Thursday, December 13, 2007

Behind the curtains of lust....

She sat in the corner of her room. Oblivious of the breathing behind her. Unmindful of the memories that haunt her, silence sobbed in another quieter spot of the heart. She had been enslaved in the prison of her own. The painted whitewash stood peeled off like her of her imaginations. The dampness stayed an uninvited guest. Her enquiries stood nude and shameless bathed in callous ignorance or intentional forgetfulness!!! She never cared. And he never tried to cloth it.
Curtains windowed the darker shades. She didn’t want the light of the day to disturb. Still a faint glow seeped though and spread like the whiskers of the mouse probing the smell of an indoor. Moans of someone’s sensuous pleasure trespassed the hazy boundaries of cloth. She wished to lose all her encumbrances. To feel lighter minus the mammary. Her gaze searched for the already lost heart. A gamble of zero hope. The last trigger. Nothing changed except the loss. Even the tone had a hiccup. The mutants of respects invalid for the present.
He loved her body; her color, her smile and everything in her except her. And what more could she expect as a prostitute?
Clients… Customers…Blurred images of men who came and went swathed her memory. Several visitors and a few guests. She serviced them without guilt, without passion to an ultimate impasse.
Kamathipura had been her ancestral home from time immemorial. Her world. Her mom wished her fate to break the shackles of these dusky rooms. She treasured and hid Tanima from those ugly clutches of lust. The penetrating eyes often tried to get it through, but those defeated efforts made the gaze thirsty for more. Brothels were her home and pimps her playmates. Untimely is destiny so unlucky. Her mom died a lonely death leaving the mantle for a young her. She wasn’t sold or maybe sold by the big madams. It was always a one-day play for the breed of her like and a one sided show. The actors playing their part to perfection. The selfishness for the three letter word caressed the body till the hunger died. Sometimes violent, at times lovely, sometimes lively, and mostly lifeless. It’s business. The most thriving from the ancient for the uncaring male dominion to ease off a frustration or two. Innumerable lives shattered, infinite souls sold. The muffled cries insulated in the muddle of sleaze.
Then there came the HIM. Out of a distraught home. Caring and quiet. Handsome and gloomy. His eyes spoke the undeclared story of disgust. The first man to enquire her affairs, the first man to caress her tress, the first man who cuddled her and shared his stories. The man who always returned for her. The man who kissed her forehead before making love. She fell in love so undisclosed. Her eyes awaited his arrival every anxious moment. Then his footsteps came more as expected, with the love and hope an extra baggage so unexpected. He had a family. A broken one though, her desires always defeated her morals in his presence. The cracked mirror reflected her circumstance in transition. The tiny drops of love showered from the crevices of her splintered soul into him. Was she going insane, she herself wondered once? But that is the magic of love, where the wits masquerade every wrong as right.
Months passed and she eased. The wrinkles from his tensed hood stretched clear. He brought the small chocolates she always yearned to savor as a kid. He got the teddies she saw on the windows while street walking. He brought the tiny packets of surprises every other day. He decided her birthday as the first night he relished her in delight. He softened her bed with the cards she never ever expected. And she began to dream. The castle grew in stature and so did her desire to live. She expected him to hug and make merry on the day she present him the biggest surprise.
The dark dim light streetlights expected his arrival. She stood with bated breath to break the news. Her gaze wandered wildly till where the lights could no longer transport. His gait slow, He arrived late. The regular chocolates missing from his fusty pockets. He smiled wry. And laughed at himself in a dry guffaw. Cynically the wagging tongue dragged itself and declared, drunk and inebriated – “My kid is back and so is his mom”. The elbows rubbed his eyes. The index finger cleared the flowing phlegm down his nose. His hands danced a different pose to the resonance in her ears. She felt a thud in her heart. The wind blew the castle down and all the dreams came tumbling down. She smiled amongst the angst and tears. There was no better joy than to see him happy. The news choked in the saliva that reluctantly settled below her tongue dragging down the throat. She coughed, but didn’t drop her crystal of joy. He kissed her once for long and she knew it her last. A fate so sandwiched like her mom’s. The hug caught her like a cadaver. Still his sweat smelt sweet a pheromone.
He left her a final gift of which he himself was caught unawares. The smiling chubby cheeked carved so identical. Her ray of hope. Her bundle of joy. Her son. The feeling of abandonment abandoned her in his presence. His future as the last glimmer of hope, she flicked the wrinkled past with a careless rebellion. The soiled pages to be cleansed and dried of the dirt. She will live for him. Tears of subconscious joy rolled her cheeks more than the lustful delights in her the next customer. She had evolved.
The hands pressed and the bodies’ embraced in a sensual nearness. He hugged her. And she melted into a stage of another tireless drama. A saga of transitory excitement, where flakes of lust flew like dust with every breath. A ritual done. The money paid. He left. She sat in the corner of her room. Oblivious of the breathing behind her.........

