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Friday, August 17, 2012

A day passed away!

In those days life in India was simple. At least in the countryside! For, they have not craved for many pleasures. Nor did they entertain any complexities. 

Wants were very minimal. And interestingly, they were all confined to what was available around them — kachika, thataku, water from the freely flowing river or a stream, senagalu, regipandlu… Indeed, they were pretty content with whatever that had come to their share. And days rolled on just like that. Why! Even, life itself rolled on that way. How sweet!

Read the following story told by Satyam Sankaramanchi of Amaravati. You are sure to crave for such a life where days passed off without being noticed. Why, even people passed away like that into oblivion. And the beauty is those left behind haven’t ever cribbed at the passing away of the companion but pretty mightily accepted that as the way of life. So simple!

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A day passed Away!

Original in Telugu By - Satyam Sankaramanchi 
Translator - grkmurty

A day passed. Another day came. As one is thinking about the passed day, the new day too passes. 

In one of those incoming and outgoing days, Pitchiyya garu[1] passed away. There is nothing special about Pitchyya garu passing away in a world where many are passing away everyday. He was not a poet or singer. Nor was he a great accomplisher of anything in life. But like a tiny fish that quietly swims deep under the gushing stream without being noticed, like a stilled crest in a stable lake, without being noticed by time intermingling with the time, he lived his life. Forget about sounds, if one wants to know how he lived by joining the silence into a ‘great-silence’, it’s enough if one observes a day in his daily routine. 

Every morning as soon as he comes onto the roadside pial, his wife Sitamma garu arranges water in a brass tumbler, a piece of burnt cow dung cake and a dry Palmyra leaf aside for him. Washing his teeth and cleansing his tongue with the material served by his wife, he heads straight to Krishna. Come rain or shine, tying the towel around his waist, he has to walk into the river every morning. Standing in waist-deep water in Krishna, he finishes his morning prayers and proceeds to the temple with Krishna water in the tumbler. On the way, seeing children chit-chatting sitting on the pials, he sprinkles Krishna water on them. As the children crying “cold”, “cold” shrink into themselves, he walks forward with a smile. Plucking the flowers from Ganneru[2] plant located in the inner compound of the temple, he wonders, “There had to be two buds here?” He has the count of branches, leaves, flowers, buds—of everything. Putting a few Punnaga[3] flowers in the tumbler he moves towards maredu[4] trees. Plucking a fistful of tender leaves he climbs the steps in the innermost temple-yard. 

By the time Pitchyya garu comes, the priests of the temple finish their abhishekam[5] to Lord Amareswara. Then he performs abhishekam, bathing the god with the Krishna water that he himself has brought and then worships him with the leaves and flowers that he has brought. What a worship! Pitchyya garu’s lips do not move. No chant is heard. The silent-god alone should know that silent-worship! Stepping down, by ringing the bell, he takes leave from Amareswara; he pays homage to nandi[6] by solemnly walking around it with his right hand towards it, and then worships Balachamundeswari by prostrating before her. Then adorning his forehead with the vermilion lying at the feet of goddess, he comes and sits at the mantapam[7]

The priests, who have by then finished their performance of abhishekam, assembling there, are chit-chatting—about the rising prices, making of seasonal chutneys, about Pakistan. He sits quietly listening to them. In between, if any Lingayya asks, “Pitchyya garu! Would you agree or disagree”, he will simply smile. But will never open his lip. Intermittently, he counts the pigeons that have landed on the temple tower.

Pitchyya garu, the man who silently watches the external world, the moment he enters the house, shouts loudly right from the main door: “What chutney today?” As Sitamma garu replies, “cucumber chutney”, or brinjal chutney, he says, “be careful of the chilli powder!” Everyday he should have a chutney ground in a rolu[8]. It must have chilli powder sumptuously. Otherwise, he gets annoyed. Immediately after food, putting a fragment of araca nut in mouth, as he reclines on the cot, Sitamma garu, joining him at his feet, smears castor oil on his feet. Much before Pitchyya garu, biting the araca nut, falls asleep, Sitamma garu starts sleeping by leaning her head on the plank that is under Pitchayya’s feet. 

Circling the village, every evening Pitchyya garu comes to Pandurangaswamy temple. Everyday his conversation with the temple priest runs as under: 

‘‘What curry today?”


“What about chutney?”


“How many worships today?”


“Could make something?”

“A little, of course… smiles acharyulu[10] garu”.

Pitchyya garu too laughs.

From there moving on to Rama’s temple he sits on its steps watching children playing with marbles. Along with children, he also counts the marbles. If it is the season of Zizyphus fruits, he will buy a measureful of regkayaulu[11] and distribute it among children, one each. By the dusk, he returns to temple again. He has his own place in the temple. Sitting there, he watches the parrots sitting on the temple tower or the swaying branches of jammichettu[12]. Collecting the prasadam served at the time of closure of the temple and tying it to one end of his upper-cloth, he returns home. After eating a little food, he passes on a little prasadam[13] to Sitamma garu. He lies down biting a few grains one by one and slips into sleep. 

One day, having thus slipped into sleep, he didn’t get up again. Getting up from the leg-side of his cot, Sitamma garu didn’t cry at the passing-away of Pitchyya garu. She, however, removing her vermilion, said to herself: “All along he used to be before me, now he is within me.” 

Pitchyya garu didn’t achieve anything. Hadn’t settled any disputes. Didn’t discuss any problems. But without being noticed by time infinite, he lived getting himself submerged in it. Isn’t it enough? Not for many! Of course... 

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Acknowledgment: I am grateful to the copyright holder, Shri  S. Shivasankar garu.

[1] Garu—the social art of expressing respect by using plural to address a person or appending the suffix ‘garu’ to a name and so on.
[2] GanneruNerium oleander.
[3] Punnaga— a white flower like tuberose.
[4] Maredu—wood apple tree. The stalk of three leaves of wood apple are called maredu dalalu. A holy tree for Hindus.
[5] Abhishekam—a ritual in Hindu temples where the deities are bathed.
[6] Nandi—name of the bull which serves as the mount of Lord Shiva. Temples venerating Shiva display stone images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine.
[7] Mantapam—a porch of a temple.
[8] Rolu—a stone device used for grinding.
[9] Kottimerakaram—chutney made of coriander and chilli powder.
[10] Acharyulu—highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men.
[11] Regkayalu—Zizyphus jujuba
[12] Jammichettu—a sacred tree worshipped by people usually found in the temple of Lord Shiva—botanical name Prosopis spicegera.
[13] Prasadam—blessed food consumed by worshippers after offering it to the deity.


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