CAME THOMAS _ CHAPTER – 6
It is not an exaggeration to say that I least expected Miriam in my house.
Indeed, in my heart of hearts there lies that all – pervading wish to bring her to be forever in my home. But, I know also that it can never be possible.
For him who is born a Brahmin, many rules and regulations are laid down. Of them it is indeed easy only to break many. Nobody would say anything if one keeps his trespassing a secret, fearing the people around, going with his head hung. For instance, there is my father. That he womanizes is an open secret. But, as long as he keeps going with his head hung as if in shame and pretends to worry over his reputation, none says anything against it.
Not daring to play mischief in the Brahmin Street, he had connection with many low-caste born women. No monetary means. Hence, can’t go to whores. He is of that type who, knowing that he is handsome and that his amoral behavior would stir and cause joy at least in some women, would explore that knowledge to his advantage and so satiate his appetite.
For me, such shrewdness has never been within the reach. Till date I have never contemplated on the opposite sex, I must say. In all these full thirty years I have not experienced anything. Because of the conventional outlook that I should marry some girl and approach her as a hundred – percent bachelor. After coming to know Valluvan and through him going to his house and getting to know his mother Aadhi and his wife Vasuki I wish to a marry a girl who, apart from being a blend of these two, possesses patience, like my mother, and never tries to project herself.
Though epics do not say anything in this respect, people believe that Lord Vinayaga eternally sits at the street – corners and on the banks of ponds and lakes, searching for a wife who would have the noble traits of his mother Parvathi.
As for me, from the moment I saw Miriam for the first time, some ripples, some sort of restlessness which had never been before, have come to stay within.
I remember distinctly the place, time and occasion of the first meeting between us. In the fisherman colony someone was lying on the streets. Valluvan and myself, who were wading through the dirt and dust, enjoying the cool breeze, hearing the hue and cry, went to that spot. It was exactly at the same time of our reaching the spot, there came a lady and a girl called Miriam. Someone had beaten black and blue the man who was lying there, only half – alive.
Without the least bit of hesitation or reservation the elderly lady was taking out medicinal herbs and a stone to crush them evenly, from out of the bag of the younger one who had come along with her, and getting water from one of the huts turned the herbs into a lotion like thing and was applying it on the bruises with her own beautiful fingers. Calling that young girl by her name Miriam she was asking her to run home and bring a medicine, naming it. I couldn’t understand their language. But, the name that she called out, Miriam, got stuck in my memory. That afternoon, after she took leave, suddenly darkness came to prevail. When she came back it was like the dawn reborn!
I am very much aware of the fact that the ripples within me regarding Miriam is absolutely of no use. She is the youngest child of the rich Ezekial. She looks beautiful too. There doesn’t seem to be much of a restriction for her. There won’t be any chance at all for them to consider me as their son-in-law. Moreover, she is of a different religious faith. Has come from an alien and. I who belong to that group of Brahmins who boast of their caste and creed, can never hope to marry her. Knowing fully well that there is not the least bit of chance for that, why the restlessness within...?
‘Have I also taken after my father?
Going after each and every female….
But, I am not able to place Miriam in that ‘all and sundry’ category. . . what am I to do. . . .
“Mother will become alright. No need to worry,” – said Miriam. “Sit here,” said she further, gesturing me to sit next her on the swing. It was I who lacked the courage to do so.
“Sister Lizzath has gone to her the medicine. I stayed back, not wanting to leave mother alone. For, no one else is in the house.” Said Miriam, and then began saying, “Your friend Valluvan. . . . . .”
“He is not permitted to enter this region. He is of a low-caste born. In this Brahmin street even his breath is strictly prohibited, so they insist” – thus I gave vent to my impotent rage in some way.
“Amidst us also there are very many similar rules and regulations. Food habits, who we should be friendly with, who should we get married to, who we should lend help in imparting knowledge, who we can treat...like these, we have very many dos and don’ts. Because what we call Jesus – Community is not existing here we are able to come out of our house casually and freely – and move with all, easily.”
“It is indeed a must to have rules and adhering to them,” observed mother in a weak tone. That she was keenly following the conversation that went on between us and even took part in it, gave me great satisfaction.
“Some can never refrain themselves from breaking the laws, as is the case with me,” – said Miriam. This she didn’t say either in pride or in shame. After a moment she said,” Even your son seems to be one such.”
“My husband too,” said mother with her voice expressing the bitterness within.
