Saturday, December 19, 2009

Faithful spirit

Rajalakshmi adjusted the intravenous poles as a routine though she knew the old man was sinking fast and may not survive the day.The doctors had given up hope and he was administered medicines only to ease his pain.He was in a coma .She nevertheless took care of him as if he would survive this ordeal.The old man in his Eighties was oblivious to the surroundings, the very short life that lay ahead of him, the presence of his dutiful wife who spent wakeful hours at his bedside praying for his recovery all the time.

Rajalaksmi turned to the old lady who appeared a few years younger than the old man.She was small built, draped in nine yards and looked fresh after her bath in the early morning with a big bindi and ash mark on her forehead.She held in her hand prayer books.

“How is he today?” she had asked the nurse Rajalakshmi

What could she tell the old woman who pinned her hopes on her Goddess and her prayers? The old lady was quietly aware of the critical condition of her husband.

Rajlaksmi said “There is no change, grandma.His condition remains the same and not good.Doctors are trying their best”

“It has happened many times before virtually taking him to his end but he always recovered miraculously. My Godess will not let me down, I am sure, this time also” said the lady.

“Grandma, don’t you have children? I see nobody here.You are here all the 24 hours without rest or sleep” asked the nurse

“I have one daughter in Australia.But her husband ever since her marriage would not permit her to come to our house due to some misunderstanding.She is a good girl with two kids of her own.What can the poor thing do when her husband is stubborn and insensitive.Only the neighbours helped in bringing grandpa here. But I don’t want to disturb them”

“How long are you married?” asked the nurse

“I don’t know.I was thirteen then and I must be seventy eight now.You work out yourself.I am not good in arithmetic” the lady replied.

“ Wow!! Sixtyfive years both of you have been together. Have you taken any food? You don’t seem to go out at all” asked the nurse

“How can I leave him alone? In case he opens his eyes and calls Chellamma what will he think if there is no response:” she asked. ”The ward boy gets me plantains and idly from the canteen.” she added

Rajalakshmi turned her face away to hide her tears. “Okay grandma, you can be by his side holdng his hands.No one will come today being Sunday. But you must take a short nap as grandpa is sleeping comfortably. I will come now and then.I have my night duty also today.Don’t worry.I will be there for you. Please ring the bell if you need me” she said softly resting her hand on the old lady’s shoulder. When she left the room after noting down some data on the chart, she saw the old lady caressing the old man’s face muttering something about her faith in Goddess and his recovery.

Rajalakshmi was busy with other patients one of whom was on ventilator and another needed close monitoring.She had tough time and was on continuous duty for two shifts. It was around 4 am that she had finally got some rest. She came to the room and found the old lady asleep with her head on the bed and one hand holding the hand of her husband while the other on his forehead.The prayer books were on the bed.

She went near the old man only to find that he had passed away.He was still warm.Though professionally trained, she could not hold back her tears and shuddered at the prospect of breaking the sad news to the wife who steadfastly trusted her Goddess's power to healShe came around the bed to the old lady and put her hand on her shoulders telling “Grand ma, wake up.Please wake up.” When she did not respond she nudged her liitle harder only to find the faithful spirit had also flown away with her husband

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unspoken affection

I was then a young boy of twelve years.My maternal grandpa lived in another part of the town with my uncle.He was an old man in seventies.He was a widower having lost his wife at a young age and led a life of strict discipline and austerity.He wore only Khadi made out of the yarn spun by him in the charka (wheel).He rose early finished his oblutions and the puja by 6am to be before thw wheel spinning yarn for two hours.He was a disciplinarian,spoke only when necessary and was given to reading habits.He was spotlessly clean except for the snuff that fell on his dress when he inhaled it frequently.This was one ‘bad and nasty habit’ he admitted he could not get rid off.He ate less but was a gourmet relishing good food.

Whenever I had holidays after each term, he took me away forcibly to his place.It was a big house and he had rented several small portions to many poor families.There were young boys and girls of my age to play with.While I looked forward to the fun with them, what I detested was his strict regimen of study for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.He would teach me in the mornings daily along with a few other boys living in the house algebra and geometry for an hour and Englsh grammar from Wren and Martin for another hour.Learning Maths was fun but grammar I found a bore.His temper was short and he had a ferrule at hand and believed strongly in the dictum of sparing the rod and spoiling the child.I remember clearly that he used it only on me and not on other boys. My uncle often used to come in support of me when I got beat only to be chided away.My tears never moved my grandpa though I should confess he never beat me hard.It was his anger and inhaling the snuff before taking the ferrule in his hand that scared me.He gave enough home work to be completed and shown in the afternoon session.Besides this he chose one story poem daily and asked us to write it in prose form.

It was this story poem that I felt the hardest for it was dfficult for me to comprehend and to write in prose form. I made many grammatical mistakes.One boy who was with me always got his praise for paraphrasing the poem in impeccable and flawless English though he fared poorly in all other subjects.My grandpa’s anger grew more when he read mine after reading his and invariably ended with the ferrule coming into operation.This went on for quite some days till I accidentally stumbled on the boy’s table one book that was a key to story poems with answers neatly provided.That boy simply copied it and presented to my grandpa winning appreciation.

So the next day when he started praising him and hitting me, I spilled the truth.That incident witnessed the boy being dismissed permanently from his classes.He said ”Yes I was wrong in praising him and should have suspected it.But that does not in any way condone your poor work”

I remonstrated ’Thatha, you are always partial.You always beat me.Never once you have hit them.You revel in spoiling my holidays bringing me here always.I hate you.I don’t want your tutions.I don’t want to be here with you.Please allow me to go home.”

He hugged me tight.”Partha, you are my favourite grandson.They are nobody to me.I want you to be bright and do well in studies.Do not mistake me.You have opened my eyes.I will throw the ferrule away and promise not to touch you.Please do not go away. I am sorry” he pleaded.

I felt bad when I saw a tear trickle from his eye.I fell at his feet and said “Thatha, please forgive me.I know you are doing for my benefit.”

He said “It is okay.You can go home today and come after three days if you wish to.Let us finish the few chapters of Wren and Martin and a few theorems before the school reopens.” When I said that I didn’t wish to go, he still sent me back.

Two days later when I was playing cricket in the garden behind my house, my sister came running to tell me “Partha, thatha died an hour back due to heart attack.Amma is going.You also join her.”

An hammer blow it was.There was a big crowd as my grandpa’s body lay in the hall there.I could not suppress my cry and wailed inconsoably.I felt an arm on my shoulder and turned to see who it was .It was my uncle with eyes red and swollen in tears.He whispered in my ears “What happened Partha.He was depressed eversince you left that day and mentioned to me something about having been harsh to you.What was that?”

I remembered my insensitive words about my hating him and his pleading with me not to go away.He was not demonstrative and had never said even once that he liked me.But that was his way of keeping his feelings inside his heart.I felt that I was instrumental in hastening his end by my thoughtless and childish remark.I broke out weeping loudly to the surprise of the people gathered, “Thatha, forgive me, I never meant what I said that day .You were a pillar of strength and knowledge to me.I was an idiot in not realising your immense affection for me.”

I was gently taken away from the place by my uncle.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home coming

Vanaja was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. But God had endowed her with enough intelligence to top her classes.Born as an only child in an orthodox and conservative family she was brought up in a traditional lower middle class family values.Her father a very religious man had strong views on ethics and place of women in society. Her mother was a timid person, though with liberal views, dared not question her short tempered husband.It was the dad’s word that ruled the household.

Luckily for Vanaja, being a topper in the class, she studied throughout on full scholarship winning laurels and medals all the way. She was the pride of her school and when she got admission in the medical college with scholarship, Her dad could not overrule her determination to study further backed by her Headmistress and supported by his wife.He was proud of his daughter but had strange notions on girls doing medical course.

Be that as it may, Vanaja worked hard and was in the final year of her college.It was here that destiny played its trick.She fell in love with Mathew her classmate.They were drawn towards each other since the second year and had become close friends.The friendship blossomed into love when they went on an excursion.Mathew was also an intelligent boy giving touch competition to Vanaja in securing the first postion..When they had finished and joined a reputed hospital as interns, Mathew propsed to her.She knew it was coming but dreaded how her dad would react to the relationship.

