Engineer Mappillai!

In recent years, women have become bold enough to fight the injustice against them. They even seek police assistance to expose those who demand dowry!

This narration is about a girl, who exhibited similar courage and faith in justice even thirty years ago. I’ll refer to the heroine of the story as ‘Mangalam akka’. The family of Vaitheeswaran uncle was living in Papanasam, a small town near Kumbakonam. Lord Shiva’s temple there was very famous. We used to go there for temple festivals and uncle’s family would come to Kumbakonam to attend temple festivals at our end.

Vaitheeswaran uncle had five daughters and three sons. Uncle was employed in taluk office. His meager income was sufficient only to feed his large family. Somehow, uncle managed to celebrate the marriages of his four daughters. One of his sons, Ravi joined the army to share his father’s burden. The other two sons were in school. ‘Mangalam akka’ was waiting to get married. She had studied up to SSLC.

Vaitheeswaran uncle’s sister Lakshmi aunty was rich and was living in Chennai. She always used to show off her status. She had pressure and sugar problems even in those days. She would write to her brother asking him for physical help whenever she had even minor health problems. And, uncle would reply to her expressing his inability to send any one of his daughters for help. One day, there was a letter from Lakshmi aunty. She had written asking uncle to send ‘Mangalam akka’ for help, saying that she was going to become her daughter-in-law in future and so she could stay with them even then itself. Lakshmi aunty’s son Bala was then in his final year in engineering. ‘Mangalam akka’ was really excited. She never even dreamt that her aunty would accept her as her daughter-in-law. Vaithy uncle was also very happy. Uncle, maami and ‘Mangalam akka’, all the three went to Chennai and uncle returned with his wife, leaving ‘akka’ behind in Lakshmi aunty’s house.

Six months would have gone by. ‘Mangalam akka’ wrote to me asking to contact her brother Ravi through his friend Prakash and inform Ravi to contact her. I contacted Ravi and told him to talk to ‘Mangalam akka’. After fifteen days, ‘Mangalam akka’ returned from Chennai and Ravi also returned from his work. However-much pressurized, ‘Mangalam akka’ remained aloof; she didn’t open her mouth to reveal what happened in Chennai. But we were able to guess that something serious must have happened there. We realized that only ‘akka’; Prakash and Ravi knew the truth. Prakash was my neighbor. All the three used to meet at the garden in Prakash’s house and there used to be serious discussions. Sometimes, ‘akka’ even cried and Prakash and Ravi consoled her. In the meantime, we received news about Lakshmi aunty’s son Balas’s marriage with another girl. But ‘akka’ appeared more bothered about something else than his marriage.

One day, Ravi came to our house. He said that himself, ‘akka’ and Prakash were going to Chennai the next day and asked me whether I could accompany them. He told me that they were all going there to stop Bala’s marriage.

Was Bala’s marriage stopped?