Life returns to normal and takes wings
Recap: It’s been a while, so a little ‘going back’ will help understand how far the story has progressed. The last few episodes saw Maami and the Nagpur gang escaping a terrible bomb blast in the TN Express while travelling from Nagpur to Madras for Nitya’s wedding. They lost everything but gained a wonderful family in Gopal, Baby and Krishnaswamy as Nitya’s marriage took place as planned.
Though all was well that ended well, maami remained unusually quiet on the train journey to Nagpur. It was best, the group thought, to let her be… she needed some time to get over the emotional upheavals. So it was a restrained and subdued group that made its way back to Nagpur happy to be alive, and looking forward to be back with their families and their daily routine at the chawl.
But maami was not just content to be back where she belonged. The morning after their arrival, she hastily summoned a meeting. Though most of them wanted to sleep in, they came for if maami called, it had to be something important. And so they came – Jayati, Archana, Susila, Shanti, Kanakavalli, Malati, Sobiya, Nisha and Rakhee with Ramya (she still hadn’t forgotten the earlier admonitions and therefore chose to be quiet) and Sivakumar watching from the sidelines.
“I am sorry I called you this early that too on a Sunday morning,” began maami. “But you know, after all that has happened, let’s look back and only count our blessings… and look forward to give back.”
Jayati looked at her quizzically and maami smiled. It was the smile of someone who was determined to do something and knew her way about it. “I hope all of you remember our plans for a women’s enterprise. And also our promises of teaching the slum children?”
“Yes, yes…” piped in Archana, clearly excited by what maami was going to say. “I am ready to make chutneys and pickles and…” Maami stopped her with, “Okay, okay, we know Archana you are a great pickle maker, but listen to what I have to say first…”
The small crowd laughed as maami continued: “I suggest Jayati, Archana and Rakhee start off with teaching the kids every evening. I had spoken to a few parents before we left for Madras and they had agreed reluctantly. I will go once again with Joyda this evening and remind them. We can start off next week. And Archana… don’t worry, your gongura pickle and chilli chutney are also ready to take off soon.”
“That’s a good idea, maami. Let the four of you begin the teaching project while we buy ingredients for our snacks. Before that, we need to clean the house which Salimbhai has so graciously allowed us to use,” said Susila.
The enthusiasm in Susila’s voice surprised the group of women. Till recently, what preceded her reputation was a very short temper usually directed at her eight-year-old, a boy who seemed listless all the time. She never sent him out to play with the other children and kept him locked inside at all times.
Why was she like this? This was something maami had always wanted to find out without prying. “Now that she has come out of her shell, I’m sure we’ll get to the root of Susila’s problem,” thought maami.
So it was with a spirited hi-five that that group of women left for their homes. There was also a spring in their step… smiles that radiated from their hearts and dreams that would change their lives… in so many different ways.
But not all people are blessed… For some cannot even sleep… for nightmares even possess every minute of their waking lives.
“Yes, I can be the change I want to see,” maami convinced herself. “Krishna, kapaathu, naan periya karyam panna poren…” (God please take care of me, I’m embarking on something big!”
(I will try to post one or two episodes every week. I didn’t realise until recently that maami has become a part of my psyche and I could say whatever I wish to say through the character. In short, it’s also catharsis for me.)