by Nuggehalli Pankaja
Ravanu, a combination of boisterousness and aggression, is both liked and feared by people around; Of course, depending on the role he adopts, on lifestage.
“You should have gone on real stage,”I told him— “You would have overshadowed Sir Lawrence Oliver”.
“Lawrence? Oliver? Who, saru?” He was all curious.
Being in no mood to tell Ravanu the biography of Lawrence Oliver or Vivian Leigh, I changed the topic. But had not bargained for Ravanu’s tenacity, as every time he came to the clinic, would put the same question— “Lawrence? Oliver? Who…..saru?”
So I told him in installments.
From that day onwards, he began to behave like a great actor, leaving me confused as to when he was acting or unacting………….
One day I still shudder to think of it……my, it was the limit! Almost made me a mental patient!
Want to hear the story? O.K
Usually he would sit with all other patients in the waiting room, and diligently observe the queue, be it two hours, or more. It is an unofficial queue we have in my clinic, formed by the patients themselves. Each newcomer as soon as he entered would make it a point to find out who the last comer was, and take the empty seat beside him. If there was no seat, stand at a place where he could keep an eye on him till that person’s turn came. And as soon as that patient marched into my room, the next-to be would dash towards the door, and post himself outside, while his next-comer would be keeping an eagles’ eye upon him from his seat, ready to move to the door once that patient made his entrance.
But suddenly, an unprecedented breakup of that sacred rule one day, and by no less than our Ravanu!
Here I must tell you why he was nicknamed as Ravana, which became Ravanu in course of time. Nobody knows for certain what his real name was---the one we call Namakarana done on an auspicious day amidst the chanting of sacred mantras by family –priests. Even his mother fails to remember, having called him endearingly ‘Putta’ right from the cradle…. It must have been his grandfather’s or great grandfather’s name either from his side or that; And
grandmothers are the last to pronounce their husband’s name, let alone their late father-in-law’s sacrosanct name! All the more confusing if both grandfather’s names were the same! (Usually same names were repeated for generations in that place).
Coming to the core of the narrative, the meaning of the nickname ‘Putta’ being ‘ tiny’, it did not suit Ravanu’s huge build! Not just incongruous, but ludicrous! And since he regularly used to don the part of Ravana, he was renamed so.
Gradually, Ravana became Ravanu, a form of endearment.
“You have to help me out saru,” He barked as soon as soon as he pushed himself into my den with all the other angry patients at his heels, and the poor compounder looking at me helplessly.
“Sit down,” I motioned him to a chair, while signaling all the others out.
They left, protesting. Never had this happened before!
“Now, what is the meaning of such rowdy behavior?” --- I eyed him sternly.
“Saru, I didn’t mean to behave so, but your rowdy patients here made me behave so.” He explained in a subdued tone. "I want a medical report immediately, for submitting to my superiors…………”
“But you are hale and healthy?: I myself had you examined just a week back?”-I questioned, startled.
“But I want the certificate badly-very badly…..very very badly—saru.” He was adamant.
“For personal reasons”
I too became adamant.
“Get some disease,” I advised him-“I will give you not one, but ten certificates.”
Woe to my tongue! He began to squawk and hop likes one berserk! “I have chicken disease,” He announced- “I took some chicken soup yesterday at some roadside-dabba, and here I am with the global disease! Now you just have to give the medical certificate…” He began to sing squeakily, in addition to dancing chicken-trot..
All of a sudden, in burst a burly man—and on his heels, a fancy dressed troupe!
“We are scouting for such a hero for our forthcoming film”—He announced. “Here………”. He unrolled a bulky cheque book, and before I could say cheese, the whole gang had disappeared! With our Ravanu doing his chicken-dance……and along with them all my clients—aye, even my compounder , to view the shooting……
with me left alone holding the thermometer.......! ***