Thursday, August 26, 2010


Far back in my childhood this word Appan Cheyal was always linked with my name. I don’t remember how this started or why! All I remember is that my elder brother as well as my eldest ‘Athimbar’ (my eldest sister’s husband) had chosen the man with this nickname for me to marry.

This nickname belonged to one Mahadeva Iyer. He was related to my eldest sister by marriage. He was a widower and was very rich. He was the wealthiest person of that time, owning acres of agricultural land all over the area he belonged to. He was a very God-fearing man and with every breath used to utter these two words ‘Appan cheyal’ which meant ‘God’s will’. That is how he got the nickname.

He life style was like that of a zamindar, and as any zamindar of that era he was always well turned out with gold ‘Kadukkan’ (solid gold earrings), gold ‘kappu’ (solid gold bangle), a thick gold chain with a ‘Rudhraksham’ encased in gold round his neck and a walking stick with a solid silver handle. This description was given to me by my brother and brother-in-law telling me that he was the one chosen by them to be my husband, adding that he was not that old. His being sixty and me six the age difference was a mere zero, they teased. Here my memory does not help me so I cannot say how I reacted to this teasing.

By and by my brother started adding to this saying that our parents wouldn’t have to spend too much on my wedding. Appan cheyal being a rich man he would not demand anything from my father. But to send me to my in-laws’ place empty-handed would not be right, my brother added. So he would say that I would get as dowry my mother’s old silver, bronze and brass utensils, my mother’s equally old steel trunk, which was given to her on her marriage, and my parents’ old double cot – which had been pensioned off a few years back.

As I grew older I became aware of the teasing and its meaning. I started to resent it which only added to their teasing. My brother came out with a slogan repeating it whenever we came face to face. My sisters and even my mother enjoyed the slogan very much.

The slogan went like this

Engathu Lalithavuku kalyanam
Kottumelam kovililey
Avaravar athiley sappad
Vettilai pakku kadailey

 This meant
"Our Lalitha is getting married
The nagaswaram is played in the temple
Every one eats in his own home
And gets the betel leaves and nuts from the shop."

This teasing went on till I was ten years old, when my brother left home and went to Benares for higher studies.

Years passed and soon it was time for me to get married. It was my brother who went to Thrissur to meet my to be in laws and fix up everything with them Coming back from Thrissur he told me that he was sure that I would be very happy in the alliance.

Contrary to all the teasing my marriage was a grand affair with all the elite of our place attending the function. In those days a wedding was graded by two items, the nagaswara vidwan and the caterer. The nagaswaram was played by the then famous Ambalappuzha Brothers and the caterer was the famous Karamanai Appu.

Only one of my brother’s teasings came true. World War II had just ended before my wedding. There was a scarcity of many essential things. The availability of goods was also very rare and if available the prices were sky high. Because of this, I was given as my dowry the family’s silver and other utensils.

 And as my brother had told me I had a happy married life.


Anonymous said...

"His being sixty and me six the age difference was a mere zero, they teased."


Viji said...

Oh Ma what a sweet tale and how much your brother loved you : )
Wonder what Babuji is asking you in that most wonderful the bestest photograph ever of the two of you ?
Maybe something like teasing you with "So ? wishing you had married Appan Cheyal?"

Meenakshi said...

I am able to recollect Ammai, Angichi Periamma,Athimbar and TVM Manni talking about this and even reciting the verse during my Lakshmi Nivas visits from Alleppey. Anyway, made very interesting reading.

Sarumann said...

I loved reading this story.

That verse is too funny!

God's Happy Foot Soldier said...

Dear Maiji and Viji Amma,
Reading this blog post was most amusing and took me to the Malgudi Days episodes aired on TV when I was a child. Seemed to be one out of the same ilk.
The subtle humor in the story makes for a pleasant reading. Appan Cheyal indeed :-) Please write more of these.

flowergirl said...

Did my pa-in-law accompany the groom?! He claims so! We need verification!!

Natarajan said...

Lalitha Chithi
We enjoyed reading it very much. I remember appa & amma telling us in our younger days about this tale.
The photo is superb.
keepi going

Anonymous said...

nice one
raja vasanta

Sketch Gurl said...

Very amusing story and interesting narration!

Meena said...

This picture is so sweet,kind of captures the mood.

You will let me know what the joke was all about some day .

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Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...


yeshwanthi said...

Dear Maiji,

I came across your blog as I was doing research on Pondicherry in the 60's and 70's.
I was hoping to get in touch with you, but could not find an email id or any contact information.
My email id is
I look forward to hearing from you.

Yeshwanthi said...

I read really much useful data here!

Ashok Ahuja said...

i thoroughly enjoy reading your musings, respected Maiji...they are so delightful & interesting..please keep them coming, as often as possible.