Continued from Part I
UPDATED with English Translation of the Kannada sentences
As I sat there with my tea being only two sips poorer, the talkative boy approached me. This was his third round within a span of twenty minutes to clear my table. Generally people finished their tea within that much time I guess. I had noticed him come and retreat with various plates and containers from other tables over his previous rounds, but didn’t have the presence of mind that the kid would love to finish with this table too.
He approached me with a sympathetic look and asked, “Aa tea thannige agogiratte. Bere tankodla? Bisi ne beku antha helidri allva adakke kelde aste. Kopa madkobedi.” in what was a clear reference to our first conversation where I was rude to him.
“The tea would have gone cold. Shall I get you another one? Now, don’t shout at me for this, I just asked because you were particular about having your tea hot”
I looked at him and the tea in front of me. I didn’t remember whether I had sipped the tea or not, but my burnt lips did signify that I had. I appreciated his customer-centric attitude despite my apathy towards him and said, “Aadre nanu kudididdini kanappa idarinda. Adu henge bere thankodtiya?
“I have already tasted the tea. Will you replace it even then?”
“Enu parvagilla sir. Neevu yaavdo gnangadalli iddeera. Tea kudiyodu marethogiddeera. Nimma kashta nimmge. Atleast olle tea ondu tankodtini bidi. Adarinda nimma kashta enu kammi agalla aadre olle tea kotte antha nange santosha agutte.”
“No issues Sir. You seem to be lost in a world of your own and have forgotten to have the tea. You have your problems. Atleast I can get you some good tea to drink. Even though it doesn’t heal your pain, it would make me a happier man because I would have given you some good tea to drink.”
I just broke down. I guess I was waiting to break down. It had been a long time since anybody had actually bothered about me and my life. I wanted to hug that guy and thank him for his concern. But he didn’t quite look at me once he knew that I was in tears and had covered my face between the table and my arms. He quietly picked up the glass and walked off. I could hear the clipty-clopty sound of his hawai chappals fade away from my curled-up presence.
I came from the “Men don’t cry” school of thought. But here I was totally helpless. I found myself crying uncontrollably. I cried for my father, my brother, my mother and also myself. I just cried it all out. I didn’t know why it was happening and I couldn’t control it. I guess I cried for about half an hour or so with my arms curled around my head which was resting on the table.
I didn’t realize the kid was back with my tea. He had carefully waited for me to show my head again and approached my table. He avoided eye contact, probably for the fear of making me cry again, and just left the tea on the table and went away. I was too overwhelmed with my own crying that I didn’t want to begin talking to him. The tea was piping hot and I liked my tea to be hot.
As I resumed sipping the new tea, I noticed a dog stroll down the aisle separating the dhabha and the highway. The burnt lip hurt but the tea tasted better. It was a masala tea and I had not specified that to the boy. The dog had a belt around its neck. And that seemed strange to me. Just then the talkative kid ran behing the dog and attempted to direct it away from the highway. His timing was perfect because a truck loaded with more than what it could handle zoomed past the dhabha at a speed of 80kmph that would have run over the dog easily. For truck drivers, dogs are more of a liability than a beautiful form of life.
The kid caught the dog by its belt and dragged it into the dhabha. The dog blissfully unaware of what had just happened was happily wagging its tail and trying to lick the kid’s face. It was a cross breed-German Shepherd almost the height of the kid. The kid walked upto my table noticing that the glass was empty. The dog was close on his heels. And I loved dogs.
As he picked up the glass, he asked,”Tea chennagitta?” “Was the tea good?”
I replied, “hun”. “Yeah”
The dog was near my legs smelling my footwear. I was rubbing its neck and body. Dogs have this ability to make you forget sadness by making you shower affection on them. The kid started shouting at the dog asking it to get away from my feet.
I said, “Irli bidu. Nange naayigalu andre ista. Enu idara hesaru?” “Its ok. I like dogs. What’s his name?”
“Shaaroo”, he replied.
