It was a moment when the two bodies rose and soared in the vast expanse of the skies, soaked in the waterfalls and experienced the ultimate bliss totally unaware of the rest of the world; it was a moment the two bodies should have resonated in unison; in that moment it struck a note of discord. There was a vague lack of interest in the eyes of his wife, a shade of pain.
“Sorry, Lalitha. Got carried away and …”
“Never mind.” Her lips flashed a lifeless smile. There were so many occasions he couldn’t read what was in her heart?
Ramakrishna rolled over on the bed with remorse and numerous thoughts. In his 20 years’ of marital life there weren’t any ups and downs or misunderstanding he could think of. There has been some kind of dissatisfaction in Lalitha from the start. She came from a fairly well-to-do family, financially. After he marriage, she couldn’t continue her status, being wife of an employee in a newspaper. She gradually withdrew into herself. Ramakrishna did not know how to pry open the closed flower. That invisible distance did not disappear even after Narmada was born. After he left his village and moved to the city, he felt as if somebody fixed his life in a tight frame with no room to move. It took a long time before he realized that he had lost the freshness of childhood and the thrill of youth. After realizing it, he was left with nothing in his life but eternal restlessness.
He fell asleep around midnight. In his sleep he saw a dream – a dream that has been recurring for some time now. A haunting dream. Somewhat mysterious- it was neither frightening nor pleasant.
Just one room, aA room without windows. The door was open partially. Inside, it was partially dark; he couldn’t figure out what was inside. He hesitated to open the door fully and was hesitant to step inside. He wanted to see who was inside but couldn’t. The door was not moving. There was no sign of light, and no hope of the man inside making his appearance. A strange dream.
Ramakrishna is a sub-editor in a prominent newspapers in Hyderabad. If you ask me whether he had expanded his horizons or shrunk, I must say the second was true. He acts like he was busy to please somebody else, always worried that somebody was watching him and for that reason he was feeling insecure. His main job was to examine the submissions for a feature called rachana (writing). Of course, he did enjoy reading the articles and poetry he had received. Yet, it was not gratifying to a point he wanted it to be. Ramakrishna’s heart shrunk in the newspaper environment that was overloaded with lies, bad publicity, and self-absorbed people.
“What’s this, Ramakrishna? Is this how you run a literary page? This is the second poem on the topic-suicides of cotton farmers,” Editor reprimanded him.
“Yes, sir. There are ten poems on my desk, all of them on the same topic. So far, approximately 300 farmers have committed suicide. I’d think that’s a burning problem.”
The Editor laughed like a scholar who’d laugh at an ignorant man, and said, “Aren’t the elections a burning problem? Why didn’t you publish poems on that topic?”
“I didn’t get any poems on elections,” Ramakrishna replied, suppressing his annoyance. He was itching to slap the editor on his bald head and then told himself that that would not be a good idea.
“Ha!” the editor said and asked him to bring all the poems sitting on his desk, pending approval. In reality, the editor was upset with him for a different reason. He received a phonecall from a famous writer, Guvera (Gummadi Venugopala Rao) that morning. Guvera has received several awards and rewards in the past and currently trying to survive based on that past record. He talked to the editor and during their conversation asked him, sounding casual, “How come your paper did not publish my poems?” Subrahmanyam, the editor, felt bad. Guvera has clout (not in poetic circles). The man is more important than his writings.
Ramakrishna brought all the submissions. Subrahmanyam picked Guvera’s poems and one more poem by another writers, to avoid any suspicion. He told Ramakrishna that it was not proper to keep these poems in pending for so long, and that he should send them for typesetting right away. Then he added mockingly, “In fact, rachana feature may not be suitable for you. How about moving you to janapadam (rural)? You can read about animals, produce and plant diseases.”
Ramakrishna sniffled a strong desire to snub the editor’s snide remarks but walked away without doing so. It wouldn’t take a second to speak those words. But it was also a matter of his job. The editor gets away with his attitude because he has clout with the management. Ramakrishna was frustrated since there wasn’t much he could do about it. He was caught in the fist of capitalism. As he was walking towards his seat, he noticed that, K.S. Rao, another sub-editor, cast a sidelong look at him with a barely noticeable smile. Rao was close to the editor. Ramakrishna wouldn’t be surprised if Rao was moved to Ramakrishna’s seat some day. He opened the file and read a couple of Guvera’s poetry.
