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About the Author
Tripuraneni Gopichand (1910-1962), of Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, India, is a Telugu short story writer, novelist, editor, essayist, playwright and film director. His writings exhibit an exceptional interplay of values, ideas and „isms‟—materialism, rationalism, existentialism, realism and humanism. He is well-known among Telugu literati for his psychological novel— Asamardhuni Jeevayatra (The Incompetent’s Life Journey). He was posthumously presented the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Panditha Parameshwara Sastry Veelunama (Will of Panditha Parameshwara Sastry), in 1963. Radical humanist, profound thinker, philosopher, social reformer and an inveterate votary of truth, Gopichand was a versatile genius, which reflects well in his scintillating stories that are told in crisp language. His stories pose many questions that challenge the wit of readers.
didn‟t allow his pedananna1 to return home
along with the rest of the relatives who came to attend his marriage. He requested him to stay back for another ten days. Not being able to turn down Kutumbarao‟s request, he stayed back. Kutumbarao felt sorry of his uncle. At one time, he was farming about 100 acres. He also owned a rice mill near the railway station and a cloth shop in the town. In the neighboring villages, his word ruled the roost. When he shouted standing on the tank bund, the whole village trembled. Such a man, Kutumbarao heard, is today facing many difficulties. Lost much
Pedananna—uncle—Father’s elder brother.
of his property. He has a grown up son, but good-for-nothing. He is supposed to have said that he will not give a pie for his parents‟ well-being. If this is the son‟s disposition, can the sonsin-law be far behind? It was all, of course, hearsay for Kutumbarao. After becoming a doctor, Kutumbarao‟s father left his village for Madras and started medical practice. Since then, the visits of relatives had become rare. As a result, the happenings in their remotely located native village had become mere rumour for them. Kutumbarao could not understand his brother‟s behavior. As he knew him, he was not a stone-hearted man. During his stay in the village as a child, his brother used to write poetry. Indeed, their family was known for poetry. It was to keep up the prestige of their family under any circumstances that he had been reading Raghuvamsam2 and Meghasandesam3 and explaining their greatness to everybody. He read Manucharitram and explained it to him, too. Explaining all the tribulations and humiliations that Bhattumurthy had suffered from his peers for being a non-Brahmin, he shed tears. He never attended to household chores. Even his uncle never assigned any household work to him. His uncle also had a wish that his son should earn all fame and glory.
Raghuvamsam—an epic in Sanskrit written by Kalidasa. Meghasandesam—a lyrical poem in Sanskrit written by Kalidasa.
At that time his brother was studying final year in the school. Fearing that his son might face difficulties in going to school, his uncle took a house on rent in the town and also arranged a cook for him. In those days, his uncle had no other vocation except being happy watching his son. He was spending any amount of money for his son. He still remembered it. One day his uncle went to school to see his son. In that very school, the son of a zamindar of nearby village was also studying. Looking at the dress he wore, and regretting that his son didn‟t have such clothes, he took him immediately to a shop and bought clothes of better value than those of the zamindar‟s son. The school authorities were giving a special chair to the zamindar‟s son. He quarreled for a similar chair for his son too, questioning, “In what way is he greater than my son?” Kutumbarao could not comprehend how conflict had crept in between such a father and the son. Even if there is any wrong with his uncle, shouldn‟t his brother be faithful to his father who brought him up with so much love and affection? How is it that his brother could be so indifferent to the sufferings of his father who brought him up in life and also gave him good education? It is understandable if he was suffering for want of money. But, that was not the case. He got wealth from his wife‟s side, too. Besides, he was earning as a school teacher. Why then trouble his parents like this? It seems he was questioning, “What did he
earn that places us now under obligation to feed him?” How unfair! Should taking care of the welfare of one‟s own parents be also driven by business perspective? Kutumbarao felt like asking his uncle for more details. So far, he had heard what others had said about his brother. No need that they should say the truth! Many are there in Andhra who float a rumor, watch the fun and enjoy! It is therefore better to know the truth. “Pedananna!” “Yes, my child?” “I wish to ask you about …” “What, my son?” “About brother.” The moment a question was raised about his son, he stooped his head. He appeared to Kutumbarao as an extinct volcano, as a burnt out mathabu4. After a while, it looked as though he was sobbing. Kutumbarao‟s heart quivered. “Pedananna, please …”
Mathabu—a kind of fireworks that emits bright light when burnt.
