“He will be in the temple,” another woman’s voice from inside the house called out. A young woman came out of the house. She said, “He must be in the temple. He can be usually found there.”

The two old men walked out of the house.

“What an arrogant woman,” said Raman, “I heard after his marriage Kurup has lost all control over his property. The woman who came out first must be his new mother in law. The other one is younger. That must be his wife.”

“Now you know why I did not marry,” said Krishnan, “I could never stand such arrogant women.”

“You never married because no one in the village was ready to marry his daughter to you. You were the fire-brand communist youth leader -in and out of jail. Who would want to marry you?”

“Ha. Well I know you meant that sarcastically but yes, that was a reason why I never thought about marriage.”

The two men had reached the temple gate.

“Can you go in and look for him?” said Krishnan.

“You want to meet him. Not me. It is you who wants to discuss about books with him.”

“Come with me, Raman. I do not know my way around a temple.”

As they walked through the gates of the temple, Krishnan said, “You know this is the first time in my life that I am entering the gates of a temple!”

“It is never too late to convert. Communism is dead. Eastern Europe, USSR all have thrown communism out. China has something that is a mix of capitalism and dictatorship.  You should start thinking about turning to religion.”

“I am impressed. For a change you are talking about issues which are not about health and medicines.” Said Krishnan.

“Is that Kurup?” said Raman.

A man was huddled in a corner of the temple. As the two men went up to him they realized it was indeed Kurup. The once handsome, well-built landlord of the village was now a thin, unkempt shadow of his former self.

“We came to talk to you about the Panchayat Library,” said Krishnan.

“The Panchayat Library?” said Kurup.

“Yes. There are very few books there. We were wondering if you would lend us a few books from your collection.”

“From my collection?” said Kurup.

“Yes! If possible. You have one of the best collection of books in the village, if not in the whole district,” said Krishnan.

Kurup did not speak for a few minutes. His eyes screwed shut he was a picture of concentration.

“I think I will donate my entire collection to the library,” said Kurup.

Krishnan almost fainted.

“All your books?”

“Yes, no body read’s them anymore. This way they will benefit the entire village. Please have someone come and take them tomorrow itself.”

“Thank you, Kurup. This village and its people will forever remember this contribution of yours,” said Krishnan.

The two friends walked back a few steps when Krishnan stopped and went back to Kurup.

“When you say all the books, you meant your copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica as well, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Take that as well,” said Kurup.

“Thank You, Kurup. Thank you very much.”

As they walked out of the temple Krishnan was charged with excitement.

“I cannot believe what just happened. Imagine we just added about five thousand books to the panchayat library. We also got the only copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica in the whole district!”

“See that is how God helps you. Remember I prayed at the temple when we started in the morning,” said Raman.

“God has nothing to do with this. Do not spoil my day by saying this was a miracle. Now I have to get someone to cart the books out of his house first thing in the morning tomorrow. We need to move fast before he changes his mind!”

A week later it was Raman who came to Krishnan’s house in the morning.

“What happened? Why are you here this early? Said Krishnan.

“Come let us go to the library. I want to read up about a few of my medical problems. The Encyclopedia is supposed to be the ultimate authority on all definitions so let me check-up some of my problems.”

“I should have known better. Why can you not go to Dr. Shivaraman and have him look at you? He retired as a Professor from the medical college. He would know what your problem is.”

“I went to him and he said it is age related. He asked me to walk regularly, eat light food and get plenty of sun light.”

“There you have it. Now why do you want to go to the library.”

“I want a second opinion.”

An hour later Raman was more confused. The explanation given to his problems only made matters worse.

“I think I have cancer,” said Raman.

“How did you arrive at that conclusion genius!” said Krishnan.

“I know. The book does not say that but I know. Cancer of the throat can start with a cough. Do you remember Dewaki? The girl who used to come to our house to sweep?”

“No, I do not remember girls who come to sweep your house.”

“Well, she had a cough for a few months. Then she went for a checkup and it was diagnosed as final- stage cancer. She died four months later.”

“There could have been a number of other reasons as well. Do not jump to conclusions. I am not a medical expert. Even then I know that one should never self-diagnose oneself. We have a small hospital in the village now. There is Dr. Shivaraman as well who can advise you.”

“I do not trust these people. This is a small village. Why would a good doctor come here? I will go to the Regional Cancer Center in Trivandrum and have this tested. Will you come with me?”

“I am not going to waste my time on such silly issues.”

“You think it is silly to treat cancer?” said Raman.

“You clown! You do not have cancer. Why are you assuming things?” said Krishnan.

“Have I ever asked you for a favor? This is the first time I am asking you to help me and you refuse?” said Raman. His voice choking with emotion.

“Ok… Ok I will come with you. Ask Dr. Shivaraman if he has any contacts in the hospital. That way it would be faster,” said Krishnan.

