SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy
Garudacharya – a relative of Naranappa
Shyama – only son of Garuda
Naranappa – a Brahmin who leads a non-Brahminical life
Lakshmanacharya – a relative of Naranappa
Sitadevi – wife of Garudacharya
Chandri – a dalit woman who lives with Naranappa
Praneshacharya – learned scholar and priest of Durvasapura
Anasuya – wife of Lakshmanacharya
Shripati – Son-in-law of Lakshmanacharya
Lilavati – daughter of Anasuya and wife of Shripati
Dasacharya – a poor Brahmin of the agrahara
Naranappa’s relatives vying with each other to do funeral rites for him
The Brahmins come back from Parijatapura. There are different views prevail for Garudacharya’s son Shyama deserting his home. Garudacharya’s enemies blame him for punishing Shyama severely. Naranappa’s enemies blame Naranappa for inciting Shyama to run away from home. Lakshmanacharya blames Garudacharya for the black magic Garuda used against Naranappa’s father. He believes that the black magic Garuda used against Naranappa’s father boomeranged on himself.
Shyama’s parents Garudacharya and Sitadevi are left in the lurch, not knowing the whereabouts of Shyama. Sitadevi, Shyama’s mother, fasts on Friday nights hoping that he would become a better person but Garudacharya is furious about his son. After a gap of about three months, they receive a letter from him informing that he has joined the army and if he has to be relieved a penalty of six hundred rupees has to be paid. Thus only through his letter they come to know about his whereabouts.
Sitadevi does not have sufficient money to pay the penalty and get her son relieved from the army but her hope brightens as she thinks that her husband might get a chance to do the funeral rites for Naranappa and legally get Chandri’s golden ornaments.
Garudacharya does not want his situation to become like that of Naranappa. He hates his son for running away from home. Nevertheless he needs to redeem his only son so that on his death his son would do funeral rites for him. Hence he sneaks into Praneshacharya’s house and tries to persuade him to allow him to do the funeral rites for Naranappa. If so, he would get the golden ornaments of Chandri and that would help him to redeem his son from the army. Hence on entering Praneshacharya’s house, he tries to cajole and persuade Praneshacharya and make him say that he could do the rites for Naranappa. He cites what Praneshacharya once said, that even though it is not proper (for a Brahmin) to eat cow’s meat, one can be fed with that if his life is depended on that. He tries to make him understand that for the sake of dharma, a requirement could be fulfilled. He speaks about dharma and life because ‘The motive: gold”. But Praneshacharya is stubborn in going through the texts to find a solution.
Meanwhile Anasuya also tries to get the golden ornaments. Anasuya is related to Naranappa as he is her maternal uncle’s son. Moreover, Anasuya’s sister is Naranappa’s first legal wife. Anasuya does not want her husband to do funeral rites for Naranappa earlier but after knowing that she would get Chandri’s gold, she sheds tears saying, “O God, O God, whatever he (Naranappa) might have done, how can we cut the family bond that binds?”
Anasuya harbours anger against Naranappa because he has spoiled her son-in-law, Shripati. Shripati was an orphan but she married him to her daughter, Lilavati. But soon he takes to the life style of Naranappa and gets spoiled. He roams everywhere and stays at home about two days a month.
When Lakshmanacharya, her husband, comes home tired from Parijatapura, Anasuya urges him to go to Praneshacharya’s house and convince him to get the permission to do the funeral rites for Naranappa. Lakshmanacharya is an epitome of parsimony. He tries to get even oil for his head without spending money. He also has the habit of stealing banana leaves from others farms, dries them up, makes them into cups and sells them. Now he fixes his eyes on Chandiri’s gold.