He could withhold his sobbing. Heaving a sigh, he said, “Don‟t ask about him, my son—if we rip off the belly, it would fall on the legs.”
Kutumbarao didn‟t say anything. Thinking further questioning would be like rubbing salt into the wound, he remained silent. After a while, his uncle himself said— “He is a fine fellow, my child.” “Then how about sister-in-law.”
“Indeed, it is she who has set the family on fire. She does not let us step into her house. She will not tolerate giving even a pie to us.” “Will annayya5 listen to her?” enquired Kutumbarao. “Will not cross the line drawn by her.” “Why?” “Our fate. There is no point in blaming him. We have to just think of him as an inept fellow. A fellow who, listening to his wife, drives away his parents, will he have any future?” Starting thus, he slowly revealed his story. He did not seem to be inclined to heap allegations on his son. “You are, nonetheless, as good as my son and hence nothing wrong in telling you my plight,” he thus started revealing his whole story. No sooner had his wife joined him, than he—who had been looking after his parents till then with devotion—suddenly changed. It seems his son asked him: “Why have you established a cloth shop? Who asked you to construct a factory? Why have you spent so much on our education? Who asked you to do „works‟ that are beyond our reach?” He quarreled for returning the dowry that his in-laws gave him at the time of marriage. Not being able to put up with him and fearing that the family affairs might become public, he had
transferred the ownership of the house constructed by his ancestors in the name of his daughter-in-law. Next day, it seems, annayya had driven them out of his house. Since then, he says, they have been living in the hut taken on rent in the neighboring village. Not being able to stay away for long, if they ever visited their house, they were bullied by them. Even the grandchild was not allowed to go near them. They would not serve food even once. Saying, “Look he has come for eating,” his daughter-in-law would draw the attention of the neighbors towards him. Narrating all these incidents, pedananna shed tears. “Is it fair, my son? Listening to wife and treating parents like this? You know who she is? She is from the pedigree of dukkamukkala. She cannot tolerate our very presence. Remembering the past, she is today avenging the old feuds our and their ancestors had, perhaps, in this style. And, is he to play to her tune?” pedananna trembled with indignation and anger. Kutumbarao could well understand the wrath that the memory of the old feuds with dukkamukkala family caused his pedananna. He was a bit amused reminding himself of the proverb—though the tamarind tree is dead, its pungency is not. Since long, there had been two parties in their village. One party was led by dukkamukkala faction, while the other was headed by his ancestors. His pedananna and the people of dukkamukkala family were basically driven by money. They
had no other vocation than earning money. People of his wing were rich. They often looked down upon the dukkamukkala sect saying, “People clan of are dukkamukkala
ready to even bite grass for money. Is their living too a living?” In the same vein, dukkamukkala clan used to label his group as “cultureless and egotistical.” Kutumbarao was aware of the existence of two parties in his village. Was also aware that people of his sect used to despise people of dukkamukkala clan. But it was all history now. Recently, there was a dramatic change. Clamoring for possessions that are beyond the reach, the families of his clan had gone haywire. On the other hand, being diligent in their pursuits, people of dukkamukkala sect became richer. And slowly they wielded enormous power in the village. The management of the library had gone into their hands. So was the case with the school. Even the panchayati board leadership had gone to them. Many of them got educated. Many of them had even become pundits. All these people who had once remained obedient to
his clan, now started ignoring them. They began to give insult for insult, and affront for affront. This made the people of his clan feel insulted. It even caused vexation to them. It was natural for his pedananna to be annoyed at them and his becoming wrathful at the very mention of the clan‟s name did not appear wrong for Kutumbarao. He became angry with his brother for supporting the woman hailing from dukkamukkala clan blindly without thinking of these developments and troubling his parents. He had also heard that his brother was not letting any relatives into his house other than those hailing from his wife‟s family. In any case, it is horrible to persecute the parents who gave birth to him. “So, what do you want to do pedananna?” “What else is left for me to do? Except to regret his impudence, we never worried about ourselves. Our lives will somehow pass off.” “You have given away the house too, to him!” “Yes, I did give. I could not but give when he asked for it. Why, that‟s not the only thing! Disposing of the one acre in our village that is in the name of your peddamma6, I had purchased ten acres in the village that I am now residing. It‟s a goldmine. But often it gets swamped under drainage water. If I spend
Peddamma—wife of pedananna (wife of father’s elder brother).
