Friday, March 27, 2009

Ways of God are inscrutable

Hema had not expected such a surge of crowd at the famous shrine of Guruvayur.Someone had told her that the crowd was lean during this period. There was a long queue moving at snail’s pace thro the rows of parallel railings that seemed endless. The Sun god was also merciless with scorching heat that radiated through the galvanized sheets. Not a blade of grass moved and the air was still. The jostling crowd of perspiring and smelly people and the continuous chatter all around would not allow her to focus her mind on the God thro prayer. After every half an hour the wicket gate opened to allow a small batch only to close again for another thirty minutes.. She had come alone to discharge her vow for a day. She was to catch the evening train the same day.
She was incessantly praying “Lord Guruvayurappa, please enable me to have a good darshan of you.I am afraid whether this massive crowd would permit me to stand even for a few seconds to offer my prayers in peace. I have been waiting for this visit for several years and was made possible through your grace only even now. I don’t not know when my next visit to India will take place.Om Namo Narayana, please bestow Your Grace on me.”
The crowd slowly inched forward. She was at last nearing the main entrance .An elephant that took the God in procession a little while earlier was swinging its trunk and eating coconut leaves. While she was watching, a young girl of nine years in a green skirt old approached her and gave her a plantain fruit telling “Have this fruit, aunty: you will have a good darshan.Do not worry.” Hema said ‘So sweet of you, there is too much of jostling by the crowd.I will take the fruit when I come outside after the darsan lest it gets crushed.” The girl replied with a bewitching smile “No, no, please have it now itself. You will see me again no doubt” Even as Hema accepted it, the crowd pushed her inside the gate. She being short could not get glimpse of the Lord as many others tried by craning their necks at the entrance. She could just see the lamps burning inside. She was disappointed and her appeals to Him became more intensive and passionate. As she was approaching the point opposite the God before His sanctum sanctorum, she saw the officials virtually pressing the pilgrims not to stand for even two seconds. She broke into tears when she tripped just before the God as someone pushed her. The officials who saw her predicament stopped the pilgrims behind her till she found her legs and told her unbelieving ears ”Please have a good darshan of the Lord” They gave her some flowers and chandan paste even she stood for adequate time before Him to her hearts content. To her great bewilderment and surprise she felt that the Lord appeared to her as a young girl. She thanked them for this unusual gesture and moved away.
As she came out, she asked the other pilgrims in what manner God had been decorated and was told in the usual Balakrishna style with flute in His hand. Confused with the differing version to what she saw, she came to the place where the girl who gave her the fruit stood only to find no trace of her. Then it struck her like hammer blow that God had appeared to her in the same form in a green skirt as the girl who gave the plantain, made her trip before Him as if in prostration and gave her extended time to have His darshan.The ways of God to show kindness to His devotees are inscrutable.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Freedom with hunger

It was some small town in the interior Madhya Pradesh. As a travelling representative I was moving from one town to another along with my junior salesman. I stopped the vehicle to have some refreshments at what appeared a big sweet stall. We ordered Alu parotta with a side dish and curd. A small boy of 13 year old soon appeared with two plates along with two tall glasses of water. He didn’t move but lingered..He was emaciated with sunken cheeks and looked underfed and overworked. There was a lost look in his face His eyes were swollen possibly from a beating he had had and there was a frightened look. I told my colleague in Tamil “I think this boy is being illtreated.See his black eye. I pity this boy.” As the boy heard me speak he asked in broken Tamil “Are you from Tamilnadu?” I said “Yes, how are you here in this far off place? What has happened to your eye?”The owner looking at the boy talking shouted “Hey, Chotu, come here. Carry this chai to the table on the right extreme.” As he was leaving he said that he was not allowed to talk to customers and that he was a slave here. In order to know more, I asked him to bring two plates of kachoris.When he brought the kachoris I told him to bring two glasses of lassi and when we had gone out to meet us outside. Come out on some pretext. He nodded his head and left.
When we were waiting in the car, the boy came silently. I asked him to get into the car lest he be seen with us. Prompted to tell his story, he had this to say amidst intermittent sobs.
“My name is Rajan.My father and mother came here several years ago on a promise of a good job. He was given some advance of ten thousand to settle his debts in the village. It was only after they came here, they came to know to their shock, they were cheated and brought here as coolies to work in their quarry. The advance was treated as a loan at a usurious rate of interest and the wages were adjusted against the interest. In other words they were working free with only Spartan food twice a day. They were new to the place and the language .They were told they were slaves till such time they repaid the loan which was not possible without any income. It was an arduous work in the hot sun from which no redemption was in sight. Meanwhile they had two children my elder sister and me. My mom fell sick unable to tolerate the dust in the quarry. She died after a few years without any treatment worth the name. My sister when she grew to be thirteen was sexually abused by the owner repeatedly till one day unable to bear the shame and torture, she committed suicide by jumping into a well. My dad did not recover from the shock and had pain in the chest frequently. He was not allowed rest and made to do hard work that one day, he collapsed in the quarry and died. I was then shifted to the sweetshop where I work from 4am to 12 midnight. Except the food no payment is made. I am being beat mercilessly on the smallest excuse. I wish to run away but I cannot as owner’s men are all around keeping a watchful eye on me and other boys here. The other boys are from nearby places.”
I asked him whether he was willing to come away with me. When he agreed we drove away with side screens drawn. We reached Bhopal in the evening.I asked the boy who was happy with the new found freedom what he wished to do and whether he had any relatives in his village. He was not aware of even the name of the village. He expressed a wish to go to Chennai and eke out his livelihood by joining a hotel as a server. I got him a couple of T-shirts and pants, a ticket for Chennai and gave him three hundred rupees. I told him “Chennai is a big town and he may be cheated and drawn into bad activities. Safeguard the freedom won and join a hotel soon. Take care not to fall into bad company.”
I forgot the boy there after. It was six months later I had a few hours halt at Chennai on my way to Madurai. My brother was working as an inspector of police I the city. As his wife was away at her mom’s place, I went to meet him at the police station. He was interrogating a boy who was in handcuffs. The boy was slouching avoiding the boxing from the constables .I could not see his face. When my brother saw me, he asked the constables to take the boy away. It was then I had a glimpse of the boy.”Rajan”, I called out, “how come you are here? Have you not found a job in a hotel?”The boy hearing my voice fell down at my feet and started crying as he said “Sir, You cautioned me Still I have become a bad boy. I did not get any job. I had spent the money you gave on food. Nobody is willing to give me work .I even begged for food. For the first time I picked somebody’s pocket and was caught. The slavery with food is preferable than freedom with hunger. I wish I had not left that place.”
I narrated to my brother about the incident and asked him whether he can find a job for this boy who had undergone suffering and hardship all through his life. He readily agreed to keep Rajan with him in his house. Being the first offense with the purse retrieved and no loss of money, he was excused. But his pleading with me that slavery with food was better than freedom in hunger kept ringing in my ears all through the day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Witness to a murder

