My name is Desigachariar ,living in one of the palatial houses in the Edward Elliots Road. Born in an illustrious joint family of Madras which had Diwan Bahadurs and Rao Bahadurs by dozens.Originally hailing from ThiruKudandhai or Kumbakonam from interior Madras state,our Great grand father had migrated to Madras. My father was a Diwan in one of the princely states before he settled down here.I remember my childhood days- taken to school by chariot and playing in this huge house of ours with my schoolmates.It was so huge that while playing hide and seek we used to really get lost.I had my own secret entry points and hiding places that I never got out in the games
Today my only child and son Aravamudhan is coming back from USA.Its been many years since he came back to India,having settled abroad for over 30 years.The only contact had been through the phone for just a few minutes and that too once in two ,three months.I have been termed as the most timid in our family and never dared to ask any one any question.In fact ,when my wife was alive,I had her as my soul and sole company.But we also hardly exchanged words beyond basic communication.
The taxi entered the compound and I could spot Aravamudhan and his wife but not the kids.For a moment, I thought they would be coming in a seperate car but nothing like that happened.After exchange of pleasenteries, ARA (ARAVAMUDHAN )came straight away to the point.He wanted to sell off the house since he didnt plan to come back again to India.He opened out the plan.One of the biggest builders in India had approached him with the proposal of out right purchase and build a tallest multi storied complex.I would be alloted a duplex flat in the opposite building with an ante room where a caretaker would live .The next day ,the builder and promoter would come in the morning to get my signature.Nobody wanted my views.Even if someone wanted it ,I would have only mumbled and nobody would have understood it.
That night,the procession of thoughts of the last 70 years were the only thing which gave me company.My eyes were too tired to shed even tears.Morning sharp at 9 ,two latest cars zoomed onto our portico.The portico was large enough to accomodate a dozen such cars.The sudden excitement in the house was hurting me.
ARA :Appa please meet Mr Ismail the builder and Mr Agarwal the promoter
Me : hmm
Mr Ismail : good morning Mr Chariar.I understand this house has been in your families custody for generations and it would be little painful when you sign the papers and give your rights away,but please dont worry theres going to be a huge complex coming up making you proud.
Me : hmmm
Mr Agarwal ;Sir ,would you mind signing the document here
Me : hmm
A heritage perhaps lost in that one stroke of my signature.Suddenly I felt I had betrayed all my forefathers.Each ones face adorning the hall was staring at me..Desiga( As they used to call me ) ennada pannitte (DESIGA,What have you done ).Tears welled up,but I couldnt utter a word.Thats me always..
A person was introduced as a Chief engineer(CE) who gently spelt out how they were to go ahead with the demolition.
C E :Sir,We are quite aware that this is an old construction , built with all care ,to last centuries.Therfore,we are going to use a very latest technique to bring it down.(Oh My God ! ).We are going to use Implosion technique with a special white flame method.The entire house will momentarily be turned into white heat state when everything gets pulverised and then the controlled explosives will ensure a perfect implosion.All that will be left is dust.Then our bull dozers move in and level off the ground.Would you believe it sir, all this will take just 30 minutes.In fact we have informed all TV channels and each one is vying to cover the spectacle.
Upgraded Technolgy redefined to wipe out Ancient History of 300 years!!
What a spectacle it would be ! I felt for once I was seething in anger, but only internally.I dont know why I can never express it.I must do something,thats all I could think.
Being perfect hosts ARA and his wife saw the guests off.Then he came and sat in front of me, perhaps a little guilt over powering him.His wife went in.Suddenly I heard her call him. MUDA, MUDA...oh my god ..what a lovely name Aramudhan has been truncated into MUDA,as his pet name...MUDA,muttal or a fool in Tamizh..!!
The next day,several trucks came and took away all the things.Century old stuff.My son explained the agreement was to dispose them off to museums world over,of course with all Govt formalities.How considerate I thought !.The granite and marble stones,at the entrance of the house, bearing the names of Rao Bahadhurs and Diwan Bahadurs would also be preserved. Great Service ,I thought.That evening we were moved to the opposite house.Next morning was the D Day.I woke up as usual at 4 am and completed my morning walk to beach.By 6 am the TV vans had occupied the vantage points to cover the first time spectacle.By 9 the experts had wired the house with explosives.The implosion was scheduled at 10 am.Once again,Lot of excitement in the air.
Suddenly two things crossed me.White heat turns you into ash..and secondly a secret entrance to the house from the rear.I quietly slipped out from balcony grabbing the ganges water pot placed in the makeshift pooja room.Entered the house from the rear and nobody spotted me.Poured the ganges water on my head and prostrated in the now vacant pooja room in the direction where the beautiful pictures of God used to be hung,facing East.Their smiles and serenity all pervading even now.
Outside the loud speakers were announcing that in less than few minutes it will all be over.The countdown will start shortly. I too realised it.Said sorry to my forefathers for being what I am.Suddenly I found myself to be at peace..Started chanting the all powerful Gayatri Mantra
OM BHUR BHUVASUVAROM....... 10..9..8..7..
THATSAVITHUR VARENIUM..... 6..5..4...
Aravamudhans wife :MUDA...wheres appa gone to
ARA :He is so upset.He must have gone away from the scene.But he will soon return.
Perhaps he was wrong .Mr Desigachariar had gone into the scene,never to return