Words 2: Gurgaon, Veena, Manasu Kashtam

Words: Gurgaon, Veena, Manasu Kashtam ((Trans. Heartache. More on the term here.))

Gopinath belonged to some district in Tamil Nadu. It was hard to pinpoint the exact place. Sometimes a grandfather insisted that their roots were in Tanjavoor. Another aunt put her foot down and said it had to be Kumbakonam. Over the generations, the illustrious family had inched northwards. At some point, residing in Hyderabad. The next generation living in Bombay, via Bangalore. Some even lived in Bhopal. But they were disowned. Gopinath moved to Delhi. But much like the geographical confusion that had drowned out part of his identity, he lived in Delhi and worked in Gurgaon.

But at home he was Gobi. The miraculous Tamil alphabet, which perhaps was crafted in a moment of a need for a devilish level of simplicity, didn’t technically distinguish between a “pa” and a “ba“. Hence, Gopi became Gobi. In front of his friends, his mother would lovingly refer to him as Gobi. Over the years, Gobi got married. His wife was Aandal Anandi Oonjaloor. In sum total, they became Gobi and Aloo. As is obvious with good South Indian couples living in the North, they had a baby.

For Gobi, who while growing up had stolen books on travel and romance from his neighbour, the entry of a child was a shock. Yes, he did feel a certain level of fondness, but its shrieks and diaper changes wore him out. He must have been that small once. Once while powdering its bottom, he thought of how similar the veena was to a child’s bottom. Gently rising, like the kudam. He decided then, that his child was going to be instrument of his dreams. His child was going to grow up, have long hair, wear jeans and maybe even have a girlfriend.

This reflection on possibilities filled his heart. He was drawn again into the whirl of self-pity and reflection. It showed in his eyes, this heaviness. His mother, ever the vigilant one, asked, “Gobi, ellam okay va?”. Gobi, in that moment, thought, surely his mother must feel the same tenderness for him, as he felt for this child turned upside down in front of him. He said, “Amma, manasu kashtam”. His mother, slightly hard of hearing, asked him again. He said “Kashtam”.

In her eyes he could see concern. She rushed into the kitchen, and he heard the sounds of various objects being mixed, ground, powdered and mixed. She walks out with a steel tumbler and a spoon. Tells him, “Here, here.. I made you kashayam ((Bitter concoction of various herbs and sundry like ginger, pepper and other things. Horrendous taste usually)). Everything will be okay.”.

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10 Responses to Words 2: Gurgaon, Veena, Manasu Kashtam

  1. Shefaly says:

    @ Neha:

    Where is the reference to Veena? Are you waiting, like yesterday, for Gobi to help you? Or is the ‘instrument of his dreams’ thing a reference to ‘veena’?



  2. Shefaly says:

    @ Neha:

    Ok I re-read it. The reference of the baby’s bottom? Just like Jennifer Lopez is reportedly called La Guitara? Hmm.

    Consider last comment withdrawn.


  3. mumbaigirl says:

    Nice! Thinking of words…


  4. skimpy says:

    ok I have to plug in my blog here. My first ever blogpost.


    and one more:



  5. Nilu says:

    I guess the problem all good story tellers face is, every story of they tell ups the ante one level higher for the next. Which means, all of them have to be spectacular to be considered good.

    The one that is just as good the previously spectacular ones, as this certainly is, sounds too familiar and hence does not excite the reader. Maybe, that’s the reason some don’t ever write a second work on the same genre.


  6. Smitha says:


    first time commentator here – lots of time reading though.

    am not qualified to comment on the technical aspects – so purely from the perspective of whether reading this made me feel good – 100%. The twist from Gopi to Gobi was great and felt like taking a free left turn when the rest of the traffic has stopped at the signal (i stay in India). and kashtam to kashayam ….makes me wonder how i will react when my parents reach that stage.

    all in all – lovely, enjoyed it.



  7. Anil says:



  8. Sigh.
    And the point is … ?

    Can you please just go back to grumble-exult-wonder-whine?



  9. Shefaly: Am glad you found veena finally. I think you should read these with a hand on Cntl+F. In a way it’s nice you couldn’t find it. It means I have managed to use some of the words in a non jarring way.

    mumbaigirl: You gave me beautiful words last time.

    Nilu: I guess it might be easy to do that if you write a 100,000 word novel. But if it’s just 600 word pieces like I do, stopping at one piece is a bit much no?

    Smitha: Thank you so much! 🙂 Your comment was like anti-kashayam!

    Anil: Thanks!

    JAP: I know it’s a little pointless. But going back to the wonder-whine routine gets a little more pointless than this. I think.


  10. Dinesh says:

    I was almost expecting the name of their baby to be Panneer (like Paneer). They could have been a wholesome masala family. Lovely!


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