I was a fifteen year old boy then. My parents and siblings had all gone for a marriage. I was alone in the independent house. I could not accompany them as I had school examination the next day. My parents had asked me to sleep in the adjacent house for the night. I was tall and well built belying my young age. I felt shy to go to the neighbour’s house for sleeping. I decided to stay in my house though it was the first time I was alone in my fairly big house. I locked all the rooms and came to the front room facing the road for studying. I had many lessons to revise. I was sitting by the side of a window facing the road. It was around 11-30PM. The road was dim lit and it was deserted and silent. Some cows were grazing with a few dogs barking at each other now and then. I was afraid of the darkness outside and the dogs barking. I had heard someone telling that dogs bark when they see ghosts. My mind was not on my lessons.
It was then that I heard some running steps on the road and a desperate cry from by the window from someone asking me to open the door. I could hear more steps from a little away coming towards this side. The man anxiously pleaded with me to open the door telling they were chasing him to kill. He was a young man in a lungi and sleeveless banyan with fear writ large on his face. A chill went up my spine when he tried to grab my arm that went out to shut the window. I quickly withdrew and switched off the light so that none can see me. Two or three men should have followed him as I heard repeated blows rain on him. I hid myself below the window lest I be seen as a lone witness to the horrid crime. I heard a shrill cry which I suspected was followed a slit of his neck with a knife. The cries in agony soon faded into moans in pain only to die down totally after a few minutes. My neighbours must have heard the commotion but they dared not venture out fearing their own lives.
I could not study after that having seen a murder at such close quarters though I could not see the murderers. I sensed the acrid smell of murder in the air. It was after a restless hour or two that I dozed off to sleep.
The sun was already up above and the street had come alive with milkmen and paperboys criss crossing on their cycles. I woke up with a start and got up from the chair eager to see the inert blood soaked body lying outside on the ground.I opened the window fully and looked out. There was no sign of any body or a murder having taken place. The cow was chewing the cud across the road and the dogs were playing with one another wagging their tails. What about the heart rending plea for a safe shelter, the blood chilling murder and the cries in agony of pain? I was in a state of utter bewilderment when my mom came with a cup of coffee. “Raju, when we came unexpectedly around 12 in the midnight, I found you sleeping in the chair. I thought you were taking a short break. Why, what happened, it looks as though you had a nightmare?” she asked.

Police men too have a heart

The inspector of police was about to leave the police station for home.A constable came in to announce that a young lady wanted to see him urgently. She came soon behind him, a young lady in her late twenties. She seemed educated and spoke in English flawlessly. The inspector was an elderly man about to retire in a year with a daughter of her age and a son well settled. Asked what brought her to the station, she said coolly “I have poured acid on my husband’s face when he was asleep. He is writhing in pain at my home.” The inspector could not believe his ears till she assured him that it was a fact. The inspector asked her to wait and meanwhile sent a SI with a constable in a jeep to her home to admit the man in agony in a hospital.
Once this was taken care of, he asked her to narrate the events as they happened. After a glass of water, she said” I am a post graduate in Botany and am a lecturer in a college. I made the mistake of falling in love with this man whom I married later. He was an exceptionally handsome guy, with an infectious smile slightly effeminate, suave in manners and an engaging conversationalist that would sweep any woman off her feet. He is intelligent, cunning, lazy and fond of good living, easy money and adept in handling girls. When I fell in love with him, he told me that he was a MBA and an executive in a big company. He took me around to places but took care not to take advantage of my mad love for him before marriage. This made me trust him more. I have no mother. My father an old man who is no more had look at him and said “Sunita, he rings fake to me. Something about him warns me that he is not right, though I cannot pinpoint. Don’t be in a hurry to marry him. Have his statements verified before you take this important decision.” Foolish and headstrong as I was I ignored his suggestion and went ahead with the marriage. At the suggestion of my husband, it was a simple marriage with a very few friends of his. It was only later after a few months that I could find out, he had no job, had no MBA and was a plain loafer. I also learnt to my utter shock that I was his fifth wife and that he had inveigled earlier many girls like me and married them, gave them children and robbed them of their money. He went each night to one of the unfortunate women.”
The kindly inspector asked “Do you have any child? Have you also parted with your jewels and belongings as I see no gold on your neck or hands?”
She replied “Yes, I have lost all. Luckily I have no child. He made me abort the one immediately after marriage as he did not have money for the hospital and I was not aware of his shenaningans.The immediate provocation for my drastic step was his attempt to cheat a girl of nineteen or twenty into a marriage. I overheard his conversation when he assumed I was not at home. His looks were his asset and I decided to take it away from him so that no girl would ever fall a victim any more to his wily moves. I have taken this decision consciously and am prepared to suffer punishment for it.”
The inspector kept quiet motioning her to remain silent and thought over the matter for a few minutes. He could see in the agitated young girl a picture of his own daughter. He could visualize the mental torture of hers having been cheated by a riffraff. He had no sympathy for the young man who got his just desserts. What he was worried was the wrong manner in which the justice was administered to him.
He coughed and told her in a quiet voice” Listen carefully, you are like my daughter. I trust what all you have said. But I will make independent enquiries to test the veracity of your statements. If he is a culprit as you have explained, have no worry. You said that you poured the acid on his face when he was asleep. He must have lost his vision by now. You have taken law into your own hands. This is wrong and punishable. Give me a statement duly signed that on entering the house from the college, you found your husband writhing in pain and that someone must have assaulted him with acid out of enmity. Utter no word to anyone that you did it and stick to this. I will bring this case to a successful conclusion to the great relief of his five wives and the rescue of his potential sixth victim.”
He stood up, patted her on her shoulders and said “Don’t worry; you have a dad in me. Policemen aren’t as bad as they are often depicted.” It can be a matter of endless discussion whether the inspector acted according to law. What mattered was that he knew that justice is often denied in the name of law.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Ghosts, Kali Ma and an agnostic

