MALABAR AFLAME : Lesson 4 – (Karoor Soman)


Amazon Best Selling Novel  “Malabar A Flame” in Lima World Library

4. Grasshoppers

The city is cloaked by a pale moonlight. A whizz of cold
wind swept across the high rises. Though Mary searched for
Antony in every room he was not to be found. The delighted
and blessed moments shared during the previous night cast
a shadow in the mind. She tried to restrain the wandering
thoughts. Won’t any good wife get anxious when the hubby
who slept with her was found missing in the morning? Mind
again gets confused. She was still not ready to hand over her
beloved husband to the unbridled thoughts.
Nonetheless her heart was throbbing. Remains of sleep
hung in her eyes. Just as blood flows from the heart to sustain
life, Antonyachhayan might have gone to work. His mind
might not have allowed him to awaken me from my deep
sleep. Should the mind go beyond this? When the mind
loses control then there arises suspicion and superstition.
Don’t allow the mind to push my beloved to the venom of
suspicion. In her brooding mind the nostalgia of the native
land came up.

Chilly days of a Makaram (January) morning.
“Don’t everyone long to sleep well? In sleep the travails of
life won’t disturb us?” When Mary woke him up with black
coffee in the morning, Antony asked her. The following days
without waking him up she sat watching him dozing. Sheclasped his nostrils whenever snoring aggravated. When she
recollected everything Mary smiled. When the son was not
seen on the verandah appan would ask: “What’s it? Did he
not get up?’’

