“Minaminuginte Nurungu Vettom” A Story

It was such a relief to watch the river flow, the slow rhythm of the waves bring about a sense of calm. I never heard my wife come there. “Mashey, Breakfast is on the table and the medicines…”. “On the cupboard” I finished. “Don’t forget to eat, and if I leave now I will reach the school before the bell rings.” I looked up at her and said “Teacherey…, look it is December 6th, you don’t have to rush today”. Her face lost a bit of radiance. She was to retire today, after 30 years of service. I had retired about five years earlier and since then my routine was the same each day. I would walk her to school, work on the farm in the morning, go to the temple with her in the evening. Villagers would call me her shadow. I didn’t mind it a bit because we had only each other for company. I tried to cheer her up by saying look “At last things were going to change a bit in our lives. I would be spared the morning walk to the school”, but I knew that she would miss the school and the kids very much.
A couple of months later, our house had visitors, I had no idea as who the man or the beautiful girl accompanying him was, yet he seemed to know a great deal about me and my wife. He was full of questions and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t like the guy. He introduced himself as a relative of my wife. Apparently, she had stayed at his house while she was at college. Now he wanted her to take care of his daughter who was joining a college nearby. Before I could say a word, teacher took the girl in. I didn’t want a stranger to disturb the peaceful heaven the two of us had set. But as usual she convinced me by pointing out that the girls mother was a very close friend and she owed her family a lot. Half heartedly I agreed to it.
A year flew past and “Maya”, our Mayamma, became an integral part of the heaven. It hardly took her a couple of days to win me over. Mayamma changed our lives completely. We had someone to dote over us and we found someone whom we could give all our love. Mayamma’s father had remarried after her mother’s death and she was not welcome at her stepmothers place. Every moment at the house became memorable with Mayamma adding color and happiness to our boring old lives. We had discovered the joy of parenthood in our sixties.

One day, an young man came to visit Maya. He introduced himself as a friend of our daughter and wanted to meet her. I turned him away thinking that he was just another guy trying his luck in wooing her. I spoke to Maya harshly for the first time. I wanted her to concentrate on her studies and leave the romance behind. I had hardly finished when I saw her eyes brimming up. That was something I could never bear to see. Teacher was there and she gave me a look reserved for the guilty kid, “I didn’t say anything… didn’t mean to……” I managed to put in a weak apology. Teacher found out that Ravi and Maya were very much in love and he was seeking her hand in marriage. We wanted her to be happy and decided to speak with Ravi. I apologized to ravi for my earlier outburst. I decided to talk to Mayamma’s father about the alliance. Harsh words and insults greeted me. he sent me out of the house and Mayamma walked out with me. That meant a lot to me and i decided to give her all the support she needed.
This was a wedding of a daughter we never had. Our house was all set for the big occasion. Ravi had a job in the United States and had to leave in a couple of months after the wedding. He could not take Mayamma with him and he left her in our care. Amidst tearful farewells, me and teacher were happy that Mayamma would still be there with us. We did everything to keep Mayamma happy. Months oater when w found out that we were going to become grandparents. Our joy knew no bounds. But the joy was shortlived as a cruel twist of fate took away our Mayamma from us, leaving us with “Unni” her son. We convinced a heart broken Ravi to let Unni stay with us until he was old enough to go to the States. Unni taught us to be young again, every day we learnt new things from him. We laughed, cried, and played with him. Unni helped us get over our grief, giving us a new lease of life.
Five years later, I got a letter from Ravi. He was coming to take Unni back with him. I didn’t know how to react; Teacher was planning to enroll him in her school. I knew it would break her heart if Unni was taken away from her. When she found out that Ravi was coming to take back Unni she cried her heart out. It was the first time I had seen her break down. Ravi, had no one else, and wanted to be with his son. He told us that he wanted to come earlier, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so because he kept thinking about us, Now that we were getting older, he thought that Unni will have a better life if he was with him. I knew that Ravi was right. “After our time all of this is Unni’s, bring him here at least once in a year.” Over the next few days, Unni kept asking me as why grand ma was crying. i couldnt give him an answer for tears would my voice.
The morning Ravi was supposed to go; Unni was all excited when he got to know that he was going somewhere in an aeroplane. He thought that we were also accompanying him and assured me by saying that he and grand ma were there so I need not worry about the flight. I called Ravi aside and told him “we cannot to bear to see him go can you take him away when we are inside”. I saw teacher crying inside the house. As I held her hand and sat beside her, we heard Unni cry out. His dad was taking him and he was crying out for us. She let go of my hand and ran out to the kid. But all that we saw on reaching the gate was a speeding boat taking away our little bundle of joy forever. We stood there at the river bank crying our hearts out, as our tears fell onto the river; the waves caressed our feet assuring us that we were not alone in our moments of grief.
We walked back slowly, thinking about the beautiful moments we had with Mayamma and Unni. Just as the glow of a firefly lights up the dark for an instant they had lit up our lives.

One thought on ““Minaminuginte Nurungu Vettom” A Story”

  1. Well it’s a day off for me, and as I was browsing through I came across a website that listed the greatest movies of all time. There was an old Malayalam movie that got my attention, “Oru Minaminunginte nurungu vettom” meaning “The light of a firefly”. I managed to find a copy of the movie and after seeing it I was taken away to a different world. It was a simple story, yet so powerfully told that you could actually believe that you were a part of the movie. So this post is actually the story told from my point of view.

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