He was just four when his father left on the ship to some long forgotten land leaving him and six siblings all older to him to the care of his mother.Living in a joint family of over 100 members and aunts and uncles and cousins and more cousins and challenging daily bread times,his mother lived to be the epitome of all goodness and courage wrapped in her fat body to him.
On nights that he allowed the rhythm of the sewing machine put him to sleep,he would often picture the mystery of the places his father was sleeping unaware that his mothers sewing machine was awake long past midnight.Every thread mattered.That was her only hope at stitching their tough times together so it wouldn’t tear to pieces. The clock would keep ticking hours and hours after darkness had loomed over and her machine would join in its rhythm.
As if it were the night before,he remembers the day the seven of them cried over the death of their Kalyani(he had never thought of her as just their pet goat) She was the coolness of his mothers eyes.Perhaps Kalyani had long allowed to be patiently milked for she knew somewhere how much they needed it to live through each day.She knew that her milk could soothe those sleep deprived eyes and tired hands.She had fulfilled her role just right.And then,she was gone, leaving the sewing machine be their lullaby for months and months ahead.
As each day went by, he wished(as he vividly remembers from the times he had seen his father),his handsome,fair,tall, brown eyed father would come back from he was hiding and answer his mothers silence,her unasked questions and rid her of her loneliness in the crowd.He never came back for long after that.
My father still has tears in his eyes each time he narrates this story.His drop of pain has a twinkle, perhaps in salute to his mother.
Today Pa is very actively involved with Pravasalokam (translated Migrant’s World) -a programme telecast on a Malayalam TV channel, Kairali. Pravasalokam is an attempt in search of many of those who come to foreign lands such as the Middle East with dreams as vast as the deserts and somewhere down the travel let their lives transform into a mirage for their families back home.Shattered mothers,wives and family members find in Pravasalokam the last ray of the sun before darkness sets in.
Pa is the Oman coordinator of Pravasalokam.The programmme has had more than just many success stories in Oman(with the never ceasing zeal of Pa and his team) with many such missing people found and helped return home to their families waiting each day, protecting the candle of hope from burning out.
Ask Pa any day,why such an attachment to Pravasalokam, he replies with a quiver,”I see my mother in each of them crying, to find their dear one’s lost face in the crowd.If only my mother had somewhere to go,someone to plead to, in search of my father back then..” And then, there ‘s always a long burst of silence.