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Rajesh Mani Rajesh Mani
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A winter in Chennai

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I have used some words which aren't english. They do not have english meaning to it.
Chennai : Capital of an Indian state named TamilNadu
Tamil : The language spoken in chennai
Marghazhi : Name of the month in Tamil Calender and its a winter month.
Lord Narayanan : A Hindu god.
Agraharam : A place where people of particular community(brahmin) live.
Kolam : A geometrical pattern.

The cool breeze round the month, melting tiny dew drops in the morning, slight mist till forenoon, mild sunshine throughout the day, sweat less afternoon, comfy night with snowless, storm less, no single digit mercury point, no hood dress, no gloves, no wine, no clock change and no Christmas gifts - marks the beginning of the winter season in the city of Chennai which is located in southern India. Tomorrow is the last day of the Tamil calendar month ‘Marghazhi’. It’s the time of the year which is considered significant for the spiritual path. Often, conventional gender roles are switched. The tradition is feminine do prayers and worship Lord Narayanan for the whole month with masculine inclination. Men will sing and practice devotion which is considered as feminine inclination.

Radha is the eldest late-teenage daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Iyer living an Agraharam which is more than 200 years old carrying the rich tradition and customs. She has younger twin brothers Luv & Kush who are half of her age. The family is awake before sunrise and males are performing rituals. The males are out to the temple. She got ready in the maroon-brown half-sari which suited her dusky skin color with towel draped on her head to dry out her wet hair. She looks elegant in this dress. Still its dawn and sun is about to rise. The dawn painted a pale red on the east. The yellow streak of incandescent bulb passes through the opened front door. She sprinkled generous water mixed with cow dung & turmeric and swept the front yard cleanly. The front yard looked pale yellowish-green in color. She squats to place dots with the pinch of rice powder. After carefully placing the dots on the ground in diagonal and horizontal, she joints the dots to form a geometrical pattern called KOLAM. The sun rises up and the morning rays soothe her.  She is about to finish her Kolam then she hears chorus of the devotional song. She completes the Kolam by placing a small doll made out of wet cow dung adorning pumpkin flower to resemble a Hindu god.

The group emerged from the slight mist and is in clear vision to her now. The chorus is formed by group of kids, boys, teens, men lead by the eldest of the lot. She greets the eldest, father and waves her hand at her twin brothers who are also among the lot. The twins’ charmingly smiles back at her while singing. The lot is dressed uniformly only in Dhotis and shirtless with various musical instruments on their hands. They play the instruments as the songs are sung. As the chorus passes through her she carefully gaze the tall, dark, tidy looking Ambi who just finished his college. Mutual exchange of sights leads to smile on their faces. In shyness she averts his eyes. She smiles within herself and sprint into the house. She stands behind the front door to peep into the chorus. The visible eyes and her forehead looks like a crescent in the dark sky. The eyes flash at Ambi. She looks at Ambi till she loses him to the end of the street.

She joined her mother in kitchen to prepare the food items which is to be offered to god. It’s a custom that the food should not be tasted before it’s offered to god. Her brothers and father are back to home by then. Luv & Kush sneak into the kitchen and tries to grab some sweets. Radha watches this. She couldn’t scold them as they show their innocent faces. She understands that the boys are hungry and she helped them to grab some sweets without Mrs Iyer notice.

With all the prepared food the family was there in the temple by 7.00 AM. The whole Agraharam throng the temple for the divine worship of the god. Radha in-turn was looking for Ambi in the crowd. She reads all the faces cautiously. She finds him on the same chorus group. She smiles and got the same response from him. The offering to god was about to finish and people started to leave the temple. She soon set out to meet Ambi and the same with Ambi as well.  The crowd makes them hard to trace each other.
Mrs Iyer saw Radha wandering in the temple. She called Radha to accompany her. Radha left the temple without meeting Ambi. She was very sad that she was not able to meet Ambi and was planning to meet him tomorrow. On the evening her friend Kothai popped in to share the sweets made by her. The conversation with Radha ended
“…..Ambi has already left to his home town and will be back only by next year...” as kothai uttered the sentence, Radha couldn’t listen to her and did not show any interest. Her face became pale and she started to look almost lost…

Next year same month, she couldn’t find Ambi and managed to gather that Ambi has left India for his higher studies. This winter was not the same as last year.

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