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Yesterday…. On the 28th November 2007, HAZIRA, Surat, Gujarat.... time and tide stood a true testimony to the proverb dedicated to salute their reputation…They didn’t wait for anyone…a delayed late evening ship survey. Reason - resource crunch tailed to the slackness of the personnel. Reserves intended for the MERMAID anchored at deep sea was loaded on the trawler. More time at sea. Venturing into the sea in a boat at half past six .The worst call ever taken by me. But adventure at mid sea that too at night is not an always-open option. It needs luck and availability, a little courage to take risk, the willingness to work at night, the adventure at heart and empathy towards the owner for the early release of his vessel for trade. My decisions agreed for the go. High risk - Worst among the practical impediments. The boat accommodated 10 humans, packaged in various shapes and sizes…lean, fat tummies, dwarfed, tall and so on…Nine of them with a wife waiting at home and one free me.
The ride as I believed was a 15-minute close to the shore entertainment trip, no traffic snarls, no humps, no ditches, no horns & no racing…. cool and calm amidst the breeze from the natural air conditioner. Ultimately my watch stood frozen, reaching the deep seas after an hour, although cruising at a commendable 5 knots. Aft to forward, a distance of 10 meters…the fishing boat lay complete.
Mermaid was nowhere in sight. No going further – The adamant crew reasoned for the route was perilous and not actually intended. The boat slowed down though not to a halt. Pitch darkness ruled the roost. The night skies were vacant except for one lone constellation and some scattered silver dots. The tide was high. Winter air was colder than the sea below.
Nine silk flags stamped the unique design for our small boat. I memorized the colours of those silk flutters. Yellow, blue, green, pink on one side & rose, orange, violet, red on the opposite symmetrically placed. A certain charm supplemented to the boat in motion. The lone bright ‘Maroon red’ waved the air in greeting, high at the helm. That was the ninth. Neither the crew nor I knew the real meaning behind these shades, may be a part of the aesthetics.Coaxing them with some sweet nothings, we reached the ship by 19 45 hours. “Welcome abroad vessel Mermaid” – Capt. spoke in a deep-throated command. The work finished at a speedy succession, taking cue from the fast life surrounding us. In an hour we planned the return. Hungry though… No time for dinner on the ship.
On the boat again. The Aluminium tumblers were wiped clean of the last morsels. I sat hungry at the boat crew’s callousness. The wooden structure started the return voyage at 21:30, unheeding to an own warning of the imminent low tide by 22 hours. An old Mr. Khan advised the crew to keep moving in the channel distinctly marked with a red light. The water split apart and the boat gained speed. The froth and bubbles tried to follow our trail, but of no avail. The wintry windy cold enveloped my shadowy skins. The silken curls danced daintily to the music of the howling snores of an orphaned wind. The small lonely cute bulb acted as a guiding radiance. I looked back for a view of the mermaid. Is she still beautiful? The ship seemed far but graceful in attire where the jewels gleamed. Only three triangular lights distinguished it from the horizon devoid of a margin. Disappearing from the eye view, she was inviting her male guests for a longer stay. Reflections carried to a larger expanse, but no shadows were cast for no glow had the nerve to cast a shadow between the oceans fury. Every silhouette merged in the darker picture.
Something I noticed in between. Water drawn in a plastic can from the sea. Another skilled artisan at work. Unlike the tumbler that goes dancing into a well and coming back gasping and spitting, taming the ocean and its salinity makes a tough competition. The 10-liter kerosene can was thrown into the sea along the direction of the boat’s motion. Coir held tight in hand, lest the ocean consume it. The behavior of the oarsman was equally rough like the mighty sea. He pulled it, dipped it again, pulled it, dipped it and repeated the same five times before one final drag and the haul was a can stomach full of brine water. We went on merry, laughing and chatting about life and the moments each sailor enjoyed at deep sea.Barely half an hour and lo!!! it happened. The red light neared and the boat rocked. It had hit the sand dunes in the sea. The tide had gone down. There is no way we can tell a tide to wait and time too had slipped off. No escape. The moon accompanied our sojourn. And with all its grace lent us the most needed light. Charm it exuded more from the moonlight reflecting its vanity on the oceanic carpet. Water glistened maybe shy to have a lady near. The seas seemed to lose its violent character. The presence of a female tamed him yet again. The expanses ahead showed a wall like structure. Receding water made visible the sand underneath. A blockade. We went round and round the red light with a vain hope of directing ahead a new route. The engine spluttered, screamed, roared and cried hoarse till it died, but the boat bottom stood obstinate in the sand kissed cuddle.
Stranded!!! Yes we were. Midnight in the middle of the vast expanse of an unending ocean. The little boat didn’t have a distress call equipment; neither did it have a lifebuoy. The boat was listing unevenly with every wave. Silence prevailed from the regular chirps. Only the distant industries lend some light to mark the shore. Dotted bulbs lined like a semi circular assembly. Our neighbour. A cutter-suction dredger at a far locale. Exactly 26 bright lights adorned the craft. The mobile signals were caught and left by the mobiles themselves. Mr. Captain requested the boatwallas to steer it back to the mermaid. They were unrelenting citing the inadequate supply of diesel to return on high tide. Anxious calls and hysterical responses. Deliberations continued. The human behavior became evident. Ball rolled to the other’s court. The blame game started. All the mistakes from the beginning, which weren’t mistakes till now, cropped up. Some fumed. Close friends turned to foes in a moment’s interaction. Tempers soared, anchors released. We requested the inmates of the boat to prepare food with the available resources. Rice and Dal stood mute at the empty kerosene tin. Both sat raw in the aluminum tumbler. So we are going hungry throughout the night.
“The first time in 25 years of sailing experience, am getting marooned.” - someone responded with the complaining intonation. I sat cool and quipped - “In that case I got the lifetime experience with just over two years into my career!!!” I beamed. I joked. The tense air borrowed an honorable humor. People learnt to smile ‘cheese’. The only question poking me was on how to click some memorable pictures. The Nikon surfaced from the captain’s pocket. 5-mega pixels. The battery was low, but the scope too was minimal. The surrounding didn’t expose much. The moonlight was my favorite. Flash off. Riding on an intense passion I captured the moon and its light as a couple shy among the misty clouds and like the divorced standing bold among the wavy sea.The small conversation with the boat crew ensued where he was more interested in the laptop I was checking mails on. The uses, where can it be procured, the cost factor so on and so forth. R-world had an excellent coverage till the battery let me down. The next tide is at 3 am. Let my tardiness sleep for 3 hours. I too decided and looked around the deck for a space. The temporary denizens occupied every available inch, but I got a corner to put my feet up. Sunil’s bag as my pillow, sleep almost carried me when an ‘Ankhom mein teri…’ hummed from the Mumbai mobile.
“ We agree to give the boat 30 liters of diesel. You can go on board.” – it declared. Somehow the boat moved freeing itself from the embrace. I was hungry, thirsty, cold and sleepy. There was no more “welcome abroad”!!! The cook was woken up and we got ORDER FRESH bread and AMUL butter plus mixed fruit jam. AMUL milk came later. One loaf and from that some toasted too. The instant egg fried rice and HEINZ tomato ketchup added zing with the KWALITY green chilly sauce. Thanks Shekhar, for the tasty food. It wasn’t hunger that made me say so.
I went to sleep in the bridge. Another catnap. The smooth rolling of the ship made my swing and the open air sung my lullaby. The boat was ready to leave by 2 am. Tide started to rise.
Somehow I was transported back to sleep. A sudden jolt and I found myself rolling off the upper deck. Perched precariously at the railing, only rising water approached my sights. A frail heart leapt to my mouth. There was a sudden cry of alarm from the co-passengers who hadn’t slept. They were tensed, red and wide-awake. A rodent came up the deck, enquired the air with its whiskers, and went down a hole. I continued my nap. The boat was rocking. A second jerk and I sat on my knees. A cold fright for the first time caught me unawares. Five more degree of list and the boat would turn turtle. Even water felt quite quiet. It was like death approaching, very near the shore. Seconds pricked like minutes that pain. The tide was rising furiously. Sickening sight of the whirlpools ready to consume us. The moment one falls off the vessel, death would clutch him with the unkindest & sharpest of its tentacles. A silvery grave of water? I couldn’t agree to. Swimming was futile. The cold froze me to back off into a shell. Hushed silence prevailed. Only the creaking sound of the wooden planks entertained the fright. The coxswain’s instincts and our lifeline bound together. The tiller was steered with adept hands. 30 minutes of nightmare. 4 am. We arrived a safe ashore. Moon alone followed us like a faithful disciple.
‘Relief’…said one…’Thank God’ ...said another… ‘Not again’…said my boss…’once in a lifetime experience’…murmured my cold whispers. Roads seemed safer and better, though with the infinite potholes. Rekindled with the value of life on earth, smiles came back and so did the humor.
On the road, into the waiting MH-03 Chevrolet. Fasten the seat belts, said the driver and we drove the deserted roads, each one thanking their respective God’s. Somewhere far the dear ones waited, to be hugged and pampered with life’s little surprises…another of those memorable nights from the annals of a small journey christened life…

Friday, November 23, 2007

The UNIDENTIFIED tracks..........

A cold wintry morning. Sleep incomplete at 4 am, I woke. The train wasn’t silent, wasn’t overcrowded… Houseful? Yes…. Dozing off at the neighboring shoulders expense was immature. Fresh saliva tasted acrid. Eyes wide open. Cold shrapnel’s of wind made breathing difficult. The chugging continued at a constant pace….. the wooden sleepers… the steel rails and the gray gravel sang a tune in unison. Clickety noises surfaced at the silent bridges. The faint glow at the occasional lampposts shed light to the clouds getting ready for the new office. Screech…the engines stopped breathing. Quizzical warmth surrounded the empty gazes. The cold surrounded the inside of the heart. Silence overpowered the slow down. The halt was indecent. Five more minutes would have made the smile… destination seemed far from near. The two palanquin bearers were silhouetted in the misty atmosphere. The whites in uniform visibly invisible….the gazes sharpened itself to clarity. They didn’t have a princess …a stretcher they held motionless… a frozen body swathed in an inkblot of red slept quiet. It didn’t look a man… neither a woman… nor an animal… disfigured once upon a time human or inhuman. Not a single gaze spared when alive, and now follows umpteen twin gazes through the steel smelling windows. The undertakers walked at their constant gait unmindful.
The moment stood a cliché for the engine driver. Another shrill…. another deep-throated frequency shrouded in the clamor of those inexpressive iron wheels. Another shattered mind, forcing… coaxing and convincing the body to mutilate. He remembered….. the first episode of his own brutality…. At 18…His first night at work…the momentary dilemma….He stood undecided… his first trespasser… A young man at midnight back faced to halt the train with determination. Mighty enough in resolve to stop the unkind engine and the metal boxes surging at impending pace. The frantic honk never made him budge or his tenacity. Did he forget the need to live or is he accidentally unawares? Deaf? Dumb? Silent? silly???…. Is he trembling on the colder steel? Isn’t it deafening to hear the echoing wheels of iron through the tracks, like a sword running fast in the air? Questions stagnated the driver’s mind…the hooting neared; the derailed youngster turned face to face and lay down on the tracks in a steely embrace. Silently…..peacefully…to sleep an everlasting dream. Eternal escape from the agony in his daily diaries of woe. The train crossed the youngster too… one to two to three to… stopped counting cadavers when the fingers in his toe stopped counting at twenty… The trauma lasted. Refreshed only when truth dawns, of holding a thousand lives on his back from derailing. Still hoping against hope for the single moment to sweep the someone’s mind…. Praying the almighty to instill in them a fresher thought of ‘I will live’. .. frozen memories…
A pure somebody placed on the corner of the newspapers the next day. Nameless… faceless…anonymous… titled UNIDENTIFIED… he lived a life somewhere to a life nowhere remembered.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A reply to the someone I met in life…..

