Chandrakala visited Govindan’s family. She happened to be his daughter, Prameela’s classmate-cum-friend, since their schooldays. She sought his blessings first, then gave her wedding card to him. Govindan was at first, surprised. Normally, the invitation card would be given by parents only, unless otherwise, the marriage did not have their approval. But in her case, as they were not keeping well, she came in person. She cordially invited both Govindan and Kokila and insisted on their hundred percent presence. They too assured her of their coming. Kokila was very happy that at last Chandrakala got a man of her dreams, -- a man with a job at America. Soon after marriage, she would be going there.

Govindan asked Kokila to get a suitable gift for the girl. It was generally her domain, to go for shopping. First, he gave her a big note, but on second thoughts, he took it back and asked her to go for a smaller gift. Kokila felt it would not be nice to be stingy. After all, Chandrakala was as much as their own daughter and was associated with them from childhood. Since, Govindan was known to be jerky and moody, she did not argue with him. Who knows! He might even refuse to come for the marriage on some flimsy grounds. One thing she noticed. He had some sour misgivings. Poor girl. Kokila fondly remembered that in a family function held three years ago, she volunteered herself and took up many things upon her shoulders. The function went of well. Kudos to her.

Both Kokila and Govindan graced the occasion of Kala’s marriage with their ‘small’ gift. As a bride, she was well decked up and bright and cheerful. Her parents also were happy, but they were a bit disturbed as they would be missing her, soon after marriage. She would be leaving for America with her hubby in another ten days. Before she would leave, they had to complete many formalities, including visiting Tirupati Balaaji temple, along with the newly wedded couple.

Two days later, Kala’s father telephoned and enquired if he could spare a suitcase, to enable them to go on a day’s trip to Tirupati. He took liberty, to ask him for the suitcase, because their house was all, in a mess after the marriage and was yet to be set right. Govindan immediately remembered the suit case he got as gift for their wedding anniversary, some three years ago. Kokila said, it was there on the loft. When he tried to take it out, he felt it to be unusually heavy. With great care, he brought it down. Soon, Kala’s father would come to take the suitcase. So Govindan was in a hurry to empty the suitcase. No sooner, he opened the box, he exclaimed in ecstasy. To his great surprise, he found the Ganesha idol, presented by his friends on that day of the function.

All these years, he was so sad that he could not find it. What happened to it and where did it go, were all a mystery. On that day, Kala was in charge of receiving all gifts from friends and relatives. She was even advised to jot down in a notebook, details of what items were given by whom. Govindan was very much impressed by the unique gesture of his friends. Knowing fully well that he was collecting Ganesha dolls and idols in various forms, his friends wanted to throw a surprise, by giving one such item to him. After that function was over, he wanted to put that Ganesha idol in his pooja room and start worshipping and offering prayers on a daily basis. Somehow, he never found it anywhere. Even after making a hectic search, he could not get it. He was madly angry with that girl Kala for her carelessness. To this day, he could not resist his sour feelings about her. But now on opening the suitcase, he was really thrilled to get back his cherished Ganesha idol and was also happy to know that she instead of stacking all gift items into a gunny sack, did a neat job of putting them into a suitcase, which itself was received as gift on that day. Kala had played her part very nicely. Only he failed to notice that. Not even by a freak chance! It never occurred to him to open the suitcase and see if anything was kept in it. The suitcase went up, without being opened. But now! It was an immense pleasure to get back his favourite Ganesha and also other mementos received on that day.  

He felt very bad that because of his misunderstanding and branding her as careless and useless, he did not want to spend huge amount on her wedding gift. He took back that day, the amount from Kokila and advised her to get a smaller gift to Kala as though it was amounting to punishing her for her ‘carelessness’. He was hurt by his mean behaviour. The girl who was branded as a careless one, the very same girl was now appreciated as good, meticulous and efficient. He wanted to meet her immediately and pour out his feelings. But how could he do it now!

He learnt from her father that Kala was leaving in two days, after their return from Tirupati. Govindan noted the flight timings and decided to meet her at the airport. Govindan asked Kokila to prepare her favourite dish ‘sago upma’ locally popular as ‘Saboodaana Kichdi’ and meet the girl at airport as a surprise. They saw that she was quite perturbed in the Airport with her check-in luggage and was being questioned by the staff. On seeing us, she came running. She was very much disturbed because the staff told her that her luggage had crossed the permissible limit. For the over-weight, either she had to pay extra amount or get rid of excess weight and bring it under prescribed limits. She, who was so meticulous about her handling of things, how could she not notice the error at home before leaving? Kala admitted that while packing the suitcase, things were very much under control. But additions at the last minute, made things worse. She requested Govindan, rather pleaded, to take some of her items and keep them with him so that excess on baggage could be avoided.

Kokila always kept a cloth bag in her hand-bag, which came handy now. So, the excess weight problem got solved amicably. Both Kala and her husband were back in smiles and beaming with joy. Kala’s parents were not keeping well and so they did not come to airport. In fact, Kala only insisted that they need not worry and she would manage things on her own. If they were present here, this excess weight problem would not pose as a big burden at all. That was why she thought Govindan uncle and Kokila aunty as God-send-saviours.

Now that they had done with their undo and redo packing, Kokila gave them the tiffin box she brought for them. Kala became so emotional. “Aunty, how do you know that we both like this dish very much? So very kind of you! In fact, he is very hungry also”. She looked at her husband.

“You can thank your uncle. He insisted on our coming here. Once you settle down in the plane and are in your seats, enjoy the refreshments. Okay, both of you. You may be needed for completing other formalities. Kala, take care and keep in touch.”

Govindan blessed them whole heartedly and wished them heavily for their ‘bon voyage’ and also for the blissful journey of life ahead. He was happy that he could be at airport and be of some use to them. That way, he could heal his wounded feelings and set right himself.

Both Govindan and Kokila were returning from airport and were on their way home. Govindan told Kokila to open and see what was returned by Kala as excess and overweight. He was worried that once things went up on the loft, they would also go out of mind and from memory. Inside the neatly wrapped and packed parcel was …

Ganesha idol, bigger and larger than what he got from his friends. He told Kokila,

“Make double dose of special offerings of Prasadams tomorrow. Mhow Mhow, not the Chinese ones, our Indian sweet modakams. You see, we have two Ganeshas now, to pray for. The more you pray and worship, the more, the idols become sacred and sanctified.”

Kokila said to herself, ‘Kala also will be blessed.’



December 06, 2019 18:52

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