The news that Gendethimma had broken off with his share of family property was something the Parivara Street of Salundi found hard to believe. “This is what a younger brother — elder brother relationship should be like,” people used to say clicking their tongues in effusive admiration. “They’re like Rama and Lakshmanal.” When it was confirmed that brothers with such a reputation had separated and that there would be not one but two kitchen-fires burning under a single roof, pity stirred in many hearts. “Too bad!” they said soulfully to themselves. “This shouldn’t have happened.” Some did shoot in quickly, “We’d thought the household was in for a break-up when such a daughter-in-law stepped into it.” Regardless of who did or didn’t think whatever they wanted to, Maranki almost danced with joy when the news reached her. Gendethimma followed the track to Ulimavu the same evening as the division took place and conveyed the news. Although the village elders divided the property equally, Gendetimma on his own gave up the grove in favour of his brother. Vessels and odds and ends and cattle were also apportioned. But Gendethimma didn’t choose to take anything that had to be divided. While Maranki treated her husband that night with bubbly and excited enthusiasm, Gendethimma spent the night absent-minded and sleepless.
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