Every human being dwells in two realms.
The first one, expansive materialistic world, not confined to him alone; wealth, happiness, pangs of hunger, sorrow, delight, intrigues, maneuvers, attachments, detachments…everything vividly visible.
The second one, unknown world,totally personalized, not related to any other person-
It is an invisible world-absolutely non-materialistic-beyond the comprehension of others, wherein are confined one’s own self, traces of those liked by one, highly inspiring intense feelings, tempestuous torrential tears—all within the limited ambit of a heart’s space.
If any one asks any other person, “What do you want?”
what answer is there…
If it is materialistic world---power, pelf, authority, status…
After man grows to the level of self-actualization –beyond realms of physical world,transcendental state…the fourth state...self-actualisation state....
The answer obviously is ‘nothing is required.’
Is it all abdication—after man evolves from a state of ‘self’ craving for possessions of the minutest object to realization that every thing is ephemeral, hence not desirable - a state of detachment –
From a distance, chimes of temple bells – as if a stone landed on the surface of a tranquil lake-- startled
fifty nine year old Vatsala- Dr Vatsala – liberating herself like a sliced drop of water--
The buzzer sounded.
‘Come in’ said Dr Raghuram in the room, till then totally involved in reading an essay in an International medical journal.
The man from room service section stood there.
Stepping in politely placed two cups of coffee on the coffee table and walked away having obtained the signature of the doctor on the bill.
Hotel City Grand---room in the higher levels…visible through the windows…hills far away…tank of the temple of Bhadrakali…Padmashamma hillocks a little afar,---Hunter road at a distance…railway tracks, a train rolling away…
Details of the area well known…twenty years ago—such a strong bond he had with the place.
Newly married bride Vatsala came to start a new life with Dr Raghuram, who was working as a lecturer in Kakatiya Medical College.
Kakatiya empire…historic place…war zone…thousand pillar temple,Bhadrakali temple; Basically Warangal…a land of revolutions…a Palkuriki Somana, a Pothana, a Kaloji…all poets…strange sensation.
That day…Warangal Railway station…sunrise on a nippy morning…as she stepped-in with right foot as per tradition, brushing aside veils of mist…
Vatsala remembers well.That moment- from the Govindarajulu hillock near the railway station, auspicious bells tolled. Immediately an inadvertent sharp look, blended with her blushes, into eyes of Raghuram…
A pleasant smile spread across his face beautifully.
From that moment till this day a perpetual pleasant smile brightened his face all the while, every moment.
A smile is a part of his facial features. Whether he was angry, in contemplation, in deep study…even while he was asleep it is conspicuous…ripples of gentle smile.
“Vatsala shall we move after drinking coffee,” Raghu said offering her a cup.
Raghuram was sixty eight. Thick , grey hair, very fair complexion.Even as age was waging a vain battle to conquer, he triumphed with brilliant inner luminosity, vivified through an inexplicable aura.
“O.K.” Vatsala replied receiving the cup. Nice filter coffee…aroma of Warangal…She used to get coffee powder from Thakur Coffee works,beside Ravi Varma photo studio in Mukaramjahi Road.
Certain flavours haunt lifelong.
It looked different and extraordinary to her what they were about to do then.
A week ago as Dr Raghuram completed the formal submission of a research paper for perusal of Nobel Committee, during an International Conference on Cellular Biology and delivered a guest lecture in Indian Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi. Having stayed in the town of his birth Kakinada for three days, in the busy schedule of returning to California University in the U.S. she broached the subject while departing from Delhi.
How it will be if they could make it to Warangal and visit Kakatiya Medical College, where they were on the faculty for eight years…the quarters where they lived, the neighbourhood…the memories…
It is quite rare that a couple shares common interests, aptitudes… even if they are physically two individuals, to lead life as though they are fused into one entity. This extraordinary aspect has become quite ordinary in their relationship.
“O.K.Vatsala…Let it be so…Recalling certain pleasant memories infuses new inspiration and energy.In fact,I wanted to raise the topic,”Raghuram said.
Travelling by Jet Airlines flight from Delhi,they landed in Shamshabad Airport in Hyderabad…then by Radio-taxi to Warangal…total three hours…checked into City Grand Hotel an hour ago.
Entering Warangal City environment offered on a platter Rampur, Madikonda, Khazipet, Hanmakonda.
Strange feeling …inexplicable elation…as though they were reclaiming what was lost; gently caressing with their finger-tips all the earlier experiences embedded deep down memory lane; as though embracing their youthful exuberance of bygone ages…excitement…emotional upsurge…ecstasy.