I was newly married then living in Calcutta with my wife. Life was pleasant as my wife managed well within my limited income. We agreed on most matters except on one. She was a very pious lady doing her daily puja without fail like lighting the lamp before an array of gods’ pictures, burning incense and chanting slokas.I was an agnostic but never said anything against her beliefs. She visited Kali temple weekly once and on many occasions I would accompany her. While she went in to pray, I indulged myself to a cup of adhrak chai outside the temple. She tried initially to make me enter the temple and offer my prayers but gave up after my adamant response.
It was one night around 12-30am she woke me up and asked me to see through the narrow opening of our window at the sweet shop across the road. From the third floor the view was uninterrupted. We saw a strange thing happening on the terrace of the sweetmeat shop. There were about a dozen short what appeared as young boys dancing, jumping and precariously hanging at the edges as monkeys alone can do. Many of the acrobatic postures were just humanly impossible. There was only moonlight and we could see only the dark silhouettes. The figures were short, agile, nimble footed, bigger than monkeys but smaller than men. They had no tails. This dancing and prancing about went on for about two hours with me and my wife watching in wonderment. We pinched each other repeatedly amidst laughter to make sure we were not dreaming Then around 2-30am they all faded away and soon the open terrace was empty. We discussed amongst ourselves the various possibilities but decided to check in the morning. Early in the morning when the shop opened around 6-30am, we went there and found the man in charge. We were known to him as we regularly bought our sweets from the shop. When we recounted the happenings of the previous night and asked him whether any work men were staying in the building. He expressed disbelief saying the shop remained closed, nobody stayed in the building and there was no stair case to the terrace. There was no way anyone can climb there let alone dance about. He dismissed our story more as a figment of our imagination and went about busy selling sandesh, rasgollahs and the customers. On our way back my wife asked me whether I would now believe that there were some supernatural things that cannot be explained rationally in scientific terms. She added that we were hundred percent sure of what we saw while the shop owner dismissed our story as mere imagination. She urged me to have faith in what our elders and the religious texts said. I kept mum without arguing with her.
I had written the examinations for probationary officers in three banks. The results of two had come out and I had not made the grade.I was very depressed and worried about the likely outcome in the last one, the biggest nationalized bank. My wife advised me not to lose heart and instead pray to Ma Kali sincerely along with her. But my ego prevented me from agreeing. The next morning when she went to the temple, she requested me to come inside. I declined telling her that I would have my regular chai.She persuaded me to accompany her at least inside the temple more as a concession to her than under belief. I could not refuse my beloved wife and went inside. I stood near the stone where the goats are sacrificed and watched Ma Kali in all her majesty and divinity. Though associated with death and destruction, She exuded at once compassion with anger in her awe inspiring face. I saw the multitude of the devotees praying with utmost faith to Her for Her blessings. Involuntarily my hands went up folded in obeisance to the Goddess even as my wife stood before me amazed and in delight at the transformation that has been wrought in me. She nudged me and said “Pray to Kali Ma for her grace and success in your bank examination. She will surely listen to you compassionate as She is.”
I muttered with tears in my eyes ”Kali Ma, kindly excuse me for my foolishness and give me total devotion to you” The joy in my wife grew boundless as she virtually pushed me closer to the deity for Her darshan. What a transformation She has brought about in one who came to mock but remained to pray.
It is an interesting tidbit that I got a registered letter that afternoon from the bank about my selection as a probationary officer sending my wife into raptures
"My child, you need not know much in order to please Me.