Smartness is the personification of one's ideals... i know not what is in store... am ignorant on what’s life and its travails... life may reward as time ticks on the emptiness of the clock i keep watch on...
The selfish ego doesn’t permit me to fetter the freedom of life and its silly nuances to a bondage titled marriage... i will surrender meekly once i feel that life has gifted me my due... i may be fun and good in some eyes... may be the fanatic, fickle minded, finicky for others... the fuel hasn’t burned to soot...there is octane still, for me to chase a dream.... i yearn to survive the waves of the intense tempest...i want to craft an identity....sometimes which may gobble me, myself and the ultimate in resistance christened the ego... i see a light at the end of the tunnel.... is it a hole thru which the water seeps in to drown the mine of its diamond and the unselfish caught unawares... the seconds lost in transition... the minutes lost in indecisiveness... the hours lost in immature solitudes... i knew not the days have been torn fm my calendar... i knew not that years can add age to the self.... the truth dawned a little late.... years cant pluck the talent and the self of its visage.... i feel free to bloom, away from the sights and smells of the callous human mind.. i wander among the swifter winds... embracing the lovely clouds... resting my tired shoulders among the thundering silences.... eyes wide open to view the life in a different light... nose smart enough to smell the fragrance of the future...ears sharp to tinkle the little chimes... I wont quit so soon dear…if things don’t turn turtle again... i will have to crawl the life of a beetle on its back…though it covers a distance, it sleeps upside down tired and uncomfortable... life never ceases in me to sleep topsy turvy... i will pace faster, swim swifter, run closer... among the dwindling populace of idols... achieving the goals set .. if something unavoidable leaves me crippled...i am an invalid unavailable for the world to grimace...i will leave the stage with grace, tears though may not steal the cheeks of its robs the self of its soul....
marriage seems far...fantasies and dreams seem oasis from the mirage of uncertainty... wish i live a life of my own.... a slave later for the someone, after i win... u too get married after the jigsaw's in the jumbled life is arranged....never wait for perfection... enlighten your enslaved thoughts that ambitions shouldn’t turn over-ambitious...goals are set to be achieved.... i never set anything in life... the wind took the sail to the distant port of nothings... the rudder i noticed now... let me steer it proper... b4 time gulps the sun of its twilight...
am so choosy, that i know and u too know, life wont wait for me... I may end up a pauper.. yet wont submit meekly for i'll be grateful to my heart... to my senses…to my reflections have guided me to chase my dreams from the beyond... i wont regret, for i lost chasing a dream rather than dying old deprived of a dream in the dunes of sand....i don’t want to wilt under the heat of the sultry glances...i care more for the self i possess.. for the gift am presented...i may go on writing more...for the mood is so... but let my pen ink itself a different hue…for i have my work due to do...i pray my ink never dries...
mornings aren’t callous…evenings are .. but let me be born to know that morn set the pace for the evenings to be calmer....
lets live life dear... its a one off event... he who waits is lost.... and maybe i will... but u haven’ least u have to swim ashore... direct the crowded cowardice in the shore bearers to the floating body of mine... instill in them the truth that he tried and lost... teach the younger folk that life and its moments are precious... and give me a decent burial when at least one from the village of ours swim against the tide like the bold you in you did... an epitaph in golden letters should read... "life is short, enjoy every moment of it" ...i have a small ambition.. shared it with my lone heart long long start a small school in the village..... a few talented unlucky can learn... where i can help channelise the pristine knowledge of English to some to feel contended when my life turns a beacon of the light house... at least for one ship to be anchored ashore safe...
take care dear…treasure your lovely and more than valuable genes.... let a tradition take root from it....transfer the energy like a chain reaction...bring forth kids with the vigour in u…the world will b grateful... don’t ever elude yourself of marriage.. marry a someone whom u find rarer than the commoners....commoners can't justify the birth of yours, counted among the very regular of those denizens lying cozily among the coyly spread beds in the abyss of your heart... days r longer.... nights are to be made shorter...i have to live long in the short time am entrusted from the almighty....another of those epitaphs from the banal office mornings.............

Monday, November 12, 2007

What More Do U Want???????

My wallpaper baby…PRAKRITI... she greets me before the morning does…keeps me pleasant even after the evening dies… helps my optimism submerge the pessimism through the day....This bubbly baby is cute, sweet & innocent .. don’t forget her looks… angry for being called from behind… the questioning attitude in her eyes... the resignation in her stares as if fed up of the irritating photographer around… the 'now what do u want' look.. for intruding her play-space, disturbing her free-hours, indulging in her indulgences ……
Dedicated on this Childrens Day to all the Ma, Amma, Ammi & Mom's of the world, who bore the pains before & after the birth of their children...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Memories Caught Unawares....