So deep was her love for him that she broached the subject to her mom. When the news went to her dad, he hit the ceiling in rage and said that Vanaja had no place in his home if she were to marry outside the religion and that she would be deemed as dead as far as her parents were concerned.When her mom tried to pacify him, he dragged her into the kitchen and made her sit there.All her pleas and sobbing were of no avail when the man stood his ground and asked Vanaja to leave the house.

It was almost three decades since this happened They married soon thereafter.Both Vanaja and Mathew had their MD and DM behind their names with roaring practice.She remembered the incident when she was expecting her first child, her attempt to get his forgivance and the insult heaped on her and her husband when her dad banged the door shut shouting that his daughter Vanaja was dead and gone.Her mom with her hand on her mouth was seen sobbing helplessly.

When her mom died a year later, her dad did not inform her.It was through neighbours that she got the news but were persuaded by them to stay away from the mad man.She knew of his meagre income and how he had spent all the money on his wifes treatment.But she had no gumption to render any monetary help.She heard after a month of her mom’s demise that he had left the place leaving behind no clue about his whereabouts. Except seeing occasionally a small photo of her parents kept in her purse, they were a distant memory.

Mathew and Vanaja were both philanthrophic and donated hefty amounts for social causes.They were instrumental in setting up a poor home for the indigent and needy.Vanaja used to visit the home once in a month or two.During one such vist, she found a crumpled figure lying on the mat in the verandah.She was told the old man had arrived the previous night and would not speak much.It appeared his vision was very poor..He was also incoherent often lost in thoughts.They were trying to find a cot and a bed for him.Vanaja went near the old man and a hammer blow struck her when she saw it was her dad.His acquiline nose and the birth mark on his chin were unmistakable.He had grown weak with age and lack of care.

She said “I am in charge of this place.There is no spare bed available here at the moment. I have a big house with many servants.I have children.You can stay with me and the servants will take care of you.If you do not like, you can always return here.What do you say?”

The old man did not reply.It was not clear whether he understood her.She took him home,gave him a room had an exclusive servant for him.In a month or so he regained strength and played with the children.They were a happy lot.Vanaja too joined sometimes. He was touched by her kindness and affection. He was not however able to recognise her due to his poor vision.One day she asked him “Do you have any children?”
He said “Yes I have one daughter.But by my arrogance and foolishness I treated her badly and lost her.”

“Why, what did she do to earn your wrath? After all she is your daughter ”asked Vanaja

“It was all my fault.I drove her away as she married out of religion.My wife died unable to bear the separation.I was pig-heade and cruel.I repent now in leisure” he replied

Vanaja did not reveal her identity.She was not sure how he would react.Two days later when the old man was playing with the children, he asked one of them”What is your mother’s name? ”They replied “Vanaja.”

The man was pricked.He asked “Is she a doctor?” They replied in affirmative.Curiosity thus aroused he aksed “What is your dad’s name?” “Mathew”, they replied in chorus.The man became quiet with tears trickling from his eyes.

That night when Vanja, Mathew and the children entered his room, the old man cried inconsolably saying
” Vanaja, please forgive this wretch.I had done immense harm to you and yet you are showering your affection on me.I do not deserve this at all.Please say once that you have forgiven me and send me back to the poor home.

Vanaja put her arms around the old man “ Appa, I have no anger against you.Mathew also does not have any grudge.We are happy that by divine coincidence we are back together.How I wish amma were also here.Be comfortable.Your grand children like you very much.”.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sanjay's first day in school

GR Sir as he was known was writing feverishly with chalk on the blackboard some formulae in algebra.He saw a shadow pass across the door.He found the Head Master with a puny boy entering the class.
“GR”, the HM called him in a friendly tone and said “This is Sanjay, a new student.I have admitted him in your class as I felt he needs your care and attention. I will discuss more during lunch time.”
The HM had left and boy was still standing at the door with a bag clutched in his hands waiting for the teacher’s permission to enter the class.He was wearing a much worn cotton shirt along with shorts that were a shade small for his size..There was a safety pin pinned askew securing the shirt as there were no buttons.He looked emaciated with bony legs, sunken eyes and unspoken sadness writ large on his well defined and charming face..

The teacher called him by his side.As he came limping with his polio affected leg, he put his arm around him and asked him softly “What is your name, young boy? I forget Sanjiv or some such thing. Where are you from?”
“I am Sanjay, Sir, and have come from Alwar” the boy replied in a voice that was hardly audible

“Good, Welcome to the class Sanjay.. Is there anyone among the boys wanting to have Sanjay by his side? “asked the teacher.There was a deafening silence for a couple of minutes till Partha stood up.Ravi nudged him in his leg and whispered “You fool, He looks skinny and lame.”

Partha turned around and saw his mates.Raj made an ugly grimace. A few others were not amused by Partha’s gesture.It appeared they didn’t like the new entrant.

“.Go and sit by the side of Partha” said the teacher.

All eyes were on the little boy as he ambled along towards Partha.Partha moved to his left and gave him the aisle seat to enable the boy sit without having to wade his way through the chairs.Shilpa a girl of Parthas age did not fail to notice the thoughtfulness of her friend .There was a touch of pride in her eyes.

GR Sir asked after he wrote (a+b-c)2 on the board “”Can any one expand this ?

There was a long silence.The teacher asked “Sanjay, do you know the answer?”

The boy stood up and gave the right answer.”Why were you waiting for me to ask?” asked the teacher.

“Sorry Sir.I was waiting for others to respond” he replied.There was instant jealousy amongst the students when the teacher exclaimed”Sabash, well done”

When the bell rang for lunch, all the boys and girls scampered to the door.Partha also had run but turned to see behind.He saw Sanjay sitting on the bench alone.A sense of guilt pricked the little boy even as he came to Sanjay. Soon Shilpa joined them.

Partha asked “Have you brought any lunch? Come on; let us eat outside under the tree.” The three of them sat together and shared what they had. Shilpa said “Sanjay, don’t feel bad.The other boys and girls will soon become your friends.They are not wicked”

Even as she was saying this Ravi and Raj came to Sanjay and pulled his collar.

”Are you trying to show off that you know better than us? Can you have a bout of boxing with me? I can give you a black eye that your mom won’t be able to recognise you” said Raj.

When Ravi pushed the boy who fell down, Partha yelled at them “ You chicken hearted bullies.Come on, let us have the bout of boxing and let me find out whose mom fails to recognise whom” and lunged forward at Ravi and Raj.Partha was a big built boy with strong muscles and the two ran away unwilling to put up a fight.Shilpa helped Sanjay sit up and dusted the sand from his face and arms.

“Thank you both” said Sanjay even as he smiled. I can sing for you like Sonu Nigam, if you wish to hear”.The two were thrilled to hear Sanjay sing very much like the famous singer. Soon all the boys and girls surrounded them and were enthralled by the melodious singing. The boy mesmerised his class mates with his beautiful rendering in his wonderful voice that matched the great singer. When he had finished the song ,each one of them went up to Sanjay and gave him a warm hug and a word of praise.Ravi and Raj were not far behind when they sheepishly came to say”Sorry, Sanjay,we behaved badly.Please accept us as your friends.”

Sanjay standing between Partha and Shilpa smiled at them and said “I am happy to be with you all.True, I cannot run a race or join a bout of boxing but I have many tricks up my sleeves.I shall entertain you whenever the opportunity presents itself.I am happy to get you all as my buddies but I value the friendship of Partha and Shilpa extended to me whole heartedly when they had seen only my handicap and were not aware of my singing ability.”

The bell rang and the three walked arm in arm towards the class.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trust me darling

Praveen had been observing that Pooja wore a troubled and haunted look on her face since two months.A sprightly girl she had changed into a silent and morose one often lost in thoughts.Even when they were out on parties, she was ill at ease contrary to her earlier nature of a vivacious and engaging conversationalist with witty repartees and rib tickling anecdotes.She was virtually thronged by the crowd and she enjoyed being a cynosure.But why this sudden change was the question that intrigued Praveen.He had asked her many times.She brushed aside the questions as nothing really,a mild head ache,pressure of work or the usual monthly moods.They were married for five years and both were well employed and were a loving couple with nothing to cause any unpleasantness.

One day she asked him to give her a lakh of rupees saying she needed it for a friend and would return it soon.Praveen readily gave her a cheque without demur but wondered why she asked him as she had ample bank balance with her.He used to taunt her that she was poor in managing her finance despite an MBA as she did not know to put her money for better returns.But a doubt arose where all her money had gone and why she is in want.They generally shared info about their investments. This doubt and the scared look in her face worried him much.But he didn’t want to press her much on this.

