Much as it may sound highly unlikely, I did take up the assignment of translating the biographical sketches of the Alvars, from Kannada to English for someone, though I was barely familiar with the subject. The alvars are the front runners ofBhakti movement in South India during the early part of Kalyug, whose works are all in Classical Tamil.
Though I took up the responsibility purely due to my affection towards both English and Kannada, the job was quite challenging language wise more so as the original Kannada text had been written in a very involved style. To break them into digestible bits and finding the right words to suit the subject was a problem. It was more like a crossword puzzle. My mental Thesaurus kept throwing at me only politically wrong synonyms. I had to not only find the right words keeping in mind the dignity of the subject, but had to keep the metaphysical quotient of the matter very high. In order to avoid prolonged agony, I myself fixed a last date for the completion of the work, without imagining that this self imposed deadline would only increase my mental stress. To the irritation of my housemate aka husband, I used to talk alvars, walk alvars, drink them, eat them, dream them and sleep (?) them. Doing 12 of them was no piece of cake.
All their works being in Tamil, there were impossibly long Tamil words to transliterate to English .This was a task requiring utmost concentration, more so when I had to key them onto my computer. That being the case, a strange thing happened one day. After typing a long para containing nothing less than 7-8 long names of their works__ all transliterated titles, my space bar started behaving very oddly. Every time I asked it to push a little to introduce a left out letter in between, it would start eating up the letters of the bit to be pushed. When ‘backspace’ erases words, it does so from right to left. But this space bar was erasing them from left to right with every tap. So, the more I repaired the previous word, more letters would vanish from the next word!
Moreover, the system software engineer must have been a Brahmin boy. Every time I wrote the words Vedas and Brahmin, it would always change on its own the first letter to capital without as much as ‘if you please…’
By the time I completed the assignment, even my normal vocabulary had changed and I was dying to go back to my comfort zone and my mindless blogs.
One day, I was immersed in the contemplation of what constituted real happiness (see, this is what I meant by my vocabulary being influenced), when I remembered a profound adage, “Happiness is when you can reach where it itches.” None of the itch gels give you as much happiness as your own fingers reaching the trouble spot and scratching the life out of it. Long nails add to the pleasure. But, not all are blessed with hands long enough to reach the spot. I was helped in this by a man in Maui, Hawaii. No, he was not a psychiatrist asking me to divert myself, so that the itch would not be noticed. Nor was he a medicine man capable of projecting my itch on to a voodoo doll. This gentleman was a politician. He had stood for council elections. Unlike our Indian politicians who conduct their door to door campaigns without getting down from their ‘raths’, this man came walking down the long sloping driveway. He rang the doorbell, said his say and gifted us some candies and, and… a back- scratcher! This extremely useful item was a thin, long bamboo strip, whose one end had been split and bent like fingers and the whole thing was coated in varnish to keep off the borers. How thoughtful of him to think of such a simple solution for a malady as common as common cold! It is such a welcome gadget particularly for those who suffer from Pruritis geriatrics_ sounds like a character from Asterix comics, doesn’t it? Well, it only means the itching of the dry skin due to old age!
I insisted that my son and daughter- in- law vote for that person irrespective of their party affiliations. When we packed our suitcases to return home, the first thing that went in was my precious back- scratcher. So, now I am the happiest person on earth according to the adage.
Do you think dabbling in metaphysics might have something to do with the tipping off of that delicate thing known as the balance of my mind?