Kadhalikka Thevai Drama – Malar’s Story
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are a stint of fiction in all their entirety. Any resemblance despite this to real persons, living or dead, is purely miraculous and incredibly extraordinaire. And yes, coincidental.
Kindly note that this post is not meant to be offensive or rouse up riotous sentiments and be taken in the same way as it was written.
Location: A rented, leaky, shack-y, nameless house, Chennai
Mood: Bi-polar & Schizophrenic
Word of Caution:De asini vmbra disceptare – To argue about the shadow of an ass.
The bony, hawk-like woman, stops pounding the wet, bunched-up towel on the gargantuan stone in the backyard and screams herself hoarse.
The biggest bubble amidst the soap suds quivers, teeters on the edge and bursts, bringing to limelight the power of her sonar radiation; quite a miracle essentially, considering her emaciated frame. One might wonder if her current mental condition could be attributed to the general cantankerous emotional state brought upon by acute food deprivation. She throws the half beaten towel aside and walks forward, every step furnishing positive encouragement to the BG music – a heartrending melody coaxed out of a solitary Nadaswaram in a recording studio.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham stops at a distance where it is possible for Malar to count the blackheads on her mother’s nose. She places her undernourished hands on Malar’s forearms and gives her a powerful shake. And she asks the Omni-usable questions.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Stares severely into Malar’s eyes) How could you do this to me, Malar? Where did you get the courage to even attempt such a thing? Is this how I raised you? Answer me!
Malar: (Softly) Amma, I couldn’t help it. It just happened.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Upset and at a loss to comprehend her eldest daughter’s behaviour) Amma, please talk some sense into her. Why is she doing this?
And the frame zooms in on The Sympathetic Paati – Mrs. Mathrubhootham’s mother.
The Sympathetic Paati: (Worried and secretly proud of her rebellious granddaughter) What should I tell her? She’s old enough to take her own decisions. She’s been taking care of herself for quite some time. Do you think she will even listen to you now, after so many years?
Malar covertly sends a grateful smile to her grandmother. The Sympathetic Paati winks back.
Malar: (With more conviction than before) Amma, I love Aaditya. I cannot live without him.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Eyes flashing with offended anger) Malar!
The pressure cooker in the kitchen chooses that minute to emanate the third whistle. Mrs. Mathrubhootham abruptly leaves the backyard and enters the house.
Malar and The Sympathetic Paati stay back.
Enter, The Jealous Thangai. She mentally crosses off the next checker box in her hate list. Porcelain-white complexion & Beauty, Check. Popular, Check. Job in Mumbai, Check. Amazing Love-life, Check. Eligible to be murdered, Check.
The Jealous Thangai: (Sugar coating her words with diabetes-prone-sweetness) Akka, you know about Amma. Try to think from her point of view. Do you really think, all this love thingy would work in our family?
Enter Mrs. Mathrubhootham. She pounces on Malar with renewed energy, now that she has an ally in The Jealous Thangai.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Addresses Malar) Learn from your sister. She’s younger and she cares about me. How can you belong to this family and yet be so selfish?
Malar: (Soothingly tries to placate her mother) Amma, I really care about you. But I care about Aaditya too. You will like him as well. Trust me.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Angrily) Aaditya Aaditya Aaditya! You have only been chanting his name all this while. What do you know about him?
Malar: (Slightly offended) I know him enough to have fallen in love with him.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Sarcastically) Really? Do you even know his full name?
Malar: (Coldly) His name is Aaditya Mathur.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Quizzically) Mathur-a?
Malar: Yes. Mathur. He, umm..he’s a north Indian.
The Mathrubhootham backyard takes a few moments to digest this piece of spellbinding news. (At this point in screenplay, the editing team must take pains to add scenes of frozen movement of the following:-
a. Birds flying high in the air
b. Waves lashing on the beach
c. Niagara Falls)
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Whispers in horror) He’s a Seth Paiyyan?
Malar: (Aghast at her mother’s conclusion) Amma, Aaditya is a Punjabi. His family moved to Pune some twenty five years back.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Groans in anguish) Punjabi-a? Adi paavi! Where have you kept your brains?
Malar: (Hastily tries to pacify her mother and explains) Amma, Aaditya is from a very good family. He’s well educated and placed with a great company. He is sweet, gentle and takes care of me so well.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Cynically waves away Malar’s explanations with a hand) All these north Indian boys might look good. But they are up to no good.
Malar: (Voice breaks on a sob) Amma, please. That’s really not fair!
Malar walks away from the argument, trying to stem her tears. She moves into the house.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham wrings her hands in frustration and annoyance. Everything caught in the lens frame beyond this phenomenal moment, freezes. The camera slowly pans like a creepy poltergeist, taking in the entire domestic backyard. Having had its fill of the cheap detergent foam, cracked-up well, three glaciated human beings and thanking God for the lack of olfactory devices on its body, the camera then moves into the house through the back door.
