Early in January, the class teacher Saradmabal sporting her trade mark stern, mirthless look gave out the English essay papers. Ramaswamy tried to sink lower and lower in the last bench. His name was the last to be called out. Saradambal held his answer sheet in her hand. The front benchers noticed a a shudder pass through her body.
"Ramaswamy", she snapped. "You will get your paper tomorrow. But first I need to see your mother. Please bring her along"
Ramaswamy 's mother was keen on her son's education and was ever ready to go to school and discuss his progress with the teachers. In small towns like the one they lived in the teachers were often neighbours and sometime even relatives. Ramaswamy’s mother knew Saradambal, a sour faced woman who she used to meet every now and then in the temple.
The next morning mother and son walked up to the school. As they approached the classroom the roll call was in session.
Saradambal noticed Ramaswamy and his mother at the entrance.
"Vango, vango. Nan than vara sollirunden"
"Enna teacher, ivan nanna padikkarana illaya?"
"Atha solla thane koopittu anuppinen. English essay paperla periya zipher vangi irukkan. Padichu padichu solli kuduthen. Matha pasanga ellam correcta ezhuthi nalla mark eduthanga. Ivan mattum kala vaarittan"
"Ennada Ramaswamy", mother turned to him. "Eppadida ippadi?"
"Amma, athu vandu amma".
Saradambal intervened "Ida parungo. Testukku oru week munnaleye, cleara solli kuduthen. Essay examila rande randu topics than. Onnu vandu coconut tree; innonnu cow. Ithile eadavadu onna pathi than essay ezhuthanumu. Randu subjecta pattiyum padichu padichu essay sollikkuduthen. "
"Pinna enndada. Yenda kadankara, sariya ezhuthala?"
"Amma nan sariya than ezhuthinen amma"
"Enna teacher, onnum puriyalaye. Avan ennadanna sariya ezhuthinengarane"
Saradmbal turned to Ramaswamy " Nan kekkaren. Yen da, testukku munnale yenna sonnen. Randu subject than. Athila ethavathu onnu than testukku keppa. Sonnena illaya?"
"Yennenna subject. Gnapakam irukka?"
"Yes teacher. The coconut tree; illati the cow"
"Seri, tesulla ennatha patti essay ezhutha sonna ?"
"The cow", teacher"
" Nee ennatha pathi ezhuthine"
"Cowwa pathi than, teacher"
"Ithila coconut treeya pathi allava ezhutheerukke"
"Illa madam, ithu cowwa pathi than"
This conversation was becoming more and more like the vazha pazha scene in Karkattakaran and Rajeev's mother decided to intervene.
"Enna madam. Onnum puriyalaye. Avan cowwa pathi than ezhuthinen nnu sadikkarane. Neengalo vera vidham sollaryale"
Saradambal was not amused by the Senthil act from Rajeev. She opened the test paper " Mami, please wait. I will read your son's essay Neengale sollungo"
'Cow is a domestic animal. It has four legs. It eats grass and gives milk.'
Saradambal paused dramatically before moving on.
"It is usually tied to the coconut tree in the back yeard. Almost all houses have coconut trees. Coconut trees are very useful. They have many uses................................................................................................................."
Ramaswamy’s mother went home, promising to look into the matter. But she was actually very impressed with her son's essay.
"Amma,", Ramaswamy explained to her in the evening. "Oru subject than amma padichen. Yedukku time waste pannanumnu. 50 paisa koyina toss panninen;Cow varumnu edirpathen, coconut treeya pathi kettu tholacha. Nan pathen. Randukkuma oru mudicha pottu, coconut treeya pathi ezhuthinen. Ithila ennamma thappu "