Thatha sat under his tree. Singing beautifully, as he usually did. People sat around the tree. Listening happily, as they usually did. It was a nice sunny day. Ravi was asking his mother to hurry up. “Amma, Thatha will be hungry, please pack his lunch soon!”. He hopped from one foot to another. His mother smiled at the four foot bundle of happy impatience! “What a nice fellow you are! Are you going eat with Thatha?” she asked as she packed the lunch at her own pace. Indian mothers are not to be hurried. They are artists who take a lot of pride in their home making. Ravi nodded.
A little while later Ravi set off with the bundle. He liked songs but he loved stories. And after Thatha and he shared their lunch, Thatha would tell a story., maybe two stories! By the time he got there, there were some other kids too, with lunches to share. They all ate together in excited anticipation. Finally it was time!
“Nap time!” said Thatha, his eyes twinkling. “No!” yelled the children, “Story Time!” “Thatha, tell these children a nice moral story that builds character” suggested an uncle in passing. “No way!” yelled the children. “Thatha, tell these children a nice logical story that builds their intelligence” said the Maths teacher, who came to listen to the stories. “No!” yelled the children, “Tell us a magical, nonsensical story,” said the children.
“Ah!” said Thatha, “This calls for the magic grain!”. From the folds of his clothes, he pulled out a tiny tin snuff box. He opened it and looked at a wonderful, million coloured magic grain, that he had put inside it. Then all the children wanted a look too, and they took turns, coming up to Thatha and peeking into the little snuff box. Ravi gazed at it enchantedly. Then he sat down and waited for the story.
As Thatha told the story, Ravi sat completely still, his face glowing and serious. He would never forget even the tiniest little detail of any story that he ever heard. It was as if the story was for him alone, and no one existed around him. The twinkle in Thatha’s eyes reflected as a sparkle in Ravi’s eyes, and Thatha noticed it. And the sparkle in Ravi’s eyes reflected in Thatha’s story making it more wonderful and fantastic. This cycle went on until Ravi’s eyes shone brilliantly. The maths teacher loved the stories so much, that he wanted to hear them again and again. This is why the children loved their maths teacher.
The maths teacher was about 5 feet tall and very skinny and boyish. All his young life, he wished that he could have gone off and had adventures like Thatha. But he did not know how. You see, he did not have a quest, the way Thatha had. He simply had no idea, what he wanted to find, he just wanted something wonderful and adventurous. For now, all he had was Thatha’s stories.
In the evenings, he would take Thatha home and give him dinner and try to make him sleep on a cot. But Thatha liked sleeping outdoors looking at the moon and the stars. So except when it rained, the maths teacher would leave Thatha’s cot outside. And he started sleeping outdoors too. It was more fun!
One day, the maths teacher decided that it was Thatha’s birthday. He went to a music store and bought a small carry along Tambura and gifted it to Thata at story time. Thatha was delighted. The children took turns strumming the Tambura while Thatha sang along.
Ravi fell in love with the tambura. It made him want to sing too. He borrowed it from Thatha and took it home to show his mom. She was so thrilled. She finished her work quickly and what she did not finish she set aside, and declared it finished. Then she sang as she strummed the Tambura. Everyone was spell bound. No one even knew that Ravi’s mom could sing. Everyone quickly declared their work finished and came to listen to her. Thatha heard her voice from afar and came to listen to her. The maths teacher closed his books and went after him. That day the whole village collected in Ravi’s home to listen to his mom sing. She sang songs of Krishna, the divine cowherd, that she learnt when she was a young girl. She sang of His mother and of his friends and his adventures. When she sang about Krishna, she closed her eyes and in her mind’s eye, Krishna looked just like Ravi!
Thatha called Ravi. “Tell your mom that she can borrow that Tambura whenever she likes! It will either be with me under the tree or in the corner in the math’s teacher’s house. You can get it for her when she wants it and put it back when she finishes.” Ravi was so happy for his mom. He gave Thatha one big hug and then extra one.
Life in Ravi’s home changed after the ‘Arrival of the Tambura’. Ravi’s mother would cook and clean quickly. There was a spring in her step and a shimmer in her eyes. She would arrange the house neatly every evening and send Ravi to get the Tambura. He would carry it carefully down the street with great pride. All the neighbouring moms, would finish their work, dress up neatly and come to Ravi’s house to listen to the Krishna songs. As they heard and listened, they learned and they would join in.
Ravi always put a cot outside, for Thatha to lie down on, as he listened to the songs. The maths teacher gave the children less homework to do so that he would be free in the evenings. He came and sat at Thatha’s feet, pressing them as they listened to the songs. He looked at the rapture on the faces of Ravi’s mom and her friends.
They did not have a quest. They did not have adventures. And they found the same wonderful joy that Thatha had, right in their homes. But he still yearned for a wonderful adventure for himself, something magical, something… Maybe he would just go and explore the world. Maybe his quest was to find a quest! He decided to talk to Thatha about it at story time tomorrow.
Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula