Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rambling No.1


     Hi! Reader! Thank You! You ask why? For starting to read this, of course! This is supposed to be my memoir!   A couple of years ago my darling daughter who is in the U.S.A. asked me, nay, commanded me in one of our telephonic conversations, to write my memoirs! I thought she was just joking and therefore, I agreed but kept quiet in this regard. In her subsequent telephonic conversations she tried to persuade me to write my memoirs. I told her that I will do so but kept quiet in this regard. She then started to pester me! I wonder what made her to ask me to write my memoirs! I was never good in any human language, including my mother tongue Tamil. I can read, write and speak in English to some extent. But in Tamil I can speak and read quite fluently; but when it comes to writing I fumble in respect of certain alphabets. This is due to the fact that after eleventh standard I was not writing in Tamil. My dear child did not heed to any of my explanations or excuses for not writing my memoirs or anything else. Just to please her I decided to attempt to write.  Now the very first question that arose in my mind was “what is a memoir?” I probed and found something which I liked. A memoir is a .
History or record composed from personal observation and experience. Closely related to autobiography, a memoir differs chiefly in the degree of emphasis on external events. Unlike writers of autobiography, who are concerned primarily with themselves as subject matter, writers of memoir usually have played roles in, or have closely observed, historical events, and their main purpose is describing or interpreting those events.”

     Okay!  I decided to write something, not exactly memoir but what?  I just decided to ramble!  Let us call it "ramoir".  How is it?
I decided to write some humorous(?!) incidents and anecdotes.  To make them realistic I am going to use real characters like my parents, siblings, cousins, wife and her relatives and of course friends.  These ramoirs may be fully factual or partly factual and partly fictional  or totally fictional.  Please bear this in mind and do not jump to any conclusions!  My intentions are NOT to insult, ridicule, annoy or offend anyone, but to amuse the reader.  In case anyone of the readers is felt offended I pray that I may be shown mercy and be excused.

      When I keyed in the word "mercy"  I remembered the quality of mercy explained by my dear friend Shakespeare who died years before I was born.  However the quality of Mercy lives and will live forever because The quality of mercy is not strained or restricted;
it drops as the gentle rain from heaven that is clouds on the place beneath the clouds that is the ground. It is twice blessed:  it blesses him that gives mercy and him that takes mercy.  it’s most powerful in the most powerful people; it suits the throned king better than his crown; his royal wand shows the force of earthly power, the quality to amaze and rule, where the dread and fear of kings sits; but mercy is above the wave of this wand, It sits on a throne in the hearts of kings, it is a quality of God himself; and earthly power then shows itself like God's when mercy goes with justice. So, My dear reader, though justice is your plea (!?), consider this, that if we all got justice, none of us would see salvation; we pray for mercy, and that same prayer teaches us all to do the deeds of mercy. I have written (nay copied) this much to soften you and pardon me.
        Well folks!  That is it for now!  If my dear child likes this (?) I will scribble something more in the future.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Marriage Phase

Imp. Note: 'My wife' and her parents and other relatives like siblings, uncles aunts etc. referred to in the following lines DO NOT REPEAT NOT refer to my actual wife and her relatives, but my BLOG wife and her relatives.  Similarly my father and other relatives do NOT refer to   my actual father and relatives.  The incidents and anecdotes referring my wife and/or her relative(s) and my father and my relatives are purely fictional.
     In a few days I got an accommodation in a lodge.  It was quite a decent one.  The rooms/cots were hired on permanent basis (as against per day/night basis).  All the lodgers were South Indians.  Most of them were of my age group; and many of them were serving in Central Government departments.  Some of them became my close friends.
     Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years.   During this period I got the acquaintance of many people of various ages (from early 20s to 60s and above) and from different regions of our nation.
    Some guys of my age group and a bit older got married.  The craving for marriage (for self, of course) started peeping in.  All my close friends strongly advised me NOT to marry before becoming a supervisor.  I started visiting the homes of my married acquaintances in order to get an idea of how the married life would be.  I found that supervisors are more happy than the others.  Married clerks were struggling to make both ends meet.  Elderly married clerks told me that they could not study for the Departmental Examinations after marriage.  I therefore, decided to marry ONLY after I become a supervisor.  I started studying hard.  I found that hard study was not enough here, some luck was required, too.  If I had put in this much of effort during my college days, I would have got at least a first class M.A. degree.  The Departmental Examination consisted of two parts.  I failed in both in the first time.  Anyhow I passed the Exams. and became a Supervisor.  Not very early, but not very late, either.