hundred rupees on it, it would produce superior kind of rice. I don‟t have the money. I asked him, „Just give me hundred rupees. I‟ll not ask you again.‟ Of course, I had no inclination to ask. Not being able to put up with your peddamma‟s pestering, I did ask. You know what he said? „You transfer that ten acres in my name, then I shall give you.‟ I agreed, „I shall do that, provided you give it in writing to give annually a certain sum to us.‟ You should see his reaction for it—he pounced on me.” “Believe me,” continued pedananna. “Having lost so much, thinking why to quarrel on this ten acres, I thought of saying „Yes‟ to him! But, your peddamma desisted strongly. I have spent her inherited property of about thirty thousand. But she never said a single word against it. This time round, I don‟t know what struck her mind, she stood by her refusal staunchly—” “She did a good thing,” commented Kutumbarao. “Did she?” his pedathandri7 anxiously queried. “Indeed it‟s a good thing. Otherwise, you would have lost even that little support,” replied Kutumbarao. “You mean, taking that ten acres he would have again troubled us without giving money?” his pedathandri asked surprisingly.
Pedathandri—father’s elder brother (pedananna).
Pitying his pedananna‟s innocence, Kutumbarao said, “Aha! Any doubt? Having done all this, what would stop him from doing that?” His Pedananna started thinking over it. He appeared to have not lost his faith in his son fully. Perhaps, it might never happen. Whatever injustice his son heaped on them, he was perhaps finding it difficult to give off the feeling, “After all I am his father; would he be that unfair to me.” Looking at his pedananna, Kutumbarao could now understand how difficult it is for parents to accept parting from their son, and the very thought of having no relationship with one‟s own son any longer. “Pedananna?” called Kutumbarao very feelingly. “Yes, my child?” “Will the farm become productive, if you have hundred rupees?” “It would certainly become more productive!” “That would make you no longer dependent on others!” “I shall become capable of helping somebody,” said his pedathandri. As he was uttering these words, his eyes sparkled. Kutumbarao could see the very bright future of India in his eyes.
That very day his uncle started for his village. When he was leaving, Kutumbarao gave him two hundred rupees. Taking the money his uncle said, “You are also married. Like your brother, in your anxiety to stand by your wife, do not cause mental agony to your parents, my child.” *****
All this happened around two years back. In these two years many changes had taken place. Kutumbarao‟s wife joined him to start conjugal life. No sooner had he got a job than he established his family in Chittoor. In between he had come once or twice to see his parents, but could not stay for long as he found it difficult to stay away from his wife. He returned immediately. Thereafter he didn‟t go even when his father wrote a letter asking him to visit them. The reason could be
anything—of not getting time or, his wife‟s declaration about her inability to stay alone. Or, it could be that he no longer felt quite at home in Madras. Over it, his sister wrote a letter saying, “Have you forgotten us so soon annayya? With sister-in-law by your side, have we fallen out of your sight? It‟s not for nothing that elders say, „The horns that have come much later are more powerful than the ears that have come earlier.‟” The letter made him chuckle. Hitherto, while preparing for whatever exam, if he had not visited home, nobody said anything. At the most, they might have said, “why not pay a quick visit once in a while?” Now, they name his wife as the cause for his not going home. It amused him to learn that his family members think that he loves his wife so much. He had shown his sister‟s letter to his wife. He expected her to be happy about it. Instead, reading the letter she said without raising her head, “Why not go once?” “You said, „I can‟t stay alone‟?” “Have you deferred it for my sake?” “What else for?” “You only should know it. And your people should know it.” He then realized that she did not take the letter as lightly as he did. To amuse her, he said—
