Featured Post (scroll down for more recent ones)

Voicing Silence 7

Friday, June 23, 2006

A quick tale 144

The Collection

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 So she looks up at them, at her outdated pyramid of calendars, and remembers the good times.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.


Anonymous said...

was clearing up our house after my mom was no more

found piles of god stuff
calendars, greeting cards, those take one types from temples which they give along with prasadam, magazines etc:

i don't know what to do with those ;-)

fire eater

tilotamma said...

:-)). kallakara SS.

anantya said...

HAHAHA!! excellent!! every yr end, my grandma makes us go to alll the shops that she buys from to get a calendar..and she'll take the one that she likes, doesn't already have, looks auspicious etc etc. but she only takes the ones WITH god pictures. actually i think the habit's kinda wearing off onto me. i loveee them too.

Anand said...

My grandparent had the calendar pictures framed... ancient heavy wooden frames and ancient thick glass. All in the loft!

The Kid said...

Very nice QT. I liked it a lot.

Sorry to digress but there has been something bothering me the last few days. Since I came to know about the Blank Noise Project I have had trouble sleeping. I wrote a small story about that. The story is very polar. Anyone who reads it, will invariably take a side.

Who's side are you on?

PS: Sorry to shamelessly talk about my blog in yours !

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

my athai still has calendars from the 70s lying around in her home. As always your eye has noticed every minute detail. Lovely post

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Ah! This one drips with nostalgia... Wish I could see how Shiva -- whose great fan (as opposed to a devotee) I am -- looked like in the 1940's!

Mad Mad said...

"And the days when the gods smiled on her."

The last line spoke volumes to me.

blogSurya said...

"Resemblance to sridevi" was very bold statement but its true.

Also my observation on all calenders like these are the faces of both god and godess would be the same with no single difference.
They look very feminine.