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 sulekha.com 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

Cursed


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 sulekha.com back in 2005

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A rainy day

(This is my first fiction that got published in sulekha.com 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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bliss in disguise

It was her first birthday. The gifts were showered from everybody. Her uncle has nothing to give. He is deprived off wealth and value.



He lifted her from the cradle and gave her a gentle raise off his arms. She giggled and liked her uncle's gift. All other gifts are silent behind their wraps.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Superfluously rich

"You dreamt of well filled with full ears of corn? Omen of prosperity" Kumar's wife was guffawing with hollow mouth.


Kumar, the farmer, came out of his hut and looked at the sky. The sun is retiring.



The lifeless weedy field was beckoning him. He got into them in search of rats for his dinner.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lady with chequered shoes

"Are you sure? I just can't believe that they are prostitutes" a wave of ecstasy has started ebbing in my stomach. I was wishing the words of roommate to be true as the green devil in me has started arraying fantasies in my utopian world of imagination.

My friend, as he was slipping into casual dress, looked at me briefly and asked, "Why that glitter in your eyes on hearing this, Mohammed?"

"Oh nothing! I would assimilate this too as an inevitable element of Metropolitan life". Those words of me were rushing to prevent my friend from suspecting me that one day I would be seen knocking at the door of our neighbours, a bunch of Russian prostitutes. They have recently moved into flat 402.

Life was not so interesting on the floor of our Black Tulip Apartment, as I have expected earlier, save the moments of occasional share-smiles with those Russian ladies in the elevators. Most of the times, I was too tempted to talk with them more than the greeting words. My complex mind, which was seasoned in my country life, had always been a hindrance in such occasions. My eyes were always lowered in the presence of those ladies. I started remembering the colors of their shoe pairs and at one instance, I could recognize the ladies by their shoes. Amidst of all the pairs, my eyes got glued to a pair of shoes with chequered design. I used to laugh to myself over the absurdity of the shoe designer for chosing such a design for ladies footwear. He should have had a domestic feud with his wife or should have blasted by his boss on the day of designing such a lifeless pair of shoes. The owner of these shoes was a thin lady who was always looking impeccable dresses.

"The thin lady? She's Alina", my roomie, Wassim was sounding irritated over my recent curiosity over the neighbours.

"How did you collect their names?"

"I just asked them. You don't want to roll cart wheels to know anybody's name in this city. Go to bed. I've got a project visit tomorrow"

The next day evening, I met Alina in the elevator. That was the usual time, she used to go for her 'duty'.

"Alina?" I cracked the ice atlast.

"Me Elina. No Alina", her bad English eccentrically encouraged me from that day on. I used to have monosyllabic dialogues with her during our confined spaces within the walls of elevator. The second reason for such short dialogues, other than her bad English, was the time constraint, we had. The 20 seconds travel time, were just enough to share only brief dialogues. I started developing a good acquaintance with Elina.

It was a Saturday morning. Like anyother first day of the week, I started to my office with malice. As the doors of elevator opened, Elina emerged. She was in a very bad shape. Her eyes were swollen out of crying, her facet was reddish than usual. She was uncontrallably sobbing. As she saw me, she started howling and her words were broken. I could not understand anything as she was speaking to me in Russian. All I could understand was she she had a bad 'client'. As she walked past me, I did not fail to notice her ugly gait. She was unable to walk properly. As the doors of elevator were closing in front me, I spotted blood spots on her white skirt.

I did not see her for few days. I started worrying about her and dared not to enter her room or ask her friends about her.

After a month, while I was returning from work, I saw a tiny figure on haunches near the garbage container at our building parking. As I neared, I understood that it was Elina. She was inspecting the garbage container as her long fingers were clenching a small soft doll.

"Elina! How are you?" I could not resist my anxiety.

"Mohammed! see. This for my daugher Ursula" she was exhibiting the small doll in the twilight. My eyes were instantly clouded to witness her motherly love. Also, I was exposed to such a strange form of motherly love in the heart of a demeaned lady. In silence, I raised my thumb and uttered an another monosyllable to Elina, "Great".

My mind has already discarded the slightest lust that I had possessed over Elina. From that day on, I envisaged a small girl lurking in the shadows of Elina. There were a tiny pair of chequered shoes on the feet of Ursula.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My third foot print

"Handle is of Solid Brass", the Shop keeper neared me.