A fortnight later he found her bank pass book lying on the table by the side of her handbag.She had evidently forgotten to put it back as she hurried down the stairs to answer the phone.He could not suppress his curiosity to look at the pass book.He was shocked to note that she had withdrawna lump amount and then Rs 10000 every week and that her balance had been wiped out except for the balance of Rs 80000 out of the sum he had given her.He quickly left the passbook where it was as he heard her coming.

He thought about the matter and surmised that she must be under blackmail and that money was being given to buy silence.If it was a loan for a friend she would have paid it immediately in lump sum.He remembered her telling two months back when she finished a phone call that it was from her friend of college days who had been transferred here.There was no mention about him subsequently.Praveen was aware that Pooja was a good girl with strong values in life.She was a loving wife and virtually doted on him.He decided he cannot allow her to be blackmailed by anyone and wished to discuss the matter

It was Sunday night.They had finished their dinner.He was reclining on the sofa. She was busy with her laptop.He called “Pooja, close that laptop and come here.I wish to talk to you.It is ages since we sat together and enjoyed sharing sweet nothings.”

She was startled and he saw a look of apprehension in her face.He stood up and went near her to put his arms around her.”Why do you look scared? You can trust me and tell me whatever is bothering you.You are not the same Pooja since two months.Something is troubling you and the brightness in your face has faded.There is always a hunted look.You can confide in me confidently whatever..I promise you that neither will I take you amiss nor ask you for details.You will have my hundred percent support.Come on, spill it out and be relieved from the weight of secret on your chest”

She replied”What is it you are talking about? There is nothing troubling me at all .I am fine except that I wss slightly unwell.”

“No, Pooja,I can see a fear writ large on your face.I know a little more.The money you took from me is not for any loan to a friend.I promise again that I will not mistake you for whatever you have done or not done in the past.Take me into confidence.” Praveen said

“My friend said she will take the loan a little later.If you wish I can return the money.” she replied

“Tut, tut.There is a limit to your bluffing.I have seen your pass book.Tell me something else.Remember I will be with you through thick and thin.Entertain no fear on that score.You can trust me, darling” Praveen said as he hugged her tightly.

Pooja sobbed inconsolably even as Praveen cajoled and caressed her asking her to stop it.With some gentle promptings she poured out what was weighing heavily in her heart.”That friend about whom you asked one day when I was on phone was actually a college mate.We were in love then and dated regularly.In my indiscretion I exchanged love letters with him.They were very warm in nature though I had not crossed the boundaries.Eversince he had come here he had been threatening me to pay him money under pain of exposure to you of the letters.I was scared of what you would think of me and agreed to pay him.It did not stop with one payment and he repeatedly kept asking.I didn’t know what to do except buying his silence after an assurance everytime that he would not ask any more.I really did’t know how to free myself from his grip. I am spending sleepless nights and shudder at every phone call.”

“Pooja,next time he rings up you can tell him to send the letters to me and that you would not pay a paisa.Rest assured if that blackmailer sends the letters to me, I will hand them over to you without even opening.I am in love with you for what you are now and do not care the indiscretions in your college days.If he persists in troubling you, we can both go together and lodge a compalint.Let me now see your large and beautiful smile on your face” he said even as he gently kissed her on her forehead.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A blind date

Akshay was just 38 and his wife Amrutha 33 when tragedy struck.As she was returning in her two wheeler in the last lane a lorry driven by a drunk driver wanting to avoid an imaginary obstacle ran over her sunffing out her life on the spot.It left Akshay and his nine year old daughter Nandini shattered.Life was no longer the fun they were accustomed to and a pall of gloom hung there.With the help of an aged woman relative who had none to look after life gradually began to move along.

Both Akshay and Nandini missed Amrutha for different reasons.She was a soul mate and companion for Akshay who doted upon her.They were a loving couple .During day times the work took his mind away from her memory but the nights were a pain.He spent sleepless nights thinking of her.Nandi a sharp girl knew her dad’s plight and spent time chatting with him relating to the happenings of the day at school and amongst her friends.She also knew that not all these could fill the void created by Amrutha’s absence.

Nandini had a teacher Subhasri who took a great liking for her for more than one reason.Firstly the girl was a brilliant student topping the class,took part in many extracurricular actvities and above all had a pleasant disposition. The tragedy in her life brought the girl closer to the teacher.Subhasri herself was just 29 and had her share of misfortune also.Her marriage had ended in divorce within a year as her husband could not consummate the marriage.She did not marry subsequently.
.
Nandini and the teacher grew so close that the girl confided in her all matters including the pitiable condition of her dad.She had taken one day the photo of her mom along with her and her dad.Subhasri was struck by the beauty of her mom and the matching handsomeness of her dad.The little girl took a great liking for the teacher and even wished her to take the place of her mother.She fed the teacher all the happenings in the house and how her dad was loving and gentle.She gradually kindled an interest for her dad in the mind of the teacher and they often talked most of the time about Akshay.She also spoke daily about the teacher to her dad and showed her picture in the group photo of her class.Akhay noticed that she was good looking and attractive.

There was an excursion and Nandini wanted to join.She knew her dad would not permit.She said to the teacher when they were alone”Miss,I wish to confide in you one thing on the condition that you will not betray me.I have a strong feeling that my dad is interested in meeting you.He often on the pretext of asking about my lessons brings you up in the talks we have and enjoys my telling about you.He had asked many times why I am not bringng you home.I want you meet him as if to seek his permission for sending me on excursion.You can also talk about me in general.But let it look as though you dropped in casually to look me up on the way home.He will be greatly pleased.You don’t have to worry as he is a nice person.Will you please do that?”

Subhasri was delighted at the prospect of meeting him.She thought to herself who knows what God has set in store for her and may be if He wished this meeting itself could pave the way for a happier outcome.She readily agreed to come on Saturday at 4pm.

That night after dinner Nandini in the course of their chat mentioned to her dad” Appa, I wish to tell you something.This is my hunch.I think my teacher is showing excessive interest to know about you and often brings you up in her conversations with me.She said she would be coming this Satuday to meet you apparently to take your permission for sending me to the excursion on Sunday but I suspect her real intention is to meet you.Appa, I like her immensely.Next to my mom,she is the one closest to my heart.I feel happy and comfortable when I am with her.Sometimes I feel how nice it would be if I can stay with her always.Don’t ever give an inkling of what I told you now.Do you have any objection in her coming here?”

“Why should I have any objection? I would be pleased to discuss with her about your performance in school.Ask mami to make some nice snacks for her.You can also buy a gift item for her” Akhsay said happy at the prospect of meeting her.He wondered whether she would be interested in anything more

It was 4pm Saturday and the bell rang repeatedly.Akshay wondered where Nandini had gone and hurried to open the door.He found an young lady of great charm smiling at him and introducing herself as Nandini’s teacher.Once they were seated Subhasri said “ Nandini was frequently asking me to visit her.She had asked me to come at 4pm.Where is she?”
The aged mami said Nandini had gone to her friend’s house to get some note book.

Akshay said”She will come soon I hope.She has a great liking for you and even expressed her desire to be with you always.You have cast a spell on her and won her love.I am very happy as she lost her mother at very young age.”

Both liked each other and they were talking for more than two hours.They found out each other’s interest for a marriage and how such a denouement would make the girl happy. .It was agreed that the next day when Nandini had gone for excursion, they would meet again over a lunch to take the matter forward.

Poor Akshay was not aware that it was his dear daughter who had arranged this blind date.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A dog's love

The old man had a fancy for pets.He had a few dogs, not boasting of any pedigree but country mongrels in different colours, white with uneven black spots, the brownish one with a sheen and a totally jet black one whose eyes glistened even in dark.They all looked healthy with the kind of nourishment they received.A rich land owner, he had also a spotted deer, two peacocks, a monkey and a parrot. He had a rekhla, a carriage that had two big wheels and pulled by a horse besides many cows, buffaloes in his sprawling backyard.


He was a widower living alone in the village house that was too big for one man.He had a cook and a few servant maids.It was rumoured that he had a secret liason with all of them having lost his wife at an young age.But that is not relevant for the story.He distributed the surplus milk to the poor that came daily to his house in the morning.He was a compassionate man helping needy people with money and materials.He commanded the respect of villagers and spent his time reading English novels.


