Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Kuttan got just Half.

"Appu Ettan has done it again!", screamed Minnu. She came running and screaming all the way from the courtyard till the well at the southern most end of the house. She knew she would find Kuttan near the well. She was out of breath by the time she caught hold of Kuttan and shook him vigorously, disturbing his research of how millipedes react to hot water.

"Appu Ettan has done it again. He has performed another Magic Trick.! Come.!", she said and kept running back, screaming again at the top of her voice.

"Appu Ettaaaa.. Once More!, Kuttan is coming.".

As Kuttan walked slowly behind Minnu, his body seemed dull and tired. His eyes looked drowsy and his face covered in sweat from loitering around in the sun all afternoon, but his mind was restless. He was eager to see what trick appu had shown now, he could almost picture Dasamama's eyes beaming with appreciation in his mind. His mind was filled with jealousy. Appu, his first cousin, who had never been to the city, always had these tricks up his sleeve, which he was never able to do. He, himself was bright at school and could also recite a poem called "Ozymandias", by heart, but still he could not fell a mango like Appu did, or swim like him. Appu`s magic tricks were something he couldn't even dream about. He wished at least this time, he could figure out how the trick was done.

As expected all were present and Dasamama was praising Appu. "Come Kutta, look at Appu and learn something", he chided. Kuttan was about to respond, when Appu started to perform with his usual histrionics. He took a piece of white paper and wrote on it "100" with a red ball point pen. "It has to be red!. Otherwise the magic wont work", he proclaimed. He then took a match box and lit a match. "Careful!", cried Kuttan's mother. "It's ok. He can handle it", remarked Dasamama. Appu then burned the paper and dropped it on the floor and stood spreading his hands, as it burned completely. After it had fully turned to ash, he crushed it and took it in his fingers. He then applied the ash on his forearm and Lo' Behold the number "100" appeared on his forearm in black.!

While everyone clapped, "I also can do it!", shouted Kuttan. He had to prove it this time. He rushed into his room and took out the red ball point pen, he had brought and rushed back. "No!, you can't ", declared Appu. "Let him try. Let's see what he does", said Dasamama, a wicked look in his eyes. Kuttan quickly wrote "100", took the matchbox from Appu and lit a match. "Careful!", shouted Dasamama. He pretended to ignore and quickly set the paper to fire. He bent and looked at it, until it burned completely, then took the ash and applied it on his forearm with great gusto. His forearm was stained black, but where was the "100", he wondered. It was not there. Dasamama roared with laughter as his eyes brimmed with tears, from the pit of his stomach, his grief bubbled upwards and out came a sob.!

Only Gowri Chechi really took pity on him. "Come with me to my home. Let me get you some jackfruits". Kuttan loved jackfruit, and he loved gowri chechi and her home which was a stone's throw away from their own house. Gowri Chechi's grandmother and Amma's grandmother were sisters. Gowri chechi always told him nice stories and fed him with mangoes and jackfruits at her house.

"I hate Appu!, I hate Dasamama", remarked Kuttan, as they walked to the house, past the cowshed. Even Nandini, the cow seemed to be laughing at him, her mouth full of cud.

"Haa Haa.. We will beat them when we go back", consoled Gowri Chechi. Gowri Chechi's grandmother was reading the Ramayana at the porch, when they reached. It was already getting dark. "Is it Kuttan?", she tried to confirm through her weak eyes. Kuttan just rushed past to the dining hall. "Why are you so angry? What Happened?", he could hear her asking. Kuttan climbed on top of the rickety wooden bench, thinking about Appu's magic trick. "How does Appu do it?. It didn't work for me", he asked Gowri Chechi. Gowri Chechi came from the backyard with a plate full of jackfruit and set them in front of Kuttan. "That Appu!, He is always up to those stupid tricks. he does it with Onions.",

"Onions?". He looked at Gowri Chechi, with a questioning glance, his mouth full, and lips yellow with jackfruit pulp. "He writes the number with onion juice on his forearm, before he does that trick.". "Where can I get Onion juice?". Kuttan was already plotting in his mind. "I'll get you some", replied Gowri Chechi. She brought him some crushed onions from the kitchen. "Do I fill it in my ball point pen ?", he asked. "No Silly. Here I'll write it for you, and she took a small twig and wrote with it on Kuttan's forearm "100", while Kuttan licked clean the plate of cut jackfruits. "Wait now, I 'll get you some water to drink", she said and went to the kitchen and returned back, but Kuttan was not to be seen. "Where is Kuttan?", she asked her grandmother in the verandah. "He ran back home. The mad little boy", she said and chuckled as usual, with her fake teeth.

All were in the dining room, preparing to have snacks and tea, when Kuttan reached back home. Appu was not there. He must have gone to take bath in the pond. "Where were you? Where's Gowri?", scolded his mother, sticking out her head from the kitchen. "I will do the magic trick again!", he announced. "Amma, Kuttan is performing a magic", Minnu screamed again at the top of her voice. "Enough now, with your magic and stupid tricks. Take Bath, both of you and come have something to eat", his mother shouted back. "Amme, please..", he pleaded.

"It's ok!, Let us see him do it". A voice boomed. It was Dasamama. Appu stood beside him naughtily smiling. They had returned from their bath. Kuttan turned his face away from them and picked up a paper and held it aloft and took the ball point pen in his had. Just before he put pen to paper. "..and now you'll write 100, and then", dictated Appu. "No!. It is a bigger magic", he shouted back, and with his red ball point pen, calling out to all the gods in his mind, he wrote neatly on the paper. "200".