My hand was fondling the Walking Stick's body.

"It's Walnut finish Sir"

Then he added, "We give 25 years warranty for these models"

Aged 70, I smiled at his deceitful words and ironies of life.

"Will my life last more than warranty of Walking stick?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Beacon of light

About two weeks back, I came across an article in a local weekly (Friday, Gulf News, UAE) about a mother of two children, who is balancing her life on the needs of her children. Sandhya Perera, a Srilankan mother, had given up her job in a bank so as to dedicate her entire attention towards her daughters. There is no wonder in this story as numerous women who were working either before marriage or before child birth are bidding adieu to their promising career for the betterment of their families. In the group of these house wives, Sandhya is special as both of her daughters are special needs children.

Again, Sandhya's story could have paralled with stories of mothers with special need children but for the courageous compassion with which she has adapted her life. Her one daughter, Dilni has cerebral palsy and the other daughter, Dilani has acute learning difficulties. Sandhya has not taken a year or two to come out of the grief to bite the reality of her fate. She admitted her daughters at a Therapy centre and taken up a job in a reputed bank in Dubai. Her entire life got enlightened in a single moment when she came across a poem written by Edna Massimilla (the author of much famous book, Heaven's very special child & the family). The following words of Edna has had severe impact in the life of Sandhya Perera.


A meeting was held, quite far from earth
"It's time again for another birth"
Said the Angels to the Lord above,
"This special child need much love"
Her progress may seem very slow,
Accomplishments she may not show
And she'll require extra care
From all the folks she meets down there

She may not run or laugh or play
Her thoughts may seem quite far away
In many ways she won't adapt,
And she'll be known as handicapped
So let's be careful where she's sent
We want life to be content
Please, Lord, find the right parents who
Will do this special job for you


They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for this gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild
Is heaven's very special child.

A person, whose mind is hoavered with questions for God for why he or she is chosen for the fate of breeding a special need child, read this poem. Sandhya understood that she is one of the chosen mothers gifted with these children to be taken care not with mere attention but with great attention. She gave up her banking job and pursued an international diploma in special needs education. Having reached upto the doctorate level, she is now working at Dubai Autism Centre dividing her life equally between her daughters and the children of same nature.

I do not want to share in this blog, all the dilemmas and sacrifices that she has encountered as I would be sounding more like Suchitra Bajpai, who has reported about Sandhya in this weekly. The lesson that I have learnt from Sandhya's life is that we as parents do not want to take pride with the fact that God has given us healthy children. The Almighty has not chosen us. Or anyone who is reading this blog is having a special need child, I invite you to add a fourth dimension to your life with the words of Edna. Or anyone, who is reading this blog is having a special need sibling, please remember that you possess the precious human being as your brother or sister. Or anyone, who is at the verge of failures, learn life from the life of Sandyas. God has not created anyone or anything without purpose. Also, if we are destined to have a sorrow in life, rather than wailing on the Toilet floor, we should toil to understand "God! why me?". I am sure that we will get an answer.

In my journey, Sandhya has implanted the seeds of hope and empathy. Sandhya Perera, I salute you, Senora.
(Image Courtesy : Friday, Gulf News)
(Poem Courtesy : http://www.downsyn.com/)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Marriages overrated

I was busy rolling the mouse wheel in hunt of facts and factors about Swine flu. The aroma of steaming coffee and Hugo fragrance of a female colleague did not plea my dire attention, as like any other days. A rollicking colleague of me, working in other department, was whistling for a Rihanna's hit. He has observed the advertisement slot for shadi.com, flickering in the right-end of my web page.

"Yo mate! can you click on that link?" his morning snack bar was precisly touching my monitor.

I tried to veil the wrath on my face by raising the coffee mug close to my mouth. I clicked the tab and a new window popped-up like a balloon.

"Is that the site for dating Indian girls?"

"Not really, it is an Indian matrimonial site for searching brides and grooms"

"Bridles and brooms?" that far-eastern Asian guy was smirking with his words.

I was totally displeased with his assertion and not in the mood of starting a conversation to hear his dopey explanations in the morning. My mind is bemused with the deadly pandemic spread and the call to protect my dear-ones. At the same time, I could not defy my wonder for his wits.