Interesting name I thought. “Chennagide hesaru. Enu hangandre?” “Nice name. What does it mean?”
“Nange Shaarookaan andre sakkat ista. Adakke avana hesare ittbitte.” “I like Shaarookaan a lot. So, I adopted his name for my dog.”
I almost burst out laughing. It was amazing how life could make u cry one second and laugh the next. I hated SRK!
“Sari. Elli siktu ninge ee nayi?”. “Ok. Where did you get hold of this dog?” It was a cross-German shepherd and one of the costly breed of dogs.
“Eno gottilla sir, bahala dinagalinda nanna jote ne ide aste. Ee dhabha serakke munche nanu city nalli footpath mele idde. Ondu divasa nanu oota madbekadre nanna oota kitthkondu horatuhoytu. Avattu nange bahala hasivu aagittu, adakke nanu adanna attiskondu hogi nalakku vadde. Aste sir. Avattinda nananna bittilla idu. Estondu divasa nange oota tankottide bere. Nanu shaaaroo na bidalla.”
“I don’t know sir. A few days before getting into this dhabha I was on the footpath. And one particular day, this dog came running and snatched my meal for the day and ran away . I was so hungry that I ran behind this dog and beat the hell out of it. After that it hasn’t left me. What’s more is that many days it has found food for me when I was hungry. I will never leave sharoo”
The dog had started licking my hands now. And it liked playing with me. Dogs and I got along very well.
“Dhabha serbekaadre nimma ejamaanaru enu anlillva naayi bagge?” “Didn’t the dhabha owner object to your dog coming alongwith you here?”
“Avaru helidru naayi togondu baa bekadre aadre adakke ootakke ella neene nodkobeku aste” “Yeah, he said that I would have to take care of the dog’s hunger et al”
“Aadru nanu oppikonde. Shaaroo illde irakke agalla nange. Nange oota illde hodru sari adakke oota haktini. Yake andre adu yavattu nanna jote bidalla. Nange enu aagde iro hange nodkota irutte”, he continued with his eyes getting moist, “Bidi, nimmge yake ee kathe ella. Nanu hogtini. Ondu tea mooru rupayi. Nanu nimmanna kelde ne masala tea tande adakke ondu rupayi extra sir. Neevu beda andre eradu rupayi kodi parvagilla.”
“I immediately agreed. I can’t live without Shaaroo. Even if I don’t have enough to eat, I make sure he is fed because he will never leave me alone and go. Moreover he takes care of me too”, he continued with his eyes getting moist, “Well, why should I bother you with all these stories. I ll leave now. One tea costs three rupees. And because I got masala tea which is one rupee more without asking you, you might chose not to pay me that one rupee.”
He motioned the dog to come towards him and the dog happily followed him wagging his tail.
“Sari sari togo ittko. Bahala matadtiya kano neenu”, I handed over a ten-rupee note, “Change ittko neene. Shaaroo ge enadru tinnisu.”
“Okay. okay. Take this and keep the change”, I handed over a ten-rupee note, “Get something for Shaaroo too”
“Bahala taanks sir”
“Many thanks sir”
“Lo nimma appa amma ella ello?”, I asked as he turned to take leave.
“Hey, what about your parents?”, I asked as he turned to take leave.
“Yaarige gottu sir. Yavattu nodilla avarna”, he shouted as he approached the counter dancing and almost running. He was singing “Mitwaa….!”
“Who knows sir. I have never seen them”, he shouted as he approached the counter dancing and almost running.
That was it. I got up and drove back home. I reached home at around 4AM, early in the morning. The door was wide open and I walked in. And none of them at home had slept. Nobody said a word. I didn’t speak to anyone either. I went into the room where my father was lying down with his eyes open staring at the ceiling. I settled onto the carpet made of plastic straw (called “chaape” in kannada) next to him and joined him in staring at the ceiling.
My dad spoke, “Bandyeno? Baa pa baa.”
My dad spoke, “So, you have come?”
Tears started running down my eyes. I replied, “I am sorry appa. I am sorry”