The plan


to-do-list

Gauri was somebody who had always prided herself on having a plan in life. It was probably her Appa who had inculcated this habit in her right from a young age, as she could clearly recollect all her plans and goals in life being written down in relatively detailed pages in her diaries all these years.

Her overarching plan for life was as follows (1) get a job (2) fall in love (3) get married (4) have kids

All her actions since the time she had reached her final year of college were geared towards these all-encompassing goals of hers. And given that she was very organized and was blessed not only with a photographic memory but also with an amazingly motivated attitude meant that she was well on her way to achieving these goals.

But then life has its own method of throwing a spanner in the works, doesn’t it.

Sometime around a month into her last semester her sister and brother-in-law met with a fatal accident and the only survivors of the car crash were her twin nephews who were safely strapped into their baby seats. Since her brother-in-law was an only child and his parents were long dead, the young twins came into their maternal grandparents’ custody. And considering that Gauri’s parents were quite old and incapable of raising twin boys by themselves, these kids were practically her responsibility now.

Despite having to deal with the trauma of the sudden loss and the additional responsibility of the kids, Gauri somehow managed to scrape through her examinations and graduate from college. And the peculiarity of the financial situation at home meant that she also had to start helping her mother with the smallish business of preparing and selling fried condiments in the smaller agraharams of Palakkad. While her mother oversaw the preparation of the condiments, Gauri took up the onus of marketing the same not only to the households in the area, but also tried approaching some of the smaller hotels, bakeries and other shops selling sweetmeats to include their products in their stores.

It was one such patron of her mother’s condiments, Venkat, who fell in love with Gauri after having seen her visit his small hotel regularly while supplying murukkus. Being an idealist himself, and unburdened by paternal considerations such as the demand for a dowry and such-like, Venkat was fascinated by Gauri’s story and how she managed to keep a smile on her lips despite the tough situations she found herself in. After thinking about it for a few months, he approached Gauri’s Appa and Amma and asked for her alliance.

Venkat’s reputation as somebody who was honest, forthright and somebody who had been successful on his own terms so far preceded him. Therefore Gauri’s parents were more than happy when they were approached with this proposal. And given the fact that Venkat not only agreed to marry Gauri but was more than happy to bring up her twin nephews as his own kids endeared him not only to her parents but also to her that she almost immediately acquiesced to the wedding. And while it seemed like a ‘marriage of convenience’ at the time, Venkat’s large-heartedness, his zest for life and easy-going nature meant that she eventually fell in love with him in just a few days. Life finally had shown her the silver lining to the dark clouds of the past year or so.

Six months later, there she was, sitting in her parents’ thinnai doing the monthly accounts of her mother’s sales. Business had been good and her mother’s penchant for making tasty, lip-smacking savories and sweets without compromising on quality meant that they enjoyed good word-of-mouth and in the last year almost the entire community of Palakkad Pattars relied on Thailam Maami’s Sweets and Savories for all their snacking needs.

As she was sifting through the various bills and account books in the cupboard, she happened to chance upon one of her old diaries. She opened the pages and landed upon the first page where her plan (1) get a job (2) fall in love (3) get married (4) have kids was written in bold.

Reading the points, she smiled when she realized that while her habit of routine and planning had held her in good stead for a major part of her life, the events of the last couple of years had completely thrown her life and her plans out of gear. Since then spontaneity, which had always been something that she had consciously avoided ended up in her mothering two wonderful sons, getting married, and then falling in love, in the exact reverse order of her plans.

***************

Key

Appa: Dad

Amma: Mom

Agraharam: Name given to the Brahmin quarter of a village/town. The district of Palakkad, Kerala has more than a few Brahmin agraharams even today

Murukku:  Traditional snack, savory crunchy twists made from rice and urad dal flour

Thinnai:  Raised platform outside all houses in an agraharam

Palkkad Pattars:  Collective name given to the Brahmin community in Palakkad, Kerala

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This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts: 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “What are you more comfortable with – routine and planning or laissez-faire spontaneity?” and I have taken the liberty of writing a piece of fiction around the prompt.

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10 thoughts on “The plan

  1. You just took me back home, Sir 🙂 Loved the whole description, especially the precise picturisation of the agraharam homes, the lip smacking savouries and all that….and that’s a nice story 🙂
    Planning doesn’t always work…but it gives us some solid clarity as to what we want to achieve in life, and helps us analyse what’s actually wrong when we think something, because putting them in words gives them a crystal clear picture.:) 🙂
    ( And regarding your question about me getting my paatti ready for the final rites, yes, it was a tough job. I’ve blogged about it as ” Her Beauty” on jan 30th, 2014. Pls do check when you get time.)

    • @Sreeja, if you could visualize the agraharams and the murukku-cheedais, then half my job with this story was done 🙂

      And yes, while planning doesn’t work 100% of the time, I personally am an advocate of having a broad overall plan to have clarity on the direction that we want our life to take, while the smaller activities to achieve that goal can sometimes be planned and sometimes can be done ‘going with the flow’ or ‘on the go’ 😀

      Just read your paati post and have commented on it as well 😀

  2. I know for a fact that a lady like this is there in Kalpathi! 🙂 fiction inspired by facts 🙂 only difference instead of twin nephews, the lady had on niece.

    Nice post sir!

  3. Jai, you took me back to Palakkad. To be precise, Kunnissery/Chittoor/Nallepilly, my grandfather’s place. It had many agraharams and the Maami’s indeed had what we call as ‘Kai punyam’ in Malayalam. A good take on the prompt. WPD indeed gives so much to think and so much to improve for each one of us. Kudos! 🙂

    • @Rekha, yes, this was a somewhat offbeat take on the prompt and am just glad that I managed to pull it off. Watch out for tomorrow’s prompt as well, another offbeat take yet again 😉

  4. A sweet, short post 🙂 Life does have it’s own plans for everyone 🙂 I liked Gauri’s story. It reminded me of Palakkad. I had been there for my FCRI training and that is when I had taken a taxi booked by the hotel for me & gone all alone to visit Guruvayur.

    • @Poornima, yes, the intention behind setting the story in Palakkad was to remind people (who had already been there) of it 🙂 And am sure you must have enjoyed Guruvayur quite a bit as well 🙂

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