A week later the two friends, got on a bus which took them to Trivandrum. From the bus stop an autorickshaw dropped them at the Cancer Center. Raman had not informed his children about the trip as he did not want them to worry.

“This is a super specialty hospital. I hope you understand what you are doing. This is a place where actual cancer patients come. We are coming here just because you have a doubt in your mind. The doctors here are super-busy with patients. The last thing they want is some old man coming here just to confirm his doubts,” said Krishnan.

Raman did not answer. He was not even listening. His heart was beating rapidly. He was sure that the doctor was going to confirm his worst nightmare. He would be diagnosed with cancer and then be told that he had the most malignant form. He knew he had just a few days left to live. Raman was worried about how his wife Parukutti would live without him.

“My children will take care of her after I am gone,” Raman thought, “but I do not want to go so soon. I want to live to see Sumi’s children grow up.”

Raman began to sweat. There was a ceiling fan just above him but he still sweated. The fear of the unknown was enough to make him feel uncomfortable.

“You sit here. I will go and book an appointment,” said Krishnan and went with Raman’s documents to the reception. There was a row of chairs and Raman occupied one of the few empty seats and looked as Krishnan went and stood in a long line of people waiting at the appointment counter.

“Is anyone sitting here?”

Raman looked up and saw a middle-aged woman standing there. She held the hand of a young girl.

“No. You can sit there,” said Raman.

“Sit down Jessy. I will go to the counter and book an appointment with the doctor. Do not wander,” said the woman. The young girl sat down next to Raman. Before the woman walked away she turned at Raman and said, “Sir, please look after her. I will be back in a minute. We have come here a couple of times so I only need to check if the doctor is available.”

Raman nodded and the woman disappeared into the crowd. Raman looked at the crowd. He tried to find Krishnan in it but was not able to find him.

“Are you a patient here?” said the girl.

“What?” said Raman.

“Do you also have cancer?” said the girl.

“I do not know,” said Raman.

“I have cancer. Blood cancer. I am undergoing treatment under Dr. Swaminathan for six months now.”

Raman looked closely. Then he noticed the spots on her head where the hair had started to fall. The girl saw him look closely at her hair.

“Mother says it is because of the treatment I am getting.”

“How old are you?” said Raman.

“I am eight years old,” said the girl, “How old are you Sir?”

“I will be eighty-two this September.”

The girl thought for a minute and then said, “You are seventy fours years older than me. That is a lot of years.”

“Yes, it is a lot of years. I have children and grandchildren. My oldest grandchild is four years old.”

“I do not know if I will reach nine,” said the girl, “My mother says I will get well, but I know she just says that to keep me happy.”

“You will get well, child!” said Raman.

“How do you know? Are you a doctor?” said the girl.

“God will heal you,” said Raman.

“Mother also says that,” said the girl, “My mother is coming back.”

“Come child, lets go and see the doctor,” said the girl’s mother and lead the girl away.

“Good bye Sir!” the girl said and waved at Raman with her thin hands, “You will also get well.”

Raman got up and went towards the queue in front of the appointment counter. After a minute of searching he found Krishnan standing.

“Come let us go home,” said Raman.

“What do you mean, go home? I stood here for half an hour and now I will reach the counter in five minutes.”

“Krishna, I am perfectly alright. Let us not waste the time of the doctors here. They have more important things to do that treat an old man at the fag end of his life.”

Raman grabbed Krishnan’s arm and pulled him out of the line.

“You are a fool. First you make me stand in that line and now you say you are fine. What is the matter with you?”

“I am fine Krishnan. Come lets us go home. I am perfectly fine.”

The Theory of Nirvana

The municipal park in Neyyarinkara was frequented by young and old alike. A man dressed in saffron robes sat under a banyan tree in a corner of the park. He arranged the pleats of his robe and closed his eyes and began to meditate.

For a few minutes his mind was blank. Then he began to think.

“What if people think I am mad?”

That was a distinct possibility. People in Neyyarinkara were not much interested in religion or ascetics.

“Damn the communists,” he thought “They are spreading everywhere like a disease. What happened yesterday, may not happen here.”

The previous day he was in Kanyakumari. He was there to attend a yoga training camp. After the camp he was waiting for the bus to take him back home. There he had tried the same trick he was trying out now in the park. There he sat under a tree in a meditative pose. He had hardly closed his eyes when a foreign tourist had come up to him.

“Namaste Swami,” the man said. For a second the man did not respond. He realized that his flowing beard and saffron robes must have made the tourist think that he was a swami. He did not correct him. The tourist had a lot of questions. Question about life, death and karma. The ‘Swami’ answered all his questions. The tourist was happy. The man was also happy. He saw a lot of scope in becoming a swami. After all he knew the theory part.