­Summer sets in and I begin the countdown, vacation will soon be at my doorsteps. I start my regular enquiries… “ammey(mom), when are we going to ammamma’s (grandma) place this time?” The moments’ amma took to reply were nail biting impatience personified for the kid in me. She murmured vaguely in between the chores to be completed before going to school. “Paray ammey, please (tell mom)”- I insist in impatience. “Let achan(dad) wake up, you can ask him” – she speaks undecided. The curiosity & excitement cannot wait. My anxiety peeps into the room and check his eyes closely. Unable to contain the excitement my small tongue whispers into his ears – “ enitto acha? (Are u awake dad?)” And yes he wakes up. Before he gets angry, my cute smile makes his day.
I shoot my questions like the rapid fire. “ nammal naattil pokumo acha?( will we go to the native place?)”
He nods in affirmative, sleep still lingering in his nostrils, breath, eyes and eyelashes.
“ Really?” The exclamation is innocent. “ When will we book the tickets?” and 100 other questions wander in the morning mist.
Neither did my Ammamma nor we have a telephone. A 5th standard’s heart yearns to hear, meet and enjoy the moments of life in his distant native. A visit close to heart. It was always twice a year that he visited Vadakara/Thalassery. The excitement though didn’t cease even with the arrival of the telephone, except that the intimacy grew. A feeling even my mobile grants is that the person is near my heart.
The half yearly exam culminates. Last day is more in anticipation for the final bell to ring. A hundred thousand plans charted in mind, memories of intermittent rains cascading the roofs, cricket, football and ammamma’s warmth, all pregnant in his mind to deliver. Shouldn’t I make things happen? Lots of plans went unfulfilled in the previous vacation. Should make amends and I board the school bus to take me fast.
The enthusiasm in packing my bags, the wait for the train to come, the hooting smoking train, jumping up and down the berths, hanging like Tarzan until dad presses the pause button- energy exuded uncompromisingly. I sleep but wake up early & see the morning change its suit to vibrancy. I dint know the time. ‘Tellicherry” or say Thalassery, The black in yellow invites me. The greed to board an airborne private bus, for Trivandrum always had the snailing KSRTC’s (govt. buses). The private ones had an extra staff, the kili or cleaner, thumping on the aluminum sheet metal in resonance to any neighbour who may kiss his door.
Ammamma comes and picks me up in both hands. Kisses of intimacy and showers of love were spread across. Ajitechi too ‘walks out’ in embrace. There are a few kids who look in awe and excitement. They have come for tuition. Ajitechi, my mom’s sis cum the ‘Sacred heart convent’ teacher teaches them. My eyes search for Master Sarin – one among the naughty guys whom I befriended last May. A hand springs up from the motley crowd of girls and boys. I wave back stealing the moment from Ajitechi. The flock starts to gossip. ‘ Silence!’ Ajitechi shouts. I look elsewhere as if the culprit is on the roof. Before turning back, I blink at him the one eyed art that he had taught me last.
A, B, C, D, E…. and the classes continue at its reverberating best in frequency. I regret looking down at those 5th standard pals who were no magic in my eyes. Learning A.B,C’s at the age of 10, where I used to chorus at the age of 5. Learning Apples, Balls & Cats when I was delving deep in the parts of speech and figures of speech. By hearting a way of life.
Sanoj goes over the top. The carpenters son, adept in making small tables, chairs as showpieces, misses the K in the list, gets a ‘K for kissing’ from the cane. Ajitechi seethes, but in control. My small eyes watch it all through the grilled window of the bedroom. The 11 AM’s saw them all leave in a herd, after a strict and strenuous exercise. The plastic covers of the jewellery shops rustle in glee for they get their companion in the book it holds. Another romantic sequel.
Ambili looked cute in her red Paavada (frock) and sandal dyed blouse. Her face elevated by the small mark of sandal applied in horizontal streaks. Her hair tied in pretty knots rested on both the shoulders. The decorated umbrella in her hand opened. She turned back and smiled. “Did she have a crush?”. She was one among the many I dazed easily with my smile. Once later she came to me and professed with all shyness and gifted a peck on my cheek. She breezed away faster than the wind. I looked around to breath free. None had seen the small act of affection. She looked an aunty to the tiny me. Ever after whenever she was in proximity, I escaped her glances and approaches. No strings attached rule. A happily married housewife, she should be enjoying in one among the 100’s of Malayali gulf mints. There was but a butterfly that had me enthralled with her dainty dances in the house. An arch of Vermillion decorates her forehead now, losing her transparent wings to someone titled a husband. The boys were simpler in their slippers, non-tucked, half sleeved shirts and half pants sometimes covered in the length of the shirt.
By noon the scent of ammamma’s sardines deep-frying in the ocean of coconut oil was seeping through the nostrils. Pomfret, mackerel, mussels, rayfish and kingfish are on the way in the days to come. The new Chinese wok (cheenachatti) was happy for being ‘fired’, after a long wait. The tastiest cabbages fried until it glistened at the marvel of oil and turmeric polishing the sheath. Mustards added an unknown charm as beauty spots to the dry side dish. Fish curry came a class apart; mangoes in the backyard added the sour and fruity taste amiss to the yellow gravy. Another lovely memory had always been the tamarind – chilly- tomato – fish combo, colloquially termed the ‘puliyum mulakum’. The fish burying in a darkish brown hue and the tongue twisting to the tastes of eternity.
Feasting sumptuously had my stomach work hard on avoiding a siesta. I had other plans in mind. A whistling whisper from the grilled window woke me up from a slippery slumber of the ‘thekke akam’ (east facing room). Sarin is back after his lunch. The mischievous guy with blubber, whom I had pocketed for my local exploits. Bribed with chocolates, he turned a dedicated guide.
“Let’s to go to kaadar mappilla’s (moplah) cashew farm and collect some” - I welcomed his plan gleefully. His eyes were eagerly waiting for my agreement. Like a cat silent in the walk to steal, I slipped slowly into my shorts and moved out of the room. Freedom of the skies. Sarin already had the plastic bags for the collectors pick. Anything ranging from small mangoes, cashews, bilimbi, areca nut, jamuns used to find place in the collectors colourful mosaic. But the whole bag would smell pungent and look dirty brown by evening. We leapt two steps at a time and ran as fast on the reddish dusty streets. Time was precious, we hadn’t got a watch yet. The birds, colors of the sky, intensity of the light were our guide in going back. We wont steal- that was decided. In summary we decided not to throw stones at the hanging fruits. Well-mannered and cultured kids – I patted myself. “Lets collect the cashews that have fallen at the mercy of a birds beak or the kiss of a swift breeze” – I suggest. The afternoons were posh in gifting. Children who usually collect were either asleep or weren’t allowed to venture in the summer heat. Thanks for the sultry climate we had our pick. Every cashew collected made us greedy. We left the pulpy red pseudo fruit for the birds or squirrels to peck. The interest swept away the significance of time from our thoughts. Grandma stood red faced like steel poured from the Bessemer. She has known of my eloping episode from a local spy. But I smelt banana fry’s too… I presented my steal. Two Amulya tins filled to the brim. Cashew barons in the making. She didn’t question. She had seen 1000’s of kids from the ages she started teaching.
Ajitechi takes over the mantle, and threatens me. I knew that they are planning my dental extractions. I was always offered an extra glass of ‘rasna’ if the teeth were removed. Though painful, my taste buds fell under the lure, coaxed my puny thoughts and agreed upon the deal. Ajitechi was always sweet like the rasna, taking me to every street in Thalassery for the best buy, getting me the normally restricted-by-mom falooda’s and ice creams, biriyani from paris restaurant. The most enjoyable among the scores of experiences were my visit to the Girls’ convent school. “When will u retire?” I ask Pathros, the peon. He stood confused at my callous query. I passionately disclosed my ambition to the head sister who stood pampering me. “Can I be the next peon here and see all these girls in sky blue and white like a daily dose of medicine”. The whole staff room burst out in contagious laugher to the 10 year old’s innocence. Ajitechi wasn’t embarrassed as she expected such gimmicks from me.
By late evening as the situation curtails its intensity and I plead ammamma to get some nuts warm out of the sleeping cashews. The flame was set on the coconut husk. In the burning pyre slowly and carefully were buried some nuts. I waited with bated breath, holding my tongue, wetting my lips, teeth biting it at times, eyes in reverence. We were warned to stay off. The crackling sounds had established the nuts bottoms hot. Plop came a sound, out came the nut. After a while of dancing, ammamma took it out carefully with the tongs made of coconut ribs, reminding me of the Chinese with the chopsticks. The aroma was ecstatically addicting my olfactory, satiating the air of its pungency; so intense to attract the far stretched. Adding to the metaphor of love in the air. We opened every nut carefully to see the treasure inside. Some had burned itself beyond recognition, some mutilated, and discarded without mercy. Dusk hues spread the aroma of ammamma’s oil, ayurveda deep rooted in the culture of kerala. I accompany her to collect the dry leaves. A favourite pastime. Mangifera’s contribute the maximum to heat the water, secondary position held by the jackfruit leaves. The yellow-oranges were segregated, for once the sun evaporate the remaining water and earth distill the residual chlorophyll. The rains made the air smell clarity and the cool environs added to my sleep. Nights were the newspaper time for grandma. Marriages and bon voyages to heavenly abodes were keenly looked into. I sat watching the flies hover around the not so dangerous flickers of the fluorescent. There was one peculiarity of the rainy days. Less traffic into shops, shutters down earlier. Divakarettan will come. The dampened spirit of his lost business lightened up with the playful spirit in our ludo or ‘snake and ladder’ games. Torchlight on the ‘devoid of street light’ lanes was under surveillance. One torch and its light definitely would climb our cemented steps. I would run inside to collect the boards, the 4x4 coloured red, yellow, green & blue buttons, the die numbered one to six (sanoj, the genius, ‘carpenter in the making’ had crafted it from wood), mostly it fell facing six for my convenience as I insisted starting the game. Six awarded the player to roll the die once again. Now I had to find players, Tinku was too small to entertain the crowd; still he was a part when cousins weren’t available. Else a referee cum collector. Divakarettan entertained all with his daily dose of humour. I too enjoyed it until 99 plummeting to the unlucky 13 threw my tantrums on the playing board. Then I run inside and come back after a while rejuvenated. I used to hold on them late night to climb the rungs in the ladder and win at least once. A small game that built my confidence, a game that portrayed life as a game of rise and fall, positives and negatives. Failures had to be accepted gleefully and nurtured to find the minute dent that caused a defeat or loss. Even today my loss is someone else’s gain. My perspectives to life’s challenges and spirits never inclined to the negative.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Winter in a summer mind......

