The Odd Couple

The first of these stories featuring an old couple and a host of zany characters appeared in the Tamil weekly Kumudham in 1963 and has entertained fans ever since. The writer was Bhagyam Ramasami; the  illustrator Jayraj.

Sita Patti [full name: Sitalakshmi Appusamy], the madisar-clad sixty-plus bombshell, is the president of a ladies club called PMK (Patti Munetra Kazhagam).  As “Sita, the trouble-shooter” she pens an agony-aunt column for a glossy periodical. Patti cracks the daily The Hindu crossword well before noon. She peppers every sentence with English words, Madras socialite-style.

Gita Patti, the “ugly rustic” down the street, is patti’s sworn enemy. At the other end of the spectrum, the moneyed Ponamma David with an eye on PMK president post, is Patti’s rival. Ponamma’s wealth is no match for our Patti’s wit, so you can say, Sita is pretty unassailable in her post as president-ji of the ladies club.

The activities of PMK keep Patti busy. Patti in turn keeps her husband, the Madras-bashai speaking Thatha, (real name: Appusamy), busy with work around the house. This makes Patti look like a despot, but these errands keep Appusamy out of trouble. What capers can un viejo, an 80+ man pull, you ask? Well, for an answer you have to read the kite-fight episode of Maanja Menace or, at least, about the time our Thatha, a Kushboo fan, had the actress’s name tattooed on his chest.

Appusamy is quite capable of getting into trouble all by himself, but he is ably assisted by his disreputable buddies Rasagundu (rasam, for short) and the Kannada-speaking weekend gambler Bhim Rao. Gritty slum-dwellers Pachondi (chameleon) and Ara-Blade Arunachalam make their appearance in some of the zanier escapades. Rasagundu and Bhim regularly “double-cross” Appusamy, not out of malice, but only for petty gain. The wily Patti foils her husband’s schemes by offering his gang members suitable bribes from time to time.

I have missed my bus/train stop, at least once reading these paperbacks. There should be a collector’s edition that doesn’t fall part quite so easily. (Publisher Badri Seshadri, are you listening ? — well apparently he was, but Jayraj is no longer the artist, alas.) Of these escapades, I have my favorites– in some Sita wins and on some very, very rare occasions, Appusamy does too. Hard to believe, I know, but it does happen once in a blue moon. Yes, there were times when our heroine has had to accept defeat. And Patti has had to pore over essays like “Ten Sure Ways To Attract Your Hubby” to appease the much-bullied man.

Listen to:  Come On, Appusami, C’mon