Only Love Me dearly.
Speak to me, as you would talk to your mother,
if she had taken you in her arms."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A request to visit my other blog -reflections

I have started recently another blog reflections ( Some of the visitors to random thoughts have visited the new one too but many are not aware of this new blog reflections. random thoughts carries mainly short stories.Reflections is of a different genre where I post some thoughts. They are short in length and cover a wide range of subjects.
I would request those who are following my blog random thoughts to include if inclined reflections also in their blogroll. I would request the others to visit the blog and see for themselves the content.
warm regards,

Dash of a hope

I was sitting in the restaurant near the hotel where I stayed. I wanted to spend a quiet evening and chose the corner of the dining room for dinner. After ordering my food, I reclined in the chair watching around the people who were eating. I always like to study the people as it revealed innumerable stories for me to write about. As I was thus engrossed, a young lady in her early thirties came in hurriedly and looked hither and thither for a place to sit. She looked attractive, petite but dressed in some dull clothes. She looked at me watching her and made a beeline towards my table. “Would you mind my sitting with you in your table?” she said in her sweet voice with an enchanting drawl. “By all means. That would be a pleasure to spend a quiet evening with a young lady.”
She said “Thank you. It is so sweet of you.” I interrupted her and said “I have ordered my food. Can I order the same for you? Let the menu be a surprise but I assure you it would be interesting.” To my utter surprise, she leaned across the table and touching my hand she said “Nothing should be better. I look forward to the time I will be spending with you more than the eating part.” Seeing her at such close quarters, I found her to be exceedingly beautiful and her well aligned teeth shone as she smiled. I considered myself lucky at this silent and pleasant intrusion into what I was hoping to be a dull dinner. I noticed she had not lifted her hand even as she was staring at my face with a smile.
“I am Sunil from Kolkata and am here on an official tour. May I know your good name?” I asked her. She said “Nandita is my name. I belong to this city. I was feeling bored at my house. My husband has gone on tour. I was too lazy to cook. I decided to have my dinner here. How lucky I am to be here with a young handsome man like you. I am in no hurry. We can have a leisurely dinner. Why don’t you order some drinks? A Scotch should be ok by me.” I mumbled “I am sorry, terribly sorry. I should have done it even before you had asked me.”
As we were sipping the drinks waiting for the dinner, she drew her chair closer and asked whether I was married. When I said in affirmative, she said that she felt comfortable as married men are more mature than the callow bachelors. I was thrilled to hear that and with high anticipation of an exciting evening with her, I took her hand in mine and gently caressed. She did not withdraw her hand as I feared initially but seemed to enjoy. With her chin resting on one hand, she looked at me as she was in love. I started talking on variety of subjects and she nodded and agreed with what all I said. A thought of my wife crossed my mind reminding how she differed with me in all that I said and found me impractical in my views. It was a welcome change to have this beautiful woman in agreement with me totally. The dinner came and as we ate with relish, she ordered for more drinks. I was happy at what I considered as an easy lay. As the dinner was drawing to a close, I gently asked her “Are you in a hurry. My room is in the hotel across. We can spend some time together with drinks. I will drop you at your place.” She readily jumped at the offer and said “What will I do at home all alone? I don’t mind spending an hour or two with you. You look a very attractive male that I haven’t met for long time now.” It was all honey to my ears and I did not want to waste a moment longer in the hotel. I settled the bill and took her hand as we started leaving. She snuggled close to me and almost rested her head on my shoulders. I thought she had had a tad more of the drinks obviously now at work.
As we neared the gate I saw two well dressed men in white uniform approaching us. One of them said” Sorry sir, we have come to take this lady with us.” Even as he was talking, Nandita almost screamed “NO, no, I will not go with them. They hurt me. I do not want to go to that wretched place.” Bewildered at the turn of events, I asked the person “I don’t understand. What is all this? Would you care to explain before you hold her hand?”
“Sorry sir, this lady is not in full command of her senses. She has escaped from our hospital .She has been undergoing treatment. She comes from a decent and rich family. Her husband is furious that we lost her and is waiting at the hospital. We will take her with us” he said even as he showed his identity card and some papers of the hospital with her photo.
As they gently dragged her toward the hospital ambulance, she turned at me with tears in her eyes and pleaded “Rescue me from these wretches, won’t you? I was looking for an exciting evening with you.” I went over to her and caressing her cheek said “You will be all right soon. Please go with them and have some rest. We can always meet later.”
I slowly trudged back to my hotel even as I heard her distant sobs pleading me to rescue her.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sarita’s baby

Sarita and Sanjay were married for six years. They were a happy and healthy couple with both of them working.Sanjay’s mom was worried that she was not blessed with a grandchild and what began as oblique hints grew into direct suggestions. She asked them to consult a gynecologist which they did promptly. The doctor that nothing was wrong with both of them and the delay happens in a few cases. She asked them to keep trying and soon they would have a baby. Almost a year had passed. Both of them decided to adopt one. They went to an adoption centre cum orphanage. They found a charming young girl of a year old. Both of them took instant liking for the child named Pinky when they first saw her. When Sanjay gave her a bundle of chocolates, she looked at Sarita for approval. This clinched the matter. The person in charge of adoption centre said they may have to wait for four or five months for some formality to be over in the instant case. He suggested that if they want some child immediately, they can choose another. There are other couples waiting to adopt Pinky. But the couple decided to wait. They were allowed to visit the child frequently, get her gifts and eatables.Sanjay handed out a good amount as donation for the charitable work they are doing.
It was two months later Sarita found herself sick with nausea. The doctor confirmed she was in family way. This gladdened their hearts and when they broke the news to his mom, she promptly said “Cancel the adoption. Tell them you have your own. Why bring a child whose parentage is unknown. The baby could be from a very low class.”Sanjay said “Why do you talk like this? It was only at your behest we went there and chose the child. Why do you talk about parentage now after you know Sarita is expecting?”
Sarita said in a determined tone “I have decided to adopt Pinky, no matter what, Sanjay. Let us go today and speed up the matters. I want the girl within a month with us here.”
Sanjay’s ma intervened to say “What if your child to be born is also a girl? Would you like to have two girls?”
“What if? I have decided to have that girl whatever gender the new baby would be. This is an unexpected bonus. There is no further thought on this matter” said Sarita to seal the matter.
Soon the Pinky, whom they named Mona, came home adding joy to the parents. Sanjay’s mom was determined in her mind that the new baby would be a girl and that his son was committing a mistake listening to his wife.
It was two months later when Sarita developed some problem, she was rushed to a nursing home.Sanjay’s mom and Sanjay were waiting anxiously with the former expecting the news of birth of a baby girl. A nurse soon came out to announce that Sarita is doing well after giving birth to a still born baby boy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The saviour

