In those high and far off times, oh best beloved, a miracle happened in the new hill station of Kodaikanal. I was not yet born and neither was Packiamma, but she heard about it from her step-father who heard the tale from the cook’s grandson himself, so it must be…
On the night he died, the heavens opened and torrents of rain were released. The crops which had shriveled from a prolonged drought put out succulent shoots. Whenever it rains, we remember him, our old gardener and friend.
I love watching Ramu work. It’s as though he polishes the fabric with his brass iron. The surface of his homemade table is covered with ten layers of folded cotton blankets and a blue checked cotton lungi. To the right is a bowl with water that he sprinkles over the clothes in the ‘inbox’. The charcoal iron had been lit in the morning and swung back and forth to awaken the red coals. Even when stationary, convection currents suck air up through the embers and out the little top vents.
The American government welcome policy is very less. So I am stand there blinking and one nice lady with pink hair is come over to me, “You look lost. Can I help you, sir?” She adviced me to take the light train into town. No heavy train available. So I am thank the above mentioned lady and proceed down the long escalation staircase to buy ticket. But no ticket counter. No railway clerk. Nobodies and nothings.
“What kind of useless female are you?” my father-in-law said. He slapped her hard, but she showed no emotion.
“Leave her,” my uncle said. “A ghost must have entered her. I’ll go call the mandravathi. He’ll know how to cure her.”
The bore well drilling rigs where Suresh worked were decorated with flowers and curvy maidens. Even the wheel nuts were painted like hexagonal candies, but that’s not how he would remember those days. To him, the machines had been his prisons, the ravagers of youth.
“Teacher!” Andry frowned at the 7th grade girl who often disturbed the class.
“Sweetie’s cheating. She’s copying us.”
Sweetie was a new 5th grader who had just enrolled in the village school. Backiam grabbed Sweetie’s arm and dragged her towards Andry. Sweetie tried to pull away. Backiam’s friend Durga pushed from behind until the two girls had hauled Sweetie in front of Andry.
The stone mason from our village is built like a boulder, barrel-chested and thick. In his youth, he was a silambam master, versed in the Tamil martial art of fighting with bamboo sticks. Now his weapons are the hammer and an array of home-forged chisels. His opponents are rough chunks…
“The priest demanded that the spirit come out. ‘I won’t come out unless you give me ribbons, sandalwood powder and nice jasmine flowers,’ the ghost said.”
“Little girl, I’m going to tear you to shreds and toss the pieces in the trash! How dare you get a tattoo from that Jackal Lady without asking my permission!” “But it’s so beautiful, Appa. And all my friends are getting tattoos.” “You’ll have that…mess for the rest of…