Where Are You Angel?
Copyright 2021 by Mullappilly
Photo by Engin
Yapici on Unsplash
story takes place in Kerala, a State in South India.
small town of Shoranur, town of Trichur and the cities of Cochin,
Trivandrum and the tourist town of Cape Comorin lay almost in a
straight line, from north to south. The distance between Shoranur and
Trichur is about thirty kilometres and the distance between Trichur
and Cochin approximately sixty kilometres.
house is at Shoranur. I am a journalist, working for a Malayalam
daily. My wife, Angel, lives at Trichur with her father. She
works in a college, run by Hindu monks, in Cochin. She travels all
the way from Trichur to Cochin daily by train and comes to our
housein Saturday morning and returns in Sunday evening. My
Jo who studies Kathakali music
Kerala Kalamandalam is living with
me. In addition
to his study of Kathakali music, Jo is a participant in a
reality show and he is now practicing music. That’s all as
was a good morning. I am still in bed. My birth day
this year was yesterday. Angel had come and returned in the evening.
telephone rang. As I continued to stay in the bed, he attended the
phone and said: “Dad, it’s for you.”
Alex, your father-in-law.”
attended the phone.
kingdom of God is within you and around you”. He recited his
slogan and continued: “I am telling you an important matter.
Don’t let anyone other than you know it. The matter is
Angel is gone last night.”
don’t know. She left home in secret. Without saying a word”.
old is she, exactly?”
don’t know! She is now thirty five.”
will come there right now.”
father-in-law is a widower. If my wife is gone, he will be alone in
taking a bath and dressing hurriedly, I left for wife house.
crisis was real, all too serious.
she have run off with a man?”
man could have run of with her?”
people get it out of their systems by the time they‘re
seventeen, but not Angel. She has to wait and run away from home when
she is thirty five! She did it because she’s always done that
she’s wanted to do!”
not true,” I objected.
wouldn’t say it to her face,”
must have had a good reason.”
must have had some reason. What it is I don’t know, but she
must have had it. What’s more, she must have some kind of a
plan. Angel always planned out what she did.”
and on we talked.
what are her reasons? I‘d like to know what you think her
plans can be.”
do not know her plan but I can think of various reasons. Perhaps she
wanted a change. Why not? Why should she want to stay here, here in
this place as far as that goes?”
discussion continued till evening but reached nowhere.
bid farewell at five o’ clock: “I will be back
kingdom of God is within you and around you”.
again met next day morning, slightly composed. We discovered it this
way. Alex was an early riser, and got up at about six o’clock.
Mary, the cook, came to the house only at about 9 A.M. So he had to
get his own breakfast. The necessaries were left out for him by Angel
on the table in the kitchen and in the refrigerator, as her final
downstairs act the night before, because she will go in early
morning to get the train.
morning he came downstairs at about six twenty and found nothing
ready. Nothing whatsoever. Yet when he had gone to bed the night
before, Angel who was reading a book in the hall, had called her
usual good night to him: “Mention me in your prayers.”
kingdom of God is within you”. He replied, as usual.
was no hint that things were not normal.
distress was of course, majestic. He ate his breakfast discontented.
If only Angel would descend! He would overwhelm her with the
magnitude of his grievance.
usually got up at six, but seven came that morning, and he began to
walk in his room and still there was no sound from her
don’t know what we’re going to do about Angel. She forgot
her job and my breakfast this morning. She is oversleeping.”
climbed the stairs and listened, his ear to the door panel, really
disturbed now. He knocked again, and again, and then went in and
found Angel’s bed unused. A piece of paper was pinned to the
bed sheet. It was a note. Angel’s only message to him.