‘Coooo..oooooo’. The tone dipped and rose. A sinusoidal musical chirp. The cuckoo cooed unusually long. The little boys’ sunken eyes scanned the sky. His gaze couldn’t hunt her out from the trees either. But he believed in his treasured mimicking skills. ‘coooooooo…oooo’. He tried to replicate the composition. The charm in his music was absent. She wasn’t in a mood to join either. His vacuous eyes cursed the air around. Maybe not for carrying his voice till the bird mysterious. He gawked. But his ears stood sharp. ‘coooo…ooooo’ .There sings again. Is she teasing his failure? He looked straight at the lush green spread of the muringa. She stood in poise lost somewhere inattentive. His eyeballs followed the soloist’s gaze. Yes, she is studying the family next door cuddling the chicks at home. Papa crow was feeding the nestlings. Mama crow romped around in cautious anxiety, shuffling her feathers in a frippery pose. The blacks stood stacked in assembly like the pleats of Akansha madam’s saree. The child remembered his Hindi teacher and the stories he by hearted, more out of the fear of her cane in his buttocks. So that is the matter, he gulped. Akashna madam had said, Cuckoos egg in the crow’s nest. Callous motherhood born out of laziness. He annoyed more of himself thinking of the orphanage…the parents of those orphans he met… The cuckoo in their mother had left. But why and what bothered her to leave a treasure in them? In a range were the reasons murmured, many a time behind his ears in parlance so implicitly explicit. He still waited for a crow. And his gaze wandered from the muted melodies of his inner self to the road yet to be traversed. A long winding path in dusty patches lay in front of his orphanage. Does it lead to truth or sacrilege? Questions bothered him more than the answers. ‘cooooo…oooooo’. He bent and pelted a stone at the muringa. Was it belligerence against the cuckoos or the society that left him to stray? The cuckoo flew away. Sob he did, thinking of the mother who may be cooing in sullen pessimism for stagnating the infertile fertility she bore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Tea-Man

Under the Neem tree. A tall man with a longer moustache. He squatted. Numerous kettles circled him. A gas cylinder stood stout behind. From the matchbox peeped a lone stick. They rubbed each other and magic!!! His stove lit with the yellow orange. But the flame shone blue and brighter. One tumbler is chosen. Be seated on the hot brick is the task. An Amul milk pouch was tore open callous. The plastic added to the already contended lives of his predecessors. The mixture of white and water planned to boil. And they giggled at the flame getting hotter. Two spoons of tea leaves. The mixture sat quiet at the new neighbour. Slowly they gelled together to effervescence. Shades painted to brown, they leapt to jump out of the room of theirs. To enjoy freedom, to discern the life beyond. But the man continued lowering the glow. A spoon kept jetting in and out of the sugar tin, spitting the crystal candy into the mix. A style so indifferent. Music as the same spoon hit the side of the kettle with sincere regularity. Ginger added to the boil squeezed and squashed with an iron rod. Hot tea is poured to strain. Not on a strainer, but a cotton piece. The cloth wrung to its maximum. Solid and liquid filtered of their togetherness. A moment of melancholy. Decisiveness of collectiveness still stood in every molecule. The kettle is fuelled full. Tea leaves, sugar, ginger, milk and water packed in the essence of my plastic cup. I sip it hot.. aaaaaaaahaaa….soothing.The tardiness blown away, a fresh breeze filters through the Neem leaves too.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Heyyyyyyyy, Auto !!!!!!

Auto-rickshaw or the ubiquitous crowd puller. This 3 wheeler also phrased as the rick/rickshaw sifted through my thoughts on reading an interesting article in DNA. Mclaren designer quoting the auto as a charming and great utility vehicle, an icon he says because it transcends fashion and resists ageing. Quoting it as a classic at par with the Mini, Beetle And Willys he evoked sweet memories in me.

The shape of the Rick like a bedbug fascinated me always. As a kid, the school bus made auto rides a rarity, but ‘bus breakdown hein’ news were a welcome thrill, as heads turned to the “Eyyyy, Auto” call. Those auto days in Trivandrum were sure to ensue heated debates on the little ‘extra than the meter’ fare demanded. Still I enjoyed the fights and the efforts taken to nullify the effect. Special mention for the drivers in Trivandrum as Lal-buffs. Courtesy, the palm sized profile of Mohanlal adorning the windscreens alongside the umpteen Gods from mythology. The Malayalam movie “Aey auto” cashed and showcased the unity and strength of the same auto drivers.

Thanks to the mixed culture I hailed from, any visit to Calicut never got me in the tangle of words. Appreciative glances were the only little gifts exchanged for a ride. The drivers had always been honest and fair in fare. One of the most refreshing experiences came forth when the driver retuned some coins for the meter was faulty.

Fainter are the memories of the roaring diesel engines from Piaggio trying to rule the roost. Boasting a wider seating space, yet petering out on the hegemony of Bajaj petrol providing an uncompromising mileage.

An inevitable shift to Mumbai decanted a muse of losses including the three wheel rides, but the first sight of autos lined at the CST made me feel at home. The regular auto art and the smoke spooking silencers weren’t seen. Instead CNG, the eco friendly automobile had its authoritative stamp. The identity in the front panel for Mumbaikar’s rickshaw was their unique registration number unlike the Malayali autos flaunting cute names like the chinnu, minnu or kuttu. Then wows the audio systems with thumping beats of the FM transporting the heart to my mouth. “Beleave a snake, not a girl”- The graffiti’s with the funny, witty or philosophical taglines romancing a treat for the eyes often had me in reflections and splits alike.

The amusing display of the rickshaw culture in Mumbai is worth emulating, from the fair on fare meter policy to the one legged drivers. Those whom I mistook for being differently-Abled, until getting enlightened that their left legs are tucked inside for the comfort of driving. None debates. Calm and composed in coughing a rupee less than the meter fare, though the meters tick even when the engines are not coughing. Doctored, I know, still reasonable to the core.

As a traveler I found Chennai drivers at the fleecing worst, while their counterparts in Bangalore, Kolkota & Goa fared marginally better even with the ‘fix the rate and then travel’ policy. Many variants in hues too are available like the usual black roof making way to the yellow in Chennai to the CNG green in Delhi. The share rickshaws of Surat and Mumbai communicate an altogether different story. Transporting the urban populace in a congested and unsafe mode, banking on the disorganized public transport system.

So much more in line… but ending on a serious note, the three small wheels and the bumpy rides turn a major employer in our country, livelihood to a major chunk of the population. Painting a true picture of the quintessence of modern and contemporary, rural and urban, rustic and the burgeoning India in different shapes, sizes, colors and characters.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A recluse to another....

Within the bedlam christened life,
A bed so cozy lend to whom?
Born ignorant of burdens ahead,
in a track of faster pace,
to one who bore the brunt before.

Portrayed mud footprints tiny,
Given in place to toy,
luster lacking begging bowls.
Pencils she forgot to grip,
when hunger pained her callous.
Instead got matchsticks tiny.
Smile she knew not what !
Just a missing link in her texts.
Slept in sleepers withal,
Waking to alarms whistling.

Happened an age she knew less,
Something of which less she knew.
Wriggling writhing she waggled,
wholly aching her cadaver,
comforting while crying within.

Always only despair aside,
A dangling whammy unaware,
Sober eyed perceived her drama she,
Donning roles umpteen.
Umpteenth is now role finale,
in the same old tracks,
A lunatic Boy-Bearer.

Monday, September 10, 2007


A differently crowded Mumbai morning. Missing traffic snarls. Vacant trains. Silence of the cacophonies. Absence of the melodies. Something amiss? Ohh yeahhhh.. It’s a Saturday. Still the relentless energy pulses climbing the local trains were intact. Push-pull, pull-push. Excitement never subsides.

As usual the squatters sat in a disciplined line, displaying the frontal museum or their own “backdoors”. Rain as a natural flush they sit calm. I had my 18 pages of HT to go through. Yes!! My newspaper. Already the co-passenger had lent the page 3. A little gossip would do well. His eyes were sometimes popping out isn’t? Oddity in nudity. Letters or pictures? I chit chat to myself. I get into my next pastime. Opened the mobile front panel. Customary from my side to rake my brains and squeeze my fingers to set it back. The co-passenger was watching. He intervened. Did I like his freedom? Affirmative. ”Clip it first at top and it would be easier” – Advised taken. And lo!!! Words of gyan did work. So easy a task!!! What all did I do to set it trial and error. A small lesson added in the everyday texts of my calendar.

You travel by the same train, same route, same routine, yet have you ever realized that every split second in life is different. We don’t observe and complain monotony. Queer isn’t? The same lady on your street wears a different attire. The same vendor sells a special smile. The same newspaper portrays another charming story. Diversity.

People differ. Characters vary. Children grow. Maturity sets in. The routine continues as if you are keyed by a toy-seller. The hair upon your hair falls to gray. Noticed? It’s change. The absolute in permanence. Where you realize the misplaced vagaries and variety of life. We search. We condemn ourselves to the bygone.

The Hundred-thousand reflections in the saloon still ask me a 100, 000 more of unanswered questions. Am I doing what I have scripted above? The answer is I am not, though I am aware of a plain truth that life is short. Almost 19 years lost in the simplicities of infancy, childhood and teenage. As freedom sets in, the job begins. Then faces scorn at you. Why haven’t u tied the naughty knot? Initial enthusiasm. Then monotony. A few extramarital. Life is spiced for some. Salted for some. Still life snails. Ennui isn’t?