Filling each heart with love
As the conscious self springs forth
Fraternity builds tenderly
A style three generations-old; rhymed lines and worn out phraseology that has been used for years by poets. How can they evoke any response in readers? Nowadays, even budding poets are showing sparks in their poetry. After all, M.V. Rami Reddy wrote an amazing poem on domestic stove. Ramakrishna went into raptures when he read the line, someone opened the doors to the body, from a poem by Srikanth on the inauguration of youth. He may not be able to write poetry but certainly can appreciate it.
Office boy brought in two letters and put them on his desk. One of them was an invitation to a wedding. Gumma Venkata Rao’s son was going to be married in Tullur. Venkata Rao put a separate note also in the envelope, especially inviting him to come to the wedding. A quarter of a century back, Venkata Rao, Ramakrishna and a few other friends used to go to High School in Tullur, walking about 3 and a half miles from their village, Nekkallu, every day. They walked along the farmland every day. Venkata Rao was two years his senior. It was so long since they were finished with schooling yet he remembered him. On the other hand, he [Ramakrishna] has been living in this city for so many years yet not one person could recognize him. There was one thing in the letter that hurt Ramakrishna. His friend added, “Your younger brother’s health is deteriorating. It would be nice if you could come to Nekkallu. You can a short visit with your brother and then we all can proceed to Tullur together to attend the wedding.” The forgotten family tie bobbed to the surface. His heart was heavy with the thought. It was five years since he set foot in Nekkallu.
There was nobody in the office to share his hurt. Only sub-editor, Sarada Rani, is friendly type. Sometimes she shows her articles on women’s issues and asks for his opinion. Sometimes she also tells him her personal problems and he listens. He even feels surprise and relief on such occasions. That’s the kind of relief one feels in an environment where there was no concern but only suspicion.
Ramakrishna went to the canteen during lunch break, for want of better thing to do. A couple of his colleagues were having coffee. Associate Editor, Visweswara Rao, was disparaging the editor indirectly. He mentioned how another editor was kicked out of office. It was a kind of despicable mentality—some people don’t confront directly but lay ground indirectly in order to accomplish what they had in mind which in this case is getting rid of the editor.
Ramakrishna finished his coffee without a word and left.
He reached home at 6:30 and was surprised to see his friend, Lakshminarayana, waiting for him on the front porch. They were classmates in M.A. class. They both shared the same views and entertained the same tastes. Both of them liked the music of Lata and poetry of Sri Sri. Although Lakshminarayana lived far away from his room in the dormitary, he still came to visit with him every day. Between the two of them, they couldn’t count the number of nights they spent together. God knows how many thoughts they had shared; their thoughts on the jobs they would be seeking, girls they would like to marry and such! Eventually each settled down in his own life—Ramakrishna in newspaper business and Lakshminarayana in a local College. Lakshminarayana had to settle down for the bottomline both at work and at home. His college received no grants and so his job was always at peril; at home his family life left much to be desired. As a result, he developed low self-esteem.
“How are you? Long time since we’ve seen each other,” Ramakrishna asked Lakshminarayana.
“So, so. Same as always,” Lakshminarayana replied. He looked darker than before.
Lalita brought coffee for them. While chatting, Lakshminarayana revealed his real reason for being here. He was planning to admit his daughter in the local residential college as day-scholar. He needed five thousand rupees. Ramakrishna did not have that kind of money on hand either. He promised to come up with the money by next week somehow. Lakshminarayana stayed for one half hour talking the same old things as always. There was no closeness in his tone; it sounded as if there an iceberg between the two of them. Where did the warmth of the old days go? So many veils—hesitation, jealousies, and selfishness—go up between people in course of time! How can we pull them down? Let’s forget the business talk, how could we bring two hearts closer?
After Lakshminarayana left, Ramakrishna showed the wedding invitation and letter to Lalita. Narmada was also there by her mother’s side.
“You’re saying he’s your childhood friend. I think you should go,” Lalita said.
“But what about Seshagiri? You know our family ties snapped long time ago.”
Lalita kept quiet. The break up between the two families happened only after she came into their lives.
“If a line was broken, it could be tied together again, can’t we?” Narmada said cleverly.
Ramakrishna was surprised at his daughter’s suggestion. She might be young in age but, certainly, spoke words of wisdom. But he couldn’t accept Narmada’s wisdom so easily. “What if they don’t accept our kind gesture?” he retorted.
