Monday, December 7, 2009

Perfect Honeymoon

A sharp wind whipped through the pavement with plastic bags and papers striking on our faces. Thinking over the warning my wife has given about the climatic conditions of Ooty in the month of November before than we started this tour, I thickened my thought of peeking at her. The cold wind proved nothing else but the harbinger of downpour on that hill town. My eyes were searching for a safe place to recess in.

I could find a bush at last that could provide us a perfect niche to evade this spine chilling wind. Mustering hard feelings, I dared to have a look at her face. Her blenched face reflected total disagreement jeopardizing my time frame of this setup.

“ Well, do you like to have a cup of hot coffee? ” – broken the ice with my fragile words. She was staring down at a fresh twig just fallen down from the nearby Eucalyptus tree.

“ I’m not insane to have a cup of cold coffee in this bloody weather ” – she murmured.

Her words mowed me more than this cold wind. I took away my heels to look for a coffee shop nearby. Cafes are limited in numbers inside the Botanical garden. Plunging my palms in to my trousers, I searched for a café. Finally I could see smoke billowing with a sweet aroma at the east corner of the garden. Flicking out few bucks, I managed to get two cups of steaming Coffee. In this compelling gesture of carrying cups, my hands felt the blows of chillness at the back and hotness in the chest. Worsening the situation, it started drizzling.

In distance I could see my wife accompanied with a freak old lady draped in white sari. With my own inherited thoughts of that lady, I neared them. “ We worship Pancha Pandavas ” – her weak words astonished me. Her lure accent of macaronic language made me to refer my brief knowledge of varied intonations. Hardly could I figure out that for it sounded more like the language of “Kuruvikara kootam” – the local nomads in the city. Her language too had ebb of Kannada. My wife posed me a confused look when I reached them. Slipping down a cup of coffee to my wife, I had a close look at the old lady. Her countenance reminded me of a Sorceress whose story I have studied during my childhood days. With “pambadoms” drooping down her elastic earlobes and her strand braided around the ears, she beamed at me. Her white sari with tasseled ends got deft embroidery in the corner.

Amma, who are you”, I asked coldly.

“I’m a Toda Woman dwelling over the top of that hill”-her hands pointed out the pinnacle, half covered with the milky mist, where none dare to go.

Having read about Todas from the books, I was more enthusiastic to know more about them. My wife was staring at the embroidery of the woman’s sari. I prepared to ask more questions about Todas.

“What is the main occupation of your people? ”, I asked her

“We rear up cows and bullocks and they are considered sacred in our part. We sell dairy products and it take care of our income”, She answered gazing at my wife’s chudidhar.

Pausing for a moment, she continued: “We worship Bull’s head”.

Making out the codes of eagerness on my face she asked whether we wanted to accompany her to her settlement. No sooner did she ask, than I started nodding my head to accept her proffer. My lightning decision did not even have consent from my wife. She still was staring at the woman’s sari.

Sipping down the cups of coffee, we pursued the lady with an avid look of enthusiasm. The path was muddy and more slippery that my wife got to take off her strapped heels. The old lady crept up easily, prodding down the climbers with a stick in her hands. I could see my partner clomping down the path, as she was unaccustomed to walk like this. A scent of medicinal flora swept crisply predicating the flourish ness of the hills strongly. The chirps of the unknown but familiar birds, reverberating between my partner and me, got disrupted when we walked in perfect osculation. Scaling the peak of the hill, we were breath taken to view the gargantuan scale of Eucalyptus trees herding the steeps at different altitudes.

The cold weather was more severe over the top and my wife could not help snuggling up my shoulders. We walked towards a gate of a stockade that boasted a board saying, “Visitors are not allowed inside”. We stopped entering the gate with reading the barricade board. A mixed feeling of fear and anger grasped its way through my nerves. The old lady stepping ahead turned back and grinned clumsily.

“Come inside babies; this is our village”, she bleated loudly.

