1969 is never a good year to be born in. contrary to popular beliefs it is not because that chick james blunt sang about it. its because 'humble' sethuraman was born in 1969.
sethuraman was never bright . in school he was called 'muttal' sethuraman(idiot sethuraman). he could never spell owvaiyar. he dint know that buunsaldihyde had six bonds-achu achu achu achu achu achu. he dint know that crushed is not cursed. poor sethuraman. the fact that he was a brahmin made it even worse. he just had to study well, for he was a brahmin... ivan porakumbodhu saraswathi thungeendha polaraku-his amma used to say(saraswathi was sleeping when he was born)
sethuraman was deemed as useless as a cow with one leg. so he started helping his amma with house hold works. he would daily peddle from masudhi street in mylapore ,all the way to the PWD building near the cheapuk palace. the PWD building over looked the marina beach. the road was wide and smooth. engleeshkaran pota road. this is where his appa worked. his was a private office overlooking the beach. daily sethuraman would start at 2 in the afternoon cycle in the madras heat to the pwd office. he would give the flask to his appa,take in the daily flak. then he would hang around in his appa office , lazily watching people move around the marina. his appa would be busy in his work. it was sethuramans happiest time of the day.
one monday he went to his appa office as usual. "dei udhavakarai, go to egmore and get me a first class train ticket to dilli da. i have given you two rupee extra.one for transport,one for you". sethuraman had never travelled by the train. he had never been to egmore station either. he was very happy. he decided to pocket the other ruppe too and cycle to egmore. it was the best day of his till now misreable life. he got the ticket and ate the bajji,vadai,dosai and samosa in the station. he had never eaten so much in a single day. he still had 8 annas left. he decided to save it and come here again tomorrow after giving kaapi to his appa. this place had more people than the marina beach.
the next day he went to the pwd at 3pm as usual. there was chechu mama standing. "vaada sethu.yenaku oru othasai pannu. apidiye egmore poitu yenakum dilliku oru ticket vaintvandhudu. farst class".."seri mama. ana poitu varadhuku oru ruba,yenaku oru ruba.sariya?"..."yenada pichu un paiyan dhadhi na,gettikarana dhaan irukan.pozhuchupan da.seri da ambi rendu rooba tharan.ticket aathuku yeduthundu vandhuru".."seri mama"..(chechu maama asked him to get ticket.two rupee changed hands).that day he was happy again. he went egmore. he filled his stomach. stood in the queue and got the ticket and gave it to chechu mama in his house. he had saved 16 annas at the end of that day.word spread around. no need to go so far and stand in queue in this soaring madras heat. as ambujam maami told to ranganayaki "call sethu and he will get it.one rupee per ticket he charges.dont stand in this heat. you will loose calar". sethu's life transformed
daily he would get up,laze around. then he would bath have lunch and go and give kaapi to his appa. he would sit in the pwd for about 15 mins. then he would cycle to the egmore station. he would fill the form,book the ticket. eat for 8 annas. anything he wanted. he would find a nice spot on the platform and sit and watch the people as they go on. as the busy crowd moved as fast as srinaths fastest ball(which was slower than kumble's) he would sit and watch placidly.
he was able to save three rupees per day. in his second month he made 100 rupees. his amma was now treating him better. no he still had to take the kaapi to his appa. the treatment was actually the prospect of marriage. it was every indians belief that marriage would help a man grow up. become more responsible. so sethuraman got married. susheela was the "lucky one".
times changed. sethuraman changed with them. he still booked rail tickets for others. he also became a lic agent. but for everyone he was known as railway sethuraman. but his lic visitng card said 'humble' sethuraman. no one knew why. no one asked. sethuraman had a daughter-ambika. in due time she grew up. susheela somehow managed with whatever money sethuraman got home.some times it was quite low. but she never complained. many advised her to leave him and go back to her appa's house. she dint. in due time ambika got married too. susheela had given away all her jewels.
it had been nearly 45 years since sethuraman had first bought the railway ticket for his appa. he had missed exactly 12 days. all the other days he was in the railway station filling forms and buying ticket,eating molagai bajji. since the internet booking had come his income had halved. but there was still loyal customers. now he became tatkal sethu. he would go to the station at 6.45am. always the first at the counter. he would always get the ticket. never failed. when he was free sethu started hanging out in the woodlands hotel. he would introduce himself to small groups as ''humble'' sethuraman and explain to them various policies and ask them to buy it. somehow he managed to bring home something for susheela to manage. it was at this low point that ambika got pregnant. she dint want to come since there was no space or money. she was well off and asked her mother to come to madurai where she lived."kadasi varam vandha porum.adhuku munnadi vandhu yen kazhutha arukadha.andha aala mudinja veittutu vandhuru".(dont come before last week). "yendi avarukum perano pethiyo konjanumnu aasai irukadha? varatume.assami madras vittu vandhadhe illa di".(let your father come too)."seri yedho onnu.vandhu tholaikatum.inga vandhu yarkitayavudhu policy kilaci nu pesinaru avlo dhaan"...."nan pathukuren di"..(dont let him sell policies here)
sethuraman was really happy. he was going to be a thatha. and better he going to go out of madras for the first time. to madurai. "yenna rendu ticket maduraiku vangeendu vango"..."aiyo waiting lista la iruku di.rendu nalaiku munnai poi tatkal vankindu varen".(no availability for madurai.will book two days before in tatkal) on june 8th sethuraman,for the first time in his illustrious carrer, over slept. he hurried to the station. it was 7.50. it was 8.30 by the time he reached the counter. the familiar counter maami was surprised. and she informed him that all the tatkal tickets to madurai were full. sethuraman dint know what to do. he couldnt speak. he went home. susheela dint say anything when he told her he couldnt get tickets. the next day after 30 years of marriage susheela filed for divorce.ambika's child was still born.