“Do I have free-time to go? Office—wife—family, I have so many responsibilities now. Am I alone, as in the past, to stay there for long?” As he was talking so, he remembered his pedananna and his son. He wondered if he too was behaving like his cousin brother. He then stopped the conversation. He did not say to his wife about his giving two hundred rupees to pedananna. Fearing that it might disturb her, he remained silent. He doubted that of late he too was hesitating to behave contrary to his wife‟s likes and dislikes. What if—what‟s wrong in it? If two people are to live together, they should be compassionate to each other. He felt that empathizing with others need not necessarily mean diminishing of reverence for parents. This made him feel like visiting his pedananna and his brother once. A few days later, after attending his friend‟s marriage and knowing that his uncle‟s village was nearby, Kutumbarao visited them. Pedathandri was residing in a hut. His uncle and aunt were happy of his visit. In the course of conversation, his uncle narrated to him all that had happened in the recent past. He revealed that they could not settle their differences. Sometime back, when his mother was seriously ill, almost on deathbed, he didn‟t turn up to see her nor did he send money. Out of two hundred rupees Kutumbarao gave, after repaying
market borrowings, it seems he spent almost hundred rupees on her medicines. As a result, the farm remained as it was. That apart, ten days back when their daughter came to see them after a long time, they were to spend the balance amount on her, else she might feel sad that her parents had seen her off with no gift. The farmers who were conversing with his uncle, confirmed these revelations. They commented, “We haven‟t come across such a son anywhere! What if a son, who cannot look after the welfare of his father, is alive or dead! Can‟t he manage on his own? Should a need arise, we would take care of him. Everything remained alright because he could not come out of his fondness for his son. Had it been someone else he would have dragged him to the court making him run for his life.” “Don‟t curse him, after all he is my son. Because my days are not good, he is being driven by such thoughts,” said his uncle. “See? Despite whatever they do, he won‟t let a bad word be spoken about them,” said one of the farmers.
Seeing his uncle, Kutumbarao‟s eyes welled up with tears. Giving him fifty rupees that he had, he started for his village to visit other relatives. As he was about to go, his uncle took him aside and said— “Don‟t let him know of your giving money to me, my child.” “What‟s wrong pedananna?” “Despite his not giving, he will not keep quiet if he comes to know that I have taken money from others!” “Why?”
“Seems, it is an insult to him. Thinks, others would come to know of his troubling parents by not giving money. He thinks that would spoil his reputation.” Boiling within himself at the acts of his brother, Kutumbarao said, “Ok pedananna.I will not…” From there, he went to his native village and called on every relative. All the relatives were quite unhappy with his brother. Narrating all his acts of commission and omission, they inferred that he was a cur in their clan. They also wanted to drag him to court and give him a run for his life. But they pointed out that his uncle was not agreeing. “He will not allow any of his father‟s relatives enter his house. Even if anybody goes, he sends them out without even inviting them for dinner. But, he looks after his wife‟s relatives entreatingly. Same is his approach in the case of village politics—supports his wife‟s relatives. People of dukkamukkala clan have indeed become veritable gods to him,” averred the villagers. Listening to all these words, Kutumbarao started straight for the town in which his brother was working. *****
Seeing Kutumbarao, Ramarao asked, “Coming from where!” Ramarao is the son of his uncle. He is working in the town as a school master. Kutumbarao replied that he came to attend his friend‟s marriage and availed the opportunity to see him. Immediately, Ramarao went inside and returned with his children. He has three daughters and a son. The son is the eldest. He introduced
Kutumbarao to his son as babai8. The girls circled him chirping “babai, babai”, but the son held back staring at him. “He has picked up all our traits,” said Ramarao to his cousin brother. Kutumbarao was shaken by this comment. He looked at his brother intently. Ramarao said: “Neither it strikes to him, nor does he listen to others. He holds his thoughts firmly. He is not the kind who mixes freely with people. In the routine course, he cannot show respect to others. Don‟t know how he will survive.” Getting angry at this, the boy walked away giving a piercing look at his father. Meanwhile, his sister-in-law came out offering formal pleasantries to Kutumbarao. “How is everything, fine abbai?” “Aa.” “Father and mother are keeping fine!” “Aa.” “Where are you working now?” Kutumbarao answers. “Isn‟t ammai staying with you?”
Babai—uncle—father’s younger brother.
“Aa.” “After you started residing in Chittoor, did your father or mother come to see you?” “No.” “They won‟t come,” said Ramarao. “Your views are singular,” his wife said. “Not that; they had learnt that he too, like me, had changed with the arrival of his wife to start marital life,” said Ramarao, with a feigned laugh. “Your brother always talks like that! Come on, get up to have bath,” said she, smilingly.
