Thursday, 27 November 2014

Manichitrathazhu - from Sirf Indian

Manichithrathazhu – This literally translated meaning “The Ornate Lock” is an age old traditional lock of Kerala which adorns the doors of the fabulous Ettukettu & Nalukettu (8 sided & 4 sided mansions) This is a special lock used in the ancient times to lock doors where treasures and expensive items are kept. The special feature is, it rings while locking/unlocking. These locks have now made a come back to the new Kerala homes, though more from the aesthetic than the security aspect. A movie by the same name was made which went on to become a cult movie in Malayalam and then was later remade in almost all Indian languages ( Bhool Bhulaiyya in Hindi, Chandramukhi in Tamil and so on). The hero in search of an evil spirit promises that he would lock up the spirit using the Manichitrathazhu, meaning locked up in the most secure manner. The pictures show the old and the modern versions. A beautiful video made by Nipun Chander, shows the actual working of the lock. This is one of the historical artifacts being archived by

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Onam Feast

     Raj loved aviyal, a rich concoction of vegetables in a yellow gravy, especially the discrete sourness of curd, added in good measure, to give it its famed tangy taste. It was his favourite dish in the assortment, served on a banana leaf during Onam, Raj had always enjoyed the feast during Onam, the traditional harvest festival of Kerala, celebrated with culinary cornucopia. Raj wanted this Onam to be special for special reasons and he had insisted that Riya dish out the entire spread on the traditional banana leaf. She had complained that she would be too tired to do the entire cooking after she returned from work and had suggested eating out. But Raj was adamant that the traditional festival be observed in the manner reminiscent of his childhood.
     “Why don’t you come and help me with the cooking. I have also been working during the day. And it is you who wanted to have this traditional Onam feast for dinner.” Riya yelled from the kitchen as Raj plopped himself in front of the TV.
     "Cooking is your job. Haven’t you seen the new Airtel Ad. The woman who is a boss in the office still comes home and cooks for her husband” Raj retorted.
     “Really”, Riya sounded incredulous, “You chauvinist men! That ad was supposed to show that women are now so successful, that they can be right at the top in their careers, and how you men have distorted it to suit yourselves”
     "Hah”, Raj scoffed, “Ok. Forget the ad. Lets talk real. Did you not read Indra Nooyi’s interview. How she was sent out by her own mother to buy milk when she returned home late at night the day she was declared the boss of PEPSI, because her husband was busy watching a game on TV. Did you know what her mother told her? You may be the boss at work dear, but at home, you must first carry out the duties of a wife”
     “I know”, Riya sounded angry, “and she has received much flak for what she said. That statement has done us more harm and undone all the inspiration that women imbued from her success. “But Raj”, crooned Riya, segueing deftly to the matter at hand, “Come, help me with this, if you want your dinner in time. At least grate the coconut, while I make the Erisseri. I need to cut the pumpkin and boil the red cow peas. I hope I remember the exact mix.”

     Raj grudgingly switched off the TV. Anyway the Englishmen were making a mockery of the match and didn’t make for great viewing. The regular trudge of the Indian batsmen back to the pavilion was exasperating.  At least he could grant Riya her wish. Everyone was entitled to a last wish. So, if her wish was for him to help her in the kitchen, so be it. Tomorrow he would be alone. And soon Shweta would join him. He loved her cooking, and she never called him to the kitchen. He could watch TV, and she would wait on him, and do his biding. Raj had met her at the gym where she had caught him stealing amorous looks at her well endowed figure. He had learnt that she was a recent divorcee and had just moved into the city. They had bonded well over work-out routines and coffee, and soon Raj was staying over at her place, convincing Riya of important client meetings out of town, which increased in frequency as the days passed. It was a symbiotic arrangement, till Shweta wanted Riya out the equation. It was either her or Riya. It was Shweta, who told him about the new chemical XDN which on entering the body initiates a massive heart attack after 12 hours, and does not leave a trace in the blood stream. He had planned to mix the potion in Riya’s food that night, as they feasted. It was a fool proof plan. He would spend the mandatory month in perceived mourning, after which Shweta would move in with him. Nobody would suspect anything, as the death would be due to natural causes, and he, being in his prime, would be encouraged to begin life anew by one and all.

