A hot summer morning in Chennai would perhaps lay the foundation for Janani to understand better her Mom Ragini’s point of view.
Janani simply was at a loss to understand her mother’s extemporaneous expression of “Thank God!” at least ten to fifteen times for several happenings during the day. A hot summer morning in Chennai would perhaps lay the foundation for Janani to understand better her Mom Ragini’s point of view.
It was the month of May and Chennai was boiling hot alike a furnace. It was that time Pol of the year when electricity plays hide and seek and Janani Raghavan’s house was no exception. There was no electricity in Janani’s house for the past one hour. The Raghavan family however, seemed unmindful of the brutal heat as they continued eating their breakfast of uppuma and vada, together at their dining table. Mr.Raghavan, as was his routine, was buried in the English newspaper with a couple of other newspapers beside him. Bubloo, the pet of the family dog was lazily lying down on the floor; and Jagan, Janani’s younger sibling sighed heavily as he ate uppuma which was not his favourite item. This was the daily morning scene in their household and Janani smiled warmly to herself as her Mom poured each one of them cups of their favourite drinks that included coffee, milk and Bournvita. Janani was just reaching out for yet another vada when the calm silence that prevailed there was suddenly interrupted by the chime of the door bell. All were busy with their plates, forks and spoons and were not willing to part with their breakfast. As it happens in most households, it was Ragini who went to answer the bell. It was the courier guy standing at the door well dressed in his jeans and T-shirt.
“Hey Jana, there’s this letter for you,” called out her Mom as she handed an imposing and impressive looking business envelope to Janani. Janani hurriedly tore it open anxious to know the contents of the letter. A charming smile radiated across her face as she read the letter. “Hey Ma and Papa, you know something? I have received an offer letter from that MNC for which I attended an interview a couple of weeks ago!” she squealed with delight. Her father soon rose from his chair and came around the table and hugged her-‘This is my little princess,” said he. Her mother planted a kiss on the top of her head and hugged her tightly all the while muttering “Thank God, Thank God!” “Ma, just relax. Come on,”laughed Janani. “My dearest ma, please try to understand that God has nothing to do with this. It is I who toiled for it burning the mid-night oil.” “Now, Jana darling, stop teasing your mother,” rebuked her father, Ragahavan. “This is her way of expressing her happiness for you. Okay”
“Raghav, by the way, it almost slipped my mind! Have you received your medical reports as yet? Were you not supposed to collect it yesterday afternoon?” Ragini looked questioningly at her husband as she cleared the dining table, with everyone having left the table to get ready for their work. “Aye Ragini, I just forgot to show it to you,” smiled Raghavan at his wife of 24 years. “Rags, all readings are good- Cholesterol, triglycerides, and sugar level. Fantastic results that call for celebration! No need for any worry at all Rags.”“Thank God,” murmured Ragini while Janani rolled her eyes and her younger brother Jagan smiled. Of course this was expected of Mom! “Ma, what is this I constantly hear-Thank God, Thank God, for everything? Why do you have to thank God every now and then? I always wonder whether you have met Him in person! Ma anyway, Papa’s readings of triglycerides and cholesterol are a direct outcome of his intake-what he eats, right? I don’t see God coming into the picture at all!” Janani spread her hands and her eyebrows, as though what she was saying was pretty evident, but Ragini was not at all pleased with the remark. “There are certain things which you have got to accept rather than question,” said she looking soberly at her daughter. “Jana, I feel that it would be good if you are more receptive about certain things. Anyone who hears you, would mistake you for an agnostic.” “Okay, okay, my dearest Ma,” Janani smiled affectionately at her mother and hurriedly gulped down her glass of juice. “Common Mom, you are religious enough for the entire family. As far as I am concerned, I would prefer to enjoy the righteousness of divineness and religion vicariously through you.” This remark by Janani brought a smile on everybody’s face except Ragini. She firmly believed that there was spirituality to certain things which cannot be questioned and did not endorse others’ views of mocking at them. As nobody seemed to agree with her, she pouted her lips and maintained silence.
“ Jana, I’m leaving for Nehru market in the morning after you all leave, as I have a long list of items to be bought from there. Do you need anything from there dear,” enquired Ragini looking at her daughter who was in a rush to leave for her workplace. It was nearing 8.15 and her dad had already left home to drop off her brother Jagan at school. “Ma, as of now, I don’t need anything “said Jana inattentively, as she went about checking her files and picking up her hand bag. Being a Monday with traffic being very heavy and chaotic as always, she was already running late to work and had no time to stand even for a minute to engage in small talk. There was this important business meeting scheduled for 9.30 in the morning. “It’s better I keep moving now. It’s going to be pandemonium on the roads following last night’s downpour of rain as well.” “If something happens to cross your mind, just ping me, ok Jana,” called out Ragini, as Jana stepped out of the door grabbing her lunchbox. “Hey Jana, be sure to eat your lunch on time. Don’t get immersed in your work and delay your lunch dear.”
