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THE PRICELESS SMILE



Seemingly ordinary people sometimes leave behind an everlasting fragrance when their lives cross yours.

Ramji entered my life when I was a lad of ten. He was around for only a year but he left an indelible impression which I still carry around.

Those days, poverty was always hovering around us, seeking a foothold. My father had to start conducting home tuitions for a living.

One day, a tall, stocky youth walked in,introducing himself as an inter student who had just completed his first year. He handed dad a sheaf of papers-his most recent Mathematics evaluation paper. 

Papa said, “Three marks out of a hundred and fifty, in Mathematics-- I see! What do you expect me to do? I am a teacher, not a magician.”

“Sir, I am Ramji..Made my mama weep with that wretched answer paper.”

With that, he literally fell at my papa’s feet and said, “Please help sir- I must make her smile next time.”

My papa who had seen many varieties of young rascals by this time, looked quite unimpressed with the theatrics; “That’s all very well, but you need to work a lot, and.. ah, pay my fees in time.”

It killed him to talk about payment to a youth like that, but he had seen many who cheated even on that paltry amount of a few rupees.

Ramji , however proved to be a different sort of person.He simply wanted to bring back the smile to mom’s face.

He would turn up without fail every single day at 4 AM and knock at the door of the rear portion of the house where Papa and I used to sleep.

 Papa used to tell in wonderment that in order to reach our place at 4 AM on his ancient jalopy of a bicycle, Ramji would have to get up at least by 3AM.

I would sometimes, from my adjoining bed behind a make shift half curtain watch the tuition proceedings slyly through one half open eye. Except for the krr ..krr of chalk on slate and an occasional exchange between teacher and taught, there would be no other noise whatever. I would then lazily go back to sleep.

Ramji’s commitment was total. His plans were only for a year. Between them, papa and he tackled almost every possible Mathematics problem that could stand in the way of Ramji and his mummy’s elusive smile. And then revision!

I had not seen my father putting such effort either. It was almost as if both were possessed.

Needless to say, Ramji scored hundred percent in Mathematics in his twelfth. What to say of such an achievement!

When he prostrated full length in front of his Guru- typical Indian style, my papa’s eyes were moist.

“How can I ever repay you for helping me make my mother happy?” asked Ramji.


My father gave his typical good humored smile and answered, “You have already paid me in full by demonstrating to me the awesome power of unselfish love.
                         


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LINGUA-WOES

A Tamil gentleman nearly got clobbered when he appreciated the food served for lunch at his Telugu friend’s place.

The poor guy innocently said ‘Pramadham’ which means ‘Excellent’ in Tamil, but unfortunately means ‘Danger’ in Telugu!

‘Tamasha’ means ‘light stuff’, ‘Comedy’ etc in Malayalam, but beware if you use it flippantly with the Hindi speaking people.

Indiscreet use of this word- which means a street dance or something in Hindi- is not received kindly by them.

The simple word ‘Avasar’- which also is a Sanskrit root word- means ‘Occasion’ in Hindi; ‘Avasaram’ means ‘Requirement’ in Telugu; ‘Opportunity’ in Malayalam and ‘Hurry’ in Tamil!

There must of course be several such examples in the various languages ‘spooken’ in our delightful India.




RIGHT WRONG

Seeing her eyes glow in excitement,
Obviously though she has it all wrong,
I rush to grab the correction opportunity,

Till I have another look at the gleam in her eyes.

Hell, I think, let me be wrong a hundred times over,
If only to preserve that glorious joy,

Rather than prove her wrong
And watch her enthusiasm wither.

THULABARAM

There is, in the Lord's Abode in Guruvayoor,
A common balance for weighment of offerings.

It's called Thulabaram.

Only, it is anything but common.

A priest there is entrusted the task
Of weighing the offerings you committed
To Lord Krishna.

It may be a few kilos of some vegetable
Or fruit, grains or sugar or what you will.


But it got to be necessarily what you committed!

For,

Have seen with my own eyes
The priest struggling to weigh
A couple of kilos or maybe three
Of a certain vegetable, think it was yam.

But it simply wouldn't balance, though he
Kept on heaping the yam on it!

Then, on the priest's asking,
The devotee said he had thought
Of a different vegetable, maybe raw banana,

But had settled for yam since he couldn't
Get the banana.

The priest quickly removed the yam
Asked the devotee to be back
With the vegetable committed!

Only then, the priest said with conviction,

The weighment would happen.