Declinations on this moment appeared to be absurd and far from considerations as we were more than half way to the village. I summoned my wife and we stepped in to the fence. The houses appeared similar to Wigwams in shape but these were different in their roof and wall texture. Bamboo sticks were bent craftily to shield the roof. The doors were at very low attitude that a person entering the house should crawl down. I was tempted to have a look in to their houses but to my dismay most of the doors were shut. But I managed to find a house at last with door opened. With dark shades reining the room I could see only the floor of the room. Half the portion of the floor was dumped up with cow dung and maggots were swarming over that. A stench of half moist dung irritated my nostrils and made me to feel nausea. A quern was left in proximity to the dung with half ground grains in that which were too swarmed with flies. There was a structure, which looked different from the rest of the houses. To our astonishment, there was a seasoned head of the bull hanging in its entrance. The door of the house was closed.

Amma! What is this place?”

“Oh! This is the temple of Pancha Pandavas. Thambi give adorations; you can succeed in your deeds”, saying that she knelt down like a mantis.

When I stepped forward, my wife grasped my hands tightly and gave a stern look.

“Mohammed! Shall we move from here?”-Her voice sounded with pain.

The old lady stood back and turned towards us.

“Do you want something to eat? ”, she asked looking at my wife. We nodded declining her offers.

A bare bodied man in this bloody weather crawled out of one of their so-called houses was very much puzzling to see us. His squinted eyes bluffed us; whether he was looking at me or at my wife. The old lady dragged me to that guy.

“He is my cousin Ranga. He owns two cows and five bulls. He is one of the richest here”

My wife chuckled behind me. Ranga stared at her briefly. He started bawling at the old lady with his hands pointing at us in a lingo unfamiliar to both of us. The old lady shown great anger on her facet and replied to him at high pitch. A peremptory small girl ran from the mist and conveyed some message to both of them in gasps. The news that was brought by the girl enlightened both of their faces.

“Come with me children. You have brought us good news”

“Mohammed we got to go back to our room. The weather is getting worse” my tenacious wife tightened her grasp.

A sudden uproar of ululation, deafening our ears, echoed in the deep mist of the village. I could feel a knot in my stomach. The old lady once again got hold of my hands and dragged me behind heaps of straw and cow dung. A group of bare bodied men and white sari clad women were dancing there, hopping their feet one after the other. The old lady too joined their ritual dance. We neared them with thumping heart and shaking legs.

 A stench of fresh blood wafted through the mist. We craned our head to have the better view of the object around which Todas were gathered. A cow was lying in the bloodshed straddling its legs with a calf near its rear. The slithery looking calf tried hard to stand up and each time ending up in vain. Few of the Todan women poured water over the calf to wash off the smeared blood. The old lady handed us a wooden bowl of yellowish liquid.

“Drink it children; drink”

“I don’t need it Mohammed” my wife trembled.

“Drink it babies or else you will commit a sin of God”, Old lady warning words irritated me.

Amma can you tell me at least what this is?”

“Foremilk; this cow’s first milk after giving birth. We consider this milk as Ambrosia here. Drink it dears”

The sour taste of the milk sickened my appetite and got to hold my breath to empty the bowl. My wife vomited on having a gulp and chucked away the bowl, holding her stomach. A surge of trauma filled the shaggy crowd and their looks congealed both of us. Ranga emerged from the crowd swiftly and pushed my wife wildly onto the ground. Not giving me a second to realize the situation, he hit me on my face with a wand. I fell on the ground jagging my lips harshly with my teeth. The old lady screamed and plucked the wand from Ranga. She started slapping Ranga repeatedly. The infernal moments did not held me back from lifting my wife from the ground. Ranga’s barbaric attack drove me amok instantly for my eyes searched for any sort of hard things lying on the ground. A broken log piece lured me very easily and came into my hold in no time. I thrashed down Ranga onto the ground without giving a second thought.

“Children, go out of the village; Or else you are going to have tough time now” Old lady’s words brought me pain.

