In these difficult times when life is yearningly youthful and the heart brimming over with love, how do you, my dearest friend reconcile yourself to it all?
As far as I am concerned- every moment of my life I spend in my love for you Saramma. And what about you Saramma? Requesting you to think deeply and accept my love with a sweet sweet reply.
Having written off thus in one shot, Keshavan Nair caught himself suddenly looking back over his shoulder. A sort of vague sense of Saramma standing behind with her soft sweet smile. Oh! just a feeling. He read the letter through. Has poetry. Has Tatvagnana. Has mysticism too. Why? - Doesn’t it contain the whole great secret of Keshavan Nair’s heart? The letter now appears better than intended. He folded it in four and put it in his pocket. Getting out of the bank he turned and walked up a narrow bylane. Then a sudden thought: When given the letter will Saramma read it and poke fun at him? Or will she give a reply? And if so what will her reply be? What stands out foremost from Saramma’s character is poking fun... He recalled an incident from the past: A joyful discussion with Saramma. The jokes turned to the subject of women. Saramma told of some great poet or other having sung of women being God’s supreme creation. Keshavan Nair laughed. “Women have only moonlight inside their heads”, he said. He also told the true story of a seven times wedded gentleman as an example. That gentleman’s seventh life partner in the act of eagerly requesting for something fell downstairs and landed on the granite floor below. The gentleman was coming back after leaving her in the hospital when he met his brahmachari friend and was telling him,
“The accident is not so serious!”
“Didn’t you say that the skull cracked open?”
“Yes that’s true.”
“Can you see the brain matter?”
“Hey!” - the gentleman who has intimately known seven women is telling the nityabrahmachaari: “Just because the skull is cracked does it mean you can see the brain?- isn’t she a woman?”
“From which I infer”, Keshavan Nair told Saramma, “that the heads of women are filled with moonlight.”
Saramma had only laughed politely, a bit, at hearing that. Saramma has not talked about it afterwards. Yet wouldn’t the news that Saramma’s head was also filled with moonlight have touched her? Would she bring the topic of moonlight and make fun of him when given the premalekhanam? Isn’t she a female? Must have forgotten the whole thing. Keshavan Nair entered the hotel thinking this way. Not in the mood for coffee. Nevertheless he drank a cup and smoked a cigarette and sat in the hotel a long time thinking: When give the premalekhanam will Saramma give a sweet-beautiful reply or will she make fun of him? The thing called love has not touched Saramma! Lakhs of times Keshavan Nair has tried. But, whenever, quietly he made a move to open love’s scent bottle, she closed her nose! What is this bad smell? Doesn’t he bathe nowadays? This is the manner in which she looks at him! What way then to make her love him?
Lost in such thoughts he reached his lodging place. Looking up to the top floor where his room was- Keshavan Nair stood dumbstruck on the road!... Saramma!
She is engrossed in trying to pull something out of Keshavan Nair’s room with a very long stick, through the bars of the open window!
Keshavan Nair in his astonishment stood thus in the road without going up to his room. What is Saramma beginning to steal?... If it is a purse, that is in Keshavan Nair’s pocket... would it be some shirt or mundu?... or is it some book?... if so then what is there that she has not already read? “You didn’t have to do this Saramma! Don’t I love you more than my own life? If you had only asked me- wouldn’t I have given you anything, anything?”-Telling her with sadness when she’d be coming down with the stick, then taking the letter, “Oh, look it’s the premalekhanam I wrote you”, and then give it to her. She’d read it and cry thinking she’d killed a love like this. Then Keshavan Nair would console her:
“Oh, its all right Saramma, I’ve forgiven you all!”
Thus heart would join with heart…. daydreaming he stood when,
“Oh, I saw you, standing crouched downstairs! Did clerks in banks have work till evening today?”, Saramma’s words from upstairs.
“Oh!”, Keshavan Nair’s soul shrank a bit. He climbed up the stairs towards his room.
Saramma sweating smiling said:
“It’s one hour since I started this cursed job! Nothing I do makes it get hooked to the end of this rod! Anyway I’ve decided to make a duplicate key for this lock!”
“To open the room when I’m not there, is it?”
She stood looking down at the crowded road below and smiling gently.
