May 15, 2012
It was just about five years back that I read in one of the Jesuit Alumni Journals that a certain Kuriacose was honoured for his 40 years of service in the refectory of St. Joseph's Hostel in Bangalore.
He had joined a couple of years before I became a hostelite in 1967 in St. Joseph's. Kuriacose or Kuria as we called him was young, handsome and sturdily built and although his job was to wait on us, he showed no sign of trying to be friendly with us with some ulterior motive of being tipped every now and then. He did his job of serving us at the table and that was that. At times when we were late for lunch or dinner he would know we had a tough day at the college (or somewhere else) and would serve us an extra portion yes, but he wouldn't stick around to accept our "thanks."
He had no habits; an ardent reader of Malayalam Manorama, an occasional beedi, puffed hiding behind the massive pillar of the U-shaped hostel and yes, he would never miss a Hindi movie on a Sunday, were his habits, if one would call them so.
He and his friend Thangappan would leave the Hostel around 2 in the noon on a Sunday and stand in the queue for the tickets for a 3.30 pm show.
It was on these Sunday afternoons that Kuria became very dear to us, (most of us were Hindi movie buffs) when we wanted him to stand in the queue and buy us the upper stall tickets. We would go on time for the show after having downed a chilled beer at Basco's and "bada khana" at St. Joseph's.
Thangappan would buy tickets of a lower stall for himself and Kuria and the latter would buy us the upper stall tickets. He would never keep the change even if we insisted.
Many a times we had offered to buy tickets for both of them so that they could enjoy the movie in the upper stalls. Kuria had firmly declined.
Once, when my insisting (perhaps, super-charged with an extra lager) was more of a command than a request, he looked straight into my shifty eyes and said. "Sir, I can see the screen the best from wherever I am sitting."
It took me some years to recognize and learn the chaste, innate philosophy practised by Kuria in his life. Status stalls could be "bought" with money anybody's money.
No matter whatever status that we are in today, we owe something, at a juncture somewhere to the Kurias who have come into our lives and have left indelible foot prints.