     Raj looked at the assortment of vessels on the kitchen counter. Rice was cooked and was in a large aluminium container next to the stove. The Sambar, a mix of boiled lentils, potatoes, beans, drumsticks and carrots looked inviting in a large Salem steel vessel. The next one contained the Payasam, which was a thick mash of semolina floating on condensed milk. Pappad was fried and was dumped in the plastic bucket. A copper bottomed utensil was placed next to the stove to receive the Erisseri once it was cooked. The banana leaves that they had bought from the local market were washed and kept ready. The Aviyal was already done and was in a small Borosil  bowl, which he had gifted Riya for her last birthday. He had explained, that he thought, he should buy her something that she could use everyday, and which he hoped would make her remember him fondly whenever she used it in the kitchen. The look on her face, told him, that she did not believe what he said made sense even to him. But he had spent that evening at Shweta’s house and had only remembered her birthday, when she called him to say that she was waiting to have dinner with him. The only thing that he could find then was an unwrapped Borosil bowl in Shweta’s kitchen, a wedding spoil, which she had brought along with her. The Aviyal in that bowl brought a crooked smile on his lips as he recollected that night.

     Raj started grating the coconut. She needed the coconut to make Ishtoo, the potato stew. He always wondered why it was called Ishtoo, and not just stew.  It was the same thing except that this was made only with potatoes. Riya loved Ishtoo, but Raj stayed away from it because of all the carbs.  He had decided that this would be the ideal dish to add the XDN. Just five drops, Shwetha had warned. Anything more and the taste would be evident and anything less, would not have the desired effect.

     Raj helped lay out the banana leaves on the table. The first serving was always salt, which he placed on the left edge of the leaf.  Next came a few pieces of banana chips and after that the pappad. Riya brought the rice and served it on the leaves using a steel ladle. “Get the Sambar and sit down” I will serve the rest of the dishes”, she said. After they sat down, Riya picked up the borosil bowl and served him the Aviyal. “. I know how much you love it. So I made this one just for you. You know that I have never liked it”.
“Thank You Dear”, Raj smiled. “Here, let me serve you your favourite dish”, he said as he stirred the bowl of ishtoo once again and served it next to the rice on her leaf. He had been careful to add the drops while she was busy with arranging the dishes. And as he watched her relishing the dish on her leaf, he thought of the freedom that the next morning would usher in.

     As he lay on the bed waiting for Riya to join him after clearing the dishes, he felt the need to make love to her one last time. He looked at her as she came in wiping her hands with the pallu of her white set saree. She had always looked good in a saree and this one with the golden border, the traditional dress of kerala, made her very desirable, atleast for now. He grabbed her and as she squealed in mock horror, pinned her down with both his hands. She looked up at his face as he hovered over her, lust burning through his cold eyes. Desire filled her as she held him tight but the face that she saw was not Raj’s but that of Shiv, her colleague at work and recently her soul mate. He had been her only source of comfort ever since she discovered about Raj’s dalliance with Shweta. It also helped that he shared her cab and her shift at the call centre, because his strong presence was a pillar of strength during the initial tumult. He had even followed Raj one evening and discovered the house where he spent his nights with his paramour. Riya had all the evidence, but she refused to confront him and play the victim. She wanted to pay him back in his own coin. She welcomed Shiv ino her bed and her life and soon discovered, that he had all the qualities that she had imagined in a partner. Things had progressed to the extent that they could no longer bear to live without the other. It was Shiv who told her about XDN.  He had recently read about it on the net and knew someone who could supply it. Riya had not needed much prompting. She had been filled with revulsion when she opened her birthday gift in utter disappointment, and discovered the faded words ‘To Shweta” on a corner of the hardbound cover. She decided that she would serve him the deadly poison in that very bowl. She had watched, in grim satisfaction, as he savored his favourite dish for the very last time.

