CHENNAI: Post the Mahendra’s Ring debacle, we weren’t quite sure about what to do. Our faith in everything — attempts to buy land; forge business ties with brokers; maintain sane contact with friends — everything seemed to come under question. For a time, we wondered if we were doing the right thing, hunting for land to do something we weren’t qualified to do. Relatives and neighbours weighed in with their own advice. “Why bother, sir? Save for the future, no?” was a refrain we heard several times.
My father made a few half-hearted attempts to scout for land around Marakkaanam and returned empty-handed each week. It seemed that no broker had anything that might suit us. My mother was desperate. “Let’s not bother about buying land in acres,” she began to say. “Just one plot will do. I shall content myself with a small flower-and-vegetable-garden.” We were seriously considering taking her advice, and returning to the early days of ‘plot-hunting.’
Sometime around August 2013 came a promising proposal, in the fashion of ‘good alliances’ for matrimonial purposes: a friend of a friend of a friend had something that might suit us. This came in the form of our call-taxi driver Biriyani (who so named by himself due to his ability to make — what else? — fabulous Biriyani).
“This is KingKong,” Biriyani introduced his friend to us one scorching morning, as we were collectively breaking our heads about our next step. “Eh?”
KingKong looked a wiry, strong individual with greying, grizzly hair, and a pronounced sparkle in his eyes. He owned a butcher’s stall in Chennai, in the neighbourhood next to ours, he informed us. We just stared at him in puzzlement.
“I supply goats for my own stall,” KingKong elaborated. “I have a farm.” He paused, and eyed us all speculatively. “And the farm next to mine is coming up for sale.”
My father sat up with interest while my mother, in the kitchen, dropped a ladle in excitement. Amidst the general flurry of enthusiasm, I asked him about his name although with no hope of an answer, for my parents were pelting him with questions.
KingKong however, proved that he was a dasaavadhani, or that he could answer three people at a time — at least — for he replied to us almost simultaneously. “The farm in Thiruvannamalai district only — no, Amma, not too big and all — Pappa, want to know about my name?” The last was to me, and as I nodded eagerly, he continued with some g0lee. “That wrestler called King Kong, you know? My father named me after him,” he informed me proudly. I asked him if he wrestled, and he guffawed, “Only with my goats!”
Intrigued, I enquired about his father’s name. “Parotta,” he answered confidently. Before I could ask for the reason behind this moniker, my parents had come to a decision. We (driven by Biriyani, of course), would journey into Thiruvannamalai hinterland that weekend to check out KingKong’s proposal.
(The writer is a journalist, artist, translator, historian and editor but not necessarily in that order)