Keshavan Nair asked:
“Let that be, what were you trying to hook to the end of the stick?”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you did I?” Saramma asked. “What did you think standing all crouched on the road?”
“I thought”, what can Keshavan Nair say? “I thought Saramma you were trying to take something out. What were you trying to hook with the stick?”
“The magazine that was delivered to Shri Keshavan Nair! I saw the post-sepoy putting it through the window. I got disgusted sitting idle without any work to do!”
“Then can’t you quietly fall in love with me?”, he thought, and taking the bunch of keys from his coat pocket, taking the premalekhanam gave it to Saramma with a pounding heart. Also his hand shook a little when he gave it to her. What would Saramma say? She read the premalekhanam, crumpled it and threw it downstairs: “Everything else is fine I hope.”
Keshavan Nair found himself sweating. He didn’t say anything. What to say? The hardness of the female heart. What did god create these things for?... He opened the door took the magazine gave it to Saramma, took off his coat and hung it on a nail. Saramma with the sound effects of someone having swallowed something hot and too sweet had torn the wrapper and stood flipping the pages of the magazine.
Without showing any emotion, Keshavan Nair with the air of having forgotten about the premalekhanam, hardening his heart and behaving like nothing had happened asked:
“So, Saramma what is the news? Didn’t you have any quarrel with your step-mother today?”
Saramma apparently forgetting the premalekhanam she crumpled and threw away said:
“Oh, it seems that father and step-mother may ask me to pay rent too!”
“It’s become so bad?”
“Well? They’ve given my room on rent haven’t they, and—“
“So, Saramma… to stay with me in my room?…”
“Cheey, not that! My step-mother has a notion that she can probably shift me to the kitchen.”
“And your father?”
“Except what my stepmother tells him, what other opinions does he have?”
“Before your father married your stepmother how were you treated?”
“By my stepmother?”
“No. By your father?”
“Those days he was Father! In my opinion the heads of men are filled with moonlight and nothing else!”
Keshavan Nair started a bit. He didn’t say anything. Well, well! Isn’t that something now!
Keshavan Nair as if not hearing about the moonlight after a long pause asked,
“Don’t you have any rights on this property?”
“What rights do I have?” She said: “The mortgage on the house was cleared with the dowry that stepmother brought. Father says the mortgage was because of loans taken when my mother was ill and for her funeral. If my poor mother would have stayed alive only two more years. I could have got at least a BA degree. And some job. Something….
“There are lots of women with BA’s and MA’s going around without jobs! A fat bribe has to be given.” Keshavan Nair said: “Yet in your present state not having a job is a big problem!”
Saramma raised her eyes from the magazine and asked with great humility: “Is there any vacancy in the bank you work in.”
“Its only a chotta bank!”
“Some other place, if some job for me...”
Keshavan Nair looked up, looked at Saramma’s clear eyes and beautiful neck and firm breasts and thought: What other job for women but to love men? To love and to be loved, that’s what god created women for. Not to become industrialists and walk around proudly... Yet, Keshavan Nair, seeming to have thought deeply about it said:
“Why? Do you know of some place having an opening?”
“Yes I know!” Keshavan Nair drew a deep breath and thought: “In my heart, woman, there’s a large opening for you. No push or bribe needed.” Tapping his chest he said: “there’s an opening!”
“Tell you tomorrow.”
“That…”, Keshavan Nair smiled inwardly. Hmm! Crumpled up the premalekhanam and threw it away, eh? Not one word to say about it either? So I’m a person who writes premalekhanams to women everyday? You devil… Job... I’ll make a job...
Keshavan Nair felt very proud of having been born a man. He fingered his upper lip with his left hand. Will have to perfect a half moustache at the next shave! With sparkling eyes Keshavan Nair declared:
“Tell you tomorrow definitely!”
“Not enough to tell, will I get it?”
“Now my mind is finally at peace.”
Without saying a word about the premalekhanam, with her stick and the magazine she went downstairs to the courtyard below. At the door of her room she shouted up to Keshavan Nair.
“Don’t forget that other thing.”
He didn’t move. He didn’t dare to look for the crumpled premalekhanam lying somewhere there outside. He curbed his anger and with a sweet sounding cruel laugh loudly said: