Tyaga Raja is exhausted and dejected. Had not been able to offer the five course lunch he would have loved to offer to his Dear Lord Rama. He had told the Lord somewhat curtly, to get satisfied with the little bit of husked, split green gram soaked lentils salad (vada pappu) and the jaggery juice (paanakam) which was all that he could provide Him.
It is getting late for the evening service. He lifts himself up wearily, takes bath, prepares afresh a similar offering, makes his obeisance to his dear lord Rama and makes the sparse offering once again and asks the Lord to forgive him for having been curt with him in the morning. ” What to do ? And what can I do? You have not been kind enough to grant me the wherewithal. “, he wails plaintively to the Lord. He lies down in front of The Lord, singing weakly to himself in Chakravaaka,” Yetula Brothuvo teliya ? ”
” My life seems to be topsy turvy, just as my singing a morning raga even as it is getting to be midnight. “, he mumbles to himself ruefully.
Someone is knocking at the door. He gets up slowly, and opens the door. He is dismayed . Guests. Seem to be tired and hungry. An old couple, and a sturdy. ebullent athletic-looking fair-hued hirsuite young man in the garb of a sannyasi. The old man looking tall,handsome. dark and stately even in his old age, if a bit weary and grimy from travel. The frail looking graceful old lady decked in finery and jewels from head to toe, smiles beatifically at Tyaga Raja. The hairy young man is sprightly, but looks calm and confident. He explains to Tyaga Raja in his mellifluous voice in chaste, Sanskritised-Telugu,(I mean both the Telugu and the Sanskrit were chaste, their combination chaster), ” Sir, We have been constantly on the move from one place of pilgrimage to another for the past few weeks. This is my master, Mohana Ramayya Garu, And this is Janakamma, his spouse. I am their slave, they treat me as their child. My master has heard people praise highly of your singing and of your devotion to Rama and wished to pay you a brief visit on the way. We intend stay here for the night and leave early tomorrow, if you do not have any objection.”
Thyaga Raja nods no, not at all, and silently conducts them inside politely. The old man says, ” Young man, shall I call you Tyagu. I have been hearing paeans sung in praise of your divine compositions and sweet music. I have heard people far and wide, sing some of your songs in concerts along the way. My adorable servant runs away even from me to listen,when ever any one sings in Rama’s praise and particularly so when it is your compositions that are performed. I am sure you will attain great glory in the years to come. My wife here, says my word never fails to materialise. ” .Tyagarja touches his feet,
He goes inside gets the little bit of soaked vada pappu and paanakam and says, ” Sir, I am poor and am unable to offer you anything better or tastier “. The old man eats it with relish and says effusively, ” How do you know that I like this combination. If only there were a few pieces of banana and coconut, I would relinquish all my claims to Vaikuntham and stay permanently here with you. You house indeed looks like Vakuntham for. Nee ille vaikuntham naaku”. The old lady smiles coyly at him, and says, “He likes atukulu also.”
The young sannyasi assures Tyaga Raja that they had brought provisions along, which
he would cook and serve in a jiffy, everyone. He runs into the yard, climbs deftly on to the roof, cuts a couple of ridge gourds and cucumbers with his gleaming white teeth, plucks a few amaranthus and other leaves duly chewing them to make sure they were palatable.and in no time conjures up delicious and hot food for all of them .
Seeing the breezy young man pounding the cucumber to make chutney. Tyaga Raja jokes, ” You seem like Bheema even while you cook food.”
” Only, I’m bigger and stronger. “, the young man chuckles
The old man says, “We will be lost without him. He is like a hundred friends to me.” “Yeah, he is verily ‘sow mithras’ to you. Or rather like another Sowmithri to Lord Rama.”, the lady blurts out. “I am honoured, my mother. Yeah. I am a son and an younger brother rolled into one, to my master, call me Waatatmaja Sowmithri.”, the young man says with his head bowed.
The visitors take bath, dress for the night and prevail over Tyagaraja to take food along with them. Tyagaraja spreads out beds for them, but they are in no hurry to go to bed though it is well past midnight The old man who looked taciturn until then, inexplicably opens up.
“Is it the Paanakam? But it was fresh. Not stale.”, Tyaga Raja smiles to himself. Hours roll by.
