Trim! Trim! Post. That was a call from the Postman. A call which yester year India looked forward to with an eternal hope. There were cases of restless wives of immigrants who saw postmen as God’s messengers bringing those messages of love from overseas, finally falling in love with the postman himself- a perfect case of “shooting” the messenger. Then there were age old senior citizens looking at the post man as a messiah who brings in the money orders from their children, the only connect the children made to assuage their guilt of abandoning their parents in the endless pursuit for greener pastures and pleasures.
Selvan had a sheepish smile on his face when he made those extra efforts to announce his arrival, this time taking the trouble of getting down from his bicycle and walking towards the rear of the house. He knew Madhavanunni will be having his Ayurvedic bath this time of the day. Ensconced in herbal oils, Unni will be standing with the air of a previous era’s Harrison Ford, wearing only a Konakam (undercloth), basking in the sun and also in the misplaced self-belief that he still is the chick-magnet that he surely was decades before.
Unni acknowledged the postman with a smile, a camaraderie only the males enjoy when they exhibit their prowess to the opposite sex in public. Every second day of a new month, Unni knew what awaits him. He was proud of his daughter who remits Ten Thousand Rupees religiously. In fact it is her employer in Ceylon who has given the orders to the bank to divert this much money from her salary and send it to her father every month, obviously at her instructions. Like Draupadi’s special love for Arjun among her five husbands, Unni had a special fondness for his successful daughter among his five daughters. The other daughters meekly acknowledged the power of money.
It was a day of celebration for Selvan also. Unni had a Lion’s heart as well, happily parting with a couple of hundred rupee notes to the poor man. With the Postman’s meagre income it was impossible to make the two ends meet. He had to definitely show an inflated elation on his face in the anticipation of the happy news that he might be delivering. He will keep on standing there with a glee till he gets his due and walk away to mount his rusted vehicle. Poor man had the burden of finding suitable grooms for his two daughters which gave that extra push to the bicycle pedals.
But contrary to Unni’s expectation, it was not a money order that Selvan delivered that day. Unni could not control his tears and the letter dropped from his trembling hands. Selvan’s initial sheepishness was for delivering something different than what Unni expected. But this time he was embarrassed for having delivered a sad news. A sad news was the last thing a post man wants to deliver. He not only loses his tip, he will be seen henceforth as a bad omen, a Devil’s messenger.
Selvan but was neither worried about his tip nor his reputation. Selvan had been serving Unni since two decades now. He has seen the days of Unni as an ex-serviceman desperately waiting for his pension. Unni always hated the day he got pension. He knew the various stake holders were watching and will run up to him seeing the postman delivering the Money Order. Milkman, Grocer, Tailor and even the Barber waited for this post man. There would be nothing left for the kids or the wife once these sharks take away their pound of flesh. Magnanimous as always, Unni even then used to tip ten rupees setting aside his financial worries.
It was with much fanfare that Unni had arranged and conducted the marriage of his favourite daughter. This was despite her preference for a college mate. She agreed to her father’s wishes since nothing else mattered for her when it came to placating her dad. Their bond was that robust. But alas! Everything was going fine till her husband was diagnosed with an acute case of silicosis. The man who kept on coughing like a TB patient was never looking the kind of groom her Father had thought him of. When Unni being a strong believer in astrology had taken the advice from his family astrologer on the horoscopes prior to marriage, the astrologer was all in praise of the two horoscopes which as per him, got along like a house on fire. Little did the astrologer knew then that it will literally set fire on his relations with Unni.
The astrologer being a person who had “rescued” the family from many dangers by effectively predicting them and offering the solutions, was never doubted when he gave a clean chit to the horoscopic match. But all the hell broke loose when the groom continued his persistent cough, though initially he blamed it on the pollen grains floating plenty in the fragrant breeze in the green courtyard which surrounded the bride’s house. But their honeymoon to the tropical beaches of Mauritius gave no respite to the cough, undermining the credence to the pollen grain theory. Eventually it was understood that the penchant for clay modelling had taken a toll on his lungs, making him a perennial sufferer of cough and slow death, much to the dismay of both father and daughter, who in turn shoed away the astrologer and also their belief in astrology.
Selvan continued pedalling under the sultry sun, waiting for another day wherein he can deliver again a good news to Unni. Sweat was dripping from his temple, eager to mix up with the tears around his eyes. But he couldn’t afford to cry, and hence put on a smiling face to deliver the letter to the house nearby. What if the letter had a good news in it? He kept on pedalling.