We ran across the muddy alleys that messed up with the recent downpours. My wife could not hold her tears. She struggled to cope up with me on her bare feet; She left her strapped heels back in the village. After undergoing an arduous task of fleeing the village, we managed to come out of the main gate. A forest Officer, happened to drive in his jeep, seen us coming out of the settlement of Todas.

“Trespassers are not allowed inside this settlement Sir; I fear you both have to come to the Station with me!” the mustached Officer signaled us to get onto the jeep. The village at the back started to be disfigured with eclipse of mist. Seated next to my wife, I dared not to peep at her face again.

(The above post is a semi-fiction, published by me in in January, 2006 )

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Success Story

In a railway station, I met my old friend and shared few minutes. I understood that he owns some factories now.

“You are lucky to be successful”

“Mohammed! Luck is the last step I encountered before success, after doing all those hard works”

Train is heaving a long sigh behind me and so am I.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The boy

The nimbus clouds were hanging over Nagercoil shading the mid noon into a moment of twilight. The humidity in the air was harbingering a heavy rain in less than a minute. The people were busy in the spur-of-moment purchase as the following day would be Diwali. The bus stand in Nagercoil was thronged to the extent of suffocation and the buses were impregnated with passengers slinging on all possible niches of the buses.

My mind was looking for a cheap comfort of getting two seats in parallel so that I could sit alongside of my wife and daughter (she was 3 years old then). The minutes were merging into hours in this futile craving and a drop of rain on my nose signified that I have saved enough trouble for my small family for the following hours. We boarded a Chennai bus (travelling via Madurai) and to our expected dismay found two seats separated by a furlong.

I ended up sitting few seats in the front away from my wife and daughter. I was totally unhappy. The bus was hawked down with numerous vendors selling nuts, newspapers, water bottles and what not. I was not interested to buy anything as my simple wish was not fulfilled.

There was a moment when a boy, who himself was drenched in rain but cared to wrap the books in plastic cover, approached me. He was trying to sell me few books which I was not interested to buy. His book range was boasting some rhymes books, learn-Indian-languages-in-30 days, some kolam (rangoli) books, etc,.

"Anna! (brother in Tamil) please buy some books"

I was remaining silent and he started pestering me. I started pitying him and grabbed few rhymes books and kolam books and displaying from distance to my wife, who was sitting few seats at the rear. She was just turning her face away from me as she was at the verge of anger, as I was seeing her being questioned by an old lady seated besides her. I told that boy that I did not want to buy any books from him. He was not giving up.

"Anna atleast buy these kolam books for anni (he was mentioning about my wife)"

I just tried giving him few coins so that he would move away from me. He was totally annoyed with that and refused to accept the coins except for I buy some books. As the bus driver boarded the bus, the boy was forced to get down the bus; however I have managed to thrust two five rupees coins, which in haste he accepted.

After a while when the bus stopped in Virudhunagar (mid-stop for refreshments), we got down the bus. I could see one rhymes book grabbed carelessly by my daughter. My wife was mentioning that the boy left the book in to the arms of my daughter before getting down the bus.

Pic. Courtesy : Google Images

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Sumathi was handed with a sleeping child.

“Take him for business. I’ve injected a dosage of sedative into him. He will not wake up for another four hours. No more troubles for you Sumathi”. Those were the words of the disrepute broker, Moorthi who runs an undercover business in the city engaging the orphaned children in begging.

Sumathi was rushing into the street.

Suddenly, someone was clamouring her name across the road. Sumathi noticed that it was Kumar, the local mason.

“Sumathi! Is that the outcome of mistake that we did before six months? Were you not taken the pills?”

“Oh! Don’t disgrace yourself. This poor soul, I have rented from that broker for half day.”

“So you gave up your regular business and got into begging?”

“Huh! Begging is better than prostitution. I believe, by begging, I bestow kindness to the hearts of those reckless mob of businessmen and merchants. It’s such a pleasure to notice a flash of generosity on their facets. The peace in their eyes, whilst pressing silver into my palms, is an immense pleasure to be predated on. I make others’ life better.”

