Lakshmi From Kumbakonam -II

High drama scripts Laksmi’s life
as she takes vegetables out of the fridge
she narrates in a high pitch
the misses she experienced the previous day
she says her friend’s washing machine caught fire
smoke spread thick in the air
she had to pour buckets of water
she then cut her finger while dicing vegetables
pots of blood flowed from her wound
she shows me her thickly bandaged finger
I wonder how she is going to cook
it has drizzled – very unusual for this month, I observe
it rained really hard, she corrects
large pellets of rain fell on her as she drove her scooter
and she could not see the road ahead, she says
she is totally dry, though
I never interrupt her
I  listen to her stories
of the various things she has lost
a stole that was carried away by wind
when dried in the terrace
her outrageously rimmed driving glasses
that she kept on the window ledge
her scooter keys that fell off from her purse…

Then there are the ones
she carries silently like heavy stones
messy divorce
dear brother hanged himself from a ceiling fan
grand mother died of fire accident
caused by leak from gas cylinder 

Now

a cruel incident,
that I only read about in papers
happened  to Lakshmi
this Deepavali

just the day before
she came to cook for my family
packing in a bag the new clothes
I got for her son
she went to pick him from Mylapore Patashalai
they took  a bus to Kumbakonam

I felt her presence in my kitchen that day
in the neat counter top
in the cleaned up refrigerator
in her recipe for garlic rasam

my mobile rang
the sound of fire works
then Lakshmi’s voice scaled over the noise
she cried,
a fire cracker has burst in my son’s eye

my mobile lost signal
then follwed her those painful hours
that she held her son
as she searched for help

she took him to hospitals
first in the small town of Kumbakonam
then to a famed one in Trichy
she spoke to me over the noise of the auto
and then as she bandaged her son’s bleeding eye in the train to Trichy

the retina had been burnt
he lost his sight in one eye
she slept in the corridors of the hospital
spoke to me from the canteen
as her son slept sedated in the ICU.

Still

she can smile now after all that has happened
wear the largest of roses in her hair stylishly
match the colour of her bangles with her sari
when she visits her son
in the patashalai
that he has gone back to after the accident.

Laksmi can’t bear to see an apple rot in my bowl
she urges me to eat, eat them soon
she then gets hyper when my mobile rings 
and I take my time to answer the call
she worries that I have not heard my mobile
for god’s sake  I heard it ring 
she is indignant with the grocer for the mistake in the bill
she folds the bill away in her purse
visits the grocer
and brings me a few coins from him the next day

I had wondered why Lakshmi just can’t chill

I offer a theory
by being highly strung
she can deal with high voltage incidents
she is prone to accidents and tragedies
I wish she remains volatile always
to be prepared for life.

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3 thoughts on “Lakshmi From Kumbakonam -II

  1. That was the ideal description of our dear lakshmi whose every moment of life is never dull, there is never a flat scale in her sing song speech .her high pitch aakaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!! tops the list .hahaha great !

  2. anybody can write about nature, love or war and make it sound good. but to write about an ordinary person, one most of us meet in everyday life and make it interesting–great.

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