     And as they lay in bed thrusting at each other, their hate laced with lust, hoping to end the harvest festival with a fresh bounty, the taste of their favourite dishes of the Onam feast came regurgitating back into their mouths. And it tasted like death.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Patriot Games

     The recent elections brought out the patriotic fervour amongst the nation’s populace. They fought over the country, for the country and within the country! The social and other media threw up quite a few of the ardent patriots who were all extremely concerned about the future of the country.  A closer inspection of the various opinions expressed and their modus, by the patriots of this great nation, revealed quite a few categories into which these patriots can be classified according to their proclivities.

The Cubicle Patriot:  These are the IT wizards who can in a blink of an eye conjure up an app with a wave of their left hand and simultaneously code a few bugs with their right. They sit in their 2 x 2 cubicles in gargantuan, space age, glass façade buildings,  that shuts out the sun, but lets in the light. They set out to fight the disbelievers on facebook, chat rooms and similar battlefields in the virtual world,  using jingoistic aphorisms and extreme obscenities as their primary weapons. This patriot does not know fear. Age, race, size, and six pack abs of the opponent don’t scare them. Their obscurity is their shield.

The Cocktail Circuit Patriot:  These are the wine glass clinking, high heeled or leather soled (depending on the gender), elitist, party hopping patriots, who are hard pressed to serve the society by doing “social work” during their free time. They move about in the higher echelons of power, are often visible on visual and print media and their opinions are bandied about with absolute authority as the defining prognosis for the future.

The Activist Patriot: These are the foreign /corporate funded, cause-driven or deemed to be driven, activists whose views are accepted as unbiased, as long as the source of their funds are unknown. These activists would travel abroad to different countries and speak about the ills of particular parties/ individuals and their detrimental effects to world peace if not stopped in time. They would implore upon the world nations to help the country, scoff at any perceived slight to the national pride and consider themselves as citizens of the world than being restricted by boundaries.

The Google Patriot:  These are variants of the cubicle patriots, but harder working and better informed. They will google and research, facts and figures, and argue with gusto, about the merits and demerits of the case that they venture to espouse. Every argument would be well researched with the help of google and thus helps them to counter even the field specialist in a particular profession, who would hardly have the time to google past history in his professional pursuit. These patriots usually win their arguments without much competition unless faced with the Cubicle patriot who may, at the prospect of defeat, use his vilest weapon to counter google.

The Communist Patriot:  These are the surviving few of the erstwhile communist way of life, for whom China forms the shining example of progress and development and Mao the living God! (Err dead god….. no… non living god … …. whatever) They would find problems with the national policy of the government in case of any  issues with China and if questioned about their patriotism and loyalty, have the answer ready for any doubting johnnies, “We don’t have to prove our patriotism to you !”

The Intellectual Patriot:  These are the deemed “intellectuals” of the country. They could be sleazy film directors who engage in social service by launching porn stars into mainstream cinema, former bureaucrats currently engaged in full time sycophancy, litterateurs, theatre artists, song writers, kitsch novelists, environmentalists, or in some cases even film stars. They are considered intellectual enough to speak on any subject varying from foreign policy to internal security and from poverty alleviation to minority affairs.  They express their pain at the marginalized sections of the society, speak about freedom of expression and art, and even deride promises of development lest it affects the sentiments of a particular community.

 The Fauji Patriot: These are the dumb patriots. They have strong opinions on the condition of the country but since as they are governed by an Act which forbids them to discuss politics they go and drink rum with soda and under conditions of extreme disapproval at the sorry state of affairs, they drink it neat.  Then they go about their duty, wondering what the other patriots have in store for them, keep vigil at the border, get shot, some coming back in body bags and are immediately replaced by the next lot, who would have, by then, downed their couple on the rocks, wondering when sense would prevail on the rest.

