7 Dec 2019

Mind Battles — Perang dalam Minda

“Arjunan? I asked again to confirm his identity.

“Right,” he replied briefly as he got into the vehicle.

There was silence in the initial minutes as our journey began. The young man who sat on the passenger seat on my left was not keen to strike up a conversation. I was forced to control my urge to talk about Arjuna and Krishna from the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.

“How much further?” Arjunan asked.

“About thirty kilometres,” I replied as I glanced at the Waze app on my handphone. “We will arrive in thirty minutes.”

The youth in his mid-20s nodded silently. He glanced at his watch on his right hand occasionally. He who wore a white T-shirt and jeans appeared anxious.

“Do you have an important meeting?” I attempted to converse with hopes to reduce his anxiety.

“Yes,” Arjunan said briefly. “It is regarding family property.”

“Oh,” I responded as I was not sure whether Arjunan was prepared to continue this conversation.

“I am at a dead end. It is a dispute since the time of dad. Don’t know when it would be resolved.”

According to Arjunan, the family business began in Taiping, Perak during the time of his grandfather.  The man was born in Jaffna in 1930 and migrated at the age of 17 to the Malayan Union several months before Ceylon gained independence from the British colonial masters.

He became a successful entrepreneur as a result of his sheer hard work and assets that he brought over from his motherland. After a long period of bachelorhood, he married two women, a common practice even in the 1960s.

The first wife’s eldest child was named Sritarashtran whereas the second wife’s child was named Paandiyan. Another son, Kreetharan was obtained as a result of an illicit affair with Sritharashtran and Paandiyan’s nanny.

“When grandfather died suddenly in 1984, relatives were forced to decide who was qualified to continue the well-established business in Taiping,” Arjunan said and his anxiety seemed to have reduced.

“By right, Sritarashtran is the most eligible to take over his father’s position as the latter was against splitting the business,” said a relative from Jaffna who attended the funeral rituals.

A polemic was raised among the extended family members as Sritarashtran was born blind.  If the business was handed over to him, it was possible that he would fail to discharge his duties.

“Sritarashtran would definitely be conned by the workers and those dealing with him. A solid business may come down crashing as a result of manipulation and opportunistic ways because he is blind.”

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The original full-length “Perang dalam Minda” by Uthaya Sankar SB was published in Dewan Masyarakat (January 2019). This abridged version was translated by Pragalath Kumar from Busana Bahasa (2019) and published in the Men Matters Online Journal (June 2021).