This is a true story that happened in my childhood. I was born and brought up in a house named ‘Om Muruga Illam’. My grandfather was a devotee of Lord Muruga. My father’s name is Shanmugam. Like this, there were so many ‘Murugan’ facts at our home. But it’s really a shame that my dad, uncles, grandfather – Nobody had 2 wives.
When I was 8 years old, I used to be a kid who would freak out even if the door bell rang. Of course, everyone in my family would’ve freaked out had the door bell rung, because there was no doorbell at our home.
But really I was afraid of everything. My grandfather came up with a solution for my phobia. He told me, “Don’t be afraid of anything. Whenever you’re afraid, just say ‘Am um om im em nam, saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha’. No ghost or devil will come near you. Lord Muruga will take care of everything, ok?”
“Ak ek ik uk ok.”
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“As us os is yes.”
“Murugan is a powerful god, da. Trust me da.”
“Trust me da. He even has our national bird on his side.”
“Ok, I trust you, ayya (ayya means grandfather). Can you tell the mantra once again?”
“Here it goes like this – Am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”
“Ok, let me try. Am um om im eminem Arya bhavan namaha.”
“Dei dei dei. Why don’t you also order 3 masala dosas and uthappam? Listen carefully da. It’s am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”
“Ayya, it sounds like a tongue twister. I think that dealing with ghosts and devils would be a lot easier than saying this mantra.”
“Try out. Lord Muruga is with you.”
“Ayya, would you try out a new pant when someone is with you?”
“Then how can you expect me to try a mantra out when someone is with me?!”
“You are confusing me.”
“Who? Me? You’re the one who confused me by saying mm mmm mmmm and more mmmms.”
“I’m writing the mantra in this paper for you. Try to memorize later. Before its expiry date.”
I took the anti-ghost paper device in my hand and started reading what was written on it. Halfway through the mantra, looking at my grandfather’s handwriting, I wondered why he didn’t become a doctor.
Somehow I managed to memorize the whole mantra. This is how I memorized the mantra – As I said each word, I imagined the ghost saying something back to me.
Me: Am im em
Ghost: Amma imma emma (in a crying voice)
Me: Chee chee. No umma to me. Get lost, ghost!!
After memorizing the complete mantra, I wanted to apply that somewhere because I didn’t want to run into a ghost only to find out that ghosts are deaf.
So I decided to try the mantra on a stray dog. At that age, I was very afraid of stray dogs. I thought that if I used the mantra on a dog, it would wag its tail and become friends with me and share food.
I stepped out of ‘Om Muruga Illam’ and waited for 5 minutes for a stray dog to show up. And then my neighbor uncle showed up. I waited for 6 more minutes and then a real stray dog showed up. I called the dog towards me, “Hey jujjju, jajjja, come on here.” The dog slowly started walking towards me. And slowly, fear started creeping into me.
I said to myself, “Alright, now is the time. Come on. Tell the mantra.”
I started telling, “Am um om im em nam saravana bhavaaaaaaa shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”
There was no reaction from the dog. It was still moving towards me. I thought that maybe the stray dogs talked a different language and didn’t understand Sanskrit. I tried again, “Am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.” The dog didn’t stop – It came very close to me.
My dad, after looking at me and dog on the road, came out of home and said “shoo shoo shoo” at the dog. And the dog ran away.
I sensed some relief after the dog was gone. That was the day I found out “shoo shoo shoo” is better mantra and more easy to remember.
I am from Tamilnadu, the state where people would never speak Hindi. But, nowadays, we have started learning it. Thanks to the new education system, people’s interest, and the presence of Katrina Kaif in bollywood.
In my childhood, many people from my hometown were not even aware of the existence of the language called Hindi. They thought that a female from Hindu religion was called Hindi. But my father was not one of them. Thanks to the presence of Hema Malini at that time.
My father was working as a film supervisor in one of the 6 movie theaters in our hometown, Karaikudi. Because of this job, we could watch any movie for free in all 6 theaters. Still, my father would allow us to watch movies only in 5 theaters. He didn’t quite like the idea of us watching movies in that 6th theater (Nataraja theater). When asked for the reason, he said, “This theater is very old, quite far from our home, and moreover, there will be no dialogues in any of the movies there.”
Our second favorite pastime in our childhood was watching movies. We could go to any theater, any show, free of cost. Our first favorite pastime was watching every movie three times, back to back shows. When I was 7, my younger brother Ganesh was 5 and my elder brother VJ was 11. My sister Abi was 8. At that time, my father would allow me and VJ to watch movies, but not Ganesh.
So, when VJ and I went to watch movies, we had to come up with some innovative excuses to get away from Ganesh. One of the best excuses that we came up with was ‘Hindi Classes’.
Ganesh: Dei, where are you both going?
VJ: We are going for Hindi classes.
Ganesh: Who is your Hindi teacher?
VJ: Mmmm… Mmmm… Mama Helini.
Ganesh: Is teaching Hindi your teacher’s main profession or is it a side job?
VJ: Clerk-cum-Hindi teacher. (Looking at the wall clock for leaving quickly).
Ganesh: Your teacher teaches in a house or a class room?
VJ: House-cum-class room. (Looking at the wall clock for leaving quickly)
Ganesh: Your teacher is male or female?
VJ: Male-cum-female… er, we’ll explain later once we come back, ok?
Ganesh: When will you come back?
VJ: Two-cum-three o’clock. Bye.
After we were gone, Ganesh would keep on asking questions to our father.
1. “Dad, it’s already 3 hours since they were gone. Why aren’t they back yet?”
2. “Dad, why do they have to learn Hindi, when we already know Tamil?”
3. “Dad, why can’t we watch movies in Nataraja theater?”
At that time, we went to watch the movie ‘Gentleman’ (which was later remade in Hindi as ‘The Gentleman’). That was the greatest movie that we ever watched. We were watching the movie very closely to see if any of the actors were telling any Hindi dialogues, so that we could repeat that to Ganesh. During the interval, we promised the guys who were selling popcorn that we would buy 2 packs if they told us the Hindi name of it. We had to prepare ourselves to make up a story once we got back home. After all, Ganesh was not too young to believe, “Baba black sheep” is Hindi.
When we got back home, Ganesh started asking questions.
Ganesh: Dei, why are you so late?
VJ: I am not able to understand you. Talk to us in Hindi.
Ganesh: This is too much. What did you learn today?
Me: Baba black sheep.
*VJ silenced me and started making up a story*
VJ: Baba ka bi laka shabba hai.
Ganesh: Ok, where is your book?
VJ: It was free only; we didn’t book a ticket. *then realizes the mistake he made*
VJ: We have given the book for binding.
Ganesh: What is…
Before he started asking his next question, we closed his mouth, and said “Open this only when you have to take your next meal, ok? Now go and nag dad.”
After a while, Ganesh started nagging our dad. “Dad, can you also send me to Hindi classes? I also want to learn baba ka bi laka shabba hai.” Dad said, “I’m not able to understand you. Talk to me in Tamil.”
This is how we used Hindi classes as excuse with Ganesh for watching movies in our childhood. Later, when we were adults, we could have used the same excuse with our parents to watch movies in Nataraja theater. But damn, we weren’t clever enough in our adulthood.
Now that we are grown up, we watched couple of movies in Nataraja theater along with the whole family members. Only that the theater is now renewed and decent movies get released.