The Idiot Box Patriot:  They form the majority of the population and may also be termed as the saas-bahu patriots. They are the ubiquitous middle class, mango men, who work hard for a better life for themselves and their children. They are not aware of divisions based on caste, religion or communities and often wonder what the hullabaloo is all about. Their life after work revolves around the idiot box, their opinions swaying with the intensity of the high pitched anchor on prime time. They go about choosing their party with absolute innocence, maintaining eternal hope as the only factor that decides their future.
The Political Patriot :  These are the public warriors of the country, generally found wearing white and a collapsible cap on their head, that enables them to  wear different hats for different situations. They carry their patriotism on their sleeve. For them the country is their ‘MAA”. So they profess undying love for their “MAA”,  professing their salutations, “ Maa, Tujhe Salaam” and then when elected to power, don’t mind pocketing a few crores belong to ‘Maa”. After all which mother would deny her child some pocket money from her purse.
 “ Tujhe sab hai pata……meri Maa”!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Dream Merchants

     The library door opened. Diya and Jyothi were walking towards me. I quickly rearranged the sheets,  and pretended to make notes from the voluminous encyclopedia of Science, afraid to meet their gaze. I never wanted to write that letter to Diya. It was my best friend Suraj, who seeing my forlorn days back at the hostel, goaded me to write the letter and convey my feelings to her. Diya was like the quintessential dream girl... the one whom every boy covets secretly but would not dare risk the ridicule of approach. My courage must perhaps have been influenced by the quarter bottle that Suraj had smuggled in after dinner and prodded my senses to take his advice. He said ‘Don’t write to her telling that you love her. It will sound so commonplace and clichéd. She must be getting such letters dime a dozen everyday. Women like honesty in men. So tell her, that you lust for her. That, she comes to you in your dreams everynight and you make passionate love. Your letter must catch her attention, dude. Only then will she look at you”. Suraj sounded like an evangelist with a halo after I had downed a peg or two, and seeking his blessings,  I had endeavoured to write a passionate letter dwelling on the intricacies of the manifestations of my love for her.

     So now, as they walked towards me, my heart was in my mouth and the sound seemed to reverberate in the empty library. I could sense that one of them had stopped midway, possible to keep a watch while the other beats the shit out of me.  Her perfume sent my head into a tizzy before I lifted it and looked at her. Her eyes penetrated deep stripping me of my layers of clothing before she even uttered a word. She leaned forward, and brought her lips close to my ears and whispered. “I liked what you wrote. I think you know exactly what a woman wants. I am not a prude as you guys think. Let us see now what you can do for me”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I looked around to see if anybody was present. I saw Jyothi standing by the door, keeping watch as she motioned us to go ahead. For a moment, I wondered if she would join us. But then considering the restricted space and the possible contortions, I decided to keep her away at that juncture. I could always write another letter.

     I stood up and extended my arms inviting Diya to step into paradise. I saw the shyness in her eyes disappear,  as she decided to take a step back and inspect the package. I pulled in my stomach, stuck out my chest and flexed my biceps and prepared myself for her scrutiny. I had read somewhere, that visual stimulation is a prerequisite for a woman, and so i decided to give her all the stimulation that i could. And so, as I stood there in my body builders pose, I saw her eyes gazing into my eyes, and then travel downward,  slowly, taking in my robust physique in the loose pyjama.

       “Pyjama”!!!!—Why was I dressed in a pyjama?   Sure, I did not expect her to consider my proposition with the speed of a hungry hyena, but at least I could have dressed better! Maybe a cargo half pant would have been decent enough, when you expect your inner feelings to be subjected to close inspection for its genuineness. The built up bravado seemed to seep away through the flimsy strings that held the lower pants together. It was then that I realized, that I had to let go of my feelings. My bladder had swelled with the tension, that I could no longer hold it under control. My head cleared with a jerk that sent the pretty damsels scurrying through the door. The library and the books evaporated into thin air, knocking me on to the ground. I was lying flat on my back. When I opened my eyes, all I could see were the white ornamental blades of my Usha fan, moving at the third degree of speed control, fanning my sweating body. The floor suddenly felt like my own bed, and as I firmly planted by feet on the floor and padded on to the bathroom to clear my bladder, my mind was still clawing at the fading images, pleading with them to return after the recess. What if I was in my pyjama? It is the inner feeling that mattered as far was Diya was concerned. But by then,  I had realized the enormous power vested in the fluid filled sacs of the male body. They were like the government…Dreams can wait, get our clearances first!!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Monsters and Dragons

The following story has been written for the World Story Telling Day which is on the 20th of March. The International theme for 2014, is Dragon Tales and Monster Stories.

