The teams were finalised for the next match and Rangu got a chance to play in Sundar Anna’s team. The sun turned from a golden disc to a pinkish orange orb as the afternoon turned to twilight and as the crickets began their monotonous humming dusk forced the young players to return to their houses. Sundar and Rangu returned together, Rangu sitting on the carrier seat of Sundar’s trusted Rallis bicycle. Rangu idolised Sundar Anna and the two of them shared a beautiful friendship. In Rangu, Sundar found a younger brother, a patient listener, who would listen to his ideas of Marxism, how the ruinous policies of the government were ensuring that the unemployment rate kept increasing. Sometimes he would break into a song, of late a new music composer had comeon the scene, he called himself Ilayaraja and he had given some good songs in the movies that had come out. The town was about 15 kms away and boasted an old theatre that drew the audience from the surrounding villages. Rangu had been to the theatre once when there was a re-run of “Thiruvalayadal” – he was mesmerised by the powerful actor who played Shiva; he was told it was someone called Shivaji Ganeshan; one of the greatest actors to grace Tamil cinema.
The two reached the agraharam, Rangu got down and went to his hut as Sundar proceeded towards his house. Rangu met his mother and handed over the earnings of the day to her. Savithri took the coins and put them in the old tin box that served as their piggy-bank; she said – “Rangu, go wash, then light the lamp, say your evening prayers, I will make uppuma.” Rangu nodded his head and went out to the shed that served as the bathroom.
Amma — “Did you eat?”. “No Rangu”. “Come Amma, we will eat together!” This was a daily ritual and mother and son would smile at each other and eat wondering about the next day!
As Rangu laid out the mat, he asked — “Amma, Sundar Anna has told that he will tutor me and I can write the PUC exam as a private student. From tomorrow, every evening 4 PM to 7 PM he has asked me come for tuition classes. Can I go Amma?” “Rangu, definitely, you can buy a new notebook and a pencil tomorrow, we will get a nice Gem Ink pen for you when we go to the town next week. Now go to sleep.”