“Then, that would be their fault, Daddy! But if we don’t extend our hand, that certainly will be our fault,” Narmada said.
Ramakrishna did not reply. Narmada asked again, “Do you know what’s Syamala doing? She must be my age.”
“If you go to the village and not stop by your brother’s house, it wouldn’t be nice. Moreover, you said he was not well. Go and talk to him,” Lalita said.
Ramakrishna fell into a reverie. Every time he looked back, the past hurt him.
Ramakrishna lost his mother while he was still a baby. His father married again. He had two children by his second wife—Seshagiri and Sakuntala. His stepmother, Samrajyamma, never abused him physically. But there was a marked difference in the way she treated him. He was always hesitant to talk to his father. Thus he suffered loneliness at home during his childhood. He had better friends outside home. He still remembered those friends—Mutyalu, Narsimma Rao, Venkata Rao, Hanumantu, Parvati and so on.
Ramakrishna finished high school in Tullur, Bachelor’s in Guntur, Master’s in Vizag, and reached Hyderabad. Because of his interest in journalism, he joined the staff in a daily newspaper. Seshagiri did not pass beyond fifth grade. Sakuntala got married and moved to Lingayapalem. His own marriage was arranged by adults but his stepmother could not get along with Lalita. After Seshagiri was also married, they both took their shares in the property and went their separate ways. There was a disagreement in the matter of property settlement. Samrajyamma wanted a bigger share for Seshagiri since, unlike Ramakrishna, he had no education and no job. Ramakrishna was willing to go along with her suggestion but not his father. Father distributed equal shares to all. Ramakrishna however managed to convince his father and made sure that the house went to Seshagiri after father’s death. The broken family tie was never repaired however. Subsequent to his move to Hyderabad, the distance between the family members increased. After his father died, family visits came to an end. Seshagiri, his wife, two children and mother continued to live in Nekkallu. It’s five years since Ramakrishna went to the village. He moved to Hyderabad 20 years ago and ever since loneliness became a way of life for him. There is nothing natural in his job. There is no security. There is no comparison at all between the humane atmosphere of his village and the withered life of the city. He is surrounded by people no doubt. But there is an invisible fence around each person. Everyone is in a hurry to grab happiness; for that, everyone wants money quick; for that, friendships; for that, parties; for that self-promotion and mud-slinging; masks; pretension; a businesslike attitude that includes rough, rash and dashing performance. Nobody cares about another person’s feelings. All they need is only a handshake, not a resonance from the heart. Naturally he felt smothered naturally in this kind of environment. He found solace in books rather than in people. Books touched him. They don’t deceive him. Yet he was only half a person. He suffered so much vacuum in his life—lack of mother’s love in childhood; vacuum created by loss of friends from childhood and youth; by missing the compassionate touch of village life; and the vacuum caused by his disappointing job. Lalita alone was not enough to fill in all these spells of emptiness. How could she?
Next day the editor forwarded two articles and three poems. Ramakrishna need to review them for publication in rachana. He was skimming through the pages and stumbled on a poem, avatalivaipu [on the other side] by Sivareddy.
Maybe you never saw the other side of me
Unaware that there could be another side
Doesn’t one have to have the ability, love and kinship
to open up and reveal his other side
Shouldn’t one be able to touch the other?
Shouldn’t he pull out his richness from the depths of the ocean
Open up! You idiots! Hold up your other side!
Each one should dig deep into the other and celebrate the best in him
Each one should read the other like a book, the darkest and the innermost
thoughts of the other.
Ramakrishna was overwhelmed as he read the poem. It’s true, nobody traverses into another person. Nobody touches the other. There is a lack of kinship between people, a collective loneliness. So many obstances in order to transcend this man-made distance? The insecurity, fear, jealousy and hatred –probably that poet, Sivareddy has comprehended all these emotions and transcended them. But what about himself? He was an idiot who couldn’t open up. In any human being, it is the living trepidation that causes him either to shut up or open up. One must rise above that trepidation. Ramakrishna told himself that he needed to throw away all these files, magazines, hesitations, pain and fright. He needed to redeem himself.
Ramakrishna left Hyderabad for Guntur and took Guntur-Nekkallu bus to reach his village. It was a cloudy day as always in Sravana month. A gentle breeze carrying aroma from the knee-high plantation filled the air all around. He was on his way looking for an innate human experience. Would he get it?
