Rukmini starts family gundu practice
I was not convinced. So I said
I: “But, vow was only for Rukku akka. Why all in your family, that too your mom, went bald?”
S: “That is Rukku vadina – Master of Arts in convincing others. Give her a spec of a chance and she will prove that you are 80 years old or that that four legged chair really has six legs.”
We two giggled. I had seen Rukku akka’s convincing abilities too often, both at work and at home, to doubt Sumant’s statement.
Sumant continued: “Two weeks after the marriage, it seems that she and mom had a conversation. As per what mom told us later it went something like this:
“Mom: ‘Rukku, you have taken the gundu vow, okay. But do you really like it? Won’t you feel embarrassed to go around without hair?’
“R: ‘No Attagaru. I also thought so before I got my gundu in I year B.Com. But once I rose up bald, I was in heaven. It was such a nice feeling both physically and emotionally. I went to college without covering my head. A few friends did make fun but I was prepared for it. In a few days, few bothered about my hairless head. And as for myself, running my palm on my smooth dome for the first few days was really a great feeling. And once some hair grew, I really missed my smooth bald head. So, when I took the vow, I had full confidence of pulling it off happily, be it in the house, neighbourhood or office.’
“M: ‘Oh, is the feeling so good?’ (Later she wished she had not given this opening to Rukku)
“R: ‘Certainly, Attagaru. Mom was down with pain when tumor was there. She reluctantly agreed to get the Tirumala gundu which I insisted that she get it. But when she became baldy there, in spite of her pain, she was very happy. She told me that she would again get a full tonsure once she gets back her full hair. Attagaru, why don’t you also get a gundu with me? It is so refreshing’.
“M: (shocked) ‘Nooooo, Rukku. What are you saying? It is enough permitting you to do it. Don’t drag me also into it.’
“R: ‘Attagaru, you are living in a world far removed from reality. So many young and middle aged ladies get a full tonsure at places like Tirumala happily. Nobody would feel bad about it. Some may giggle a few times, but that is with love only. And as it is, you look younger than your 54 years. And you will definitely look younger with a smooth dome. And there is no need that you have to have a vow. And attagaru, what better time than now for the whole of the family to have a family gundu? Your daughter has been married off to a good guy. She has a kid and carrying the next one. Your first son has been married off. Your second son is doing very well in his studies. F-i-l has got a promotion prior to retirement. Why don’t you all do a thanksgiving gundu? And I will bet a thousand rupees that once you do a gundu in Tirumala, you will like to do it again and again.’
“Rukku vadina was so convincing that mom countenance had changed from shock to a bright smile.
“M: ‘You mean that I will look really good with a gundu head? But what would your f-i-l say?’
“R: ‘You will certainly look beautiful. Convincing maavagaru is my job.’ Vadina seized this remark of mom making it as her approval. Mom was suddenly feeling nervous and thought ‘oh, what did I say to this girl?’
“Next day Rukku vadina seized an opportunity to be with dad alone.
“R: ‘Maavagaru, two weeks from now I will be fulfilling my tonsure vow in Tirumala. Are you ok with it?’
“Dad: ‘Why do you doubt, dear? I have happily agreed for it, isn’t it?’
“R: ‘That is there, maava. But, the occasion is so beautiful – your daughter has been married off to a good guy. She has a kid and carrying one more. Your first son has been married off. Your second son is doing very well in his studies. You have got a promotion prior to retirement. Attagaru is in the best of health and happiness. Why don’t we all do a thanksgiving family gundu?’
“D: ‘Whaaat? Rukku, have you gone out of your mind or what?’ Dad had raised his voice.
“R: ‘No, maava. I have not gone out of my mind. I will become a baldy anyway. And it is no big deal if Jayant and Sumant also become baldies. And maava, you have recently got a promotion. Why don’t you celebrate it with a Tirumala gundu? I am sure, everybody in your office will think positively about it.’
“Dad was proud of his promotion, his image, etc. as told by his sweet daughter-in-law and said with a bright smile:
“D: ‘Yes, dear. You are right. My colleagues will think positive only, even if I show up with a Tirumala gundu. My boss who retired last year used to become a Tirumala baldy once in two or three years and everybody was positive about his practice.’
“R: ‘Then why are you hesitating, maava? Agree happily and convince your sons also.’
“Suddenly dad was in a happy mood. So he crooned:
“D: ‘Rukku, you are right, dear. This is a good time for me, Jayant and Sumant also to become baldies in Tirumala along with you.’
“R: ‘Thank you very much, maava. I and Jayant will make a nice bald pair. But maava, don’t you think that Attagaru will become an odd one out?’
“Now Dad became very serious.
“D: ‘Rukku, what do you mean? Are you hinting that Malati also should go bald?’
“R: ‘Why not, maava, if she is agreeable?’
“Dad looked at Rukku for a while as if she has come from some other planet.
