During my travel to Cochin from Bangalore, my destination ticket is either to Ernakulam junction or Ernakulam town, also known as Ernakulam south or Ernakulam north, depending on the availability
It was one of the demonetised days, month of November 2016, when most of the ATM would say thanks for coming, sorry no cash and the ones that worked would spit out 2000 rupees note
I love the tea from the roadside tea stalls in Kerala. I stop at a tea stall and ask for tea. ” you have change ? “. I said ‘no’, no tea for me.
One lady standing under a tree, said “Saaray, buy a ticket, draw is today, its only 50 rupees”.
I stopped and said I would have bought, I have a 2000 note. She said ” take this ticket, I will give you change”.
‘The change is a lottery for me”
Lottery tickets runs a lot of families in Kerala, not the prize, the commission they get by selling them
” How much do you make in this lottery business ?” I asked.
” Enough for me” she said.
” How old are you”, I asked
” Its 9 years since I touched 70.”
That was an interesting answer, shy to say 79 or late seventies
Where are your family members ?
They are all there, 2 sons 1 daughter, sister, her family. But I live alone.
I am happy. Guruvayurappan’s s grace, health is ok.
You are nearly 80 and you may require help.
God will take care of me. I am confident he will take me without troubling anyone.
What’s your name ?
Where are your children, why are you not with them.
They all have a life to live with their own responsibilities, why be a burden.
I said children should look after you.
She asked, who told you ?
Was there annoyance in her voice ? I wondered.
They call me to stay with them. Its I who have decided to be with myself. They are nice children. I can go and live with them whenever I want. I meet them often.
One is there in kakanad, the other at elamana and daughter in mattanchery.
That’s good, I said. However your age is on the increase, you will need someone.
God is kind to me, he will take me the moment I fall sick. I will not trouble anyone.
” How many tickets you want, this one, the draw is today in the after noon , this one is tomorrow and this the day after” she said pointing to each one of them.
” I said, give me one of each”
” Take four, she said, accounting will be easy”
She gave me the tickets and 1800 change.
I said Vasanthi ammay, you keep these tickets.
if there is a winner among them, you can keep the money.
No no, she said.
I do not want to win anything big. I am happy and secure with the commission I get. More money, more unhappiness. Somebody will kill me. Anything you have more than enough, will bring you sorrow. For my life style, this is fine.
You can give your children, I said.
And make them fight ? She asked.
They are healthy, let them earn their living.
I said, you keep the tickets, if we win, you call me.
We will give that money to the orphanage and old age home.
That’s a good idea, she said.
She noted down my name and number in a cute little book.
Saaray, why do you trust me ? I don’t have to tell you the result, you will not know what happened”.
“We, both, do not want the money, where is the problem ” I said.
That is true.
Every third trip to cochin I would meet her because it will be the north station, I would get down.
One day she called to tell me, the last four digits have won Rs 1000. She does not have a phone, called from a shop.
I told her to keep it. She said no, she will not have any. I said then buy four tickets ( that way she can earn some commission) and the rest , give it to some one, she thinks, will be of help.
She agreed. Later she told me, she bought a few text books for some kids.
This time, I reached north station around 8.30 in the morning. Looked around for her, on my way to the bus stop which is a ten minute walk. I did not see her. May be next time, I thought. Kept debating, should I look for her. When I reached the bus stop, I turned, something kept telling me, lets meet her. I walk back to the station, do not find her, saw a guy walking around selling lottery tickets. I asked him, “there is a Vasanthi who sells lottery tickets, know her ?”.
AYYO Ssaray, that aged lady ? She died last week. She complained about a chest pain and died , 10 minutes after reaching the hospital. That day was her birthday, he added. He said something more, it did not register.
I said ok and walked away with a lump in my throat. She completed ten years after her seventieth birthday, remembered her confidence to leave without troubling any one, happened the way she wanted.
A short and sweet chapter in my life came to an end. There isn’t anything to look forward to, in Ernakulam north station for me
. “anything you have more than enough, brings you sorrow…” the words kept ringing