"Aiee Mohammed! Why not you speak today?"

"Mike! What are those bridles and brooms?"
"Indian marriages unite bridle in the name of bride with man and broom in the name of groom with woman. After marriage, either the brides keep the bridles on men or the grooms become the brooms of women"

"Your words are offending me Mike. Don't you dare to debate with our customary marriages? What do you expect off a good marriage in your dictionary then?"

"Marriage is the last feat that I would like to accomplish before I see my coffin. What matters to me is relationships (note the plural lingo). Marriages should be the fruit of good relationship. As for you, marriages are like the fruits that you prefer to buy in the markets. They sour most of the times. Grow up Mohammed", he punctuated his statement with a gurgle and started gobbling his snack bar.

"Mike! Would you exuviate your skin if you don't like? Will you give up your life, that God has bestowed on you, for all your failures? Very rarely you would see you a victim and that would be your end. In the same way, we seldom give up on our relationships. A bond is made out of marriages. We mutually sacrifice for each others until our relationship reach a saturation point. Sometimes, the relationships may be on rocks, but once there is a perfect match-point of emotions, our life is heaven"

I saw the deposit of sugar at the bottom of his glass tea-cup. I fetched the cup from his hand and stirred with a spoon. I gave back the cup to him and told, "Mike! old beliefs should not be left deposited at the bottom of your heart. Stir up the same to add a new tang to your acculturated life, like this yellow tea"

Mike was glaring at me thorugh his bespectacled eyes and nibbling to the last bite of his breakfast. I found that my reply has directed the argument to nowhere. The moment was sinking with Ilayaraja's score of an old Tamil song and the words were clear,

"Ore veenai, ore raagam (Same Veena, Same rhythm)"

I asked him, "Do you understand?"

He nodded in refute and with that I told, "Even if you understand this language, you won't understand the meaning of these words. Grow up Mike"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tagged



I was tagged by Shruti and Shilpa Garg, one of my favourite bloggers. Although I thought that this one is an easy break, I was quite wrong.


Tag Rules:

  • Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the 20 questions
  • If the person before you has the same first initial, the answers need to be different
  • You cannot use same word twice
  • You cannot use your name in boy/girl's name question

1. What is your name : Mohammed Ali

2. A four Letter Word : Muse (one could frequently see me absorbed into this magical world)


3. A boy's name : Manesh Nehova (School buddy, who was good Christian)

4. A girl's name : Muppidathi (Again a school buddy, who was famous for her unique name)


5. An occupation : Money Surveyor (how deftly rephrased my profession)


6. A colour : Marigold

7. Something you wear : Muffler (a rare fashion when on the heights)



8. A food : Muffin (liked the Tiramisu flavor, lately)



9. Something found in the Bathroom : Mirror




10. A place : Madurai (from where my wife hails)



11. A reason for being late : Movie-mania (watching movies late night had toll on numerous appointments)


12. Something you shout : Man (it's actually Oh man! trimmed to suit the needs...hehe)


13. A movie title : Message in a Bottle (me a Kevin Costner fanatic)


14. Something you drink : Mango shake



15. A musical group : Metallica


16. A animal : Mule



17. A street name : Mariamman Koil Street (Chennai)



18. A type of car : Mercedes


19. A song title : Munbe Va (Tamil Song from the movie Jillendru oru kathal)


20. A verb : Mourn (over the swine flu victims)


I tag Kenz and all others who visit my page. Keep tagging..err...keep blogging :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prayers answered


"Mummy! come in papa's dream today to tell him to buy a cycle for me" Sadia cried.


Aiman, reading in the next room, was hearing her.


Next morning, Aiman told, "Sadia! we are going out to buy bicycle"


In all smiles and tears, Sadia ran upstairs to cuddle with her mother's sari and whimpered "Ma"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review - Tears of the giraffe

Book Review - Tears of the Giraffe

Alexander Mccal Smith’s series of books, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, are the greatest hits in the world of “keep-it-simple” literature, recently. Any of the book wanderers, happening to have an instant touch with these books, would be yielded to them without any air of denial. Africa is belittled in front of all worldly eyes owing to its image of a skinny child waited to be preyed upon by a vulture or the price of blood being spilt on its soil daily. As showing the other side of coin, Alexander has succeeded in showing us the gracious life in Africa, Botswana in particular. In near future, I would be proud to mention to my daughter that her father was one among the malgudi-days-watchers in his childhood. The spell that R K Narayan casted on his readers with his stories narrated in a picturesque and beautiful Indian village, which would have one School and one Post Office as the entire amenities. Alexander reminds me of R K Narayan with his words in more than one occasion.


