After quitting his marketing job, a 39-year old Mysuru man is seeking to fulfill his aged mother’s wishes by taking her on a religious pilgrimage across the country. Covering over 27,400 kilometres till date, the mother-son duo have been travelling from state to state on a scooter that holds a emotional tie to their late husband and father.
Through Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, D Krishna Kumar and his 70-year old mother Choodarathna have been making stopovers at thousands of temples throughout in the states. "Not many may believe, but in the last 10 months we have covered over 40,000 of such religious places. Big or small, we surely make it a point to visit those places," Kumar says.
Having a lost her husband in 2015, Choodarathna casually confided to her son that there were many places she wanted to visit, especially Belur and Halebid, but hadn’t been able to do so. "I felt terrible when she said that, having travelled across Karnataka due to my profession, I felt guilty for not being able to accommodate such small request of my mother," Krishna said.
Choodarathna had spent almost her entire life within the four walls of the 10-member joint family home in Mysuru, without any friends or social life of her own, her son said. Though she is qualified as a Hindi teacher, she did not take up a job, and instead decided to dedicate herself to her family. Krishna adds that he received the utmost care and attention while he was growing up.
"It was her selflessness that triggered me more to do something for her, so after 13 years being thoroughly employed, I decided to call quits from the job and decided to fulfill her wishes," Krishna said. On January 15 this year, they decided to venture on the religious pilgrimage from Mysuru. "Initially we started with Kerala, later we moved towards other places," he said.
Incidentally, during the course of the journey, Krishna Kumar sprang a surprise on his mother by taking her to the house of her childhood friends, with whom she had fallen out of contact. “I am so thankful for my son for getting me in touch with Chandramathi (Sagar, Shivamogga) and Kaje Jayalaxmi (Vittal, Dakshina Kannada). I have not seen them since the teacher training course over 47 years ago. Unlike these days, we didn't have phone or internet to remain in touch," she said.
Besides fuel, Krishna says there is no major expense incurred on them. Over the course of almost 10 months, a little more than a lakh has been spent on the journey. “We are never in a hurry, depending on our interest we move from one place to another, therefore we cannot exactly say how much time we take we will take to complete our journey and destination,” he says. All through the journey, Choodarathnamma says that they do not stay in hotels and usually consume fruits and prepare curries out of vegetables that are available to them. "We stay at mutts or temples, sometimes locals invite us at their residences. We consume food from the temples as well and even take water for consumption. By God’s grace, I never had health issues and we never fell ill during the journey," she adds.
On being asked why they chose to ride by scooter, Krishna says that it was his father who gifted him the scooter in 2001. "I am very emotionally attached to this Bajaj Chetak. I feel that my father is along with me and I am only like a charioteer taking both my parents for the place of their liking," he said.