the phython

moving to a big city from a small town is always a big ask. especially for a 9 year old. the new school was nice. a small english convent. shady ground, mini zoo and not much of books. four houses. each after a saint. there was the brother who also co-incidentally the head master of the high school. and it was this brother who was opening a white envelope. with the bank logo on it. no not bribe. A's appa was too upright for that. instead it was a letter of recommendation. guilt free. and just free. there was A and A's younger brother. A was neatly combed and was in as gentlemanly way as a gentle man of 9 years could be. an indian gentle man you see. you could see a think long  dent on his forehead. and A's brother was doing his best to look as life less as he can. he was a sleepy boy. in that small town school he was happy. he used to sleep through classes. sleep at home. somehow pass as the last rank. always. amma did her best to look earnest.

the brother said something about high standards and to go and meet the head mistress. and A and little A were convent students. the 90's mylapore. the traffic free luz corner where you go to the bombay sweets for chaat. A's appa was posted north when A was born. and he loved eating. here ends the heaven part. then there was this joint family. and a she cousin who was one year younger but still managed to be in A's batch. and she had a younger brother, who was younger than little A. she cousin's little brother played mirdangam and A played mirdangam as well. A was already dead.

the school was wonderful. there was a small dog. there were three Pomeranian dogs. and one lazy long shorty dog. then there were geese. mongoose. and some birds. all was well. till the tamil teacher came into A's life. Rajalakshmi was a 64 year old tamil teacher. the other teacher in the tamil department was 65 and serving her last year. Rajalakshmi was from the usual orthodox mylapore aiyar setup. she had a doctorate in tamil. and also elephantiasis when she was just 39. she was now to teach A. she can not climb the stairs. so she teaches under a big banyan tree near the zoo. no boards. just words. she was strict. the bringer of death. once in every 3 months rajalakshmi will climb the 2 floors, to enter A's class. that meant exams. and she will dictate notes for all the lessons for one semester in one go. and she would go. she always took the last class of the day. but would not let the students bring the bag down. chinna vaisulaye somberithanam. the other teacher. she had passed her sslc. loved tamil. the tamil that was still spoken. she was an ardent periyar devotee. she had been jailed with him for protests. and she would ounce every strength to get through the first 20 minutes of the class by just reading from the book. and for the next 20 mins she will tell you stories. of struggles. of the atheist. of godlessness. and the bell would ring. and she never finished her syllabus.

A failed Ralakshmi's first exam. ooru was to be kootified. kummi was to be adichified. but A sssed.  there was a escape route offered. a role in the tamil club drama in the annual function. a sadhu role. A was happy. small A was cast as the sleeping tree in the kinder garden play. A's parent were thrilled. A and small A had not shown the paper of course. small A had failed all the subjects. so his class teacher put him in her play. thankfully they were mid-terms. do it in terminal and A knew he would bleed with blood. A's role required make up. which would cost a bit. but others dint need any such make up. A was given two lines. the play was for 5 minutes. A was thrilled. his father payed, or appai karandi only. A just aced through the play. small A had slept in the class when they were putting on the costumes. so instead of a sleeping tree which was to wake up after the fairy had won, there was nothing. and the play was called the sleeping tree. the fairy had just defeated the evil witch to free the tree from the spell. of course the nothing was not like the nothingness in human life. there was a really thin mass of bones and tissues trying to support a green jingu jakka costume and a thermocoal tree cut out. and the tree promptly fell down when the fair was just introduced. and the head mistress proudly announced that a benefactor had donated the school a python. a fully grown big evil python. god's creation she said. children learn nature. it was all A needed. he would eat lunch near its cage. big empty cage with the majestic being curled in a sad mass. much like humanity it self. the only way A knew it was alive was when he saw it shed skin. he would stand near it till the assembly began.

one day Rajalakshmi cornered A. she had borrowed 2 rudraksha malai from the temple priest for the play. for the sadhu in A. and now rajnikanth wanted one of the rudraksha kottai for the arunachalam movie. A said he forgot to get them. Rajalakshmi became livid. A told her than he can go and get it after school. my house is next street only miss. world peace. A's house was far away. he ran like the runny nose. cousin;s first birthday. everyone at the hall opposite the family home. A got it and returned it to Rakalakshmi. she was fuming that he was 30 mins late. and the next day Rajalakshmi climbed upto A's class. A could not believe it. wasnt it just yesterday when the drama was. how could exams come so quickly. this time it was the terminals. funny coinage.

A went through the vishnu sasranamam a 100 times during the exam but wrote nothing other than his roll no and date. the mani aduchified. he could hear the sangu. it was announced there would be a PTO  and the terminal papers would be given. A thought about it. he asked for saravana bhavan dinner. he ran errands for his amma. he did sandhyavardhanam. the next day came the dragon. A had gone to the temple and had all the necessary facial patterns that would repeal away evil. the thin dent on his fore head was bleeding with blood. there was rajalakshmi sitting near the phython cage. she looked like she was just asked the direction to a saraku shop. A promptly put up the i am samathu, yennai kapathunga look. rajalakshmi dint say anything. then she asked A's amma- neenga ayengara? A looked up. amma nodded. rajakshmi reached down for A's paper.- yenaku theriyadhu. nan nenachen yedho north indian paiyannu. therinja andha rudrakshamum iyer makeupum poda solirunka matten. paiyan nalla pannirunkan. 90 marks. aduthu classuku promoted. A vowed to do sandhyavardhanam, thrice. daily. there was a god. just then there was a strange clattering noise. a crow had entered the pythons cage and was struggling to get out. the phython raised its sleepy head. it slowly climbed along the steel cage. a straight vertical slow climb. and in one sweeping move it had the crow between its jawless jaw. Rajalakshmi looked on, a blank face. amma was aghast. this definitely meant something,  she had to ask patti. A was thrilled. he went home and saw ninja roberts. and waited for cybtron. that was all he needed.



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