ETWA|Ch14a: Planting Your Destiny

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Every Thing We Are is a coming of age novel where Samyukta aka Sam learns that every thing we are is not always on display. This is my first attempt at writing a novel. I started this project as part of #NaNoWriMo2020 before I fell off the wagon. Hope you will read along as I get back to writing it. All episodes of this series are available on the ETWA page. Subscribe to my writing here.

“Good evening, Sreeja!” said Mani Anna barging into the house in his usual fashion as soon as the door was opened. “Good evening, Vineeth.” Namaste, he pointed his folded hands in the general direction of Achams who was seated at the dining table.

Mani Anna was a rather portly, short man. He looked like he ate curd rice daily, which he did. In fact, he liked his staple strewn with pomegranate pearls and fried curry leaves. He was a balding man who had the poise to keep it shaved. He proudly wore a long, narrow marker of his privilege on his forehead, proclaiming to the world in vertical red not to offer him food or water even if he were dying.

He wore shirts in shocking neon pastel shades, always with a pair of black formal trousers. You knew he was out ‘on official duty’ when his shirt was inserted. At all other times, like today, he paired the same shirts casually with a pair of linen shorts. 

Mani Anna was called so not for his age but his magnanimity. Like an elder brother, he took an interest in everyone’s affairs. He was the Secretary of the apartment association. He was one of those people who walked into a room feeling that the occupants of the room owed him an explanation. All his conversations started with “yes, tell me”. He also claimed to know something about everything. His expertise spared no topic of discussion including childbirth.

Over the years, he had built himself up as the person everyone turned to regardless of the nature of their problem. He had the casual air of someone who knew that people eventually fuck things up. Once they came to him and confessed their helplessness, he would take them under his wing, find a solution and then lord it over them forever. To his mind, success was having a world full of people who owed him.

“Yes, tell me…”, he looked around triumphantly for a couple of seconds and then continued. “Here, take this ladoo from Tirupati. He will make sure you are taken care of.” He said, looking at their pooja room in silent prayer. 

“I have brought you some saplings. Plants, as you know, can change the course of your destiny. Jasmine here, brings good luck. What direction is this?”, he said walking to the balcony. “Hmm, east”, he said, orienting himself. Walking back to the plants he pointed to Sreeja. “Place this jasmine near a south-facing window.” He handed the plant over to Vineeth who promptly offered it to Sreeja. She took the sapling from him, wondering how to break the news that there was no south-facing window in the house.   

Plants, as you know, can change the course of your destiny. Jasmine here, brings good luck.

“Next we have, Aloe Vera. Obviously, it’s good for the skin”, Mani Anna gestured benevolently at Sreeja to indicate that she surely knew this and continued, “but it also has healing properties. It cleans the air and spreads positive energy. Aloe Vera can go on the balcony”. Sreeja put down the jasmine plant and accepted the Aloe Vera sapling that Vineeth was now waving at her. The trio painted a funny picture, standing in the middle of the living room, passing around saplings.    

“You must have a thulasi plant, no? Where is it?” he asked, taking a few sure steps in search before realising that he didn’t know where it was. “Actually the thulasi used to be in this balcony first. But I had it moved to the utility balcony because it wasn’t growing well”, Vineeth said sheepishly.

“Tch…tch…That’s not good. Thulasi should always face towards the south-east if you want it to heal the problems you are facing. After all this is what happens when you work with half-knowledge and let women handle things”, he said walking through the kitchen to the utility balcony. Sreeja did not have time to be offended about his statement because Mani Anna was not done yet.

“Hmm, here’s a bigger problem”, he said, stopping to look around the kitchen. “See how the sink and the stove are next to each other? This is a big clash of energies.” He opened the tap and splashed some water on the stovetop, dirtying the counter. Sreeja prayed to all her gods to give her the strength to endure his tirade.

“What is Vastu Shastra?” he looked around condescendingly at Sreeja and Vineeth. Vastu is the study of how to build off of the earth’s energies. What is the stove? Fire. What is the sink?” he paused, waiting for an answer.

“Water?” Sreeja answered tentatively. 

“Yes, you have kept opposing elements next to each other. Also you have to face east while cooking. Is that the case here? Move this fridge to the south west corner. See if you can store all your grains in the south west part of the kitchen. This is not a well-planned house. Not vastu compliant. You say you are believers but you have to pay close attention to these things.” he said with a gesture suggesting that he was doing the best he possibly could, given the options available.

“Anyway, in all this I forgot what I came here for. I came to say that I have got an appointment with guruji this weekend. He will solve all your problems.”

Thank you for reading today’s chapter. As this is the first draft of the novel, I expect a lot of changes in subsequent drafts before this goes to print. I would love to hear what you thought of this chapter and how I could make this better. Hope you will leave your tips in the comments below.

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Next Chapter | Ch14b: Planting Your Destiny

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