“Ok…then will you have the Vada ?”
“Excuse me..Can we sit here?” asked a lady in her early 50’s, as I was feasting on Sambar Vada in Saravana Bhavan on a sunny morning. I said “Yes M’am”. She smiled backed and said “Thank You”, then held the hands of her husband, and cautiously made him sit right opposite to me.
Age had shadowed into this tall man’s listening and speaking abilities, his hands had a mild shiver, and his eyes popped out with a dead man’s stare; he seemed to have lost his basic mental balance and required his wife around him, always.
As the lady sat next to the old man, he gazed across people munching the breakfast delicacies being served at Saravana Bhavan, until he locked his eyes onto a table. He stooped a bit towards his wife and murmured something to which his wife said in a raised tone into his ears “You cannot have Puri Bhaji, hasn’t doctor advised you not to have it”. Realising her husband was not happy with the denial, she raised up to her husband’s ears and said, “Ok, will you have Tayir Vada (Dahi Vada) or Sambar Vada”.
The man murmured back something, and her wife confirmed “Ok, so I will order Tayir Vada for you…I will have Pongal vada”. After placing the order, she realises something is wrong and lowers his shoulder to reach his ears and in a mild frustrated tone says, “I had kept that white shirt on the bed for you to wear today, why did you wear this dirty shirt?”.
Looking at his blue checked half shirt, he pinches it out, stares at it, gently rubs his hand over it and then he looks at her. “Its Ok now, let it be!” she said and the man got back to his dazed look.
The waiter serves Tayir Vada , the old man picks up the spoon and starts to have his prized breakfast. A few morsels down, he has curd dripping down his mouth on his shirt, to which his alert wife, pulls out a handkerchief from his shirt pocket and cleans it off saying “There’s an handkerchief in your pocket use it” The man acknowledges it by tapping his now empty shirt pocket.
A few minutes later the waiter arrives with Pongal Vada and the lady starts to have it. The man now has too many things to get distracted on the table…Tayir Vada, Pongal Vada, and a Ghee Roast Dosa which I ordered which occupied the width of the table. The man was almost done with his meal, when he started looking on and off into his wife’s plate.
The wife asks him “Do you want to have Pongal Vada” He shakes his head in denial.. “Do you want to have only Pongal” He again shakes his head in denial, this time with his eyes shut .. “Ok…then will you have the Vada ?”
The man does not say anything. Knowing her husband’s reply, she breaks a piece of the Vada and places it in his bowl, and says “Have it, its hot and crispy..They have made it very well” The man then minces that piece into small bits and starts having it.
When both their breakfast portions were done, a waiter stands next to man, and asks him “Sir, do you want anything more, Tea, Coffee, Juice…” The man, not aware of the waiters existence, keeps gazing… “Sir,will you…” Cutting through the waiters question the lady says “Oh No! He will not have anything more, he has had his share already. Get the bill”
She then gently rubs his wrinkled hand and says “Wasn’t the breakfast good…”
The man looks at his wife, almost as a reply and continues to stare at a small kid who was riding a musical horse.
I was moved by this small sweet story that was weaving before me.
Countless stories like these and many more are brewing in this city of Chennai, which is my rabbit hole to nostalgia, love, life and music.
Hi, I’m a music director/composer/producer from India and work for films, television series, television commercials / advertisements, jingles, video games, musicals and concerts. Here through my series of This Life Happens, i intend to share the simplest of stories that I get inspired from, hoping it’ll inspire yours too.
I also do love to share my expertise in creativity and music through my blog — prashantpillai.com/blog. Drop in to say Hello! there.