The next time you visit Nagamma, ask to see her calendars. What calendars?, she will demand indignantly. The old ones, you tell her. She will deny having such a collection. But persist at it. And at some point, she will relent and will lead you to the kitchen. There, she will say, pointing to the huge pile stacked on top of the kitchen shelf as if supporting the ceiling. Bring it down to the floor carefully. But beware, it weighs a ton and layers and layers of dust would've settled on it. So wear a mask if you are allergic to dust. Clear the cobwebs and you will see that the calendars go back all way to the 1950s and 1960s.
In fact, if I remember right, the earliest one is a compliment from Lakshmi Printers, Erode for the year 1949. It has an image of Lord Siva in his abode in Kailasa. Someone told Nagamma that it was inauspicious to have a picture of Siva in the house. So she put it away where eyes couldn't see it. For Nagamma couldn't bring herself to discard the calendar with its religious depiction. It would surely bring ill-luck, she believed. And that's how it all started. Each year, she would pray that the calendars would have photos of babies, nature, mountain, waterfalls, anything but gods. But each new year brought a fresh lot of calendars and a new set of gods and goddesses adorning them. I reckon Nagamma now has the entire Hindu pantheon stashed away in her makeshift loft.
They have changed a lot over the years. In the 50s and 60s, the goddesses used to look like English women. Pale skin, smooth features. By contrast, the ones in the 70s and 80s all looked like movie stars of that era. Look up the one from 1986, yes, the one from Vijaya Traders, Coimbatore. The resemblance to Sridevi is striking, isn't it? But don't ever tell Nagamma that. She will be furious and she'll have you out on the streets.
These days, Nagamma is too old to climb the ladder and bring them down herself. So she looks up at them, at her outdated pyramid of calendars, and remembers the good times. And the days when the gods smiled on her.