A song from an old movie, andaz, which he used to sing during his school years, came to his lips—give your heart to that person who is willing to give his life; give your life to that person who is willing to give his heart. Some people have no hearts at all to give and some don’t give even if they had one. In fact, surrendering your heart to a person who is not willing to give anything is the greatest thing, to say the truth.
“Ho, you! How are you? Are you going to see your brother?” Somebody asked him in the bus—the kind of casual chitchat one will never hear in Hyderabad buses.
The bus went past Pedaparimi and reached Nekkallu in ten minutes. He heard Sehnai music from a distance.
The house with clay-tiled roof on the west street looked the same as always; so also the neem tree in front of the house. The compound wall was broken on one side. Seshagiri lay on the cot on the front porch. He saw Ramakrishna and sat up, surprised. The red dog lying next to him was about to bark but changed his mind. He recognized Ramakrishna and came to him, wagging his tail.
Ramakrishna sat next to his brother on the cot and asked him, “How are you, Seshu?” Seshagiri hugged his brother with tearful eyes and without saying a word. The human touch! The blood relationship!
Then he called out for his wife, “Oh, Raji!” Raji came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands with a rag. She was puzzled first and then her face lit up. “How is everybody at home?” she inquired and gave him water to wash his feet. Then she laid a second cot for him and spread a fresh sheet on it. Then she went in to make coffee. His stepmother, Samrajyamma, and neice, Syamala, returned from their neighbor’s house.
“How are you, Son! You remembered us, at last? After so many years? Anyway, how is your family, your wife and child?” his stepmother inquired. She is same as always; she aged but not her way of speaking.
Syamala came and sat next to him, smiling. “Where did you go?” he asked her. She showed him the bowl in her hands. There was henna paste. “What class are you studying?” he asked her again. Syamala replied that she was in the tenth class. Narmada also is in the same class. He could see the resemblances in their faces. The only difference, if at all, was Narmada has acquired a shade of the city tones while Syamala has earth tone.
“How come you didn’t bring akka, pedananna?” Syamala asked him. He smiled and was quiet. Raji brought coffee.
Ramakrishna inquired about Seshu’s health. Raji answered him, still standing, and said that Seshagiri had high blood pressure for some time; last year yield on the farm suffered a loss; and he then suffered a heart attack also, due to worries from huge loans. He was taken to Guntur for treatment. He is getting better now.
“So much happened and you did not inform me, how come?” Ramakrishna asked her. She did not reply.
Samrajyamma sat near the doorstep and said, “That’s what I was telling them too. They were worried not knowing whether a sense of kinship from old times still existed or not. If your father were alive, things could be different. You know, I am a stepmother, after all. God only knows the hardships we went through to put you through school; and only He knew whether we ate or not in those days. And you disappeared into the wide world in the name of seeking work. How can we expect the family ties of old times? You know the proverb—a baby is a baby in the crib, not after growing a beard. We all live under delusion, if you ask me.”
“Why dig up all that now?” Seshagiri stopped his mother.
For Ramakrishna, stepmother’s cut-n-dry language is not new. That’s why he remained calm. Rajeswari went in to attend to cooking.
“Amma! The common adage is there’s no future for he who digs up the past. Whatever happened happened. About four days back, I received an invitation from Gumma Venkata Rao. He wrote to me about Seshu’s condition in a note. Let’s take Seshu to Hyderabad first and have him checked by a good doctor. You come too. You can visit with your daughter-in-law and the granddaughter as well,” Ramakrishna said gently.
With that, Samrajyamma cooled down; all her attitude melted down. She dabbed her tears and said, “That’s good, son! You have spoken kind words. That’s all I ask for. Come on, get up and wash your hands and feet. You must be starving.”
Ramakrishna felt relieved. In his mind one hurdle was knocked down.
Just then Mutyalu walked in, “Pinni, Is it true our Ramudu is here?” Mutyalu was Ramakrishna’s childhood friend. He was blind in one eye. He looked sideways as he talked to him, “Ho! ho! You’ve changed a lot from what you used to be. Have you eaten yet? Venkata Rao sent me, asked me to bring you for dinner at his place.”
