SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy
|Lakshmidevemma||The oldest woman living in the agrahara|
|Garudacharya||a relative of Naranappa|
|Praneshacharya||learned scholar and priest of Durvasapura|
|Shripati||Son-in-law of Lakshmanacharya|
|Nagaraja||a friend of Shripati|
|Chandri||a dalit woman who lives with Naranappa|
|Naranappa||a Brahmin who leads a non-Brahminical life|
Lakshmidevemma – the Oldest Woman in the Agrahara
Lakshmidevemma, above 70 years old, is the oldest living person in the agrahara. She was given in marriage at the age of eight but at the age of ten, she became a widow. At the age of fifteen, she lost her father-in-law and mother-in-law and at the age of twenty, she lost her parents. She is a fatal lady to all those who associate with her and hence the people of the agrahara keep away from her. But after Lakshmidevemma became an orphan, Garudacharya’s father in order to take her property, took her into his house and took care of her. After the death of Garudacharya’s father, the responsibility of taking care of Lakshmidevemma fell on him. But Garudacharya’s wife is very stingy and never feeds Lakshmidevemma properly. The incessant quarrel between Garuda’s wife and Lakshmidevemma makes Garuda keep Lakshmidevemma in a separate dilapidated house and gives one rupee every month for her sustenance. Lakshmidevemma takes the matter to Praneshacharya but Garudacharya does not relent. Therefore whenever she gets angry with Garudacharya, she stands in front of his house and curses him from the bottom of her heart.
As she curses him on a particular night, she sees somebody running out of Naranappa’s house and she thinks, it is Naranappa’s ghost fleeing out of his house. Lashmidevemma bangs at the door of the houses in agrahara and tries to inform the people. But it is Shripati fleeing out of Naranappa’s house after seeing Naranappa’s dead body. He is shell-shocked, crosses the Tunga river and reaches Nagaraja’s house at Parijatapura.
Chandri, lying in the verandah of Praneshacharya, notices that it is Shripati fleeing out of her house. She is able to notice him as she is awake and unable to sleep due to hunger. She has never slept without having food at night, hence she goes to the backyard and eats ripe plaintain left on the tree. Then goes to the Tunga river and drinks water. She, being afraid of going to her house, goes back to Praneshacharya’s house and curls up on the veranda to sleep, covering her face with her sari.
Praneshacharya, meanwhile, riffles through the religious texts but he does not find any solution. He walks up and down the veranda and thinks to himself the reasons for not excommunicating Naranappa. There are two reasons for not excommunicating him. The first reason is Naranappa threatened that he would convert himself to a Muslim and the other reason is Praneshacharya’s compassion toward Naranappa. Compassion is a trait of Praneshacharya which is obvious in his family life as well. He is so compassionate towards his invalid wife. His mind then shifts to another solution, as going through religious texts for a solution has gone in vain. He thinks of going to the temple of Maruti God early next morning and fall at the feet of God to get a solution to Naranappa’s funeral rites. The thought of going to Maruti temple relaxes his stressed mind. Then he gives Chandri, who is in the verandah, a mat and a pillow to sleep and he gets inside his house. Again he gets another thought that he should give all her jewels back to her and he acts accordingly. Then he goes to his bed.
1. bouts – noun
Meaning: period of time spent ( in cursing)
Example – Especially as it got close to a new moon or full moon, her cursing bouts would reach a pitch.
2. belch – verb/noun
Meaning: violent emittance of gas (from the stomach through the mouth).
Example – They all called her Sour Belch.
3. misanthropy – noun
Meaning: hatred of humankind
Example – As Lakshmidevamma had got on in years, her misanthropy had risen like poison in the system.
4. hobbling – verb
Meaning: limping (walking lamely)
Example – ‘Look, look, look! It’s Naranappa’s ghost! Ghost!’ cried Half-Wit Lakshmidevamma, running from door to door, beating on it, hobbling on her stick.
5. guzzled – ate greedily
Meaning: – verb
Example – Naranappa had guzzled at her body like a ten year old, tearing and devouring like a gluttonous bear at a honeycomb.
6. capered – verb
Example – Angry, mad, strong-willed man – he had capered and somersaulted, said he would turn Muslim if they excommunicated him.
7. distraught – adjective
Meaning: mentally agitated
Example – He made her unsay it; he made her say, ‘May it only be good,’ to undo her self-cursing; consoled her, came back to the hall and sat in the lantern light, distraught.
8. defiled – adjective
Example – It was because of Naranappa’s threat to turn Muslim. By that threat, the ancient codes had already been defiled.
9. penance – noun
Meaning: self-imposed punishment (for having done a sin)
Example – There was a time when the brahmin’s power of penance ruled the world.
10. buckle – verb
Meaning: bend or surrender
Example – Then one didn’t buckle under any such threat.
11. reproached – verb
Meaning: found fault with himself
Example – As the thought flashed, Praneshacharya reproached himself, saying, ‘Che! Che! That’s self-deception.’
12. wilfulness – noun
Meaning: abstinance / strong will in having own way
Example – His wilfulness couldn’t give in to Naranappa’s.
13. austerities – noun
Meaning: strict practices
Example – ‘I must bring him back to the right paths; I will, by the power of my virtue, my austerities, my two fasts a week, I’ll draw him to right thinking’.
14. wilts – verb
Meaning: loses strength
Example – When this body wilts in age, lust will leave it but not compassion.
15. shooed – verb
Meaning: drove / chased
Example – They shooed him away, like a dog.
16. vicious – adjective
Example – Why did you give me such a vicious need?
15. embarrassed – adjective
Meaning: confused and feeling uncomfortable
Example – In the lantern light, he saw the woman sitting embarrassed and her body was drawn-in like a bud.