Dad! So you …know now!
found that her tooth-brush was gone, also her combs, and the bottle
of wine kept in the bedside cabinet, of which she took a sip just
before she turned out her light. A medium sized suitcase which she
could carry herself, was also gone
all some silly project of Angel. She will be back by noon.”
was then when he called me yesterday.
the servant, arrived at the same time I did. After listening while
Alex told us what he knew, she went upstairs to look for herself. She
made her own discovery.
woollen coat is also gone from the cupboard. That sounds like next
a very cool destination.”
do you think it’s all about?”
a big woman, with grey hair, studied us. Since grandmother’s
death she had involved a trying but effective way of maintaining
herself in that uneasy household. She now guessed that we would be
gaining upon the absent of Angel.
think she’s gone off because she’s too full of life to
stand it any longer in this old house. I doubt if she ever come back.
And, then, I won’t stay either. Not alone here with you.”
like that in writing.” Alex retorted.
Mary’s face screwed up and she hurried off towards the
kitchen. I followed her.
the matter Mary? You do know something we don’t know, do
My boy. It’s terrible. What we will do without her, he out
there and me.”
me, may be even more”.
what means had Angel departed? When I returned to the front end of
the house, I asked Alex if he knew. He hadn’t got around to
thinking about that yet. Angel had parked her scooter in the
car porch. It was missing. Wherever she had gone, she had gone by her
scooter, or as usual, parking it in the railway station.
told us toward the end of dinner that Angel had said two days ago
that there would be four at table that night. So she knew already.
She didn’t decide suddenly to go off in the middle of the
spent my life doing what Angel plans for me to do. I’m sick and
tired of it.”
is possible that Angel will never, never, plan anything for you to do
separated after dinner, having wasted that day in dithering, the way
people do when in shock. We had decided nothing, planned nothing.
she’ll come back home tonight or be here tomorrow morning, just
as usual – and make my breakfast, I have that feeling. If she
doesn’t, it’s going to get lonely here.”
kingdom of God is within you”.
I telephoned my son to say I would be away for the
night and to tell him why, he had supposed, after
expression of surprise due to situation, that in that case he just
stay over late at the studio for the reality show, but he
immediately, as he wanted to know his mother’s details.
told him everything I knew about Angel’s disappearance, and
answered questions: Were we sure Angel had run away? Were we sure no
simple explanation? Didn’t anyone have any idea why she’d
done it? And so on.
we have got to find her.”
be she’s not lost!”
the irony for later, after she is back. Have you tried to figure out
where she’s gone?”
yet. We have not got around yet.”
allowed the day to pass, for Alex hoped still that Angel would, after
a two days’ straying, reconsider and return.
the morning when I got to the old house, which was thirty kilometres
away from mine, down in the town, I said to Alex:
has really gone and obviously we’ve got to find her. Find
her and make her return if we can”.
am open to suggestions.”
a minute I thought you had some appropriate action to propose. Where
could she have gone? Where could she be?”
expect you are right. Have you any idea where she might have gone
away to? Relatives or friends, that’s one possibility.
Does any destination strikes you?”
think we will have to talk to people she’s been seeing recently
to find out what’s been on her mind.”
see no alternative but who and what are they?”
divided up the work of getting in touch with Angel’s friends
and acquaintances. Alex would take those the majority who
be handled by telephone, while I got her work place and other
the worst thing first – by so much the worst that if I had
postponed it I would never have gone there. I set off for the place
at Cochin where Angel is working. It is a college, run by a Mutt of
identified myself to the information desk and said I’d like to
speak to the Principal. The principal, simple greying hair,
candid light eyes, a frankly summer dress, no jewellery. I sat down,
when invited, in a chair beside her table.
I am, as the information desk just informed you, the husband of
Angel.” I said.
from Trichur. Working here as a lecturer.”
thought for a few minutes and said:
Now I remember. That English teacher. A very beautiful young woman.”
you did not know?”
looked at her in surprise.
was working here, but not now. She left us one year ago.”