by KParthasarathi 14 Mar 2009
As he lay dying on the road after a truck hit his scooter from behind, he saw around him a crowd of fifty people anxiously watching him die. It was a hit and run case. The truck driver fled with the vehicle. No one came forward to help. He pleaded with them to rush him to a hospital. Obviously they could not hear him as no words came out. Some stood for a minute or two and went their way in a hurry. They all had their own work to attend to and had no time or mind to help a dying man. They were discussing among themselves about the careless and drunk truck drivers, the possible hassles with the police and their repeated summons, and the reluctance of taxis and vehicles in lifting blood soaked victims, and the disinclination of hospitals to handle such cases. He knew the urgent need for his getting medical attention and the minutes ticking by. There were so many and yet none came forward.
He recalled the chain email received that day requesting the readers, to forward to twenty more, the mail about rendering prompt help to road victims and how they would not be put to any trouble by the police or hospital. He was sweating profusely and was moving in and out of consciousness.He thought of his young wife and the two children waiting for him. They were to go out for a birthday party of his daughter’s friend. The girl had repeatedly reminded to come home early. He remembered his young boy clasping his legs with his tiny hands asking him to stay back. He recalled the shy smile of his wife when he hugged her before leaving. They would all miss him permanently he thought as his memory faded.
There was no policeman in sight. Someone had rung up an emergency number about the accident and felt relieved that he had done his bit. Minutes passed by and the onlookers were able to see the gradual ebbing of life. It was then they heard a loud voice asking them to give way and allow fresh air to blow. A young man in his thirties went straight to the victim and sought the help of another to lift him to his auto rickshaw. In a matter of two minutes the auto rickshaw flew past to the nearest hospital admitting such cases. The staff and the medical team knew that had the victim been delayed by a few more minutes, he would be a lost case. They looked at the auto driver in admiration even as he walked out to see his three wheeler drenched in blood. He decided to return home to clean the vehicle. His heart was suffused with happiness that he was able to do his bit to save a father and husband from certain death.
Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teacher's magnanimity

GR Sir as Ranganathan was called with respect was a disciplinarian. As a teacher in the high school, he was known for his sincerity and for the pains he took to teach the young wards under him. He expected in return the students to follow the lessons carefully, ask questions when in doubt and do the home work assigned without failure. He had a fetish for punctuality and silence in the class. He was feared for his quick temper and silken irony in his comments. Once out of the class he was a warm, gentle and well mannered person. God fearing and given to strict adherence to the noble values of the profession, he was held in deference by the school management.
One afternoon Bhavani, a girl student of class IX came weeping to the room of the Headmaster. It was just a few minutes after the lunch bell had gone. When asked what brought her to his room, she continued to cry without telling anything. Prompted by him, she said, “GR Sir, called me to come near him immediately after the bell rang. When I went to him, he pulled me towards him and touched my cheeks with both hands. I wrenched myself away and came to you, Sir.” The HM did not believe her and asked her whether anyone was in the class at that time. She replied, “No, all had left.Sowmya my friend was waiting for me near the gate outside the class.” He asked her “Do you know GR Sir is the most respected teacher in our school and held in veneration. How could you level such accusation against him? He must be older than your father. I don’t believe that he would have done such a thing. There had not been a whisper of complaints from thousands of girls who had studied here in the past. Do make sure before you level such serious allegations against a teacher and particularly of his stature. His reputation will be in tatters if this is known to all. If it turns out you are speaking falsehood, your future would be affected. If you still insist that he acted in the manner you say, I will inquire into it.” She replied, “Sir, I have no witnesses. But I promise that whatever I have said is truth. Why would I accuse him if he had not touched me?” The HM asked her to go and cautioned her not to speak to anyone till he inquired.
The HM had during lunch time met GR Sir in staff room and said “GR Sir, can you please meet me in my room at 4PM? I have something to discuss with you.” He agreed to meet him and left.
It was at 3 pm, the HM heard a commotion outside his room. Immediately a middle aged man and his wife entered his room and started shouting in anger “What sort of school you are running? You call yourself HM and do not check your teachers who are womanisers and paedophiles.” The HM asked them to sit down and asked the peon to go out and ensure no one entered the room. The middle aged man complained that my daughter came home running and complained that her teacher misbehaved with her. It appears, he tried to hug and kiss her. The girl luckily could tear herself away from him. Call him here, I would break his hands.” The HM asked him to calm down and said that he would do the needful immediately. He sent for GR Sir who came immediately from the middle of a class. He did not realise the urgency or the seriousness of the matter, till he saw Bhavani with her parents in a perturbed condition.
When the man started abusing the teacher, HM asked him to keep quiet and said that he would do the talking.”GR Sir, this girl Bhavani is accusing that you called her near you and dragged her towards you after the lunch bell had rung. Before I could talk to you, she had gone home and brought her parents. What have you to say?
GR Sir was shocked and in pained bewilderment cried ’Sri Ramachandra Maha Prabho, what did I do to merit such false accusation.Bhavani, I only reprimanded you severely for back chatting and for not doing your homework for weeks at length and threatened that I would report about you to the HM. You were standing on the other side of the table far away from me. Why are you making such false charges? I have a granddaughter of your age. Tell the truth to all, Bhavani.” The father intervened to say “You don’t have to talk to the girl. We don’t believe you. Our daughter never utters a lie and she will not make such charges without a reason.”
The HM said, “It is one person’s word against the other. Let me ask Sowmya who was standing outside the class room.” When Sowmya came the HM requested all to wait outside and told her of the charges Bhavani had leveled against the teacher. He asked her to tell whatever she had heard and seen. The girl said, “Bhavani is my close friend no doubt. But she is uttering a lie. When GR Sir scolded her for her failure to do homework, she back chatted. I was hearing the conversation. Sir got angry and raised his voice threatening to report about her. I then peeped in and saw Bhavani was standing far away from Sir on the other side of the table. She came out in anger and muttered to herself that she would teach him a fitting lesson.”
The HM called all of them and reported the new evidence from Sowmya and turned towards Bhavani. Bhavani, looking at the determined face of her friend, kept quiet putting her head down in shame. The father unexpectedly fell at Ranganathan’s feet and cried “Sir, please forgive us and our daughter. Whatever punishment the HM gives we would accept it without demur. I am ashamed of my daughter and regret my angry words at you.” HM looked at Ranganathan who said “Bhavani is young and a good girl. She evidently did it on an angry impulse. Let us forgive her this time. But on the condition that she would be regular in her homework.” A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holi Hai

