Usha Mani



Usha Mani




5 mins

Ammavan was waiting when Bharathan reached his house. The train journey from Chennai to Kollam was pleasant. The rains had brought the temperature down considerably. The bus ride from Kollam to this little village near the sea was bracing.

Ammavan smiled, “Come Bharatha. Was the train on time? You were able to catch a bus immediately?”

Both of them walked through the wildly laid out garden, into the house.

After a bath, Bharathan joined him at the small dining table. Mahadeva Ammavan was Bhrathan’s mother’s brother. The Post Master in this small village. A man loved by the villagers. He was never married. A long-ago-failed-love-affair had left him a bachelor of fifty-five years and odd. His love was his garden, which he never pruned. Everything grew wild and he pulled out only the weeds. It looked like a lovely forest-in-village. His other love was Birds and there were plenty here.

Bharathan had come here to refresh himself after his second failed attempt to clear the IAS exam. He was more than intelligent - brilliant, witty, artistic and an athlete but could’nt understand why he failed !! His mother thought that a short stay with her brother would pep him up and drive away his blues.

Ammavan carefully avoided the words - IAS. Instead, he talked about the sea; his garden; the birds; the temples there and the villagers.

After two days, when Bharathan had got settled and looked rather happy, Ammavan asked him,

“Now that you are here for a while, can you help me with a little of my Office work?”

Bharathan looked at him questioningly.

Ammavan continued, “I don’t know whether you are aware. There’s something called Dead Letters.”

He explained to Bharathan.

“Now, at times, I take on the responsibility to reply to some of these letters. You know, letters written by some kids to God .. I feel sorry for these kids. At times I send them a reply, as if from God. At times I send small gifts too. It makes them happy. It makes me happy too. I feel that there’s some meaning in my life…”

Bharathan looked at this side of his Ammavan with awe.

Ammavan continued; “ They say, Deivam Manushya Roopena…maybe it is God’s will that I do this. Past one week, I ‘ve been busy with the Onam work. Can you go through these Dead Letters for my sake? Quite a few Onam requests are here, he smiled. ”

Bharathan took the letters to the cemented base near the big pipal tree . The  people from the surrounding villages also posted their letters here and the sacks full were taken from here to Kollam by bus.

There were only a handful. They were written by a few kids asking God to give them their desired things for Onam.

Hmm…. Onam was fast approaching.

 In the night he would sit with Ammavan and talk about the letters. They picked four kids and decided to send them Onam gifts.

A couple of days saw no letters. May be kids were occupied. May be dissatisfied kids were on the wane.

Bharathan spent his time in the garden or sitting under a coconut tree near the Kaayal (a small lake like the area near the shore caused by the body of seawater), reading a book.

Then it happened.

A letter was written by one O K Keshavan. He had asked God to send a Teacher to the village, who could train students aspiring to get into Government Services!!

Bharathan was stunned.A village lad nourishing a deep desire to become an IAS Cadre! An exam he was struggling to get through. But then…luck played a great part in getting through, he thought. That was the only explanation he could give himself.

“Ammava, do grown-ups write to God too? Funny!!”

He told Ammavan about O K Keshavan’s letter.

Ammavan smiled.

“ you know, there are Temples where you express your wish in letters and tie them around some tree there or put in the bhaNNaram (hundial) . Maybe this boy inadvertently dropped it into the post box. One can only admire the faith. Without faith can things happen? ”

Bharathan was not himself. For two or three days he was immersed in deep thoughts. Pondering about the letter. There must be quite a few youths with determination and dreams, like O K Keshavan, living in the surrounding villages.

“Ammava,” he hesitated.

Mahadevan had noticed that the boy was keeping to himself for the past three or four days.

“Ammava, it just struck me…”

“Yes Kutta..tell me.”

“I was wondering whether I could settle here and train kids for a nominal fee to prepare them for the IAS exams. And of course, any other course they’d like to.”

Mahadevan looked at him with surprise.

A small-time publisher was approached and bit notices were distributed by hand and also slid into newspapers announcing Coaching for IAS Exams; tuitions in English and few other subjects.

Eleven youngsters turned up on the specified date and Bharathan was happy. He felt that teaching was in his blood. Perhaps it was his vocation. He felt elated having discovered this. After taking down their names he went on to give them the know-how of the Course.

After everyone departed, saying they would attend the classes from the next day, Bharathan sat down. He was happy. He had never been so happy before.

There was one big question now. Where was the boy O K Keshavan who had sent an appeal to God? It was he who wanted a teacher!! It was he who triggered this whole change in Bharathan`s outlook towards Life!!!

Twenty-five kilometers away, on top of the hill in the village Oduviletha Kunnu(literally translated would mean, the Last Hill) the Nambudiri who opened the doors of the Sanctum Sanctorum in the Temple Oduviletha Kunnil Keshavan, wondered if he was seeing things.

 It appeared as if the five feet tall Vigraha had a faint smile on His face.

Oduviletha Kunnu Kesavan...O K Kesavan was indeed smiling.

Who says, miracles do not happen!!!


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