A small courtyard allows light into the perennially gloomy interiors (A power cut at 9:00 a.m vouches for siphoning off a whole day’s EB). And here, a few benumbed members of the Mathrubhootham family (other than Malar), are brought into focus.
The Chimerical Thangai– Wears a nightgown. Holds a frayed version of Vogue (a 2003 issue) in hand and dreams of the lead role in Kani Patnam’s next movie, Shakuni.
The Ambitious Thambi– Wonders whether Aaditya Mathur has any younger sisters. Meet one of them and consequently facilitate the perfect passport to settle down in Mumbai.
The Romantic Thangai– Wishes hard for more Aaditya Mathurs in the world. One each for every Mathrubhootham girl.
A waft of wind blows into the house and everyone unfreezes automatically.
Enter, Mrs. Mathrubhootham, followed by The Sympathetic Paati and The Jealous Thangai.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Calls out) Malar! Malar!!
Malar: (Walking out of the common bedroom, asks sulkily) What?
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: How dare you walk away while we were still talking? You have changed a lot, Malar! Especially after staying in Mumbai.
Malar: (In hurt indignation) Amma! I have not changed. I’m still the same.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Lifts up a hand) As long as you were in Chennai, you always wore sarees and used that handbag that I bought you, every morning when you went to work. And now?
Malar: (Bewildered at the change of topic) Amma, that handbag got torn and was moth-bitten around the edges. I had to buy a new one. And as for sarees, I don’t wear them in Mumbai. It’s a more cosmopolitan crowd over there.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Triumphantly) Aha! See, I told you. You have changed. Tell me, what’s your fascination with north Indians? Is it because of their grand makeup and fancy jewellery?
Malar: (Unable to understand her mother’s line of thought) Amma, what are you saying? Yes, they do wear lots of makeup and dress up exquisitely. So?
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: We are a very simple lot, Malar. We wear no makeup, even when we go out. We don’t even wear costume jewellery, because we’re allergic to it. Amongst us people, only villainous women can afford makeup and heavy gold jewellery.
Malar: And that is because, we don’t have the good luck of working with people like Dabhu Mepal. He makes it possible for all the women who work with him, to wear makeup and afford beautiful pieces of temple jewellery. It’s all about the choices that we make, Amma.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Warningly) Malar!
Malar: Amma! I’m not really bothered about Aaditya’s background or his upbringing. All that is important to me is that he loves me and I love him.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Groans in vexation) Malar! Don’t you understand? You will never fit with him or his family. You will always be an outsider. A misfit!
Malar: Aaditya will always make me feel loved and cherished. I know that.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Suddenly struck by a horrifying thought) Malar, did you both…?? Are you by any chance…? Is that why…?
Malar: (Objects in embarrassment) Amma! How can you think like that? What’s wrong with you?
An awkward silence ensues for a moment or two.
The Jealous Thangai: (Half enviously) These north Indians, they eat only rotis and always wear rich Sherwanis and heavy-work sarees. They have different customs and rituals. You will feel left out, Akka.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: What is this all about Malar? A reality programme on National Integration? Forget all this. Things such as “love” don’t work in the real world. You haven’t even known this boy for long.
Malar: (With icy calm) Aaditya and I will work something out. Something pretty realistic. Don’t worry.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Furious at being disrespected) MALAR!!
Malar: That’s the truth!
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (As a last, desperate attempt) You will have babies smelling of mustard oil!
Malar: (With an air of finality) I will have babies smelling of baby oil. Period.
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Irately) Malar!!
Malar: (Sadly, but firmly) Amma! I came here to share what’s in my heart with my mother and sisters. I thought you would listen to me, understand me and accept me as a woman with hopes and dreams of her own. But I guess, I assumed wrong.
Amongst us, the eldest daughter always has to sacrifice her life for the greater good of an emotionally deranged mother, a set of idiosyncratic sisters and brother and the so-called family honour. Isn’t it?
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: (Ignoring Malar, says staunchly) I will never accept that boy in this family.
Malar: (Shrugs with stoic indifference) Trust me, you don’t need to. I am leaving. There’s no place for me here, either.
Malar pulls her trolley bag out of New No 24, Old No 33, Arangetram Road, Chennai, at 5:30 p.m, with pseudo sadness and bogus fury. She gets into the taxi and closes the door after her. And breaks into a string of triumphant giggles.
Taking the call, when the cell phone rings…
Malar: (Happy and gurgling with laughter) Aaditya! Yeah, I’m done with mine as well. My flight leaves in about a couple of hours. Pick me up from the Mumbai airport at 10.
Glossary of Terms
Thangai: Younger Sister