“That man at least showed the courtesy of listening to me. The people in this village are hopeless.  This swami business might not work here.” The swami thought.

He had a feeling that he was being watched. He opened his eyes.

He saw a group of children staring at him. They were from the village. Summer vacations had started. Everywhere you looked you could see children running around and playing. The sight of a man with a long beard sitting with his eyes closed under a tree was too much for the children to pass. They crowded around the swami.

“Why are you sleeping under the tree?” said one of the children.

“Why are you sitting and sleeping at the same time?” said another child from the group.

“Go away. Do not disturb me,” said the swami.

“My father says all swamis are cheats,” said a child who thought he was safe as he was standing in the center of the group.

“He says that does he? You want to know what I think about your father?”

The children ran away from there laughing.

“My father is a police constable. Wait till I tell him,” the boy said as he ran away.

For a few minutes the Swami was worried. Then he relaxed. He had not said anything about the boy’s father. So, he had nothing to worry about he thought.

He resumed his posture of meditation.

Five minutes later his concentration was again disturbed when two young men came and sat next to him.

“Have you decided which movie to go to?” said one of the men.

“No. I do not have the money. I can come if you are sponsoring,” said his friend.

“Forget it. I sponsored last week’s movie as well. One of these day my father is going to beat me to death. He has not realized that I steal from his wallet. It has all been small amounts. Five rupees, ten rupees. All small notes!”

Both the friends laughed.

This disturbed the swami’s concentration.

“Can you two not make so much noise? You are disturbing me,” the swami said.

The two friends had not noticed the man sitting next to them. They both turned to face him.

“Pisharody uncle! What are you doing in this fancy dress?” said one of them and both the boys laughed.

Pisharody cringed. He preferred to be addressed as Swami ji now.

“I have become a sanyasi. Show some respect.”

This reply made them laugh all the more.

“When did you become a sanyasi? I must have missed that in the newspapers,” one of the boys asked.

Pisharody had had enough. These boys had no respect for ascetics. He got up and started walking.

“Uncle sing a bhajan or some devotional song. At least chant Hare Rama, Hare Krishna. Otherwise people would think that you are dressed for a fancy-dress contest.”

With the sound of the boy’s shrill laughter ringing in his ears, an angry Pisharody reached home.

Seetharaman Pisharody was a retired college professor. He had settled down in Neyyarinkara, the village of his ancestors. His last posting was as a professor in the University College in Trivandrum. His subject was philosophy. Early Indian Philosophy and Vedic studies were his specialty in college. He knew the scriptures and could quote and speak for hours on them. Years of repeating the same subject had imprinted all the text into his brain. It had been easy for him to answer the questions of the tourist because that is what he had done all his life as a lecturer – answer the queries of his students. He could speak for hours on religious subjects. At home though the situation was a bit different. His wife Bhavani and his two children avoided him like plague. Anyone who knew the family closely would agree that Bhavani his wife, Suma, his daughter and Vinith his son did the right thing by avoiding Pisharody.

“Why is there so much dust on the dining table,” said Pisharody as he came into the kitchen.

“I cleaned it this morning. The windows are open, the wind must be blowing in the dust,” said Bhavani his wife, trying to explain.

“You people do not value what I have done for you. All my life I struggled as a teacher earning money. Now you and your children are wasting it.”

Bhavani sighed. It looked like a long day ahead. She was sure someone must have ticked him off on the way home. That would put him in a bad mood. In a bad mood Pisharody loved to crib. Once Pisharody started cribbing it was difficult to reign him in. The trick was to let him vent. Once all the anger and frustration went out of his system, he would cool down and go to sleep. If you tried to argue with him he would explode. He was in his sixties. During the early days of their marriage he would get violent. Throw things, beat up Bhavani and the children. Age had stopped the violence. Now he cribbed. Bhavani sighed and continued washing the dirty utensils in the kitchen.

“Pisharody saar! Saar!” someone was shouting.

It was three in the afternoon and Pisharody was asleep. Bhavani went out to check.

Two young boys were standing there. With them there was a group of tourists with back packs and rucksacks on their back.

“These people wanted to talk about Indian religion and we thought Pisharody saar would be able to guide them. Also, there is no one in this village who can speak in English for more than two minutes!”

“Why did you bring them here?” said Bhavani.

“We met saar at the park today he said he had become a sanyasi. These people wanted to discuss religion so we thought it best to bring them here.”

“Become a sanyasi? When did that happen? Said Bhavani, “Wait here, he is sleeping. I will let him know.”

Pisharody was sleeping when Bhavani had come to call him. He had quickly sized up the situation and dressed accordingly. He put on his saffron robes, threw a string of prayer beads around his neck, adjusted his reading glasses and stepped out. By the time Pisharody came out, the group had arranged itself on the ground outside the house. There were about ten men and women in the group. Most of them just out of their teens.  Some of them were smoking. They had colorful beads around their necks and were wearing loose flowing dresses.

