Ma Luvoozia – Part II
Continued from Part I
Two years later the young man returned in a white bundle on the night of diwali. He had died in hospital after a brief illness whose name the family would never mention. Nemesis had struck rather soon, the rival fortune-tellers murmured. For their arrogance, cruelty and falsehoods, they said, the gods had blinded them to their own fate. The blame seemed well-aimed, for within a decade death’s tongue had licked away almost every adult male of this large extended family. One died of hypertension; another fell to diabetes; a third was claimed by gangrene; and syphilis consumed a fourth. The only surviving man of Panditji’s generation did not follow the vocation of fortune-telling.
Luvoozia’s husband had a diabolical sense of fun. This was first revealed to me by a man of bovine physiognomy who lectured in a college run by a bunch of lawyers, timps (who specialize in pimping for taxation officials) and whoever survived of this once large family. The professor told me, with the left eye popping out from under his cowlick, that he had once seen the man discharge his anger rather innovatively: he had poured half a bucket of the adhesive Fevicol on the head of a poor Sikh carpenter who had incorrectly fixed a plywood sheet in his office. Recounting the incident, the professor had smiled like himself – he had smiled like a false bull. Well, I’ll explain that description of the smile later. For now I must get on with the story. The carpenter was caught, months later, trying to steal into Luvoozia’s bedroom at night. A tube of instant adhesive was recovered from his possession. He had reportedly intended to squeeze it into the nostrils of her snoring husband. Luvoozia got so frightened she took hold of the adhesive and instantly rubbed all of it on her husband’s balding scalp in an attempt to cool the carpenter’s rage by showing that punishment had been meted out to his offender. Her big eyes were weeping all the time. The husband was in a shaking fit.
Another man who resembles a huge frog in spite of shirt and trousers once narrated to a friend how he had got a peek into the famed piety of Luvoozia’s husband. He had overheard him asking a household help to send away a visitor. ‘Tell him to come another time. Say Panditji has retired to his meditation chamber and may not come out any soon.’ The truth, the frog said, was he was resting on his throne in the loo, his favourite retreat necessitated by gustatory promiscuity of many years.
(To be continued…)
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