Monday, April 30, 2007

MIRACLE

A long shot of a girl in a verdant hilly landscape. She emerges as a teenager, topless. She turns her head and looks up at the sky. Camera would greedily have sucked her rural untouched beauty if it had been a tele-film. It would further have siphoned out her perky breasts, exotic wheatish skin, shapely lips and upturned nose - a silhouette perhaps! This is not a tele-film, that I narate about, it was a scene from a tale that pertains to the genesis of a family that would have prematurely vanished into oblivion had it not been for the devine intervention.

A Brahmin -Nair couple of considerable wealth and fame lived in a the rural outskirts of Valluvanad. It was customary for the Veluttha Paaraappatty Mana Thirumeni (Devine body) to be betrothed to a Nair lady, but it was unusual for him to stay married to her for longer than, say, a couple of years. It was part of a farsighted custom of the Nairs to get hybrids of progeny through conception by Higher caste males two centuries ago. In a usual sequence, the Namboodiri would have some nuptial bliss for a time until the Nair girl was pregnant, thereafter he would withdraw from the Sambandham and move away to greener pastures. The Nair girl would get a Nair boy as husband, who would be formally married but stay separate. Ironically, the Brits tried this kind of ethnic cleansing 120 years later among Australian Aborigines!

As for this particular couple, they stayed in marriage, eventhough they were not blessed with a child. Grieved by the absence of an heir apparant to continue the matriarchal system, the pious pair travelled to Mookambika temple far away north in a bullock cart which was in vogue in those innocent bygone times. Their trip was based on a prophesy by a reputed astrolloger that the merciful Goddess would bless them with a baby. After staying in the temple surroundings unscathed by humans and 60 days of intense prayers, the couple were urged to return home by the Goddess in dream.

It was on the return journey they came across the rural teen. She was limping and looked so forlorn. The lady felt obliged to help the girl and asked her to accompany them. The legend is a bit sketchy at this point. There are so many unanswered questions, but I guess that's how miracles are. Anyway, the girl acccompanied the middle-aged couple to their rural abode. On reaching, the lass was instructed to have a dip in the tank and change in a room to the east of the house. That was the last time they would see her. The soul that went into the room to change just vanished into thin air!

It did not take for the astrolloger, who was summoned, a long time to guess that it was all Bhagavathy's miracle. He proclaimed that Vellat House would never end its saga because of lack of progeny. Three cheers to all the Vellattians!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

SEARCH

"Saro, I'm going to search for an 8 Ana coin," would be my Dad's way of saying that he was on his way to the toilet. This was one of the many strange codes they sometimes used to communicate in public without letting others know of their intention. Many sexists would find the need to convey the whereabouts of the spouse within the house quite restrictive and repulsive, but for my parents such a thing as 'individual space' was non-existant, nor would either consider it primeordial for survival of marriage. Full sharing and complete unconditional surrender between them made their marriage absolutely harmonious contrary to the popular belief of the western shrinks. How apt that name is for the psychiatristts/ psychoanlysts/ practising psychologists. They never broaden their vision, instead they prefer to typify and restrict. Sorry I digress!

Let's get back to the story. Hearing the cheerful utterance of my dad, one of the senior members, who couldn't believe he really had gone in search of the fifty-paise coin, called out to my mom. She was bewildered why on earth my dad would have to go in search of such a trivial sum. Having confronted my mother, she showed her an object and confided in her with an embarrassed smile that she had actually found the missing coin on the floor and kept it aside to give to the beggar if no one claimed it!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Exorcist

Hello

Once when my cousin, Jayan, and I went to see “Exorcist”, we were confronted by a huge queue waiting impatiently before the box-office to open. We too joined the line not really expecting to get a ticket. Those were days before television brought multitudes of channels at home. In due course, after verbal tirade with those at the back trying to generate a stampede, we got to the box and bought the tickets to our surprise. It was conventional to take a packet of pop corn and a bottle of Thumps Up (then Pepsi and Coke were banned) into the auditorium, so armed with them we marched in. We got seats with two loonies in the rear. Being Tamilians, they were talking loud discussing the scary parts of the movies. We scowled at them, stared at them and frowned at them to make them shut up, but it was useless. The duo went on and on until the movie started. The part where the girl makes all those contortions, Jayan suddenly realised how silent the guys at the back were. We found them bent low on their seat. They had almost ducked their head between their thighs! Throughout the movie they sat thus!