The effect was instant. The group of foreigners got up and bowed to him.

“Namaste Swami ji!” the words felt like magic to Pisharody’ s ears.

For the next two hours as Bhavani cooked in the kitchen, Pisharody espoused on the theory of Vedanta. He spoke about Karma and reincarnation. He discoursed on how religion taught us to respect others, not discriminate on the basis of gender, caste, religion or creed. The listeners were spell bound. By the time they left they had taken his photos and got his phone and address details. Seetharaman Pisharody’ s journey towards becoming Swami ji had started.

Over the months Pisharody made changes in his house. He added a large hall in front of the house. This was designated as a meditation cum visitor’s room. He added a bathroom to the hall as he spent most of his time there. He added a ceiling fan and put in a carpet on the floor. People who came in were now able to sit with ease. He arranged for drinking water in the hall. He asked Bhavani if she could serve tea to the visitors but she put her foot down.

“Why are you wasting so much money on the hall?” said Bhavani.

“What do you mean by wasting? The people who come here are from distant countries – America, England. You want me to make them sit on the ground?”

“Remember you have a daughter. She is twenty-two years old now. We have to find a good proposal for her. We will need to spend at least five lakhs on her marriage. Gold is so costly these days.”

“What did your father give me when I married you?” said Pisharody.

“You got this house. What more do you want?”

“You call this a house? This old, crumbling piece of dirt?”

“If it is crumbling and old you should have built a new one. You have also been staying in this old, crumbling house all these years.”

“I am not going to waste my money on this house.”

“Yet you do not mind spending lakhs on this hall to seat these drug addicts!”

“It is my money. The money I earned slogging all those years as a lecturer. Plus, now I have my pension money. I do not need to give you an explanation of how I spend my money.”

The door-bell rang. It was a group of three Americans. They wanted to discuss with the swami ji about meditation and peace of mind.

“Meditation is like exercise for the brain cells. Just like lifting weights builds muscles, by meditating you exercise your mind. Let me explain this with a practical demonstration. I do not want this to be a one-way session. I want you to do what I am going to demonstrate. Sit comfortably on the floor….”

Pisharody’ s voice could be heard from the hall.

“Mother, I want to discuss something important with you,” said Suma.

“Not now. I am busy. Once he is done advising the world on peace and harmony he will come barging in and start shouting and yelling if he finds lunch is not ready.”

“Have you noticed that Father has two distinct personalities. One that he displays at home and the other in public.”

“I had a problem the first few years after my marriage, but now I have grown used to it.”

“Mother, I wanted to speak to you about something important.”

“Not now. Here cut these vegetables up. Dice them up properly. You know how your father likes to have them all in small pieces. He does not like big chunks of vegetables in his food,”

The Swami liked it when there was a crowd in the hall. He has put up photos of saints and philosophers on the walls. On one side he built an altar. There he placed photos and icons representing different religions. The message being conveyed was of universal brotherhood. The idea was popular. It attracted the crowds. On days when no one came he would be grumpy. He would wait and when nobody turned up he would take it out on Bhavani. He noticed that there was a pattern. The numbers swelled and ebbed with the tourist season. It was during the summer months that the tourists poured in. Once the rains set in the numbers would drop. The swami hated the rains.

The summer was at its peak. There was a sizable crowd in the hall and the swami was in his element.

“All humans are equal. No one should discriminate on the basis of religion, caste and creed. What the hindu called jal, the muslim called pani while the Christian would call water. They are all the same…”

The audience nodded their head in agreement. The swami had memorized phrases and anecdotes which were guaranteed to put the audience in head nodding mode.  As he was speaking he saw his son Vinith rush into the house. The boy was in his twenties. He was an average student and with his grades the chances of getting a job were almost next to zero.

Pisharody thought that he was not putting in any effort to find a job instead he was wasting his hard-earned money. For a moment the Swami felt an urge to shout at him, but he controlled his anger. In his swami avatar he had to be benevolent and understanding. He would deal with that good for nothing boy later.

Vinith, Pisharody’ s son stopped for a moment. He thought he would go and talk to his father. Then he realized the consequence of the action and ran inside and went straight to his mother.

“Mother, where is Suma?” Vinith said.

“How do I know? She must be in her room,” said Bhavani.

Vinith ran towards his sister’s room. A little later he came back.

“No! She is not there. Did she tell you that she was going out anywhere?”

“No. She must have gone to her friend’s house, but she never does that without telling me first.”

“My friends told me that they saw Suma leave on a bus. She was carrying a large bag. There was boy along with her. Do you remember a tall boy in her friend’s circle? Joseph …something. I do not remember his last name.  He was with her on the bus. My friends said Suma has eloped with Joseph.”