The monster lurked in the shadows waiting for its prey. It had prowled the streets for some time now, hoping to dig into an unsuspecting victim.  The eyes were glazed with the heady concoction of daze and need. The teeth in putrid decay, emanated a stench that drove away the flies that buzzed around, hoping to sit on rot and feast for the day. The hair, matted with grime, fell upon the face in strands like snakes swaying to the motion of music. The thick skin fell in folds, forming cylindrical belts around the grotesque body. The monster waited for the beautiful dragon to walk into its trap.

The dragon walked with a grace that exuded poetry in its motion.  The soft and smooth body in flaming red, carried with it a fragrance of roses, which sent the bees in confused disarray from their charted path in search of flowery nectar. The eyes shone with a brightness that lent the moonlit sky, an extravagant glitter. The golden mane on the head was silken, bouncing in gay abandon at every trot. The multi coloured wings were a picture in seduction, like a printed sequin draped on a beautiful bride.  The toes were painted in various hues and shades, and the dragon sauntered along, creating in its gait, a canvas of a spectacular parade.

The monster did not consider the dragon a match to its raw power.  The dragons had for long, cowered under the brute force of the monsters, and had seemed to lack the will to put up any kind of resistance to the sustained assault on its clan. They had forgotten that once upon a time, they had ruled the world and scripted the tenets of existence, before the monsters with their scheming ways and cunning means had subdued the gentle dragons, reducing them to mere objects of beauty. They now failed to invoke the fire in their belly, and breathe it out, striking terror in those who dared to doubt their strength. They now seemed wary of the prowling monsters and this wariness had emboldened the brutes with a false sense of superiority.

The monster pounced suddenly in front of the dragon, baring its teeth, eyes lustful and the claws extended.  It appeared to the monster that the dragon had painted its wings only to lure it in wanton invitation. The monster grabbed the golden mane of the dragon as it turned its head away in disgust at the nauseating sight of the ugly predator. The painful yelp of the dragon, at the sudden tug, sent a shiver of passionate power in the monster, and reaffirmed its belief in its own invincibility. It wanted to grab the wings and mount the dragon, subdue it, possess and own it against its will.

For a moment, the dragon was stunned at the ferocity and the speed of the attack. But this time, there would be retribution.  The dragon had for long seen the plight of victims of such monstrous attacks and vowed that such brazen attacks would be repulsed with equal force. It twisted itself with a speed that took the monster by surprise, and pushed it down with a strength that was until then reserved, to suffer in silence, the atrocities of the monsters.  The brightly colored toes of the dragon, now dug into the neck of the monster like sharp knives of steel. The monster, unable to move under the choking grip of the dragon, lay immobile looking with terrified eyes at this unexpected sight.

The dragon stood up tall towering over the shocked monster.  The gentle eyes now glowered with a rage, which made them look like hot charcoals from the bottom of the mines. The colourful wings spread out like a shield of armour, ready to come down heavily on the enemy, incapacitating it.  The fire rose from the belly like the molten lava from a long dormant volcano.  The dragon opened its mouth and roared, breathing out the fire in a hot stream, enveloping the monster, as it fell down in a heap, hollering in pain.

The time had come for the monsters to be put in their place. The oppression could not be allowed to continue. This was the right time for the dragons, to turn the tables and reclaim the respect and their rightful place in the order of the world. They had to prove that they were not just brightly painted objects of beauty and desire, but had the ability to transform themselves to the feared fire breathing dragon when the situation demanded.  The fire in the belly had started to burn again, ready to set fire and burn, all those who had oppressed it in the past. The wings had ceased to merely be a vestigial ornament and had started their mighty flutter powering their being to greater heights. The fight back had begun. They had a name for the fight. They called it the power of 49.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Love Letter

     Ram opened the letter and held it tenderly, peering at it, almost willing it to reply. He wanted to write her the perfect love letter - a letter, which will reveal his true feelings of love to her. He didn’t want his letter to get lost in the bin, where he was sure the scores of letters that she received, finally found its solace.  She was the prettiest girl in the college, and he knew that if he had to catch her attention, his letter should be better than the rest of the suitors.  She never looked at the boys anyway, and he was not sure, if she even knew he existed. The silver lining was that she was his classmate, and the odds were much narrow, or so he thought.

