For all those who know Tamil, I need not explain what ‘Kaadhal’ means. And for all those who don’t, ‘Kaadhal’ means ‘Love’. Now you might wonder what is the relationship between kites, colours and love. Well, just give some wheels to your eyes and let them run through the lines below!
My long time relationship with my bed came to an abrupt end with the early morning slokas and prayers that were putting the entire house in vibrate mode. I called upon one of my sleepy eyes to check the time, and what I saw served to be a disastrous damage to my image. It was 7.30 in the morning. The sun had not yet risen; the chill had not yet settled, and first of all, it was not morning at all. For me, (and hopefully for all other guys of my age), mornings started around 10 AM, and waking up before that meant to be one of the biggest sacrifices in my life, and which I was not ready to make. Ignoring the outer world, I slowly returned under the bed sheet and was back to savouring the sweetness of sleep.
Minutes later, I was woken up by my mother’s fresh voice from the kitchen. Her 20 second speech contained all the statements that could fit in between two reasons; one, why I should wake up early at least during the time of a festival; two, and why I don’t. Her timely oratorical skills were so amazing that my sleep scampered away in seconds, and I made a rickety walk towards the kitchen just to understand what was happening around me. At 7 hours 35 minutes and 30 seconds, to be precise, I had made the discovery. It was sankranthi (The telugu festival of Pongal). And my freshly bathed amma was making pongal. Sweet pongal. I made an instant exit from the kitchen as my taste buds seldom had the habit to welcome anything that tasted sweet.
Having completed the second most toughest job of the day, that is, taking bath, I felt a status of victory. But it didn’t take much time for me to realize that that status was crumpled by my mom when she handed over a hot box of sweet pongal asking me to give it to the neighbour. And the reason for this – our neighbour aunty was less of a human being and more of a scary structure spitting out rapid fire questions and eye-watering lectures. Her tongue never tended to rest when I came under her eyes; I always became the victim of ‘academic’ molestation whenever I passed by her house. Her queries about the marks I had scored and my rank in the class made my mind shiver with terror each time I saw her doorstep (I had to pass her house to board the bus to my college, and for this very reason, there were several instances of me bunking college altogether)
The two minute walk towards our neighbour’s house seemed like a life-sucking journey towards an area of devastating questionnaire. I tended to play all sorts of humiliating possibilities within my mind in order to make my mind ready to face the situation. I faintly knocked the door, hoping that it would remain closed forever. The bucket of my fortunes turned upside down when the door opened and the lady received me with a ‘devouring’ smile. She welcomed me and offered me a seat in her cushioned sofa, which I thought was destined to soon become my deathbed. I decided to make a quick move and hand her the box, when she very politely asked me how I was, staring at me as though I have been suffering from academic malnutrition.
She began her round of questions by asking me about my future plans. I pretty clearly understood that uttering the truth (that I wanted to become an actor and a politician) would push me into ditches of misery; and hence, I chose to lie.
‘Software Engineer.’ I said with a smile that had a hard time coming up.
‘Very good.’ She said and then entered the deadly zone of rapid fire questioning.
Right from Charles Babbage to Bill Gates, whatever little she knew about computers, she asked me. For a few seconds, I was swept with waves of verbal torture. After nearly twenty minutes of my fateful stay in the house, I made my much relieved exit. In between, the lady had once offered me a cup of coffee; I presumed that was a rather hidden attempt of her to prolong her much enjoyed oratorical harassment on me. Without turning back, I made a fast pace footing out of the front gates and towards my home. And suddenly realization struck me; I still had the hot box of sweet pongal in my hands. Or cold pongal, I should say. Should I go back and give her? The cynical me raised the question. I can’t put my 19 year old life at stake just for the sake of some cold pongal; the wise me replied. And I felt meaningful to go on with the later’s opinion. I flipped open the box. The pongal aroused my salivary glands, but the thought that it tasted sweet cut off my gustatory sense. I sighed and looked around; the surroundings appeared black and white. Dull, dry and dead. The lecture effect, I thought.
As I was walking my way back with my eyes wandering around, I felt something under my feet. I looked down to find a red coloured flying kite sandwiched in between my chappals and the ground. I picked it up. The kite had suffered a few ruptures, and I began to look around, trying to figure out its place of origin. Right then, a few kids came running down the stairs of an adjacent building towards me. As I was about to return them their piece of possession, I witnessed something else. Something that transformed the entire environment around me into a vast palette of colours, something that replaced my harassed mind with cupid’s arrows, and something that made the cold pongal turn hot again. Yes, I saw her. I saw someone whom I had never seen before, but still felt a sense of unimaginable closeness. My eyebrows opened up to their widest angles, and my eyeballs bulged out to their farthest distances.
It took me a few moments to come out of this ocean of magic. The kids looked at me crossly as I ignored them and returned the kite to her, whom I intend to call, the xerox copy of my heart. Her charm was so intense, that it penetrated through my eyes and touched my heart. ‘Thanks.’ She said with a smile that warmed me, and the pongal even more. ‘Happy Sankranthi’ I said offering her the box of pongal. She looked at me with eyes that brimmed with confusion for a moment; and then she smiled again, this time with hesitation. Upon my insistence, she took the box, and in the process, our fingertips came into a faint contact. Till then, my heart was taking crazy jumps between my head and heels. And right then, after the ‘touch’, I realized that my further stay there would excite my heart to such an extent that it would break its way out through my brains. She thanked me again.
I saw her leave and every detail of her seemed to get imprinted in my mind. Her black hair, brown eyes, pink lips, and above all, the smile that diluted every other colour known to mankind; the smile that outran the colours of all the kites flying in the sky put together. Maybe, this is how one feels when he takes a magical dip into the sea of love.
When I returned home amma asked about the box.
‘She loved the pongal. Wanted some more.’ I said hoping to get another chance to visit the newly discovered beauty of my life.
I helped myself with a number of servings of sweet pongal and made my way to the sofa.
‘Since when did you start liking sweet pongal?’ My confused amma asked.
‘When did I say I didn’t like it?’ I said.
Pongal couldn’t have been sweeter.