One year ago!”
be embarrassed. Actually she did not leave us. She just changed her
was promoted and posted as the Personal Assistant of our Shri
why can’t she tell me?”
don’t know, but I guess. She might have thought that you will
not allow her to take up the new job.”
a point. I might have not liked it. He is a womaniser.”
say so! He is Godlike!”
Godlike but a god-man. I am a journalist and I know many things that
you do not know. Is the swami now available in the Ashram?”
He has gone to the USA”.
Angel accompanied him.”
don’t know. Can be.”
thought for a while before returning to home. Can I get somebody who
can help me in the matter? I went to the Cochin branch of our
newspaper and enquired to get some contact with the Ashram.
They supplied the address of one Mr. Menon. I started to meet that
Menon was an old man, about seventy years old. He welcomed me
with a smile. I described the case and asked him whether he
knew anything about Angel.
It was your wife? I thought her as a Hindu. Anyway, I know her. She
is the right hand of the swamiji.”
about the swami?”
do you want to know?”
attitude towards women?”
said you are a journalist”.
But this is my personal matter. I am not going to report our
conversation to the paper.”
believe you. I have access to the swamiji and
something which I will not disclose now. You can make your own
enquiries and find out yourself.”
tried my level best but he was adamant. I approached the matter from
a different angle:
will swami return?”
has gone to inaugurate a new branch there and will be returning as
soon as possible”
followed the swami?”
her relation with the swami?”
are really a journalist! I told you that I am not willing to speak
about that matter. You will have to find out yourself.”
old man was not ready to open his heart because I belonged to another
religion and further I am a journalist. I returned, saying thanks to
though he did not say anything explicitly, I could read in between
the lines. He did not refute my implied allegation.
about getting another contact, I again approached our branch, but the
reporter had gone out and the office staff did not know anything
about the swami.
contacted the reporter through mobile phone and informed him the
position and asked whether he could suggest some other name.
he replied: “I can suggest some more names. But I think it is
better if you can collect the information yourself. You do one thing.
Go direct to the ashram and pretending as a well-wisher, visit some
places there and give some donation to them. And by approaching this
way, you will get a chance to take them in hand.”
was a good idea. So saying thanks to him I went to the Ashram.
Ashram at Cochin.
was a vast compound and there were many buildings, small and big, and
the compound was full of trees, plants and flowers.
first building was the reception and adjacent to it stood a
book-stall. I went to the book-shop. There were a lot of books there
and all of them were Hindu philosophical books. I asked a man there
about the books written by the swami. He laughed and said that the
swami had not so far written any book. I had to swallow my next
I went to the reception. A smart boy of twenty five years was at the
desk. He wore white dress and had a small knot of long hair on the
back of his head.
asked: “Are you a swami?”
am not a sanyasin but a Brahmachari, a student sanyasin. What I can
do for you?”
want to know more about our swami and the ashram.”
will get books from the book shop about the ashram and the swamis
here. It is better to read them than depending on my words.”
said ‘thank you’ to him and presented a one hundred rupee
note as a donation. He accepted the money and issued a receipt.
were two big halls in the middle of the compound. One was a temple
and the other appeared to be a place for meetings, ceremonies etc.
huge bell in front of the ashram struck twelve times. It was time for
food and all the people rushed to another building, in a corner of
the compound which appeared to be a canteen.
the way I met the receptionist. He said: “You cannot leave
without eating our food. The accommodation and food here is free for
three days. Why can’t you accept our invitation”.
led me to the canteen and arranged for my food, and left. The food
consisting of brown rise and four curry dishes was simple and tasty.
