Radha Paati is the central character in all these stories. She is a short-tempered, septuagenarian – a simple soul. She always calls a spade, a spade and does not take into consideration the situation in which she airs her views. These stories are just different pages from the her life! Hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it up!!
Paati – an old lady or grandmother.
It was summer once again.
“O! No water!” exclaimed Radha Paati, one morning. She went to check the other tap. Water was flowing like a small thread. She hurried to get the bucket. By the time she trudged back with the bucket, to her dismay, she found only air hissing out of the tap!
She walked out of the house, to look around, to check, if any of her neighbour’s were facing similar problems. No one seemed to be troubled. Everyone was engrossed in their daily routine. There was no talk about water problem among them.
“The entire village seems to be getting water! Only my house has a problem” thought Radha Paati.
“Anjali, Anjali”, Paati called out.
“Yes, enna paati, what is it?”
“Water is not coming in my house. Will you give me a bucket of water?”
“Water? You want water, from my house? Remember, last week I had come there to ask for some sugar? You shouted at me so much! Now you want WATER?” shouted Anjali
Radha paati walked off silently.
That is when she saw Venkat cleaning his scooter with a bucket of water.
“Venkat, onga aathile thanni varathaa, are you getting water in your home?”
“Yes” replied he, without looking up or stopping his work.
“Not coming in my house. Can you give me a bucket of water?”
Venkat who was by nature very soft, and never raises his voice against anyone, looked accusingly at her and said in a monotone, “you shouted so much yesterday for parking my scooter near your gate for a few minutes! And now you want water?”
Radha paati trudged on further through the village, when she heard Malini singing.
She went up to their gate, for she knew Malini was a good soul and always helpful.
“Malini, Malini” she hollered out as she reached the door. “Water is not coming in our house, can you give me a bucket of water?” continued paati. But it was not Malini, who came out, but her mother Pankajam mami.
Seeing her, Paati immediately tried to walk off, not wanting to face her. But Pankajam mami, unlike her daughter, was razor sharp, be it in words or deeds.
“Wait Paati… wait…I came last month to your house and plucked a few tulsi leaves, for my daughter’s sore throat and you created such brouhaha, and even snatched from me the few that I had plucked! No water, not a drop for YOU.”
Radha paati walked towards the village temple, asking a few more for water. But she received more or less the same response from every house. Dejected, she sat underneath the near-by banyan tree. She was trying to think of at least one person to whom she could ask for water.
Subbu Vaadhyar, the village temple priest had just locked up the temple, and was coming out when he noticed Radha Paati sitting under the banyan tree. He was surprised to see her there. She was a regular at the temple, but today she had not turned up and here she was, sitting under the tree, outside the temple.
‘Must be a serious problem’, he thought.
“Paati, what happened? Why are you sitting here? Why didn’t you come to the temple today?”
Paati looked at him and replied with a sad smile, “No water at my home. So couldn’t take bath in the morning.”
“Is it? But I didn’t hear anyone talk about it in the temple today morning. Are all the other villagers getting water?”
“Yes. I walked all the way from my house till here, asking many for some water. But no one was willing to give me even a drop”, grumbled paati.
“Come with me, I’ll ask . Let me hear why they can’t give you some water”, barked an enraged priest.He just could not understand how people could be so mean to such an old lady.
A completely surprised paati immediately stuttered, “No, that is not needed. You don’t have to go to them asking. If they don’t want to give, let it be.”
“No! You are coming with me. This cannot be left like that”, sputtered Subbu Vaadhyaar, and took her by her arm along with him.
“I really don’t think this is a good idea…” resisted paati.
But the priest was so enraged that he turned a deaf ear to all protests made by paati.
Diagonally opposite to the temple is the house of Venu mama, whose wife is very religious and visits temple every evening. The priest was sure that he could get a bucket of water for paati from their house.
“Venu mama, Venu mama”, called out the priest.
Recongising his voice, both the husband and wife, Anagha, came out.
“Water is not coming in this paati’s house. Can you give her a bucket of water?”
Vaadhyar looked smugly at paati, and signed that all will be well.
“No”, replied a sweet voice, shattering the priest’s smug smile. He was shocked to see that it was the docile and pious wife who had given such a harsh reply.
“O! But why?” gasped the priest in surprise.
“Last week, she screamed at me for plucking a few flowers from her house.”
The priest looked at paati and rolled his eyes, and paati replied, “that’s because if i give her one day, she’ll come and pluck every day”.
“I can manage without water…”, said Paati trying to stop the Vaadhyar from getting her insulted more.But the Vaadhyaar was determined to help out Paati, and he could not be persuaded.
He headed straight to the house of little Mohan, the 5-year-old, who was loved by everyone in the village.
“This paati scolded my son for blowing a whistle, when he walked past her house. No water for her from my house”, snapped his mother.
“That whistle was so irritating…”, said paati defensively
“I won’t give her water. She screamed at me when I asked if I could pluck some curry leaves from her house.” said yet another lady, matter-of-factly. Paati made up yet another lame excuse, never accepting her fault.
And so the Vaadhyaar gradually found that Radha Paati was not a hot favourite of most of the villagers.
“Subbu Vaadhyar, why are you wasting your time. You don’t know her, since you are from another village. No one will help her out”, advised Rani, and hurried to college.
But Subbu Vaadhyaar wanted to try one last time, for now at stake was his own pride. He decided to approach Venkat, who he knew would surely help out.
But when Venkat heard the priest’s request, he screwed up his face and growled how paati had scolded him for having parked his scooter in front of her house for a few minutes.
The duo, having completely lost all hope, walked with heavy steps towards paati’s home. Both of them felt tired and they sat down near the entrance. The priest accepted his defeat with grace and Paati felt quite humiliated.
“Paati, you have been really very mean to the villagers.But the villagers should also forget and forgive.I don’t understand why they are all so…”
Just then paati heard a gurgling noise and turned to see that water was flowing from the tap in the porch. She had left it open by mistake. She rushed inside, and to her joy found that water was coming from every tap.
“I have been mean to the villagers?” turned paati to the priest, “I’ll behave the way I like. I don’t need your advice, you know.”
The priest was completely taken aback seeing the sudden change in the paati.
“Water is coming in my house. I don’t need your help. I never asked your help anyway. Who asked you go to every house and ask water for me? You insulted me. Now leave, I have a lot of work”, she snarled.
Subbu Vaadhyar could not understand head or tail of what had happened. He had been trying to help her out, and she was scolding him.
Radha Paati was unique, indeed !!