     He asked Sita to read the letter aloud once more.  He was grateful to her for helping him write the letter. She was a kind lady, and seemed to understand him perfectly.  He could never remember her name, but she didn’t seem to mind and would remind him gently. She always found the right words when he fumbled with framing his feelings and had an amazing knack of reading his mind.  He told her all about his pretty classmate, describing in fond recollection the picture perfect smile, the million curls on her head bunched together in floral pattern and the oval vermillion over the black bindi on her forehead. He also told her about the time, when he literally froze as she walked past almost grazing him in the corridor, giving him his first sense of an invisible touch, while he breathed in her perfume and took until eternity to breathe it out.  He then told her about his helplessness, his disinterest in the activities of his friends, his sleepless nights, as she hung on to every word with rapt attention. He could see her eyes glaze over as she transposed herself to the world that he had created.
     He was nervous and wanted to know from Sita,  whether she would think he was the common place flirt, if he walked up to her in the canteen and started a conversation.  After all, she had all the boys vying for her attention. Will she slap him when he gave her the letter or tear it up in front of her friends?  What if she already has a handsome boy friend?  Will he not look like a fool to write her a love letter now? She may show it to her boyfriend and both may have a hearty laugh at his misplaced ambition. Her boyfriend may fail to see the funny side and accost him with his bike buddies, when he is walking back alone to his hostel room. He knew he was no match for them.  But Sita calmly assuaged all his fears and assured him, that when she received his letter, she will realize that there was nobody else in this world, who could love her more than him. So he had to find the right words. There will never be a second chance.

     Sita found Leela standing by the door as she walked out. Leela was wiping a tear from her eye. She hugged Sita and asked, ‘Mom, How can you? You are helping Dad write a love letter to another woman.” Don’t you feel angry, hurt, that he is expressing so much love to another woman in your presence, which he had never expressed to you in your fifty years of marriage?”
     Sita led Leela to a chair, and sat down beside her. Her face was devoid of pain or hurt. It was in fact glowing and the eyes sparkled with a long lost dazzle that had finally found its way back to where it belonged.  She smiled at Leela and said “I am the one in love”. 
     Leela looked at her dumbfounded, “But Mom, he is writing that letter to his college sweetheart, not to you. You can’t pretend to be her”.
     Sita smiled. She said, “Leela, you don’t understand, do you? It is true that we spent fifty years together without ever being in love. To your father, it was his responsibilities that ruled his life. He married a woman, whom his parents chose for him. He was a good son, a good husband, and a great father. He never let any of us feel neglected or ever shirked his duties. To him, my every wish was a command that had to be fulfilled. I never could find a fault in his behaviour towards me. But it is true that I also could never feel the love in any of his actions. They were always kind, affectionate, caring and passionate, but I always got the feeling that it was borne out of a sense of duty than anything else. The magic of selfless love which I yearned for then, and experiencing now, was missing.”
     “Mom”, Leela sobbed “Dad is suffering from Alzheimer’s, He does not recognize you. You and I, no longer exist in his world. How can you feel happy and loved when he is not even thinking of you?”
   “It doesn’t matter”, said Sita calmly patting her hand, “Today your father does not recognize responsibilities, or remember relations. Even if I track down and bring that woman here, your father will not recognize her. So the feelings that he is expressing today is just a state of mind, a kind of pure love which is emanating from his self, and I feel myself enveloped in a surreal bliss.  I no longer care who his love was. There is no person here, in this house, in his room, in his mind. It is just a heady lightness of the being, floating in a space, uncluttered by memories, unrestrained by relations and unconcerned about consequences.  When I sit with him and listen to his love, I can feel the fragrance in the air, hear the patter of  rain drops outside the window in this sweltering heat, feel myself swaying to the lilting tune of the invisible flute and the world around, amazingly cease to exist. It is this feeling that I had imagined and associated with love when I was a teenager, but had over time, pawned my imagination to the realities of the world. I am happy that I am able to finally share this feeling of love, with a man before i die. I have lived my life the way this society demanded, fulfilling my duties to one and all, but now, I want to spend the little time that is left,  experiencing this wonderful feeling of Love. I pray to God today, to forgive me, for being thankful to this dreadful ailment that has afflicted your dad. It has freed him from bondage, filled the vacuum of thoughts with feelings of love and made him smile in innocent carelessness.” She added “These are the last vestiges connecting him to the world and it is a miracle that it happens to be the strings woven with love.  When this dreaded disease finally wipes his mind clean, I want Love to be the last word that gets erased.”

