Naranathu branthan

My father normally comes in the morning and it was already way past lunch time. We don’t have a clock in Chengannur house and so I asked Ammachi
“Ammachi, What time is it?”
She looked outside and told me
“must be about 1 pm.”
“How can you tell the time without a clock Ammachi?
“Experience Nina”
“Will you teach me how to tell the time without a clock?”
“For what?, When you are older you get a watch and you can check the time on your watch”.
I was not in a mood to argue with her. I was worried that my father hasn’t come home yet. I was worried that something terrible has happend at home.

Ammachi made chakkapuzhukku (boiled jackfruit with coconut and chilli). I helped her to transfer the chakkapuzhukku to a serving bowl. We heard the sound of bus stopping at the junction and we went to the veranda to see if Appa is coming.
The monsoon has given us a temporary respite. It was a bright day.
I saw people walking on the bund road. Most of them coming home after the sunday church service. Women were walking fast, so they could start cooking the lunch.Little kids were still wearing their white scarf on their head. Some of the men used the black umbrella and the others used the bible as a shield to preotect their face from the sun. My father wasn’t in the group that disembarked from the bus.
“Nina, come, let us go and eat our lunch”. Ammachi told me
“No Ammachi, I will wait for Appa”
“He hasn’t come home yet, and there has to be a reason why he is late. But there is no reason why you should stay hungry” She told me
I looked at her trying to figure out what exactly she meant. My mother waits for my father everyday, even when she had a fight with him. She never eats before Appa eats. So are all my aunties and cousins.
Ammachi walked to the kitchen and told me, “come and eat and I will tell you the story of Naranthu Branthan(lunatic from Naranam)”.
“Who is Naranathu branthan?” I asked her
“He is Chackochan’s older brother!”
“What?, you really mean Chackochan’s older brother is mad?”
“No, Nina I was just kidding. But Chackochan and Naranathu branthan have one thing in common, both were mad as mad can be”
Chakki was laughing hearing Ammachi speak about Chackochan.
“Why are you laughing Chakki?” Ammachi asked her
“Just like that Ammachi.”
“Hmmm, another sign of madness, laughing without a reason”. Ammachi told her.
Chakki winked at me, and I knew she was laughing because she knows Ammachi and Chackochan are in love.
I follwed her to the kitchen. Chakki had already set the table. Three steel plates, 2 glass tumblers and 1 steel tumbler filled with water taken from the earthen pot. When I saw the three plates on the table, I felt guilty. I didn’t want to eat without my father. It just wasn’t right.
Ammachi started to eat the chakkapuzhukku (boiled jackfruit with coconut) and it smelled good. I was tempted and hungry. Finally I decided to eat as well. I mixed my chakkapuzhukku with buttermilk curry and ate. It was really tasty. I took a second serve. Ammachi took some chakkapuzhukku and placed it in Appa’s plate. She took some for herself, gave me some more and passed the rest to Chakki
“Call your husband and eat, when it is hot.”
Chakki went out to call Kutten.
Ammachi started her story.
“Naranathu branthan(lunatic from Naranam) was mad. He didn’t have the normal madness. he didn’t stand at the bus stop to scare people. He didn’t steal food. He cooked his own food, whereever and whenever he felt.”
“How did her get the food?”
“He begs for the food and because he belonged to the high class, people often gave him food”.
“But that wasn’t the only thing he did. Every morning he would push a huge rock up a steep hill. The rock was really big and heavy. But he wasn’t worried. he would struggle and struggle pushing the heavy rock up the hill. Most of the time, the rock fell down and rolled over Naranathu branthan. But he never gave up. He pushed and pushed and by sunset he would reach the top of the hill.”
“Tell me, what do you think Naraanathu branthan did with the rock?” Ammachi asked me.
“He built something?”
“No, he didn’t, he would bring the rock that he struggled to push up the hill, to the edge of the steep hill and drop the rock. He would laugh watching the rock rolling and tumbling down the hill”
“Why did he do that Ammachi?”
“Because he was mad”
I stared at her, trying to grasp the deeper meaning of why exactly Naranathu branthan did that.
“Nina, he was trying to teach us something. We do everything for nothing. You wait for your father without eating your lunch. Probably the bus tire would have had a puncture and while waiting for the repair, your father would have eaten something. Even if he didn’t, you by staying hungry, wouldn’t diminish his hunger. So you are staying hungry for nothing”
“Then why do women wait for their husband to come home before they eat?”
“Because they are mad like Naranathu branthan”.
“No, Ammachi, they do it because they love their husband.”
Ammachi shook her head.”No, Nina, just because you waited for your husband to eat your lunch even when he is very late, you don’t love him. You love your husband because you want to love him.”

naranathu branthan

32 thoughts on “Naranathu branthan

  1. wonderful post…i now realize why you hold your grandma so close to your heart!!!

    have u heard the poem of naaranathu bhranthan by madhusoodhanan nair??? it was such a big hit in kerala…just like any film song. every kid knew the first few lines of the poem though we didnt have to study it!!!

    isnt it just awesome…if not for the net i would never have read these stories…there is another site i stumbled abt 2 years back which had a lot of tales from kerala history…i forget now the name…when i recollect i’ll send it to u.

  2. So true, waiting for nothing, he will still love you even if you eat before him. I love all those stories your ammachi told you. I wish i had an ammachi like that.My grandparents dies before I was born.

  3. Lg: I am stuck between the two.. Would it matter, if you are hungry and ate the food, when your husband is late? Would he love you more if you waited? Would you love hin more because you waited?

