It was raining outside ,no it was pouring .
He remembered that he never had lunch today ,his wife had knocked a lot but he refused to budge from his work ,he stepped outside to light a beedi in the small garden outside the coconut trees and the sunshade above gave him some cover so he did not become totally wet but still the spattering from the floor made his dhoti a bit muddy ,
he threw his beedi into the rain and washed his feet in the pipe jutting in front of the door and walked back ,he had to start again he knew he was not satisfied with the curl of that cuticle and he aimed for nothing less than perfection in his work specially this one .
Antho was a well known carpenter known for his elegant furniture items ,
spank cars drove in from Ernakulum city searching for him so that he can make the exquisite and unique pieces he was known for ,
but that was all in the past for the last one year no one turned up as Andho rarely stepped out of his house and was stuck in that room with that abominable piece which filled it .
Neighbors had started whispering .
Mathai the sanitary worker said he had seen a bird flying out of Anthos ears one day !
and that was a sure sign of his becoming loony ,not that he had no reason to become so .
His wife Ely had enough of cajoling him ,
She too had sat with him and wept for a long time but slowly the routine in life had crept in and she had enough in her hands but Andho never cried ,neither did he talk much these days ,his was just one obsession and he was at it with his hammer and knife most of the time .
It still was just a hulk and they couldn't get an idea what he was making but it did fill the room more than the grief that poured from him did .
Andhos son the younger one Stanley who got married three years back was living with him in the house ,he had a small child and his wife Rosie was constantly behind the child either running behind his bare bottom or feeding him mouthfuls of rice ,
Rosie was thin and very fair .
Up in the hills where she came from they were fairer not exposed to the harsher sun .
She was from Devikulam near Munnar and constantly complained about Kochis humidity which she found it difficult to cope with ,she was constantly sweaty and harassed and the rains was the only thing that brought a smile to her pinched face ,she hardly gave a thought to her father in law who seemed to be doing something in his room most of the time .A lot of things had happened since he had moved in , her husband Stanley was working as a line man in Kerala state electricity board , his job was on contract and he kept odd times and did some dangerous climbing up lamp posts .
He was never interested in carpentry and wanted to be an electrician but now he had become neither !
He was also upset by his father of late as Andho was not contributing to the family expenses which was mounting as they had to clear the debts from recent expenses ,
Stanley dreaded to meet Nadar the fierce mustachioed local money lender and his thugs who kept threating him to part with the monthly interests in time .
" Ammachi what does appachan think ? "
"how long is he planning to be like this he needs to start earning I cant continue lie this Nadar could kill me one day and you will have one more death in this house ,he just stares at me when I talk to him what happened to him ? and your elder son that hen pecked sod either he is drunk on his toddy or on his wife's bosom he never bothers about us and how we live
this is unbearable ! "
Andho did hear all this but kept his gaze down on the floor
the small crack on the cement floor loomed large in his eyes , have to plaster this he thought suddenly not knowing why !
he again took his hammer to strike home into the mahogany .
how carefully he had selected that wood ,
Jobys shop was not new to him he knew every nook and corner of it and every log there.
He also knew what he needed the finest of the fine mahogany ,
Indian Mahogany was a prized wood for furniture and one of the best
Joby looked at him
"Andhochetta what happened to you ? I know but its so long when do you start working ?
there were enquiries now all have come down
you know times change now there is so much competition with youngsters with all sort of fancy drills etc who just do things in a jiffy , I know those just cannot be equal to what you can do with your hands but the market you know it waits for none ,happy now you thought of working again so who is it for ? got a ready customer and that too for one made of costly mahogany ?"
Andho just smiled
" Joby I will find the log and cut it but I cant give you the money now after I finish the job I shall "
" Andho chetta not fair , I too have some problems , I almost thought I will take a loan from that Nadar he keeps coming here asking if I want one he knows the banks have turned me down and for all you know it might be his job the wretched greed .
