Contentment is the key: Remembering Rairu Nambiar
Contentment is the key - Understanding Mahabali and Vaamana
Reading this piece Rairu Nambiar comes to mind. I met Nambiar when I was a school-going child and he was of my present age (75). I knew nothing about his "early life" or any of his relatives, if one existed.
I used to meet him in the temple premises where he lived. For me, he was an affectionate, smiling, elderly person who showed respect to my father and talked lovingly to me. For many, he was an eccentric fellow who abused passers by. For the ശാന്തിക്കാരൻ (temple pujari), "Rairu" was a faithful assistant who helped him in odd jobs like maintaining a vegetables garden in the temple premises, rearing milch cows, doing all sorts of errants, all under the "food for work" arrangement.
Nambiar slept in the open building at the entrance of the temple which had roof, but had minimum walls and pillars just to support the roof. No protection from wind, lightning, stray dogs and rodents/snakes etc
He would prepare his bed before midnight from a mat and sheets which he would bring from somewhere he has kept his belongings bundled and hidden. He would get up an hour before sunrise and start working.
Though for others he was a half-mad fellow, I have been sitting with him when we both were free on holiday afternoons and my father and his friends would be engaged playing cards. I used to get news-briefings and many "secrets" about 'gentlemen' around us from him. In retrospect, today I wonder, wherefrom he would have come to know, what all "news" he shared with me!
He never talked anything about himself or shared any worries even when he had health issues. Today, some of us, despite having a perennial income stream and health insurance to fall back plus a, though not so dependable family/friends circle to support us, feel insecure.
I respect that power which helped Nambiar to continue with whatever work came his way, accepting himself as what he was. Just remember a Nambiar whom you have met and perhaps, you will not bother whether Mahaabali was right or Vaamana was doing the right thing by approaching Bali in disguise.
M G Warrier