     Now that I have become a Supervisor, the idea of getting married started creeping into my head.  Now that I have become a mature man, I did not want to marry in a hurry and repent at leisure.  One day, in the office during the recess I was talking with some of my colleagues on the subject of getting married.  One elderly confirmed bachelor, overheard our conversation, came to us and told me "Sir, Do Not Marry.  I am a bachelor.  Celibacy is the best.  I am very, very and very happy".  And he started giving us a lecture on the merits of celibacy.  It was boring.  One of the guys in our group, a jovial and blunt man, said to the celibate "My dear chap, we all know the virtues of celibacy.  We also know that not only you, but your father, his father and his father and so on were all celibates.  In fact, you come from a dynasty of celibates".  On hearing this the celibate chap's face turned blue (or pink?) and he simply turned and went away.
     I was really in a dilemma.  I remembered a particularly elderly gentleman who was a good friend, philosopher and guide.  He was quite a sage, too.  I went to him and asked him the question whether 'to marry or not to marry'.  He smiled benignly  and told me "My young friend!  This is not a question that can be answered easily!  I will tell you a few stories about such wives whom no sane man would like to marry.  Perhaps these are exceptions than rule.  Think over and discuss with your wise friends and well-wishers.  Then decide".  He did tell me a few wife stories.  He did not tell all the stories in one sitting.  Actually he told me only one story per sitting.  I narrate them below, not in the order in which he told me but in the order in which I recollect them.
Start Stories
     Wife saved breakfast.
      Husband and wife went to sleep at bed-time, as usual.  Normally the husband gets up in the morning earlier than his wife.  One day the wife got up early and after her morning chores noticed that her husband was still asleep.  She found her husband was dead.  She immediately shouted for the cook to come to the bed-room immediately.  The cook came hurriedly and asked her mistress what she can do for her.  The wife told her "My husband is dead; so prepare only one breakfast".
     Agonized Second Husband
     A kind man who came to the graveyard for a burial service noticed that a man was found sobbing and crying bitterly in front of a tomb in the graveyard.  He was found sobbing and crying for a long time.  Therefore the kind man approached the sobbing man and asked whether the dead man was his relative.  The sobbing chap said "No".  To the query whether he was his friend the answer was NO.  The kind man then asked the sobbing chap why he was sobbing so bitterly.  The sobbing man said between the sobs "He was the husband of my wife; if he had not died I would not have married his widow.  Now that you know why I am crying, please go and let me cry till I fall dead".
     Kind wife.
     The husband was suddenly taken ill.  His kind wife called the doctor who, after examination of the husband told that the sick man was to be admitted to the hospital immediately.  The kind wife took prompt action to get her husband admitted to the hospital.  The doctors at the hospital, after thorough examination of the husband told the wife that her husband's case was that of a severe food-poisoning and that he had only a few minutes left.  The wife took the news bravely and sat closer to her husband and watching him kindly.  The husband was hearing all that was said about him.  He said very weakly to his wife " Darling! I am very sorry.  I was not quite true to you.  I was having an affair with your best friend.  Please pardon me".  The wife said kindly "Darling! I knew that, and that is why I poisoned you".
     Beam Story.
Husband suddenly died.  The exit from the house was narrow.  Some three, four friends carried the husband.  Just before the the exit door there was a beam.  The dead husband's head was inadvertently  hit against the beam.  The husband cried "OH" and YES the husband became alive.  Everybody was happy and all congratulated the wife and went away.  After a few months the husband died again.  When the carriers of the body neared the beam the wife cried "CAREFUL! DON'T HIT HIM AGAINST THE BEAM THIS TIME".
     Faithful Wife.
     A couple had three sons.  The first two were tall, fair and handsome. The third one was short, dark and ugly.  The husband fell sick and he reached his last day of his life.  He asked his wife weakly " My dear, please tell me the truth.  Is the last boy really mine?"  "What a question, My love! Of course he is" the wife said.
"Thanks, my love.  But why he is short, dark and ugly whereas both his brothers are tall, fair and handsome?" asked the husband.  "That is because their fathers were so" said the wife.