“Get up babai, come on babai,” saying, the girls started pulling his hands. After bath, the brothers sat for lunch. While taking lunch, they both recalled many events of their childhood. They talked about their village affairs and also about the status of their relatives. “Our village is no longer what it was. Our families have totally turned bad. They have become the abode of improbity. Jealousy and vengeance have become the current characteristics of our people. Irrespective of whether they are our people or outsiders, whoever is doing well, it is their fall that the others are wishing for. Today, if you look at our families, you would be reminded of our ancient constructions of glory, which are today in ruins. You feel pity looking at them. But what use? They, having broken into such small pieces which are beyond repair, are getting mixed up with soil,” said Ramarao. “Apart from your getting spoiled, you are spoiling him too,” said Ramarao‟s wife with a smile. “You say, I am spoiled?” asked Ramarao. “Ask your people, then you will come to know,” said his wife. “Tell me your opinion,” said Ramarao.
“Do not listen to his words, abbai9,” she walked away laughing. Both the brothers finished their lunch. Kutumbarao lay over the bed, meant for him in the room, and reflected upon the day‟s happenings. His brother had changed, changed completely. But that change did not appear as dreadful as it was when others narrated. Thinking so, he fell asleep, overtaken by the fatigue of the journey. After a while, he woke up. Somebody was conversing in the adjacent room. Listening to the voices, he could recognize it as that of his brother and pedananna. His pedananna was saying, “Nayana10, give me fifty rupees! I shall not ask again soon.” “What have you done with the money taken last time?” “What shall I say, after taking money from you I went to a village to visit our relatives. After taking lunch in your maternal uncle‟s house, I slept for a while. When I got up and looked for money, it was not there. Whom shall I ask? All are our near relatives. It‟s all my fate.” Ramarao did not appear to have believed it. haven‟t spent for the court case?” “No. Am I to do what you are against?”
Abbai—an informal and a warm way of calling a younger male. Nayana—an affectionate way of calling a son by a father or mother.
“Might have lent to somebody in the village.” “No. No. Rama, Rama! Will I believe their words? Will I let your hard-earned money go into their hands? Whatever you might think, nayana! I wish you should earn lots of money and become a great man. After all, I am your father. I have brought you up with these hands! Can I wish to subject you to tribulations, nayana.” Ramarao remained silent. Kutumbarao could sense that he had gone inside to get money. All this appeared pretty confusing to Kutumbarao. Could not decide either way. Realizing that unless he confronted his pedathandri, reality would not come out, he came out of the room. Ramarao also came out with money and gave it to his father. Taking it he said: “I do not like to make you spend so much money, nayana! As far as I am concerned, I do want to stay with you chanting Rama, Krishna! What else do I need except to stay with you and watch your children growing? But, your amma11 is not allowing it to happen. You know her nature, nayana. She always wants to have something of her own. Doesn‟t want to live under the roof of others. What can I do? She has lived a rich life. At the fag end of the life, I do not want to deprive her of her longings.”
He then saw Kutumbarao. He thought that on seeing him, his pedananna would be surprised. But it didn‟t happen. As though he had not seen him for long, asked him, “When did you come?” “Right now.” “How is your father?” “Aa.” “He won‟t come to see us even for once. We may not matter to him now,” said he. “Must he not get respite from his busy engagements?” Ramarao tried to smooth the conversation. “If only he had the desire to see us, won‟t there be respite? You don‟t know how much we struggled for his education! Wishing that he should get educated and become an accomplished individual, we sent him to the college with the money of the undivided family. Isn‟t it because of him, we became indebted! It is the debt that we made for his education which has grown over years that vanquished the whole property. If we are today cribbing like this, isn‟t it because of him? But he doesn‟t have that gratitude. He doesn‟t even bother to come and see whether we are eating or not, whether we are dead or alive. What matters for him is himself, his wife, and his children.”
Kutumbarao‟s mind became blank. He sat before Ramarao quietly with droopy head. “Pestering own son is over. So, is it now the turn of brother‟s son?” asked Ramarao‟s wife, from behind the door. Listening to her words, his pedathandri got up saying, “I will make a move nayana.” “Have food and go,” invited Ramarao‟s wife. “How this new-found courtesy?” said his pedathandri. “What are you saying nanna12 ...” Ramarao intervened. “Oh! Come on, you need not defend your wife. To exhibit her civility before him, she asked me to stay back for lunch. Did she ever ask before?” saying he went away. “See abbai, if there is anyone around, this is how it goes. If none is around, happily he would take lunch and go. What use anyway in blaming others? The weakness lies in him. He gives away whatever money he asks. Taking away the money, he tells everybody whatever pleases him. And yet, he keeps quiet,” said she.