“Pah! What a perspective on begging. Here, accept this and make me a mahatma too.”

He tossed a two rupees coin in to the air. Sumathi, extended her palm to get hold of that. She was looking for that typical peace into the eyes of Kumar, whereas there was nothing persisted other than lust. He winked momentarily. Sumathi’s inner mind was cursing his perverted existence.

The child was still lying on her shoulders without wailing. Sumathi made her odyssey all through the mob-oriented spots in the city. She has acquired the typical pleading voice of needy beggars.

“Oh Madam! My child has not eaten since yesterday. Look at him. He is unconscious because of hunger. Please lend me some money. God will make you richer”

The coins and occasional currency notes were pouring into her sari sac from all directions. The mid noon sun has reminded her end of contract period. She hurriedly finished her lunch in the corner hotel. The child is still sleeping. She noticed the lips of the child were dried like twigs. She dipped her finger into the water and moistened the lips. The lips were lifeless except for the instant gloss of water.

She bundled the child and was running towards the broker. Her heart was racing in happiness. She pecked a kiss onto the cheeks of the child. A cold touch of tender skin has brought her more joy. The child was in torpid sleep. She bought a yo-yo from the street vendor.

The broker was pressing lazily a small calculator.

“Sumathi! How was the collection today?”

“Excellent Moorthi anna. The child was sleeping whole through the morning. All went hassle-free. I’ll take him tomorrow too”

She placed the child into the raddled cradle with the yo-yo on his side. The child was still lying motionless. Sumathi bent over the child and pecked more kisses and walked away.

The broker was still pressing the calculator and writing his accounts. Little did he knew that the child would not wake up again as the dosage of Phenergen has exceeded the limit and killed the child.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apostate devotee

I was proud as I have arranged for fixing the damaged communion-rail in our church. The grillwork is exhibiting my name as “Donation: John”.

My daughter kneeling with me along the row of pews pulled my arm and told, “Papa! Why God has not written on your hands as, “Donation by God”? I was ashamed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Witch Moments

“What on earth made you to say that Angel?” I sneered with great irritation.

All my other friends, encircled before the bonfire, were watching our conversation with wave of confusion on their faces.

“Look Mohammed! Those are not my words. I knew that witch right from my childhood. I used to accompany my parents when they used to go to her, to cast off the black magic plotted against my father by his business enemies. She is not on this merely for money and anyone who meets her could always end up in saying that she got some supernatural power. So her words did not drive me suspicious” Angel’s monotonous words angered me further.

“Angel do you think that anyone who is in love with Aparna could do this for her? I don’t think so. As for me it would be better if we take her to Psychiatrist” I glanced at others for their look of approval.

“We cannot even convey this message to her father for we know he is always on his wheels around the globe over business trips. Why not to the faculties in University?” Jeena joined our conversation.

“No. No. it would become news. Let us handle it among ourselves” Nainar sounded warningly.

“Well then it is better if we could take her to the witch and remove the spell off her. That’s my stand. Anyone back me up?” Angel stood up patting the dust off her back. The other two sets of eyes were set on Angel implicating their yield to her idea.

It all started with the strange behavior of our friend Aparna who along with three of us form the group of Indians studying in Guadalajara, Mexico. Angel’s family got settled down in Mexico before a generation and she joined our circle with the roots of nationalism. Having hardly four months ahead to complete our studies, Aparna started acting in a strange way. She hardly talked with anyone and most of the time sat looking at the ceiling. She sat all the day as though she got deprived of all the physical actions.

The next day we four took Aparna to the witch. The place where the witch, Barbara dwelled was a well-known witchcraft market – Sonora Market. The shops were selling unconventional goods of all kinds; desiccated sloths and crows, seasoned scorpions, rattle snakes skin, Armadillo shells, teeth of unknown animals, skulls of varied sizes, needle bones, multi-hued candles, dried petals of hibiscus, boiling pots of Cauldron. To our dismay even the live animals like lizards, frogs, turtles and Iguanas are caged and displayed for sale. What a person will do with these creepy reptiles other than watching them at a safe distance? I wondered why the people go for the witchcraft lotions and potions still in this nuclear era.

