SUMMARY OF APPA-MAM
Appa-mam is a short story written by Padma Hejmadi. The word ‘mam’ has been taken from Tamil which means Uncle. This is a humorous story that deals with a man who claims to be a sanyasi although he enjoys his living. Later he turns out to be a cheat.
Apps-mam is an uncle to the younger members and elders called him Appa. As elders called him Appa and he was an uncle, the younger of the family started calling him Appa-mam. Apart from this epithet, he was labelled with other epithets as ‘Shameless Rascal’ and ‘Old Burnt Face’.However, he took these epithets as titles or decorations. The narrator met Appa-mam for the first time when her mother took them to Madras to stay with her grandparents. They found Appa-mam seated in grandfathers chair wearing grandfathers dhoti and smoking bidi. His head cleans shaved and forehead coated with ashes, busy studying newspaper. Whenever asked about his whereabouts he always added that he is doing meditation wherein he had renounced worldly joys in search of spiritual knowledge but his behaviour nullified everything. Later, Appa-mam announced that he was going on foot to the temple at Tirukazhukunram, and he would return by nightfall. Late in the evening, he came back after the day’s pilgrimage being dead tired. To his experience, he added that a few days of soft living had spoiled him. As a result, it was not possible for him to undergo even a single day’s starvation so, he didn’t eat the food packed in the container but gave to other pilgrimage and had been without food for two days.
Appamam was teased every time. When the younger uncle pretended to adjust his halo, he would say that it was always a little in the wrong position.
He discussed his nightmare that had become the part of family legend. He returned after three years during night time. The boys were away at college and the writer’s grandparents had gone to bed early. Suddenly a dark figure appeared at the gate calling “Premavati Premavati”. Grandmother woke up and got frightened for a moment waking up Grandfather as well who asked him where the ‘old burnt face’ had been. Actually, he had returned and brought back 25 rupees he had taken from the Grandfather’s desk which made Uncles decide that this virtuous act had brought on the nightmare. Later Grandfather woke up at midnight finding Appa-man shouting some nonsense and dancing like a dervish around his bed. Grandfather stopped him and felt astonished to see that he had been sleeping all the time.
One day to the utter surprise of Grandfather, Appa-mam’s disciples paid a visit as they wanted a darshan and get blessings for he had been practising meditation for years near North Indian village. Everybody made a critical remark that hardly mattered for Appa-mam. He gave a damn to everything, finished his breakfast, sat cross-legged under the neem tree and saw them one by one. Such an act surprised the members of the family who had never thought that Appa-mam could give blessings to others proving himself to be a real Sanyasi.
Later the story ends with a twist where two days later the earings of the writer’s aunt were missing with a remark that even Appa-mam was also not seen for days altogether. Appamam’s disappearance jolted the writer in her opinion about him.
Character Sketch Of Appa-Mam
The character is portrayed as a lethargic, prodigal, lazy bone conman who is filled with confidence. Appa-mam was an ascetic or sanyasi. He was an easy-going man, quiet lazy, funny and intriguing. Besides this he was unreliable. He lived with a comfort doing nothing useful himself or to others. As a result, it was assumed that he was a charlatan. He was fond of stealing things from the house and giving them to others. Newspapers and chairs were the only source of interest for him. Although he claimed to be a sanyasi there was nothing spiritual about him. As elders called him Appa and he was an uncle, the younger of the family started calling him Appa-mam. Apart from this epithet, he was labelled with other epithets as ‘Shameless Rascal’ and ‘Old Burnt Face’. However, he took these epithets as titles or decorations. He was as cheerful as ever. He had the art of saying different things to different people. He had a creative mind. He had a different story for each person depending on what he thought of their individual taste and appreciation. Appa-mam enjoyed smoking. He used to tell unbelievable stories. He would sit in the sun and sleep in the shade. He played cricket with the writer,s cousins and helped them with their algebra. He was rather lazy. The writer humorously says that he enjoyed life more than anyone else.
Justification About Appa-mam’s Being Sanyasi or Not
Appa-mam’s way of being a sanyasi was unpredictable. It could not be correctly defined. There was no transparency. Appamam claims to be sanyasi but he leads a good life without caring for the opinion of others, follows his own lifestyle. Sometimes he would disappear from the house for many days without any explanation. Then he would reappear on the doorstep one morning unshaven and dressed in his saffron clothes and carrying his begging bowl. But he was as cheerful as ever. He had the art of saying different things to different people. He had a creative mind. He had a different story for each person depending on what he thought of their individual taste and appreciation. When he disappeared he took grandfather’s cuff links with him. On another occasion, he took ten rupees from Grandmother’s money which made members of the family lock up their belongings.
