by KParthasarathi 08 Sep 2008
Mathrubutham iyer did not succeed in life though he was a precocious student in the school days. He had to discontinue his studies abruptly when his father died suddenly .He had joined his B.A class just then. The local advocate of the town took pity on the boy and employed him to assist him. Iyer soon learnt well the routine of an advocate’s office and helped him in many matters .It was said of him that he knew well the intricacies of law and even prepared the brief for the advocate. Be that as it may, life was difficult for him with an ailing wife, two grown up daughters and a young son who was born a cripple and slightly retarded.
He gave his good looking first daughter in marriage to a distant relative disposing of his ancestral property. The daughter and her husband moved to North India. The son-in-law never allowed the daughter to visit her parents. Even when iyer’s wife passed away, the first daughter came on the tenth day and left in three days.
The younger daughter Parvati bore the brunt of running the household and looking after her brother. She finished her graduation and B.Ed and became a teacher in a local school. She was also very beautiful, tall and slim eliciting offers from parents of eligible young men. But Iyer turned down every proposal on one flimsy ground or the other. With his scanty knowledge of astrology, he would himself go through the motions of comparing the horoscopes and find some reason to reject. When she was 24, he dropped the bomb shell that she was passing through a bad phase by the planetary alignments and there was no prospect of marriage for another seven years. Even the advocate called him one day and advised him that it was a parental responsibility to get the daughter married and that he should not rely much on the horoscope matching once the other factors are acceptable.Iyer remained silent all through the advice and came back assuring the advocate of nothing.
Parvati knew the real reason. The fault did not lie in her horoscope but in the mind of her dad. Her father was afraid that he was getting old and that her elder sister would not be of any help gentle request to keep the boy with her on one occasion was turned down by her husband. The boy needed the caring attention unable even to clothe himself. He could not be left alone. Once she got married and left the house, there would be none to look after the cripple.Iyer must have steeled his heart and decided that the girl should remain a spinster to take care of her brother once iyer passed away. A difficult decision no doubt for a father seen often wiping away the tear from his melancholy eyes. He would on some evenings silently sit by her side and pass his hands over her head affectionately showing his concern for her. He was torn between the two conflicting duties towards his grown up daughter and the pathetic son dependent on others. On many nights when Parvati saw her father tossing in the bed without sleep, she will bring him a glass of water and tell ”Appa, do not worry. I am happy as I am. I like the school and being with children. I will take care of my brother till my last day. Please relax and go to sleep.” The old man will sit up and start sobbing till the early hours of the day when sleep would overtake him.
It was during such times a young man in his early thirties joined her school as a teacher. He soon became very popular winning the hearts of the management, his peers and the students by his pleasant disposition, hard work and the ability to carry the school children with him. He was naturally drawn towards Parvati by her charming looks and began cultivating her. With her suppressed desires and starved of love, she too succumbed to his winning ways. Love blossomed between the two. He knew her predicament. He knew that if he approached him, the old man would find some excuse to reject as he did in all other cases. They both went to the advocate and sought his blessings for their marriage without the approval of the dad and their strategy to resolve the issue. He readily agreed.
After tying the mangal sutra in a temple in the presence of advocate and school teachers, the newly married couple went to Iyer and prostrated before him. He was speechless in shock and anger for a moment and like a mad man shouted at her ”Drohi, how dare you come and fall at my feet after running away with an unknown stranger. You are no longer my daughter.Parvati is dead and gone. Don’t ever think I cannot take care of your brother. Get out of my sight this instant” and broke down crying. Parvati said ”Appa, Please listen calmly. Please hear our advocate mama for a moment. We are not leaving you.”
“Mathru, Be patient. Don’t give in to anger. They married with my blessings and under my advice. Allow your son-in-law to say a few words.” said the advocate.
The young man said in his soft tone” Mama, accept me as your elder son. You and the boy are coming to stay with us pemanently.You don’t have to work anymore. Stay at home when we are at school. I promise to take care of you both as a son and brother would. Please bless us on this auspicious occasion.” Both fell at his feet. The advocate spoke in stentorian tone”Mathru, don’t stand like a log of wood. Bless the young couple. You are lucky to get a son-in law like him.”
Tears flowed from Iyer’s eyes as he blessed the couple and hugged them affectionately.