In his days there was no electricty and no fans.A punkha(fan) made of clothes hung on the top above the swing (oonjal) where we would relax iin the afternoons.It was the monkey’s job to keep pulling the rope for the punkha to move giving the air.He had a small stick he would be waving to keep the monkey at its job.When he dozed off and the stick stopped moving the monkey would climb up the rope and sit on the punkha.He would wake up when the punkha stopped and start moving the stick again. .


He used to go early in the mornings for a stroll around the fields.He used to take the brown dog that was his favourite.He pampered it more than the other two.He will survey the fields where crops would be grown and at the end answer the call of nature inside a circular bush with a small entrance.It gave the privacy he needed.One day as he was squatting there, he saw a big cobra with its hood spread at the entrance of the bush staring at him.There was no way to get past the long reptile without being bitten.Though afraid , he maintained his calm and assessed the situation.Then without the slightest movement of his limbs or position he whistled softly.

In a matter of seconds the browny as he called it,appeared on the scene and sized up the situation.In a trice without the least hesitation, it jumped on the cobra and held it in its teeth and dragged it away.The cobra bit the dog repeatedly but the dog did not let go the grip.The old man ran to his house with his heart pounding fast as if it would burst.As he sat in the front porch on a thinnai(a raised platform), the dog came with the dead snake in its bloodied mouth and fell at its master’s feet.In a few minutes as it kept looking at its master with sad and soulful eyes it breathed its last.It seemed as if its eyes had the power to speak to its master. The old man could not control his grief and wept inconsolably as if he had lost his own child.

For a few days he never spoke to anyone and avoided taking food unless compelled.He stopped walking around the fields and lay on the porch staring at the ceiling vacantly.He gave away all his pets including the horse except the cows and buffaloes.

"It is not just that animals make the world more scenic or picturesque. The lives of animals are woven into our very being - closer than our own breathing - and our soul will suffer when they are gone."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Power of love

“Ashwin never listens to me.He is always defiant and backchats whatever I tell him.I even wonder whether he is fond of his mom” lamented Sulakshana of his nine year old son to me.
Knowing her good nature I said “Don’t be foolish.I know he loves you very much.Only some children are not demonstrative.”
“You don’t know Partha. Do not try to make things easy for me.He is a difficult child not the usual kids we come across. I am worried very much whether he will grow up to be a good man.I have tried all strategies sama dhhana bedha dhanda but there has been no effect.My husband is clueless”
“Tell me a little more in detail in what manner he irks you” I asked.
“His school bus comes at 8am and he should be at the bus stop at 7.55am.He does not get up even at 7.15 and throws up tantrum when he is woken up.His sister Sweta gets up at 6.30 am without any prompting and gets fully ready by 7.30am.He goes into bathroom and takes bath under the shower till 730 or even a little longer.He will then start searching for his books writing instuments all over.Some days he will start crying that he had not completed the home work.He will not drink the milk or have his breakfast.He picks a quarrel with his sister when she urges him to start telling it is getting late.By the time he leaves the home, he leaves me a nervous wreck short of crying.This is the same scenario daily” complained Sulakshana.
“It is all right.Tell me what happens after he returns home” I prodded
“He would not change his dress for a long time, will throw the shoes and socks in the living room,switch on the TV at high volume watching cartoon network.He would not have his food and in an hour insist on going out to play.If I refuse telling that he must finish his homework beforehand, he will shout, call me names, break things acting crankily.He is always irritable and in bad temper.I am tired Partha.I just don’t know what to do.I even wish he were not born” bewailed my friend.
“Answer me just one question truthfully.When he behaved like this, were you always stern and fault finding? Did you try any method other than nagging and shouting back? I agree making them do things the way we want can be frustrating.It is not that he is acting this way just to make you miserable.I don’t think so.There are other ways to tackle this problem” I said
“It is easy for you to talk like this.Try one day managing him.You will never come to my place again” Sulakshana said with a wry smile.
“Have you ever hugged him when he came back from school to you at the living room without looking at his legs whether shoes are there or not? Did you not always shout at him to go and keep the shoes at the appointed place?Have you ever made him sit by your side and asked him about the games he played in school before thrusting his lunch before him?Did you ever discuss the cartoons he liked and the characters who were his favourites?Have you played any game with him like monopoly or board games?Did you ever talk to him about his playmates and who won how many times?Tell me frankly whether you have discussed any subject of his liking with him without bringing up home work, proper manners, the stain on his shirt or the ink marks on his fingers or comparisons with Sweta?” I asked her
“Yes, I agree.I have always been fault finding though I love him most and wished to hug him” confessed Sulakshsna.
“You said he doesn’t love you.OK from today just for two days stop blaming him, whatever he does.Find out whether you find any instances of his loving you or showing concern for you.Tell me day after tomorrow.We will pursue the matter thereafter”I suggested.
It was the third day when I got a call from Sulakhsna.”Partha, won’t you come here? Your trick worked magic.Ashwin is an awesome boy.The mistake was all in me.You opened my eyes”she went on talking.


“Tell me what happened” I asked
“The day after you came last I didn’t wake him up.He got up very late and found his sister had left.He missed the bus and pleaded with me to drop him in the school.Without one murmur I dropped him.When he got down he said ‘I am sorry, mom.. I should have got up early.I cannot also ask you why didn’t wake me up after the daily fights I cause.Amma, please excuse me.’ I hugged him and said it was alright and that I was happy he realised his mistake.
When he returned from school, he took his shoes and kept them in the shoe rack. Before he came to me he had changed his dress and put the uniform in the washing machine. I hugged him, smothered him with kisses and asked him how his day in the school was.I listened to him with rapt attention of what he said..He was surprised when I told him that I have made his favourite pasta for him. When I gave him the bowl he asked “Amma, can I please watch the cartoon?” I was so thrilled and wondered what brought about the metamorphosis.”

“Good, I am glad the idea worked” I said
“Wait, I haven’t finished” she said joyfully.When I got up hurriedly to go back to the kitchen ,I hurt my leg badly on the sofa.It pained me much and as I was lying in pain, he rushed to first floor and brought relief spray.With his soft hand as he massaged,my leg he said “Amma, Does it hurt? I love you sky high.I will be with you today and not going out for playing”

Sulakshana had learnt the power of love and the magic it can do.She prided herself at her ability to win the affection of her son and make him the most lovable boy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unconditional love

Kalpana walked slowly on the familiar pathway leading to the house where she had lived for more than two decades.But the garden looked uncared for with bushes and weeds all around.It had not been swept clean of the fallen leaves for days together.It was different when she lived with flower plants and dahlias in plenty and green shrubs tastefully formed.It is more than ten years since she visited this place

She was the only child of her parents.She was more a mama’s child loving her mom most.Her dad was often on tour and even the few days he was in the house he immersed himself in his work.She doesn’t remember a single occasion where he had lifted her in his arms though she had frequently snuggled by his legs hoping to be hoisted up.He quarreled with mom also though she loved him very much.Her mom used to console her saying that her dad was not the demonstrative type but had affection deep inside his heart for Kalpana very much .Kalpana never believed her on this one point.

Her mom had a sudden stroke when she was barely forty.Her dad was three years elder to her.She didn’t live long after that.In a few months she passed away. Kalpana was just seventeen.Her dad put her in a hostel till she finished her education and found a job. She visited her dad not frequently except on annual vacations and even then would be bundled out to an aunt’s house when he went on long tour.There was no bond of affection between them.She loved a colleague and married him soon after she got a job.

It was a great shock to her when her father married someone without even telling her. She came to know of the simple registered marriage only when he had invited for a party his close friends and siblings along with her.It hurt her that he did not consider it necessary even to inform her.She was never invited to home there after nor she went.There was practically no communication except when she had informed about the birth of a boy to her.He did not visit her nor greeted her.


It was a week ago that she heard from her old aunt that her dad had fallen sick and was struggling financially.It appeared he had two children from his second wife.Except for the house that was under mortgage for a loan he did not have much wealth.Kalpana thought of her mom and wondered what she would have wished her to do.


With a heavy heart she walked on the steps and pressed the bell.She saw the curtain of the window being moved slightly and a lady’s face appeared for a fraction of a second.She waited and again saw some movement behind curtain. The faces of two cute children appeared but did not disappear.They smiled at her and she retuned it with a big smile.