The northwest corner of the market accommodated the old lady. Barbara opened the door, with a wicked beam on her face. Her freak old body emerged from the suffocating smog of incense sticks. The mixed smell of varied fragrances gave me nausea. I felt my intestine thudding up my vocal sacs. Her sunken eyes were probing us with curiosity. She looked at Jeena.

“Amor! Usted sigue siendo un virgen?” she chuckled.

Jeena was confused.

“What is she talking about Angel?”

“She is wondering that you are still a virgin” Angel translated Barbara’s coarse Spanish.

“What on earth bothers this bitch even if I’m not a virgin? Jeena bleated.

“Ssh… She knows English as well” Angel pressed Jeena’s hand.

Barbara’s long fingers with nails like tentacles pulled a rope near the sill. The “soon-to-boom” lantern flashed and dimmed subsequently. The inert panorama inside the house caught me off guard. Like the rest of us, I was gaping at the weird objects around the room.

The dusty floor was marked up with the footsteps of Barbara. A corner of the room was heaped up with innumerable human skulls. The magical tools perused by the Wiccan Traditioners are prevalent in the room indicating the deft hands of Barbara. The masculine objects like Athames are too located at a notch. The pentacle drawn on the altar faded down to peeling paint. A tripod in the center of the room had few posh chalices; one among of it was filled with red colored liquid. I guessed it for the ritual wine used by witches.

Barbara fondled us with crystal-embedded wand. We were bit reluctant to accept the blessings from a witch.

Barbara made Aparna to sit in a circle of five-pointed star drawn at the corner of the room. Aparna was sitting there as still as a statue of Buddha. Barbara knelt down before her and uttered some rhythmic lines, which were sparsely audible to our ears. Aparna closed her eyes slowly and at one moment, her body rested on the wall behind her.

Barbara dragged into the room another tripod. She placed it right in front of Aparna. Her wrinkled fingers grabbed two candles; a black candle and a white candle. She fixed the candles one on either side of the tripod in small stands.

“Black candle is male and white one is female” Angel whispered.

“Do candles have the gender?” Nainar wondered.

Barbara brought a deep plate with a heap of brownish powder; little strawberry leaves and rose petals.

“What’s that powder Angel?” Jeena caught up with the moment.

“Must be crushed Mandrake roots,” Angel sounded with confidence.

The old lady walked to us in an awkward gait.

“The spell cast on this girl was not done intentionally. It was made to win love from her heart. The practitioner, who performed the cast, missed a traditional gaze at the full moon. So the spirits were directed in a wrong direction” she paused.

“I can cast-off the spirits holding her. There is a possibility that it may have an adverse effect on the person who is in love with her in reverse. Should I proceed?”

“Sure Senora.We doesn’t have any objections “Angel gave the consent swiftly. I started feeling a knot in my stomach.

Barbara sat before the tripod and closed her eyes. She started mumbling again. She lit the candles and placed the plate between the candles. She turned back to us and thrown a look for a long second. She closed her eyes back and uttered the magical hymn loudly.

“We are a circle, within a circle
With no beginning or never ending;
Hoof and horn, Hoof and horn,
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, Corn and grain
All that fails shall rise again”

She blew off the candles in series. I could a see a rivulet of blood streaming down my nose. I started getting unconscious.

PS : One of the blogs published by me in back in 2005

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A rainy day

(This is my first fiction that got published in back in 2004; just wanted to share it on my blog page)

The southwest monsoon, already on its course, had drenched the streets of Nagercoil with swerving wind and roaring thunder. In what seemed a nice gesture, the monsoon had not only poured incessantly but, after its lashing was over, left water stagnating on the roads and swirling at various potholes.

