Continuing with my translation of the Telugu essay ‘Veedhi Arugu’ by Devulapalli. int English…
Our village boasted of four illustrious porches. Firstly there was the one that belonged to Uncle Jagga Rsju, the village Karanam ( village officer). Another, that of the village munsif (the other village officer) , Seshadri Esq. Still another belonged to The Fort,, that of the Velama Lord, His Highness Venkata Rayanim Garu. Of course, the last one belonged to our family,, meaning that of the Big Sastry garu.
These four porches turned themselves into offices, clubs, theatres and what not, depending on the need and the time of the day or season.
The porch of the Karnam and that of Lord VenkatanRaya were big and neatly paved.
Raya’s porch was smooth and glistening. Though we called it a porch, it was really two porches one on either side of the main door.. They were neatly carpeted, though we liked to rest on the .cool floor rather than on the carpets. On either edge of these platforms there were back-rests of polished stone. At a corner, there were two canopied crib like ornamental seats with railings . they stood on ivory legs, The wooden panels, posts and bars were neatly chiselled.and crafted and the inside bottom was lined with soft mattresses and pillows stuffed with downy feathers of royal swans, “fascinating artwork, gold laced upholstery “, the whole works.
While the elders conversed, we children would ensconce ourselves cozily in these howdas.. The windows at the rare of the porches offered a view of the inside of the mansion.
” With finely sculpted columns and beams gleaming brightly,
With lighted silver lanterns hanging from the ceiling lined with shiny panels of wood,
Glitzy walls and partitions white washed with pearl-oyster-shell-calcium powder,
Adorned with numerous pictures of cowherds and milk-maids ,and innumerable glistening full-length mirrors,
And a splendour that was viewed with awe by the elite”, the palace interiors indeed were gloriously ethereal.
The porch in the premises of Lord Raya’s was the elite club of sorts, of our town. It too was proud and vainglorious like the Raya was. Not everybody could gather there, for all and sundry reasons, no way. There was no big membership fee, true, but only a select few of the town were welcome. That too only in the evenings.
Now it is time to tell a few words about the porches of the two village officers, the karanam and the munsif.
They were just bureaus, plain and simple.
A thread-worn, faded carpet was spread on the porch floor of the Karanam garu.
He used to sit leaning against the wall and there used to be a small desk in front of him.
But the official attire of Karanam Uncle Jagga Raju, was exceedingly imposing.
” A pristine white turban, shirt and a waist-purse,and a pleated and pressed shoulder-cloth.On the small finger his official seal. A dandily held cigar, A charming orange-brown dhoti. Leather moccasins covering his lotus feet “. In addition of course there were his spectacles. They used to climb up his brow, when he regally looked at you from head to toe. And when he wished to examine something minutely they used to slip down to the tip of his nose
Coming to the front porch of the munsif, Seshadri esq.,.It used to be flat, hard and smooth. Much more than a polished floor, though it was plastered with fine mud.
The front vertical face of the porch was painted with ochre-hued stripes. And spread over the floor were big, very big reed-mats. The edges of these mats were bedraggled and frayed, the visitors either pulled some reeds out just out of boredom, or snipped small bits of it to use as tooth-picks.
There used to be a howda on the porch of the munsif too.
His brow smeared with big horizontal white stripes of ash, his big eyes blood-shot, and with a sharp aquiline beak like that of Garuda, he wore a tall tunic fastened , no, not with buttons but tassel-lie threads, Long hair combed back straight and knotted at the rear top of the head like a pagoda, a tall stave fitted with silver tips,the munsif thus looked so very statuesque and majestic , that I am yet to find such another magnificent being to this day
More about the porches of the Kaanamand tbe Munsif……….