Ramanna’s discipline, affection (Part 5)

Jaggery

The major part of expenditure of the house was, jaggery. The arrangement for jaggery was similar to the one above. Ramanna was to pay the designated farmer some money in advance. In return, the farmer was supposed to give four-five aḍige[1] of jaggery. One aḍige was equivalent to the amount of sugarcane juice that was processed in a huge vessel in one batch. It probably amounted to around 40-50 blocks of jaggery. I’m not familiar with the details of the process. In the Kolar-Mulbagal region, it was not prevalent to cast the sugarcane juice syrup into molds. It was the norm to make it as a big round lump. We required around 10-15 such lumps of jaggery every month for the house. When the jaggery was brought fresh at home, we used to eat it directly. It was very soft and easy on the teeth like tambiṭṭu[2]. These jaggery lumps used to be stored in five-six large bins. A plank made of mud on top of it. To tightly secure the plank or the mouth of the bins, they wrapped around it a piece of cloth soaked in Kemmaṇṇu[3].  The bins were numbered 1, 2, 3, and so on in limestone. They were to be emptied in that order. This was Ramanna’s arrangement.

Tamarind was supplied in abundance to our house. I have already mentioned about the tamarind groves that we owned. We sold the old tamarind groves near the temple for Rs.25. Its value might be fifty times now. We would remove the outer bark, fibers, and seeds from the tamarind, and stored only the remaining tamarind pulp as round lumps wrapped and tied within a mat made of palm leaves. We sometimes donated them to others too.

We used to get fibrous mangoes which were still unripe (dāḍi-pasand - a type of mango). We used to cover it with dried millet paddy grass to ripen.

We used to get mustard. That also was stored.

The reason for mentioning all this is, this was the economy 60-70 years back - financial arrangement. We can identify two eras in the field of economics. (1) Agriculture based (2) Industry based. The first one characterizes a peaceful life. The second one is characterized by fierce competition. Now we are heading towards the second type of financial system. In today’s times, we can recall the former, relatively more peaceful financial arrangement for a bit.

Firewood

We used quite a lot of firewood in our house. Many festivities and tithis[4] were performed quite often. Hence, the firewood in the kitchen and bathroom were usually kept burning. For this reason, Ramanna always kept an eye on any dried-up or aged trees present in groves on the outskirts of our place and among the tree rows. He bought such trees, got them chopped up, and spread the wooden logs over the yard in front of our house. Among the people who came to our house to buy stamp-paper, one or two of them could chop the logs. Ramanna used to ask one of them, “Chop two pieces and go”.  He would pay them three or six paise, appropriately. Along with it, he sometimes also gave a bundle of wood-logs.  The husk from the beaten paddy was mixed with cow dung and made into cowpats and was also used in our house. This was “economy” those times - meaningful livelihood.

Now the money value has increased. The value of the grains has decreased. Soaps and powders are more important now; Purity of the mind has decreased. Desires have increased; peace has decreased. 

Affection

Ramanna always asked me sit next to him while having food. He never missed it. Sheenanna made fun of it. “Sakamma, serve some ghee to the kid.” If the kid is served ghee, then Ramanna sitting next to him might also get some of it, that is the reason behind showing such affection. People would laugh hearing about this. Ramanna loved me to such an extent that, from the time I got up from bed until I went to sleep at night, I was to stay next to him all the time; or at least should be in his vicinity always.

In Mulbagal, weekly fair took place every Tuesday. On that day’s afternoon at 4 o’clock, I was supposed to hop on to my grandfather’s shoulders. I was supposed to kick him from both my left and right heel. He was to open his box to give me a dammaḍi[5] while enacting a cry ‘Haa! Haa!’. One or two of them accompanying me would also bring one dammaḍi each. One of them was our village doctor’s nephew Srinivasa Iyengar. The other, Kallari Narayana. Three of us went to the fair, and we got four tender cucumbers for the money we had. Along with it, we also got some chilies, salt, and coriander leaves. There was a small Anjaneya temple near the fair-grounds. We sat on the rocks in front of the temple to grind some chutney and apply it on the cucumber and ate all four of them. When I told this to my grandfather, he said, “Bhesh!”. This is how I spent my childhood days.  

 My copy-writing job started because of Ramanna’s efforts. Except the time of the day when I used to be in school, I always stayed next to him. As mentioned before, he was also into the stamp-paper business. But it was active for only a few months in a year. During April-May-June months, the farmers who required to request for a gun license had to submit an application/petition to the government. The rule was to submit the petition on a stamp-paper worth of four (or eight) āṇṇas. Due to this, there would be around seven-eight people every day who came to Ramanna to buy the stamp-paper and get the petition written. Ramanna used to sell the stamp-paper and later got the petition written by me. They were his words. But my handwriting. After writing, I got a reward for it: two or four āṇṇas for one petition, depending on their capability. There have been times when they gave even a rupee. Ramanna saved all the money and kept it separately saying that it belonged to me. Then, I might have been in 4th or 5th standard Kannada medium. One class below lower secondary. The first income that came from my writings, came from writing those petitions. My handwriting was not mature/seasoned back then. It looked awry. The lines were irregular. Yet, my grandparents said, “This is good enough for the government. How else would a farmer’s petition look like? Wasn’t The government able to comprehend the petition? That’s enough.”  

Ramanna usually never wore a banian or coat. Apart from the dhōtra[6] he wore, he never wore anything extra. When sitting in front of the house if any eminent people came, he got up in reverence and talked to them. During those times, he covered his chest with the edge of the dhōtra. It was a mark of respect. He had to visit the office once or twice a month. Then he wore a big turban, a shirt; and a folded dhōtra as uttarīya[7].

This is the fifth part of the six-part English translation of Fourth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 8) – Sankirna smriti samputa. Edited by G S Raghavendra.

Footnotes

[1]A quantity of measure of jaggery in sugarcane mills.

[2] A soft textured sweet made of Besan.

[3] Red colored clay like soil

[4] Death ceremonies

[5] A coin of low value.

[6] It is the white cloth worn as dhoti and a piece covering the chest area.

[7] Piece of cloth worn over the shoulders.

Author(s)

About:

Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

Translator(s)

About:

Varuni KS has a masters degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently based out of Chicago, IL. She is trained in South Indian classical (Carnatic) music and has an abiding interest in Kannada literature.

 

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