Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sunday morning I am woken up from my slumber by the evergreen Beatles song-“I Just Want to Hold Your Hand”- the ring tone on my mobile phone. I reach for my phone and answer the call-“Still sleeping, I have some news for you.” My grandfather’s authoritative voice wakes me up from the last remnants of my slumber. “Hello Thatha, good morning-what happened?”

“Seshu, kalyana patrikkai vandrukku. Ponnu yaar theriyima?-Meena.” [“Seshu a marriage invitation has come; do you know who the bride is? Meena.”]

I stare at the sea from my apartment window and manage to ask-“When is the marriage?”

“Next Sunday at the Krishna Temple in our village; be there.” Before I can reply my grandfather has disconnected the phone.

I kept the phone on my table and walked to the veranda, a cool breeze was blowing and the cloudy sky forecast rain. In the distance on the beach, the fishermen are returning with a fresh haul of fish from the sea.

I open a pack of cigarettes, light one, inhale the nicotine, and close my eyes. Everything is as clear as if the incident happened yesterday. It is strange when I realize that twelve years have passed since Meenu Kutty left me.

My father was a marine engineer and was posted in Dubai. I had lost my mother when I was three. I grew up in the loving care of my grandparents. Father used to come home on a one-month vacation every year, then he would be gone and I would once again have just my grandparents for company.

Thatha was a retired postmaster and Patti was a music teacher. I used to study at the St. Mary’s School, which lay across the river. I had to travel on a boat, which would ferry me to the school.

Meena was Raghu uncle’s daughter. Raghu uncle was the village administrative officer. Meena’s mother was Sheela teacher, my Geography teacher. They were our neighbours.

My first memories of Meena are that of a beautiful girl in a blue and gold ‘pavadai-davani’ [half-saree], with jasmine flowers in her hair and a smile on her face, singing “Alai Payudhe Kanna…” in grandmother’s music class.

I was a shy boy and had no friends except Meena. Meena was my classmate in school; the two of us would play together, go fishing in the pond near our house, and steal mangoes from the orchard. Life went on at its own sweet unhurried pace. Thatha would make fun of me saying “Dei Seshu, Meena kitta mattikitaya, [Hey Seshu got caught by Meena]; she is going to marry you and torment you like your Patti torments me.”

It was Meena’s tenth birthday; and her parents had organized a grand party. Meena was wearing a pink frock with a red belt. She looked like an angel. She cut the cake, and I gave the birthday present to her. It was a novel by Enid Blyton, which Thatha had carefully gift wrapped. During the party Meena came to me and said-“Seshu, thank you for the lovely book. I too have something for you.” She took out a small toy figurine of my comic superhero Batman and gave it to me. “Seshu, Appa has got a promotion and a transfer, we are leaving for Chennai tomorrow.” I was shocked. Meena was leaving me, no more hide-and-seek, no more singing, and no more fishing. I held her hands in mine and said-“Goodbye Meenu Kutty, best of luck.” I ran to my house without turning back, as I did not want her to see me crying.

The next morning they came to say goodbye. They took the blessings of Thatha and Patti; I had made a small card for Meena. I had drawn a rose and written-“Best of luck Meenu Kutty.”

That was the last time I saw her.


I finished my sixth cigarette, and went to the bathroom. As I stood under the shower the cold water soothed the conflicting emotions in my heart. I dried my hair and went to the cupboard and took out an old tin box. My box of childhood memories, I took out the Batman figurine that Meena had given me. I look at it and decide that I will go to her marriage.

The following Sunday I am at the Krishna Temple in my village. My grandparents are sitting in the front row as Raghu Uncle supervises the proceedings. On seeing me he smiles and beckons me to come and sit in the first row.

Meena is looking pretty in her red ‘madisar saree’ [traditional bridal saree], the groom is fair and well built, he looks dashing in his ‘pattu veshti’ [silk dhoti]. The priest shouts ‘Gettimelam’ and the groom ties the ‘thaali’ [mangalsutra] on Meena’s neck to the accompaniment of the mridangam and nadaswarams.

I wish the couple good luck and give Meena her wedding present-a blue and gold silk saree. Meena is looking as pretty as a fairy. She introduces her husband to me-“Yennanga, this is Seshu Anna my childhood friend.” I shake hands with Ashok her husband and bid them goodbye.

As I leave the temple, I turn around to have one final glance at Meenu Kutty.

I do not see a newly married bride; all I see is a shy beautiful child in a blue and gold ‘pavadai-davani’ with jasmine flowers in her hair and a smile on her face singing “Alai Payudhe Kanna...”

1 comment:

Aswin Kini said...

That's a very beautifull short story. Guess this happens to everyone of us in our lives. Keep posting such lovely stories da.

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