    Jiby: I haven’t read tht poem! and what film song?.
    Can you send me a link to the poem?

    Thanu: U know another lesson he tried to teach was.. abt toiling dawn to dusk and not enjoying..We are all busy saving for tomorrow and that tomorrow may never come

    Alexis: true.. she was remarkable.. may be a feminist??

    Maya: I think life taught me.. what she tied to teach me.. I didn’t agree to her then..but now i am pretty sure..that we do things for nothing!

    Starrynights: her name was Thangamma.. and i am sure she is smiling..knowing that many people love her!

  4. Naranathu Bhranthan is arguably our biggest mystic.There is this very famous story about him,
    he was sitting by the fire in a cremation yard (his abode at night) and Bhadrakali appears before him.After exchanging a few words the usually angry goddess is impressed.She forces him to ask for anything he desires.

    He asks her to tranfer the ‘manthu’ (elephantiasis) from his left foot to right.

    he tries to teach us how simple life can be without desires…water bubble.

    nice post !!

  5. To me it is simple Sarah. If I am making lunch or dinner, I wait until the last person is finished and done to have mine. My husband hates me waiting for him, he teases me saying, “Oh! oru sheelavathi” :). But somehow it makes me feel good to stay hungry for him. I dont want to eat food, when he is staying hungry. I think we get this from our Mom’s. I dont think you plus or minus love by this gesture. Honestly,I would love if someone waited for me,but that never happens :-). Although I would scold the person who waited for me, in my heart, I feel a little happy. I think we express love,the way we want to be loved.

  6. my only funda.. eat when you are hungry!!.. waiting is a period plus or minus for freinds thats all.. otherwise.. just thul like anything..

  7. “No, Nina, just because you waited for your husband to eat your lunch even when he is very late, you don’t love him. You love your husband because you want to love him.”

    Brilliant Sarah, those words have wisdom and love written all over it. Salute your words Ma’am

  8. I have heard this from my granny always that…women should not eat before the men of the family….but my dad always told my mom to eat when its time to eat..rather than waiting and causing sickness…so I lived a very practical and logical life…! But yes..this post reminded me of my granny 🙂
    Hey I love that chakkapuzhukku…:)

  9. u waited for ur dad without having Chakkappuzhukku???!!!!!!!!!

    i go sit right under the ceiling fan so that i won’t hav to wait till it gets cold 😉

  10. What you have written in the comments section is so full of are just too right on about this.
    I don’t cook,I don’t slave,I eat when I want and I don’t feel guilty when fingers are pointing at me.After all,It’s my life.I don’t let my emotions mix in with my day to day eating or anything else.they never think twice about what we wait for.It’s like that.

  11. usually, i enjoy food when i’ve company..talking,enjoying & eating kind.. but not when i’m that time, no force can stop me.ammachi’s naaranathu branthan simile was superb..

  12. BVN: thank you..I remember, the reason Kali offered to grant him a wish was because he outwitted her..and his first wish was to change the time of his death and Kali said she can’t do that.. then he asked to change the manthu from one foot to another.. Don’t you think that was to show Kali that she has no power and he has no desires?

    lg: I wish someone ever waited for me…

    Sujit: eat when you are hungry eh?

    YASJ: Ammachi is gone.. I am still around

    Dhanush: Do you think so?

    Heart of gold: She puzzled me always..on one had I wasn’t allowed to climb a tree, on the other hand I was told, just because you ate before your husband/father, the world wouldn’t end..

    Jiby: oru rakshayum illa.. kadicha pottatha malayalam aa..oru chukkum manassilayilla..pandathe english bible ormaa varunnu..thou shall..type

    Dawn: Your dad was remarkable

    Best days: That too is true.. how we used to wish the food gets cooled fast..ammachi would say”avuvolam ninu, eni vevuvolam kathoode.. was it the other way around?

    maya: for centuries we have been taught to do things.. that made no sense to me..

    Flyaway mind: true.. eat when you are hungry

    Displaced mallu: thank you for visiting my blog and thank you for the poem.. My favourite would be the malayalam song”oru vattam koodiyen ormakal meyunna”.. That song can take me instantly to Chengannur and to my grandmother.. No other song has ever done that to me!!

    Jac: Me too.. don’t you think I hv too??

  13. no disputing you…thats the exact story …though i liked the ‘manthu’ part of it 🙂

    i’m putting a link to yr page in mine,let me know

    (deleted prvs comment to typo)

  14. I Love Munich: thank you.. she must be smiling!!!

    YSAJ: that was a very nice thought.. I didn’t think tht way and thank you for telling me tht

    BVN: no problem(link)
    Ammachi and I argued on tht part of the story.. Finally we agreed to disagree. She said NB asked to change the manthu because he has no desire and I feel it was to show are a mighty goddess, but you can’t even change my death time..I have no use for you”.. wht do you say?

  15. i’d read the story in eithihyamala..kottarathil sankunni’s…what i thought was Kali had to grant some wish as she’d said so…and the death time thing she couldn’t give…and our dude wouldnt ask for anything else

    i think kali might have started crying then saying “enthenkilum chodikku Mr.Bhranthan …please”

    even at the height of lunacy,one cant see a girl cry..right…thats real tough and our dude would have asked the second wish….

    lunacy 🙂

  16. I think one brother (or step brother) of Naranathu BRanthan was Peruntachan the ace architect. There was a maovie based on him written by MT Vasudevan Nair and starring Thilakan

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