Sunday, 14 August 2011

The only time my father beat me

My father, who died in 1981 when I was 24, beat me only once in my life. He was a totally relaxed person. When at home, he would sit quietly in the veranda with a smile on his face, mulling over some pleasant and humorous thought, smoking hard on a beedi. He would be watching everything happening around him, but would not interfere in anything. We children could do any mischief in the house without fear of his raising his voice to enforce discipline.

I was six or seven years old when he beat me the only time in my life. I was playing goli in our front yard with my friend Mohan, who was around my own age. The goli game we used to play those days was similar in principle to the golf game. There are three holes in the ground about three feet apart and you have to put the goli in each hole a particular number of times ahead of your rival to win the game.



What you do each time your turn comes is to pitch the thump of your right hand at the spot where the goli had last come to rest and shoot it with your middle finger, as from a catapult, from between the thump and the next finger of your left hand. The goli has to be shot with the right precision to fall into the next hole. You are also allowed to hit your rival's goli with your's, so that it shoots far away from the holes, making it difficult for him to score his next hole.

I was a devil at this game and I won it by quite some distance that day. The rule of the game is that the winner is entitled to have a particular number of knocks with the goli at the knuckles of the loser as the reward for winning. The goli has to be propelled the same catapulting way from the first hole to the next, where the loser would hold his knuckles to receive the knock.

The moment I started sharpening the knife for my pound of flesh, Mohan started whimpering, his face a vivid red. The first knock landed spot on and he started outright crying, wringing his hand in pain. Suddenly my father sat up and shouted: "Eda Venu, venda! Stop!"

But I was entitled to some more knocks and was intent on having them all. Mohan placed his knuckles once again at the appointed spot to receive the next missile, because he was a proud little boy and could not think of backing out of the punishment he had to take. I bent down to take aim for the next shot at his knuckles and was suddenly sent face first into the sand by a resounding slap on my buttocks, my father having jumped out of the veranda to hit me. I had never seen him angry before and was so terrified that I ran away from the scene and did not dare come back until he had left home for the day's work.

The next day, he introduced us to a new way of playing the game. He had bought for us half a dozen new marbles from the town to play goli. The new rule was: no knocks at the knuckles of the loser. When a game is won and lost, the winner is entitled to two pieces of 'naranga mitai' (the yellow pear-shaped toffee of those days), while the loser will get only one. He placed a packet of these toffees on the steps of our home and asked us to start playing. He had bought the toffees too from the town the previous day for the specific purpose of changing the rules of the game.

(Why do I write this piece now? I just happened to remember him this morning. For a couple of years in 1960's, he involved himself in the cultivation of the paddy fields belonging to our family at Punnapra in Alappuzha district and received accolades from the Agriculture Department for reaping a big harvest. His picture given above was published along with a report in a leading Malayalam daily about his achievement as a farmer. He is posing for the camera squatting in our family farm, examining the paddy ready for the harvest.

Anil Kumar Sivasankara Kurup sent me the other picture showing a tense moment in a goli game.)
***** 

20 comments:

Prabhakar said...

Good post.

Balachandran V said...

You were a little devil! But that was a lovely remembrance... These vignettes of our past live and die with us, unless scored in a blog or a piece of paper...

P. Venugopal said...

Thanks, Prabhakar, Balan..
I started understanding my father only long after his death. He was very subtle. I don't remember him ever giving his children any advice at any point in their lives, even in the matter of education. However, looking back, I find he had dropped subtle hints whenever required.

My Thoughts and I said...

Prime lesson to be learned from your experience; one that would have done me a world of good as a kid!

Never ever, have your back toward your dad, when you're up to no good!
Why? Just ask your sore rear end! ;)

On a more serious note, I like how your dad taught you so many lessons with just that one action.
1. Even when you're justified in
doing so, never cause pain to
another.
2. Be a gracious winner....it's even
more difficult than not being a
sore loser.
3. Rules that only serve to hurt
another should be done away
with.

Mr.V, your dad was a wise man alright but more importantly, he was a compassionate man.

The apple does not fall far from the tree....

Take care, Mr.V!

P. Venugopal said...

You understand the whole thing, dear friend. Never be an aggressor; be one with the whole. It is such a beautiful life. I can write a bestselling book about my father. A Buddhah of a different sort.

My Thoughts and I said...

Then you should! There's no reason why you should be the only one who benefited from his enlightened perspective!!!

Oh! You should also consider putting down your own memoirs, Mr V...would be very interesting. Like I said, the apple does not fall far from the tree!

P. Venugopal said...

That's an interesting thought, My Thoughts. Why can't I or you write, while that Rowling lady reels out books after books on Harry Potter?

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

What a lovely piece! Brought tears to my eyes. Even I had played the game when I was a kid but never excelled in it and was always at the receiving end. :)

P. Venugopal said...

I am happy to have brought tears to your eyes, Arun! I don't remember him ever displaying his love either. He was just there overseeing our full freedom.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post!
Knowing you and your dad for more than 45 years,it made me very nostlagic!
--vijay

P. Venugopal said...

vijaya!!!!

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Dasaaa.... :)

P. Venugopal said...

athra mosham degree alla, arune. peedeecee, pazhaya peedeecee. and first chance, do you know that?

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Hambambata Rabhanaa... :)

P. Venugopal said...

:-)

off said...

nice piece

P. Venugopal said...

Thank you, Ajaya! You have heard this story before at our cellar!

Narayanan Nair said...

Thanks

ശിവകുമാര്‍ അമ്പലപ്പുഴ said...

Very nice narration and sincere too.

ശിവകുമാര്‍ അമ്പലപ്പുഴ said...

Very nice in narration and childishly sincere too