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Thadhiginathom - Part 10
- Zakir Hussain
English translation: Dushy Gnanapragasam

July 13, 2020

(Reproduced with permission)

Can a leaf burden a tree?

Every fork in the road leads to a new path. The human race that originated in one place and lived as one community was only able to inhabit the globe and establish distinct ways of life and multiplicity of unique cultures by separating from each other. The reason we see generalities in human nature and culture is because their origins are one and the same. Even though the differences are many - in such aspects as the tone of skin, language, dress, diet, and social construct - the entire human race has followed the same evolutionary trajectory. Communities that separated many eons ago in search of food, settled down close to sources of water.

Communities that depended on hunting for food, now learned to cultivate the land and were able to find permanence in one place. We continue to propagate and record ideas developed by studying, observing, and extrapolating facts we learned of these communities that thrived or perished on the shores of seas and rivers.

It was time to bid farewell to Chitra Visweswaran and her troupe. They had bookings to travel from Salem junction on the Yercaud Express. There was no measure for the joy my three friends and I who accompanied them to the station were feeling at that time. It is rare for both the artistes and organizers to be completely satisfied and happy -without the slightest misgiving - with the outcome of an event of this magnitude. I have had many such bad experiences. Once a senior dancer yelled at someone for a minor issue that could have been easily resolved - without realizing that the person she was berating did not understand a word of her English. He left the place without his smile ever leaving his face. This angered the dancer even more and caused much embarrassment to many involved. Even 'anger' gains value by others acknowledging it. After seeing off Chitra madam and her troupe, I walked to the hostel avoiding the car ride. I slept well that night after many days.

From the next day on, my life returned to normalcy amidst the HOD's scowling, hostility, humiliation, expulsion, and other such rituals continuing. Eventually, my college life - which had lost purpose, ambition, excitement, and direction due to tragic events in my life such as Abdullah Periyappa's demise, my parents' separation, and Alamelu Periyamma's incurable obsession with MGR - came to a thankful end. I returned to my father's house in Thurinjipatti. He had just remarried and strutted around with a newly-wed glow. My brothers and I became unwanted baggage. It's only natural to dispose of it. On an opportune and auspicious moment in the middle of the night my father threw me and my meagre belongings out onto the street. When I felt like a wretched piece of fabric caught in the waves, a divine presence unseen by the eyes embraced me. It stroked my hair with its enchanted hands. Though I could not see it wipe away my tears with a smile, I could feel it. It held me by my hand and directed me to the city of Madras where Chitra madam lived, saying, 'Your next station in life is ready.' Like a rower who placed his complete faith in the navigator, I went to the Bommidi railway station which was four kilometers away and bought a ticket to Madras.

I was born into a wealthy family and was raised as the darling of the village. I suppose god had decided that the purpose of my birth would be fulfilled in a different town. With a mere three hundred rupees in my pocket and with the knowledge that I could never return to my village, I boarded that very same Yercaud Express with a one-way ticket to Madras.
(July 10, 2020)

To be continued...

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