Krishnaswamy was known for his angry moods. At the slightest provocation, he would resort to high decibel howling and shouting. No rhyme or reason. Always bent upon venting out his moods. His wife Shantala was always worried about his nature of getting upset over anything and everything. Such a man could never have friends … only foes and foes. His own children also did not dare to approach him. They always used a via media … through their mother. They placed their indents to their mother who in turn would gauge her husband’s mood and then appeal to him on their behalf. His daughter Sukanya wanted to join her school excursions along with her classmates. Every year there used to be picnics and excursions. She never partook in any programme for the single reason of not being able to approach her father and get permission from him. She never even ventured to ask him. He and his angry moods would never see anything beyond his ego. This year was different. She could not be hesitating. She had to join her classmates, as this was their final year in the school. She wanted to go was there on one side, but more than that was, it was decided in her class that all of them had to be there for the excursion. No excuse.
Sukanya told her mother everything about her school excursion and pleaded that somehow it should be worked out. “Amma, see this is my last year in the school. After this term, we all will be scattered, each one going on one’s way. Some pursuing further studies, some going out of town, some opting to stay back at home…. Whatever it is, our group is not going to be the same. All students in our class without exception have vowed to partake. So, I have no choice. Of course, even I am interested in going for the excursion is also there. But, as you know, it is not the place where we are going to, is that very important. The fact that we are all going and nobody is exempted is predominant and very-very important. That is why Amma, I am repeatedly asking you to get appa’s permission and the required fees for the excursion. Please Amma! Please.”
Shantala also thought that there was some merit in Sukanya’s desire. After all, Sukanya was a teen age girl with lot of dreams and aspirations of her age. But due to family circumstances, she had a strict control on her mind. Shantala was wondering whether it was their innate nature that her children were well-behaved or was it because of their father’s strict distance and rude behaviour. Even the boy was not like his father. He was more like his mother. Otherwise, life would have been a tough journey for Shantala.
Today she had a difficult job of convincing her husband and make him understand a convincing demand from his daughter. ‘All depends on his mood and Sukanya’s luck.’ She was eagerly waiting for her husband to come home. That day he came very late and that too deadly tired. In such a situation how could she approach him with a demand for a luxury spending? It would automatically be dispelled without a word. She had to wait for an opportune time to break open the topic. Generally, after a sumptuous dinner, anybody would be in a relaxed mood and Shantala reserved that hour for opening the topic. But as things were to happen in its own way, he went to bed immediately and also fell into deep slumber. Both tiredness and exhaustion led him to fall asleep instantly, thus leaving Shantala and Sukanya hanging in suspense.
Shantala consoled her daughter. “Don’t worry, my dear. Let me approach him tomorrow morning if he wakes up early. It is after all, first week of the month. So, money should not be a problem. All depends on his moods. You know that he is a nice man and heart of heart a very good fellow. Only trouble with him is that, his ego and anger take the better of him. I am always worried this anger and bad mood should not have any adverse effects on his health. I really wish some magic is cast on him and he turns to be soft and gentle.” “But Amma, I am in great trouble. I am caught between the devil and dep sea. Here I have to get Appa’s permission and if I don’t, what excuse can I give there at school? How can I face them? Oh! God! Help me to solve this.”
“Don’t lose hope. Appa is not going to say no to you.”
“I do not know how to approach him. That is why I am repeatedly asking you to plead my case. I know if I ask him directly, he may even agree. But I am afraid to ask.”
Both mother and daughter were talking on these lines for some more time. They did not realise that there was one more person who was listening to them. Yes. Sukanya’s father stood there silently. Having slept for a while that too… a deep slumber he woke up abruptly. He thought of having some water. When he came out of his bed room, he saw both Shantala and Sukanya in deep conversation and his name surfing off and on. So, out of natural curiosity, he paused and listened. Otherwise, they would be disturbed and stop it then and then or give up their ongoing discussions totally. To his surprise he found that they were expressing their concern and worry about his rude behaviour. He had never known anyone responding in this manner. His angry mood always invoked other man’s temper --- a bad temper which in turn ignited more fire in him. It was a vicious circle and resulting in fist fight or hand scuffle and people around them trying to persuade and separate them. When he was overpowered by his anger, he never saw the outcome of it nor its consequences.
Today this night, it dawned on him that there could be another side of the coin which need not be to his liking. He understood. “If he can have an opinion, others too are equally empowered to have one, which may or may not be in agreement with his.” How he was expecting others to tolerate him, he too should try --- at least hereafter, to tolerate them. That certainly did not amount to surrendering to them. After this awakening, he went back to bed of course, without water. Lying in the bed, he started debating about himself. ‘Am I really a ruffian? No. Do I want to establish my supremacy all the time? No. Then why this outburst and spurt of angry mood all the time? Can I not control myself? Yes, I must and I should. Both for the betterment of myself my family and my children. Otherwise, they will take me as their role model and behave in the same manner. That should not happen.’ With this determination, he felt he was quite relieved and went back to sleep.
Next day morning, Shantala approached him with his morning coffee and hesitatingly told him about Sukanya and her school excursion. “This being her last year in the school, I feel she should go and it must be allowed.” Sipping his coffee, he expressed his surprise. “My God! Has she grown so big? Is she in the final year of her school? See how time flies! Ok! Let us not stop her. Let her go. Send her with sufficient pocket money.” He told her gently and very clearly. Shantala could not believe her ears. “Is this man my husband only? Has any miracle happened overnight? Oh God! Are you answering my prayers?” By then Sukanya also got up. When she learnt about her father granting her permission, she felt it was a boon. She forgot all the boundaries and went straight to her father and hugged him and said, “Appa thank you so much.” He was taken aback. He never had this experience. Just last night only he had vowed to himself to be soft and gentle and now in the morning, he was filled with surprises --- pleasant surprises. Sukanya’s brother Chotu, felt something strange was happening at home. He too got up and came there. He could not resist himself. He too rushed to his father and got folded into his hands. At that moment they had no fear that their father might get into bad mood and would start howling at them.
Shantala standing at a distance and staring at these strange sequences wanted only one thing on earth.
“Let the world come to standstill. Let things freeze at this point.”
Overnight things had changed. She lifted her head and closed her eyes and mentally folded her hands in prayer.