I enjoyed the food, as vegetarian food was rare to me.
returning from the Ashram after dinner I went to the receptionist to
say ‘thank you’. He handed over a key and told me: “Make
it convenient to stay here for two-three days!"
thought for a while and found that the stay in the Ashram may help me
to get some contact whom I may use to study more about the swami and
his secret life, if any, I agreed.
decided to act as a Hindu, and in the register I wrote my name as
Vishnu, to avoid the dislike of the orthodox inmates.
parked my car in a corner of the parking-ground and started in search
of my room.
was a huge quadrangular building with twenty five small rooms on all
the four sides and there was a round building in the middle of the
quadrangular building. It was for the swamis to
The square building was for the swamis, brahmacharis and the visitors
four, the bell rang for times.
walked forward. As already said, there were two buildings in the
middle of the compound; one was a temple with some idols of Hindu
gods and the other a hall for arranging meetings and ceremonies. An
old man, white and white, was speaking and some fifty people were
listening. All were wearing white dress and sitting on the floor. One
of the audience caught my hand and asked me to sit and hear the
old man began to talk. It was not speech, but a simple talk to the
audience. Obeying the instinct of a journalist, I took out my pocket
diary and noted down his words in ‘short hand’….
day a bishop and his followers were travelling on a boat. On the way
they happened to see a small island and anchored there for a short
break. There they saw three old men who appeared to be hermits. To
the enquiries of the bishop, as to their belief and prayers, they
replied that they don’t know any philosophy. They have got only
one prayer. ‘You are three and we are three. Please bless
bishop taught them a good prayer for meditation: “The kingdom
of God is within us and around us.”
don’t know any philosophy! Their prayer is ‘we are three,
you are three!” The bishop and his men returned laughing
at the three men.
they have passed some distance the travellers saw the three men
approaching the boat walking on the waves. They said: ‘Bishop,
we have forgotten the prayer you taught us. Please repeat it once
is an adaptation of a story written by Lev Tolstoy. You may try to
find out the meaning of the story yourself.”
story was followed by a serious speech…
is Truth? How are you going to find out? Are you going to accept
somebody else’s information? Or are you going to try to
discover for yourself what it is? It is easy to ask questions, but to
experience the Truth requires a great deal of inquiry and search…
about five thirty, the inmates again gathered in the same
hall. Within a few minutes, a bhajan (singing
of religious hymns in praise of Hindu gods) started. The system was :
one singer recited some lines and the chorus
loudly. The songs were in Sanskrit and hence I could not understand
them except names of some gods. Still I enjoyed the singing.
the bhajan, all inmates assembled in the temple. There
was deeparadhana (worship
with lamps) before all deities, at six fifteen.
that a pinch of ashes was served to all to mark on the forehead.
evening food was served at about seven. It consisted of brown rice
and two kinds of curries. I liked that food also.
night was peaceful. I entered the speech to my ‘lap-top’
and I slept well
five o clock in the morning, the bell rang five times and with it the
ashram roused to action. After bathing in the tank inside the ashram,
all inmates assembled in the temple. There was deeparadhana.
After that sandal paste was served to all to mark on the
Some persons sat in a corner, merged in meditation.
food for the morning (tiffin) was served at eight. It consisted
of Idlis and sambar curry
followed by tea or milk.
the tiffin, I went to the bookstall and walked around, examining the
bookshelves, trying to purchase some books. I spent about one hour
there and returned after purchasing a book on the Ashram. As I did
not know the name of the swami, I could not select a book on him.
went to the reception and spent some time there, talking with the
receptionist, whenever he is free.
have spent more than twenty four hours here but I could not find your
swami? We have got many swamis here. The Guru swami who is the brain
of the ashram, manager swami who manages the ashram, PRO swami who
deals with the public, external affairs swami who manages our
branches in foreign countries, canteen swami who manages the canteen
etc.. All of them are staying in the square building and their rooms
are their offices. Now tell me, which swami you want to meet.”
swami has a lady personal assistant?”
here has a personal assistant. No lady staff at all.”
I will tell you the truth. My wife was working as a P.A. to the head
of this institution. Last week she left me, without saying a word.
