Archive for July, 2010

A memorable journey

“I Love my India… I love my India”, transcending the borders, the different cultures and languages, the good old song brought me back to the enchanting surroundings. Till then, my mind was preoccupied with mundane matters which prompted me to look at the mile stones and name boards attached to wayside shops and restaurants. “We are yet to cross the Karnataka border… Here and there they have huge buildings but agricultural lands have been left alone… Wow, they have acres of such lands on either side of the road leading to the hills… I love my India!” My mind was relieved from mundane thoughts. Paddy fields gave way to trees, bushes and vast stretches of meadows where cows were grazing. One of them yawned and made a sound which was almost like “WELCOME”. Time was ticking away and even as I was immersed in the naked beauty of the nature, the driver of the taxicab shouted, “There he is! All alone…” Yes, there he was! The elephant was slowly crossing the road, just meters ahead of us! Then, there were monkeys, deers, a couple of majestic peacocks and umpteen birds freely roaming and flying in that forest. Every minute seemed to be valuable, for the car in which we were traveling would soon cross over to the human ‘habitats’. Yes, we had crossed the forest area and there were human beings, shops and buildings all over but the forest loomed large in my mind. It was a long journey but the comparatively short distance through the forest area was mesmerizing.

A hidden agenda?

TV Serials have become very popular in India, though they are, invariably, the same stories repeated or rather old wine in new bottles. The whole drama happens between two diametrically opposite personalities. At the one end, you have an extremely cultured broad-minded person (mostly a woman) who is as embodiment of sacrifices but very talented too. The viewers hold their breath when the hero overcomes one obstacle after the other. At the other end, of course, there is a villain or a vamp who would not let the hero live peacefully. These villains have their henchmen who would carry out any orders from their ‘masters’ to frustrate the good-hearted heroine/hero. I too may be repeating these well-known facts, but that is not the point. It seems some directors or playwrights have a hidden agenda. Most of the villains bear the names of god’s worshipped in India. So are the names of their houses too. What is their motive? Some humour at the expense of a religion?… or a mild insult?… I leave it you.

Bandh: Is it for the people or…?

Call it Bandh, Hartal or Strike, the net result is the same. No one would work. Shops and restaurants will be kept closed for the day. Employees are happy, buses wont ply; Taxis would be off the road. The Students could watch Cricket or Football matches. But travelers would be held up. Those who did not take the Bandh-call Seriously would have to regret their indifference. For they would not have purchased certain essential items required for the next day (shall we call in the Bandh day?). On the 5th of this month it was Bharath Bandh sponsored by main opposition parties against price hike of petrol and diesel. I detached myself from the opposition and the ruling parties, though I would be happy if the Bandh call was a flop. Come what may, all that I was eager to know was whether it will be a success in our town. I took it for granted, and as usual, I went to the town. Most of the shops and restaurants were found to be closed; there was less traffic. I could see the gloomy faces of few people who had come out to the town as usual. Fortunately, Post offices and browsing centres were open. After finishing my job, I went out, wondering whether I would be able to have a cup of tea, as usual. To my surprise, almost all the shops and restaurants were active. The streets were crowded as usual and above all, the people as a whole were more than happy. I could hear one of them shouting “Thank god, it is a failure!” From the attitude of the people, one thing was clear. When there is a bandh, politicians alone are happy but the people, by and large, are never in favour of strikes which rob them of an active life.

The rest of the story

“It is a wonderful poem, no doubt. The description of the hills and valleys and the green-clad slope where they used to sit and chat for hours. The sunset and evening sky, though beautiful, they see it as parting time… Only when the poet glorifies a childish love affair…”

Mrs. Shantha Nair, the English teacher, was waxing eloquent but the very same teacher was struggling for words when the poet has to say a few words about a love affair. Be it a short story, or a novel, or a poem, her mood changes, if it has something to say about romance. She would lose her temper and accuse the author of being childish. “What is so wonderful about this? just an animal instinct in a sophisticated way… These are my personal views…” Though none of the students dared to differ from her views, they set afloat certain rumors about her son, a college student who was religious but a bit romantic too. He was very often found with an average-looking girl, mainly in the temple compound that was close to his house. This love affair would not have become a main topic if the young man was not the son of Mrs.Shantha Nair who was reluctant to talk about the subject in her classes.

The other day, while I was going through my old diaries, I came across this story, written by me, nearly three decades ago. It looked like an incomplete story. Was it based on recollections of my school days? I racked my brain. Anyway, after a couple of sleepless nights, I got the answer to my own queries.

Yeah, the story was incomplete. It was a combination of facts and fictions. If you are eager to know rest of the story, here it is!

Shanta Nair was not a bit upset when one of her colleagues brought to her notice her son’s affair with that girl. In fact, she felt happy about this affair. More so, because it was spreading thick and fast! She took her colleague to her cabin and told her, “That girl is Kesavan Nair’s only daughter.”

“Of Gowri puram?”, the colleague asked “Yes. The very same rogue who let me down. I was madly in love with him but… You know that?”

“Yes, Yes… then why on earth are you happy about your son’s affair with his daughter?”

“My son was reluctant to fall in love with that girl but I almost compelled him to trap her! The other day, Kesavan Nair came to my house to talk about the marriage. When he began to broach the subject in a very humble way, I simply said ‘no problem. But on one condition… I wont accept any dowry’ and he nodded his head. I thought of saying that I was not greedy like him but the expression in his face was pathetic and that was more than enough for me!”