     Submissive Wife 
     A couple were quarreling.  The wife was losing the argument.  She said "Take back all you said and apologize; or else....".  "Or else?  What will you do?"  asked the hubby aggressively.  "I will...will...will become a widow." said the docile wife.
End Stories.
     Seeing my glum and morose face my sage friend said "Dear young friend,  I didn't tell you all these stories to discourage you from marrying.  I want you to know that women like the ones in my stories do exit and I want you to be prepared in case your woman happens to be such a one.  I Honestly believe that every man should marry; only once.  One philosopher said that to marry once is duty, twice folly and thrice sheer madness.  Another, I think it is Socrates said 'By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy, and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher.'  Mahatma Gandhi said 'I first learned the concepts of non-violence in my marriage'.  Dr.Samuel Johnson has said 'Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures'.   There is an old English proverb that says 'You'll repent if you marry, and repent if you don't'.  Go and get married.  I wish and pray that you get a good wife.  Good luck".
     I was receiving letters from my dad that people were approaching him for the marriage of their daughters with me.  I was not replying him positively so far.  Now I wrote him OKAY!  Go ahead and select a few girls and let me know and I would come and approve.  The thought of a girl rejecting me never occurred to me.  It was quite a shock in the first occasion.
     Took some leave and proceeded to Madras (now Chennai).  Some girls rejected me - I was slowly getting used to that.  Some rejected by us - mostly by my step-mom.  There is one particular girl whom I could not forget.  We were informed that that the girl was the last child of her parents.  She had four elder brothers.  Their father was in some business.  They were vague about the nature of the business, and all the sons were in the same, it was presumed at our end, business. We were informed that they owned many houses in Chennai; and many cars, too.  If and when I become the girl's husband we can move to one of their houses and have a car, too; and that I can join their business.  My step-mom was all agog.  We went to have a look at the girl.  The girl entered the hall where we were seated, surveyed us one by one, and occupied the whole of a three-seated sofa (which we were told was meant for the girl) slowly.  The sofa creaked.  The sight of her took my breath away.  I thought that if Lord Emsworth could see her now, he, I am sure, will be most willing to pay half of his fortune for her in exchange of his Empress of Blandings.  My step-mom announced that we liked the girl very much and that we can have the formal engagement ceremony then and there.  My heart was in my mouth.  I looked at my dad; he was looking at the ceiling.  I looked at my cousins.  All of them looked at me pityingly.  I slowly felt my trouser packet.  I was very heartening to learn that my wallet was there.  After the 'Engagement Ceremony' I decided to go to the Central railway station and get into the first train that was going in the direction of Poona.  My thoughts were interrupted by some noise not unlike a thunder.  It was the girl who was speaking!  She was asking who was the groom.  When she learned that I was that creature, she looked at me for long moment.  I was shivering in my shoes.  "I do not like that boy" she announced in her thunder-like voice.  "But, I like that man" she announced, pointing her forefinger at some-one.  Everyone very eagerly looked at the man whom the finger was pointing out.  Oh! OOh! It was my DAD.
     There was an amusing incident during one girl-seeing function.  The girl seemed to be okay.  One of my cousins asked me whether I liked the girl.  I announced that I was not likely to get any girl better than that girl. Somebody raised a doubt that the girl may be taller than me.  One of my cousins asked my height.  "Five three, I think" I told.  Immediately the girl started telling one by one to everyone in our side that she was 'five thu and half'.  She was rejected by my step-mom on some flimsy ground.  I think the main reason was that the girl seemed keen to marry me.
     My leave period was coming to an end.  I thought I will be a confirmed bachelor for life.  One alliance came up.  When all of us were starting, my step-mom fell down and sprained her ankle.  She announced that she cannot move and therefore, the girl stood rejected.  But to everybody's surprise my dad overruled her.  All of us went without her.  The girl was okay from our side and I was okay from the girl's side.  The terms were agreeable and I became a married man in due course.
     During our first tete-a-tete, my wife told me that her friends called her "Cleo".
     "Do you mean Kileyai (கிளியே)" I asked her.
     "No! Short for Cleopatra, the beauty queen".
     "Why? Were you married to your brother?" I asked her.
     "Which brother?".
     "How do I know? You married your brother and therefore you should know which one you married" I told her.
     "I did NOT marry any of my brothers.  I married one stupid man, that is YOU" she retorted.
     "Then why you were called Cleo?".
     "Because I am as beautiful as she".