Bhavani dropped the vessel she had in her hand. She ran towards her daughter’s room. Suma’s clothes were missing. So was a carry bag. On the table there, they found a note.

Dear Mother, Father,

I tried to talk to both of you but you were busy. I have decided to marry Joseph. He was my class mate and we have known each other since the fifth standard. He was not in favor of us eloping and suggested the we discuss with father about getting us married off. I know father. That would never happen. I am sorry this is the only way out for me.

Your daughter,


The Swami finished his lecture and the group that had assembled left. Pisharody was hungry. He was thinking about areas in his talks that he could improve. He noticed the attention of the audience flagging when he discussed certain points. At times he noticed them concentrate with full interest. He tried to discern a pattern here, areas of interest against the age of the listener. It would be better he figured, if he stuck to points that people wanted to hear. He was deep in thought as he came into the house. He found Bhavani sitting at the dinner table. There were no plates in sight. Vinith was standing with his back against the wall. Pisharody saw an opportunity to shout at his son.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to burst into the house like a mad dog? The hall is full of visitors. At least try to act like a gentleman when we have company.”

Vinith did not answer.

“Before you start off with him read this,” said Bhavani handing Pisharody the letter.

“What is this?” said Pisharody.

“It is a letter from your daughter,” said Bhavani, with tears in her eyes.

Pisharody read the letter. Then he read it again and then all hell broke loose.

“This is all your fault. You gave her complete freedom. Of all the people in the world she runs away with a Christian. That too a low-caste Hindu covert! Has she taken any money?”

Pisharody went to his room to check the money in his wallet. There was nothing missing.

“Did she take anything from you? Did you give her any money?” said Pisharody shouting at Bhavani.

“My daughter is missing and all that you are worried about is money. All this money is anyways meant for the children. What if she took some of it?”

“So, she did take my money to elope with some low-caste boy. We are Pisharody’ s – high caste Hindu’s and she runs away with a low-caste Christian convert.”

“Joseph’s father is one of the richest men in this village. They have two saw mills and a small hotel,” said Vinith.

“I knew it. You are also in with her,” said Pisharody and saw Vinith.

“I am not in this. I came to know only an hour back. Someone told me he had seen them get on a bus and leave, ” said Vinith before his father could start with him.

“At least go to the police station and submit a complaint,” said Bhavani.

Pisharody paused and began thinking.

After sometime he said, “No we cannot give a complaint.”

“Why not?” said Bhavani.

“I cannot afford to go to the police station at this time. It is the peak of the tourist season. About twenty tourists come here to listen to my discourses any given day. It will look bad for my image if this news spreads.”

“Image. All that you are worried about is your image. Your daughter is missing and you are worried about money and image?”

“Good thing you mentioned about money. From today onwards no one from this family will talk or get in touch with Suma. She will not enter this house again. I will remove her name from the will. For me she is dead. I forbid both of you from ever interacting with her.”

Bhavani looked down and shook her head in disgust.

“At least take the saffron robes and prayer beads off when you talk like this,” she said and went into the kitchen.

Months passed. Pisharody never spoke about his daughter. Bhavani and Vinith would occasionally talk about her but only when they were sure Pisharody was not there.

“There is a parcel for Pisharody saar.”

It was Narayanan the village post man at the gate.

Pisharody was not at home. He was attending a yoga camp.

“Narayanan, how is Kittu your son?” said Bhavani as she signed for the parcel.

“He is fine,” said Narayanan.

“I heard he got some award in a sports competition,” said Bhavani.

Narayanan beamed with pride.

“Tell your wife Kalyani to bring Kittu here. I have not seen the boy in ages.”

As the postman left, Bhavani looked at the parcel. It was addressed to Pisharody. It was sent from Bombay. There was a letter along with the parcel. The letter was addressed to both Bhavani and her husband. Bhavani opened and read it. It was from Suma.

My dear Mother and Father,

I know both of you are still angry with me. I am writing this to tell you I am now living in Bombay. Joseph works as a manager in a big company here. He takes good care of me and I am very happy I chose to marry him. I am sending father a present. It is a Rolex watch. I remember how much father wanted to buy one but was not able to do so because of the cost. This is our gift for father.

I hope one day you will both pardon me and accept Joseph as your son in law.

Your daughter


 Two days later Pisharody returned from the yoga camp.

“There is something that came in while you were away. Promise me that you will not start yelling,” said Bhavani.

“Tell me what it is and then I will decide if I should yell or not.”

“There is a letter from Suma and a parcel. Read it and then decide what is to be done with the parcel.”

Pisharody’ s face became tense. He grabbed the letter from Bhavani’s hands and read the letter.

“You do not have to shout. I have not opened the parcel. We can throw it away if you do not want it.”