Minnu, brought him the matchbox. He quickly lit a match and set the paper on fire. "Aren't you all taking bath, tonight?", Kuttan's mother asked from the kitchen. "Wait Amme..", screamed back Minnu. The paper had burnt completely. He took the ash in his hands and applied it on his forearm, where Gowri Chechi had applied the onion juice. His forearm was again stained black, but this time, slowly he could make out in black the number on his forearm "100".

Everyone roared in laughter. Minnu kept shouting "Magic! magic!". But Kuttan's eyes were already clouding. He didn't stand there. He started to run. Behind him, he could hear Dasamama shouting, "Looks like you got only half of Appu's magic powers.!!". He could hear Appu laughing aloud too. "Kuttan come back! Where are you going now?", his mother was shouting. All their voices were slowly drowned as Minnu kept screaming, "Magic! magic! Kuttan did magic!".

But Kuttan did not stop. He kept running. He had to find Gowri Chechi!.

- Elder Brother.
*Chechi -
Elder Sister.
*Dasamama -
Dasan Uncle.

Accepting with Gratitude...

Two awards, which were granted to me by two wonderful people Starry and Hip Hop G'mom, both wonderfully honest and brilliant bloggers themselves.

I remember how I once read this post about Starry encountering a bobcat in her beautiful garden. The whole experience so fresh, and the innocence in her writing struck me deeply. Have always followed her blog since then. The honesty with which she has been talking about all her family, her own health, sharing all her joys and sorrows is truly remarkable. Thanks Starry, for this award.!

Hip Hop G'mom has the most refreshing blog around, with her little ditties about life, family, children, social conscience, the teaching profession, grand children and what not? She brings an experience of a lifetime in to her writing.!

Thank you, again for bestowing this award on me.

Having said that, this kind of recognition from my friends here, does tend to embarrass me. Am I worthy of all this, I often ask myself. I have not even been writing much in a long time. Have not really taken the time and effort to let the creative juices flowing. I hope I am able to write more and do justice to your impressions.!

I'm not awarding this to anyone right now. I'll keep it with me for a while. (Selfish me!). Honestly speaking, I have too many people out there, who I want to give it to.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Beginning!

In many villages in India, hardworking farmers reap all they have sown and have celebrated and are still celebrating their harvest.! In Tamilnadu, they call it Pongal festival, some call it Sankranthi, some call it Bihu, some call it Lohri, Whatever the name, whatever the customs, the fact is it is a celebration of the bounty that Mother Earth has given us. It is the beginning of a cycle, the renewed vigour of beginning work again, but not before all have partied enough.

It is the new year and we are looking forward to a lot of things, the whole world, looks forward to gaining prosperity, a clear path to what was the good times. Jobs are being done with, Markets crash and the world still needs to find a way to peace, a way in which both terror and war can be eradicated. Be it Mumbai, or be it Gaza , Palestine. Everywhere people are awaiting a new dawn, hope and peace of mind. Even as some celebrate, some suffer, and then vice-versa. Life is a cycle and with Time all pain heals. Nature and Time is the only discovered panacea that we know of.

Having said that, we know for sure that the future is not bleak. Nothing is impossible, It is just a myth awaiting demystification. Like the farmers who toiled on their fields, under the sun, ploughing hard against the ground which had dried up. Rains were always either less or too much. Whatever remained of Mother earth, was as solid as stone and yet they ploughed panting and huffing, both beast and man. There was work to be done and very little time.

Water was needed and more money to get the motor pumps running, the bullocks had to be fed. The manure had to be procured and all the government grants that had been announced when the vote-hungry rulers came to their homes were yet to yield them anything of worth. But still they struggled, sold whatever little jewels they had, took more money from Money lenders and put all they had into that small piece of earth, they owned. They knew they had to work hard, and pray to the lords, for that is all they could do. Evenings were spent massaging their bodies with oil, the pain in their knees and limbs simply unbearable, but they knew that one good night's sleep would be enough. Some, weak at heart took their own lives, some fled to the cities and either begged or merely survived, but some remained.

Then finally the rains came, it poured and poured, for many a blessing, for many a curse, because the rains caused floods, and elsewhere the clouds had passed on. So eventually very few survived, the survival of the fittest and the most blessed. It was these blessed few, who raised the food and livestock for a billion of their brethren. Their struggle is no less severe and no less traumatic than what the world has gone through everywhere, the previous year. Yet they persisted to survive, to nourish and to provide, like Mother Earth herself.

So today when they celebrate in the villages, each one of those farmers know that they have to get ready for their next struggle. All this might sound like out of a Premchand Novel. However it is as close to reality as possible. Let us hope and pray that their struggles becomes easier and lesser, but let us also get inspired as we look up to that thin Indian Farmer as he rejoices this glorious harvest season. Let us believe in the mercy of nature and the ability of time to heal all and rejuvenate.

For us, for our families, for all countrymen, for the world's population at large, let us persist, no matter what. To survive, to nourish and to provide, no matter what the sacrifice.

A Happy and prosperous new year 2009 to All.

I've taken a resolution to try to keep posting in here. For the nth time, now I'll be making a new beginning. That's so cliched! I know.!. I love cliches.