Memory Trigger 20. Oil Bath.


In my community of Tamil Brahmins, the deepavali day starts with the lady of the house applying oil on the head of all members of the family. Everyone then goes to take a bath and comes out to partake in the festivities that would follow.

My late mother used to do this for us when we were children and after we grew up whenever she was with one of us, she would do the same. The last time that she did it for me was in 1998, the year before she bid us all goodbye.

During the mid seventies, I was posted to a company gated community where some young Management Trainees were housed in Bachelor Quarters and the ones from Tamil Nadu used to spend a lot of time in our home as ours was one of the two Tamilian homes in the compound.

One such bachelor of those days, parted company with my then employer in 1982 and dropped out of sight. Before that, I had visited him during a vacation at his home to meet his parents and have very happy memories of that visit when I was extended an amazing hospitality and gifted with a reed mat by his father which lasted for over forty years.

This friend from those days, suddenly rang me up last week after having obtained my telephone number through a very circuitous but persistent effort and threw me for a literal toss! After having caught up with all that had happened since then in our lives, we asked about verious people of mututal acquaintance.

Hearing from him after 35 years was an amazing experience and both of us went on a nostalgia trip talking about our days at the compound. He particularly remembered the two occasions when he had the privilege of getting oil applied on his head by my mother and spending Deepavali with us at home enjoying the goodies throughout the day.

Just another story to bring back old memories and regrets? No, the punchline is in the friend’s name. Mohammed Iqbal.