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.


chitra said...

thanks for the lovely story :)

vishesh said...

I like your stories,they are fun to read and original :)

Srijith Unni said...

@Chitra: My pleasure, chitra. Glad to know that you liked it.

@Vishesh: Thanks vishesh. !

RandomThoughts said...

Really nice story Srijith. Enjoyed it!


Srijith Unni said...

@Rashmi : Thanks Rashmi! Happy that you enjoyed it.!

starry nights said...

Beautiful and tender story.loved reading it.

Keshi said...

:) nice one Srijith. made me smile.

I love Jackfruit btw hehe...


Srijith Unni said...

@Starry : Thanks Starry. Glad that you liked it.!

@Keshi : Thanks Keshi.! Happy to know that a small story I write can bring upon a smile, miles away. Thanks to Blogger for that. Hey and I too love jackfruit, like Kuttan ....

Ardra said...

the milieu is so familiar, I could almost hear and see Gowri's muthassi asking shrilly with her palm raised above her squinted eyes,'aarathu? kuttanaa?'

hope you write more frequently srijith...
warm regards

Srijith Unni said...

@Ardra : Thanks Ardra, Will definitely be trying to...

Sreejith Kumar said...

It is good to see that you are blogging almost regularly now. A very good story Sri!

Solilo said...

This is a beautiful story. Nostalgic about Kerala.