Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ramakrishnan Ayyar - I

When the hours hand stroke 7 and the minutes hand 12, a heavy wooden fist came out of the cuckoo wall clock instead of a cuckoo. It punched the hanging metal rod from the ceiling, to whose end was attached a rope, which traveled through the hanger chips in the ceiling. At the other end, it tied on to one end of a bucket's mouth, while the bucket hanged from the ceiling from the other end of it's mouth.

When the wooden fist delivered it's blow, it produced enough impulse to move the rope forward by one meter, which produced enough torque for the bucket to open it's mouth by 45 degrees, which spilled enough water on the sleeping person's head directly underneath it, to wake him up.

And so did a typical day in Ramakrishnan Ayyar's life began. Ramkrishnan Ayyar or Ramki, as his friends used to call him, was a young bachelor of 23. He lived with his family, in a suburban house in Chennai. He had completed his graduation 2 years ago, and now was jobless. And needless to say, his father was patience-less towards his hopeless son.

Two months ago, Ramki's father came up with this ingenious method, from his limited knowledge of science, to wake  Ramki up every day at seven, so that he would wash his father's car, cook breakfast for him, find his tie, find his missing file...... etc. One month ago, Ramki's father replaced the cuckoo with a wooden fist. He said it did a better "blow job".

It was not that Ramki couldn't get a job. It is that, he didn't want to do one. Ramki, unlike or like, most of his other same aged persons, didn't realize his ambitions. He was confused. Everything interested him in equal amounts, and he couldn't resolve that particular thing, which he would want to do all his life. Sometimes he wondered, how anyone can go on doing the same thing all his life.

And he was afraid, that if he chose any career arbitrarily, he would not be able to pursue his interested career, when he will find it. Because of the exact reason, Ramki fell ill, just before his Placements, and got well just after. After graduation, he got used to the usual lethargy of day to day life of a jobless person, and gave up all thoughts of pursuing a career.

So, when Ramki woke up on 10 Dec 2010, little did he know what was in store for him. After his father went to his office, his mother announced in a voice, too loud to be unheard
"Ramki, We are going to a party at Kannan's tonight. Be ready by 7pm."

and in a whisper, just enough loud to be heard

"And if anyone there, asks what you do, tell them that you work in your father's company."

Ramki hated parties. He hated any kind of social gathering, where he had to put a plastered smile to his face all the while, and needless to say the number of queries he had to dodge, about his employment status. So when he entered the door of Kannan's magnificent bungalow, he was in a particularly annoyed and unhappy state.

But all his annoyance and exasperation vanished when he saw the beautiful woman standing right behind his host Mr. Raj Kannan, welcoming him and his mother at the door-front. She looked up at him. Her eyes shone brightly and her cheeks blushed slightly for a split second, but then realizing her posture, she adeptly wore down the casual, friendly but cold mask and greeted them.

She was Ms. Shalini Kannan, the sole daughther of Raj Kannan. She had just arrived from USA, completing her graduation, to do a job in a multi-national company. And the party, as Ramki found out later, was for Shalini's home-coming.

Ramki endured ten more phony exchanges of greetings and four more condescending and sarcastic questions about what he was doing. He looked around eagerly and impatiently for the party's "hostess". After a while, he gave up and sat down at the bar.

As he was refilling his glass of vodka, she approached from behind him, and sat down at the nearest chair.
"Hi, I am Shalini." she said, extending her hand.

Ramki took the soft hand, with trembling fingers and shook it. To hide his nervousness, he emptied the glass in his mouth. With the liquor burning his throat, and renovating his energy, Ramki said
"Hi, My name is Ramakrishnan Ayyar. But you can call me Ramki."

And so did the conversation go on. Most of the talking was done by eyes, and there were bursts of laughs and giggles here and there. One didn't understand what the other was talking. They paid more attention "figuring out" each other, than figuring out what they were talking.

But, unfortunately for Ramki, the conversation eventually came to the point, he most dreaded.

"So, what do you do?" she asked.

"Oh! I go out to parties, looking for beautiful girls like you." he said mockingly.

She gave him, her million dollar smile and said, "Ya, I know! I mean, apart from that, what do you do for a living?"

"Actually,..I ... I am ...."

"Oh! He is currently jobless, my dear! He sits at home all day and helps with household chores. Dont' you, Ramki?" came the bitter and sharp reply from Raj Kannan. He was closely observing the interaction between Ramki and his daughter, and pounded at the right time to ruin the moment.

"Yes, sir. That about sums it up" said Ramski with a lump in his throat.

An awkward silence followed this awkward dialogue. Raj Kannan satisfied by his little coup to demean Ramki in his daughter's eyes, went away to talk with others.

"I am sorry about my dad. He can be really rude sometimes. "

"Oh! Never mind."

The rest of the conversation, Shalini tried to deliberately avoid the subjects which even remotely related to Ramki's employment. And in the process, she talked inarticulately and was quite often at loss of words.

But Ramki took it the other way. He misunderstood Shalini's uneasy talks and being at loss of words, as awkwardness and disgust generated from the knowledge that he was unemployed. It lowered both, Shalini's image and his own in his eyes.

After a few minutes, Shalini eyed the person coming out of the door and said,
"Ah! Here he is."

She escorted the person back to Ramki and introduced him.
"This is my fiancee Raj,"

Continued in  Ramkrishnan Ayyar - 2

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