The door opened slightly and her father peeped out.When he saw her, he came out and stared at her silently for what looked eternity. Unable to bear the embarassment she called “Daddy, I am Kalpana.It is nearly ten years since we met last” she said


“Yeah, I know .What brings you here?There was no information also about your coming .I thought you considered your dad as dead and gone ” he said in a voice bereft of any emotion as she was accustomed to in her younger days.


“Saroj aunty informed me that you were not well and laid up for a month or more.I wished to meet you.You have aged a lot and look very weak. I hope you are feeling better.What is bothering you?” she asked even as she saw the lady’s face and those of chikdren watching her from behind the curtain.


He did not invite her inside.He said”How does it matter to you? You never cared for your dad all these years.You come post haste soon you hear that I am sick thinking I will pop off.I know what is at the back of your mind.This house is made out of my earned income.I have a family .Anything else you care to know?” he asked in a voice that was full of scorn.


Kalpana could not suppress her tears that welled in her eyes.She bit her lips and turned back.As she walked two steps, she heard the door slammed shut.She turned and looked back.The curtain was drawn and no faces seen.She walked back, opened the purse, took out an envelope she had brought and dropped it in the post box fixed by the side of the door. She turned and walked without seeing back even once to her car and sped away.


The door opened wide open in a few minutes and the man,his wife and two children came out.He found an envelope protruding from the box.He tore it open to find a cheque drawn in his favour for rupees ten lakhs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The confession

Martin was stricken with remorse at his dastardly act.It was tormenting his heart endlessly and was unable to sleep for the last one month.As a Christian he knew that the Bible spoke of confession as good for the soul by admitting to himself and to the priest the sin committed.Though he did not think mandatory to confess, he felt immense relief would come if he confessed to the Lord and seek forgiveness.
He was in the church sitting in a small stool.The priest was on the other side of the curtain between them.

“Son, you must believe implicitly with total faith that all Merciful Lord Jesus would forgive you of all sins if you sincerely and truly repent for the misdeed. Pray, tell me the events without economising on truth.What is it you wish to confess for?” asked the priest

“Father, I am a wretch.I am passing through unbearble mental agony for causing grievous hurt on a girl who loved me with all her heart.I don’t know what has become of her as I ran away after committing the heinous deed.She had done no harm to me and yet highly possessive as I was, I committed this dastardly crime in a mad rage.” Martin said in a voice choked with emotion.

“Can you not go to her and seek her forgiveness and if possible set right the wrong you did?”asked the priest.

“Let me explain, Father. I was in deep love with a student in my class.We met regularly at the park, hotels and even the institute and grown to like each other...This friendship went on for more than six months.Though we were very intimate to each other, we never crossed the boundaries.She was a very upright girl and I respected her wishes.”he said

“Son, If she had loved you, what prevented you from marrying her?” asked the priest


“I did try, Father.But she said that her parents would not agree to her marrying me as she was a catholic and I belonged to another sect.She cried that she would not like to lose me but was also not prepared to elope.She wanted her parent’s blessings” he replied

“Did she tell her parents about her love for you?”asked the priest

“I think she asked her mom.But I don’t know about asking her dad.But she was certain that her dad would never agree”

“Why did you not let her go? What else could she have done? Why and what did you do to hurt her? asked the priest

“I foolishly thought that if have a physical intimacy with her, she would convince her parents or runaway with me. .I tried one day to force her into submission when I took her to my place under the pretext of giving reading material. She pushed me and ran away unscathed.From that day onwards she refused to speak to me or meet me.My love for her grew more when she spurned me.I decided she should not marry anyone else. She is an extremely beautiful and charming gilr that anyone would fall for.”said Martin.
“What did you do?” asked the Father.
“I threw acid on her aiming at her face and ran away..I made a quick exit as people gathered round her as she lay screaming in pain.”said Martin

“She knew it was you who threw the acid?” asked the priest.

“I think so and I was even afraid that police would come after me.The fact that she did not expose me makes me appear as the scum of the earth.I feel extremely sorry for my act.I don’t know where she lives and who her parents are. I love her very much and even if she is disfigured I will marry her.I would fall at the feet of her parents and ask for forgivance.I feel like committing suicde as I cannot live without her” said Martin

“Okay I should not ask personal details of you or of the girl in a confession where total privacy is assured. If you wish you can meet me at my house.I will suggest ways of setting right the sin you committed.Lord Jesus in all His Mercy and Compassion will forgive you and bless you for a new life free of hatred and sin.”

In the evening Martin went to priest’s house behind the church at the appointed time.The priest and his wife were seated in a tastefully furnished drawing room.Martin said ”Father, I am the one who came this afternoon for a confession.I am Martin and work in a big company besides teaching at an institute.I am a protestant by faith. I need your advice for making amends to the grievous wrong I did to the girl on an impulse.I will die for her if need be.”

The priest looked at his wife and asked her to ask their daughter to get tea and biscuits.In a few minutes Martin jumped up from his seat when he saw Diana entering the room with a tray in her hand.Her face looked spotlessly smooth and as she came near him she threw a faint smile.

The priest asked the surprised Martin ”Do you know my daughter before? Have you met her.You seem pleasantly surprised.’

Martin fell at his feet and sobbed saying “Father forgive me.I am the wretch who did harm to your daughter.Pray, tell me thst you both have forgiven me.”

The priest said”Yes, I knew it was you when you talked of acid attack.I could surmise your deep affection for Diana and your sincere repentance.I have also decided not to insist on any particular sect for matrimony.I could infer Diana is still in love with you as despite your attack she she did reveal who threw the acid on her.Luckily she ducked and her shoulder has some scars.You both shall be married soon with our blessings.Thank the All Merciful Lord for His compassion and grace.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

The rescue

All the paasengers had boarded the plane bound for London.The airhostesses ensured that all had the seat belts secured and the doors of overhead cabins closed.Some officials who were seen getting the papers cleared moving out through the aerobridge.One hostess was standing ready to close the door.It was then there was an announcement that the passenger in seat 29A in the front of the ecoconmy class is required to disembark immediately.All eyes were revetted in that direction.An airhostess briskly walked to the seat and guided a girl of 6 years to come out of the seat.A cute looking girl in pony tail and dotted frock demurred telling”No, I don’t want to get down.I want to go to mummy.

’When the airhostess gently pulled the girl towards her, she started crying “Mummy,I want to come to you.Mummy ,I want to stay in the plane.”All the passengers nearby were little uneasy to see the young child crying plaintively.Meanwhile someone with stripes came out of the cockpit and made the airhostess hand over the girl to another young lady official waiting at the gate of the aerobridge.The door closed and the plane started moving slowly.The announcement on the safety procedure commenced with monitors on the seats coming alive.


The lady official in her late twenties patted the child and softly said “Do not worry,Nitya.An urgent message has come from your mummy that you should be taken out of the plane.I don’t know the circumstances.Your uncle and aunt are waitng in the Airport manager’s office.Come on,,wipe your eyes and face..You will know when you meet them.”


“No,my mummy would not have asked me to be taken out.She spoke to me last night and waiting for me in London.You can ask my aunty who brought me to airport’ said Nitya


“Which aunty? The one who is waiting at the manager’s room. Do you have the phone number of aunty who brought you here?” asked the lady


“I don’t know the number.My mummy’s younger sister brought me. You ask her.She will give you her number”answered Nitya innocently


The manager was seen talking to a middle aged couple before him.Clad in spotless white kurta and dhoti the bald man with a glistening gold plated incisor and his bejewelled obese wife in silk sari were eagerly staring at the entrance door for the girl to appear.He had obviously satisfied the airport manager of his credentials and his relationship with girl by showing photographs, some email from his sister asking him not to send the child as they will be out of station on an unexpected pressing work for a week.He showed a photocopy of Nitya’s passport and ticket.It was only then instructions were given to withdraw the child from the plane.


As Nitya and the lady official entered, the bald man and his wife stood up with extended arms that had a big tin of Cadbury’s chocolates calling “Nitya kutti, Come here. We have been waiting anxiously for you.Let us go home and talk to your mummy.”


The lady started moving near Nitya.The girl recoiled and snuggled close to the lady official.As the fat lady came near Nitya, the girl screamed and said to the lady official ’Aunty, I want to go to mummy.I don’t want to go with them. Please take me to toilet urgently.”