     Cleopatra was described intelligent, a good diplomat, and queen of an area important for Rome.  Nowhere she has been described as beautiful.  As I could not convince my wife that and I thought it may not be prudent to try to convince her that I simply said "Oh!".
     "will you call me 'Cleo'?" she asked me.
     "Of course, Cleo".
     "What shall I call you?  In our community all wives generally call their husbands 'Aenna'(ஏன்னா).  I do not know why?".
     "Dear Clee, during the Sanga period(சங்ககாலம்), that is over two thousand years ago, Tamil was spoken in a pure form.  All wives called their husbands 'endhan ayyanae' (என்தன் அய்யனே) meaning 'My Lord'.  In course of time it started shortening.  Now some community call it 'aennaa' (ஏன்னா); some others 'aiyaa' (ஐயா); yet some others 'yoav' (யோவ்); and so on.  So long as you do not call me 'stupid' you can call me anything".
     "Oh! You are not stupid!  My friends who saw you at our marriage and afterwords told me that you looked stupid.  I agree with them.  You look but not, definitely not stupid".
     I let it pass and turned in.
     I went back to Poona, found an accommodation and brought my wife to Poona.  A few days before Diwali I received a formal invitation for the Diwali which was my head Diwali (தலைதீபாவளி).  My wife suggested that we stay at Chennai for at least 3-4 weeks after Diwali, so that she can spent some time with her mom, sisters and other close relatives and friends.  I agreed.
     Let me tell you about my father-in-law.  He served as an officer in Burma (now Myanmar) in a Burma Government Department.  When the Japanese occupied Burma during World War II, all Indians (which includes my father-in-law and his family) came back to India.  After the end of the war he started getting pension from the Govt. of Burma.  He (with his family of course) was staying at Chennai.
     After diwali, my wife wanted to be with their parents for the rest of my leave period.  I agreed.  I was visiting my in-law's place at least once in three days.  On one  such visits my parents-in-law only were at home.  My fil (short for father-in-law) told me that my wife had gone out with her sisters.  Her brothers were away on some work or something.  My fil started asking me about my office and the details of my work.  It looked that he wanted o know whether I was really what I claimed to be i.e. Supervisor.  He seemed to have been satisfied with my answers.  As he was serving in an analogous Department as mine, I, for time-pass asked him about his department and his work in detail.  To my surprise he was not able to answer.  I commented that these things were so elementary that even a newly promoted Supervisor would know.  He looked at me for a long moment and said "I was not a Supervisor".  I told him "You must have been a Supervisor before you were promoted as an officer".  He sighed and said in a low voice "I was not an officer, either".  Then I asked him severely "Why did you lie to us?".  "Though I was not an officer, I am getting an officer's pension as an officer" he told me.  I was perplexed and I was staring at him incredulously.  Then he told me how he became an officer.  I will narrate his story in first person.
     I lost my father as a child and I was living with my mother and my brothers in a small village.  There was no school in that village and the nearest school was in a nearby town which was about 5 miles away.  All the boys in our village was studying there.  I was studying E.S.L.C.
i.e. eighth class.  It was called E.S.L.C. (Elementary School Leaving Certificate) because there was a board examination and one can go to the next class only if he passes the examination.  The exams came and I was well prepared.  The examination begins at 10:00 A.M. everyday.   One of our neighbour's bullock-cart goes to that town with some commodity.  The cart leaves at 07:30 A.M. sharp every day.  As it is not desirable for me to walk 5 miles or so for the examination, my mother arranged a lift for me in the bullock-cart.  For the first day examination I reached the exam. centre at about 08:00 A.M.  I cannot enter the exam. hall earlier than 09:30 A.M.  I was just standing outside the school building.  There some boys were playing marbles for stakes.  The stakes were peanut+jaggery balls (வெல்ல-உருண்டை).  They invited me to join the game.  I was pretty good in that game and I liked it, too.  As I had nothing to do till 10:00 A.M. I agreed; but I did not have the p+j balls.  My mother had given me four idlies to eat after the exam.  The boys agreed to exchange idlies for the p+j balls.  I got twelve balls; the exchange rate on that day was 3 balls for one idli.  I found that the boys were quite good in the game.  I was therefore winning and losing. I wanted to win.  I completely drove the outside thoughts from my mind and concentrated on the game, only the game.  