It might sound ridiculous, but yes I must confess that I indeed owe two rupees to Amudham Aachi.It was that two rupees she lend which got me saved from getting pulled up at home. The story dates back about 25 years ago, to the year 1986 while I was in my class six in this village school at Thirukkattupalli a small town in Thanjavur district. I had just got shifted from Bangalore after a small personal turmoil and got admitted at Sir P S Sivaswamy Iyer Higher Secondary school. As my grandpa was a much respected landlord and a philanthropist of that locality, it was not difficult to get admission.
Though my grandpa was in a position to easily pamper me with gifts and pocket money, he was very particular about inculcating discipline from a very young age. He would always remind that if we don’t value our resources, the resources would neither value us. The daily allowance permitted for me was five rupees which included the bus fare two rupees back and forth, one rupee for any emergency and two rupees for saving at home. Grandpa was very particular about the savings and would ensure that the two rupees was deposited without fail at the end of the day.
7th of February is a very special day for all of us at the school, as that was the founder’s day and there would be a lot of cultural events and most importantly there would be prize distribution for those who had won in debates, speech competition and many other competitions. I had got the first prize in an essay competition and was eagerly looking forward to receive the prize. For most of us getting a prize on 7th February was like getting an academy award, might be my expression is a bit exaggerated, but the fact was you would just get converted to a celebrity overnight, amidst the teachers and of course the students as well. The topic for essay competition was,” What would you like to become after your completion of school?”
Most of my friends wrote that they would become a doctor or engineer. But I somehow was not amused by that idea, I rather wrote that I would like to become a farmer and would take up agriculture as my full time profession. And surprisingly the Judges were impressed by my idea and awarded me the first prize. After the prize distribution as we all were heading back home, I suddenly got this temptation to visit Amudham Aachi’s hotel, as we all were aware that her hotel prepared some of the finest chettinad delicacies in that locality. My favourite was Idiyappam with Pudina Chutney and needless to say the quantity was quite huge for a school kid like me. As all my friends were busy gulping the delicacies in their plates, I was still trying to figure out my finances as to how am I going to account for two rupees which I am supposed to save at home. As though there was some kind of a telepathy, Aachi just came over to me and said in chaste Tamil, “Enna thambi, kalavarapattu poerungega” meaning “What son, you seem scared”.
As she was just saying that, a plate of Idiyappam and Pudina Chutney was served to me and I was told by Aachi that it was free and I need not pay her for that. I was thoroughly taken aback, but composing myself I decided that I would pay her definitely before I leave, after finishing the plate. As I walked over to her to pay the bill from the two rupees which I was supposed to save for that day, I had already made up my mind that I am going to say the truth to grandpa, that I had spent the money with my friends after the prize distribution ceremony.
Suddenly Aachi looked at me and said, “Son just think it’s a gift from me to you for being honest and sincere in saying that you would take up agriculture as your profession and not copying others to say that you would become a doctor or an engineer”. I still could not figure out how she was aware about the contents of my essay that fetched me the first prize and of course a free plate of chettinad delicacy.
But ironically neither I had pursued agriculture as my profession nor have I paid back those two rupees and for that I would like to meet Aachi and apologize. But I am not sure where would Aachi be and what would she be doing now……
So, if anyone of you meets up with Aachi please do tell her that I am really sorry and certainly I did not deserve that free gift….on 7th February 1986.