“As Ali Went To Napuram”

In our village during my childhood, elders used to express this diction, “as Ali went to Napuram” (Napuram was a shortened colloquial version of Nadapuram, a small town with shops, government administrative offices, courts, police station etc for the region, about 5 to 6 kms from my village, this being a walking distance as motorised transports were rare.) They narrated a story of antiquity (or a story from imagination, but surely a possibility)in connection with this.

The immensely wealthy and Socially admired landlord, Hajiyar (widely known with the word itself meaning a person who has performed Holy Haj in Mecca),
sat relaxingly on the luxurious unpolished teakwood easy chair in the long open verandah of his mansion, keeping both legs raised on the long and horizontal leg supports. On a small table beside him lay some bundles of old and torn official documents, some sort of property deeds.

Picking up from the bundles, he was scrutinizing each and every paper with some failed attempts to read and was keeping them back, some specifically on a separate fresh bundle. With intermittent belchings following the heavy and lavish dinner he had had a short time before collapsing on the chair, he was spitting out into the tall brass spittoon kept for the purpose on the floor near the chair, the dark red solution formed by the combination of saliva and the betel being chewed with arecanut and lime.

On an alert, as if remembering something instantly, Hajiyar, having taken out the solid waste of the pan from his mouth in his hand, dumped it in the spittoon and spat the remaining waste alongwith the red solution still in the mouth, yelled out in a gentle and elongated tone, “Aalee”.

Before he finished the lyric Ali, Hajiyar’s ever-together servant, appeared at a corner of the front open courtyard. Ali was top in trustworthiness, sincerity and hardworking but a very simple and humble man. Noticed, he walked towards Hajiyar along the side steps of the verandah and stood behind the large lathe shaped wooden pillar supporting the structure of red tiled roof, waiting for the order.

“You will go to Napuram in the morning”, Hajiyar spoke to him with a confirmed voice ending the order. Ali left the verandah and walked along the courtyard to the back of the mansion. Hajiyar continued his job for some more time before going to bed with the bundles in his hand, the sorted out one separately.

In the next morning as usual, Hajiyar had a very relaxing and peaceful short nap after the morning rituals and prayer. He was again relaxing on the easy chair exactly in the same pose and style with ingredients in his mouth after the heavy breakfast, when he called Ali in the same tone, “Aalee”

Ali appeared and stood behind the pillar as before. With a glance on the small bundle of old and torn documents seeming to be the sorted ones lying on his side table, Hajiyar asked in a cordial manner, “Aren’t you going to Napuram?”

“I went and came back.” Hearing the polite and self content reply from Ali, Hajiyar lost his mind for a moment.