There lived a person who happily enjoyed each and every second of his life! Do you know how? Any guesses?
If your answer is, “Yes, but each and every second is highly impossible.” Well, that was what I too said to my love Isha. She laughed and replied, “Well there lived a person and I know him personally.” I was not convinced; I know there is no such person lived in this earth, even if that person is God, as God itself had been put through many tough sticky situations.
She then made me read read his interview on a daily newspaper, I was surprised! How someone could happily lived each and every second of his life? And that person was none other than Isha’s grandfather – the shocking truth.
Radhakrishnan (1901 – 2001), nope Rocky, he preferred to be called so, was the head cook of Sir Archibald Edward Nye, the last colonial governor of Madras Presidency. He was a specialist in South Indian Cuisines, European Cuisines and Japanese Cuisines. He was always appreciated by Edward Nye and his own family for the taste and aroma he brought into the cuisines, his style and his experiments in brewing coffee. Apart being a cook, he was a good poet who wrote Kavithai in Tamil at nights. He was married to Kannamma and he fathered a dozen of children equal in both sex. And lived in small hut house in SothuKalvai. He always claimed that the secret behind India’s Independence was his cooking and on a fine day, he ordered Edward Nye to leave India as a token of appreciation.
There is a saying in Tamil, “uppittavarai uLLaLavum ninai” (உப்பிட்டவரை உள்ளளவும் நினை) means we should never forget the person who served or cooked food for you and the best way to pay for it is to obey their words.
Rocky’s belief was simple: first are the eyes that sees, second is the nose that smells, third is the tongue that tastes the food and finally to heaven!
The secret behind his happiness was simple: enjoy everything that you do. And he did that right from the time he woke up in the morning to the time he went to bed in the night and at times even after that. Below was the list, I would say the secret.
1. Early morning visit to the field: the pleasant smell of the fresh morning breeze and the smiling field associated him very much to the divine nature.
2. Bathing in the Coovum River: the freshness brought by the river to his body and then praying to God Sun gave him a fantastic start to the day.
3. Milking the cow: it was not just milk; the environment and many other things counted for him.
4. Brewing coffee: not an Italian cappuccino lover, but he brewed many different flavours of coffee and cherished the aroma associated with that.
5. Dosa lover: dose, dosai, dosay or whatever be the name; paper dosa, ghee dosa, podi dosa or whatever be the type, the fresh golden coloured recipe, the lasting taste in mouth and the aroma made his day a golden day.
6. Bullock cart travel to Eddy’s house: he was unique, as he enjoyed the dance of the bulls, freshness of the kolam on the road and everything made his travel wonderful.
7. Lunch Preparation: a group of ten people prepared food for the Governor’s house, but lunch was his bucket. He enjoyed preparing the meal; be it Sāmbhar, rasam, kara kolambu, meen varuval, vendakai poriyal, mutton thokku or whatever, he enjoyed the fragrance while cooking. The fragrance contributed by every ingredient when adding to the dish, he enjoyed even that!
8. Cleaning dishes: though the head cook, still he loved to clean the dishes to enjoy the bright shining faces of them.
9. Cooking dinner: he enjoyed cooking the dinner more than lunch as he cooked for his own family. And every day he was appreciated for the same.
10. Writing Poems: Tamil was an integral part of him. Writing Kavithai helped him to find peace. He not only wrote about the nation but also about food, the love for food and the way he enjoyed cooking.
11. To bed: the best part of the day was sleeping and he said that at least ten thousand times in this lifetime.
To everyone, he was a role model in his period, as he did whatever he enjoyed; even before dying; he said that he would enjoy the smell of death soon. And after reading his interview and after hearing more about him from Isha, I liked my own life. I started enjoying each and every fragrance around me, right from the morning fresh breeze to the most pleasant smell of romance at nights. In fact, I would say I started smelling life. And a lot of nostalgic memories were associated with different fragrances in my life because smell and memories always had a direct linkage as the smell activates the brain and recalls sweet memories. I wish I could list everything, but a few are listed below:
* First time, when I sensed the freshness of a newly born baby (Ashik, my nephew) I felt new, which words could never express. I did not stop instead I went ahead and started falling in love with fragrance around.
* First time after our marriage, when I was holding Isha’s hands sitting on windowsill, I loved the pleasant smell of wet winds and after that, even when I was alone wet winds always reminded of her.
* First time, when I was kissing Isha under a banyan tree after getting drenched in rain, the refreshing smell of the soil made the moment romantic and even now, whenever I kiss Isha I could recall the refreshing smell.
* First time, when I was cooking, the mouth-watering smell that comes out while seasoning the food was something I could enjoy every time I cook; still I feel that as one of the best fragrance ever smelled :)
*First time, the enticing smell of jasmines and roses and of course Isha’s are something that mesmerizes me on all romantic nights.
* The freshness of the new book (THE NOTEBOOK) and that of the old one (LOVE STORY) reminds me of the books in brackets.
Apart from the ones listed above, fragrance of Agarbatti, freshness of Sambarani, attraction of Ponds and Z Talc powder, perfume of old spice shaving kit, rasa karpuram, KFC Chicken, McDonald Burger, old or new book, all that cooked by my Mom and Isha, jasmines and roses, air freshener that changes Smelly Air to Smiley Air and every fragrance associated with my life in home or at work has some special memories and special stories.
Remains fresh over time
Either old or new
It can be a few
Still good to be heard
Though cherished or ignored
Freshness of a baby
Just born newly
To wet winds,
Jasmines or roses
Or of Isha’s
Smelly to Smiley
A life full of fragrances!