CHAPTER – 14
On one side, I was impelled to better my prospects, financially. On the other was the pull of philosophy. I was impatient to discover for myself the nature of life and of God. I was therefore steeped in thought all the time. I was firm in my conviction that perseverance alone would lead to prosperity. With equal faith, I believed that constancy in the pursuit of Truth would secure for me a vision of God someday. I never felt the least liking for the job in which I was working. But what was the alternative if I give it up? I continued at that post, planning to resign it the moment I obtained employment elsewhere. I first got fifteen rupees as pay. My weaving brought in about ten rupees. That total of twenty-five rupees was just enough in those days for my own maintenance and for making a small affection and deference.
I taught English at this place for two hours in the morning and one hour in the evening. The pay was ten rupees a month. The work was lighter, it is true, compared to weaving. But again, was there any future in it? While one day I was thus sunk in deep thought, I had a brainwave. “I am a qualified Ayurvedic physician and pharmacist. Why not I take that as my profession?” That seemed to have a future in it.
But, what was there I could do for a beginning? My mind was soon made up. I should manufacture and sell tooth powder, and pills to take along with a pan (betel leaf). I prepared pan pills, using the most expensive ingredients like musk and saffron, as taught by the master, Vaidya Bhoopati S. Krishna Rao. A vial containing one hundred pills I priced a quarter of a rupee. I started selling it in the office in which I was working. It caught on slowly, but steadily. For an outlay of ten rupees, the profit was forty rupees, on a monthly turnover. The tooth powder bore the trade name, Sikhaamani. Both preparations together yielded a profit of fifty rupees a month.
I breathed freely. I glimpsed the light of prosperity ahead with hope newborn and strong.
My parents had tried to arrange my marriage in my twenty-third year. My Father had asked my brother in law to give his daughter in marriage to me, but he preferred an alliance with someone who was in more affluent circumstances.
I myself felt inclined to marry only my sister’s daughter Logambal by name. My parents regretted my brother in law’s decision. They asked me if they could look for a suitable bride elsewhere. My sister’s daughter and I had grown up together as children and had known and understood each other well. She had secured a permanent place in my affections. Hence I could not think of another girl replacing her in my heart. I said no. All talk of marriage ceased.
Six months after this, I had the misfortune to lose my Father. After this bereavement, when I came back to Madras I gave up my part-time job as a teacher, as I found I derived an adequate income from my medicinal preparations.
Mr. Chokkalinga Gramani was our next door neighbour. He asked me one day to coach his two sons at home and offered to pay seven rupees a month for that. I hesitated at first and then agreed.
After about two months, he spoke to me. He asked, “Why are you postponing your marriage?” He would not let the matter rest. They persisted. Somehow they managed, at the end, to settle the alliance. I was to marry the girl on whom I had set my heart.
I collected the amount needed and kept it ready. I was very happy at the thought of having as a helpmate, whose mind was in tune with mine, and who was intelligent and highly cultured.
I wanted to lead an ideal married life and I had sought the most fitting partner I could find to realize that ideal in practice. I succeeded.
The wedding was solemnized without extravagance of any kind. My mother’s heart was now content.
I had arranged for my brother’s marriage also. Both weddings took place on the same day. I persuaded my Mother to come and live with us. My brother also resided with me. We rented a separate house and commenced our married life.
I had found a wife whose good looks matched he goodness. I had an income adequate to my needs. It was certainly a life full of happiness. But not quite fully! Deep down, the cup of joy was not full. “What is the nature of life? Where is God to be found? How is poverty in the world to be wiped out?” These questions demanded an answer. They became more insistent with each passing day.