So much for their guts

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FARRTING

The college hostel where I was admitted turned out to be a virtual prison, with a priest warden to control and constrain. Father Stephen, a tall lean hungry looking man, was a tyrant and ruled his dominion with an iron hand. At least that’s what he thought, until some of us showed up! Prakash and Anthony were terrors; George and Gopalan were the wicked ones; we were no saints either. Anyway, to cut the long story short, we started a farting spree as a way of getting at the warden, who felt the numerous tubers planted in the hostel campus should be used in our diet. The farting Satyagraha rocked the foundation of the hostel. Scouts would spy for the warden’s arrival. The moment he climbed the steps from the porch, the collective farting would start. There would be different types of farts, the silent and deadly ones to the rumbling and thundery ones. Some creative boys managed to make the sing song ones while the amateurs got a variety of gasing going - longish ones, several short ones in a succession, chorus farting and many more. Manoj cojured up a potion with garlic paste to enhance the efficacy of the gas escaping from anus, giving it a deadly smell. Our performance would have humbled the skunks even. Many tried all sorts of concoctions to augment the result. In the end some got a bad stomach upset not from the tapioca but from such therapies. At the end of the five-day agitation, Father Stephen quietly changed our menu. And the farting stopped. This was a turning point. The warden finally quit and went in a huff! He never came back. I’ll narrate the story behind the hasty retreat of the warden in a later updation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

KATY MIRZA

The big-busted Katie Mirza was raving beauty when I was in my teens. She caused the young men to ogle at her massive mammaries. However hidden the pair of them were, they would still be seen. Men used to dribble spittle at her anatomic anomaly; even the old bandicoots would get a hard on just looking at her.

I am not talking about Katie Mirza described above; the one I am talking about is a stunning Pomeranian bitch. We acquired her as a pet when the Mathews decided to migrate to Australia. Katie was what they called her, but we added the family name as an after thought because of her sexy look. One day we had got back home after a long stint at the college hostel, when she bounced on us in ecstatic welcome! We were too surprised to speak for a few minutes, but became immediately apprehensive when she started jumping at us again.

For my sister without any female siblings to turn to, Katy was a welcome respite. The two of them would go on for hours grooming and looking good. It went on to such an extent that finally my dad put his foot down and limited the use of talcum powder for Katy’s make up. In 2 weeks three tins were over!!

She was a vegetarian and had sweet tooth too! She would relish sweet papaya, mangoes and hog cakes, ice-creams and puddings. My brother and I had a tacit understanding not to go on a collision course with her. However there was no such understanding with strangers. Katie would go snipping at their ankles or would give the chase of their lives! She would run round and round cattle barking the wits out of them. Yet, if we placed her on a table (she had one just for her to stand), she just wouldn’t jump down no matter what the dire need was.

Ms. Mirza went as abruptly as she had come. She spent some seven odd years with us leaving sweet memories to cherish for a life time. She died a spinster. The day she died, it was unbearable to my sis, she just wouldn’t stop whimpering. We gave her a grand funeral and buried her in the yard. Her tomb still stays outside the verandah, but she will be in our heart until end!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Great Job

There was a time when we used to stay in another rural area where my dad had built a house. It was surrounded by fertile land in which trees, palms and a luscious garden grew. We, as kids, used to play all sorts of games and get a lot thrill and sometimes chidings from the elders.

Once when my grandpa came from Madras for a longish stay, he felt obliged to plant a bed of peas or two. The rains came to give a respite from the summer heat and the peas grew into creepers. Soon grandpa got the farm hand to fix support for them. The series of interlocking sticks tied up supported the foliage. To our childish imagination it looked like a make shift shelter, quite convenient to go as our home in one of our games. As weeks passed, we were delighted to spy the pea flowers which were rather bright and attractive! One day we got carried away and plucked all the flowers. Then we had a bright idea. Why not take it to our grandpa. It would surely please him. So, off we went with our precious gift to him, but we got what we least expected. He screamed at us: You mad urchins, you had to spoil my pea garden! Uncomprehending the chaos we had created we looked at each other in stupor.