The traffic was snarled-up in both directions due to huge puddles of stagnating water owing to last night’s spell of heavy rains. In fact, there was total chaos on the roads. Jana murmured as she immediately realized that she would be late for work. “And this is what happens after one bout of rain,” she groaned to herself as her auto driver honked pointlessly at the taxi in the front. “I just can’t imagine the situation when the actual monsoon starts in a few months from now.” She gasped and peeped out moving away the canvas curtain a bit. The outside scene was as gloomy as ever. The already battered road had deteriorated further with several seen and unseen potholes; poor and homeless people were seen scampering about despondently and little unfortunate beggar children were found running all around. Soon one of them looked at her and ran up to her auto as it stopped at the red signal. He stretched out his shabby little hand for some money. Jana was one who never encouraged beggary as she believed it to be a racket and decisively turned her head in the other direction. The little one was persevering and tried his luck for some more time and finally moved on to the next car. He pulled a face at Jana’s back and scurried away to join his two friends who were waiting for him. “Anyhow, not many of them are there. “Thank God,” muttered Jana spontaneously under her breath as the taxi in front of her vehicle finally moved a bit.
Jana, still mumbling to herself, finally entered her office at 10.05. She was late by 35 minutes and would not go unnoticed by her boss… Jana was just about to sign in the attendance register when on raising her head she suddenly noticed that the reception lounge was totally devoid of people. No one was to be seen- her colleagues, the receptionist, the security guard, the peon…… There were always people going up and down in the reception area. What’s happening? It’s rather strange that this area is empty. As she walked towards her cabin, it struck her that the entire office was silent and appeared to be empty. The noisy corridors that were usually chaotic were in fact still and silent. It is really odd. More so today is not definitely a holiday. Where did everyone go?
It was not long before that she realized that everyone, including the staff; the receptionist; the security guard and the peons were all packed in front of the television in the canteen. With fast strides she soon joined the crowd of people clustered around the blaring television. Suddenly Jana experienced a strange kind of feeling, which, she was sure would have been termed as premonition by her Mom.
“The first bomb exploded just ten minutes ago followed by a couple of more bombs in quick succession,” announced a lady reporter in a shrieking voice. All were engrossed in the TV news and they failed to notice Jana’s entry. Jana inched her way closer to the TV and drew in a sharp breath on hearing the reporter’s next words. “The famous Nehru Market in Chennai was reduced to a horrendous scene of wailing screams and sight of blood within a matter of few seconds. Forty people including men, women and children have already been reported dead.”
The room seemed to revolve around her and she felt nauseous. Her hands shook uncontrollably as she called her mother’s cell phone. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead as she waited for her mother to answer the call. She bit her lips and held her chest tightly. What if……..No, it couldn’t happen! It will never happen….! The reporter’s gloomy voice could be heard in the background and several dreadful thoughts crossed her mind, which she forcefully pushed away to the back of her mind. The phone continued to ring and her anxiety increased and she was just about to collapse when she finally heard her dearest Mom’s voice. “Hi Jana! Have you reached office safely? Is everything alright dear?” “Ma, are you all right?” Her voice was quivering as her mind tried to comprehend the fact that her Mom was indeed alive and sounded alright. “Hey Jana, what’s up? Why this question my little princess?” “Amma, where are you? I thought you left for Nehru market after we all left home?” continued Jana in a disturbed voice. “No Jana dear,” said Ragini in her usual cheerful voice. “Actually, your aunty Suja dropped in unexpectedly 45 minutes ago and so I cancelled my plans of going there today. We are now enjoying a cup of coffee. Are you okay my dear? Your voice sounds a bit different.” “Ma, I’m as fine as ever. Will call you in about five minutes,” said a much relieved Jana. She tried to breathe normally. Yes, her dear Mom was safe! What a miracle! Her Mom was totally unaffected by the terrible bolt of lightning that had claimed so many innocent lives. Continuous stream of tears ran down her cheeks as she cried uncontrollably for what had happened as well as for what could have gone wrong! With her hands still trembling from this mishap, she sank in the chair; closed her eyes and whispered the ineludible words of her mother: Guess what-“Thank God, Thank God!”
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