” Why do you fellows, trouble me like this.? The neighbour’s daughter is singing sweetly. Why don’t you all sit quietly down and listen to it.”, Rajyam chided the children. They obeyed her with out a murmur. Rajyam has become an expert with out much difficulty, in things like this , handling children, talking to them quietly, arguing and prevailing over them to heed to what she said, and while in the kitchen, how to blow air into the stove with out getting smoke into her eyes.
The neighbour’s girl started improvisation of notes. Notes flowed like mellow streams, now and then tumbling over speedily like waterfalls. Her voice rose swiftly to the higher octave landing at gandharam over and over.
Rajyam felt rejuvenated and strong like an elephant. In this work-a-day life, music held the key to health and happiness, she believed. Even if, one is unable to sing himself, if he could at least understand good music, it would does one, a world of good.
The compositions she is singing are all well known to her.
“How can she sing so well?”, her eldest son asked her.
“Simple. She has learnt them.”
“Can you sing so ?”
“Why not ? Shall I teach you too ?”
“Come off,mom. Boys don’t sing. ”
“There are several big men who do. Why don’t you learn?”
” Ok, I’m game.”
” In due time.”, she replied and went and stretched herself on the bed.
” Hey you, the elder one, my feet are paining. Will you please massage them? ”
“Sure, mom”, the Elder One sat down to press her feet.
The Second One offered himself, ” Mamma, I will pound your palms.”, and began pounding on her palms with his little hands.
Rajyam set about recapitulating a composition in Kalyani . Forgot most of it. Even the glissandos and portaments, relating to the parts that she remembered, got jumbled up hopelessly like her tangled hair.
. ” Look how the yard shines in the moon light. And the fragrance of the blossoms and the fruit .”, Venkatappaiah intoned, returning home.
“Back home so soon ?”, asked Rajyam.
“Simple.Work over. Came back.”
” Expiation over ?”
” A little bit , yes.”
” The original sin, if I am not wrong.”
“You’re insulting me.”
” Your secretive manner made me surmise so.”
” I am sure there is no cause for me to say that too .”
Venkaappaiah took out the packet he hid in his kanduva (shoulder-cloth). The thing whatever, is still covered in a paper.
“What’s it ?”, Rajyam asked.
“Wait, I’ll show you.”
It is a silk saree with a wide border woven with thin strands of gold. A piece of matching silk for a blouse was there too. A saree so nice that every woman right from a queen to a common housewife would have loved to own.
” Bought it ?”
“Yeah. I was afraid I would not have sufficient money left if I waited any more.”
” Where did you get all that money from.”
“You will not excuse me if I reveal it to you.”
“What did you do? ”
“Promise me that you would not take it amiss.”
” Why are you so scared? What did you do? Did not steal it, did you ?”
“Much more heinous than that. When your Typhoid relapsed, I lost all hope. One of my friends advised me to dispose it off. I gave it to him to find a buyer.”
” What did you give away?”
” So you haven’t guessed it yet. The guy could sell it off for Rs. 250. I never dreamt even, that it would fetch us so much dough. But I understand the older ones are cherished more .”
She has realised what it is by now, alright. She looked around the room.
“No use looking around any more.”
“So it is no more.”, she sighed aloud.
“I know it would be hard on you. I have committed an atrocity, nothing less, I own.”, he hung his head in shame.
She gulped her sorrow, when she saw him thus.
“Don’t you feel so. Nothing wrong in what you did. Any other man would do the same. There was no other way for you. you haven’t squandered it over yourself, have you ?”
” I made bold because all our children are boys.”
” Don’t worry. Even my voice had deserted me. Of what use would that fiddle be, to me any more ? I deserved only this much from Goddess Saraswati . The kind ma, my violin, was true to her vaunted gracefulness. She has granted me a rebirth, and even as she left us physically, she gifted me a saree and a blouse..” she said with eyes brimming with tears. She did not even unfurl and look at the saree.
” I bought it because I felt it would last long.” Venkatappaiah explained lamely, while he unfolded it a bit and draped it around her shoulders.
” It would be a memento of it. “, agreed Rajyam.
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