“D: ‘Rukku, do you realise what you are talking?’ (again with a raised voice)
“R: ‘I understand your apprehension, maava. But it is not something nobody does. It may not be the practice in this house. But when I saw how happy my mom was when she got her gundu in Tirumala before her operation, I imagined how happy she would have been in happier circumstances. So then I realised that every married woman should be given a chance to tonsure her head in happy circumstances. Why not give Attagaru a chance now, if she so desires, maava? And I am sure that she will look as beautiful with a bald head as now.’
“By now Dad’s anger had come down fully, and he was intently listening. He smiled slowly and said:
“D: ‘Rukku, you are really a wonder girl. I never thought in the way you said now. If Malati is happy about getting a gundu, who am I to come in her way? But will she be happy?
“R: ‘I feel that if you convince her, she will happily agree.’
“And that was that. Dad spoke to mom and she happily agreed to get a gundu. The two decided for family gundu and would announce at a suitable time. It was about a few days later, that she dropped this bomb shell of family gundu, Jayant’s histrionics and eventual capitulation.
“And about a week later, all the five of us returned bald from Tirupati and in an extremely happy mood. Mom and vadina looked very beautiful with their bald heads. Mom declared that Rukku was right that once we do a gundu, we would like to do it again and again. She declared that henceforth, the family would go to Tirumala once a year and all the gents and kids below ten would tonsure every year. There would be a family gundu once in three or four years. Mom told vadina ‘Rukku, you have won the bet. I know it was not a serious bet, just a few words in the flow. All the same, I am presenting you these ear rings worth much more than thousand rupees. Do you like them?’
“A bald vadina was overcome with emotion and for the first time she had tears of joy and the two baldies hugged each other with gratitude and affection. ‘The ear rings are excellent and I really like them. I will wear them now itself’ vadina said.
“Rukku vadina happily went to Bank without covering her head. It was the first time that a female officer turned up bald in her Bank so many did giggle. But she cared two hoots for the giggles and went about her job as happily as ever.
“Their daughter, Dyuti was born nine months later. Jayant and Rukku vadina were very happy that Dyuti was conceived when both were bald. Vadina shyly said that she wanted two more kids to be conceived when both would be bald. Mom happily accepted her desire.
“When Dyuti was three months old, the family went to Tirumala for the annual visit and the three gents got gundu again. Mom had about six inches of hair while vadina had around ten inches. Both gave three cuts.
“By the time Dyuti completed two years, mom and vadina both had mid back hair. It was time for Dyuti’s first gundu. So the entire family had a second family gundu. All were very happy with the repeat family gundu. And Prakash was also conceived by bald Jayant and bald Rukku vadina.
“Mom liked her gundu so much that she said that henceforth she also would tonsure every year. Vadina suggested that if so, why not keep a neat and short boy cut in between? Mom happily agreed. Three months later, mom had about 2 inches of hair. Vadina took her to the nearby barbershop and got her a neat clipper boy cut. Initially mom was a bit shy but within two days she became really happy with it. Since then she also gets an annual gundu with us and keeps a barbershop clipper boy cut.
“Six months ago, Prakash became two years old. Since, my marriage was around the corner, we did not go for a family gundu, but only had gundu of Prakash and Dyuti in Tirumala. Now, that the marriage is over, we are going for the planned family gundu, or a part family gundu now, since you will not be shaving your head.” Sumant completed his narrative. It was some narrative! Rukku akka is really great. She really cares a lot for others in her own way.
The way Sumant said ‘you will not be shaving your head’ in a disappointed voice alarmed me. I asked him seriously “Why do you sound so disappointed?”
Sumant said “If only, you also would become a baldy, how nice it would have been! We also could produce a kid, when both would be bald, like Jayant and Vadina. But now I know that it is not possible. Only I will be bald.” He smiled but there was some tear in his eyes.
I thought over what all Sumant said and what all happened in the last three weeks. I weighed what all Rukku akka did for me, for this family. I thought what great tragedy would happen if I also go along and shave my head? I would get back my bum long hair in about four or five years. But….. what would my colleagues think? But Rukku akka has done it twice and managed it in the bank. So that should not be too much problem. But certainly Attagaru, Sumant and Rukku akka and even mom and dad would feel superb happy if I also shave it off. A big part of me said ‘Radha, this is a God sent chance. Go ahead and become part of the family tonsure.’ The other part said ‘Wait, Radha, wait’. Then, I remembered the tears of disappointment in Sumant’s eyes. If he so much desired me to be part of the family gundu, what right I had to deny it?
At that moment I made up my mind to go along and get a gundu along with the rest. I told Sumant that I will also happily get a gundu with others. He was overcome with happiness. I also became very happy with my decision now. We had great sex in the joyous mood. In the morning, I told m-i-l and Rukku akka of my decision to do gundu and both happily hugged me.