21st January 2008
My story telling attitude, developed into writing, when I was thirteen years old. I started writing stories, in whatever paper available to me. On those days, we could not afford to purchase papers to write. Purchasing the required note books for the school education itself, was a tough task.
Even though my father's grandfather was a very rich man in the village, having one third of the cultivable lands in the village, by the time my father grew and got married, they were left with no land for cultivation. It appears, my father's grandfather, and my grand father, were selling the available lands for living and for celebrating the marriages of the girls in the family.
My father was forced to take some lands on lease, and cultivating them with an agreement for a percentage on yield, from those lands. My father was a very strong man, even though, he was vegetarian. When a paddy bag, consisting more than 100 kilos, has to be lifted and placed in the bullock cart to dispatch them to the mills or for home, it will be lifted by two or three labourers (mind you these labourers were non brahmins or Harijans who take non vegetarian). When two or three labourers were engaged in lifting the bag from one side, my father could single handedly do it from the other side.
Once, when he got annoyed with a person in the village, he could not find any stick nearby to beat him. He lifted the wooden portion of a bullock cart, ( N(M)ugaththadi, which will be 5 feet in length, and having 6 or 7 inches of diametre) where the bullocks are tied to pull the cart, to hit him. People used to tell me that he looked like "bheema lifting Gadha". Luckily that person ran away.
But my father was very soft by nature, even though he used to talk very loud. He was of very helping nature. He was always silent, talking only if necessary, and never revealed what he felt. But inside his heart, he always had soft corner for all the near and dear and loved every one of them, even though he never expressed it. All our relatives, could not believe themselves, whenever he expressed some concerns for the relatives. All our relatives respected him and appreciated him for his helping nature, except my eldest uncle, who hated him, because my father's mother ill treated my mother.
In addition to cultivation, he was also procuring paddy from cultivators, and selling them to rice mills, which used to be about 10 kilo meters away. He used to get commission for each bag he has procured and handed over to mills. Even though, he was honest, he was not a very shrewed man and so he incurred losses in agriculture as well as in business. He used to procure things at higher price and sold at lesser price, to meet his demands and everyday requirements.
When I was doing business, this attitude, was inherited by me, without my knowledge, about which I will explain later.
He was very courageous man. When the entire people in the village, dare not go out after 9.00P.M, because of the darkness, he used to come back from the mill even after twelve in the night. When people talk and tremble about ghosts seen here and there, he never used to care and fear for anything.
Once, in my Grandfather's village, when we go to the river bank after dark, we used to hear a feeble woman's sound as "Ayyo, ayyo". The whole village was trembling with fear, stating Visaalam ( a widow who committed suicide, because, she became pregnant after having an illicit affair with a person) is crying. One day, when I was walking with my father, after dark, towards my grandfather's house, I heard the sound. I was scared to death, and was holding my father's hand.
My father questioned me " why your hand is trembling?' .
I told him in a weak voice, "Are you not hearing Visaalam crying "Ayyo ayyo?"
He stopped a while and sharpened his ears. The sound was coming. I told him with more fear, "see! she is crying."
He laughed, and then told me "there is nothing like ghost."
"Then, what is this sound. Some lady is crying in a feeble voice "Ayyo ayyao". How can a lady be here at this dark hour in this place?"
He patted me back and said " you fool. there is no lady here and she is not crying. Look at the distance. There are bamboo trees. When these trees rub with each other, because of the wind, a sound is created, and this sound appears to be "ayyo ayyo".
"Then why this sound not coming during the day time? Are not these trees rubbing each other during day time? There are winds even in day time".
He patted me and said," Yes. there is wind even in the day time, and they rub each other even in day. But, during the day, because of the various other sounds, we do not hear that. If you go near the bamboo trees,even in the day time and when they rub, you will hear that. It is very quiet in the night and there are no other sounds, so even this minute sound is heard."
This incident, made me to think rationally, in every action. I started questioning various aspects, in every incident, and tried to find out whether there is any other angle could be there. It also helped me and induced me to learn more about superstitious things. Otherwise, I would have grown with various ghosts like other village boys, fearing for"Amukku Pisaasu" (Pressing ghost)
"Kollivai pisaasu " ( ghost with fire mouth) etc etc. I found out scientific reasons for all these various ghosts prevailing in villages(even in cities, at later part of my life) from my science teacher and he used to explain me with great interest, because, he rarely found any student dared to ask very existence of these things.
There is a proverb in Tamil, "Paambai kandaal padaiyum nadungum" meaning even the army will be afraid of snake. But my father was never afraid of snakes. If he happened to see a snake, he will kill it immediately, if it is poisonous. If he does not find any stick near by to kill it, he used to catch it with its tail, and rotate it over his head four or five times, and kill it by hitting it forcibly on the floor or a nearby stone. In our village, if a snake comes in any body's house, even the male member in the house will shout " call vaithu( that was my father's short name). a snake is here!" and my father will be summoned immediately and he will go and kill it.
It is a great irony, finally, he died of a snake bite.