Mahadevan's Monologues

If we had the vision and feeling of ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. – George Eliot

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Curly hair, extremely fair, smiling face, a paunch the weight of which would often slow down his walking pace, small kumkum mark on the forehead proclaiming his religious proclivities, Kumbakonam accent pervading every tip of his tongue, Sambasivam or Sambu as he is affectionately called, has a fine sense of humour and would stand singled out in any group or gathering.

One cannot write about Sambu without recalling numerous anecdotes centering around him. While introducing his friend Vishu, a devote Dinathanthi reader, Sambu would say “Visu was my elder brother’s class mate five years earlier and now my class mate”, without batting an eye lid. If Sambu was asked by his Geography teacher (who always tormented him with questions to test his knowledge), to name nine wild animals in India, he would say ‘seven tigers and two lions’ without even a semblance of smile on his face. Krishnan was a mild young man in the group who often looked upto Sambu for appreciation, though was often brushed aside with brusque remarks. If Krishnan tried to blow of his masculine bravdo, Sambo would cut him to size, stamping him as effeminate in his efforts, whatever that meant.

Sambu had his early education at Native High School in Kumbakonam. The legendary Right Honourable Sreenivasa Shastry was a former student of this School and Sambu had all the pretensions of being a progeny of this wizard of English Words. If Sreenivasa Shastri was the Silver Tongue Orator of India, Solaiappan Street Sambasivan is no less significant. The native wit of Kumbakhonam nurtured continuously by him, reverberated, whenever he spoke.

If any body put on airs and asserted his authority in front of timid employees, Sambu, would tear asunder his mask, strip him to his bones, reduce his size and talk to him on equal terms, puncturing his ego and push him perilously close to his doomsday.

Sambu had an animadversion towards studies and therefore he kept a safe distance from professional examinations and intellectual attainments. Yet, his native wit was sufficient enough to carry him to places and lend him respectability. An hour with Sambu would be an energizing exercise. Youngsters in love and the elderly with enough leisure looked upon him for inspiration. Like Dr.Johnson in the Coffee Club, an army of admirers always awaited him and noted down his words of wisdom.

Sambu’s brother occupied an enviable position in a leading Organisation, but Sambu, circumscribed by his limitations, found solace in satiety. When lost his ‘Single” status, Sambu opted for a transfer to Chennai and to his great dismay realized that there were several his look-alikes. His wild imaginations and spontaneous wit that made up for deficiency in scholarship and his ability to endear himself to onlookers, enabled him to become a professional artist particularly in giving religious discourses.

Sambu continues to stay at Chennai, regaling his friends and followers with his discourses spiced with native wits and half-hearted attempts to convert them to spirituality.

Bulging belly and a slightly bended head, Sambu would always stare at me from the distant Chennai.


  • At 8:35 AM, Blogger Kondayya said…

    Eagerly awaiting more blog posts and personality sketches ..


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