Chetta you need to pay me at least 50 % what can I do ?
,Andho just tok off his thin chain with a crucifx and handed it to Job
" Jobby please take this the rest I shall pay ok ? "
" how can I tell no to you Andhochetta "
So he had pottered around the logs with Nasser and they finally pulled out the log from under a pile carried it to the cutting house and the whole day Andho had spent in cutting it into planks and pieces and took the logs to his house in a small pick up van and put it all in the room ,his family watched him happy that he had got some work again
he never answered their questions but started his work immediately concentration written on his face as he drew pencil lines on the wood and sorted them in place this was his job and something in which he excelled .
and so it began the labor of love when he hammered knocked scraped swathed cut made holes smoothened on whatever he made
slowly bit by bit he proceeded
,he would close the door the moment his job was over as he did not want anyone to have a look at it till finished
his son also stopped trying to peep as he had enough to think about and was a bit irritated with his fathers strange behavior
Andho would rarely talk to anyone having an occasional cup of kattan or black tea smoke his beedis and once in a day have some rice with fish if his wife insisited he had lost weight he would just grunt and continue his way .
In his mind he could already see how it would shape up ,like a sculptor who sees his creation the moment he sees the stone
Andho had seen the cabinet he planned in his wood when he bought it .
He focused on the filigrees and fine art works ,later he would join the pieces that would be the easy part of course but he took a lot of time on the intricate art work on the borders this is where his cabine would be different from the run of the mill cabinets ,his nimble fingers shaped them from the fine wood which came to life slowly figurines appeared dancing children nimble teens pirouetting their way prancing in happiness it was all in remembrance of the images he had deep in his mind slowly he joined the pieces drilling and nailing them and then cutting the grooves for the glass which he would buy later .
He wondered how as there was no money for that maybe he would just borrow it from Nadar he wasn't worried about anything these days as he only thought of his work and how he would finish it .
he went to Nadar and convinced him to part with some money he needed he knew the interest would be very heavy and was also a bit worried by the sly grin Nadar and his henchmen gave when they declared that they would come for the monthly interests in exactly one month as he counted the rupees .
Andho bought the glass and fixed them now smoothening and polishing was needed he had no plans to paint the wood as he wanted the natural veneer to continue
he also fixed the gold colored knobs and fevicolled some more filigrees into place ,his cabinet was slowly coming to shape like a beautiful model would after the make up
it was a matter of days and he finished striking the last nail and brushing his piece with a fine cloth covered it up ,
his son crept inside took the cloth off and saw the cabinet
He stared at it surprised .
" its amazing the best you have made so far whom did you do this for Appacha ? "
"this is not for sale !"
" what and you have spent so much money what will this do in this house and it fills the room too incidentally have you ever thought how you will take this out for you cant use this room if you don't as there is no space for even standing comfortably with this here "
"why don't you want to sell it ? "
Hhe saw tears welling in Andhos eyes he knew why his dad had built this with so much care it was for his beloved daughter who had left them last year .
His sister had died of an unfortunate illness .
it started as a simple fever but later she developed viral encephalitis and as she lay delirious in the hospital he had heard Andho whisper to her in her death bed
"molle I shall still make it for you and you will be married off in heaven I will make the cabinet for you yes I will "
"Appacha I understand ,but we have to be practical we are upto our neck in debts and Nadar has started getting funny ,we need to sell this if we have to survive
she will understand "
Slowly Andho also knew this was needed and he agreed .
he knew his daughters soul would be happy he made it for her by now Andho had started working again .
Finally he sold it to a doctor who practiced nearby .
they managed to cut into pieces to take it out and rejoin it in the doctors dining hall ,
whenever he went to the doctors home he requested to see the cabinet in the pretext of seeing if polish was needed and he would longingly pat the cabinet then
( all names are imaginary the story too is partly imaginary including the photo ,
the cabinet building after a daughters death and later selling it to me was the only truth here )