Both the brothers sat quiet. When Kutumbarao, raising his head, looked out, his pedathandri, standing on the road, was waving his hand, gesticulating to come out. He got up and slowly walked out. “See nayana? That‟s the way. All said and done, I am her father-in-law. But see her, standing in front, how she is talking provocatively. To prove that she is good, and the fault is only mine, she acted like that before you. Will I fall in her trap? He used to be like a tiger. After becoming her husband, see, how cat-like, he has become. As she is chirping like a bird, see, he could not even say a single word.” Kutumbarao did not say anything. He felt suffocated like a fly stuck in honey. As he did not say a single word, his pedathandri became suspicious. Coming nearer to him, he laid his hand on his shoulder and said, “Are you wondering at my addressing you as though I have not seen you for long? What else can I do? He is the kind of a fellow who can count the intestines, if I yawn. If he comes to know that I met you earlier, he would, doubting that I might have complained against him to you, not let me step into his house. Living thus far, today, at this ripe age, I am to fear everybody nayana!” Shedding tears, he continued: “See nayana how cunning he is! Whenever I came, he sent me back giving nothing. Today, because of your
presence, fearing you may think of him badly, he gave me fifty rupees.” “What pedananna? He had given it well before my coming?” said Kutumbarao. Pedathandri got angry at his words. He pounced at him ferociously. “Gave it before your coming? You have seen it? Isn‟t it me who has seen it? I have been thinking—saying this or that, she would get you in her trap. How is it that timid fellows like you all, had born out of us?” he went away hurriedly. Kutumbarao stood there staring at pedathandri. Looking at Kutumbarao as he walked into the house, Ramarao enquired of him, “Has he asked for money?” “Who?” asked Kutumbarao. “Nanna.” Kutumbarao nodded his head in the negative. “Has he said?” asked Ramarao. “What?” “About me,” said Ramarao laughingly. “Why not? That‟s the only work he has,” said Ramarao‟s wife.
Kutumbarao looked at his sister-in-law. She was smiling. Looked at his brother. He sat ready to listen. Finding himself in an awkward predicament, Kutumbarao said, “Why all this vexation? Perhaps, giving him a certain amount per annum may solve the whole problem.” At this, Ramarao‟s wife cast a sidelong glance at her husband with a smile. He could sense that his father had spoken about him to Kutumbarao negatively. He didn‟t like his brother misunderstand him. He explained— “You know me well. I don‟t believe in accumulating wealth as the sole objective of life. I believe that there are certain values which are greater than money. Amongst them, humanism is the most important. Whoever gives a go-by to humanism is, in my opinion, not a man but only a beast. I look at all the problems that I encounter in my life from this perspective. Yet, I could not make my father satisfied. This is not an isolated conflict that‟s going on between me and my father. It‟s happening all over the country.”
“The abyss that has come between fathers and sons today had never happened earlier. The prime cause for this is the nonexistence of today‟s level of difference in perspectives and thoughts in the past. The transition in the social fabric from our great grandparents to our parents was indeed gradual. That is why time passed smoothly with no or little conflict between fathers and sons. With fear and reverence, the son used to submit himself to the orders of the father. The father too used to ignore the little changes that have crept into his son‟s behavior as though not seen. Today, it‟s not like that. Changes are taking place very fast. When the traditions that they have believed in staunchly and the theories that have inspired them all along are turning topsy-turvy right in front of their eyes, fathers find themselves in a mess. They are not able to attune themselves to
the changing times. They are not able to understand the circumstances rightly.” “This is what exactly happened with my father. Don‟t think I am chiding him. He did greater than what any other father placed in these circumstances would have done for my progress. I cannot deny that. Because he has given birth to me, if one insists that whatever appears good to his eyes should also appear good to me, then it becomes a real problem.” “Ever since I got the job, I have been imploring him to stay with me. But in the beginning he had not agreed. He said: „Having lived thus far you want me to live under the son‟s eaves? You want me to eat a few morsels from daughter-in-law‟s hands, that too, of a lady from dukkamukkalavari clan, no way!‟ In those days, whenever I tried to give him money, he used to say, „you are the giver and am I the taker?‟ Such was his indignation.” “But within a few days, all the wealth evaporated, not even a cent of land remained; it became difficult to make ends meet. Coming to know of it, myself and your sister-in-law went to him and with intense pleading and great difficulty, could get them to our house. Then on, neither of us had peace. Right from day one of their coming, they started pestering your sister-in-law. You know your sister-in-law is dukkamukkalavari woman. You