Pisharody opened the parcel. The watch was a beautiful gold colored piece. One look at it and anyone could make out that it was costly. Bhavani stepped back. She knew Pisharody’ s temper. He could throw things and when he was in that mood it was better to be out of harm’s way. Instead of throwing it away he saw Pisharody slipping the watch on to his wrist. It was a good fit. He turned his hand this way and that admiring the watch. Without a word he walked away to his room wearing the new watch. Over the next couple of months more expensive gifts came in. A parker pen, a pure cashmere shawl. Pisharody had no problems taking these gifts.

“Suma is smarter than me,” said Bhavani to Vinith.

“Your sister understands your father better than me. Look at him. How happy he is wearing all these expensive gifts that she is sending. Every day as he steps out for his lectures he decks up like a movie star. Gold watch on his wrist, cashmere shawl draped around his shoulder. Why do you need a shawl in this hot sultry climate?”

“He carries that pen in his pocket,” said Vinith.

Both mother and son laughed.

“Karma is the sum total of what you do. In this life and in your previous lives the actions that you have performed all adds up to our Karma’s. Hindu philosophy believes in reincarnation, as does Buddhism. That is where we see a difference between Christianity and ….”

Mother and son could hear Pisharody’ s voice from the hall. A group of tourists were listening to him in rapt attention. Some of them were taking notes. While others were recording videos of the talks.

“He does not have any of these qualities he lectures about. Don’t these people deserve to know the truth about him?” said Vinith.

“I realized long ago that you do not have to run around to find God. God is a presence, which is there within each one of us. If these fools do not know that then they deserve such a teacher. They day these people will understand that they will stop coming. That is the day they will realize God.”

The Perfect Couple

Neyyarinkara was a small village with none of the trappings of the big cities. The arrival of Lata and her husband Suvarnan changed all that. Suvarnan came to the village after his appointment as the Manager of the State Bank’s local branch. He was an important man in the village hierarchy. He came in a taxi along with this wife Lata. Behind them came a truck with their belongings. Traditionally the Manager of the bank lived in a rented two-storied house which belonged to Kurup one of the richest men in the village. Suvarnan continued that tradition. It was a big house and it took two days for the Manager and his wife to settle down.

Suvarnan or Suvi as his wife called him was ambitious and hard working. He was the third-generation ‘banker’ in his family. His father had retired as a bank clerk. Suvi’ s grandfather also worked in a bank at the turn of the century. Suvi was the first in his family to became a manager. He had a few other firsts to his name. He was the first graduate and Post graduate in his family. He was also the first in his family to travel outside the state.  He set that record when he travelled to Madras to receive the best employee award for the southern region. He got the award twice. Suvarnan was ambitious. With his track record he saw himself reaching the level of a General Manager in the fifteen years.

Suvi married into a rich family. Lata’s father was a rich business man. His business interests ranged from the export of sea-foods to owning timber mills in remote hill ranges.

Suvarnan first met his father law as part of the processing of a business loan application. Lata Exporters had applied for a loan for a couple of lakh rupees. The government had rules in place to ensure that no business loan could be sanctioned without multiple levels of approval. Multiple level of approval in business meant multiple people to be taken care of.  Suvarnan knew that if he was honest and diligent he would retire as a clerk – like his father. He bent the rules a bit and the loans got sanctioned. A grateful owner of Lata Exporters was indebted to this young bank official. They became friends. That friendship developed into a relationship. Suvarnan married the only daughter of the owner of Lata Exporter’s, who was also named Lata.

Lata was a graduate, a student of the Trivandrum St. Xavier college for women. The daughter of a multi-millionaire she never had to jump on buses or walk. She had a car and a driver at her disposal throughout her school and later college years. She and the brat pack friends from the college haunted the shopping malls and theatres of Trivandrum. All that stopped or at least came to a pause with marriage. Her father arranged for three full time servants to accompany her wherever Suvarnan went. Lata would have preferred to stay with her parents but for once Suvarnan stood firm. Reluctantly she agreed to come to Neyyarinkara.

“Suvi, it is a village,” said Lata.

She has shortened Suvarnan to Suvi on the first day of their married life.

“Not exactly. More like a town. After some years it could even become a revenue district.”

“But it is still not Trivandrum!”

“Trivandrum is just twenty kilometers away. You can visit it all days of the week.”

“I do not want to visit Trivandrum. I want to live there. All my college friends are there. There are movie theatres, parks there. Places you can visit with your friends. Shops where you can buy things worth buying. This place is a village.”

“There is a cinema theatre here,” said Suvi.

“And what do they show there? Silent movies from the previous century!”

“Come on Lata! It is not that bad.”

“Not bad? This is horrible. This is my worst nightmare. The only difference is it does not end when I open my eyes!”

“We could stay in Trivandrum and I could commute daily but I do not want to spend half my day on the bus. I will remain here. If you have made up your mind then you can stay with your parents.”

