Monday, 5 September 2016

My greatest teachers - 1. Eashwaramma

From her I learnt many lessons on life and living. She taught me large heartedness. At the santa when I brought only two cubits of flowers for the village temple, she made me buy ten, telling me that one should not be tight fisted with God. She had herself bought ten cubits when it was her turn to offer worship at the temple. Another time when she suddenly got to know that it was her turn at the temple the next day, she  walked three kilometers to the santa to buy what offerings she could saying ‘mana shakti kaadeki ivvaali’, meaning we should offer to god what we have the ability to.

She taught me goodness. When we shooed away our dog out of the house when sitting down to eat, she commented, “Isn’t that a life too? You lock it outside instead of giving it also food ? Set a plate for it in a corner and put food for it too.” Her grandchildren, Sasi and Kavya, happily give away the only garlic pod in their house, and the only guava that grows in their tree. Their grandmother has given them something more precious than the money she could not. An example of a life of sharing, of integrity, of honesty, of goodness. These are the sanskaras they have inherited for Eashwaramma.

She showed me clear thinking based on common sense and fairness. When she was telling me about people going to the Moolasthaanamma temple to give up drinking, she also said, “Everything is finally in our hands. If we decide to stop, we stop. That’s all.” The same clear thinking extends to everything. When I commented on Simhadri not giving enough to his sister Varalu who was deserted by her husband she said, “Don’t comment on others. We don’t know their constraints.” On dogs eating feaces she said, “Every life is made differently by the god.”

She showed me straightforwardness. I once bought some kerosene oil from her. I buy it from various people in the village as I do not have a ration card. When I told her I would pay her the rate I would have to if I bought it in the open market, she told me that she will not take more money from me in this manner. That she will only take what she would have got if she sold it to the local buyer from Kothapeta. She said that if she had need for more money she would ask me for it and take it. Given her dire circumstances, this was a rare integrity. But it is not uncommon in this village.

The same integrity shows in her giving opinions when asked for. They are based on honesty and sensitivity. About the questionabe madhyastham which went against the Maadiga Kitu godu, where Chandra took away his cow she said, “Chandra’s family will not prosper with other’s properties. Especially in this case where they are so poor, and where Kitu godu’s wife was hoping to sell the calf and pay for her operation.” Being so poor, she has full sympathy towards the poorer. Referring to Mangamma’s daughter Poorna’s elopement, she said, “Poorna was not charged a fine as they have nothing.”

She taught me respect for others and respect for oneself  co-exist. Through times difficult or less difficult the phone calls from Eashwaramma will begin with a cheerful, "I am well, how are you ? How is the doctor ? How is the doctor's husband ?" , referring to the doctor whose ayurrvedic medicines restored her to health  and who is remembered by Eashwaramma always with gratitude. Then as usual she asks, "Does the doctor enquire after me too ?" , and the doctor, when I report this to her,  hastens to add - 'Please tell her i also always enquire after her')

Her report about Madras to the village people was, “In cities dogs are taken grazeing! At six thirty in the morning and at four in the evening people set out in droves taking the dogs walking. The people have servants to take the dogs out. Well bosomed girls in shorts and tight tops without even a upper cloth, their unevenly cut hair hanging loose all over their faces go walking with the dogs. The ragpicker community with their long skirts and upper cloth tucked in neatly and lots of bangles on their arms look far more decent”. She asked me why so many people keep dogs and said that a cow would give milk and dung and calves ! She asked if it was for prestige. She was not impressed by the city or its luxuries.

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