So ammachi and I began our few days, virtually keeping an eye on each other. She wouldnt trust me with the stove, would always keep checking to see if I had left taps running, had latched the door and locked the gate...sometimes, it was comical, other times irritating. "Ammachi, njan pazhaya aalalla, i have changed", i tried to reassure her, well i failed. Early Morning 7am. My dad had reminded me she needs a bed-tea to warm her frail body. Ofcourse I was blissfully sleeping. She comes over to my bed and softly taps me, "Moneh". "Ayyo chaaya idande", I wake up with such a wild start which scares her. Breakfast. I take the dosamaavu out, of the 8 dosas i made only 5 turned out okay. For one I forgot to apply oil on the kallu, another i tried to flip before it was ready and a third fell to the floor from the chattukam. Of the 5 right ones, 3 had got a lil too burnt...total disaster! I turned around to see a smile on my grandmoms face, and announced, "naalethotte kaappikke bread, jam and butter"! Lunch. The servant had thankfully cooked 4-days lunch, dinner and left marinated fish in the freezer. Only rice had to be cooked. I didnt remember how many whistles were needed...called up a friend and asked him to consult his wife. I had idled over doing the dishes, and ants had crept up all over the sink...dang, so this is the life of a woman, i turned towards ammachi and asked all dazed, "ammachi jeevithathil ethra dosa chuttittunde, ethra aalukale pottiyuttunde?".
Things really got bad. I misplaced the gate lock and she wouldnt go to sleep until i found it. But I tricked her, found a small lock and got the job done for now...thankfully she wouldnt step out onto the yard at night to inspect . Next morning she found out I had forgotten to keep the aviyal back in the fridge. In the evening she discovered I had forgotten to turn off the Goodknight from last night...i didnt tell her it had been that way for 2 days now! The neighbour had forgotten to turn off an outside lamp facing ammachis room and by afternoon, this was disturbing her...she called over to the aunty but noone could hear her. Finally, she asked me to walk over and tell them...i was cosily ensconsed on the sofa watching something crappily interesting and no way was i going now! She finds a neighbour passing by and asks him to carry the message. Damn, my lazy self! In the evening a few friends came over, they wanted to hit the terrace as the view would be good at sunset. I wondered what to do...until i hit upon an idea. I showed ammachi the locator button on the cordless and asked her to press that to summon me anytime she wanted, i took the handset along and trooped upstairs. A little later the calling bell rang, a visitor must be at the door, i came down, ammachi was frantically searching all over the fone for the button i had shown earlier, but though she was exceptionally intelligent, her memory had faded. Again I feel rotten. Onam, was playing out in the city. I got a boy to sit with her, while i slipped away with Shan for a few hours to see the city and its illuminations, besides guzzling a beer. I got back only at 10, an hour past her sleeping hour...and there she was waiting anxiously for me. I felt an anger rising in me, but that dissipated seeing the happy relief on her face.
"Innokke Onam, TVyude mumbil theerum"...she doesnt talk much, but today she was chattering away, while along i had one eye and one ear on the screen...i was setting records in callousness. "Ammachi samsaarikke, inne muzhuvanum namukke ellaavare kurichum kushimbu paranjirikkaam". So i egged her on to gossip and she complained how mom didnt have enough patience for her, how the servant though a good lady would spent more time chatting with neighbours than her and tell her to massage her feet by herself, and how only pappa, her son-in-law and jancy, our kid cousin had adapted to her helplessness. Anyways the servant is back. The house still stands and ammachi told me she expected much worser things. For the last one week, i got calls from my two other ammachis, one is actually my grand-aunt, asking why I never call and when I'll visit. I turned on the charm, said I was just about to call when they did, assured them I am coming right away, but to little effect. Oh Jibs...tera jadoo chal gaya! All of them were like kids now...charm doesnt work with them anymore but sincerity would...i realize that becoming a man also means watching out constantly for those who got me here. Will I?...and thats the big question.