Friday, September 13, 2013

A STRANGER ...... - 6

Srimate ramanujaya nama:

Priya arangan adiyar,

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 "A Stranger"


Happy with what was offered to us in the tirumanjanam, we turned away from the sannidhi and acknowledging the presence of the Huge Garudalwar on the way from the prasadam-stall, traversed the rest of the temple in earnest. All were hungry. I was the most. I was so drawn to the children that I forgot the presence of a friend and his hospitable family awaiting me. But I could not severe the growing bond with the children and hence decided to be with them rather than go to his house. But this was a gurukulam and I was still a stranger. Such organizations were not darmasalas and had formalities and I had to seek permission to be with them. I had made up my mind to be with them for the entire day and even sleep in the Gurukulam if I was allowed.

Finding the office of the Gurukulam, which I came to know later, was Srimaan Trust, I stood at the door first and slowly moved in. A few women were sitting, chopping and cutting vegetables. A few men were packing something. And a few others animatedly discussed what to take for some evening stotra class. I asked one of them if I could stay at the Gurukulam for the day and explained my motive. I was handed to another. And an other. Finally one woman made a thorough check of my intentions and a little dissatisfied, asked me to wait. She then called someone, whom I assumed had the authority to decide my stay or abandonment, and spoke feebly. Finally, I was given the green signal but she cautioned me with a list of “what not to do at the Gurukulam” like a good traffic cop who catches a fellow without helmet and gives good advice. Their absolute concern for the safety and well-being of the children baffled me. They seemed to have such parental concerns that I felt a kind of gratitude towards them. 

My interest prompted them to give me the Trust’s Spiritual diary and a discourse DVD which came along with it. They told me a purchase of 10 Diaries would fetch a Sriranga vasam card which would entitle my family a stay at the Gurukulam for a day. I bought ten immediately since I knew it had the double benefit of giving me another day at the Gurukulam and also that the money out of the sale would be used for the children. Carrying the Diaries and DVDs in my hand, I moved out of the office in pursuit of the Gurukulam children who were on their way to the Gurukulam. I could not find them on the roads. My hunger was terrible and my legs swallowed the road in long gulps and took me to the Gurukulam a little quickly than I could give them credit for. Now, I clearly saw the dark pink building in daylight and recognized the huge banner that hung by its sides. I couldn’t read it in the pre-dawn darkness. The drawing of a beautiful Ramanujar accompanied by the words “Srimaan Bhattar Gurukulam” in a bold readable font invited my attention. I then looked at the gate, the stone slab I sleepily slid into that morning and of course the four steps I had the chance of repeatedly seeing so many times that morning.

The children were inside, some in the front rooms, some in the first floor, some calmly in the restroom and some washing the clothes and hitting their clothes on the washing stone with all the power they could generate. Kutti payyan was upstairs sitting and drawing something on a paper. I got behind him without his knowledge and saw what he was drawing. He was trying to draw Namalwar. I could easily tell that from the sitting posture, the tree behind him and from a few other peculiarities. I could observe that he commenced this drawing some other time and had put the pencils to rest for the temple visit. Now, he resumed whatever was left. The picture was very cute, though Namalwar looked a little too serious than I could picture him. And there was a big real Peacock feather pasted on his tuft. It far exceeded the size of Namalwar’s tuft and proceeded to occupy territories beyond the paper. I was puzzled .Why a peacock feather for Namazhwar? Kutti Payyan looked back at me and ignoring my puzzled look resumed the little decoration that was left. Once he completed, he came rushing to me and showed his handiwork with a beaming eye I could associate only with a Picasso or Ravi Varma. I patted on his back for sometime and asked why he put a Peacock feather on Namazhwar. The boy seemed surprised at my supposed display of ignorance. He said “ Krishar bakthi dhaan namazhwar. Krishnar ku mayil peeli undu dhanee? Adhaan ivarkum poten” (Krishna bakthi is Namazhwar. Does Krishna not have peacock feather on him? So I put one for azhwar too.)


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