At The Thulasithara


The moths struggled to land near the lamp whose flame was threatened by the evening breeze. Kartikeyan watched the shadows shift and change shapes as the source of light continued its unsteady dance. Struggling to stand up and supporting himself against the wall, he got up calling out to Lord Krishna. Kartikeyan’s relationship to the butter thief God was most adorable. He always made sure he bathed and fed the little idol in the pooja room before he himself had his food. In the evenings, he lit the lamp on the thulasithara and sat on the verandah looking at the strange shape shifting patterns on the courtyard.


Kartikeyan felt closest to her during those times. Every evening they sat together on the verandah, the little Krishna idol in Kartikeyan’s lap while Ramani lit the lamp and recited shlokas from the Ramayana or the Bhagavad Gita. He never used to understand her recital but Kartikeyan was always taken into a trance mode with the power of the melodious voice of Ramani.

Her voice brought alive the little Krishna’s notorious deeds and Kartikeyan could clearly envision the baby God stealing the clothes of the gopikas when they went to take a dip in the village pond. Every time they discussed Krishna, Kartikeyan would always taunt Ramani and tell her that if Krishna could, he too could have n number of wives. That would always make her face turn red in anger, she would somehow manage to keep quiet and walk off into the kitchen, her eyes spitting fire. Those evenings always had some magic in them, the power of those evenings is what made him feel alive even now.

It had been years after Ramani left him for her heavenly abode, but Kartikeyan refused to accept the reality that his wife was no longer there. He would still cook for her and serve her share in her favourite silver plate. Kartikeyan always wondered why none of his neighbours could see Ramani like he could. Even when she was with him, he would always be asked to whom he was talking and why was he laughing alone in the courtyard. Kartikeyan would tell them that his Ramani was making him laugh to which they would shake their heads in disappointment and walk off.

As he stood up with the help of his stick, a strange sense of calm came over him. He knew it was his time. He went about washing the vessels and ending his day like any other day. Once he was ready, he went to the thulasithara and picked the most tender leaf and put it in the water in the kindi.

He placed the little Krishna idol back in the pooja room and went back to the verandah. He knew it was time for him to sleep outside for they would be no more mornings for him in this house. Kartikeyan drank from the kindi and took his place on the white sheet he had laid down. He smiled at his wife’s photo hanging on the wall and told her, ‘Come now, I am ready’.

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