Lata thought about that option for a moment. She saw that the plan had some inherent demerits. First of all, there were the neighbors.

‘Why is she staying away from her husband?’

‘Has she separated from her husband? But she was married for less than a year’

‘That girl was always aggressive, even as a child. No wonder she does not get along with her husband.’

No, that idea would not work.

“Our neighbors would make my life miserable.”

“There is another option. Stay here in Neyyarinkara. I will apply for a transfer on medical grounds. I should be able to move out in about six months.”

Lata liked this idea better.

“Six months? I want you to promise me it will be six months and not a day more.”

“I promise.”

Suvi agreed with Lata on Neyyarinkara not being a very hospitable place. Especially for someone who was born and brought up in a big city. He had promised to get her out in six months but he knew that was not a good idea. He could make up a story about not finding the climate suitable. But if he said that there was a difference of just twenty kilometers between Neyyarinkara and Trivandrum. A person who had a medical problem in Neyyarinkara would have the same problem in Trivandrum as well!

Then there was another even bigger issue. If he mentioned medical problems as a reason that would impact his career as well. Someone who was medically unfit at an age of thirty- two could have serious problems later. That could seriously impact his promotion prospects. Requesting for a transfer after just six months in an office would definitely show up as a red flag on his resume.

Suvi decided to drop the idea of applying for a transfer. That decision was easy. The difficult part was to let Lata know about it. He decided he would make her stay in Neyyarinkara as enjoyable as it would have been had she stayed in Trivandrum.

One week into their stay Suvi has an idea.

“Remember the time we had lunch at that hotel in Trivandrum. Let’s go out and have lunch in a hotel here,” said Suvarnan. He knew of a hotel which was close by. It was a place where some of the staff members in his bank usually had lunch.

Hotel Krishna was not more than a hundred meters from their house. Lata was excited about the visit. It was the first time she would be leaving her home after coming to the village. She wore her finest silk saree for the occasion. The walk up to the hotel should have given them a hint of what to expect. People on both sides of the street stopped to watch them. Lata felt like she was a movie star and lapped up the attention.

The hotel sign had a few words missing and said ‘Hote K ishn ’.

Inside the hotel the seating arrangement consisted of cracked benches and wobbly stools. The floor was plastered mud. The roof was cracked in places and sunlight streaked through those holes. Husband and wife tried to find a clean table. There were none. A radio was playing old movie songs in a corner. There were some patrons, all of them men a few of them shirtless, were having lunch in the hotel. They all stopped eating and looked at this couple dressed in fine clothes standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.

“Saar! What happened? Are you lost?” a man came running from behind the counter.

“We came to have lunch here,” said Suvarnan.

“You want to have lunch here?” said the man unable to decide if what he had heard the bank manager correctly.

“Yes.” Said Suvarnan still hoping to salvage something out of this disaster.

The man stood there looking at them, he looked at their fine clothes and then at the benches in his hotel.

“Sit here Saar,” the man said.

He wiped a bench and chair in the corner of the room with a piece of cloth.

Lata collapsed on one of the wooden stools. She had not recovered from the shock of seeing the hotel. She forgot all about the expensive silk saree she was wearing and just sat there too shaken to say a word.

Suvi saw her expression and he tried to act normal.

“What is on the menu?”

“Menu?” said the man.

No one had ever asked for a menu in his hotel since the time his grandfather had started the business.

“What can we eat here?” said Suvi changing the question to suit the environment.

“Saar. You can have rice and fish. We only have that.”

“Can you get us a cup of tea?” said Suvi.

The man placed two small glass cups of tea before the couple.

As if in a dream Lata reached for her glass. It had a crack on the side. Something was floating in it.

“There is something in the tea,” said Lata her voice cracking.

The hotel owner peered into her tea cup and saw an ant floating in it.

“It is only an ant. Must have been in the sugar. Here let me take it out,” he said and put his finger in the cup and after a few attempts was able to successfully take the now dead ant out.

“Let us go home,” said Lata whispering.

Suvi has seen some of these people who were eating in the hotel in his bank. He knew he could not just leave the place without at least drinking the tea. They would feel offended. He took a few sips of the tea.

“Do not drink the tea,” said Lata whispering again.

The tone was slightly different now. Suvi realized it was time he paid for the tea. The couple got up and made their way out. Lata did not speak on the way back home. Suvi did not insist. They did not speak for a week.

“Do you think I am putting on weight?” said Lata. The episode at the ‘Hotel’ was forgotten and the warring factions were back on talking terms.

Suvi knew this was a trick question. Whatever the answer she would get angry. He chose to be diplomatic. He asked her a question back.

“What makes you think you are putting on weight?” said Suvi.

