Thursday, 13 December 2012

Waters, Airs, Bells & Professor Fox

The caste system which infuriated Swami Vivekananda to call Kerala (GOC) a cluster of lunatic asylums a hundred years back does not exist today, but he will be glad to know that his definition still holds good. "It continues to be a sociological madhouse of unparalleled dimensions. For example, perhaps this is the only society in India where ideology has got so intertwined with culture that people have ceased to understand the difference" according to Paul Zacharia (

Surely Swami Vivekananda was not aware of the traces of Naranathu Branthan's blood in our veins. Naranathu Branthan ( The mad man of Naranathu, whose main activity was to push heavy stones up the hill just to let it roll down from the summit) was one of the twelve sons of Vararuchi, the famous astrologer of the court of King Vikramadithya, in a Parayi (a maiden of one of the lowest classes of the society in those days). According to the legends the entire population of Kerala descended from those twelve. 

Varunny was among the descendants who had a slightly higher ppm of the said Naranathu Bhranthan's blood in his veins.

He was a frequent visitor in our lodge. All the inmates, mostly college students, liked him. He was helpful as he was always ready to run errands for them. He dressed reasonably well and behaved very sane most of the time. But for the peculiarity in his language, which was definitely unusual, no one could sense the aberration. He used his nouns in plural to refer to all the things normally used as singular in Malayalam. For example for him it was a glass of waters, airs in the foot ball or times as per the clock, Believe me all this sounds much more weirder in Malayalam.

He liked to visit all the lodgers and stand at the open doors. “If you ask him what's it Varunny ?”, his shoulders will go up “nothing” his reply in body language
The bells -  the ringing of a single large cast metal bell - which announced the working hours of the power substation near by was another point of attraction for him. At eight in the morning and five in the evening Varunny religiously presented himself in front of the power station. Exactly at the eighth stroke or the fifth as the case may be, he ordered aloud with great authority 'Stop it'. The timekeeper who rings the bell could not go on even if he wanted to and Varunny got the satisfaction that there was some one to obey his orders

The senior chemistry lecturer of our college was a neighbor. He was popular at college because of his nick name 'Kadan'. Kadan in Malayalam is a type of fox noted for stealing chicken. One of those days Kadan got promoted, he was now the new chemistry professor.That evening Varunny came to me with a strange request. He wanted the word 'congratulations' written on a piece of paper. Varunny very rarely sought anybody's help and I did not see any harm in helping.

Next day CONGRATULATIONS, decorated with chicken feathers of different colors from poultry shop, on the road in front of his house greeted the new Professor.

Varunny never came to the lodge any more. Nor did he appear at five or eight at the substation

Years passed. I was at Thiruananthapuram Railway station. Having missed the train I intended to catch by a few seconds (Had I been younger I would have made it by running a few hundred meters)  I was waiting for the next scheduled for after two hours . With very few passengers around it was boring.
While looking for something interesting I found the poster about Ananda Baba's discourse on world religions. I am not religious any more, but I am still interested in people who talk about it. So decided to spend an hour at the hall near by where the discourse was in progress.
The appearance of the revered Baba did not tell me any thing but when he referred to the waters and airs I was sure I was going to hear about a new religion I have not heard about so far.

After a few minutes I left for the crowd at the railway station, equally if not more entertaining.

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