‘Where are you going, amma?”
“To meet a big professor”.
“Its getting dark”, said my seven year old son, Mathew. “Shall I come with you?”
“Sure, if you can get ready in five minutes”. An instinctive gentleman, a truly chivalrous young man, I thought. Hope he remains that way always, I prayed ruefully.
“How big is this professor, amma?’?
I’d meant important but if this is what he understood - - -Well. I’ll pull a fast one on him, I decided.
“He’s very tall, taller than Monichayan uncle”.
Mathew stopped in his tracks; his jaw dropped; eyes became the size of saucers and he breathed,”My God, Monichayan uncle is 6’3”. This professor is taller?"
I nodded in agreement.
“Oh my God’, muttered my son. His eyes still remained the saucer size.
A moment’s silence and then, “Is he fat?”
“You remember that fat man in the movie into whose backside Mohanlal poked an injection needle?”
He had stopped again and was looking up at me with bated breath, in utter amazement.
“Hna“, he grunted, his eyes fixed on my face, his breath suspended as he waited for me to continue.
“Well”, I said nonchalantly ‘He is fatter than him”
Mathew stood there absolutely immobile, looking up at me, his eyes growing larger still, his jaws almost hitting his knees. Then I noticed that his eyes were turning glassy, and as he turned to walk, his hand sneaked into mine.
“His voice is gruff”, I volunteered”Like a bear’s”
He nodded silently. I smiled to myself as I felt his grip tightening.
A dark blue Ambassador car went by. “And Mathew”, I said, “He is that colour”.
He didn’t speak a word till we reached the professor’s house.
I rang the door bell. Mathew’s face looked like he was about to enter a zoo which had a much publicized rare and dangerous animal.
The door opened and a little boy, a little bigger than Mathew, opened the door.
“Gurukal Sir here?” I asked the boy who apparently was his son.
“Please sit down. I’ll call him”, said the boy and went inside.
“Does he have lots of kurukkal (carbuncle) on his face?” Mathew whispered in my ear. Apparently, he hadn’t heard the name Gurukkal.
“SHHH”, I cautioned.
Both of us waited. I took a sidelong glance at him. His fists were clenching and unclenching... The eyes had returned to their normal size as he waited with bated breath.
The professor came in.
“Good evening sir", I said rising.
“Good Evening", he said in his soft, pleasant voice and lowered his 5ft 7inches, slim frame into the sofa.
“Who is this young man?” Dr. Gurukal asked, a smile spreading across his pleasant fair face.
"My son", I said looking at Mthew.
I then realized that my son was waiting for the “big" professor to make his appearance.
“Mathew", I said, “this is the Professor I was telling you about”.
Suddenly, Mathew’s jaw dropped. This time it nearly hit the floor. His eyes, which had abruptly reverted to the saucer size, darted from me to the prof, perhaps, 500 times in the space of a minute. The expression on his face – how does one describe it? Well, you can imagine what it’d be like when shock, disbelief, utter disappointment, amusement and anticlimactic feelings battle it out on a seven year old human face which is under the compulsion of appearing normal and polite and well behaved.
Did I see Dr. Gurukal looking at him in a puzzled manner? I can’t be sure.
I was in the Prof’s house for 10 minutes. Through the corner of my eyes, I could see Mathew’s small frame being shaken by occasional paroxysms of laughter which the marvelous boy kept under iron control.
As the door of his house shut behind us, my son doubled up and dissolved into a hysteria of merriment.
Ps. Dr. Rajan Gurukkal is the Vice Chancellor of MG University now. My son is in the final stage of his effort to earn the title of Doctor in his field of research.