The lady official took her out of the room and asked her ” Is she the aunty who brought you to the airport? Why were you not going to her?OK , let us go to the toilet first”


“No,I don’t need to go to toilet. I don’t know them.My aunty is different.I will be with you till you send me to London.Please do not send me with them.I am afraid of them and scared.You send me to my mummy tomorrow” said Nitya in a sobbing tone.


The lady official called the manager on her mobile and expressed her doubt about the bonafides of the couple and the conversation had with the girl.He simply asked her to do the needful.


Within minutes the airport police surrounded the middle aged couple and started interrogating them.The truth came out that they were hired by some distant relative of the girls parent to kidnap the girl for ransom.The girl’s parents number was collected after nabbing the relative.


Nitya happily went with the lady official to her home and expressed a wish ”Aunty, I like you.Don’t send me to my mummy tonmorrow. .I wish to be with you for one more day” The lady offical picked her up in her arms and smothered the child with kisses.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Graduating to bigger things

Muthu had no job.He had a wife and two children.He had no skill and was a daily wage labourer doing odd jobs in the construction site.Due to down turn in the economy, construction activities had slowed down.Not many houses were coming up.He was not getting jobs daily.Many days he had to remain idle.His wife worked as domestic help in a few houses but the income was not adequate.To add to his woes, she became pregnant.She had no parents alive or siblings to seek help.In a few months she had to leave a few houses.The children were starving and she could not get any help from the neighbours who were themselves poor.

When the younger son cried in hunger, his wife gave him water.The child was not pacified and cried loudly.In frustration she beat the child mercilessly till Muthu intervened saying”Are you a human being or a demon? Can’t you see he is hungry? Why didn’t you get some food from the houses where you work for the children atleast?”

“Who will give food daily? If you have some sense of shame left in you, you would not be idling here in the house without getting some money or food for the children.Don’t sit here.Get out and get something for the children.If you cannot, get atleast rat poison for all the three of us to die.You can continue to remain happily idle.”

He left the hut in a huff stung as he was by his wife’s cruel barbs not knowing where to go.He saw a bakery.Bread packets were being kept in a cart for delivering elsewhere.When he saw the freshly baked bread and remembered the hungry faces of his children, he could not suppress the foolish temptation to pilfer one piece.When this was noticed by the bakery owner he set his employees behind him.He ran with the bread as fast as his legs could carry and was soon near the hut with his chasers close on his heels.But one man caught up with him and tried to grapple him.Muthu to save the bread pushed him hard and freed himself from his grasp and ran faster.He did not notice that the man fell down and hurt his head badly on a rock in the platform. Once he reached his hut he threw the bread inside before they caught him and rained blows on him.

In a few days he found himself inside a jail along with many inmates in a single room.They looked terrible and wicked.They were carefree and enjoying their stay in the place without any regret.He could in a short time know that they had many vices and were hardened criminals coming back to prison very soon everytime they were let out.Some were there for physical assault, some for house-breaking, some for molestation of children and some for ganja. They teased and taunted him when he said he was caught stealing a bread.They could not believe how a man could be so foolish like him.Muthu was struck by remorse for his stealing and cursed his fate for being awarded six months jail for the first offence.He wondered how could a judge could be so heartless and the law insensitive to the pathetic circumstances in which the offense was committed.

But he behaved well and kept himself away from the other inmates.But they made him do all the lowly jobs as if he were a servant.He longed to be free soon from these men and the jail to be with his wife and children.He was determined that he would never come again to a prison and do nothing that was against the law.He started counting the days but the days seemed very long. He did not relish his food when the thought of his hungry children haunted his mind and more often than not he kept it aside without touching much to the gless of his cell mates.

Six months later, he was allowed to go free with an admonition to turn a new leaf and never to come back.He was given some money he had earned there.He got some sweets and some dresses for children and virtually ran home.He wanted to tell his wife that he will learn a new skill and would be never out of work and that he loved the children most.He wished to whisper in her ears that he missed her most and that they were his apple of his eye.

It was midday. He found the hut closed.Most people had gone out for work.He wondered whether his wife had gone for work, where she would have left her children and whether she delivered the baby.He stood there waiting for someone to come that way.An old woman who lived adjacently saw him and called him “You petty thief.Where had you run away? Don’t you know, you loafer, that your wife and the small kids committed suicde the next day eating rat poison? They were ashamed of your being dragged by police before everyone for theft.Go and hang yourself you worthless fellow” and she spat in disgust.

He cried inconsolably and locked himself inside the hut.At midnight a police jeep stopped before the hut and hauled him up as a suspect in a chain snatching case that day.He was back in the jail within a fortnight in the same cell to the delight of his mates.In their eyes he had now graduated to bigger things than pilfering bread and would soon compete for a place with them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trisha’s new mate

Trisha was just six years old.That was the last day in the school.It gets closed for three weeks.She was very happy.Her mom had agreed to send her to her brother’s house for two or three days.They had a boy of her age for Trisha to play with.Her mom rang up her brother to take the girl from her school that ended at 1pm as she would be accompanying her husband to Delhi by 10 am flight to see his ailing father.She packed a bag with dresses for two days and gave her with lunch box.She left a message again with her brother to take Trisha from school.She impressed on Trisha that her uncle or aunt would come to pick her up and on no account she should leave with anyone else.

It was 1pm and as the school bell rang all the children came out merrily dancing and prancing.The durwan at the gate let out the children carefully one by one after seeing the guardian who came to pick the children.He knew all of them.Some of the children whose parents were generally late were playing hide and seek inside the class room.Trisha also joined them.Some hid behind the doors, some behind the benches and some in the corridor.Trisha got into an empty almirah and closed the door .It was a big almirah.She lied down waiting for others to discover her but sadly she fell asleep.None of the other children noticed her absence and left the school when their parents came. The durwan around 4pm went around all the classes shutting the almirah doors securely, switching off the lights and fans.He didn’t open the almirah where Trisha was sleeping when he secured it.The doors of school building and the outside gate were closed and everyone left.

It was 5pm when Trisha woke up.It was pitch dark inside and she was profusely sweating.She could see nothing.She cried afraid of darkness and did not realise where she was.She started crying loudly and punching the doors with her soft hand.She felt an insect,may be a cockroach,moving on her.She was scared and screamed in fright.No one noticed her bag kept inside her bench.A kitten managed to enter the room through a partially open window and meowed continuosly as it heard the noise in the almirah.The girl was crying uncontrollably repeatedly calling “Amma ,amma, I am afraid..Please come immediately and take me. It is very dark here.Some insect is biting me,amma, amma” ..She was hungry too.Tired by endless crying she again fell asleep.

Trisha’s uncle had told his wife to pick the girl and again reminded her before he left for office.He was leaving for Dhanbad that day by evening train.That lady had totally forgotten about Trisha when she got a message that her dad had a massive heart attack and was in hospital.She had rushed there to be by the side of her mom.His condition was alarming.Her son was taken care of by her neighbours.

It was around 9pm when Trisha’s mom rang her brother’s house and no one picked the phone.She tried several times before contacting her brother on mobile.He became worried when he heard her anxious concern about Trisha.He assured her that she would call her after talking to his wife.He rang up his neighbour and found that his wife had gone to the hospital around noon and that his son was with them.It was 10pm by the time he could reach his wife in the hospital and learnt to his shock that she had totally forgotten about picking Trisha in the melee.He told her to immediately rush to the school and try to trace the child.That lady with her brother left their dying dad in the hospital and rushed to school.She realised the enormity of her lapse and cried bitterly praying to all gods to keep the girl safe and secure.

It was 11pm when the aunt and her brother stared at the closed doors of the school.The aunt felt might be some parents of the girl’s friend or a teacher or Headmistress would have taken the unattended child with them.Someone offered to jump the door and look around the school..He came back saying that it was all dark and there was only a kitten mewoing nonstop.The hunt for the headmistress and the durwan took time.No one suspected that the girl would be left behind in the school.Even police help was sought.It was only in the morning around 5am they could trace the durwan in his house.He said that he cannot remember the girl unless he saw her.He added that he had checked all rooms before he locked the building.Nevertheless the police insisted on seeing the school building.

They opened and went room after room found none till they went last to the rear room which was also empty.The kitten was still meowing standing by the side of the almirah.A doubt arose in the mind of a policeman who had its door opened.Inside Trisha was lying in crouched position unconscious.She was rushed to the hospital and first aid given.Trisha’s parents airdashed as also the brother from Dhanbad.