She said as soon as they stepped in to the hotel room, “Raghu, I am highly excited. Entire past envelopes as an expansive mist unsettling me. Raghu, perhaps in every individual the soul craves for primordial human experiences beyond the domain of normal expression. Perhaps the land one treads on, neighbourhood, environmental associations never desert a person. Lie deeply ensconced in one’s consciousness the memories of all these…like mutual attractions of an electron and proton…Inherent invisible phenomenon.”
It was as though she was reminding her self.
“True Varsala.You are articulating. I am not. That’s all. The moment I stepped on this land, a strange association of earlier birth embraces me …I am also excited…Let us move fast.”
As they locked the room and came out , a taxi pulled up beside them.
Raghu told the driver, “Shankar…car not required. You better stay here…we will just amble across to the Medical College campus nearby.”
Then they kept themselves busy scanning around the changes that have crept in.
Hotel Ekasila, battered by weather and time stood by their side. An upcoming residential colony greeted them ahead.Dr Faria’s house implored below the road level…a new shopping mall in place of old B.S.N.L. building and stores…That’s all.
Rangampet on one side; all structures now on view did not exist during earlier days.
They stepped into the Medical College Campus.
Kakatiya gate model…was not there… a big gate existed then. Andhra bank branch on the right hand side …no, it’s not there…
Yonder, there was a huge open well…
Tall trees were flanking the road …just the way it was earlier…a little away ,stood Kaktiya Medical College building…aged…with a dignity of its own, same stance , same stature!
It was inaugurated by Dr Parmar in 1959.
His college…initial page in his life history marking his first entry into teaching profession, after acquiring M.D. degree…after marrying Vatsala his first phase in life.
Dr Raghuram looked into the face of Vatsala casually.
For some reason her face reflected her highly emotional state.
The black top road was not there those days.It was just a gravel strewn earthen road.
The road forked, one end leading to the college, another heading to staff quarters on the left hand side.Just behind it was a huge playground … beyond that stood the auditorium.Venue for ‘Kakatiya Cultural Festival,’ an annual event for all colleges in the city.He remembered his own portrayal of Duryodhan’s character…
Men’s hostels A.B.C.D. in sheds with asbestos sheets for a roof.
Dr Tandon…Dr Dharma Rao…Dr Lakshminarayana…Dr T.S.Murthy represented the governing body.
It was Itikyala Madhusudana Rao, the then Member of Parliament , forgotten by the present generation,who was instrumental in getting sanction from Central Government in New Delhi, for establishing Kakatiya Medical College in Warangal.
Everyone a sage…an angel…divinity manifest in human form.
Turning left, the couple were moving towards first lane on the left side.
Some new faces were there in the first three staff quarters. Cars…motorcycles in the front yard, crumbling milk booth on the other side.
As they were moving in vacant blocks on either side…each one spacious enough to accommodate four families. Those days it was an immense source of comfort and convenience. All the four families in each block bonded like four fingers on a hand…so much activity ,harmony all around…
All quarters were occupied. It was mandatory for all staff working in the college to reside in the staff quarters. The principal, professors, lecturers, technicians, ministerial staff, class four employees…all…one family. During Diwali festival the entire college glowed like a radiant rainbow.Staff,students,workers, residents of Rangampet too joined them. Just as cement and concrete mixture joined bricks, an invisible fragrant humanitarian bond bound them together.
Is it visible now?
In any system…is there a fundamental feeling that every member associated with it is a member of a family…no…absolutely missing…like a heartless body…how it matters whether the body is beautiful or not when the soul is missing?
Both of them kept moving…towards the quarters they lived in.Flanking the road, a block on one side, another on the other side…all vacant…all around thorny shrubs, nameless numerous plants and thick vegetation…quarters sport an uncared-for-look…colours lost their sheen…rusted steel gates at the threshold… window frames without shutters…terrible…such a pathetic spectacle.
It looks like a god-forsaken land.
Where ever there is no habitation, who prefers to live? The black top road was offering a worn out look due to lack of regular use.
Some urchin zooms past them on his bicycle.
Crossing the road at the bend, they turned to right side.
South block, in the second row, B/9…the quarter they lived in.
Both of them stood before the block as though under a spell.
No fencing around… facing the block of quarters a broad gate…rusted, leaning on one side heavily… nearby on the rightside stood majestically a tall peepal tree…it has grown substantially.
Vatsala chirped cheerfully, “Raghu,do you remember…this peepal tree was planted on our first wedding anniversary, on your suggestion. Look, it is so huge now.”
Quaint glow spread across her face…jumping, running around the trunk of the tree, ecstatically scanning its span and strength…overwhelming joy!
“ Vatsala,” Raghu said to check her.
Wrapping her shoulders, slowly he lead her from there.
The iron gate was virtually crumbling…
He used to lock it stretching his hands from inside, when they lived there.
With a screeching sound it moved, as they stepped in.
