Grandma Seethamma becomes instrumental in launching
Paru’s singing career.
Malini offers help and advice to the Kumars in dealing with teen-age children.
Shantha is shattered to learn that her child might have run into
trouble with the law…
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey
Jo and Ram returned from their long walk around the neighborhood to join Shantha and Malini for another cup of hot tea. Sitting at the table with the adults, Mansi was happy to get her cup of warm milk.
“Did you hear about what happened at Ram’s yesterday?” enquired Joseph, looking at Malini. Malini only nodded her head as she was still deep in thought about the situation with Paru and her siblings.
“You know, I have few families with kids and adolescents in similar situations that come to me for advice. After initial assessment, I sometimes have to send them to psychiatrists. In my opinion it is very important for you both to deal with the twins appropriately and see to it that they don’t feel insecure or jealous of Paru,” she said to the Kumars.
Ram, Shantha and Jo were all listening attentively to Malini. Mansi finished her cup of milk and went over to play ball with a group of young kids at a distance.
“Encouraging the kids during their formative years and understanding their needs is the only way to overcome their ill feelings and pave an equally bright future for the twins,“ advised Malini.
Shantha took a deep breath and looked at Ram who was quite lost in thought. She looked at her watch. It was almost time for the older children to come out of the Sunday school.
From church both the families went shopping and helped Punit and Janvi select their dream toys. A play house for Janvi, and a Hercules bicycle for Punit. Both of them were ecstatic about the gifts they received. After purchases they all sat at the small ice cream parlor just outside the shopping center to have their favorite deserts.
Malini wanted to talk to Punit and Janvi alone. So she picked up her vanilla pudding and went and sat between the twins. Both Punit and Janvi were oblivious to their surroundings. While Janvi was talking about where in the house she would keep her newly acquired play house, Punit was thinking of how to get a cover to park his bicycle under.
Malini listened to their talk for a while. “Vow!, so you both will take good care of those nice gifts you got today?” she asked them.
“You see, kids, your akka, amma and daddy love you all so much. And akka is so fond of you that she literally forced daddy to get you those gifts. Akka is going to care for you always and you need to love her, follow her and appreciate everything she does for you. Okay?” Paused Malini.
“And by the way, after you all slept last night akka helped amma look for the envelope. And it seems they found it with money under mom’s mattress,” continued Malini as she tried to finish her vanilla pudding.
The twins heard Malini out without a word. They finished their mango ice-cream and went to where Paru was sitting. They hugged her and their dad and thanked them both for their kindness.
Paru woke up startled by the sudden loud knocking on her bedroom window. She looked out the window. It was still very dark around 5:00 AM in the morning.
“Paru, open the door. Where is everybody? Shantha, open the door,” familiar voice outside the window and loud knocking again.
Paru recognized grandma’s voice and jumped to her feet. She ran to the front door and let grandma in along with her three suitcases.
“I have been knocking at the door for ten minutes now Paru. Seems like the doorbell is not working.” Grandma walked into the living area and sat in the arm-chair.
Surprised Paru was speechless to see grandma arrive without notice. She brought in the luggage and locked the front door.
“Come here Paru, let me look at you baby,” called grandma.
Paru knelt before her and hugged her. “Look at you, my god you are beautiful. And you are grown so much. So tall and fair,” she kissed on Paru’s forehead and cheeks.
Noises from the front of the house woke Shantha up. She was taken by surprise to see her aunt Seethamma, when she rushed into the living area.
Unaware of Shantha’s presence both grandma and Paru were engrossed in their own conversation.
Shantha stood calm for a minute watching Paru with grandma before she went up to her aunt and hugged her with tears in her eyes.
“What a pleasant surprise Ammakka? How come you arrived so early in the morning and unannounced too? Had we known about your arrival we could have come to get you from the railway station,” said a happy Shantha.
“Our temple priest’s wife and mother were coming to Guntur. I decided to accompany them in their van and surprise you all. I was planning to come anyways. So I took the opportunity. We reached here earlier than expected. They dropped me and left as soon as Paru opened the door. You need to fix your doorbell my child,” yawned Seethamma as she was tired from travelling all night.
“Ram will look at the doorbell in the morning. Ammakka, we are so happy that you are here. Children will be excited and overwhelmed to see you. They are in the back bedroom fast asleep. They probably didn’t hear anything yet,” said Shantha.
“However, please take some rest and sleep a bit. Please come in,” Shantha walked into Paru’s room and changed the sheets on Paru’s bed. Paru pulled out a mat and sheets to sleep on for herself after helping Shantha bring in grandma’s luggage.
“Grandma, please finish your coffee and come to see my play house,” Janvi held grandma’s hand tight.
“You are too big grandma, for me to take you for a ride on my bicycle,” laughed Punit.
Grandma Seethamma was at the dining table sipping coffee after breakfast.
“I am here for some time kids. We will do many things together. I sure will take a ride on your bicycle Punit babu, before I leave from here,” grandma laughed too.
She then distributed sweets and gifts she brought for the kids. Mansi was the only one who got pretty silk frocks in addition to chocolates.
“You have a beautiful temple and very professional organization running it Mr. Sarma. Thank you for the tour of the temple,” said Seethamma to the Chairman of the Sri Venkateswara Temple as they got seated comfortably at the temple executive office.
