'Children, children, call your father.' That was mother calling from the ulmuththam. There was a tone of urgency, as though the end of the world was at hand; and in mother's case she believed that since father was the head of the house, only he could save it. In spite of the repeated calls we dared not disturb father. With all the excitement that was being generated, nothing could spoil the tranquility that a good cigar gave him. He sat on the front thinnai puffing away at a cigar he had rolled himself. He wouldn't even deem to inquire what the excitement was all about because he blamed all this on the hysteria of the womenfolk. He treasured moments like this, moments in which he could indulge in the pleasant ritual of cigar smoking. His pleasure was heightened by the fact that he never purchased his cigars from the village shops but got the tobacco leaves from a friend who cultivated and cured them to his exacting tastes. These long black leaves were wrapped in banana fronds in order to keep them damp; he would tear out the tobacco leaf necessary for a smoke.



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