During our childhood days my sister and I used to go for Hindi tuition class at an Ashram (monastery) situated right behind our house. I have already mentioned about Swamiji - Swami Prushothamanada - in most of my blogs. He still remains the most influential person in my life and the only one who is my 100% Guru. He was the most stubborn and strong person I have ever met in my life. Can call him a true Gandhi at thoughts and Hitler at action. He was my grandpa’s most intimate companion since his childhood days. He was an army man, a scholar and a dedicated teacher before joining Ramakrishna Mission as a saint. More than the Hindi lessons, what we enjoyed the most was his style of teaching, flavoured and garnished by his personal experiences - explaining even the most complicated topics with a sense of creative energy and enthusiasm. We liked to hear about his term as an Army man working at the most difficult highland border regions of India and China. This space won’t be any bit enough to fit in all that I need to talk about him. I truly wanted to be a saint like him exactly the way as he was – a rough and tuff Sanyasi. I may have such a future, I leave it for the time to decide. In this blog, I would like to share thoughts about a Parijatham tree. (I don’t know what is it called in English.)
A lot of memories just rushed into my mind and I cannot be but write about it before saying anything about Parijatham. I guess I need to shift my bit about of Parijatham to the end of this article. Let me just talk a little about those tuition classes. It is my ‘memories of’ and ‘testimonial for’ a few people whom I cannot forget here. The HIndi lesson used to happen in the afternoon around 3 pm. The first thing we both had to do was to wake up Swamiji from his mid-day nap. Most often we used to find him snoring to glory with his mouth mildly open. The very moment our voice reached him...‘Swamiii…’, he used to wake up... quickly hunting for his thick spectacles all around the bed with his hands. Only after they get neatly chaired on his nose, he could bring himself back to real senses.
It was Swamiji who forced my dad to make us appear for the Hindi exams by Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha. In order to make us attend the lessons he used to lure us with Pico classic comic books. Everyday he used to take us to the library and share his treasure of comic books right after the session. Most of them were pictorial books on international classics like Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre dame, Moby Dick', The Black Beauty, Time Machine etc. We had another reason to attend those sessions - a mulberry plant that grew at the compound of ashram. Through out the session I used to have my eyes stuck on the red-black mulberries. The days I was so desperate for them, I used to make reasons like ‘I am thirsty, I want to pee etc... etc...’ and go out quiet-quick to pluck a few mulberries. I used do a lot of harmless adventures those days. The best of it could be intruding into a local temple in the afternoon without anyone’s knowledge and lifting the sacred sword of ‘Velichappadu’ (the God Man), on my way back from the school after the mid-term exam. Interestingly the Lord Ayyappa blessed me with better marks for mathematics that time as if he knew I was just curious to lift that sword and play with it for a while. Anyway, Swami was not as kind as Lord Ayyappa. He caught me once red-handed. I do mean it. It was right in both literal sense and true sense - my hands were actually red coz of the juice that oozed out of blood-red mulberries.
On certain days the lessons used to be quite exhaustive. We had a few interesting people who saved us on many such occasions. They were Swamiji’s visitors who preferred to come exactly on the time of our session in spite his strict order of not coming at that time. They used to just pop in form nowhere and spend a lot of time talking mostly nonsense, they genuinely believed as total sense. But Swami used to respond to them the same manner yet holding up a serious face true to his brand image as of a Hitler. He used to shout at them, blame them... order them...!!! Still they kept coming on almost every alternative day from nowhere. Now you must be curious to know who they were. As I said earlier, they were our saviours – A hunch back old woman who lived with the little wage she gained by making flower garlands for a local temple and a mentally retarded Christian boy named Jacob. In the entire world Swamiji might be the only one who could talk to them so well, and for that reason we too. Initially we were so scared of Jacob whom we met almost everywhere falling from 'just' nowhere, until we started interacting with him in those tuition classes. Afterwards Jacob started recognising us and sometimes walked with us on our way back from school.
I now realised that I have not many facts to say about our Parijatham. But I consider it as one of the most precious gift of God that I do cherish. It helps me recollect all those moments about Ashram, Swamiji, the Hunch Back woman, our friend Jacob etc. I don’t think there is anything as precious as memories in this world. Good or bad, they remains my treasure. You must be wondering 'from where' does a Parijatham come in to this story, that I titled as Parijatham itself and didn’t say a word yet...
There used to be a Parijatham tree that stood tall close to my favourite mulberry plant at the compound of Ashram. During the season the flowers bloomed, the fragrance filled the whole area around the Ashram. The tiny white parijatham flowers used to cover the soil underneath the tree and a lot of them used to travel with the wind to our table. On one such day my sister Athira and me took a stem of the tree with us while returning back home. Together we planted it carefully on the compound of our house near the kitchen. I remember a few people saying that Parijatham should not be planted on the premises of house as it is a sacred tree.
Today that little stem had grown even bigger than the two floored structure of our house. Last time when Athira and me were there 'together' at home, 'TOGETHER' we touched the branches of Parijatham that covered a small portion of our terrace. Through her kitchen window, my mother had seen that tiny plant growing up to such a height since the time we planted it. Mother had seen us growing up… and the tree too... growing much taller than us. Parijatham still do shower her tiny little flowers into Mum’s kitchen with the help of wind every year. It thus do fill our compound with a lot of memories, as Dad says. I was never been at home continuously for more than two months after my Pre-Degree (12th). My sister too keeps shuttling between places. But our Parijatham was always been there beside my mum on every single day of her life with so many precious memories about us. I guess those tiny white flowers and the fragrance are the most precious gift Athira and I could give to our parents. As dad says, they are tiny sweet memories… of our childhood.