The people of Katu Punjai were worried about Kamban who spent so much time day-dreaming that he forgot to eat.
Headman was a close friend of Mari, the priest of Ayanar temple. On his way to the banyan tree under which he held court, Headman stopped at Mari’s house.
“What is the matter, you look worried!” said Mari.
Shoving a wad of tobacco in his mouth Headman said, “Kamban worries me. We must ensure that he has at least one meal a day.”
“Let him cook for the temple festivals, he will eat when he cooks, won’t he?” said Mari.
Headman was pleased, and announced to the village that Kamban was God’s cook. He listed the Tamil months – Adi, Purattasi, Margazhi, Thai, when there were temple festivals. Kamban would cook during those months for the temple, while for the remaining months Kamban would be provided food by the villagers for the odd jobs he did for them.
Mari briefed Kamban about Ayanar festival, and Kamban took out a small notebook and noted down the date; he went to Muniamma, the old lady who had a porridge stall in the village, and got her to tell recipes of the dishes he had to cook for the festival, and he wrote them down too.
The day before the festival he took the temple cart to buy a sack of rice, crates of vegetables, fruits and meat. He cut the vegetables, minced the meat, ground the masala, cooked the rice, meat and vegetables. The whole village ate at the temple during the festival, and Kamban too had his fill.
Just in time for the next festival, Kamban disappeared. The people of the village searched for him and finally found him in a palm tree.
The Headman held a mike and called out to Kamban, “Come down, what do you want?”
Kamban cupped his hands over his mouth and said, “I do not want to cook for the temple festivals.”
Headman laughed, “You are not only God’s guest, you are our guest too. Climb down.”
published 25 September 2013