Today is my father’s second death anniversary, according to the Tamil Calendar. I got up at six today, took a bath, maneuvered myself into a dhoti, and waited, barechested, except for the sacred thread hanging across my neck and left shoulder, for the two brahmans who were going to perform the ceremony, to arrive. My mom had readied the assorted thingies- brass cups and spoon, mats on the floor to sit upon, some tulsi leaves, rice, ash, sandalwood paste and some kind of black seeds.
They were 15 minutes late. Some problem with locating the house, they said. We started off. I sat cross-legged in front of them and repeated mindlessly the prayers that they said, all the while making various actions with my hands using the various paraphernalia listed above. In between, I had to stand up and make small circles around them, and do the full-length namaskarams some 5-6 times at regular intervals as and when they indicated. The whole thing lasted for about half an hour, by the end of which I was only repeating the last few words of every line in the prayers. They didn’t seem to mind anyway.
I was relieved when it was finally over, after the payment was made to them which also is part of the ceremony I guess, and struggled to my feet (I am never comfortable when I sit cross legged on the floor). I brushed away the rice, seeds and stuff from my body and hair and adjusted my dhoti, which by now seemed to have an attitude of its own. My mother offered them coffee, which they accepted. One of them asked me if India had won the cricket match yesterday night. I didn’t know so I put on the TV and both of us watched the news channels. We had won by some 50 odd runs. They made some polite small talk inquiring about where I work and what I do and all before leaving.
I changed into a yellow half shirt and brown flat trousers, had my breakfast, washed away the dried ash from my forehead and left for work on my bike.