Tears of the Giraffe - is the second novel in this series. Here I pen down a brief review of this book or rather I would rephrase as the review of characters, dearsome to my heart.

Mma Precious Ramotswe:

The novels revolve around Precious Ramotswe, a wise, fat and sweet lady, who is running the one and only ladies detective agency in Botswana. There is no wonder that the author has evolved this character out of a remarkable Botswana lady, who was found giving, chickens to the people in Gaborone. This lead character would start looking like your elder sister or a cousin, whose presence near you would be warmth to your soul. I would rather see her as a perfect role model for any woman for her generosity, valor, intelligence, kindness and ideology, save her portly body. The major factor that secludes these novels out of same genre of crime is that there are no punishments for the culprits. They would be made to regret at some instance of their life whilst Mma Ramotswe drives them to confess the truth.


In Tears of the Giraffe, Ramotswe is handed over with a peculiar case of finding a missing American boy in the bushes of Kalahari. The crest of the case is that the boy is missing since a decade. Mma Ramotswe scrutinizes the case from an unpredictable nook and solves the case with her acumen. In this case, she would have handled the tool of “black-mail” deftly to entrap the culprit behind the disappearance of American boy.

To add, Mma Ramotswe sincerely rely on "The Principles of Private Detection" by Clovis Andersen, for taking any critical decisions.


Mma Grace Makutsi:

Mma Makutsi, an academic achiever with 97% marks in Botswana Secratarial college and Mma Ramotswe’s Secretary, would make the best bush tea in the whole of Botswana. Although she possesses the background of poverty, she has not opted to venture into the profession of housemaids, which is the prevalent occupation of all poor Botswanese ladies. In this book, she gets promoted as Assistant Detective and directly awarded with the case of probing the faith of a house wife. The agency is approached by a sad husband, who doubts about the chastity of his wife. The first case of Mma Makutsi, not only expected her to detect but also required her judgment on humane reasons. She perfectly deals with the case.

She shares the common curiosity with Mma Ramotswe towards crime detection and Bush tea.


Rra JLB Maketoni:

This character is personified as an ideal Botswana man, who believes in hard work and punctuality. Rra Maketoni runs Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, who has great affinity for cars and Mma Ramotswe. This kind hearted man adopts two orphans, a crippled girl and her brother. He extends to repair the old pump and bus engine of the local orphanage, which is a sole harbinger of his virtue and kindness and the character of this in him has driven Mma Ramotswe to give her consent of marrying him.

Apart from all the main characters, the author keeps the same momentum with all supporting characters like,

Mma Silvia Potokwane - the gracious old lady running the orphanage, who is always proud of the cakes baked by the orphanage girls

Rra Obed Ramotswe - the deceased father of Mma Ramotswe, who has worked in the mines of South Africa and the kind-hearted man.

Motholeli - the courageous and crippled girl, who dared to save her baby brother from being buried to death as part of customs of Bushmen. She would be adopted by Rra Maketoni

Maid for Rra Maketoni - a vicious lady who has intense malice over Mma Ramotswe and the tidiness of Rra Maketoni's house.

Apprentices of Rra Maketoni - the indolent, immature boys who lack that "fire-in-the-belly" attitude

As a whole, Tears of the Giraffe, like other books in this series, narrates the native Botswana culture, with a native smell of African soil and a picture of acacia trees, in a more enjoyable way to the readers.

(Image Courtesy : Google Images)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

She taught me

"I need cakes", the kid was wailing. Kid's mother gives one rupee coin to baker.

"Give any biscuit"

The baker takes a single laddoo. I turned my back, as I tried ignoring.

Surprised, as the baker mentioned, giving three boxes of pastries, "Mother! She has paid for you"

He points out my wife standing outside.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blessed is she...

