Memories of my m-in-law keep coming back on every vaikunta ekadasi, a day of great significance in the Hindu calendar. She would go on a total fast on every ekadasi, having a cup of strong coffee both in the morning and afternoon. However much we children persuaded her to have some ‘palaharam’ or fruits, she would vehemently refuse to touch any. She observed Vaikunta ekadasi to the letter and spirit, going to the Parthsarathy temple along with her like minded relatives, stand in the long queue during early hours to witness the spectacle of the opening of Swarga vaasal (entrance to Heaven) and have a darshan of the utsava murthi.
With the advent of this Tamil month margazhi (mid December-January) the music season in Chennai commences and budding as well as seasoned artistes eagerly look forward to perform in the various sabhas in the city. My cousin Arundhati Sarkar was a regular visitor for the season ,both to perform and attend music concerts.
One of those years she was here to perform at the Music Academy where she was allotted an afternoon slot. The day happened to be, dwadasi (when people who fast break it with an early lunch ). My m-in-law woke up around four o clock as usual , prepared food and after an early lunch, about half a dozen of us, including my cousin’s husband headed to the venue and chose to sit in the front row. My m-in-law took the vantage point bang opposite the artiste seated in the centre of the stage.
Arundhati began with the song ‘vaathapi ganapathim’ and proceeded to sing the kirtanas when I heard someone snoring away to glory. I involuntarily turned to the row at my rear to locate its origin but found some ladies sitting there smiling to themselves and talking in hushed tones. The sound of snoring was not only getting louder and louder but also taking a tune of its own which was not only distracting but also attracting the attention of people around us as well. I realized, to my embarressment the ‘culprit’ was sitting right next to me and all my efforts to wake her proved futile. I didn’t dare to look at the person who happened to sit on the other side.The reason was obvious!
n.meera raghavendra rao