Me& the Kodava Mapila

January 2016, just 10 days after coming back from India, I was going again to India as my brother was unwell… It’s been two decades since I traveled by Kuwait Airways… they had started a direct flight to Bangalore lately. Departure from Gate No.8 in the basement.. it was crowded… a group of Indians were returning from Omrah… strangely majority of them were coughing… as if there was a coughing competition. Like some times during the rainy season when a group of frogs starts croaking in one location, the minute it stops the sound from another batch in another place will start as if they are in to Olympic size competition. Same way they coughed nonstop… Then magically a lady, new comer who just came at the same time as me started coughing… instant transferring of coughing… Wow so much so I started regretting that I was making a trip by KAC as I was afraid that I would be carrying the transferring-cough to the hospital with me making everyone sick including my brother. But I had no choice but to wait as the synchronized coughing bout continued.

Finally, we reached the aircraft to be waiting yet again for another hour or so as the conveyer belt had some problem. Thanks to whatsapp, I spent that extra hour messaging my family voicing my fear about transferring-cough. The lady who caught the cough at the airport was sitting next to me & started complaining how she got the cough. In the meantime the gentleman who was on the other side of the isle who was also going home from Saudi was trying to assure me that it’s not contagious & they drank chilled water in the cold weather which effected their throat. I had no comments… I was stressed.. tired & too worried about what must be happening back home?

The woman next to me spoke nonstop during the flight, with breaks to cough every now & then… baffling me with her personal history. An adventure par excellence & beyond imagination, one of the most fascinating persons I have ever met! To my utter surprise she was an illiterate shepherdess, who never stepped into a classroom in her life!! Spending 6-1/2 hour with her was like a life time… In return all that she wanted from me was to fill her information in the immigration form… and point to her where to sign & assist her to talk to the custom office when landed regarding the 32” TV which she was carrying with her!! But the world she opened around me was infinite.

Still coughing in synchrony, most of the passengers slept off after the meal…. Somewhere in between I heard someone talk in a strange Kodava-dialect.. I thought I imagined it & ignored. After a while I heard again but I could not get up & look as it was dark… after the dinner the lights were off… anyway we landed in Bangalore late… While getting up I saw this lady wearing manly-looking, shiny gold-rings in 3-fingers.. just joked with her so you got a new ring… wow.. nice… in English… she gave me a weak smile without answering back but her husband from behind said yes.. in Riyadh… then I picked up a conversation & learnt that they were from Kodagu & 35 of them went to Omrah as part of a group … When I understood who they were, it was a strange feeling… while growing up I had heard of them but never really bothered to find or talk to them as there was simply no need & the priorities were different then.

They were a gang of Kodava-Mapillas, the progenies of Tippu’s malice…… who are still known as Kodava-Mapillas in Kodagu, speak the language (though with a slightly different accent/dialect) but their ways, life style & behavior were different… clothing was different.. Ironically they still have clan names too… I had such mixed feelings…after all, we shared the same DNA in a different past yet we were poles apart… somewhere inside my heart, it pinched me… I know its history yet I wondered what if it did not happen all those years ago.. what if maniac Tippu’s father never came hitch-hiking to India? Perhaps I would have known some of them personally, some of them may have been my relatives. {as a small community which does not allow inter-marriages, the whole community is somehow distantly related to each other.} I would have spent time with them & enjoyed their company. So many if & buts… it was a far-cry & a question which will never have answers…. I couldn’t even imagine myself fitting into their shoes…

According to Indian belief the “runau-bandha” (there is no equivalent word in English… the unexplained relationships something like unseen & unwritten DNA), lasts for 7-lives… doesn’t expire even when the physical body expires!! There was this elderly lady & a middle aged man was helping her out… he said it was his aunt. When I reached the escalator they were in front of me & the man was trying to convince her to go with him… waited for a minute or so & offered to help her… that man left her hand immediately & moved forward, the lady did not put her feet down properly & along with her I too fell down on the escalator… perhaps God was watching as both of us were unhurt.. Finally we ended on top of the escalator & I requested one of the guys around to arrange for a wheelchair for the lady. Later found them near the luggage area again & spoke to them …to make sure the old lady now on wheelchair was safe & comfortable. Our acquaintance ended there… it was a strange feeling… it had been a long stressful day from the time I heard about my brother early morning… meantime so much had happened in a different way.. I met so many people & learnt so much about the life.. When we landed something strange happened, which perhaps even Mr. Ripley can’t find an answer… all of a sudden everyone stopped coughing!! LoL it just vanished into thin air of Namma-Bengaluru.

Forcible conversion is a funny thing… a cruel joke, treating humans like lifeless objects without any personality… Gold can be converted to bangle, chain, necklace, ring, etc… but the gold always remains the same only it’s shape & quality changes. I remember whenever we twisted & turned while explaining or doing something, my mother would say.. if you take the food straight from the plate (Indian enjoy eating with hand) it will go to your mouth… supposed you take your hand (with the food) around your head & eat, it still the food goes to your mouth… so speak straight! Similarly whether one convert or not the physical body does not alter, the body function does not alter, DNA remains the same… perhaps all that happens is the way they dress, food/drink habits & change in praying style.. but the prayer will be still towards the same God… only thinking process differs. People cannot alter God. God does not belong to anyone and we belong to God and it is the ultimate fact of life. God is beyond anyone’s perception or reach unless one becomes a real human in deed & thinking… Feel sorry for those pathetic, purposeless, sadist salesmen of God who acts like a monkey who is given charge of maintaining the beautiful garden. No matter how much hungama one creates to prove their religion or faith is better than others they will not be born or created differently… they will not eat or bring out the waste product differently. They cannot progenate differently.. That’s how it meant to be because God is only one… that’s the first second & the third fact!!

 

 

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