“I am filling out my clothes. Look at this blouse. It is now tight around the sleeves. It was loose at the time of my marriage,” said Lata.

“I think you look just the same.”

“No! I know I am putting on weight. I think I should start doing exercise.”

“Exercise? What exercise?”

“I will go jogging. During my school days I used to be good at sports. Wake me up at six in the morning. I am going for a jog. I have my old track suit. I will wear that. The road outside out house is just perfect. There is never any traffic on the road. Good thing I bought my jogging shoes along.”

“You bought your jogging shoes with you. I did not know you were an athlete while in school,”

“You do not know a lot about me, mister. Wake me up at six tomorrow.”

The next morning at six sharp Bank Manager Suvarnan’ s house was a scene of hectic activity. Lata squeezed into a track suit and put on her jogging shoes and as the clock struck six fifteen she was on her way. The road before her house was usually empty.

She had run about ten meters when she started panting. She slowed. The panting did not stop but increased. She started walking. A group of women were coming from the other side of the road. They had baskets full of vegetables balanced on their heads. The women were on their way to the village market. The sight of a woman in figure-hugging clothes stopped the women in their tracks. The women had seen such dresses in movies. They stood there with their mouth wide open. One of the women was so shocked she lost control of her basket. All the contents of the basket spilled on the street.

Dineshan, a young man who milked cows was coming from the opposite site. Dineshan forgot he was riding a bicycle as Lata went past him and crashed into a lamp post. He fell flat on one side of the street while his bicycle rolled over and fell on the other side.

Lata continued, un-concerned with the events unfolding behind her. She jogged for about ten more meters and then stopped. Her knees and ankles were hurting. Her breathing could be heard at a distance of a hundred meters. She turned and started back. She passed Dineshan again. This time he stopped his cycle and looked at her. Lata walked on. By now the women had gathered all the vegetables scattered on the road and had placed them in the basket. They were smarter than Dineshan and did not place the baskets on their heads. They stood there and watched Lata as she slowly hobbled past them and disappeared around the bend.

“So how was your morning run?” said Suvi as he saw Lata stagger back ten minutes later.

“Not bad,” said Lata. She did not elaborate further.

“You said you were good at sports when in school. Which sport were you good at?”

“Carroms!” said Lata, “I am tired now. Tomorrow I will run for an hour at least.”
That tomorrow never came. The next day Lata woke up with an intense pain in her legs muscles. The pain was such she was unable to walk properly for a week. By the time the pain subsided the track pants and jogging shoes were back in the box.

“Why don’t we go for a movie?” said Suvi one day.

“Have you seen the theatre in this village?” said Lata.

“From the outside? Yes. It would not be all that bad. Let us go there once. There is a new movie showing there this week.”

That Sunday Lata was more careful with her dress. After the experience with the ‘hotel’ she had packed all her silk sarees away. Instead she selected a plain churidar. That decision proved to be unwise. In sleepy Neyyarinkara where wearing a silk saree was a novelty donning a churidar was a revolution.

Lata was the cynosure of all eyes.

“Is she a Muslim?” she heard some say.

“Must be. She wearing a Muslim dress. Maybe she is a Punjabi!”

Lata thought she would correct them, but Suvi restrained her.

“Let them say what they want. They are villagers. They have not seen this dress before.”

The theatre was a large rectangular hall with chairs. The roof was corrugated iron sheets. Ceiling fans provided the cooling effect inside the theatre, but once the doors were shut it was like being slow-roasted inside an oven.  The crowd was boisterous. Cat calls, whistles and witty comments flowed in all direction throughout the movie. By the time the movie ended Lata and Suvi were drenched in sweat. They rushed out of the theatre both sure that they would not be returning any time soon. This time there was silence in the house for two weeks.

“Why don’t we call-on our neighbor’s?” said Suvi.

“We do not know them,” said Lata.

“Exactly. That is why we should go and meet them. That way we can, you can make some friends here and may be then life would not be so boring in this village.”

This time Lata wore a simple cotton saree. Not exactly the type that women wore at home but also not the kind that dazzled and stunned.  A few hundred meters from their house there was a beautiful cottage. A family had moved in that house and Suvi thought this was a good opportunity to get to know them.

“This man bought this house with a loan from our bank. I think his name is Chandran,” said Suvi as they neared the house.

As Lata and Suvi walked up to the door the door opened and a man stepped out.

“You must be the new family which has moved in,” said Lata.

“Yes. My name is Chandran and this is my wife Savitri.”

“We are your neighbors. My name is Lata. This is my husband Suvarnan. He works in a bank. I call him Suvi. He said you took a loan from his bank.”

“Yes, we needed a loan to buy this house,” said Chandran.

Lata clasped Savitri’s hand and said, “I am happy that you came in here. Now I will not be bored. I came to invite both of you for dinner at our place.”

Lata now had a friend in the village.

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