Kitchu and Vitchu were friends from very young. Or perhaps they weren’t. They didn’t really play together as children, or even know each other’s families. But the familiarity of the situation and the shared memories of afternoons, festivals and grandmothers provided a strange sense of kinship. They met as equals. Both of them retired. Both of them unable to give up their pride and admit that crossword in The Hindu was beyond their abilities to crack.
By the time they met, they were Kitchu mama and Vitchu mama. Universal mamas. Mamas to everyone. They met on a park bench, both drowning in the grief of the JarigaiLakshmi Udipi Hotel closing its shutters. Vitchu mama’s favourite bench was on the other end of the park, but today they were painting it with a fresh coat of slimey green. They both were quiet, looking at the mid-morning madness that had enveloped the city. A drunkard cam to Kitchu mama and asked for money. Kitchu mama dragged up his rage and shouted ‘Yen da, Brandhy kudichadu porada. Onakku oru anna kudukamaaten. Po da, kadangaaran. ((Haven’t you had enough brandy? I won’t give an anna to you. Get lost you ____ – I can’t think of a term that gets the essence of kadangaaran)). Useless fellow. First you will drink Brandhy, then do vaandy“. ((vaandy = vaandi = vomit))
Vitchu mama’s heart skipped a few beats. This mama said Brandy. Which meant he had seen a lot of Tamil films, and was not really familiar with alcohol. Anyone whose only interaction with alcohol was the black viscious liquid in Shivaji Ganesan films knew it as Brandy.
They got talking and figured that they had been coming to the same restaurant for the last many years, but usually separated by half an hour. They preferred JarigaiLakshmi Udipi to Sreenivasan Udipi because the former had the relaxed atmosphere of a school canteen. Plus, somehow the bearers looked clean and didn’t talk much. Most importantly, there was enough natural light in JarigaiLakshmi Udipi to facilitate reading a newspaper. Sreenivasan Udipi on the other hand had small yellow bulbs that were about as powerful as glowworms.
Old men, they both agreed – need bright light. It is then, that Kitchu mama and Vitchu mama began to meet everyday to try a new Udipi restaurant. One day they found the exact place they had dreamed of. A rack full of newspapers. A bearer with clean hands but a grim face called Saami brought them their idlis and coffees. The world was sane again. Kitchu mama lovingly called out, “Bring it again, Saam.”.