Samrajyamma scolded him, “Stop it. What’re you talking about? My son came to my house after such a long time and you want to take him away for dinner elsewhere? Don’t worry, he will eat with you all later tonight at the wedding.” and called Raji to ask if cooking was done. Mutyalu told Ramakrishna to go to his house after it cooled down in the evening and left. He suggested that they all could go together to the bride’s place for the wedding.
After eating, Ramakrishna asked Seshagiri about family matters. Seshagiri said their economic condition was not good; he was considering discontinuing Syamala’s schooling. Ramakrishna opposed that idea. He offered to take her in and put her through school in Hyderabad. Seshagiri said he would go to Hyderabad next week along with his wife and daughter. While they were talking, Sadasiva, Syamala’s younger brother, came in, after finished playing outside. He saw pedananna and wouldn’t leave him alone. Ramakrishna gave him a toy pistol and a pen to Syamala. Both of them were very happy. As he watched them, he was sorry that he did not keep in touch with them all these years.
In the evening, he bid farewell to all of them, and left for Venkata Rao’s house. It was near the Rama temple. A new palm-leaf pandal was erected in front of the house and decorated with colored paper. A tarpaulin sheet was spread on the ground. The entire place was noisy with friends, relatives, and children. Venkata Rao was very happy to see Ramakrishna and approached him quickly. Mutyalu, Hanumantu, and Narsimma Rao were busy offering coffee and snacks to the guests. Hanumantu brought a glassful of coffee for Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna was surprised, “What? That’s a lot of coffee!”
“Hey! Drink it. Our Narsimma Rao finished two glassfuls just a little while ago,” Mutyalu chided lovingly. Ramakrishna took the glass, smiling.
The wedding was to take place at 9:30 p.m. in Tullur. Venkata Rao suggested that Ramakrishna could ride with the bridegroom in the same car.
“If you’re upto it, we can walk along the farmland, a fun walk,” Mutyalu suggested. Ramakrishna agreed. Hanumantu also kept company. Even if they walked like at the wedding procession, still they would reach Tullur before sunset. There was no sign of showers, one less worry.
They walked along the hedge on the outskirts and turned North and ran into a stream. There wasn’t much water in the stream. A few little fish were swimming in the water. They went past the stream and came to the fields of corn, mungbeans, sesame and peanuts. The fields were all green. They were walking on the footpath along the fields. On one side, it was all wilderness. Twenty-five years back they walked to Tullur high school for their education by the same path. The environment is the same even now—the stream, wilderness, wasteland and thorns.
“Why don’t you pull out the shirt. You can feel the breeze,” Mutyalu suggested. True, it was uncomfortable to walk with his shirt tucked in his pants. He pulled it out and it felt good. Now his walk is natural.
As they were passing by tummala wasteland, Ramakrishna remembered the old times when he was so scared to walk alone in that area. During summer time, the breeze used to make a strange noise while blowing through the dense tumma trees. Sometimes it would rise like a funnel. He was afraid of seeing ghosts. Now he has no such fear. Now he is scared only in the city, while moving among his friends. It came from the fact that not a single person he knew was totally open; from constant worry that he could be hurt by somebody. Here on the other hand, Mutyalu was walking in front of him and Hanumantu behind; and as a result, all he had here was only security; there was nothing to fear.
They were halfway through and came across twin tamarind trees and a pond. They ate fresh mungbeans from the fields and drank water from the pond. Hanumantu climbed the tamarind tree and picked a few fruits. Probably it rained one or two days before. The black dirt was wet. At a distance on the west side, they could see the Anantaram mountains and the setting sun on the horizon. The sky looked like a color picture with sravana month clouds. Probably there was no favorable atmosphere for an individual to open up. As they kept walking Ramakrishna kept talking about umpteen things with his friends—from the marbles game they played as children to his present job. As he talked he felt light, as if a huge burden was lifted off his chest. Mutyalu told him about lot of things—the changes that took place in the village, marriages, disputes, elopements, deaths, and produce on the farm. For Ramakrishna some of them were relevant and some irrelevant.
Suddenly, Hanumantu started to sing a poem from the play, pandavodyagam, “For whatever reason, the pandavas forgave the insults they’ve suffered, mother was gone, and I’m here, at their request, to mediate with you.” He has a resounding voice.
“Ha, ha, ha,” Mutyalu laughed.
“Why are you laughing?” Hanumantu asked him.
“It is not talli but tolli, meaning past is past, not mother was gone.”
