She hurried indoors and brought out Gopu Mama’s hardly worn, new chappals. “These should fit you, Sir. Please put these on. I am so sorry. My son has been very naughty.” The music-master’s eyes lit up. He put them on, trying not to look too happy. “Well, I suppose these will have to do... These days children have no respect for elders, what to do? A Hanuman incarnate... only Rama can save such a naughty fellow!” Rukku Manni’s eyes flashed. She didn’t seem to like Ravi being called a monkey, even a holy monkey. She stood stiff and straight by the front door. It was clear she wanted him to leave quickly.
When he had clattered off in his new chappals, she said, “Mridu, come in and have some tiffin. Honestly, how do you children think of such things? Thank God your Gopu Mama doesn’t wear his chappals to work...” As she walked towards the kitchen with Mridu and Meena, she suddenly began to laugh. “But he’s always in such a hurry to throw off his shoes and socks and get into his chappals as soon as he comes home. What’s your Mama going to say this evening when I tell him I gave his chappals to the music-master?”
VASANTHA SURYA [from Mridu in Madras: Goruchaka Turns Up]
Rukku Manni went inside quickly and brought Gopu Mama's (Ravi's father - Mridu's uncle - Mama is a Tamil word for uncle) new chappals that he had worn a few times. She apologized to the music-master that her son had behaved in a naughty way, and said these new chappals should fit him. The music-master became happy, he put on the new chappals but tried to look not very happy. He had got a much better pair of chappals than his own! He said reluctantly maybe it will be enough for him, but he was genuinely happy. He scolded that children of today do not have any respect for elders. He further added that Ravi was a Lord Hanuman incarnate and that only Lord Rama can save him. The references have been made to Hindu gods, Hanuman who depicts a monkey (and monkeys are known for mischievousness); Lord Hanuman is a disciple of Lord Rama, and thus the music-master brought out the connection. Rukku Manni did not like her son being called a monkey, even it was referred to the God's incarnation, and her eyes glared. She stood straight near the front door as if she was showing him the way out to leave quickly.
As soon as the music-master moved away noisily, Rukku Manni called Lalli inside to have some tiffin. She was wondering how these children were even able to think of such things. She was relieved that Gopu Mama did not wear his chappals to work;otherwise, she could not have managed the situation at home that day. She walked into the kitchen with Mridu and Meena, and suddenly she thought of something and laughed. She said Gopu Mama was always in a hurry to change to chappals as soon as he came home. She wondered what their Mama was going to say if he knew that she had given away his chappals to the music-master.
On a deeper thought, though Rukku Manni was angry on Ravi for donating other's things, she had also done the same thing. She had given away Gopu Mama's chappals, which should be decided by Gopu Mama and not her. But her actions seem justified because she had to decide immediately in her situation, to solve the problem at hand. Similarly, Ravi's mistake also seems justified because he had also given away music-master chappals only because he had to decide within the two minutes that he had before the beggar left the place. Hence, both Ravi and his mom Rukku Manni had done similar deeds, and both seem justified.
Meanings of difficult words:
move about making a rattling noise
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). Honeycomb. A Gift of Chappals - Vasantha Surya (pp. 18-32). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.