It was later found that as an ascetic he did not believe in worldly possessions, having nothing of his own. The writer’s mothers always defended Appa-mam saying everybody talk of his taking things but no one mentioned how easily he gave those things to the poor and needy.
When his disciples come to see him, the members of his own family feel amazed. Later the earings of the writer’s aunt were missing with a remark that even Appa-mam was also not seen for days altogether. Appamam’s disappearance jolted the writer in her opinion about him.
Appa-mam’s Disciples and Reaction Evoked In The Family
Appamaam’s visit to different parts of the country and practising meditation attracted a different kind of people as his disciples including a mother with her baby, children, an old farmer, a cripple and a young couple. To the utter surprise of Grandfather, Appa-mam’s disciples paid a visit as they wanted a darshan and get blessings. Everybody made a critical remark that hardly mattered for Appa-mam. He said firmly that they should not laugh at him in the presence of his disciples. He wanted them to respect the faith which his disciples had in him which shut their mouth and they stopped laughing. However, he gave a damn to everything, finished his breakfast, sat cross-legged under the neem tree and saw them one by one. Such an act surprised the members of the family who had never thought that Appa-mam could give blessings to others proving himself to be a real Sanyasi.
Questions and Answers of Appa Mam
Q. Who was Appa-mam? How was he related to the writer?
Answer: Appa-mam was an uncle to the younger members and, elders called him Appa. As elders called him Appa and he was an uncle, the younger of the family started calling him Appa-mam. He had turned into a self-styled sannyasi. Being one of the members of the family he was related to the writer.
Q. Why did the uncles make fun of Appa-mam? how did he react to the teasing?
Answer. The claims of Appa-mam as being sanyasi were taken lightly by the uncles as they found nothing like sanyasi in him. App-mam never took the teasing seriously as he took it as a cool and normal way of uncles. He never reacted on his teasing by the uncles.
Q. Why was the writer confused whether Appa-mam was a sanyasi or not?
Answer. Appa-mam never looked like a sanyasi. He would take away money or ornaments of family members and still claimed to have denounced the worldly pleasures. He had also a merry-go attitude. So, the writer was confused about his being a sanyasi.
The writer was confused as to whether or not Appa-mam was a sannyasi due to the reason that the sannyasi should leave the worldly joys, but Appa-mam would live with the family and he enjoyed his life to the most.
Q. What would Appa-mam do when he had a nightmare? How did the nightmare become a game for the younger generation?
Answer. One day when Appa-mam returned from his self-styled pilgrimage after three years. He had stolen some money from the grandfather’s desk during his last visit. So, when he came back with the money to return it to the grandfather. He assumed it to be a great virtue which sent him into a nightmare. As a result, he began to dance and yell some gibberish round the grandfather’s bed like a dervish for some time. The grandfather thrashed him to make him silent. The children enjoyed it. It became a game for the younger generation where one played the role of grandfather and other acted as Appa-mam and third as a cat.
Q.Who were Appa-mam’s disciples?
Answer. A motley collection of people were the disciples of Appa-mam. they include a mother, an old father, a cripple, a young couple and a handful of children. They had a faith in Appa-mam and were eager to seek his blessings and darshan.
Q. What was the reaction of the family on learning that Appa-mam had disciples?
Answer. The family was wonderstruck to learn that Appa-mam had disciples. Their reaction was one of amazement and disbelief. They were critical. They wondered how Appa-mam have disciples when there was nothing of a sanyasi about him. They never believed in his being sanyasi. So, they were critical in this regard and thought it nothing more than a big hoax.
Q. Why did Appa-mam tell the family members not to laugh at him in front of his disciples?
Answer. Appa-mam told his family members not to laugh at him in front of his disciples as they had faith in him as a sanyasi and had come to seek his blessings and darshan. So, he urged his family members to respect the faith of his disciples they have reposed in him.
Q. What made the writer decide that Appa-mam was a real sanyasi? Do you think she subsequently changed her opinion of him? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer. When Appa-mam gave his blessings to his disciples at the back of the house under the neem tree, the writer treated him as a true sanyasi and expressed her feelings to her mother. Burt subsequently might have changed her opinion of him as just after two days the earrings of one of her aunts were missing and interestingly Appa-mam too was missing. But in the light of the story, the narrator might have continued to treat Appa-mam as a real sanyasi because the things or money that he had taken away were either returned to the family member or given to the needy people.