I started winning.  My tiffin box and both my shorts pockets were full with the stakes, and I had some more, too.  Suddenly I remembered the exam!  It seemed that the time was past 10:00A.M.  I asked the boys for my idlis, but they told me that I have to play till evening to get them back.  As I had no time to argue I ran to the exam. hall.  At the entrance one of the invigilators stopped me and asked me what the time was.  I said that I didn't know.  He told me that the time was 11:30 A.M. and therefore I cannot enter the hall to write the exam.  Shit!  I was wandering around the building until the exam was over.  Then I went home.  I did not tell anyone that I did not write the exam.  For the next and all other exams I waited outside the entrance gate of the exam hall till we were allowed inside.  I did not play marbles.  I wrote the rest of the exams well.  I hoped that by some miracle I would be declared as passed.  The results were announced on the due date and my number was not in the passed list.  When my mother came to know of the result, she bundled all my (meager) clothes and threw them out along with me saying "Get out! Don't come back for ever".  I picked up the clothes and wandered aimlessly.  I knew that my mother was very serious; she will not allow me inside the house.  I suddenly noticed that I was in front of a railway station and there was a train.  I just got into a compartment.  It was almost vacant.  I was very,very tired and therefore I just lied down on a vacant bench with my bundle below my head.  I just slept.  Suddenly I found that someone was shaking me and shouting at me.  I opened my eyes and saw a railway worker shouting at me to get out.  I came out and surveyed the place.  I learned later that the train halted at the final destination 'Beach Station', Madras (Chennai) and was hauled to the yard for cleaning.  I was terribly hungry.  I looked around and noticed some boys (all seemed to be elder than me) eating.  I went to them and asked for alms.  One of the boys asked me "Are you not ashamed of begging?  Why don't you do some work like us?".  I told him my story in a nutshell.  The boys took me to some one and I got a job; it was an all-round job in the harbour.  The job consists of washing and cleaning inside a ship, porters job etc.  I was paid daily and the amount was quite sufficient to fill my stomach.  Days passed, I do not know how many.  However, I was quite happy.  I heard that in Burma, Indians were paid well and jobs were aplenty.  I enquired as to how to go to Burma.  I learned that besides lot of money, some pass or some port required for the journey.  I did not have that much money and I had only fail port.  One day I learned that a certain ship was going to Rangoon which was in Burma.  As luck would have it, I was sent inside that ship for washing and cleaning.  I went in and hid myself in a cubicle.  After sometime I slept there.  When I woke up I felt the ship was moving.  I was very hungry.  Slowly I came out of the cubicle and saw the railings.  I went to the end and holding the railings I surveyed the sea.  The ship was definitely in the mid of he sea and it was moving.  From the position of the sun I guessed that it should be morning around 10:00A.M.  I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I slowly turned around and saw an employee of the ship.  He was wearing all white, dazzling white dress.  He asked me something in a language I did not understand.  He took me to someone who I later learned was the caption of the ship.  Before he asked me anything I told him my story in English.  He smiled and told me in halting English that I had two options.  First, jump into the sea and swim to find Burma.  The second, he will take me to Rangoon to where the ship was going, but I had to do all the manual work I will be asked to do.
I opted for the second.  I was given food for the work.  I was also given a couple of shorts and shirts.  Both were two sizes larger for me.  In about two days or so the ship reached Rangoon.  The caption called me and gave me two Burma Rupees and asked one of the sailors to take me out and leave.  I thanked him.  The place where I was left was a market place.  I went to shop after shop asking the owner (I took whoever seemed to be in charge was the owner) for work.  No luck.  Suddenly I found myself I was ravenous.  I was dizzy in the hot sun.  I hit against someone.  When I looked up and found to my joy that it was a Tamilian gentleman.  I told him my story and asked him to get me a job.  He took me to his residence asked his wife to give me some food.  In the evening he took me to the market-place and got me a couple shirts, shorts, and a towel.  He got me a pair of foot-wear too. I learned that his name was Jayaraman and he was working in a Burma Govt. office.  That day was Sunday.