But can you rewind the clock to adjust the lost ages? Think of the second that you lost now in adversity and selfishness. Enjoy the petty fights you have. Take pleasure in the trivial. Value the insignificant. Forget and forgive. Laugh at it like an anecdote of the passing times. Break free from the fetters of narrow-mindedness. Laugh openly. Smile gently. Speak up and speak out. Don’t ever regret.
I thanked the man who helped me with my mobile. A smile I gifted. His cheeks reflected his dimple. Acknowledged. I left to catch my taxi.

The small girl at the red-yellow-green waits. The lights transform from the blinking yellow to red. Cars screech to a halt. 120 seconds of halt. She breezes past the open windows. Her hair sways to the cold wind. Her tiny hands are replete with the lemon-chilly combo. Averts ill luck. They believe. The tinted windows open. She sells more luck to the rich and the famous. Did it bring her any luck? Her destiny alone knows. Missing the tender age of childhood. She may be yearning to be like her clients kids dressed in school uniforms. She gets her share of the coins. If not luck she had her fortune. She smiles. I feel proud and happy for her. The man in the car never does. He has a lot to think. Business and money. Quotations and tenders.

Another man on the footpath sleeps unscathed. No blankets. Oblivious of the happenings. Ignorant of the world. Blaring horns never wake him. Is he drunk? NO, I notice his face. Serene. He has nothing to worry. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is a dream. Today is awake like a gift and so we call it the present. He earns for today. He sleeps for now. No bank accounts. No fixed deposits. No tax calculations. No tensions.

Countdown begins…3-2-1. The light turns green. Engines roar in impatience. Cars surge faster than the rockets. My little gal’s eyes droop. She saves herself to the walkway. Waiting eagerly for the lights to turn red again. Maybe another unlucky passenger may turn lucky.I proceed. Single day. Innumerable experiences. Mumbai or Bombay. Madras or Chennai. I learn more of life, most from life.

Now am in my office. Forgetting every second that has gone. Head absorbed deep in those files of which I know nothing.I should change. My heart weeps and appeals. Will I? When will I? Who knows? Time will tell. Wait for me. I plead. The clock ticks faster. Am I falling far behind the race of life?

Friday, September 07, 2007

My First Love...

A story of resistance, perseverance and patience. The morning fun and the evening frolic make my day. Sorry not to have introduced myself- I am a VIP with a shiny black leather sheath and I accompany my boss wherever he goes. The perfect travel being in the local trains of Mumbai. So am a Bag and christened TravelTru.
Everyday I am crushed in the rush to enter. Somehow my boss sweetly requests people near the window to stack me carefully in the racks of the local. Maybe because am heavy. I don’t know!!! The stench from other bags, their rough hooks, all hurt me a lot. But some days I sleep a lot with the Times of India as the cushioned side rest for my cozy comfort. Some days I am squeezed in the multitude of other bags. I take it to be a part of life and I enjoy.
Let me tell you how I fell in love for a brief moment today. The usual morning stinking feeling was there, when suddenly a sweet fragrance spread near me. My half sleepy eyes popped open to see a cutie ladies bag near me. A beautiful cream-colored luxury bag embellished with a lot of embroidery. She had rainbow hues spread over her skin. The two rings dangling on her ears, attached to it were bands of her beautiful pink hair. Her twinkling eyes and designer wear with lots of well ironed pleats. Her beautiful rose lips were zipped. All eyes were set upon her. Its not always that a local traveller like me gets a female counterpart. As I peeped down to see who owns this cutie, I saw my boss sharing jokes with a pretty madam. I felt from the core of my feelings that this cutey is mine. As i gave a glance, she sulked. But i knew... she had an eye on me too. Maybe my executive looks garnered her attention. All the second grades were commenting on her, whereas i remained silent. She was feeling uneasy. As the bag near me was taken off, we became neighbours. I thanked God. Her insecurity spoke to me. We started conversing for the envy of others. But the train was almost covering up the destined time. She narrated expressively on her new journey. Her name was Pretty-pet. So I guessed that Pretty-pet had boarded a general compartment by mistake and my boss would have got her madam in his sweet talk. We too spoke a lot on ourselves in the minimal time that ticked faster than usual. She was impressed. Not just on my looks, but also on my character.
It was love at first sight. What a lucky day for me. As the train inched towards her destination, my boss handed pretty carefully to the madam. With a heavy heart we were parting ways. My eyes brightened as I overheard my boss noting the madam’s mobile number. That meant we were going to meet again. As I looked at my cutie she winked. My heart missed a beat. She professed. My eyes twinkled in the affirmative. "lets meet again somewhere, sometime. Do wait for me." Her eyes were pleading. I acknowledged. My experience taught me to muse a thought - "The people who are loved deserve to know the people who love them...So don't miss a chance to express your love, cos hearts are broken with the words unspoken."
I knew that my boss and me had found our sweethearts. Thanks once again to the suburban trains of Mumbai.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The most flourishing industries of Kerala - PART ONE.

Jewellery business – A Golden pastime.


The Mallus, a sweet sobriquet for Malayalis, go gaga on the sovereigns of gold. As a vestige from the yesteryears of gulf stay and culture; brides compete in kilos of gold hung on the neck. Every competitive neighbor tries to outlay the maximum for his daughter’s neck. The mushrooming of jewellery shops than the number of women in Kerala has heralded a golden era in the history of this industry in Kerala.


The eminent historiographer Thankappan (gold-father) says that he will soon present details pertaining to proving the birth of Midas and his daughter in Kerala.


A future study predicts that the provision stores will be selling gold biscuits instead of the Britannias and Parles.



Ophthalmologists report a high incidence of people in the age group of 50-55 seeing tinges of golden yellow in every frame while eye testing.


Some literary critics claim the origin of the expression, Heart of gold from Kerala as the Malayalis are generally warm and caring while collecting gold.


The agricultural industry too revels selling Two-dozen Carrots’ (24 carat) to anyone in Kerala. Aquarium owners have hit a goldmine by selling goldfishes to families from all walks of life.


What’s more, the General Secretary of the left wing politics Mr Karat, is an offshoot from Kerala.


There is focus on an Olympics event titled, “Neckthletics”, for the strongest neck, which may turn a real gold mine for Malayalis.

“The names like sona, swarna, suvarana etc are highly accepted in the matrimony industry today” said Kalyanaraman of Swapna Mangalyam Agencies.


“Even the clothes with the yellow-gold hue are in high value and profoundly sold these days.” added Goldy Mathews of SONA Textiles.


All Kerala Goldsmiths Union celebrated the golden jubilee of the runaway hit, Ponmutta Idunna Thaaravu (The duck that lays golden eggs), by distributing pin-up's of models from the latest jewellery advertisements.


Gold has also brought about a sea change in the attitude of youths in finding self-employment. They skillfully break into houses, without disturbing the sleeping.
The poultry farm union has demanded the State Govt to help them rear only those hen, goose and ducks that can lay golden eggs. “This will be a golden opportunity not only to increase revenue but also reduce robberies in the state” – Echoed their leader Mr. kokkako.


Many elders aptly conclude that this is the golden era for Kerala and Keralites. With filmstars too joining the bandwagon, nothing else can be more proof to the popularity of the yellow metal in the hearts and minds of Keralites.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Those folios of transition...

The memories and happenings in life are like the sand in a beach. Its infinite. It comes and goes with the waves. Sometimes some linger on, changing hands, changing forms. A handful is all what my little hands could collect…and I present a day from my album of vision for a nostalgic remembrance.

Gazing through the misty morning's impressions of rain, reminiscing the days of yore, my shoes kissed the cemented platforms of Vadakara railway station. A Beedi (hand rolled cigarette) stub lay quarter burned and doused by yesterday's rain. Some traveler would have thrown it in his haste to board. Memories reinvented or did the Beedi rekindle it? Symbolization of a mass movement of the communist prowess of the early 1960's. AKG holding forte for the enactment of a national law for the protection of cigar and beedi workers in 1966, making Kerala Dinesh Beedi(KDB) the fourth largest beedi firm in India today.

