I still remember the first day when I left my home, nestled inside an organic farm at Kodumudi, a beautiful village on the banks of Cauvery river, to pursue a dream. Appa’s dream to be precise.
Appa had made a vow to make me a doctor on the day Amma died of snake bite. She could not get the immediate medical attention that could have saved her life. The Primary Health Centre at Kodumudi had no permanent Medical officer posted. The nearest hospital was in Erode, about 30 kilometers away.
Appa, a farmer by profession was also the Panchayat President of Kodumudi. The entire village, my school teachers, friends, were in attendance to bid me goodbye. I slid down the windows of the Contessa car and waved to the villagers, who stood in two files flanking the muddy road from our house leading to the main road. Appa drove the car slowly, absorbing the adulation with pride.
Appa was the first to own a Contessa car in Erode district. It was his most prized possession after me. Appa believed that fortunes started favouring him with the arrival of the car and used to perform a puja in the garage every morning.
The exorbitant fees of my private Medical College took a toll on Appa’s finances. By the second year, I could sense the dwindling assets of our family. Appa failed to get re-elected. Mariappa, a notorious money lender and sand mining baron became the new President of Kodumudi Panchayat
It was bad times as rain gods skipped Kodumudi for successive years. Combined with the never-ending river dispute with the neighbouring state, Kodumudi regressed from a rice bowl to a famine-stricken village. Only Mariappa prospered, grabbing the properties of most of the villagers who had defaulted his dues, including Appa’s. Now, Mariappa rode our Contessa car.
Six months later, while on duty as the Resident Medical Officer at Kodumudi Public Health Centre, our old Contessa car arrived, screeching to a halt at the Emergency ward. The attendants carried out Mariappa, who was bleeding profusely from the neck. He had been hacked by his enemies at the sand quarry.
While being stretchered, Mariappa’s eyes opened and looked at me. I could see the eyes begging for life. I examined the wound and instantly knew how lucky he was. The weapon had missed the jugular vein by a whisker.
Appa had returned from his morning walk. I went up to him and touched his feet.
Rising, I whispered into his ears “Appa, there is a surprise for you in the garage”.
Appa looked quizzically and opened the garage door. He stood there frozen.
Kodumudi market was bustling again. The rain Gods were generous this year. Cauvery was in full flow again, thanks to the Supreme court interim order for the water release. Appa parked the Contessa car, now sporting a “Doctor” sticker on the windscreen and walked with verve towards his newly opened Organic Vegetable shop in Kodumudi market.