When the Postman came to deliver me a letter yesterday, I had a chat with him. Among other things I asked him about his family and he said his wife is a Sanskrit teacher. That took me to the past when I also tried to become a Sanskrit teacher.
The Sanskrit Teachers Course was just introduced at that time and an Institute preparing for this exam was established in the adjoining village. One of my cousins who was our immediate neighbour had also taken admission there along with me. The owner of the institute was a stout black man who looked like a Boxer and the teacher was an young man who had tilak on his forehead always and he wore white khadi dhoti and Jubba/kurtha.
We were about 25 students comprising of teen aged boys and girls. Sanskrit was a new language for us and the Boxer had instructed the khadi kurtha teacher to make it interesting for us so that we continue our studies and he continues to get the fee. In the very first day of the class, khadi kurta told us that Sanskrit is an interesting language and very rich in its poetry.
He told the story of Sanskrit poet Balhanan who went to see the King. The Dwar Palaks have not allowed him inside whereas all other scholars and poets were going inside and outside through the entry. So, Balhana wrote a poem there itself – ‘Rajadware Bhagadware vishanti pravishyanti cha medrawat pandita shreshto, Balhano vrishanayate’ and sent inside to the King. Khadi Kurta teacher explained the meaning of this poem to us like this. Through the Raj Dwar other poets and scholars are going inside and outside frequently and Me-Balhanan is denied entry every time near the dwaar just like the balls are denied entry while the penis goes inside and outside. The moment the King read the poem, Balhanan was called inside. Such is the beauty of the language, khadi kurta explained.
All the students had decided unanimously that day itself to complete the course but the Khadi Kurta used to give us every day evening one such poem so that we come next day. After the class, the girls will first move and we used to follow them discussing what we learnt that day including the tail end ‘vrishnayathe’ like poem. For us, the girl group was like a colourful garden moving in front of us. One by one the girls will turn to their houses except the two girls who had their houses near our village.
One of these two girls was beautiful like a cream cake while the other was lean and thin, brownish in colour. We used to call her ‘Pathumani Poov’ , i.e.. that small pink-brown flower blossoms at 10’O clock morning. The cream cake girl was very silent always. Her father used to sit in front of her house waiting for her like a Laughing Budha of Chinese vastu kept in front of the house. It was clear from his eyes and looks that he didn’t like us – the two Sanskrit scholars.
All these ended one day when I saw the stout Boxer owner of the institute straight away walking in to our house along with the uncle of the 10’O clock girl. Fortunately, I saw them first before anybody else. I ran to the gate, wished them and inquired about the purpose of the visit. Lo! and behold, the boxer said they have come to talk to my father about our follow up march in the evenings and if necessary a marriage with the Pathumani Poov. I felt as if a rotten papitha has fallen on my head and wanted to write a poem like Balhno Vrishnayathe.