Wish You & Your Family

a very Safe, Colourful

and Happy Holi



Monday, March 9, 2009

The Miracle of Makkan Chor

Sukanya was no ordinary girl. Just ten years, she was very much different from others. It all happened suddenly when on a visit to her grandmother she was gifted with a doll of Sri Krishna. It was a two feet high, doll of Krishna in blue colour standing with a flute in hand and a cow behind. With His bewitching smile and handsome features, He caught the fancy of the little girl. Her grandmother narrated to her, the story of Meera Bai and her unflinching devotion to the Lord despite the trials and tribulations she faced. The story made a deep impact on the girl and transformed her completely. She no longer went to play with her friends in the colony. She spent all the time other than school hours with the doll, dressing it up, making flower garlands, talking to it, singing bhajans and doing puja.She was a soft spoken girl with a sweet voice and a very beautiful face.
Her parents were upset initially with her constant attention to the doll to the detriment of her studies, play and other chores. While the mother understood the girl’s love for the doll and her sincere devotion to the Lord, her father was adamant that the doll be kept in the loft out of reach of the girl. She cried so inconsolably that after her mom’s persuasion he relented subject to the condition that she spent only an hour in the morning and evening and went to play, do her homework like before. She put a stipulation that her mom should provide her with a small cup of butter for her Lord. This was agreed to without fuss. She knew that Krishna loved butter being a makkan chor. The doll was kept in the puja room and not a day passed without Sukanya doing the soul stirring Bhajans, puja and offering of butter to the lord. The parents too saw no harm in her devotion, as it did not clash with her studies, play and other chores
One day when she had finished the puja, she found the butter had been scooped as if by fingers. With surprise and glee, she asked her mom to witness the strange happening. When her mom looked at the cup and her fingers, Sukanya denied amidst sobs that she had not touched the butter. While they didn’t know what could have caused it, they decided to keep quiet. When this phenomenon happened in the successive three days, her mom told her husband about the strange occurrence. The father called the girl and told her sternly that he would stop all the puja if she did not come out with the truth. With this veiled accusation as if she had taken the butter, the girl denied her hand vehemently. But the dad was not convinced and said, “I have not come across any incident of God taking the Prasad offered to him. May be Sukanya is not aware that she was unconsciously handling the butter. I think there is something fishy about the whole thing.” Sukanya was deeply hurt but did not respond unwilling to provoke him.
The next day the dad stayed at home to get into the bottom of the matter. When the girl was doing the puja, he surreptitiously came down without the knowledge of the girl and his wife who was busy in the kitchen. Now and then, he saw thro a narrow opening of the puja room door, the girl singing softly with her eyes closed. When the song was over and the puja seemed to end, he peeped again through the opening. What he saw astounded him. He saw a boy of ten years bluish in colour with yellow silk around his waist, a peacock feather on his head and a flute in hand stooping down to the cup and taking the butter. When the boy turned his gaze towards the opening in the door, the dad instantly fell unconscious. Hearing the commotion both Sukanya and her mom came running towards him.” Appa, Please open your eyes. What happened? Why did you faint?” asked Sukanya. When the man blabbered about the blue boy, his flute and the feather, her mother gave him water to drink and asked him to be calm. She said “What boy and where is he? The front door is locked. There is no one here. Sukanya also hasn’t seen anyone. Are you day dreaming?” He said, “NO, I saw him distinctly. I have never seen such a beautiful face and the eyes were red in colour of unparalleled beauty. He stooped down and took the butter. See the cup yourself if you do not trust me.” When they saw the cup, they found the butter has been removed with two tiny fingers. Sukanya with tears welled up in her eyes shouted in elation and happiness“Kanna, Krishna, Govinda, Navneeth chora, how lucky I am that you have heard my prayers and had come to stand by my side. How unlucky I was to keep my eyes closed when you stood near me and ate the butter? Why did you not make some noise?” The parents embraced the girl who was in rapture and delight and smothered her with kisses. The choice is yours ,dear reader, whether to ignore this as an illusion or trust it in full faith on the Lord's Divine grace.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