Somebody in the town told me that she left for the USA with the swami
in this ashram.”
swami from here has gone to USA.”
took out a photo of Angel from my pocket and showing it to him asked:
“Have you seen this woman? It is my wife.”
sir, I have not seen her.”
you give me a clue as to who might have gone to the USA recently”.
have already told you. Nobody has gone to USA. It is the
external affairs swami who will go to the foreign countries, but he
is here. I have a doubt, not sure, a swami from
had gone to USA. He is an American. The ashram is an autonomous body.
He often visited this place, as he is a follower of our Guru swami.
You can try there.”
my key, I started to Trivandrrum. It was some two hundred
kilometres away and the driving was very tedious. I halted at
Alleppey and Quilon for tea and short breaks and reached at Trivandum
at about eight. I hired a room in a lodge and stayed for the night
and went to the ashram in the morning.
pattern of the reception and the bookstall was the same. The temple
and the adjacent meeting hall were small when compared to the ashram
at Cochin. The compound was also small. I went to the
reception. A young lady was there at the desk. It seemed that this
ashram has got no allergy to woman and colours. The girl was talking
to some body in phone. I waited. It took more than ten minutes. It
looked like a chat with her lover.
stopped her talking and looked at me.
I can do for you.”
your swami has returned from the USA?”
He has not.”
he will come?”
may take a few more days”.
took out the photo and showed it to her and asked whether she has
seen the woman?
I have not”.
case is becoming more and more complicated. I thought for a while and
decided to stay there for some time.
was a notice in the notice-board that the ‘Guru Swami’ of
Cochin ashram will deliver a speech on Indian philosophy at 10 AM. I
decided to hear it, so that I may spend more time there without
inviting the attention of the residents.
thanks to her, I returned to my room in the lodge. After having food
and some rest, I again visited the ashram at nine forty five. Many
people, about one hundred, had gathered in the meeting-hall.
old man whom I had seen at Cochin ashram was the speaker. He was
standing on the stage and talking. The audience were sitting on
chairs and listening.
my instinct as a journalist, I took out the ‘short-hand’
book and began to note down the important points of the speech.
old man began to speak.
the talk on Shad darshanas was over, I returned to my room and
entered this speech to my laptop.
the evening I went to see the Shankumugham beach. The vast stretch of
white sand and the serene atmosphere, away from the crowd in the
city, provide all the ingredients for relaxation and for spending an
ideal evening sunset.
speech on Vedanta darshanas was over by one hour and thirty minutes.
I returned to my room and after food I went to see the Kovalam beach,
an international tourist center. It was 13 km
away from Trivandrum. In the night I entered the speech to my
speech by Guruswami on Vedanta darshana was over by one hour.
entered the speech to my laptop and in the evening I went to
known as Cape Comorin, is a town in Kanyakumari
the state of Tamil
India, ninety kilometres south of Trivandrrum. It is the southern tip
subcontinent. The southernmost town in mainland India.
talk on Jainism and Buddhism took two hours. I returned to my room
and entered my notes in the lap top. In the evening I again returned
to the ashram. A bhajan was
going on in the hall with a mesmeric effect…
was sleeping or in unconscious state. When I woke up I found myself
in a hospital bed. And a nurse was giving me an injection.
am I?” I asked the nurse.
are in a hospital”, the nurse replied.
closed my eyes and pretended as sleeping.
Guru Swami and Alex entered the room
kingdom of God is within you, James! Are you OK?”
thought for a while and replied: “OK.”
your wife is also OK?” The swami asked.
Alex said: “He is not married.”
married! Then, who is Angel?”
is, oh no, was, my daughter”
‘was’. She left us some ten years ago, in a road
alias Vishnu told me that he has got a wife and a son.”
and Angel were class-mates and they had developed a healthy
friendship. But before we could arrange their marriage, she is gone
and he is broken.”
are you thinking about my experience?”
asked Alex: “Was it a dream?”
another hallucination or a dream!”
how did this swami, who is a creation of my mind, appeared here in
person? How could my ‘lap- top’ contain so much
is no response.
is nobody here.
is my home and my room.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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