Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Cat's Curse - Part - II

Uncle,” asked Shanta “ What is all this fuss about?”

Shanta was bubbly teenager full of questions. She knew of her uncle’s frugal spending habits and was surprised that he had agreed to shell out so much money for a prayer ceremony. He would haggle over the price of coriander leaves and travel by bus rather than take a taxi to save money.

‘This must be a very special puja for them’ she thought.

“Your aunt consulted an astrologer regarding her chances of having children and he had suggested that she should get people to help her make a lakh shivlings out of clay and offer special prayers to them to be blessed with a child. She also has to feed twentyone Suhasinis, give them gifts of sarees, bangles and what not. She has been making arrangement since yesterday getting all the ladies from the neighborhood to help and all of their families will be dining at our place. It’s going to be a long day so let’s hurry.”
“Why on earth did he suggest such an expensive affair?” Shanta found the whole thing preposterous.
“According to him I had killed a cat in some previous birth. The cat cursed me and therefore I’m destined to be deprived of children” said Sundaram trying to suppress a smile.
“This is absolutely ridiculous, and I find it strange that you have given in to the manipulations of a conman.” Shanta could not believe her ears.

Sundaram continued but on a more serious note.

“Your aunt has known no pleasure ever since she married me. I had my own set of worries and denied her simple pleasures like going out for a movie or eating out on special occasions. She has never grumbled or complained. When the astrologer laid the blame of our childless existence on me she was distraught and wanted to atone for an act unknowingly committed by me in a so-called previous birth. The thought of my being further punished in future births is not acceptable to her. She feels that we have enough responsibilities and with all of you around she does not really miss not having a child of her own. This prayer ceremony is her investment for my future! Tell me now, was I wrong in giving in to her?”

“I do not believe in astrology but I do hope Rajam aunty is blessed with a child of her own” said Shanta.

“Unfortunately that is not to be” said her uncle “hers is a rare medical condition in which the ovaries do not ovulate. This occurs in about one in ten thousand women. The hormones produce signs and symptoms of puberty but she is infertile in the real sense of the word. So children of our own are out of question. Your aunt is unaware of her physical condition so keep it to yourself”

Shanta took a long time to find her voice.

Does Amma know of this?” she finally asked referring to her grandmother.

“Of course she knows it.” Laughed Sundaram “ In fact the idea of consulting an astrologer was hers. The whole story about the cat’s curse was your grandmother’s idea. Sometimes her imagination does run wild. She paid the astrologer a tidy sum and got him to repeat the story. She did not want anyone to point an accusing finger at her daughter in law. Moreover, your aunt being innocent and naïve easily believed the story and never bothered to ask for the doctor’s report. Nor did she wish to go for second medical opinion. She feels that with the performance of this puja the matter has been settled once and for all. Now let’s go back fast.”

Sundaram returned and sat down by his wife’s side and performed the rituals with utmost sincerity. They prostrated at the feet of elderly ladies the Suhasinis who represented the Goddess of fertility and sought their blessings. His mother spoke to each one of them and asked if they were happy with the arrangements.
“Bless these children. Your heartfelt blessings will grant them a string of children” she pleaded.
Shanta watched them from a distance. Her uncle and grandmother were putting up such a superb act! The trio seemed happy enough. Children might have had a distractive influence on them. Here they were! Destined to remain children all their lives. Maybe it was appropriate that large hearted people like her aunt Rajam be allowed to spread love to a wider range of recipients rather than be tied down to their immediate families.


starry said...

Me first....I think it was so nice of the aunt to arrange all this and not tell exactly why her daughterinlaw could not have children.Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes it is better not to know.So nice of the husband to pretend that its a cats curse.Its ok to play along as long as no one gets hurt.No reason for them to be unhappy because they dont have children.

passerby55 said...

Mother hood does change you infact the total person in you.

There was a survey done in AUstralia where mothers were called and were asked to smell the soiled nappies of their children which they did it so willingly...

the same test was reversed and they were then given nappies at random....and many refused and were hestitant to touch it.

IT requires a woman to be a nurse (trained to do so) or a woman who never could have own children to do this act. the survey confirmed.

Hip Grandma said...

lalitha: my aunt was loved by all the children from her in laws side as much as all of uncle died suddenly of heart failure.but my aunt suffered from kidney failure for nearly 2 years.her nephew from her husband's side took good care of her.he was helped by a whole lot of others.

passerby55:the Australian survey may be right in its own way.but it was not accurate as far as the examples quoted in my earlier posts were concerned.I know of a few childless couple who are highly insecure and mean.i feel really sorry for them.

Usha said...

just superb and so touching - nostalgic memories of the kind of affection that ruled the lives of people in the joint families with such an insight into the wonderful human traits that kept the system going so smotthly.
Loved it. You are just amazing!

Hip Grandma said...

usha: the people in the story lived in your very own bangalore.we tried to get a few more girls from our family married into theirs without success.if my aunt had children of her own i may have had 3 or 4 cousins.but because she had none i was privileged to have at least 20 of them.we still remain in touch even 20 yrs. after my aunt's death.

Has to be me said...

Hi....First time here & loved the way u've described urself! Wow, it is interesting to note that u've learnt to drive & painting the city red! Gr8 going.

Regd ur was so sweet of them to have covered up the real reason & to do all this for her sake. Loved it!

Movie Mazaa said...

perhaps much has been said abt the way u write, but i guess its that awesome way in which even the most common-place words assume a life of their own that renders any prose piece of urs a dignity thats often unparallelled!


Hip Grandma said...

velu:thanx for the english teacher who'd give 3/10 for a good composition must be smiling from heaven to see me doing her proud.i hear that she's no more our days languages hardly fetched marks but we delved deep into prose and poetry and enjoyed every bit of it.

Hip Grandma said...

has to be me:glad you liked the must have required patience to go thro' it.stop by sometime.i know ur schedule is busy

Archana Bahuguna said...

Nice post again. Glad to know you are an Aquarian. :-) Me too!

Hip Grandma said...

archana;we're two of a kind aren't we?that's good.glad you like the post

Visithra said...

Wow but you rarely see such things happening

Hip Grandma said...

visithra:you're right.The people in the story lived 50 yrs.back.every line written is true to the best of my knowledge.