“Shantha and I appreciate you making time to meet with us as well,” she added.
“We should thank you Seethamma madam, for your project proposal to benefit the temple. Paru is already recognized for her golden voice in our community. To organize benefit music concerts of Paru Kumar for the temple is a great idea. We also look forward to promote our arts and a young budding singer like Paru,” said Mr. Sarma sipping coffee.
“I personally will take this up with the committee as an ongoing project for raising funds. We shall shoot for Diwali festival time to launch the kick-off event. Please prepare to travel some from then on. Mostly over the weekends to different temples in the area,” concluded Mr. Sarma.
“I came here last week just for this purpose Mr. Sarma. Thank you again for such positive response. I will be here long enough for this project to shape up. Please don’t hesitate to ask me for any help regarding this. Namasthe, we shall take leave now,” said Seethamma appreciatively and left the office with Shantha.
“Ammakka, so you have this dream to see Paru hit it big as a singer and in a noble way for a worthy cause of raising funds for temple. I see it now and think it’s awesome. Hope your dreams come true Ammakka ,” said an amazed Shantha to Seethamma as they walked out the executive office.
‘ Sri Venkateswara Temple presents
Music Concert (Diwali cultural event)
Kum. Parameswari Kumar
At 6:00 P.M, on Saturday 14th, 1974
Venue: Sri Venkateswara Temple auditorium
Admission is free. Donations welcome.
All proceeds go towards Kalyana Mantapam project…’
Read the contents of the temple flyer and posted all over town and other temples in the area.
The event that took place on Diwali eve turned out to be a grand fund-raiser. Devotees from and around Guntur and Vijayawada came into the temple town for the event.
Temple premises was lit up on Diwali eve. Devotees were in a very festive mood.
The auditorium filled to capacity. After the preliminary introductions and temple fund raising committee’s brief presentation, young Paru took to the mike and sang like a swan for the music lovers and the audiences at large for couple of hours.
After the invocation Saraswathi Shathakam and Ganesha Pancharatnam, Paru rendered elaborately the grandeur of Meenakshi Kalyanam and few Bhagavdgita slokas specially tuned for the event.
There was a brief presentation of the temple’s future plans of constructing Kalyanamantapam (wedding and event auditorium) and youth center to serve the community. The music concert resumed after another brief coffee and snacks break.
For the second half of the concert, Paru chose to sing AyigiriNandini Sthothra followed by Annamacharya keerthanas. She concluded with a thillana in kadankuthuhala ragam . By the end of ‘Mangalam’ (conclusion) the enthralled audience sprung to their feet to give Parameshwari a standing ovation that lasted for couple of minutes.
With much humility and folded arms the fourteen-year old stood on the stage at the Sri Venkateshwara Temple Society auditorium to receive the applause and appreciation of the audience. The temple’s chairman invited mother Shantha and Paru’s grandma Seethamma to join Paru on the dais and introduced them as her Gurus (teachers) who nurtured her talents. And Ram Kumar was appreciated for guiding his daughter to embark upon a musical journey.
Though not very comfortable speaking on stage or in public, Paru took to the microphone. “Namasthe, I am grateful to the Temple organization, and my grandma Seethamma for creating this opportunity to sing for you all.
I am grateful to God for giving me the greatest parents who are supportive and loving.
Last but not the least from the bottom of my heart I thank you all for your encouragement and applause,” with folded arms she concluded with a two minute keerthana ‘Yanagaanu ramabhajana, rama rama rama yanuchu’.
Paru stepped down into the audience and went straight to Joseph and Malini who were seated in the first row. She hugged Malini with tears in her eyes and touched Joseph uncle’s feet.
People gathered around Paru trying to talk to her. Men and women of all ages around her were praising the young singer. One gentleman said Paru would become the next famous nightingale of India. Another lady said she would become like the next music legend M.S. Subbalaxmi. Yet another lady said that she could become a singing star like the popular actress of yester years, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna. All of this adulation and comments overwhelmed young Paru.
Ram put his hands around Paru to protect her from the crowd and walked her out into a waiting car and headed home…
Shantha and the kids drove home with Jo and Malini.
The concert at the temple catapulted the 14 year old Paru to enviable heights in the music arena. She stayed in the news for nearly a month after the concert. Many organizers came to visit them and were eager to arrange Paru’s music programs for a good remuneration too. The newspapers and magazines carried articles and reviews of her talent and predicted a bright singing career for the teen-aged singer.
Ram became a celebrity father but he decided to very carefully steer Paru’s budding singing career in a very conservative and calculated path. He wanted Paru to become a respected singer and earn name and fame and serve the community through art…
“Hello, anybody home?” Shantha and Paru heard someone calling followed by a steady loud knock on the front door. It was Saturday. Girls were in the back yard. Punit was blasting music in his room and Paru and Shantha were setting the table for lunch. Shantha came into the living room to answer the door. She was shocked to see three policemen standing at the entrance
“Madam we are here to get Punit Kumar for questioning in connection with a vehicle theft crime at school,” said one of them.
Shantha was shivering. “What do you mean?” She screamed. Paru came out and was shocked to see what was happening. Both mother and daughter stood there speechless and frozen while two police men went in and grabbed Punit. They held him tight with their hands around his shoulders and drove him off in the police vehicle.
- Uma bharathi Kosuri