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Best Friend's Wedding

     I was happy for Sam.  He was my best friend after all, in fact, my only friend in this whole world.  He was getting married and seemed all nervous and excited. I looked at him lovingly, as he fumbled with his tie in child like awkwardness. He considered himself the luckiest person alive to have found such a beautiful woman as Riya, to be his bride.  I thought otherwise.  She should consider herself lucky to have found a man with a heart cast in gold.  Well on second thoughts, she should be credited for her intelligence to have identified the goodness in him, when most of her ilk would have chased looks and money, neither of which was generous with Sam.  So when she finally agreed to marry him, he may have been justified to treat her as Gods gift.

     I had known Sam for a year now.  We had met when I was going through a difficult time and was desperately looking for a place to stay. Sam was kind enough to welcome me to his home and never let me feel even for a moment that I was an intrusion to his privacy in his one room apartment, or a burden on his meager resources that he shared with me.  In fact, I was overwhelmed when he invited me to share the only bed in the flat. I would have been more than content and happy to sleep on the floor, but Sam would have nothing of it, and had insisted that I sleep in his bed.

     When Sam first met Riya at his friends' party, I was the first one with whom he shared his feelings for her. He had been smitten at first sight, following her the whole evening with his eyes, without mustering the courage to walk up to her.  He had made eye contact once, which resulted in him spilling his drink on his pants.  That evening I had to sit through his emotional ranting and his fears of how moronic he must have appeared to her.  But the very next day, he came back home and gave me a big hug, which almost choked me.  He had been introduced to Riya by his friend who had invited him for the party. I had a strong feeling that the introduction may have been orchestrated by Riya, who may have noticed him during the party, which was confirmed weeks later, when she dropped in at our place.  Sam introduced me to her and as I shook her hand, I saw in her eyes the same tenderness that was in Sam’s, and immediately knew that Sam’s love will never go unrequited.

     The evenings that followed for a year thereafter, were melodramatic, to say the least.  The fights would bring in a bottle of Old Monk Rum from the corner store, and a day in her arms, would bring back to life the legendary Mohammad Rafi on the Sony CD player late into the night.  I was amused by these swings, but kept him company, sitting next to him as he put his arm around me, lending a patient ear to his litany of woes and woos.  I had to agree to her absolute lack of understanding of his deep feelings, bear witness to his professing undying love over many births, nod in agreement at her grave misunderstanding of his innocent acts, hang my head in shame at his unintentional indiscretions and yet keep a straight face. So when Sam set up out to propose to her, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and was not able to eat a morsel, untill he came back leaping and dancing, announcing her acceptance.

     “Hey Pat, How do I Look?” I was woken up from my reverie by Sam, who I admit was looking absolutely dashing in his new white tuxedo. We were running late and had to reach the auditorium, which was booked for the wedding, before the bride arrived. Riya had wanted a church wedding, but when the priest told Sam that he will not allow me in the church, she didn’t flinch for a second in shifting the venue to the auditorium near her house. When Sam told me this, I was choked with emotion. I saw her enter through the door with her bridesmaids, stunningly beautiful, dazzling in white, her pearly smile at her dashing beau matching her spotless dress.  I stepped back and waited for the ceremonies to begin.