“Came tired from Cochin. Let him sleep still, appa,“then
appan would be mum.
In her bright eyes anxiety arose. Casting eyes and mind at
the door she sat on a chair. In this country where sun is not
supposed to set people will have only less sleep. If not, just
like life, sleep is only temporary. Though the flesh is willing
to fondle the eyes to sleep, the spirit doesn’t allow. Mind is
just like a vehicle. Speed it up. Slow it down. Leave it free.
Speed it up to an accident. Knock the rival down. It is not
easy to know the mystery of the mind. She realised that if we
don’t rein the mind we can’t get peace in life.
When the door creaked open she jumped up and went
there. The mind became clear. The eyes glittered. Antony
entered in. Slammed the door. When he saw her his face
brightened. “Why did you get up?’’
“How can I sleep when the co-sleeper was found
Antony felt something hidden in those words and glance.
It was her purity of heart that woke her up from her sleep.
Will one who sleeps like a statue get such purity? He must
be in some sort of a hallucination. A doubting female will
be an avalanche of suspicions. In that deluge life itself will
be drowned. Nonetheless she would never believe that I
have gone to entice another woman. That too in the London
Metro. That too on the day of the family’s arrival. Antony is
firm on that.
She found his shirt flecked with some green powder. She
flapped it up and asked: “What’s the green powder on the
shirt.” “When I fed the horses. Morning 3 O’clock I went to
feed the horses,” he said one hand placing on her shoulder.“
You were in deep sleep. It is the duty of Ali. I was told by
muthalali to take more care in feeding the horses. It is these
horses that run in the races”. Antony reclined on the chair.
“Isn’t Ali fit to feed the horses?”, while unbuttoning
Antony’s shirt, Mary asked.
“He used to come at 4 a.m. A lousy fellow. During daytime
also he is sometimes found sleeping. While in our native
place it was not so.”
He handed over the plastic cover to Mary and said: “
Everything is in it. How many years gone since I drank tea
prepared by you’’.
“Didn’t you buy milk for Aiysha’’, while going to the
room Mary turned back and asked.
“A packet like this was given there. Ali had reminded me
to do so.’’
Mary walked to the kitchen. He watched her graceful gait
but thought her real beauty lay in her mind than in her figure.
In one week in her husband’s lodging she began to love
neighbours as if they were her kith and kin. Antony observed
that she was not reluctant to share the joys and sorrows of
others. That was why she asked him whether he had boughtmilk for Aiysha too. People who lived in different places, yet
she saw them as kin. She came near with the familiar burnt
husk of paddy in a bottle. What are you daydreaming, she
asked with a smile.
Antony smiled away her question. Then blurted out: “Edi
(she) mandi (fool), does anyone dream with open eyes?”
“I’m not such a blockhead’’, Mary feigned anger. Antony
nodded. Like her graceful face her desires and opinions are
graceful.. When there is no money at home to buy vegetables
she would cook jack fruit kernel curry and kernel thoran
(a dry dish seasoned in oil). She enjoyed the respect and
affection others showed her. She was a giver of joy to anyone
like a mango tree feeding sweetness to its beholders through
its fruits of prosperity.
When Antony advanced to embrace her she gestured to
the room where children were sleeping and warned that they
would get up. Then she affectionately approached him and
gave him the burnt paddy husk and the coconut leaf rib. His
forehead wrinkled when he saw the rib of the coconut leaf.
In that rib there was the aroma of the homeland. The palm
frond falling from the coconut tree in their front yard of the
house in the native land. Many ribs he had split from the leaf
and wiped his tongue. Antony was happy.
“Do the people here clean their tongue?”, Mary wanted
to know. “Clean the tongue! They don’t know that. Some
brush the teeth once or twice a week’’.
“Aiye, don’t their mouths stink?’’ Mary was surprised.
“The rotten stink is from the words coming out of some
persons’ mouths, we will get blushed.”
“Aye… While you brush your teeth, I’ll make tea.” By
settling the streaks of hair on her pate Mary went to the
kitchen. Only then she remembered that there was no fuel.
“Antonyachhaya, there is no firewood here for making
Seeing her stammering voice and perplexed face, Antony
giggled. Antony’s expression dismayed her. “There is not a
speck of wood in the kitchen. When I said this, one laughs.”
“Why do you laugh? Can’t we buy fire?”
“When sense runs amok, things are like this. Don’t you
grasp the meaning of that? A fussy situation!”
“First you relax your mind and come with me to the
kitchen. I shall tell you all. Watch it and learn them all.” They
reached the kitchen. He showed the hearth. And told her how
to ignite the gas oven and how to put it out. Mary watched
it with evident amusement. When she saw the flames Mary
raised her eyebrows.
The initial bewilderment came down. Yet she was not
completely free from the scare. Will this create any casualty?
What all unknown things we have to learn in life. It was all
new experience and knowledge. She placed the pot of water
on the oven and then both cleaned their teeth and Antony
went to bathe.
After bath Antony felt happy. The light in the hearth filled
his heart with joy. Getting fire for cooking is like getting a
chance to eat with family. The first luck he got in the London life. The flame in him reflected in the eyes like sun rays. A luck
never expected in life. An obligation to the magnanimous
muthalali that even after many births he cannot fulfill.
One who does good to whichever country be belongs, is
great. Peter Scot is one of them. If it is so, why his brother
is not such a great man? Did he not fetch us here? Wielding
power, he is one who makes men slaves from horizon to
horizon. They were not chosen by people. As survival is for
the fittest they besieged and seized. Those who undergo
bondage would not back them. The British rule is better than
the Indian bureaucratic reign. Whether it is native or foreign,
there should not be power-crazy people.
For long Britain was ruled over by the Roman Emperor.
Likewise Britain ruled over America. It is all an evolution of
life. The results of such evolution lead man to freedom and
prosperity. Can we say such martyrdom is not welcome?
Steam fumed from the teacup on the table. Fried banana
chips, ariyunda (rice powder ball), black halva. The bread
bought in the morning spread on the table. When they were
enjoying the breakfast, Mary said: “I don’t know if Aiysha
has lit the fire. Let’s go up and see.”
“Then hurry up, finish breakfast and go fast.”
There was fog like smoke at a distance. Plants and birds
waited for the vibrant sunrays. When Antony and Mary
reached, Aiysha was awake. Ali had gone for duty.
Their presence made Aiysha happy.
She welcomed them in.
“We came for an initiation ceremony.”
“Don’t be silly Antonyachhaya, consecration and
“Did you light the gas stove?” Mary asked.
“No,” Aiysha said. They reached the kitchen with Aiysha.
Mary inaugurated the ritual formally by lighting the stove.
Aiysha stared in surprise.
They felt as if in possession of a treasure. They taught her
how to light the oven. Mary saw Aiysha’s face gleaming with
joy. They left saying goodbye. Antony escorted Mary up to
the home and hurried to his place of work. The supervisor
was waiting for him. Seeing Antony, his eyes reddened with
rage. As Antony was passing him he shouted in fury:
“Wait here.”

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