Raama Naidu loved his mother more than any person in the world. She was his star in a moonless sky, always shining and sparkling, his guide, friend, and personal philosopher. Her views and theories on life, the result of a difficult childhood and continuing struggles in adulthood.
‘Raama, keep your eyes and ears open. They will often betray you. But your spirit will know what’s best.’
As a six-year-old boy, Raama had never understood the significance of his mother’s statement. But, now at twenty-three, he knew it couldn’t have been said any better. The real world was very different from a safe and loving home.
‘There are vultures and hyenas waiting to feast on you. One lethal mistake and no mercy will be shown.’
Another of the woman’s wisdoms. She never held back when it came to conveying life’s bitter truths. And Raama loved her even more for that.
The young man sat in an airconditioned room. It was his first job interview. His tie felt too tight, gripping his neck with authority. His legs barely fit beneath the desk in front of him. All of what he was and could be, filed in a folder, awaited approval from strangers who knew nothing else about him.
‘Raama, always hold back a little. Never give too much of yourself. Others will value you more.’
And that was what the man had done. He had toyed with the interviewers. Giving them what they wanted but keeping to himself details that made him more mysterious and alluring.
‘A story without an ending is a story that will go on.’
Raama smiled at his mother’s words and at the handshakes congratulating him. He would begin his new job from Monday.
The one room apartment welcomed Raama home. A celebration was in order. The man gathered the brass urn in his arms. He hardly felt the weight of his mother’s ashes. They would be going out for dinner tonight.
‘Food and drink nourish our bodies. But prayers are food for the soul.’
The woman was always right. Raama stopped at the temple on the way.
He doesn’t give a damn what you think about him. I’m Just Plain Nasty is his self-righteous mantra. It describes him appropriately.