I was cheerlessly advancing towards the bank to dispatch money to the handicapped school in heed of my mother's words.

"Always give alms to the needy"

Why to throw free bread into the plates of anyone?

A crippled girl on the street was sharing some abandoned biscuits with a stray dog. I picked up speed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My life


My ageing brain was busy arraying the grey figures of me anchored to the deep ocean of vanity. I hate to see my life revolving around an axis of pre-defined pattern. Where all those flying-colors-gadgets promised to me during my acadamic life has vanished? This boredom of life is what I deserve after all those hefty years passed by. I am quite definite that this life of mine, is not what I wanted.

I sounded like an old Indian sage to my wife when I mentioned to her that success is not the number of sheeps a Sheperd possess whereas it is the number of sheeps that the Sheperd is able to feed. My current physical wealth does not dictate my level of success. I am not destined to make some wealth, satisfy my family needs and vanish out of this world as a white shrouded figure. Every soul on this earth is created with a purpose. It would be pathetic to notice that some of them just die with out realizing their purpose of creation.

My heart is craving hard to comprehend my purpoted existance. One of my friends hearing my rants pointed me into the direction of herd of people undergoing midlife crisis. There are undeniable physical and anatomical sypmtoms in my body blaring my transition into next stage of my life. As I peep into my daughter's world, I often get the notion that I am older than I pretend to look-like. She has abandoned her Barbie doll and picked up the activity cards. The loony figures on the television are nomore a matter of interest to her. I realize that my time-clock has already half-emptied the fine soil. The deposit of sand in the lower bulb of my hour-glass is appearing nothing more than a heap of soil. There is not even a single diamond glittering in it. I have miserably failed to polish any carbon into diamond.

I am merely existing in this world whereas I was sent here to live. I want to add some life to my existance. I am searching for the answers in my journey.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You ain't whom you are

When was the last time that you have had this experience of someone looking at you in a Town Bus or in a Shopping outlet and jumping out of their shoes to shout, "Hello! Mr. Wrong Name, don't you recognize me?" I am sure that you would be perplexed and would start doubting your memory power. There would be occassional instances when by you would start worrying about your vulnerabilities towards Korsakoff's syndrome or any other memory-related problems that a Hollywood movie hero would undergo after the Iraqi war. The blame would be weighed on your surplus dead brain cells or your aversions for greens as ingredient in daily lunch. While you are evaluating all your unfavorable stars, Mr. Stranger would be grinning at you with out caring about his stained front teeth.

I have had many such mistaken-identities (or at least that is what I believe). I would share one of the whole bizarre experiences.

"You-ain't-Mohammed" moments:

I was travelling from Nagercoil to Vallioor (Tamilnadu, India) with my friend Feroz Meeran back during one of my school days. A rotund man boarded the bus in one of the intermittent stops and upon his entry his drifting eyes rested on us. There was no second elapsed before I watched him sitting besides me.

"Enna Sundar! Thoorama?" (Sundar! Where are you travelling to?)

"Err.. I'm Mohammed. Do I know you Sir? I think you are mistaking me for someone else" - I was sheepishly recalling whether he is the man to whom I have lent my pen on the other day in the bank.

The man would now chuck out a divine smile on his dark facet. And with a breath of exhaustion would tell "You possess the same wit as your brother"

Those words made me desperate further as I was already rummaging around for my missing identity. Who would be my brother in the world of this stranger?

I briefly looked at Feroz who was looking bewildered to see me as Sundar. I lifted his finger and placed on his scalp to scratch like me for answers and he complied. The following hour, I would be knocked down with numerous inappropriate questions like the TV anchor asking in all reality shows as below,

"Did your father manage to sell that red banana bunch in Nagercoil market?"

"What did the Vet doctor told about the diseased calf?"

"Inform your brother that Velu Nadar is renting out his Mahindra Tractors"

And yadayadayada...

Little did he wait for any of my answers? But all the time he was talking, I have noticed his hand resting on my thighs. For God's sake, the bus has reached Vallioor where we were supposed to get down. The stranger did not retire with his questions and asked me in hurry.

"Enna thambi! Inga erangudheenga?" (Why are you getting down here?)

"Mmm...mattuku punnaku vanga poranungo" (I'm going to buy oil cake for the cows).
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