The slabs of stone laid on the floor presented their present wretched state, with the bandicoots and other rodents making burroughs that forced the slabs cave in. Cobwebs on the walls…smell of grime around, mixed with that of dampness…smell of the past!
Is there a smell for time, memories lying deeply buried in consciousness?
As though fish in water moved, the past under the place where they stood manifested itself as though it was breathing, shifting, accosting, entreating…
How it would be, if they moved in? Lumps of clay, strands of cobwebs, doors without hinges, broken shutters on window frames…
With an enigmatic boldness, she stepped in. Kitchen on one side…bedroom there…an electric bulb delicately dangling from an iron holder of a lamp shade in the hall…it’s not there now…no wiring on view…She switched on the light. No glow. She looked around casually.
As she moved, a series of memories scampered by.
Yes,it was here that Raghu made love…sitting on the sofa a little away, they both kissed umpteen times…once on this mosaic floor she slipped and fell down…her father during one of his visits vomited in the sink and passed away later…here, Raghuram placed his first Ph.D degree in her hands and shed tears of joy…It was on that spot he lifted and twirled her around when she told him that she was in the family way.
“ Vatsala…very rare in India… ‘Invitro fertilization’ concept…This Ph.D is on the process of ‘ovarian stimulation’ by making an incision on the walls of the womb of a fertile woman.Subsequently,I approached Professor Subhash Mukhopadhyaya for post doctoral project.He kindly approved my request.Shortly we need to move to Calcutta, bidding adieu to the present position here.Vatsala,goals are so significant in life you know.” He spoke effusively like an overflowing stream, here itself that night.Yes, near this sofa…
Radio was here…a stove with electrical coil on this spot…Raghuram’s minilab was at this place…every night till one O’clock in the nights , at times night long experiments…
So many memories…choking…stimulating…onslaught of tidal waves… a sort of incessant drizzle…
Even Raghu was looking all around, lost in his thoughts…finally both looked at the quarter they lived in.
Mere silence enveloping them…
Strange feeling of looking into an open well,discending the steps one by one .
Is there an adequate expression to explain the situation?
In a fistful of heart emotions of an ocean’s density…
After leaving Warangal they lived in Calcutta for six years.Thanks to Subhash Mukhopadhyaya’s experiment, first test tube baby was born on July 25th,1978.
Intolerant West Bengal government, colleagues, Indian government, conspiracies,secret deals…heart broken state…melancholy devours man…an indifferent Indian society ignores fruits of labour spread over a number of years,rejection,despondency,humiliation…finally in a depressed state a saint like Dr Subhash committed suicide.June 18,1981.
A sort of vacuum,professional despair,desperation…Vatsala consoled,comforted Raghuram as though he were a child… healing process…
They shifted to England.Post doctoral programme in Trinity college,Cambridge to study ‘Ribosam’,the fulcrum of stem cells,study of RNA of protien and amino acids…next to Canada…Pennsylvania…University of Mary Land, now University of California…eight Ph.Ds,four post doctoral degrees.
Now Dr Raghuram is a visiting professor in twenty countries…
What he has taken up of late is the most advanced one.
“Vatsala…when the Buddha looked at his disciples, changes beyond description occurred in them.Mother Teresa,Jesus Christ effected eternal transformation among many followers with their compassionate looks.”
‘Does vision carry such power?
If positive, empathetic looks have power to make a man noble in thought,evil looks emitting jealousy and animosity should carry hazardous elements. How does it look like? Virtually throbbing spirit, eyes, visual waves carry which component in common? What is the association?
If a person’s pattern of vision is analysed, which unknown aspect of evolution unfolds?’
His thoughts extended extensively like that.
A scientist is always a sage.A sage relinquishes all his possessions. One who abdicates is a messenger of God.
Vatsala was overwhelmed with emotional upsurge.Tears swelled in her eyes.She was touched to the core.
Is the relationship between man and his terrestrial, environmental elements purely physical dimensions invisibly embracing him?
Who knows …
Involuntarily, Vatsala took a couple of steps and hugged Dr Raghuram tightly,breaking into sobs.
Raghuram was swept off his feet far more intensely by his own quiet melancholy.
Is effusive transcendental outlet a potential palliative?
Supreme silence stretched between them.
Original in Telugu by Raamaa Chandramouli
[Translation of Telugu short story titled “Jaadalu” form the anthology :Pidikedu Pakshi--Visaalaakaasam]
Raamaa Chandramouli, well known writer, has to his credit 9 anthologies of poetry, 18 novels, 2 plays and 5 volumes of short stories in Telugu. Six books have been translated into English. A prolific writer, Dr Raamaa Chandramouli has written 276 short stories in Telugu. He has been honoured with many awards.He has represented India in international literary meets in California, Greece among several countries. Vice-Principal of Ganapathi Engineering College,he lives in Warangal [Telangana.]