“The verdict as to who is in the right and who in the wrong depends on what laws they break,” I intervened hurriedly. For, I felt that though Miriam was aware of all about my father my mother shouldn’t speak ill of her husband i.e.., my father, to her.
Fortunately, casting it aside, Miriam started talking of something else. “In my place, from God knows where, there exists a hope that in our religion a Messiah would be born and having come to Earth he would build the Religion of God for the whole world to stand united and bound by love.”
“It seems that some believe the Messiah to have already arrived” – said I. “It was regarding that – though to some extent it was all above my head – your father and Valluvan were discussing. I was listening to them in silence.”
“True, many regard he who is called Jesus, one who lived for 32 to 33 years and finally bid goodbye to this world, having been branded a convict by the Jews and was crucified, as the Christ and the much-awaited Messiah. But, still, his advent doesn’t seem to have served the purpose of bringing love and peace” – said Miriam. “Contrary to that, quarrels and conflicts have become more frequent among the Jews, it is said. Don’t know which is the truth,”
“Truth is something which can never be perceived with precision and clarity – says Valluvan. He often says that one should hail those alone that never hurt other as Truths,” said I. Speaking about Valluvan helped me come out of my thoughts regarding my own self.
“Doesn’t Valluvan belong to your religion?”
“No, some say that his religion has been there even before the Brahmins and Vedic religion came into being. But, for Valluvan, no religion is perfect and fully acceptable. He says that there should be a Universal ideology endowed with humaneness and go beyond the boundaries of the prevailing religions and concept.”
“Why don’t you start searching for it?” – asked Miriam and laughed. There was pathos in the laughter. Also, her ability to think could be perceived in that; and a sort of wholesomeness which go beyond all thoughts. It could be because of the soft-corner that I had for Miriam that things appeared to me so.
I yearned to go on talking to her in this vein this forever and ever. But then, my father came. “How is mother Vaadhoo? What is it, you are standing here, chatting?” – enquired he as if condemning his own fault in me.
Mother answered his query herself. “I am alright now. You don’t have to worry about me so much. There are still more days to suffer.”
“Ok,ok – don’t start grumbling. Let you become alright” – saying so father looked up at Miriam. I didn’t like the way he looked at her. But, how to say that...
“You are the daughter of the Jewish merchant Ezekial, are’t you? Asked father.
“Yes, sister of Lizzeth who came here to treat your wife” – replied Miriam looking at him straight in his eye.
“Why don’t you ask your father to give some job for this fellow in his business concern?.At this age he is just loafing around, without any worry” – said father.
I felt miserable as if treading on some filth.
Miriam laughed aloud. “He has got enough work alright. There is no need for him to get job in a business concern. He is in search of a way for the betterment of humanity. He won’t come to our house as a servant.” Said she.
I was taken aback. This girl is indeed very mischievous… ‘How come she could read what was in my heart? Will it be that Valluvan would have told her that which he has guessed….’
Miriam continued. “If you are really concerned about your son, choose a girl from you caste itself and get him married to her a early as possible. Otherwise. . .the way you go in search of next street Anjalai, the situation would go out of hand.”
The realization that Miriam knew about the Anjalai of the adjacent street sort of silenced father at once. But then, it was not that much of a secret. Rather, it was an open secret.
“There, my sister comes. But, let me tell another thing also. I’m well – versed in astrology and foretelling the future. That is why I predicted so.” – said Miriam.
When Lizzath came inside with her medical-kit, taking that opportunity father left the place hurriedly. After giving me the required medicines and telling me in detail as to how to give them to mother, Lizzath observed: “Your mother is yearning for your love and affection. Don’t starve her” Thus, advising me like an elderly lady and looking at her younger sister, she asked, “Have you done some mischief here too as is your usual practice?,” as if scolding her, and, without waiting for an answer, began to leave, accompanied by Miriam.
Mother rose and sat on the ‘Visupalaga’, and, swallowing the medicine that I gave her, said, “I like that young girl very much. What a hearty laugh! What innocent words! She looks pleasant too. There is wealth also. Her father is a millionaire, you know. She or her sister – how they shower love on others! Willingly coming to me and treating, without asking even a pie. Who will have such a magnanimity?” – And, she heaved a huge sigh.
I could very well interpret mother’s long sigh. But, what else could be there for me to do except sighing along with her? I sat on the swing, where Miriam was sitting a little while ago and heaved a huge sigh. Mother was looking at me intently.