In our neighbourhood, Annavi Seeya was the ultimate mystery man. His front gate was perpetually padlocked, and no one witnessed any comings or goings. Trying to enter? Good luck! His fence was a fortress, so tight that not even a chicken could sneak through. Every inch of his property was barricaded with sticks.
Picture his house, and you’d see two dominating colours: white walls and brown tiles. Annavi Seeya and his wife, Annavi Achchie, inhabited this fortress-like dwelling alone. No kids, no grandkids. Annavi Seeya wasn’t exactly a child-friendly chap.
He let his mangoes ripen and drop, untouched by sharing hands. Surplus coconuts? Nope, neighbours didn’t get a taste. If your cricket ball landed in Annavi Seeya’s vast yard, consider it lost in a no-ball zone.
His gaze was fierce, those eyes penetrating. His nose was sharp, his face was thin, and his hair was also thin. Even though we shared some distant family ties — he and my grandmother were cousins — he stared at me as if I hailed from another planet. Annavi Seeya, the enigma of the neighbourhood, reigning over his kingdom of locked gates and unyielding stares.
Now, Annavi Achchie was different from her husband. Rocking those long-sleeved white blouses and vibrant skirts, she walked to the church. But here’s the kicker — she never spoke to us unless it was the Sunday walk to the church, the holy runway, where she’d grace us with a nod or a mumbled greeting — talking across the fence from her house? Not in her dictionary. I think she was not allowed to.
And when it came to games, we had our sacred commandments. Rule number one: no, absolutely no hitting the ball into Annavi Seeya’s sacred territory. That would be game over, folks! We weren’t rolling in spare balls to sacrifice to the gods of the silly neighbour’s yard. It was a cardinal rule — mess with Annavi Seeya’s turf, and your game was toast.
Annavi Seeya, the head honcho acolyte in our church, was the second in command after the big boss parish priest. He was the master scheduler, the keeper of churchly appointments, and the guardian of parish books. Every day, like clockwork, he strutted to mass in his signature ensemble — a dazzling white coat paired with a matching sarong that could blind you if you stared too long. His long grey hair, a wild symphony of knots, partied to a bun at the back of his head.
Moments before the church mass commenced, he seized control of the rosary and litany as if orchestrating a musical parade, remaining kneeling throughout the ceremony. The volume? It was cranked up to the max, making the entire church, all three sections of it, quiver and shake. The pews were doing the Macarena, and the church pillars were trying to join the chorus. That pre-mass spectacle was enough to wake the sleepyheads in the back row and have the saints wondering if they needed earplugs.
Here’s the twist: despite his high-ranking church duties and divine fashion sense, Annavi Seeya wasn’t precisely the kid-friendly cleric. Nope, no warm, fuzzy smiles for the little ones as he strolled his holy path to the church each day. It was as if he had a secret pact with solemnity, leaving the kiddos to wonder if he’d ever gotten the memo about the joyous part of the whole religious affair.
Like clockwork, the neighbourhood had a soundtrack, and it wasn’t the chirping birds or jingles. Nope, the unmistakable, high-decibel sobs of Annavi Achchie echoing through the air.
But here’s the catch — investigating these household histrionics was like finding a needle in a haystack. First off, Annavi Seeya was practically the Pope of our local parish, the chief acolyte, the man with a holy halo. No one dared to suspect him of wrongdoing; it was like accusing Mother Teresa of swiping candy from a baby.
Secondly, the man had a fortress for a property — off-limits even to neighbours who did know the art of snooping. Domestic drama? Locked behind the gates of secrecy, guarded by the acolyte extraordinaire. It was a comedic tragedy, the kind where you’re torn between concern and the absurdity of a holy man moonlighting as a possible abuser and a child-hater.
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