Story 6. The Mouse.


Two indigenous financiers came into my life and both left deep impressions on me. One for becoming something totally out of character and the other for his tremendous character.

This one is about the former. My readers may find it amusing.

During one year when I was about seven years old, my parents moved out of Chennai and left me with my uncle to experiment if that childless uncle would be comfortable adopting me as his own. Quite a normal happening in India. That experiment was a failure due to no fault of either my uncle or aunt, but that story is for another day. My aunt was a teacher in a nearby school where I was enrolled.

Ilangovan was my classmate in that school. He was from the Chettiar community from Chettinad. His parents expected him to study well and become a modern young man and put him into that school because it was well known and had a hostel facility. By the time I met him he had already studied in the school for three years staying in the hostel. He was my classmate only for one year as I got transferred out to another school on my parents’ return to Chennai at the end of that one year.

Ilangovan was a shy and mousy character. Since he was mousy, his name got converted to Eli. Eli in Tamil means mouse. He never liked it but had to bear with it as by nature he just was not the disputing type. Like other such children, he was subject to much teasing by the others in the class and the hostel.

I lost track of Eli till many years later when I was working in Chennai in the early sixties and bumped into him a few times in restaurants and movie houses. He was still studying but in college and staying in the college’s hostel. He had become a handsome young man and was a little more confident of himself than he was in school. He would share a coffee and a smoke with me and express his envy that I was not studying and was independent whereas his parents were keen for him to study up to a Master’s Degree.

I left Chennai in 1965 and had no contact with Eli till 1988, almost a quarter century later.

I was flying home to Bangalore from Chennai and was at the departure hall awaiting the call for the flight when Eli kind of sidled up to me and tentatively asked if it was me. I recognised him immediately and greeted him effusively. Eli very firmly told me not to call him Eli in public particularly because he had some other people accompanying him. During that brief meeting I was able to gather that he had joined his father’s business of money lending. He was personally handling the financing to film producers in South India.

After exchanging visiting cards we promised to be in touch with each other. I wrote down my residential address for him on the back of the visiting card and he promised to visit me when he was next in Bangalore.

About a month later, I was in bed reading at about 9.30 pm when the door bell rang. We were staying in a big bungalow then and I had to come downstairs and open the door perfectly willing to let fly some expletives if it turned out to be one of my mischievous friends, to find Eli standing there with a big grin on his face. He was reeking of colon and whisky and looked somewhat like this.

I invited him in when he turned around to talk to another person standing there. Obviously a body guard, that man did not like to be told to go and wait in the car parked outside the compound. I intervened and said that the car could be brought inside the driveway and took Eli inside.

Eli wanted me to go out with him to have some more fun and frolic and would not take no for an answer. I went back upstairs, changed into some street clothes, told Urmeela about the development and came down to go out with Eli. When we came near his car was when I discovered that there were two women sitting on the rear seat. Obviously some film extras, almost asleep while being seated. I took Eli back inside the house and firmly told him that I was not interested and that he should go for his fun and games on his own, by which time Urmeela came down to see what was going on. I introduced the two of them to each other and all life went out of Eli. He paid his respects and took leave of both of us and scooted.

He called me on the telephone the next morning and let fly some choice expletives and said that I had embarrassed him by taking him back inside and introducing him to Urmeela. I quietly listened to him, and told him that I was not in the same league as he was in and asked him not to bother me ever again.

I haven’t heard from him since then, but discovered through some other sources that he is no longer in Chennai and has disappeared from view.

The Mouse had become a Tiger and then performed the vanishing trick.

12 thoughts on “Story 6. The Mouse.”

  1. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, Ramana: To me your reaction seems a little harsh.

    Other than that, this minute I am standing on a chair. As is expected of a woman in presence of a mouse. Yes, poor Eli. Can’t be fun for a man to be called after a rodent. At least he wasn’t a rat. Their tails are naked.

    Ursula recently posted..Pass me a lemon

    1. Harsh? I was not and am still not in that league Ursula, It is a rarefied atmosphere where the only smell is of money and decadence. No, not for me at all. Despite impressions to the contrary, I am as square as they come.

  2. I am often struck how similar your cultural artifacts can be to the west on one hand and so dissimilar on the other. I suspect the British influence causes the former and the latter are real differences. Also as these tales continue the strength of your personality is revealed more and more. You are a strong-willed, highly principled fellow with a number of lines drawn deeply in the sand. You have a firm grasp of who you are and live your life accordingly. I am envious of that.

  3. i am very partial to little mice. but only of the real fur and whiskers kind.
    i do not like men who are still mice masquerading as would be lions.
    i admire you for not ‘going along.’
    many western men … i only said many … certainly not all or even most … would think they had ‘something to prove’ and would perhaps have gone along.
    you’re a tall man rummy. in every way.
    with hugs and admiration.
    ps… i wonder what he would have become had he been named . . .
    oh. . . i don’t know . . . perhaps john wayne? LOL!!!
    these stories of yours are wonderful!
    tammyj recently posted..a pontificating peanut break!

  4. Dear uncleji,

    I was searching for a reply button for your post – Feb 2013.
    Gratitude. but could not find one…

    I am late for a comment! Anyways…. I visited your about page to check about the Novel, I am bother you for…. and today too visited the page. In one of the earlier comments I had give you a plot (may be a stupid one) on which you can write the novel

    Ok you have any me as one of the character 😀
    Character description – serious, thoughtful and confused and ambitious and demanding and whatever you know me as 😉 Just kidding

    As usual I am waiting for the novel and earlier visited your about page for that update only
    KRD Pravin recently posted..Give up Dominion

    1. There is no reply button on that post because I have programmed my comments to shut down after three weeks of publication to prevent spamming.

      Pravin, I simply do not have the motivation to write a novel. I am quite satisfied with my blogging.

      I shall certainly take you up on your offer to use you as a character in one of my stories here. Again, it is a challenge to write an intriguing story.

  5. Hey Rummy,

    What a story! This is a classical example of how our school friends do not always match us as adults. I think we all have some examples of this in our personal lives.
    I will tell you one thing, though: the signs were there; especially when you met at the airport.

    I missed you, Rummy.

    Max Coutinho recently posted..Equality Is a Fallacy

    1. Welcome back Max. I have missed you too. Oh yes, no doubt about that. At the airport it was obvious that he was a very different man to the one I had known as a college student. The extent to which character had changed became obvious at our last meeting and the subsequent telephone call.

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