First published in Yentha.com four years ago. A word of warning before you go. If you are an avid beef-eater or a prude or a dandy, please quit now. You are going to read something that disgusts you. This is a true story. So let me change the names of people involved first.
“No, I don’t want it, you eat man.” I pushed my plate of red hot beef curry towards my friend. “Don’t compel me. I don’t feel like eating Venu, I am not hungry.”
Red colour. Grated onion. Slender pieces of meat bob up and down in it. A thin layer of oil, curry leaves, half-a-dozen coconut pieces and a few mustard float at the top. Piping hot beef curry. Yummy, alle? Add to that the soft, but crispy-flaked porotta with smoke still wafting up. The stuff is mouth watering for any beef-arian out there.
Toss on to that, a big dollop of hunger, you have grown from the morning.
Someone had said, hunger is the best sauce to any food. True. Since morning I hadn’t eaten anything because of this promised treat from my friend who had married only a couple of days back. The fire in my stomach was too much. I had already emptied a bottle of Kingfisher and now was waiting for the next one. The beer added sizzle to the already blazing combustion engine in my stomach. “Where is my beef curry!” I was impatient.
Meanwhile, Venu was blabbering on his experiences as a brand-new husband. The boy was so suddenly married, he was hardly prepared. He was talking a lot, I thought.
The food came. The mouth watering steamy beef curry and porotta. Wah…you can imagine the taste of the first morsel of porotta dunked in spicy red beef curry disappearing into dark, eager mouth. I dipped the torn piece of porotta in the oily curry and got it wet and red on every side of it. My mouth watered with anticipation. Then…
I put it back and pushed the plate towards my friend sitting opposite. “You eat, Venu, eat…. I don’t want it. You eat.”
“What is this Manu chetta! You asked for this treat. You ordered beef curry, and now what? It looks tasty!”
I tried once again to make a go at it. But threw the piece back into the plate again. This time, I determinedly pushed the plate back to my friend’s court. I am not eating today, I decided. “I want just green salad. Yeah, that will do. No carrots please.”
Why did I forsake my favorite dish, you want to know eh?
Blame him. Such a dumb guy Venu was, he didn’t know anything about girls before he got married (Yeah, there were boys like him on this side of the planet). I mean, he had no idea what happens to women on a monthly basis. It was at the pinnacle of ignorance that he got married. One night he accidentally stumbled on to the truth about the monthly affair with women. “Ayyo…Amme…!” His wife hushed him down and took a crash course on the matter.
He had heard about census and fences and lenses before, but menses, never.
Venu stumbled on it accidentally. He got horrified. Then, after his wife explained away the matter, his eyes lit like a pair of sodium vapour lamps. He got excited at his new piece of knowledge. He was suddenly proud. He would have run out screaming about his discovery, had it not been for his parents living with him. Moreover it was midnight. Next day, when his sister’s children asked him to play hide-and-seek, Venu tore into them. “Stupid nonsense! Your uncle is now a big guy. Go and play with kids of your age!” Venu, for the first time in his life, felt that he had grown up finally.
Time to flaunt the new knowledge. Soon he accepted my demand for a marriage treat. So that he could tell me what he saw, to a man married for the last eight years! “You won’t believe it!” That was how he began it as the food came.
While I was going to have my first piece of porotta and beef curry, he said: “Manu chetta…you want to know what I saw yesterday?” Such a fool I was, I got curious at the wrong time. “What?” I asked the doomed question, holding that piece of porotta dunked in red-hot beef curry only three inches away from my mouth. Venu gave me the graphic image of the red spectacle he witnessed the previous day. He was so excited that he missed nothing as he limned the details. I could see through his eyes what he saw. I looked at that. I looked at the beef curry. I looked at that. I looked at the beef curry. I looked at that. I looked back again at the red, oily, dripping beef-curried porotta in my hands.
I dropped it.
“You eat,” I said pushing away the beef curry, tears in my eyes.
It was only the beginning for Venu. He learned more about the condition from his wife and burnt gallons of midnight oil poring over books. When his wife suffered from periodical aches, he would be wandering in his bike. He rekindled old acquaintances on his way, just to say, “Oh I forgot, I have to go back home now, my wife is not well. Vayaru vedana…matte…!” He was thrilled about his newly conquered territory. The young boy thought this piece of knowledge would earn him respect and membership among the married class. He proceeded to the next junction waiting for more victims.
One day he went to his aunt’s house for no reason. “Aunty, yesterday we were coming to your house.” And he waited for the aunt to ask him the reason for not coming. “Avalku vayaru vedanaya aunty. Matte…(Matte means That…(you know what I mean, eh?))” and he juggled his brows a couple of times, to show her that he had now got the password to their secret folders. He wanted to form a secret communion with the adult world, represented by his aunt. He thought adults maintain their adulthood by always talking about it. The tottering cubs around, who were the only company Venu had until his marriage were thus shown the door by the now mature man. “You go and play. Chettan is married now, you know? There are things you won’t understand.” Poor kids, they played kanjiyum curriyum that time without their Venuchettan.
My soft-spoken father got the shock of his life when he showed some courtesy to Venu as he came to my home. “Venuvine ippo kanareyillallo?” He accidentally asked. “Uncle, we were about to come yesterday. But then, she had this stomach ache…matte…” Father, a teacher and a noted Malayalam poet never had such an experience in his 65 years of literary or teaching career. He silently slunk back into his room, closed the door behind, collapsed into his easy chair, and pored himself over a big volume of Kunjikkuttan Thampuran’s Mahabhagavatham. Or Mahabharatham. Does it matter what.
When he came back from his honeymoon at Ootty, I asked. “Enthayeda?” “Oh nothing manuchetta, matte…” I quickly digressed from the topic. I was having my supper of kanji and spicy red mango pickle that night.
His ignorance spread into other walks of marriage also. You know, a day will come in every married man’s life when the friendly neighbourhood ammommas would get proactive and ask, “Ithenthayithu! Visheshamonnumayille?” It came to Venu’s life also.
“Eda, your masculinity has to reach the right place. So a little gravity might help. Some doctors say that after sex, it is better to do a headstand…er… I mean sheershasana, so that the tadpole would reach its home (The woman after ‘it’ should lie with her lower body raised towards the ceiling. The weird posture would help the message gravitate down to the letterbox. I don’t know if there is any grain of truth in it).
Venu’s eyes welled with gratitude as he shook hands with Aji. “Ajiyetta, you saved my life, I understood what you just said,” he said.
Well, he didn’t.
Next week Venu was admitted to a hospital with severe back pain. Blame Aji. His advice undid the young boy. Venu’s poor wife, a science graduate, didn’t understand the logic of my friend lying in sheershasana, for moving something he had deposited inside her. “But why should YOU do this headstand!” She asked. “Gravity!What do you know about that?” he blinded her with science.
With legs thrown upward he lay every night, until he was moved to the hospital with complications.