Lakshmanacharya and Garudacharya vie with each other in getting the gold. Lakshmanacharya tries to get the permission for doing funeral rites quoting that Naranappa is his wife’s uncle’s son. Garudacharya thinking that he should not get the gold, agrees with Lakshmanacharya’s argument but says that the gold should be submitted to the court or given to him according to the decree given by Dharmasthala (local court)
Meanwhile Dasacharya comes there and urges Praneshacharya to do something to dispose Naranappa’s body as he could not stay in his house due to bad smell coming out from the decaying body. He suggests that Praneshacharya can use the gold for the Maruti God and they could dispose the body. Garudacharya who does not like Dasacharya’s suggestion but fears to object it openly says that executing such an idea might bring bad name to Praneshacharya. Praneshacharya then asks all of them to go home saying that he would go according to the ancient religious texts. Then he asks Chandri to come inside the house and sit and gives medicine to his wife. Then with the help of a kerosene lantern, he begins to read ancient religious books to find a solution. It becomes evening.
1. smarting over -phrasal verb
Meaning: worrying over
Example – Lakshmana’s wife, Anasuya, smarting over Naranappa who had sullied her mother’s family name, used to blame him also on Garuda.
2. pined away – phrasal verb
Meaning: suffered with longing
Example – Garuda’s wife, Sitadevi, had given up food and drink, and pined away, for her son was ruined by that scoundrel Naranappa.
3. accosted – verb
Meaning – boldly confronted
4. akimbo – adverb
Meaning: (with hand) on hip and elbow bent outward
Example – After that Sitadevi had accosted Naranappa on the street, her arms akimbo, and scolded and wept.
5. overrun – verb
Meaning: swarm over in great numbers
Example – Garudacharya had raged like Durvasa, and jumped about as if overrun by red ants, shouting, ‘He’s as good as dead to me, if he so much as shows his face here I’ll break his head.”
6. buy off – phrasal verb
Meaning: to get rid of by payment
Example – Today Sitadevi came home happy thinking they might even be able to buy off her son from the military bond, if only Chandri’s jewelry came into their hands.
7. forestall – verb
Meaning: act in advance
Example – Would Lakshmana forestall her own husband and offer to do the rites? – Or those people of Parijatapura?
8. heinous /heɪnəs/ – adjective
Example – Now, Naranappa’s meat-eating didn’t look too heinous.
9. maligned – verb
Meaning: spoke evil of
Example – She’d once maligned Praneshacharya for hesitating to excommunicate Naranappa.
10. lout – adjective
Example – In your presence, I’m a lout, a clumsy bear.
11. vagabond – noun
Meaning: wandering from place to place without a home
Example – Would he have died like a vagabond, a homeless wretch?
12. vermilion – adjective
Meaning – bright red
Example – The very next minute her eye fell on her daughter Lilavati – short, plump and round, a nose-ring in one nostril and a long vermilion mark on the brow.
13. furtively – adverb
Meaning: without being noticed
Example – She knew long ago he would come to ruin; ever since she’d seen him one day sneak furtively in and out of Naranappa’s house, she knew he’d gone astray.
14. godawful – adjective
Meaning: extremely shocking
Example – Who knows what godawful things he ate and drank in that house?
15. roving – adjective
Example – Anasuya had taught her daughter a trick, just to teach her roving son-in-law a lesson.
16. gobble up – phrasal verb
Meaning: swallow up
Example – That Garuda is clever, quite ready to gobble up the whole town.
17. milksop – noun
Meaning: a weak and inefficient person
Example – He is no milksop like you.
18. musty – adjective
Meaning: stale smell
Example – What does it sell for? It isn’t musty, is it?
19. patter – noun
Meaning: light tapping sound
Example – With such patter, he cups his hands and gets a couple of spoons as sample.
20. forages – verb
21. Pice – noun
Meaning: a former bronze coin of British India
Example – Then he forages again in someone or other’s grove, brings home some cuts of banana-leaf to dry them in the sun and make leaf-cups which he will sell for a few pice.
22. nonplussed – verb
Example – Garuda was nonplussed. How can be counter this?
23. crestfallen – adjective
Example – Garuda and Lakshmana were crestfallen.
24. sweet talk – verb
Meaning: use cajoling words in order to persuade
Example – Even Lakshmana, who didn’t know how to sweet-talk his way out, was pleased.