Grey patches of the field. “Menon kutti, you

Grey
clouds gathered over the horizon, and thunder rumbled in the distance sounding
like a quintessential drum beat. The smell of wet earth was everywhere and the
croaking of the frogs reached a crescendo. There was freshness in the air
brought about by the rain.

The
rice fields were emerald green with a deep green fringe of  towering coconut trees .This colorful canvas
of a rhapsody in green was in sharp contrast to the dark cloudy grey of the
skies.

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Women
were bent over, shin deep in mud and rain water. They were immersed in their
morning routine of planting rice saplings. An elderly man wearing a kaili ** and
a towel on his shoulders supervised the people at work with an air of
authority. As he scanned the paddy field, he could see a familiar figure
walking along the muddy pathway along the field. He hurriedly washed his hands
with the water that filled the field and hastily dried them with the towel on
his shoulders.

A
young man in his early thirties wearing worn out jeans, shirt with folded
sleeves and a backpack came walking casually to the man. He was tall, lean,
with broad shoulders and an athletic body. His oval face had a rugged
appearance because of the neatly trimmed beard and moustache. He had deep set
raven black intent eyes and bushy eyebrows. His slightly overgrown dense hair was
unkempt and fell gently over his tanned face.

“Menon
Kutti, It’s been ages since I’ve seen you .How have you been?” the old man
asked with a broad grin.

Menon
kutti replied “Yeah, I’ve been away for a while Bhaskaran. How are things with
you? How are your kids doing?”

Bhaskaran
was seemingly happy with the inquiry. “They are all doing well, Menon kutti. In
fact I was thinking about you today. I am so glad that I met you” he said.

Menon
Kutti and Bhaskaran started walking along the rough earthy pathway in between
two patches of the field.

“Menon
kutti, you know what, my daughter has finished her plus two exams. She now wants
to do computer engineering course it seems. Is that a good course Menon Kutti?
Should I send her to pursue it?” he asked as they walked along the muddy track.

Menon
Kutti replied “Yes Bhaskaran. Of course. We are living in the midst of a
revolution powered by computers. Computing is part of
everything we do nowadays. Please go ahead. In my opinion it’s a great idea.”
Bhaskaran nodded in agreement .They continued conversing till they reached the
edge of the paddy field. Bhaskaran thanked Menon Kutti for his inputs with reverence.
Menon Kutti climbed a few steps carved out of mud and reached the coconut
plantation that was at a level higher than the paddy field. From where he
stood, he could see his majestic house from between the coconut trees. He
walked along the pathway that ran through the middle of the farm land and
finally led to the house.

A
man in his sixties stood under a coconut tree with an immaculate, spotless
white mundu folded above the knees. He was fair skinned and his well-oiled gray
hair was neatly combed back. He was keenly observing a lean, muscular man who
was holding a curved knife in his hands and going about harvesting coconuts
from the tree with prowess and dropping them to the ground. Below the tree, another
worker went about collecting the coconuts that were strewn around and put them
in a cane basket.

Menon
Kutti walked up to the elderly man and said jokingly “Oh, The Raja has started
asserting his supremacy and taking stock of his subjects early in the morning
is it?”

The
elderly man smiled at Menon Kutti and retorted with a tone of derision “Oh!
Look who is here after all these days. The Prince has finally returned to his
kingdom with the world in his pocket. We are blessed to have you
back. Please go and meet your mother. She has been worried sick because of your
exploits.”

Menon
Kutti grinned sheepishly and walked towards the entrance of the house with a
sloping tiled roof. From a distance he could see a middle aged woman squeezing
out water from washed clothes .She was hanging them on a clothes line tied to
two poles at the edge of the front-yard. As he entered the quadrangle, she scurried
towards him, wiping her wet hands.

She
held him and said affectionately “Menon kuttiye** -Look at the state you are
in! Why are you looking so shabby and dark?” She took the edge of her saree and
wiped the beads of sweat from his face and continued “You look so lean Mone***.  Haven’t you been eating anything?”

Menon
Kutti responded fondly “No Amma^. I am absolutely fit and fine. You always feel
I have pulled down when I am not eating food prepared by you. I am the same as
I was when I left from here.”

Menon
Kutti’s mother inquired with a bit of concern in her voice. “Where do you take
off every now and then? What is the need for these frequent trips? I feel so
worried about you.”

As
they slowly walked towards the entrance of the house, the mother continued
without waiting for Menon Kutti to reply “I don’t understand why you need to
keep taking off like this. Why don’t you take up a job? At least, stay back and
help your father out.”

Menon
Kutti mumbled incoherently “I’ve been here and there Amma.” and added more
clearly, “Acchan^^ is managing quite well without me Amma. Isn’t this what he
always wanted?”

The
mother replied “Yes. That’s right. When we were abroad all he wanted to do was to
come back and buy this house .He always wanted to settle down here and spend
the sunset years in this place. He seems quite happy that way.”

Menon
Kutti turned to look towards his father who was holding a bright green tender
coconut and examining it. “Indeed. I am so glad to see Acchan so content and at
peace.”

Mother
persisted “What about you Menon Kutti? You keep roaming here and there saying
History and Geography which is beyond my comprehension. Why don’t you pick up a
job like regular people and settle down?”

Menon
Kutti stopped and turned towards his mother. He gently held her shoulders and
remarked “Amma, You worry too much. I can manage. Well, if nothing works out, I
can always rely on my green card.”

 “Yes, you are right. That option is always
there” mother affirmed with a little bit of relief and added endearingly “Freshen up quickly and eat something
Menon Kutti. I’ve made Puttu and paapad. There are bananas from our farm as
well. I’ll just finish putting the clothes for drying and be with you.”

Menon
Kutti climbed the steps in front of the house that led to a verandah with pillars
supporting the roof. A wooden reclining chair with long rails on either side
sat conspicuously along with cement benches in the corridor.

Menon
Kutti took off his back pack and walked into the hall .At the right periphery
of the hall, a ladder was placed that led to his room. An antiquated, dusty portrait
that hung from the wall at the opposite end of the hall caught Menon Kutti’s
attention. The features of the person in the picture were barely discernible.

He
looked at it with amusement and remarked “Oh! This guy is still here, is it?”

The
mother who overheard the comment immediately retorted “Enough now. Don’t make
such wisecracks Menon Kutti. You go and freshen up.”

Menon
Kutti shook his head, grinned at his mother and climbed the ladder and went to his
room.

 

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