Later, when mom told us about the botanical truth of the pea, we just accepted we had perpetrated something terribly wrong. Nevertheless we never knew why everyone was so upset about our plucking the pea flowers, which were so, so pretty. Only when I was learning about growth of a plant in one of Mrs. Jacob’s numerous botanical classes much later, did I realize why all that commotion had occurred over the pea incident in our childhood.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Innooli

Exposed dangling breasts, weather beaten wizened face, liquid eyes, a mouthful of irregular stained teeth make up the five minus feet tall apparition called Innooli. She spoke in a grating voice and cackled when you least expected. This character came to our lives more by destiny than purpose. Innooli came with the ancestral abode, where my parents decided to spend our life after Dad’s retirement. She was the compound sweeper. In her younger days she was a raving beauty, who stole Koran the farmhand’s heart, soul and peace. She was one of those rural women who had great character, pioneering spirit untouched by erudition and so called sophistication. Down to earth, she raised her family almost single-handedly. Her husband bid adieu much too early for her comfort. When destiny shattered her life, she stood resolutely braving the storm of loneliness of destitution.

What I remember of Innoli is her excessive passion to keep the courtyard and the walkway in the front spick and span. She would forgo her breakfast, sacrifice it to her grandchildren and continue with tenacity the chore of uprooting each recalcitrant weed. She would incessant lecture to the trees, ants, passers by walking up the road in front that ran to the local market. Her stories would always be circuitous touching on all aspects of the rural tales: exploits of her kin, Koran and others, her short marriage, her maleficent neighbours, her obnoxious daughter in law, Ayyappunni- her mad offspring and so goes the never ending list. She would scold the insects stealing bites at her ankles, she would fume at the thorns of bougainvillea, she would brandish the broom at the gawking street kids trying to throw stones at the mangoes. By the ceremony of cleaning the courtyard finally comes to the end, she would not only have worked herself up, but worked up a good appetite too. She would then plod down to the kitchen where she would slurp up hot kanji (sort of a rice soup) with a spoon made of ripe jack leaf.

She produced in people mixed feelings. As young children, we used to find her fascinating, amazing and exciting. Innooli to the elderly was amusing, irritating and ridiculous as her mood changed, while to the youth she was an anachronism among modernity. To her in-laws who had become more fashionable, she was an embarrassment; to her daughter-in-law- a domineering pest.

With her death, an era was cremated with its vibrancy and vivacity.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Life is Like That!

Two Kuwaitis took time off from studies to visit the US and learn the “juicier aspects of life”. Having consulted one of their cronies and found a reference (Charley), they left. On arrival at Kuwait the duo caught up with their cronies and over lunch they were asked how their short stay in the west was. It was fun except for Charley, said one of them. Charley was a freak because he had two ass holes instead of one! “Everywhere we went the guys at the bar or at the brothel kept saying: ‘There comes Charley with two ass holes!’” he laughed. “That’s how we found out about his ‘little secret,” confided the other.

********
My dad was a great person. He was brought up in a large household with 12 other siblings and a horde of uncles, aunts and cousins. They lived in a sprawling rural ranch. The hot and humid climate and abundance of leftovers was ideal for the cockroaches, which proliferated and permeated into the household like family members. It so happened while my dad was exaggerating the giant size of an acquaintance he had met in Madras where he was learning medicine, that the girls from the next room queried whether the person in question was dark in colour too. Dad, puzzled by the question, said he was not dark; in fact he was quite fair. The next query from the adjacent room floored him. The question was whether he flew too.

This was a classic example of cross talk. While dad was talking about his classmate the girls were talking about roaches that flew mad!

*********
Another instance my dad was in the ranch after having been away for quite some time, he heard the gate open and discovered their relatives from far off Delhi come for a visit. As his mother was in the kitchen supervising preparation of lunch, he called out to her and informed her that some guests had arrived. Much to his chagrin and those of the guests, he heard his mother roar out from the kitchen, “In that case, just take a stick and chase them away”.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Helping Others

I found an old lady carrying two large bags of grocery. It was obvious that she was experiencing difficulty. So many young men idling there seemed to ignore her plight. I was in two minds; wheter to help her or not. If I volunteered will it be construed that I was being a show off? If I didn't I would feel bad about my behaviour. In the end I decided to help her. By then, a young lady came to the old lady's rescue. With a pleasant smile, she coaxed the senior citizen to part with her burden. I felt bad for two reasons; I was denied of the opportunity to help, the girl overtook me too.