Graying memory searched for the hot brewing cup of tea. The artistic ease with which the 60 year old Kanarettan, used to pour it back and forth from the mug to my glass. Never a drop spilled. "Perfect!!!" I used to compliment him in English. My eyes searched the locale, for no sign existed of a tea stall. On the steps of the nearby shop was squatting an octogenarian. His droopy face obstructing my question to come forth. The puff of smoke rose intermittently above his baldness. His gaze now questioned my stand. His answer was cold. Kanarettan is no more.

My gaze wandered in the loneliness around him. My ears echoed the thumping sound of his tea-glass on the wooden table. It's only after that I used to sip the brownish hot liquid. The morning gossip of how the government should be run between the sipping mouthfuls of tea and more were vacuous.

I thanked the old man, who had already opened his packet of Beedi for a better puff. The lighter was a coir rope hanging near, its tip burning slowly to a certain death. He rose with the definite difficulty of senile decay, evident from the dragging gait of imperfection. I dare didn't advice. Every individual needs a reason to die. Some find on their own, someone else is gifted. Deep inside a corner of my pocket lay the 2 rupee coin, worthless today for the tea will never taste the same again.

Only the STD counters had opened shop. The red and yellow ISD on the dangling boards pronounced the reach of the Malayali 'conglomerate' to every corner of the globe. The engines of the private buses were already raring for a speed trial. Empty morning = A comfortable seat. In B & W script - Ladies only. Feminism ruling the roost. But they know not that gender inequalities are mocking convincingly at me. Will we change? Isn't it time for another revolution!!! Who cares? Questions knocked my mind. The cold air was dancing duets with my hair. I get down at the bus shelter. It reads - In memory of the Koothuparamba martyrs. Carved in cement are the letters I yearn to read. DYFI – Democratic youth federation of India. The youth organization of Communist Party Of India (Marxist) found in 1980. A reminder of the long and chequered history of student activism and struggle in Kerala. Comrades, I salute you. The world survives on martyrs. "Jesus Christ being an authentic communist, anti-imperialist, enemy of the oligarchy" -Quoting Hugo Chavez. The first martyr – quotes my thoughts.

My countryside. Not a speck of tar. Red soil. Enough of rain to seep. My bladder urges to take the liberty of open air urination. Gals please excuse. Don't be jealous of my freedom. It's a boyzone. The dew-wet grass smokes as the freshness of warm drops bathe the leaves. Alarm to wake up for a new dawn. But the touch-me-nots shy away in silence. Zippers in. Home welcomes me, fern filled and slippery. Dry leaves spread lavishly as a cushion for the rain. Does the house face the ignominy of being forgotten? Our urban lives are taking the toll. Yet my Malayali soul yearns for another independent villa. I left for my aunt's house. Nostalgia followed me here like a faithful dog. Let me brush. Colgate toothpaste. The stand-up tube remains synonymous with the early cock-crows of yesteryears, of the days as a kid and more. I used to wonder. Why are all the thrown away tubes in two pieces? Grandma put the brush inside a half section and an elegant twist. The whole paste kissed the bristles and came out white. Now I realize the value for money. Uncle complaints, "The plastic tubes of today are not fully filled. Air reduces the weight." I leave no room for debate. The easiest way being silent.

Brushing finished.... I search my bag frantically for the tongue cleaner made of steel. It's missing as usual. Forgotten. Back to nature. The midrib of a specific part of the coconut palm did the magic again. How skillfully did my uncle split it making a perfect use-&-throw double-tongue cleaner!!! Mythology too had the analogy in my maddening world of ideas. Equated my uncle to Bhima and the midrib to Jarasandha. Split open to an assured death.

Breakfast is ready. Appam and stew. Mind meanders. Those breezy evenings used to bring a cycle bell ringing. Chandran - The toddy-taper. Cuter, childish & fair like the toddy. He hands over a glass of toddy. I sip a little out of curiosity. Tasting sweet!!! So now I too can proclaim after the vacation- "I too have boozed". An insurmountable achievement among the 4 th standard guys. But what was toddy really for? It acts as natural yeast added for the fluffiness in the delicacy called Appam in Kerala. What was it this time? My aunty too has gone Yeast, when everyone else is heading west. No more cycle bells. Chandran has left for the hidden fortune in gulf. The dream abode of Malayalis. He said he never found a treasure atop the coconut palm.

Knock on the door at 9am. A man draped in a brilliantly orange hue below his waist. Tied so stylishly around, the muscular legs tend to shiver in might. The huge moustache adding glamour to the chocolate-brown skin he is gifted. The sharpest of his knifes kissed his buttocks, yet a smile adorned his face. That's Kumarettan. The coconut-climber. The ease of his task leaves me gaping as always. How do his legs grip the palm with a single piece of coir? Magnificent sight he must be having at the top. I go green. I dream. I forget it only when my tongue is pricked with the fizz of a tender coconut. The pyramidal top of the cut coconut. Craft indeed. He leaves taking his due & two coconuts. I tried climbing once. The failure was in getting down. Beaten black and blue - end to an ode. Now no more Kumarettan comes. Coconuts fall at the mercy of God. Some lucky passer by collects it. Its all coke and Maaza to quench my thirst.

My thoughts wandered like the lovely clouds. Those days when as a kid, I dreamt of a moustache. The ladybirds' inquisitiveness to know who the city-kid tucked in pants and belt is!!! Reflected clear from the questioning eyes. My eyes felt shy and proud together, all bottled a kid head. I was alien to the world of colloquies in Badagara. Now I had a handicap to select an answer about my identity. Should it be in my dad's name or the house name? My heart pumped 'lubb-dubb' every second. Sweat streaked my little forehead. The little hairs as young as my hands too get drenched cold. Finally I juggle my response and walk off by the canal side. Escaped. Now none asks. None cares. Effects of globalization?? I shrug it off as another odd joke.

Yet summer did have inviting glances at me. The small trucks that roared in the silence of the mornings. Empty bellied ones returning with truck loads of mangoes. It grumbled less in the evenings or did I feel so? Now one solitary tree remains. As souls departed from the indoors to a heavenly abode, the huge mangifera trees were taken for the pyre. May the souls rest in peace. This time I noticed the smaller saps have grown handsome & broader. For me and my loves ones. An inner voice whispered. Life is like that. A cycle of life and death. Merciless at times.

Evenings were fertile. Pazhampori (banana-fry) & kalathappam (type of cake) spread on the table. All home made by grandma. And today lures my buds with the bakery spread. They know not that it's for the small village leisure's and pleasures of yesteryears that I turned to wander-lust.
Those days of voltage drop by twilight taught me the skeleton of a bulb. The filaments in different hues, shapes and figures. A beauty so beautiful. Now none admires a bulb, for tubes & CFL's have replaced the days of low voltage. My thoughts drift again. The suicidal flies that took wing around the bulb and were engulfed by the lit lantern. How will they have a reason to die now? Senile decay even for those who had a charming death in my vision. Longer life. That's the positive outlook. The pitter patter has lost the freedom to cascade, yet the rains remain a vociferous spectator. Tiles and thatches finding roof as a possession of the deprived. The night gossips have ceased to exist. Television has taken the waterfalls to a trickle. Everyone glued like the Fevicol ad. Females married off. Older people called back to the pavilion. Some sudden deaths too… and the rest into a cocoon of their own. We have grown in size of our selfishness. The hearts have shrunk. Lives have changed. Time has its mutants. Transition.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

