I studied in ALP School near 'Pazhayakavu' temple from 1st to 4th Std and my home was around 2 – 2.5 Kms far from the school and I used to walk to school from home and back. There used to be one individual, who used to work in our fields, who takes me to the School and back. I had another friend called “Natarajan’ who happened to stay near by my house along with me everyday.
After the long bell rings at 4 PM, we kids used to flow in the metal road with no place left for anybody else, till we reach the main road and then the crowd gets diverted to various places. For me the walk was always eventful…..!! Most of the households on the roadside I used to pass by everyday, know my family very well and many of them used to wait for me to reach in front of their house to share some special dish with me, which they have made on that day and the individual who used to carry my school box ( An aluminium school box, which I used to boast of as a prestige symbol ), used to get irritated at each of my stops… However, I enjoyed irritating him by delaying at every stop…!!
While we walk as a big bunch of sheep on that narrow metal road, Chellappa Iyer used to suddenly appear in front of us and we will be running for our lives…..!! Chellappa Iyer was a grand old man retired from Government services and had lots of energy to frighten us and make us run by creating sounds of various animals……!!!! We believed the stories told by many boys that he is really a beast in the looks of a human…!!! His dark lean hands were interpreted as the skeleton and we even believed that in nights he had become ghost and wandered all over our village. Some one told that he's a good ghost who used to protect our village from ill fate.
Years passed by and when I was studying in Govt. Victoria college, I had an opportunity to visit one of my friend’s house in an ‘Agraharam’* near my college, where I was stunned to see Chellappa Iyer lying paralytic in a coat. Later I came to know that my friend was his nephew and as he was unmarried, they had brought him home to look after when he fell ill. I could easily recognize his face as that was permanently recorded in my brain as the synonym of terror….!! But when I looked deep into that face, I realized that it had gone much fragile and his wry smile is still in my memory. My friend told that he loved children and he had donated his entire wealth to an orphanage run by some missionaries….!!! He liked to tease children and play with them as he never had an opportunity to love his own children….My friend said that he used to give lots of gifts to my friend whenever he visited them in Mumbai….”mama’ was always a welcome guest for them and above all, he was a friend to them….!!! However, still when I remember about him I start with the fear I had and end with the wry smile on his face…..!!! May his soul rest in peace….!