This really opened my eyes! Take an opportunity when it presents itself. If you dilly dally, someone else will take it.

Monday, April 2, 2007

THE TEST

“Do not talk while you are doing the test,”
announced the mean bearded pest.

Now SHSHOW it, no one lookin’ this way
Quick! What’s the answer for 1a?

My chum is all glum and pale
“Pss-st!” I whisper down the aisle

Joey is mumblin’ the response in caution
Alas! I detect a footfall in motion!

My – my. . it’s too damn late
He has sealed his fate

A pair of brawny hands grabs my pal
And hauls him up paper and all!

He’s going to blurt; I fear a demotion!
The beast is squeezin’ a confession

No beans spilt no cats let out, but
Poor sobbing Joey got a rosy butt

The ugly teacher contorted and yelled
“I told you do not talk while doing the test!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

MY GIRL

I have met a lot of people who have influenced me deeply. One of them is my girl. I find in her an unusual strength of character. She could bring in some changes in my life and outlook, which even my parents couldn’t. I respect her a lot. We do have some differences, but I admire her sense of optimism, courage to face the world (almost on the verge of recklessness for choosing me as a life partner) and abundance of happiness. She celebrates every moment of her life cheering herself and those around. Negativity has no place in our household! Yet, she is realistic and not an escapist. She is ready to confront issues and redress them pragmatically. She can judge characters readily – too readily. Despite her positive qualities she is not vain. That’s the best part in her. And she doesn’t use emotion as a weapon against me. We do shout and yell at each other sometimes, but everything is forgotten and forgiven after the outburst. We don’t accrue negative feeling and horde animosity. She has taught me lessons of practical living and importance of involvement. You may think this poor bloke is hen pecked and smitten. After 20 years of marriage to my girl I still feel youthful and indulgent because of her. The golden rule in our marriage is: never encroach into the other’s space. Hats off to her!☺

surmon on the mount

Hey hey. . .

Its me again! Life is dull. I am reminded of the industrious ants. By the way, who qualified them as ‘industrious’? We humans did so, because the actually dumb six-legged creatures displayed similar mad behaviour as themselves. Like those industrious chums, we too go in a line to collect things with a wild obsession matching those wild creatures, who spend three fourths of their miserable life in grain gathering and logistics. In the end, when it is time to retire and enjoy the booty accrued over the years, we are too sick or too dead! Yet we never stop this mad goose chase. Our creator must have designed toys like us for his pleasure – to enjoy our misery. The instant we reach success mostly by the Creator’s intervention, we gloat about our greatness and glorify ourselves soon to fall in a deep chasm and lose it all!

Take time to enjoy the golden sea at dusk, the flutter of the dragon flies near the dandelions, the gleeful mirth of the tiny tots. There is God in those! There is solace in those.

PS: Sorry if I sounded too cynical, but I am also one of those ants by the way.
Occupation

They moved into a new flat
The father arranged all in tact
And the Mother rearranged it all in fact
To end the war, they declared a pact.

The father put a dining table
With chairs all around, not so stable
Then came the books, litter and the cable
The mother chided: “The room is a stable!”

The children played around, made a mess
Of the new carpet and their dress
“They are like their father, can they do less?”
Says the lady to a neighbour, who couldn’t guess.

The computer brings more worries
The fridge not working, the fruit turn purees
While their bellies burn with spicy curries
Off to school each member hurries.

The father is a teacher in Maths
A wild and fiery temper he has
The mother takes for the seniors, humanity,
And drives them surely to insanity!

Their brats, a troublesome pair,
break things while pretending to repair!
“What to do?” the teachers lament in despair
Their parents sigh and moan but don’t really care.

Both are in 8C sitting in front row
They become restless as the days grow
During the recess the two gave Tom a blow
His nose has bloated, giving a red glow!

To complains the parents have gone deaf
While their neighbours have grown rough
At home they put chill dust on powder puff
After wash, their Mum went mad putting that stuff!

The manager after six long months complained
He chanted: the couple can’t be retained
As peace and order were constrained
And many damages the building had sustained!

They soon moved out of the flat in haste
From unforgettable past, past the rusted gate
They blame it on society and fate
“We didn’t do anything,” they simply state!