The Chandy chronicles

The Chandy chronicles

A major part of my childhood was spent in a small rented house on a narrow street in Madras. Like normal children, we had our share of gully cricket and football but our favourite pastime was to scale a wall and sneak into a nearby lodge full of mango trees.

Armed with catapults, we would aim for the juiciest mangoes and the moment one of us brought down a fruit, we would let out a collective yelp of joy and that was when Mr Chandy would enter the scene.

Chandy was a giant oak of a man, well over six feet tall, with a bulbous nose, beefy arms and a beer belly hanging out like a clothesline. He was also the owner of the property that we trespassed on a regular basis. But the most intimidating part was the long stick that he inevitably wielded to discipline those like us — intruders out to plunder his orchard and vamoose with the loot.

The very sight of Chandy rushing out of his house and heading in our direction would send us scampering on all sides, trying our level best to stay out of harm’s way. Not all of us had enough time at our disposal to scale the wall as Chandy, despite his portly frame, could outrun a cheetah chasing a deer for lunch. To make matters worse, he could use the stick with great felicity. So just when you were halfway up the wall, the stick would come down and land on your nether cheeks with such force that it would turn you into a mass of quivering flesh.

I vividly remember a scene where one of my friends tripped and fell while Chandy was hot on his heels but Chandy, a man of principles, would not hit a person who had fallen flat on his back. Gingerly, he extended a hand to my friend, helped him up on his feet and ere he could flee, swung the stick with maximum force. The friend crumpled into a heap once more writhing in agony.

But with age, we mellowed a bit and gave up our pursuit of the ripe mangoes and turned our attention to Chandy’s attractive granddaughters Laila and Molly. This only raised Chandy’s hackles all the more as he was the sole guardian of the girls whose parents were based in Dubai where they held lucrative jobs.

But the Chandy story does not have a happy ending. One evening, after returning from college, my friends and I were about to enter the lodge when we noticed that a crowd had gathered around Chandy’s house. Very soon, we could fathom the reason for the assembling crowd.

Chandy has passed away, felled by a massive heart attack, they said. Laila and Molly stood in a corner sobbing. The long stick would never torment anyone again. But somehow, we never had the heart to scale the wall and slip into the lodge again. Perhaps, we thought that this small gesture on our part would let Mr Chandy’s soul rest in peace.

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