The Braahmi Muhurtham has approached. The old man asks Tyagaraja to sing, ” Yetula Brothuvo”. Tyagaraja is surprised at this uncanny demand but complies with the request.
The old man says pleasantly, “Great! But, mind you. I am no Ekanta Ramayya, now. I have my dear old Kanthamani with me. Okay,any way, take it that your wish is granted. ”
The old lady laughs, (is it derisively,) and says, ” Behold The Great Lord, descended from the heavens, granting boons to his devotees ! Ask for heaven and it is granted.”
The young man sitting on his haunches looking fondly at his master’s face says,
” Ma’am, whatever my master utters turns out true. Take it from me.”
“Since you tell that, I have to agree. Tyaga Raja will attain great and eternal glory. Amen! “,the graceful lady nods.
Tyagaraja bows his head, joins his palms in salute and touches the feet of his three guests. He is bone weary, the visitors are also so, but the old man seems to have taken a great liking to the young poet-singer and he keeps on recounting his and his servant’s exploits, to the sleepy young musician.
Meanwhile, the young man finds Tyaga Raja’s Stradivarius violin in a corner, and jumps over there and brings it to them and seeks Tyaga Raja’s permission to try it. Tyaga Raja is worried and irritated but says yes,go ahead by all means.
The violin was pressed into his hands by the indulgent simian-faced Dutch ADC of a dark skinned Indian prince from the north, who attended a concert of him, some years ago, How uncannily, this sturdy young man looks like that benovelent ADC.
The old man grabs the bow and makes a show of aiming a Cupid’s arrow at the old lady. ” Careful, lest it should break. You did a similar prank when we were young. There was a big ruckus by my cousin, Sivayya’s friend, Paarasram, when you broke my cousin’s bow. ” . “I get you. Or rather I got you.”, the old man says enigmatically. The lady bows her head like a shy bride.
The young man begins to strum a catchy tune in C major, nee Sankarabharanam, playing the violin as a Guitar. Tyagaraja finds the notes rivetting. Words tumble out of his mouth, ” Saarasa nethra aparaguna,”
The couple tell each other how Sivayya, whom they had met in the company of his friend Brahmayya, at Rameswaram recently, (what was the event), was fit as a fiddle. The old man says, ” Yes. he is still ramrod stiff. You have to see him dance.The earth verily shakes under his feet It is rarely that we three are found together. We have our different businesses to look after.”, with a twinkle in his eyes. The old lady says, “The two were endlessly extolling you, honey, while we met them”
” The respect and affection are mutual. We are inseparable, though we may be physically apart, at any time. “, the old man agrees.
The old man tells Tyagu, his son, how once when they were passing through the woods, the old lady lost her way and fell among thieves. He tells of the tough time his agile servant and he, had had, in tracing her and getting her back. The young poet-singer nods and dozes off to sleep.
By the time he wakes up after a few winks, the visitors have already completed their morning ablutions, packed their things and are ready to leave. Tyaga Raja pleads earnestly, ” Dear Sir, Please deign to wait. I will freshen myself up and come and see you off.” The old man says, ” Tyagu, my son, don’t take any trouble. You are tired. Besides that, it is already getting late.” Still, Tyaga Raja goes to the bathroom, freshens himself up in a jiffy and comes back. The visitors have left already. He hurries along the road in search of them,but is unable to locate them. He is puzzled. How could the. frail old couple have disappeared so soon. Could it be that the veritably-Bhima’s-cousin, their servant, carried them off on his shoulders and leaped away across the town. “, he thinks wryly . He returns home thinking about the enigmatic and charming old couple and their agile young sannyasi. servant.He stops in his tracks. “Ayyo, Rama.”, he cries out loud. Ha is sad and penitent. He has not been respectful or considerate enough to his Distinguished Visitors.
A new poem flows out of his gaping mouth in Mohana Ragam, “Bhava Nuta. Condescend to rest blissfully in my heart.You are fatigued.”
That evening he sits on the Arugu,( thinnai), in front of his house and begins to sing,
” Bhava Nuta” again. A crowd soon assembles.
Tyaga Raja finishes singing and looks at the audience an then lifts his head to the heavens.
The way that small monkey perched high up on the tree sits on its haunches and looks at him benignly, reminds him of an Ebullient Young Man whom he had met the last night. He joins his palms reverently at him.