International Women's Day

International Women's Day
International Women's Day is meant to appreciate those who have been the biggest but quietest influence in our lives. The rate of progress of women overall is still slow. Let us remember that the increase in the number of women in decision-making will not happen by itself. Rather, it is often the result of institutional and electoral initiatives, such as the adoption of goals and quotas, political party commitment and sustained mobilization. It is also the result of targeted and concerted measures to improve the balance between life and work. Those are lessons we need to take very seriously if we really wish to improve the lot of women.
Let us dedicate ourselves on this day to the task of women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power.These are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace for all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mystery of the ochre robed man

Ravi stared at the pink slip that was handed over to him. He was not a technical professional and was in the administrative department. He was dispensable. It was as if the whole world had conspired against him. This job was the only source of income. This was the last straw on his back. He was completely devastated and had no clue about his next step. His wife had become sick with a suspected breast cancer. A mammogram revealed positive and further tests were slated for next week. He had defaulted in making payment for the loan taken from a private bank that had set behind him thugs under the garb of recovery agents.They were always standing outside his building waiting to catch him.His family had been abused and noisy scenes created in the presence of neighbours.He had two young kids and the school had given notice that they would be struck of the rolls if their fees were not paid within three weeks, The rent for his apartment was in arrears and the landlord had given eviction notice. The local grocery stores refused to extend credit any more. He had already taken small loans from all known people. There was nothing in the house to cook. He was at the end of the tether and the future looked bleak.
His wife said ” We can do little. Things are beyond us. Only a miracle can save us. Let us pray to God. He alone could help us out this mess Meanwhile pledge this ring and get some provisions .Children have not eaten properly for two days.” He took the ring and looked at her sadly as this was the last trace of gold on her. He knew this would not last for more than two days. He needed big money. A sense of failure enveloped him. But sadly Ravi had no faith in God. He never went to temple nor did he ever pray. When there was no thread of hope to cling to, he fell in line with his wife and started praying. It lacked the fervour and devotion. Seeing his sick wife and the two young kids praying with their eyes closed, he felt like crying at his helplessness. A thought crossed in his mind to end his life. But the faces of the wife and the children deterred him.
To keep himself unavailable to the recovery agents he came away early in the morning and sat in the portico of the local temple. He did not go inside. He was lost in thoughts about his sad state of affairs, the suffering family members that tears trickled from his eyes. He could not control his sobbing when someone patted him on his shoulders. It was that of an ochre robed old man with a beard who was sitting at the other corner and watching him.” Thambi (younger brother) why are you crying? There is no problem in the earth that cannot be solved. Did you approach the right person? I know you have not.Go to Him and cry your heart out instead of doing it here. He will show you a way. Have faith in my words and trust Him totally.Go at once inside before they close the temple. I will wait for you.” He saw the kindly eyes with a twinkle and the smile at the corner of his eyes and felt some peace had descended on him. “Swami, please do not go away. I wish to tell you my story. Please wait. I will be back soon.” Ravi said.“Tell your story to the Lord inside.Fall at His feet and cry. Mark my word. He will surely find a way. Hurry up. I am always there.” the old man said.
When he came out of the temple after half an hour, Ravi could not find the bearded old man. When he enquired with the man selling flowers and coconuts about his whereabouts he said” I don’t know. This is the first time I have seen him here. He must have left.” Ravi looked hither and thither but there was no trace of the old man. It was very hot and Ravi felt very thirsty. He saw a pan shop selling cold drinks and sherbets. He put his hand in the pocket in search of money. There was none except a small folded paper. He opened it to see it was a state lottery ticket he bought for one rupee a month back. He used to try his luck once in three months. He was about to crumple it and throw when he saw the shop keeper telling him ”Hey, do not tear. Tell me the name of the lottery and the date of results.Some results have come today.” When Ravi read the name and the number, the shopkeeper ran his eyes through the sheets of paper and asked him to repeat the number again.Suddenly he jumped out of the small cubicle and hugged Ravi”You have won ten lakhs, ten lakhs.You are a lakhpathi.” Ravi could not believe his ears. They cross checked the number again and again and made sure of his winning. Ravi promptly put his signature behind the ticket.
As he ran his way home, the face of the ochre robed old man haunted him. He could not forget his kindly eyes. How he could be so sure that the Lord would find him a way out and what did he man by saying that he will always be there, thought Ravi as he rang the bell of his flat

