Thursday, August 16, 2012

KUSHKA - 1/2 Plate - Rs.50/-

It was lunch time at office. Everybody shuffled to the cafeteria robotically. The monotony of the South Indian meal was killing me and I decided to take boost my taste buds with a Thalapakattu Biriyani.

The proximity of the restaurant gave me a relaxing 5 minute breezy ride and to no surprise of mine, the place was full. Luckily, a table for four cleared in a few minutes and I took my seat, mentally picturing and smelling the aroma of plate of chicken biriyani. The other three seats remained empty. I placed my order and two men sat across the table. The fluorescent safety jackets they sported were a dead giveaway that they worked under the Chennai Metro Rail Project. Unlike most such workers who happen to be North Indians, these both were natives of the state, their fluent Tamil told me.

Their faces told me that they were simple and happy people. They began talking and within a minute’s eavesdropping, I realize that they are brothers. Unlike most such siblings that we would meet, they were a rare breed and they addressed each other as ‘anna’ and ‘thambi.’ I suddenly remembered Bharathiyar’s poem ‘…thaen vandhu paayudhu kaadhinile…’

"Anna, oru vazhiya innaku biriyani saapda vanthaachu. Evlo naal yemaathitu iruntha enna", the younger told the elder.
"Illa thambi, enkitta ivlo naala kaasu illa, innaiku thaan enkitta 200 rooba irunthuchu. Kaasu vantha odane ennaku nee briyani saapdanum-nu sonnathu thaan gnyabagam vanthuchu. Athaan vanthaachula, nalla saapudalaam", he replied with a hearty laugh.

In the meantime, the waiter served me the food and got an order for two chicken biriyanis from them.

After hearing them, I was slowly gaining more interest in listening to their conversation further than having my food. A few minutes later, their order arrived.

"Sema smell, na. Super-ah irruku", the younger one seemed really excited seeing the food.
"Aama da. Seri soodu aararathukulla saapdu", the elder one replied with a smile.
"Kandipa, sema pasi-la irukaen. Biriyani vera! Kekava venum!" With that, the happy younger one devoured his meal, his hunger and his long time wish to have that biriyani reflecting in the joy exuding from his entire self.

My hands were barely on the food in front of me and I completely lost myself in that beautiful situation. To ensure that they didn’t catch me staring at them, I took my mobile out and pretended to message a friend. It gave a sense of pleasure to see someone who worked so hard for a meal and the happiness that fills his face and self upon seeing the food he desires arrive is certainly out of the world.

In no time, the younger one finished the food on his plate while the elder brother had barely gotten halfway.

"Anna, oru kushka sollu. Sema pasi”, the younger brother said.
"Kushka na?”
"Verum Saapaadu mattum. Piece irukaathu.”

He called the waiter.

"Kushka oru plate", the elder one said.
"One plate ah?" the waiter confirmed the order.
"One plate evlo?", He asked
"50 rooba", the waiter replied.

He started mentally calculating and I tried to race him to it: he had 200 rupees; two half-plate of chicken biriyanis cost Rs.160 and he then Rs.40, 10 short of the 50.

His face changed shades.

"Ambathu roobaiya! Appo vendaam", he said.

"I will pay the bill, you please eat whatever you want", I seriously wanted to tell him, but what if I touch a sensitive spot there? I forced myself to shut up. The younger one was so engrossed in eating and he failed to notice his brother cancel the order.

"Anna, kushka sollitiya?", he asked,
"Illa da, enaala suthama saapda mudila. Thideer-nu vairu oru maathiri pannuthu. Ennodatha neeye saaptru", he said.
"Enna na aachu? Kaalai-la veliku poniya illaya?”
"Ponaen da, but enna-nu therila, vairu oru maathiri valikuthu. Site-ku poitu doctor kitta kaatanum. Ippo itha nee saaptru”
"Konjam saapdu na, meethi naan saapudraen”, the younger one pitched in.
"Illa da, suthama mudila. Neeye full-ah saaptru", he said.

And saying that, he moved his plate towards his younger brother. The younger one joyously accepted the offer and even more happiness danced in the elder one’s face. After the second plate of chicken briyani was done with, the elder called the waiter.

"Pepsi iruka?"he asked
"Iruku sir.”
"12 rooba.”
"Rendu pepsi.”

"Thanniye pothum na, ethuku ippo pepsi? Ennaku vera vairu full-ah iruku", the younger guy said.
"Illa da. Biriyani saaptutu pepsi kudicha thaan jeernam aagum. Appo thaan vela seiya mudiyum. Illana thookam thaan varum", he said
"Athuvum correct thaan”, the younger guy replied.

I looked at them in awe. Both the faces radiated bliss and contentment. One was happy to have had the food he always dreamt of and the other was happy that he had helped him savour the very same dream meal. They had the pepsi, the elder guy paid the bill and they left the place.

I looked at my plate. I had hardly touched my food my I felt so full. I felt a sense of warmth spread in my heart, a feeling I am still having difficulty expressing. I got up, paid the bill and left the place.

Just when I was about to kick start my bike, I noticed the menu outside:

Chicken Briyani - Rs...

Mutton Briyani - Rs....

Egg Briyani - Rs.....




KUSHKA - 1/2 Plate - Rs. 50, it said.


Fahad Y Mohammed said...

touching post. good to see you back. keep writing.

Ayesha said...

:) feel heavy hearted reading it.romba romba touching. A beautifulpost after a long time. Come back soon. Wanna read more. :)

Jaya Senthil said...

Yup. Touching indeed.

VijayaShree ThaVocalist said...

very touching....

Tara said...

Good post :)

Sushmitha Thandlae said...

awww simple story with wonderful expressions of the way u naratted.. nice to read so.. this wat d lines meant for " True love is not only meant for lovers it meant for d way v express" good work:) still to come out bro keep writing ..:)

Dr. Elangovan said...

Hi Raja Realy touching.. Happy to note someone close to me is good in expressing things in nice words. Keep writing Elangovan

Abhi said...

superb maams :) sema flow in writing :) keep sending me the links :)