When Trisha came home after a day in the hospital, she found to her great glee a new mate to give her company.It was the kitten that stood by her without moving away till she was rescued from her predicament.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A good deed

The bus was jam packed.Nalini never expected this.When her two wheeler refused to start she hurried to the bus stop.The threewheelers were plying but all of them had passengers.She waited for more than ten miniutes for an empty auto.She had to reach her office on time for a meeting.It was cloudy with the threat of rain.She took the bus to avoid the rain.There was hardly any space to move.The men were virtually breathing on her neck.She could not stand the stench of their body odour.The conductor asked her where she was bound for.When she mentioned he tore a 4 rupee ticket and thrust it on her hand.She proffered a fifty rupee note having no coin.Hedeclined saying with asperity in the voice ”No Change with me.Give me the exact amount.”

She replied “Sorry, I have only one two rupee coin.Please help me.I will take the balance later when I get down.”

He whistled the bus to a stop and said heartlessly “Give me back the ticket.Please get down.Be quick”

“It is drizzling outside.Please help”she pleaded

Even as the conductor refused to listen to her, an elderly man who was sitting in a seat near her said ”How could you do that? Don’t you see it is raining? Here is a five rupee coin.Give her back the ticket.”

The conductor insolently gave her the ticket and one rupee to the man muttering some unintelligible swearing.Nalini was dumbfounded as this happened quickly.”I don’t have change.You can give me back whatever you have.Take this fifty rupee note. she said

“Never mind, four rupees is not a big amount.Are we not human having sisters and daughters like you? Forget it” he said as he got up to alight at the next stop.He did not look very affluent from his tattered shirt , a pair of cheap chappals and the bristle on his face.Nevertheless in her mind ,this face of the kindly man from among many onlooking passengers was etched .

It was two months later Nalini’s dad called her and asked “Nalini, do you have any plan to go out? If you are free, why don’t you accompany me.I am going to the orphanage of which I am the president to select a new manager.The old manager had left the job.You can join me and help me in the selection.What do you say?”

Nalini was very happy and said “I will gladly join you.Give me five minutes .I will change the dress and be here soon.”
The orphanage was a trust property of her father’s trust.Her father being an industrialist and a philanthrophist founded this institution to help the hapless children.They were taken care of well,given good education and vocational training too as they grew older.The previous manager was very efficient and managed it well.Her dad wanted to choose a good man.As they sat down in the room,she asked her dad what was he looking for in the candidates.Her father said that he looked for some one with experience in running such an institution and capable also.

The candiadates started coming one by one.Some had experience but looked for a good compensation, while some had no experience and were willing to work for any salary and a few others had no commitment to work in such an institution.Her dad asked her to give rating on a scale of 0 to 10.At the end when one elderly man entered,Nalini immediately recognised him.His beak shaped nose and the bristle on the face was unforgettable.He was the good Samaritan who came to her rescue in the bus two months back.He showed no sign of recognition and stood deferentially.Nalini asked him to take his seat.

Nalini’s dad asked him” You don’t seem to have any experience in such an institution.You had worked in a private company in an ordinary position.There is no managerial experience also.How do you think you are suitable for this job?”

He was silent for a few seconds before he spoke” True, I have no experience.But I have a sincere wish to serve in such an institution. But I have many children .I can look after these boys and girls as if they are my own.I will bestow the same care as I give my children.I may not have the requisite experience but I think I will discharge my duties conscentiously to the best interests of the hapless children.I need this job also incidentally to maintain my big family.”

“We don’t pay much.OK .Let me see.Please wait outside.We will decide in another thirty minutes” said Nalini’s dad.
Nalini turned to him after he left the room and said “Appa, I think experience is good but not an essential parameter.What I look for is something else.”

“OK, who have you chosen out of the seven we have interviewed?” asked her dad

“My vote goes to the last gentleman” she repled

“What? What are you saying? He has no experience at all and has worked as a clerk in a private firm.He has not an iota of adminitratve experience.I have already crossed his name”he said.

“Appa, I think experience can be gained on the job but there is one qualty that cannot be gained.It is inherent in a person.For an orphanage with luckless children devoid of love and affection of parents, what is needed is compassion and a concern for them.The rest are all immaterial.All the others came looking for a job while this man said he came to serve.” said Nalini

“How can you be so credulous and say this man has compassion? Do you know him or go merely by his words?” taunted her dad

Nalini then related the incident that took place two months back and clinched the decision in favour of the old man.

A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one good deed

Friday, October 23, 2009

A case of amnesia

I am an honorary secretary of a senior citizen home that has fifty percent accommodation on payment basis in a separate complex with the remaining as free to those who could not afford.It is not a poor home open to all as certain requirements were to be met.It was however caste and gender free but the inmates should be literate.The ambience was good and there was a clamour for accomodation from many.Some kind hearted soul who had land adjacent to the home donated it. I was runnng around along with few others in search of sponsors to build additional rooms and facilities on the donated land.
One moning I had gone to a nearby temple to offer prayers.As I was returning I saw an elderly man in spotless white dress sitting on the floor.He had a gleaming wrist watch on his wrist.I could see a pen tucked in his shirt.He had a laced angavastram on his shoulder.But the place where he was sitting was by the side of garbage box and where shoes and chappals were left behind by the devotees.It looked odd for someone who appeared affluent squatting like that.I stood before him and smiled.There was a vacant and empty look without any recognition of someone smiling.I was intrigued and felt something abnormal.I went near him and said
“Sir, why do you sit in this unclean place? Aren’t you well needing help.My name is Partha.I can render any assistance you may need.Let me help you get up.”
There was no reaction.He did not reply but looked at me vacantly.I looked round to see whether there was anyone who had accompanied him.One flower seller who was near the gate told me”That old man is sitting there since two hour. .He does not reply anyone and may be a mental case.”
I lifted him with my hand and he stood up.He came along with me quietly without one word as if he was hypnotised.When I went near my car,I asked him where he wished to be dropped.He did not reply.
I asked “What is your name? Where do you live? Any telephone or mobile number?There was no answer.I saw his pocket had some currency notes but no details of his name or address.There was no mobile.There was no way of finding out his identity.He had just gone blank.I decided he should not be left there uncared for.I decided to take him to the senior citizen home.He came meekly without any resistance like a sheep being led..Once there he was provided food which he ate quietly but very slowly often losing himself in thoughts.I informed the temple to put on notice that an elderly man (details given) who had total amnesia was being taken care of at the senior citizen home and that his family can contact the secretary on phone,,,,.Meanwhile I had a photo of his taken and sent to local paper to publiish in their found column.
A week went by without anyone coming in search of him.I decided to keep him for some more time in the paid block before moving him to the free section..He was taken to a doctor who diagnosed it as amnesia with a profound memory loss possibly caused by some traumatic or emotional event.The old man, the doctor felt, will have difficulty in absorbing new information, and difficulty in recalling past memories.. He can also be disoriented and confused. The doctor also said that it can take weeks, months, or years for recovery to occur.
I decided to retain him in the paid area for two weeks more till the end of month hoping some light would be thrown on his identity.I felt sorry that how men and women however well placed are neglected by their own kith and kin when they reach their twilight years.I could visualise that he must have been living a decent life wih adequate financial backing. Whether he had a loving wife or children were all in the realms of conjecture.That was the last day of the month and I was busy looking at the books in the office when an attender came running to inform the old man had fallen in the bath room.I hurried to the scene and found a cut in the forehaed with blood trickling.He was unconscious and was rushed to hospital.
The next day when I went to see him I saw him sitting on his bed.To my great surprise, he smiled at me and said “I asked the hospital staff just now how come I was here and they said you would be coming soon to provide the answer.Can you enlighten me as to who you are and how I came into your custody and why I was brought here?”
I briefly told him the circumstances of his being found in the temple , the intervening days at home and the fall in bath room and requested him to reveal his identity.He said “It does not matter.I am Srinivasan , a retired bank official and live in this city.I do not wish to go back to my home as my son has not cared to look for me. I was already an unwanted person there and there was a scene on the last day when I was insulted by my daughter-in-law and asked to get out with my son remaining a mute witness.I would like to come to your home and spend my last days there and help the home in administration.I have sufficient income to stay in the paid accommodation”
The story does not end here with Srinivasan easily merging and identifying with other inmates and taking charge of administration.He donated a hefty amount sufficient for the construction of the new block in the new area already donated .His only request was to name it after his long lost wife.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Devaki's ailment