also know that between our clan and theirs, there has been a feud running for generations. Father could not forget this even in his sleep. He has grown up with that feud, and has become old in it. Even if he feels like changing today, he cannot.” “Keeping this feud in mind, he used to reproach her for everything. „Today you have become the feeder and we the fed,‟ he taunted. He often said, „Your great grandfather was gleaning in our rice fields. Your people have made money by biting foul means; if we were also to do the same, I would have made lakhs of rupees by now.‟ He has been imagining that she hesitates to spend money for all things. Not being able to put up with the admonishing of my father, if she replied, he immediately complained to me. „How the hell are you leading marital life with her for all these days?‟ He questioned me. „Either she should stay in this house or I should,‟ such was his rivalry.” “What am I to do? I tried to explain to him several times, but my pleadings made no sense to him. Besides, he used to pounce on me saying I am defending my wife. Since then, he had been telling everybody that I am a slave of my wife, that heeding to her sayings I am troubling them in varied ways, that I am not even feeding them properly and that I am a man with no spine who dances to her tune.”
“We have tolerated all this, accepting them for what they are. Behind me he speaks bad about me, but in front of me behaves alright. Remaining so, he, caressing my son, complained against his mother even on trivial issues and in the process could succeed in creating an aversion in his mind for his mother. Being young, believing whatever he said, he started fighting with his mother. He could not even stand the very presence of his mother. Your sister-in-law, who tolerated all this, could no longer put up with this development. I told him, „It‟s not fair to goad the son to fight with his mother.‟ But, to me he would say that he is not aware of any such thing, that it is my wife who not being happy with him and hence to get rid of him had fabricated all this. Once I step out of the house, it begins again.” “Seeing all this, I too felt that there is no other alternative except to keep my parents separate from me. Once, when my sister came, I asked her to take them to her house for a month. You know sister and her husband have great respect for father. Even they could not entertain them in their house beyond ten days. It was the same, there too. He was saying anything and everything that strikes him against brother-in-law. Brother-in-law eats mutton. It seems father fought with sister insisting on her not to cook mutton for him. None of us in our families is habituated to eat mutton. But, for our sake, would everyone give it up?
Saying, „If you cook mutton, I will not eat in your house,‟ father remained obstinate. He abused the mutton-eaters bitterly. She could not tolerate her husband being dusted off by him. Not being able to put up with their bad mouth, she ultimately sent them away. Since then, they have been living separately. Whenever he felt like asking, he would ask for whatever money he felt like asking. And I have been giving. But, how much can I give?” Ramarao heaved a sigh. Hearing all this, Kutumbarao gasped for a while. He could never imagine that there was so much happening behind the curtain. In response to his brother‟s last question and his sigh, he asked, “After all how much does he need? Isn‟t it just for him and aunt?” “Thus far, it is pretty alright. But, he is collecting from me schematically. He is behaving as though his only job is to drag me on to roads and make me a laughing stock. He takes money from me. Then, he lends it in fives and tens to all those who speak on his behalf and enjoys listening to their cursing me. Once the money is over, he would come to me again and ask for it. This is the game.” “I heard there is a little land in his name,” said Kutumbarao.
“That‟s a wound. It gives no yield. Yet, he won‟t listen to me. Every year, he spends hundred or two hundred rupees on it. The return from it could not suffice to pay even revenue cess. Again, I have to give it. If anybody asks, he would say, „Being a man, shouldn‟t one have at least ten acres of farm?‟ My income plus the income that comes out of your sister-in-law‟s property, is not sufficient even to meet my family expenditure. I do have respect for him. But he should give me the scope to treat him courteously. He should realize that besides his responsibility, in this world, we have other responsibilities too. Otherwise…” “How come, brothers are sitting silent?” asked Ramarao‟s wife.
Kutumbarao. “What, said everything to abbai?” “Yes … I said everything. Good to keep him informed of it.” “What good? Is it, like you, to get spoiled by listening to wife,” the woman from the dukkamukkala clan said smilingly!