Monday, March 2, 2009

The retribution

Pandian was a rich farmer in his thirties. He had acres of land in the village with most of the landless poor working in his fields. His word was law and none dared to defy him. People dreaded his violent temper. Unfortunately, his wife died young leaving behind two young children. He doted on them and did not marry again.He brought Ramu and his young wife Bhagya to live in his palacious house to take care of the children and cook food. Things were going smoothly though he missed his wife very much.Bhagya was very charming to look at in her rustic look with an alluring figure.Ramu was a slightly built man, a simpleton, soft by nature and hard working. They were a loving couple and had no children of their own. They took care of their master’s children with love and care.
Pandian of late was drawn to Bhagya and wished to possess her. He sent Ramu away on some errands and made advances to her. She spurned him and beseeched him not to trouble her. But her words of resentment only hardened his desire to get her at any cost. One day when children had gone to school and Ramu was away he entered the kitchen and pulled her towards him. Her attempts to thwart him from his evil designs were feeble against his muscular strength and all her wails were of no avail. He had become an animal bent upon satisfying its lust. It was then Ramu entered hearing her cries and started protesting at his master’s ways.Pandian overpowered him and tied him to a chair so that he could not move. He covered Ramu’s head with his own dhoti and raped Bhagya repeatedly amidst her screams. When he was preparing to leave after accomplishing the horrible deed, Pandian stopped for a moment and said, “Let this not be known outside. I will compensate you both adequately. Beware if either of you utter one word, Ramu would forfeit his life.” Hearing this Ramu erupted in rage like a volcano and shouted, “Kill us both here and now. We do not want to live after this ignominy. What harm had we done to you? We took care of your motherless children like our own. Yet you have ruined my wife’s life for our kindness. The wrong you have committed would have to be repaid by you. The evil act you have perpetrated will not go unavenged.. Don’t think your money and power would come to your rescue? God above is watching.”Even as he continued to vent his anger and Bhagya sobbing, Pandian left the room in a huff.
He knew that no harm would come to him and that things will quieten after a few days. He thought Bhagya would become amenable in course of time and the resistance would gradually get weakened. The next day evening he returned home after surveying the fields and had made arrangements for the harvest. The house was very quiet .He called out his children. When there was no response, he called Ramu repeatedly. Worried he went from room to room. He did not find Bhagya in the kitchen. There was a sepulchral silence everywhere. He panicked and ran to the rear of the building. There was a lumber room that was mostly unutilised. The doors were partially closed. As he gently pushed the door and craned his neck, Pandian let out a cry in horror as he saw four bodies hanging from the beam.Bhagya could have committed suicide unable to bear the shame.Ramu must have followed suit after hanging the two kids in the madness of fury.
.Pandian went inside, clasped the feet of the two kids and cried inconsolably. Suddenly he started laughing hysterically and came out of the house running in the road like a mad man clad in his under garment with his head covered by his own dhoti unable to realise that the sins of the fathers visit the children.

The recluse in my class

by KParthasarathi 02 Mar 2009
There was a class mate of mine may be in seventh standard in my younger days. I have forgotten most of the other boys but I distinctly still remember his face for the prominent beak shaped nose. He was slightly built and had a constant puckered smile on his soft face. He never talked and rarely mingled with others. He did not participate in sports. He was happy to be left alone to his devices. He wore his caste mark of ashes on his face. He was not distinguished in his studies. Except in Sanskrit, History and moral sciences, he had no interest in other subjects. He just scraped through I think. I remember one incident when .the class teacher asked us to write in one page of what we wished to be when we grew old. Some of us wrote about our wish to be engineers, while some wanted to be teachers and some others business men and such like callings. When the boys were discussing excitedly amongst themselves, this boy stood aside without showing any interest. We did not know that this boy was different till the afternoon. We came to know when the teacher called him softly by his side and asked him to tell the class on what he wished to be. He kept quiet feeling embarrassed. The teacher goaded him telling that there was nothing to feel shy about and that he was proud to be his teacher. Thus prompted, the boy said, “I wish to be a monk and recede to forest to meditate on my God and do Tapasya till I have His darshan.” There was a stunned silence as all the boys saw the teacher wiping his tears from his eyes.
Later after the class was over the teacher patted the boy gently on his shoulders and told him “Please take me along with you to meet your parents this evening. I wish to pay my obeisance to the fortunate couple.”
The boy immediately said “Please, Sir, do not mention about this essay of mine to them. They are already unhappy with me about my poor marks and my ways.”
“Why are you not studying well? What is it that you do that displeases your parents? Should you not listen to them?” he gently asked.
The boy said, “I am a great devotee of Sri Ramachandra and Sri Anjanaya swami. I have their idols and do puja both mornings and evenings. I wish to do nothing else except thinking of my Lord. My father is against all these as he considers them a waste of time to the detriment of studies. He wants me to stop all this and go out to play with other boys. He beats me if he sees me sitting before my darling idols. So I have hidden them in the terrace and do the puja unknown to him.”
The teacher kept mum and later learnt from his parents that what all he had stated was true. Both the parents were dejected and had given up hopes of ‘reforming’ the boy. He did not mingle with his siblings except a little with mom and spent all the waking hours before the idols and deriving pleasure in dressing them and singing bhajans.The teacher knew that here was an uncommon boy who had a goal in his awareness, that he gave it his all time attention and had no doubt in achieving it. The teacher kept quiet though he knew that it was best not to interfere with the boy’s ‘progress’.
Years had gone by. I lost touch with the boy after I came out of the school but the school essay remained fresh in my mind. It was some decades later I accidentally met his younger brother who was also in the same school.
I learnt that he did his graduation in Sanskrit and did not marry. He became a Sanskrit pundit in a school. After his parents died, he stayed alone and had his food brought from a nearby temple on payment. He spent all his leisure hours in Sri Ramakrishna Mutt and Sri Gowdiya Mutt and tended to the sick and needy persons. No one knew what puja he did and when. He lived a life of recluse and did not participate in family functions. He gave away his share of the property to charitable institutions. The last the brother heard about him was that he had joined an old age home in a temple town spending his last days in the temple. He discouraged any contact with him. He had obviously discovered his real identity, he knew his true nature and felt the presence of spirit in everything and everywhere..
When I think back, I am convinced he is no ordinary soul. He is an evolved person who belonged to this world and yet not part of it. I could remember his penetrating look that at once appeared distant. Life for him was a voyage that he had to undertake to liquidate his past karmic debts. I could only proudly tell my children and grandchildren that I had the privilege of studying together with a karma yogi who had realised himself.
The winds of grace are always blowing; it is for us to raise our sails.”