Madhav has been noticing from his balcony for many days her standing next to the window of the adjacent apartment looking at him whenever he came out.Though it was dark in her room (she perhaps used dim light for better vision outside), he could see she was stunningly beautiful with long hair falling on her shoulders and beyond.There was something in her that attracted him to the balcony frequently.He had an easy chair put there and under the pretext of reading a paper or a book would be watching her sideways and seeing whether she also did the same.Yes, she was transfixed as if was like a statute.She must be around twenty two, quite tall and a well built body that lent elegance and grace.He mustered courage to smile at her and received a 1000 volts shock when she returned his smile with an imperceptible wave of her hand .Needless to say Madhav spent most of his time at home in the balcony savouring her beauty and exchanging gestures. Strangely she neither came out or gave any indication of her working anywhere.Madhav had no means of checking out the reason for her being tied to home.
A week later he was greatly surprised to see her one evening at a nearby temple.She was in a beautiful blue salwar suit and her dark eyes shone brightly and her red coloured lips stood out in her fair complexion.Madhav smiled at her and she smiled back.Her mom was a little away talking to the temple priest.She moved slightly out of her sight as Madhav joined her
“What is your good name? We see each other daily all day long for many months but meeting for the first time today.Why is it I don’t see you much out side? Aren’t you working?”
“I am Devaki.What is your name? Mom doesn’t allow me to go out.No, I am not working also for the same reason” she replied
“I am Madhav and work in a MNC.Do you come to the temple daily with your mom at this time? asked Madhav
She saw her mom turning and looking for her and said as she left quickly”Later, Mom is coming.” As Madhav stood watching her walk, he saw her repeatedly turning her head to look at him.
During dinner when Madhav and mom were alone eating, her mother broached the subject of his marriage.Taking advantage of this he confided to her his deep fascination for the girl in the adjacent apartment and wanted her to talk to them.
“I think they have come to this complex recently.I have seen the lady and the daughter but not spoken.Yes, the girl is very charming.Do you know whether she likes you? I have no objection in meeting that lady and telling her of your interest” his mom said.
Madhav hugged her telling”Sweet mom.Please ensure this materialises somehow.I am madly in love with her and I think she too with me.”
The next day evening when Madhav returned from office his mom asked him to sit by her side. ”Madhu,I am sorry, my mission failed.I saw the girl for a fleeting moment.She is no doubt exceedingly attractive and fetching.But her mom was telling when I mentioned about the purpose of my visit that the girl is not well for a couple of years and that was the reason she was not working also.When I told her that I have seen her going out with her and nothing seemed wrong,she said that she looked apparently ok but has some serious mental problem.Once or twice a year she develops violent tendencies.She is under treatment and it appeared the cure will take a couple of years more.She also added that she was frank as she did not want to deceive anyone but requested me to keep the information to myself. She did not show any interest to pursue the conversation and bid me farewell rather abruptly.”

“Amma, I don’t believe an iota of this crap of her being amental case..I talked to her and gained the impression she was very normal but a bit afraid of her mom” said Madhav
She replied”We cannot say with certainty from stray conversations.They have periods of normal and abnormal behaviour.Which mom would spurn a good match and speak adversely of her daughter? She must be a very good lady in coming out with the truth despite the pain in her heart”
Madhav was shattered totally.He felt a deep pain in his heart when she the saw Devaki standing at the window and waving her hand and smiling at him.His heart was wrenched at the way fate played cruelly on this innocent girl .Tears welled from his eyes as he went in and shut himself up.He was in a state of total dejection and stayed away from office.Every now and then he will peep through window to see Devaki standing by window and looking expectantly at this side.
Two days later when Madhav’s dad went to bank, he met Devaki’s father.Though they had not met earlier, he introduced himeself as Madhavs dad and said “I am sorry we didn’t know as otherwise we would not have approached.It was only when my wife met yours we came to know of her ailment.Poor girl, God has been cruel to her”
“What are you talking, Sir? Who said my daughter has an ailment.She is in the pink of her health.She has no medical problems at all.Did you say my wife said like that? Oh, I can see a conspiracy in this.She is my second wife My first one died soon after Devakis birth.Devaki is very rich with a large bequest by her maternal grandfather.This woman is ill disposed to her and refusing to send her to work.She is obviously wanting to stop her getting married also..Let me check with Devaki whether she likes your son and if she says in affirmative, let us proceed further.I will teach this shrew a fitting lesson.You can take my daughter to any doctor and subject her to any test, if you wish to..It is good you brought this to my notice”said Devaki’s dad as he shook hands.
Madhav came out to the balcony and started waving his hand at the smiling Devaki

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Destiny

Varun had come to the public library to see some reference books. As he was looking for the book in the shelves, he found a young lady in early twenties trying to reach the top shelf.She was already standing on a small stool and yet she had difficulty in reaching it.She looked at Varun a little accusingly and said “Hey you could be a little chivalrous to a lady in trouble.”
“Sorry, I didn’t notice your being short.Come on, tell me which book you need”
Varun replied with mischief
“I am not short.The shelf is too high suitable only for giraffes” giggled the beautiful lady.As she received the book, she said “Thanks a lot I am Vanita.I come here daily and spend a couple of hours.”
“ Oh, I am Varun, tell the librarian to provide a taller stool as I may not be available on all days though I will try to make it henceforth.I need to learn lessons from you on chivalry” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
What began with atiff soon blossomed into love.They made it a point to be there daily thereafter and instead of searching for books they sat side by side in a secluded corner relishing each others company but talking very little in the silent zone..Months passed by and their bonds of love grew stronger.
She said one day”Varun ,you seem a timid guy.When do you propose to take me out to a film where we can sit together in the dark closer to each other than we do here and talk to each other to our hearts content.”
The next day itself they were in the cinema hall in the box hugging and caressing each other.They found their company soothing and pleasant beyond imagination.
Varun said softly”I love you very much Vanita.But I am afraid darling that the gap in our status may come in our way.Your dad is a very rich industrialist and I am from lower middle class and nothing to commend except for my brilliant academic qualifications and a good job in a MNC”
Vanita repliied”I am aware and equally apprehensive.I had broached about you to my mom.She asked me to forget you saying that dad with all his hot headed ego and status consciousness would never agree.I told her that I cannot leave you and it was upto her to convince him.” She assured Varun that she would marry only him and none else come what may.To his suggestion that they elope being major,she turned down saying “I cannot hurt my mom who is an heart patient and that she would rather remain unmarried than elope.”
They met regularly and spent long time together but with a big question mark on their future.
One day after a few months she broke the news that dad was furious about her love for Varun and that he had decied to get her married to a young man of comparable status.She also told him about the constraints placed in her coming out alone.She mentioned “You know my dad is a ruthless man.Nevertheless .I will not agree under any circumstances to marry anyone else.But I am afraid of your safety.Please for my sake shift to some safe place. I will keep in touch with you thro mobile in emergency but cannot talk much as I am kept under constant surveillance.”
Varun did not hear from her thereafter.She did not come to library too.He could not reach her as possibly her number had been changed.He was depressed and stopped attending office. He was all the time brooding and went to extreme depths of melancholy.He did not take bath, skipped the food often and lay on the bed looking at the cieling aimlessly. He became a wreck and often toyed with the idea of putting an end to his life.He shut himself out from outside world.
An advertisment he saw a week later about the ensuing engagement function of Vanita in the news paper turned to be the last straw.He decided to take his life out by jumping before the electric train at the nearby station.The end will be quick and pain least.The station was jampacked in the peak morning hour.He stood at the edge of the platform ready to jump at the last moment when the train entered the station.The signal yurned to green.The passengers moved closer jostling with each other trying to get near the door of the compartment.Varun saw the train entering and was getting ready to jump when his mobile rang.He tried to take it from his pocket when the crowd pushed him aside and some one pulled his collar to make way for himself.Varun fell down on the platform and could not get up as the paasengers scrambled to get into the train.He managed to put the mobile on his ear as the rush thinned down.
“Hey Varun,Hip Hip Hurray.Engagement called off.My uncle,dad’s brother,convinced my dad not to marry me to someone against my wishes.He told him what if , if Vanitu’s lover is poor.He is qualified and well employed.Take him into your business and make him the MD.He gets the status and becomes rich.More than that your daughter will be very happy. Where are you? Come to the library right away.I am waiting with sweet packet.”
Varun for once thanked the morning rush and his stars.