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.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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.
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 was gently taken away from the place by my uncle.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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
“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?”
“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
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
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
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
“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.
“Tell me what happened” I asked
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.”
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
“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.
“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.
Monday, November 2, 2009
’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.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
“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
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
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
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
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
“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.