This is a story, I wrote for my friend’s blog. With his permission, I present the same here. Hope you like this…
Recounting memories of someone is a tiring process, yet there are certain memories, when cherished creates rainbows of myriad hues with subtle shades of different emotions in the mind. It gives the true delight of life, which soothingly embraces the soul. One such memory is Mano anna.
There was no one in the street who didn’t know him, the mechanic Manoharan. Everyone calls him, ‘dey mechanic’. Dad and mom call him ‘mano thambi’. To me, he is mano anna, my mano anna.
I met him when I was six or seven years old. He was six years elder than me.
I am the only child at home. I can be spotted either roaming in the street, fighting with older boys, or in the mechanic shed after my school hours. There were at least a dozen kids and it was natural for us to squabble one thousand times each day. Though I got along well with everyone, I spend most of my time in Mano anna’s mechanic shop. At 15 he was the owner of this shop. Mano anna, unlike me doesn’t speak much.
He is very soft spoken, who never loses him when dealing with people. He can be always seen working, with those grease stains all over him. All he knew in his life was his mechanic shop, his motor bike, his Bible, his harmonica, his volley ball and his few friends. He had an elder sister, who was studying in Chennai then. He earned and spent everything for her. And Whatever he is, to me, Mano anna is my good friend, a brother and my first male companion.
I spent my childhood days in his company and grew up with him. My parents never objected or had problems with this. My grand-ma didn’t like me spending time with mano anna. There were times when she was rude and shouted at him for no reasons. I appreciated my parent’s efforts to pacify her, but every time they fail miserably in their mission. I had no problems over anything. I hate my grand-ma for her constant surveillance on me and her endless preaching on how-to-be-a-girl. I remember her constantly telling me that it is not good for a girl to have friendships with boys. I can very well understand my grand-ma. To her, her views and perceptions were right and hence she was reasonable. But I never personally believed in all that she told me.
I passed out of the school and took admission in the college. When I was in second year, mano anna got his sister married off .Things changed between us. He didn’t like me spending much time in the shop, rather never encouraged me. But he and our relationship remained the same. He will come to our home once in a while to help my dad and my mom in their usual chores. There was this one thing that I always wonder about him. He never went further our sitting room in our home and even when my mom insisted on eating with us on any festivals, he never accepted the invitation. He would always excuse himself and get the feast packed to eat in the shop with other workers.
And my mom for every Easter and Christmas would specially cook spice stuffed oil brinjal, puliogare, drumstick curry and pappads for him. I could only smile pitifully for him at the very thought of seeing him miss all the wonderful non-vegetarian feasts. I loved my mom more for what she has been to him in all those years.
When I was in Mumbai, I got his wedding invitation. I couldn’t attend his marriage for some reasons. I met Mano anna lastly in my marriage. He was there with his wife and his girl child. It felt good to see him after a long time. His child was six years old. He had named her, ‘Avantika’. I remembered my childhood days with mano anna. I met him, first when I was six years old.
I couldn’t help but smile with tears for all that Mano anna had given me in my life- including my name for his daughter
Now, two decades of life went turning me forty five. Life blessed me with two boys and a girl. Whenever I see my eldest son and daughter together, I’m reminded of Mano anna and me. I can now tell my grand-ma that my relationship with mano anna gave me a healthy view of men and women relationships. It helped me to trust men and understand that they are different and not bad. He taught me how important it is for women to be courageous in life. And I teach my kids responsibility for I’ve seen what it is to be responsible even in one’s young age.
I remember those days of my life, when I’m in the mechanic shop with mano anna, busy in his work. The only emotion I remember of Mano anna is how I cried softly when I first listened to his harmonicas magic. The only memory that lingers in my mind is the expression in Mano Anna’s face as he wipes the grease in his face with the back of his hand.
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