O, ye! This is the second in the series of masterly delineations ( so, I would like to think) by the great writer ( you know who). First, Kai Pavai is Tamil and translated into English is Puppet. Now on to her description.
She is old but doesn’t look it, so vigorous is her walk. She has a low key guttural voice. She has a quick eye for sizing up people. In one glance she knew my dreaded, fiercely fighting ( hey, what is this, don’t divulge the next delineation already) neighbour guy is the powerful one to kowtow to. In another glance she knew that this thin myopic hesitant figure was to be used if not subdued.
But who is she? You want to know her identity. Much as you may, sheer cowardice prevents me from divulging it. I can disclose this much she lives in our neighbourhood.
When she moved in many years ago she arrived with great fanfare. She had a host of relatives attending on her. She even conducted a grand Grihapravesha. Unknown to her the Eye was watching. After the dust settled down by means of the aforesaid penetrating glance she discovered who the boss of the block ( self styled) was. For all her aggressiveness she is extremely clever and knew where her advantage lay. So, ever since she discovered the boss she has been his faithful puppet. He too on his part knew where his advantage lay. He knew the value of an informer. You see, he is forever alert about the threats to his empire. So he treats this informer well. He is very courteous with her, gives outward deference as it suits his image, such as he thinks he has.
In return she waylays other neighbours and cleverly extracts all their secrets from them – major and minor – by means of seemingly innocuous questions. Oh, what a consummate artist she is! Effortlessly she pours out question after question and the helpless victim simply answers them as though it were a government questionnaire. Perhaps she would be even very effective as a police interrogator. Ok, she now passes on the information to the Appropriate Authority (A.A). But what does she get in return? I am tempted to speculate.
Suspicious low creature that I am, I am tempted to think that she gets exemption from the Great Tax levied by A.A. Which we all have to pay.
Now, to more about our Kai Pavai. Kai Pavai has a large circle of elderly relatives who flock around to help her. People older and feebler are also on this list. In fact there are many to do her bidding. Did I tell you that Kai Pavai has a very pleasant and devoted junior O.L ( old lady)? This state of Kai Pavai may seem enigmatic – puppet on one side and queen on the other. However one cannot call her a puppet queen. When she is queen she is queen and when she is puppet, she is puppet. Get it?
Back to a recurrent theme – her unbounded curiosity. I remember once a close friend of ours, a lady, was visiting us. I had gone to the railway station to pick her up as my wife had gone to her office. So, when we arrived home (friend and I), the curiosity antenna was extended to the maximum. Here was a sight, wife gone to office, man bringing home a lady. What a delicious scandal.
The friend and I after alighting from the cab got into our apartment where as it was lunch time we straight away sat down to eat. We had a leisurely lunch, chatting and laughing. I think Kai pavai must have been in a real ferment. “What”? She must have thought. First, the brazen arrival and now this conversation and laughter. OMG! Is this man the ultimate Casanova? She couldn’t control herself. In no time she was at my door and then inside and then conversing with the lady to find out all about her. I don’t know whether she realised that her suspicions were unfounded! Wisely, she didn’t talk to my wife and ask her questions. If she had she would have got such a rebuff that she would have lost her job as Kai pavai for chasing wild geese!
So, friends, there she is the inimitable Kai pavai, serving her master in myriad ways. I must stop now. I can hear her listening!
Disclaimer: All the characters mentioned in this article are imaginary! No offence meant Saar!