     When finally the priest asked Sam to kiss the bride, I could not stop myself. I bounded up the steps of the stage and jumped in their midst. Sam and Riya, broke away laughing. I wanted to hug them both. My paws left their pug marks on their white dresses, but I was sure they didn’t mind.  I stood on my hind legs and grabbed Sam by his shoulders and gave him a long wet lick on his face. I looked at Riya. She was laughing and blew me a kiss. ‘Woof”,  I returned her flying kiss. I was very happy. I just couldn’t stop wagging my tail.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

My Day of Reckoning!

     He appeared nonchalant. I felt the anger rising from the pit of my stomach, cruising at mach speed through the upper part of  my torso and settling in my eyes leaving them blood red in the wake of the fumes.
He looked harmless and weak though, but the very act of deftly sliding into the wide parking bay outside the Sheraton, while i was pondering the factor of error in my calculations of the visible clearances, seemed to question and even mock my meticulous regimen and penchant for accuracy. The skills i had honed over the years, often driving others crazy while deriving immense satisfaction of self, seemed to be derided by this insouciant old man.  The tortoise pen stand, which cradle my multicolored collections, leave no doubt of the virtues i practice, to anyone who cared or dared to see how i lived. I had heard hippies croon 'Money cant buy me love', but I sure believed respect was always available at a premium.  The green bucks came in fast and furious, when the bulls and bears charged at regular intervals, and this relentless pursuit had paved the way for the jaguar riding smartly on the bonnet of my car today.
     This old man, in a white dhoti and dark glasses, seemed to have a complete lack of trepidation at this visual impact of the beast on the bonnet and the mad as a beast opponent glowering at him, as he approached. I stopped him in his tracks as he sauntered towards the entrance of the hotel.  My lips were trembling with rage and the abuses i hurled at him refused to emerge, being violently pushed back by the rapid ingress of air filling my lungs.  My hands gesticulated, drawing surreal pictogram's in the air, questioning the audacity of the transgression. He looked at me questioningly as my hands flitted between the car and the recently occupied slot.  Understanding seemed to dawn on him as he said "But, I thought that you were waiting by the side, as there was no movement". He smiled as he spoke, confirming my worst fears that he shared the view of my 1000  facebook friends, who never ever "like" a single post of my pet lizards, and thought i was a nerd.  
      I wanted to prove him otherwise.  I had to show him the quintessential act of smartness, the act that separated the nerds from the hunks. I slowly took out the cigarette pack from my pocket, tapped the base against my heaving chest. As one cigarette popped out, I tilted my head back at an obtuse angle,as you would do on New Years Eve, to down your first tequila shot.  Then in a fluid motion, I dunked the whole pack into my mouth and retrieved it, leaving the cigarette firmly lodged in my mouth. The old man watched in amusement, as I took out my match and lit the cigarette, the glowing end matching the hue of my eye at that instant.  He reached out and effortlessly relieved me of the pack and match, as i glared in disbelief.  The next couple of seconds were a magical blur. He threw the pack behind his head, keeping his eyes focused on me, and with a swift motion of his left leg, tossed up his white dhoti and kicked the pack high into the air. With his right hand he threw up the match box leaving a burning matchstick in his hand. I followed his glance, as he looked up and the next thing i see was the lit cigarette firmly ensconced between his lips and the pack and match back in my hands.
     My blood red eyes turned ghostly white.  The heart started pummeling my chest in a desperate bid to escape the being of shame.  Sweat dribbled freely by the ear side and my legs turned to stone as the enlightenment sunk in. I resorted to the only movement that i was capable of at that moment.   I fell flat on my face, prostrate, my arms extended in reverence and submission at the miracle that i had witnessed. The words that had failed me all this while, finally managed to find their way out, as i intoned "Thalaivaaaaaaaaa......."

Statutory Warning: Cigarette Smoking is injurious to Health