15 minutes to 15 hours - A Deccan Odyssey

Another evening. My heart yearned to gift the parker I forgot. But god scripted it anew, altering the 15 minute session to an unending 15 hour sojourn in the hospital stairs. Every moment with her dissolved itself to a momentous memoir treasured than a souvenir bestowed. At times my heart leapt for her sheer quality. At times for her simplicity - tribute to a dignified lady. A Magnanimous individual, mature beyond the tender age of adulthood. As the discussion progressed, my ideas got enlightened with her ideals, those that have been paved with intelligence and sincerity beautifying the sidetracks. A simple person for the mighty image she had cultivated inside her niche. Humble to her extent, for stood opposite her a delineated, vain and proud individual basking in egoistic glory.
Time flew. Lively discussions taking berth. Boastful sessions exchanging glances. Nostalgic exchanges bartered for richness. Unexplored realms of reflection, mirroring the bounties. A dull mobile battery as the lone testimonial. The world, people, their feelings in the nutshell of our conversation.
Me and Reni, mute spectators to an exciting drama. The conflict of emotions as a theme. Let me raise the curtains of the theater. Have a glimpse.
A call from the magical world of nowhere. Her friend (seena's) suicide trial & Our suicide trail. Sleeping pills – They echoed. ‘Rush to the Apollo”. The bumpy auto ride. The towering safari suit. The ambulance sirens. The gusty speed.
August 7th 2007, was rewinding for me. The morning had displayed everything including the Apollo hospital in front, an ambulance siren on the road, except that I was an onlooker then. Again Deja-vu. My diary repeated.
Papers to be signed. The ink grinned – ‘I take responsibility”. Was it a grimace? Hope not. The wait, pause and murmurs added to the unfolding drama. In a flash the neon red lights signaled - “Govt General Hospital”. Doctors questioned with an unlikely curiosity unseen in the eyes of the policemen. The question lingered - “What has she popped in and in what quantity?” My mind interrogated my intellect. Is it you who supplied it to her? My head did reel. Absurd question – it whispered. “Ask
seena. She can talk.” My tongue wagged an authoritative arrogance. But the intellect googled her bag for a foil. An empty strip like the five fingers popped out & coyly claimed – “I went in her tummy to let her sleep permanently”. Sleeping pills- the doc heaved a sigh of relief. Attempter or abettor, whoever, still owes me.
Ungrateful pals with excuses to own. A call to
seena’s mom. Another cold remark evoked. A jeer indeed. seena’s mom on wrong side? Not at all. Why should she care the one who escaped from the clutches of an ailing society!!!
Can I ever forget the sincere but tired gait of Reni on the hospital verandah juggling three test-tubes of
seena’s blood, urine and gastric juices in both her hands. A silent prayer remained in me – ‘God, do take care of this noble lady in any adversity’. As the adage goes – Those who have none had God with them. Reni was destined a role – of the guardian angels’. All the worlds a stage and all the men and women mere actors… I remembered Shakespeare for once. A silent tear leapt out to kiss my cheek. Thanks for an unforgettable night for I could know in intensity, the devotion in her friendship.
Eons since I have woken a whole night, but this was classic. No tardiness to challenge the clock. Her eyes wide open, once droopy. There I knew that the conversation lacked punch. “Let’s have a stroll” Reni suggested. Down the vacant verandas amidst the humming mosquitoes. Once disturbed by the shrill cry of a lady who lost a valuable. A death knell at night. One soul we say. One life she laments. Only the walls to comfort her beats. Let her cry. Let the emotions flow out to the empty air to taste.
Visits of the policemen with the hourglass regularity never ceased. Calls of ‘
seena’ came like a bolt from the blue. Often a peeving disturbance for our conversation. Empty advices. Lewd looks. Glassy talks.
One of them quipped – ‘people kill & we lose sleep’. Poor guys! I genuinely felt sorry.
Now my tummy was disturbing. Dinner please. We Agreed!! The midnight saunter & the pleasure to have a late dinner welcomed by the canine barks and the lust clad eyes of men alike. She didn’t notice. I did. I love the neighbours roving eyes jealous of a creatively crafted possession. The envy was fuelled as food got served. My tummy felt full by the crumb she left in the platter.
Back to the conflicting house of emotions. A haunted board hung freely in green. Title: Poison Emergency Clinic. Loved ones still melancholic for the loved ones who tried taking his life. Is it worth a strand of sympathy? No!!! Suggested my empathy. Then why am I here. Questioned my sympathy? It’s for Reni -My wits resonated. End of an argument. I laughed callously at the loss of life, for the unknown didn’t require these ailing souls now. Suicide is self will, though it demands a lot of willpower. But
seena was trying to display her depth of love. Yet doesn’t she know that Love is blind. It can’t see.
Now we were back in track. Reni’s stories gained momentum and so did my curiosity. My eyes often set on her wide open round eyes, sometimes reddish cheeks, a sweet nose, rounded forehead & 2 sprouting pimples on her right chin, missing out on the ears in total as I listened in rapt attention her side of affairs. Cold stares for the old lousy lovers. Of those pastels that lent her the present hue. Her reminiscence of childhood. Her longing to get time reversed. Poetry in prose!!! Full of expression. Badagara slang pepping the tête-à-tête.
But she has to learn a lot. To be decisive. To speak in the negative. Often a weakness of a Badagaraite, who gets rooted in the name of commitment.My advices did follow suit, as it never cost me a penny.
The sheer power of storytelling gained prowess. Only thirst attacked us. I had my tongue begging for a drop. Like nomads we set in search of water. An engineer, a journalist and a cloth bag in blue. Into the Railway station minus the platform tickets. A fear lurked inside for an offence getting noticed. Luck favoured the seller. “Paani Thanda Nahi”(water isn’t cold) His broken Hindi politely muttered. So, did the tall Tamilian take me for a Northie? Anyways he earned Rs 10 for a thirsty soul is quenched by anything in the name of water. Thou we cheated the Govt to save a worthless Rs 6. Inviting glances from the rickshaw-wallas for they took us for the unknown fish ready to catch the waiting bait, only to be indolently neglected.
She hadn’t winked a bit till now. Her brows I saw were eager to hug and slip into the world of lost dreams. But our ordeal was far from over. Tender coconut was the next mission. An old lady, plugged with her hearing aids, (don’t please mistake it for the Bluetooth). Her broken teeth. The gaping holes. The wrinkled skin. An impression of the late 60’s. What a beautiful smile she furnished for free when Reni paid her handsomely. Independent old lady, I salute you. The coconut break-FAST, brought to an end the poisonous travelogue.
seena supped it greedily. She had tears, not for us but for her fate and her guy.
Liberty at last. Blue sky, green buses, yellow rickshaws, multihued people dappled in the choicest of post modern dyes. We could discover colors. A new gained freedom. Still I felt a little gloomy. My selfish ego had been echoing the night be endless. Praying for the sun sleep endlessly. But nature has its own work to be perfected. Time never waits.
The conversations seemed endless like my favorite quote – ‘life is short, enjoy every moment of it.’
Reni stands a towering testimonial of her charm unsurpassed. Her quality imbibed in the pages of serenity. Her stamp of independence framed in the corners of the chronicles. Every page I flipped had the aroma of coincidences, treading along the sidewalks of the unknown horizons. Now we met to realize it. Rebirths are my hope for the souls to unite
Am glad to have stacked yet another present. A slice of time from the life she lived. Those very few ever gifted. Others know not that gifts are priceless, for we forget the sweets they bring, once the taste fails to linger in the buds. Memories remain, and with it the bitterness and sweetness alike, etched in the mysteries of tomorrows. A great time together. A greater experience unveiled. An individual understood!!! Time and fate remains loyal as ever to the supreme power unknown.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

........................The Sweet Scent Of News..........................
Fag end of teenage. Lazy college days. Freedom and exuberance in full swing. Waking up late, a ritual. Bunking morning classes, a hobby. Auto-switch off on alarms. No bed coffees. Plummeting results. Sagging spirits. But something stimulated me more than the aroma of a bed-coffee. A fresh smell that replaces the lost nights immortalizing HOPE - the intoxicating scent of newsprint.

It’s my roommate who struck on the novel idea - ‘Newspaper near the nose’ so that I would wake up in a jiffy to sup on the scoops.As time progressed, I could identify the scents of different newspapers. More than that it dawned upon me the associated flavors and it’s spicy invigorations. A special odour for the advertisers, another for their clients and yet another for the readers.

Is it the papyrus or the ink that lends the aroma? The real aroma is the newspaper professional that puts in his/her creative efforts to gift something new every morning. Change and innovation as swords and deadlines as the Armour nurtures the daily competition. Good Nights make their day or say good days make their night.

The impression that newsprint heads for the shelf by noon is debatable. It’s a phoenix, essentially experiencing new forms of life. In school, newspaper clippings enhanced my assignments while in college it helped win the collage contest. Even now when the plastic bags turn a menace, heads turn towards the humble newsprint. And for my friend it’s an umbrella in a drizzle or her sunshade when hot. Yet again my fan when power plays spoilsport.

I lament not wearing a journalist’s attire. Forgot to get one in the rush to engineer a society’s need. Like a daily that infuses a fragrance of hope, I too hope to reprint the forgotten annals of nostalgia. Once again being a maverick journalist who had once published four-page newsletters. Yet ever morn I remember the nocturnal sacrifices by a bunch lauded and denigrated alike. Hats off to the press.