“Never mind. Let him sing,” Ramakrishna said. He was also feeling the excitement.
“That’s why his wife ran away. She couldn’t stand his singing,” Mutyalu said, laughing.
“Go away, idiot! Didn’t Lakshminarsu’s wife run away too? Let’s see if you can sing,” Hanumantu challenged him. It didn’t seem like he was humiliated by the fact that his wife ran away; not worried that it was open for public discussion. Probably it was not an ego issue for him.
Mutyalu unwound the towel around his head, shook it off vigorously and wound it around his head again. He said, “Be ready,” and cast sidelong looks at Ramakrishna.
“Couldn’t figure out – it was for gongura
I couldn’t figure out – for gongura
The cunning idiot – for gongura”
There was a time when Ramakrishna considered the song lewd. Now it sounded like a natural expression of a thought. After Mutyalu finished his song, Ramakrishna remembered one song he sang long time ago. Involuntarily the song came out of his mouth.
“You have nobody, ‘n so am I.
Let’s float away on a boat
Let’s go, my handsome!”
His voice sounded new and strange even to himself. Yet, his heart was immersed in the song as he sang out loud. It was like he was being released from a prison somewhere. The voice that resonated so many tunes during his childhood has now, after moving to the city, was closed shut. It was so awkward anytime he tried even to hum the tune at shops, in buses, and at work. To tell the truth, it is not the song that was awkward. What is awkward is the present day civilization that stifled the music. The modern lifestyle that does not open up freely—that’s what’s awkward.
As soon as Ramakrishna finished, Mutyalu hugged him. “You must come to our village like this often and we all must sing happily.”
Tears welled up in Ramakrishna’s eyes. The touch. The human touch. Human beings are here. Despite the hatred and jealousy here, there are also people who are capable of loving. He is not scared of life here.
“I won’t spare you, Ramakrishna! You will be …” The bald-headed Editor flashed in his mind.
“I would tell him Go away, idiot!” Ramakrishna thought. They walked past the cactus patch. Ramakrishna’s feet started hurting. He was not used to walking like that. There was a lake at a stone’s throw distance, woman’s lake. Nobody knows why it was called woman’s lake. Nevertheless, it was the same lake it was twenty-five years back sporting the huge tumma trees, brimming with water, spread-out, and noisy with crows and cranes, as if waiting for him. He heard a bird fly away cooing. Thullur was visible at a distance down at the other end of the shoreland. There was a time when he ducked school and swam stark-naked in this very lake with his friends Mutyalu and Hanumantu.
“Mutyalu, shall we swim in the lake?” he asked suddenly.
“Swim? Now? It’s getting late. Aren’t we supposed to be at the wedding?” Mutyalu said.
“Who cares,” Ramakrishna replied.
“What about your new clothes?” Hanumantu asked.
The lake is inviting him. Nature is inviting him. All his education and sophistication are false. The dog’s life of job is false. Only this Nature is real; the Nature comprised of clouded sky, and the fields of black soil, rain drops, the little bird, the tree and the lake under the sky are real. Come out of all that illusion, pain, low self-esteem, humiliation and insecurity! Open the door! Open the heart! Open sesame!
Ramakrishna tore open his shirt, dropped his pants, T-shirt, and underwear; he removed everything, all of a sudden. He jumped into the full current of the waters. Mutyalu and Hanumantu were taken aback, looked at him and then they also entered the waters. Mutyalu wistled excitedly.
Cool waters embraced Ramakrishna and touched each and every part of his body. The touch, the touch of Nature! His heart was peaceful, happy, and relaxed; unagitated and untarnished; it was bare and it was natural. He kept moving his hands and legs freely, as if redeeming himself gradually as he moved in the waters, like a wave amidst the waves. He went on swimming for a very long time.
(The Telugu original, sagam tericina talupu, was published in “Suprabhatam weekly,” July 12, 1998. Author’s permission is gratefully acknowledged.
Translated by Nidadavolu Malathi and published on thulika.net, April 2004.)
 A woodburning stove used for cooking at homes usually is a semi-circular wall with three bumps on top for holding the dish steady.
 A traditional practice.
 A popular stage play in which Krishna approaches the Kaurava King, Duryodhana, and requests him to settle for peace. The great war took place after this mediation failed.
 A kind of leaf. The lines are part of a popular folksong, somewhat bawdy.