     Next day after meals he took me to his office.  There he took me to some British officer.  Later, I learned that his name was Tom Cook.  He was the second-in-command in the office; the top man comes at anytime and goes at anytime.  His (i.e. the Big Boss) daily stay in the office  varied from half an hour to four hours.  Rarely he stays for about eight to nine hours.  Mr. Jayaraman spoke to him about me.  Mr. Tom spoke to me.  I told him my story and requested for a job.  I spoke in English.  He was surprised and pleased.  "Well! Well!  You speak English pretty good.  As you have not even passed eighth standard, it is impossible to appoint you as a clerk.  Using my discretionary powers I can appoint you as a peon.  Will you work as a peon?".  I told him that I would.  He issued appropriate orders and I was appointed as a peon.  As per Mr. Tom's orders I was appointed his peon.  My predecessor was an old Burmese.  At the time of taking over the job from him, he explained, in halting English that Mr. Tom was very difficult officer to work under and the job was quite onerous.  After working for a few days I found Mr. Tom was quite a nice man.  He was not happy with my predecessor for the main reason that he could not understand what Mr. Tom was telling him.  In other words he did not know English well.  That apart he could not follow Mr. Tom's accent.  Even though I had not heard a Britisher talk English, face to face, I had no difficulty in following him.  May be it was due to the fact that I was hearing English News in the All India Radio.
     My job was i) clean the table and chair of Mr. Tom (his room was cleaned by the peon appointed for that purpose); ii) take the files cleared by him; iii) keep the incoming files neatly on his table; and iv) do whatever work Mr. Tom asked me to do.  I was given a cubicle adjacent to Mr. Tom's, where I can keep my personal effects like my uniform.  Files to be approved by Mr. Tom are to be kept on his table neatly and orderly; and files approved by him are to be taken away immediately.  In my cubicle I earmarked places for the incoming files which would be kept there by myself or by the peon bringing them (whenever I was not in or near my cubicle).
I allotted one specific space for the outgoing files.
     As I can read and understand English I started reading the files.  I learned that all sorts of Government contracts were to be approved by Mr. Tom.  Contractors started coming to me and requested me to push his file out of turn for a consideration.  Then I got an idea to get some more money.  I found a secret place in my cubicle.  I started keeping contract  files there.  I fixed rates for the type and amount of the contract.  The contractors were more than willing to oblige me.  Slowly I got closer to Mr. Tom.  One day when I was near his table to take away the files he approved, he remarked it was quite exasperating to read all these damn files and if only he had someone to tell him what is in each file it would be very nice.  I told him that I could do it.  He asked me to come near him and gave me the file he was looking and asked me to tell him what was in that file.  As I had read that file I told him what it was about.  He found that I was absolutely correct.  Then he gave me an additional task.  I was to take files to him and standing beside his chair and tell him what each file contains.  He started relying my words more and more and after some days he started approving files solely based on my words.  In other words he stopped reading the files.  As I became more and more closer to Mr. Tom, I started earning more and more.  After a few years my income was more than that of an officer and was tax-free!  As I did not know what to do with the lot of money, I sent them home to my mom.  When I went home on leave I received a royal welcome.  Initially I told people that I was a supervisor and after a few years, I was an officer!  I got married.  I was living happily with my wife and children.  One day Mr. Tom told me "My dear chap, you are doing an excellent job.  I am going to recommend you for promotion as a clerk as a very special case".  Oh! My God!  If I got promotion, I will lose all my income and I would become very poor like any other clerk!  "Sir, it is very kind of you.  I have not passed even eighth standard.  If you get me promoted, people will accuse you for nepotism as I am  close to you."  and blah, blah,.... I poured a lot ice on him like that on that very hot day.  He was very pleased and said "My boy you are too honest!  At least take this as my personal gift" and gave me a hundred rupees note (Burmese, of course).  After pretending a lot of hesitation, I took it.
     I started thinking.  Mr. Tom would not be here forever.  When some one else comes in his place, I will most likely become a poor peon.  I talked to some rich tamilian contractors.  It was all arranged that on the eve of Mr. Tom's departure, I would resign my job and work as a sub-contractor-cum liaison officer for them.  I figured that I would be earning much more than now.  In the meanwhile I would help those contractors to get special favours on the strength of my closeness to Mr. Tom.
     Fate played against me.  World War II broke out.  The Japs were inside Burma and it looked that they would occupy the country in a few days.  Almost all Indians left.  I sent my family to India.  When the Japs were near Rangoon I and the remaining Indians there tried to get away by ship.  Alas!  There was no ship.  We had two options then.  First option was to stay-put and and be taken by the Japs as prisoners; and the second was to go to India by foot.  As we had heard a lot of stories about the Japanese, the idea of becoming a prisoners to them was far from pleasant.  We started walking northward and reached Calcutta in I do not know how many days.  Many of us dropped dead on the way.  I do not remember how I joined my family.  Thanks to the Almighty! I am alive now.
