on Sunday, September 12, 2010
Long back, Granta had a special issue about fathers and I came across some beautiful writing about people. The kind of prose which makes you truly happy. I have always wanted to write about people who are dear to me, but every time that I do make a beginning; it just doesn’t seem to do justice to them.
Today I’m just making an attempt to write about people whom I have known only by sight or exchanged a few words with. Ask any kid who has grown up in malleswaram, they will most certainly know these people. But I’m doubtful if they will remember the lady with the goats as my sister does not seem to remember her. The goat lady came only in the afternoon with a dozen goats and she kept talking to herself continuously while she fed her goats leaves from the trees on our street. You knew it was time for the afternoon nap on Sundays if the goat lady was near the gate. Her mouth was red and it used to mystify me (later I realized it was paan, of course). She was tall , dark and had wiry hair and I somehow feel she would make a beautiful subject for a painting.

Though the goat lady was a pretty common appearance, the haal cover man was a regular every two weeks. Back in those days he would religiously knock on every door step and collect the blue milk covers and would pay us two- three rupees with which twerp and I would rush off to buy lollies in Amrith. The huge basket he carried was a matter of huge curiosity to us and we would try peep into it when he was off collecting milk covers, Amma used to frown at the bottles he carried (you know what kind) in the basket. The funny thing I remember about him is, he was mostly toothless, wore a green lungi in classic Vadivel style and was mostly smiling. You can still probably see him on hot afternoons hardly uttering a sound (like some annoying guys who screeeech paaaaaaaaaaaaaper) going to all the houses he always goes to collect empty spirit bottles and haal cover.

The thatha who stands on the pavement of 4th main, seems right out of an idyllic children short story book with his silver mop of hair and a brown sweater .He lives on the very same road next to a school in a house with a long yard and rusty gates. Thatha spends most of the day taking delight in families which walk on the very same road. Some stop and talk to him and for others he is just a permanent fixture.
Then of course we still have the crazy man who doubles as a watchman, traffic regulator and you can always spot him at the center of festivities, whether it is the procession of urchava moorthy of Venugopalaswamy or the 8th cross Rayara Matha. Amma finds him scary for some reason.
I already wrote a post about dasaiah of course, he being my all time favourite.

The man with many bags as we call him of course is a legend. I only have a vague recollection of a scruffy man with too many round dirty polythene bags, oddly shaped like children. The family says that I used to finish my meals in a jiffy every time he was mentioned and how he had already carried away most of the fussy children in his bag.

These people seem ageless, some of them, the only reminder of times gone by. This post hardly does justice to these very abstract people. I wish I could paint them.

p.s- owe this one to buGblu and King