The secluded colony rear to Mathias hospital held a string of posh apartments and villas that had remained undisturbed from the worst of the downpour. Sadia, perching comfortably on her toddler chair, gaped through the window with her hands on the sill, cupping her small head. The harsh wind brought drizzle onto her face frequently, which excited her everytime and widened her smile. The croaking frogs and trembling balcony windows did not distract Sadia's deep thoughts. Not even the bolting thunder drove her to snuggle up with the pillow in the safe corner of her room. Her small eyes were glued to the scenery before her as if her eyes were relentlessly searching for someone.

"Sadia, you should close the window as it is raining", her father Aiman said as he came out of the kitchen in a hurry. Aiman closed the windows quickly, without looking at Sadia and sped back.

Sadia walked into the drawing hall in a tread that enhanced her crouched back. At the sight of her beloved mother's picture in the altar, new tears welled up in her eyes, which then rolled down her cheeks. She dropped the glass of milk that she was holding then and rushed towards the picture. A sharp whimper spurted out of her mouth as she made a headlong fall on the floor. Her cry in the silent house pierced through the double lined walls and Aiman rushed to the hall.

"Sadia! what happened?", Aiman yelled in despair.

Sadia started stammering. Her tiny mouth refused to utter the words that she was dying to say. "Ma..Ma..." , her mouth started uttering the words with great stress and difficulty. Aiman showed great pain as he comprehended Sadia's craving for seeing her beloved mother.

"Dad, did you not say the other day that mother is in the breeze? That is why I kept the windows open to greet her", her feeble words stormed Aiman's mind.

"Sadia! I said that mummy is in the breeze and not in the harst tempest like this. Your mummy is so caring. She will not break the twigs of the trees and wither the flowers, like this. She would not even dare to hurt a termite"

Aiman took Sadia in his arms and stroked her silky mane. He could feel his shoulder getting wet as Sadia cried. He switched off the Chandelier in the drawing hall and carried Sadia, who had slept by now, to her room. The massive rosewood doors, the somber paint on the room's walls and the dull reflection of shaded lights added to the gloom of the aura. The thudding of the raindrops on the window panes declared that the rain had not stopped. He stretched Sadia on her pink bedspread.

Aiman sat on the couch beside Sadia's bed and started reminiscing.

"I bet we will have a daughter, Nilofar" Aiman remembered telling his wife, Nilofar, who was sitting beside him.

"No Aiman, I don't need a girl who will suffer like me"

Seeing Aiman's dismay, Nilofar continued, "Yes Aiman! you know that my mother died when I was a child and I was reared up by father with such a great love. He did not prefer marrying a second time. So my whole world was him and I wished to keep my love undivided. But I failed in that after marrying you"

"Do you regret that Nilofar?"

"No! no! That is not what I meant; I am just talking about the instability of love. What if our love for each other decreases when we have a child?"

"Dont talk nonsense Nilo. Love is not pristine only when it is showered on one person. You can love the starry sky as well as the morning sunshine. You can love your father and me now. But women are so possessive that they square off their life within the circle of marriage and children. They are not to be blamed, though"

He continued, "As for me heart grows fonder when two people stay apart for some time rather than breathing the same air. As I return from overseas, I feel a new bliss in our love"

The next morning, Nilofar got birth pangs and was rushed to the hospital. The labor was complicated and the doctors could save only the child and not the mother. Since then, Aiman's whole world was their daughter, Sadia and he decided not to marry again so that his love for his daughter and the sould of Nilofar remain undivided. He shifted from Ooty to Nagercoil, where Nilofar was born.

The wooden sparrow emerged quickly out of the clock and dispersed Aiman's thoughts. The immense humidity prevailing in the chamber dotted his temple with a few droplets of sweat. Sadia was asleep with a tight face in an inconvienient posture, resting her legs on a cushion. Aiman stood up and unlatched the window panes. The rain has stopped and the gentle breeze swayed into the room. Sadia's face regained the smile and this time, more widely.
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