     After the war was over I came to know that the Government of Burma would be paying pension to those Indians who were serving the Burma Government and was forced to leave for India due to the WW II. Two collateral evidence were required.  We collected some people who were similarly placed as me.  The number was short of two.  We therefore recruited two people, one was serving a contractor in Burma and the other had never seen Burma, even in a map.  It was discussed as to what pension we should claim.  They all agreed that I can claim the pension of an officer!  Never mind about the others.  That is how I became an officer.  Keep this inside your head.  Even my wife believed that I was an officer in Rangoon!
     My God!  What a story!  When compared to this the tales of Somnath and Bade Bhai Sandhu pale onto insignificance!   Hats off to my  clever, artful, creative, imaginative, ingenious, innovative and inventive father-in-law. 
    After a few days I made my usual visit to my in-law's place.  This time, too, my parents-in-law were only at home.  After having some sweet, snacks and coffee, my fil and self were talking about this and that.   Suddenly he asked me whether I was happy with my wife and whether she was treating me well!   I told him I didn't know as I had no previous experience.  I, however, assured my fil that his daughter was not beating me!  Honestly that was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth.  He laughed and with a very serious face told me "I am a direct descendant of God Brahma!". I did not understand him.  I told him "Mama, According to the Brahmā Purāņa, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all human beings are descended. In the Rāmāyaņa and the Mahābhārata, he is often referred to as the progenitor or great grandsire of all human beings.  Therefore you, me and every human being is a direct descendant of God Brahma".  He said "No! No!! My dear sil, I do not mean that-way.  I will tell you our family story
     Once upon a time, long, long ago, Brahma, due to some curse was wandering in a jungle in the form of a dog.
He cannot go back to his original form (i.e. Brahma) or take any other form (like a horse, lion etc.) until he was relieved of his curse (i.e சாபவிமோசனம் வரை).  A beautiful(!) Rakshasi (female demon) was roaming in the same jungle in the form of a bitch, just for fun.  The dog and the bitch met, fell in love and got married.  In due course the bitch became pregnant.  One day the dog, on return from his usual roaming, noticed his dear bitch was weeping bitterly.  He asked "My dearest beautiful wife!  Why are you weeping so bitterly?".  She said "My dear!  I am not a bitch.  I am a rakshasi!  As such I can take any form I like.  When I was wandering in the form of a dog (for fun) I saw you, fell in love and married you.  Now I am pregnant.  I am terribly worried that our son will be born as a dog.  That is why I am weeping".  On hearing that the dog smiled broadly (actually more broadly than usual) and said "My dearest darling!  I know all that!  I am not a dog, either.  I am the God Brahma!  Due to a curse I am wandering in the jungle in the form of a dog.  Do not worry about our son.  He will be born in the form of a human being but ....".  "But what, My Lord?" asked the pregnant wife.  Brahma said "As our son was created when both of us were in canine form, he and his descendants, though in human form, will have all the attributes of a canine.  But as you are a rakshasi, they will have a rakshash features and attributes, too.  They (the attributes) will be very pronounced for the females.  As they are my (i.e. Brahma) descendants, too, they, that is both males and females will be well versed in at least some of the 64 Kinds of Arts (i.e. 64 கலைகள்)."
     Now some things like 'why my wife and her siblings resemble a canine', 'why they bark, howl and things like that', 'why they look very, very and very fierce, fell, ferocious, grim and savage when they are not in a good mood!' became clear.  I concede that each one of them is highly adept in somethings like drawing, painting, tailoring, lying, cheating etc.  While I was woolgathering like this, I heard my fil was saying something.  I asked him 'what?'.  He asked me to wait and went inside.  In a few moments he came out with a photo.  He gave that to me saying "My dear sil, this is a copy of a copy of a copy.  The original was got painted by a painter for Gods.  The original is passed on to the eldest male child.  Copies were given to the other male children.  With the advent of photography, photo(s) of the original (or copy, I really do not know which) was(were) taken and given to every son.  I made out a few copies for my sons.  To my knowledge no copy was given to a daughter/son-in-law.  I am making an exception in your case, because you are special.  Keep this and preserve this".  They are a really beautiful couple.  See for yourself.