Thangamani woke up in the morning. It took some time for her to realize where she was. Mobile phone displayed 5:30am. But it was so dark. She felt shivering due to 14° C. She covered herself well inside her razai and continued to resume her elongated-sweet-sleep of the morning. She used to do it since her childhood. Sometimes she used to sleep until her mom shouted. The glasses of the windows of her neighbor used to vibrate with ‘drrrrrr‘ sounds at those wake-up calls. Neighborhood aunty used to retaliate from her window “Ey Thangamani, why don’t you get up, before your mom’s voice cracks my window glasses”.
Her sweet-lazy mood of that morning was dispelled when she realized that her hubby was not in his bed. ‘Crazy chap, Did he roll and fell down from his bed? Seems… mhoom… no.’
She thought he might be in the toilet. Her instinct refuted her guess. She was so tired the previous day after the long-but-lovely uphill from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. They enjoyed the Ramboda Falls, had nice food there, shot some lovely photos at Damro tea factory on their way.
When the Sinhalese lady was explaining the techniques behind tea preparation, Thangamani started oscitating. Her eyes filled with tears, as she tried to control her yawning! It may be easy for her to control her husband Rangamani, but not her yawning, you know! At last that poor lady yawned with her nose, while closing her lips tight and bulged like hanuman. Finally they left from the factory after buying some tea bags.
After a few sharp U-bends, they entered Nuwara Eliya, the little England of Sri Lanka. Tushara lowered all glasses of their van so that the below-twenty-degree breeze could fill their wind pipes. The cold weather brings out the kiddish nature of adults. All their faces were smiling as they drove along the bank of Gregory Lake.
Tushara said that Gregory Lake should be full of tourists by that time. You won’t believe. The lake was empty. The clouds flew down into the snowy water to make it a resemblance to Manosarovar, the heavenly lake.
When the vehicle was stopped at a parking space, there were no other vehicles. The road was deserted. They went for a boat ride, during when the cloud entered their boat. Thangamani felt piercing cold. She was smiling and made fun of the younger Bunga in excitement.
They had only 15 or 20% visibility when they ended their boating. There were no tourists to rent a boat. All those boats were stacked idle. A horseman waited for them. It was so sad for Thangamani to reject his offer. There were no people on the road. The night curfew was still in effect. Terrorists caused a curfew in 2019. Corona forced another curfew in 2020. Economy-goofed-curfew in 2022! These curfews caused heavy losses to the Sri Lankan tourist industry.
After reaching their hotel, Thangamani went to bed immediately. Later Rangamani and Junga brought hot chapatis and dhal curry. She was asleep when she was eating.
Tangamani wondered, where Rangamani went early in the morning, that too in a foreign land. She forced herself to switch on the lights and got down from her bed. Bathroom was empty. She opened the door. The corridor looked empty and haunting.
She felt herself as the Sita of Ashok Vatika (the place where Maharani Sita was held as a prisoner by Lankan King Ravana). After seeing Junga and Bunga on the bed, she murmured “Yes they are the vanara forces”. But where was her Rama, then?
When she locked and latched the door, a hissing sound alerted her. Was it a snake? She looked around and followed the direction of that haa-iii-zzz sound. It lead her to the balcony door, which was opened very slowly and carefully by her.
Rangamani was standing there, with his mouth widely opened in upper case O shape. He blew air in the cold weather with the hissing sound. It came out as a fog/smoke from his mouth like a Nigiris steam engine. He did it again and again sincerely. He was blowing air with ah-ah-ah and huh-huh-huh sounds to create different patterns.
“What happened? Can’t fall asleep?” asked Thangamani.
Rangamani’s eyes opened wide on seeing Thangamani. With her head popping on the sides of the door, she might be looking like King Janaka‘s daughter Sita. As Tamil poet Kamban says, அண்ணலும் நோக்கினான்: அவளும் நோன்கினாள். (The prophet looked too: she nodded too.). Thangamani did not nod, by the way.
“Hey Thangamani. See this ah..”. He opened his mouth again to showcase his steaming achievement. Rangamani watched his performance impatiently. She said “wonderful” and rammed the door.
Later, she appeared again on the balcony with tea cups. Both were waiting for the sunrise!
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