“Guro,” called out Maveli.
Maveli is the asura hypocorism for the deva name Mahabali. Kerala is advertised by the Tourism Department as “God’s Own Country.” But the people of Kerala love asura hypocorisms. You can’t blame the people, really. Like their favourite King, Maveli, quite many of them have been expatriated. Those who are not expatriated geographically (or literally, if you wish) adopt expatriation by intoxication. And expatriates love nostalgic hypocorisms.
Kerala is the land of expatriates. Pravasi is the most favourite word in the state. Every pravasi is supposed to be living in bliss. If there is any Malayali pravasi who is not living in such blissful condition, Benyamin or Mukundan will write Aadujeevitham or Pravasam in honour of the hapless pravasi’s nostalgia for God’s Own Country which is actually Maveli’s Own Country. And Maveli was an asura, a demon.
“Prabho, My Lord,” came Maveli’s Guru, Sukracharya hearing Maveli’s call.
Sukracharya was Maveli’s priest and guide, mentor and teacher, before the deva Vishnu came in the form of Dwarf and deceived Maveli.
Scene: Maveli’s Palace in Asura’s Own Country
Enter Dwarf bearing a queer mix of boyhood innocence and godhood malice and wearing the sacred thread of Brahminhood.
Dwarf: Your Majesty, I live far below the poverty line. I cannot even apply for the Aadhar card without which your government will not even let me have cooking gas. Give me just three feet of land and I’ll manage somehow. You are the most generous king of kings, dayalu of dayalus, prema yogi and karma yogi...”
Dwarf unfolds a leather vesicle and takes out Amul butter.
Dwarf: The best butter available in Gods’ Own Heavens, Your Majesty.
Maveli: Thank you, aditi. Order me, what can I do for you? Whatever your wish, it will be granted.
Enter Sukracharya with a stunned expression and whispers something in the ear of Maveli.
Maveli: No, Guro. I may be a demon by hierarchy, but I am honest by cultivation. This is Asuras’ Own Country. I cannot go back on my word. [To Dwarf] Tell me, Boy, what is your wish?
Dwarf: Just three feet of land, Your Majesty. But I will measure it out with my own foot. [The word foot resounds in the PA systems of Asuras’ Own Country.]
Maveli: Only three feet of land? Measure it out for yourself wherever you wish in Asuras’ Own Proud Country.
Sukracharya begins to pack his American Tourister bags.
Dwarf suddenly begins to grow large. He grows so large that the sun is blacked out. Maveli stands unfazed.
Maveli: You are a deva. I am an asura. I accept your verdict. I shall go to the patalam, underworld. I have nothing to give you in return. So please condescend to take this Amul butter back and grant me a wish.
Dwarf-turned-giant: [imperiously – but accepting the Amul butter smacking his lips] What’s your wish?
Maveli: Allow me to visit my praja once a year.
Dwarf-turned-god: Oh, only that? Granted.
Exit god from Maveli’s Own Country with Amul butter clutched close to his heart.
Back to Present Time
Maveli: Guro, I’m going on my annual visit to Asuras’ Own Country.
Sukracharya: You’ve never cared to listen to me, Your Majesty. Yet it’s my duty to advise you not to go.
Maveli: Never mind, Guro. I don’t foresee any danger. There are no genuine devas anymore anywhere.
Sukracharya: There are no genuine asuras either, Your Majesty.
Maveli: That’s precisely why I have to go, Guro. Good bye. See you soon.
Sukracharya: Happy Onam to you, Your Majesty.