Saturday, April 10, 2010
Mr. R looks confused and squints into the darkness. There’s light afar, right at the end of the road, where it merges into another famous roundabout of the Capital. All roads look similar here. Dark parallel stretches of tree-lined avenues merging into these merry-go-rounds – the circular green oases heavily dotting the cityscape at regular intervals.
The high beams from the vehicles speeding past intervenes with the darkness. But these are sporadic, shifting patches of light desperately trying to fight with but in the long run getting sucked into the all engulfing black cesspool of the moonless night. The road is wide flanked by open land, green in daylight, now merely dark silhouettes looming large against the night sky.
Its mid December. Bitterly cold. Sitting late in the office is not my choice-work-culture but Mr. R, in whose car we all pool in, leaves us with no other choice as he loves to pretend hard work after office hours. Alternate transport is next to nil. Result - stuck up at Baarah Murthy, hungry, angry and late.
K sleeps peacefully. It’s cozy inside the car. The windows are pulled up. We are five of us in a Maruti 800 including Mr. R who myopically scans the desolate landscape and suddenly asks “Isko Baarah Murthy kyon kahate hain?”
What difference does it make Mr. R whether it is Baarah Murthy or Teen Murthy once you have lost your way!!! I curse the Government silently and its decision to decentralize the commercial and office areas of the city without sufficient transport network connecting to the residential suburbs.
Mr. R rotates the steering wheel indecisively. A, his secretary, tries to guide him to the right direction. A futile exercise as he is as knowledgeable as our driver is. I, who is famous for loosing my way home, do not want to enlighten Mr. R with my superior road sense.
A few more minutes pass by in indecision. Mr. R takes a turn. We move on in the darkness knowing not whether it is the right way. I try to lighten the atmosphere with an “amusing anecdote”.
Another desolate, winter night. A long, winding stretch of dark road. An autowallah is returning home when he is stopped by a beautiful girl dressed in bridal attire. She flaunts a cascade of long mane rippling down to her waist and a beatific smile to compliment her breath taking looks. She requests the auto driver to drop her home a short distance away as her car has suddenly broken down and the thoughtful driver has toed the vehicle away to the Workshop leaving her waiting in the darkness. She is scared and pleads help. The driver takes pity and agrees to drop her.
Although it’s a short run, the journey seems interminably long and the end of the road progressively distant. It is odd the way the young girl is left alone on the dark, discarded road and the driver disappearing with the car before finding her a suitable transport. The drivers, nowadays, are irresponsible and do not have any sense of propriety, muses the auto wallah.
It is also surprising the way the girl is dressed. Her adornments twinkle in the dark interiors of the auto. Is she running away from her home? Or planning to elope with somebody who has failed to turn up at the last moment? Disheartened the girl has decided to return home to her parents….or perhaps……something else…..something more ordinary, mundane, least exciting. The autowallah races on as does his mind. Whatever the reasons may be he feels sorry for her. He has a daughter too. A young girl of her age. The girl seems upset and perhaps uneasy too. There is a kind of restrained remorse about her. As though she is in mourning.
The auto-driver tries to pick up a conversation with her to alleviate her uneasiness. But the girl seems reluctant to talk and replies only in monosyllables. The driver still carries on. A kind of soliloquy. At least the journey will come to an end faster if a dialogue, nay a monologue, is struck, so thinks the autowallah.
He talks of the latest price hike…. the rising price of vegetables…. the survival of the poor is at stake…. the Government is doing nothing……the politicians are just making money and filling up their pockets…..and then the disparities……look at the way people squander money!!!!!!!!!…….the film stars, the politicians……the rich and the famous…………and of course these serials………….spoiling the children……he has bought a new TV on installments……but now he feels it’s a mistake……the children only want to watch serials and refuse to study…..and what serials, mem’saab…..the other night they show a girl stopping a car in the dead of the night…she beguiles the driver to give her a lift…………..and takes him away to a jungle and suddenly vanishes into thin air………….but before the disappearing act as she picks up her long dress to disembark from the vehicle her feet are visible ………………”woh chudail this uske paaon ulte the!………(she was a witch with upturned feet!)”
At this juncture of this one-sided conversation, the young girl suddenly puts forward her feet. and asks “jaise mere hain?(like mine?”………………………The auto takes a sudden wild turn, lurches forward and almost does a vault on its rear wheels and then blank…..nothingness……… Regaining consciousness the driver finds himself at the ridge in the other end of the city, lying spread eagled on the rugged terrain hidden by a cluster of thorny bush, his uniform torn and his wallet gone; his auto lies at a distance upturned, the front wheel of the three wheeler almost stuck into a scraggy tree.
Mr. R, who has been listening to the story intently, is unusually quiet. He turns a bend and almost rams into a lone figure standing in the middle of the road. He jams on the brakes. A girl frantically gesturing for a lift. Her long hair sways in serpentine coils against the backdrop of the night sky inadequately lit by the distant stars. Her face is almost invisible in the half light. Mr. R swears under his breath and swerves the car to the left with a jerk. A fraction of a second. The girl is missed by an inch of a space. Narrow escape!! K jolts up with a start and asks where we are. We fill her in. She responds quickly and points the right direction. Mr. R takes a screeching U turn and accelerates. We speed up at last homeward.
Post Script: Mr. R. is avoiding Baraah Murthy since then and we are leaving office an hour early now.
Friday, April 09, 2010
The old man leans heavily on the rickety stick and limps his way to the park in the early morning hours. He staggers on his arthritic legs and balances his scrawny body with measured care so that the small packet which he carries in hand does not spill over on the road. Once he reaches the park, he stoops down painfully in one corner over a bald patch of land which has been deliberately kept like that by the meticulous gardener. He puckers his lips and makes beckoning sounds and sometimes he whistles softly. At the same time he slips his hand inside the packet and brings out a handful of green and golden beads of grain letting them trickle through his gnarled fingers slowly and spread over the patch in an elliptical pattern. This goes on for sometime till the cluster of birds hovering up, but close to the ground, finally decide to swoop down flapping their wings and settle quietly on the green-golden mound; one or two perch on the old man’s shoulders; at last they begin pecking the grains slowly, steadily, unperturbed and unafraid.
The half blind gardener with an injured leg, who has a make-shift hut in the corner of the park, is often seen chasing the wicked gang of mischief mongers. The rogues pluck the flowers off the trees, plunder the flowerbeds, catch the butterflies and squeeze them between their thumbs and forefingers whooping with wreckless joy. He roars and runs after them brandishing a rugged log pulling his fractured leg along (which I’m afraid may never ever heal completely again) as fast as he can. The onlookers have a good laugh at the oft-repeated enactment. Some come forward with a word of advice or two when they see him doubled up under a tree gasping for breath after a futile chase. But the gardener says he can hear the plaintive cry of the flowers when they are torn off the branch or trampled under careless feet. He says he has heard the butterflies screaming in pain when they are squashed between ruthless fingers and the trees stifling a sob when the sharp silver edge of the axe strikes a blow. Neighbours think he is off his head. But I know he speaks the truth.
My aunt Philomena! She picks up the bundles of dirty, oozy fur-balls and brings them home. She tells them stories and sometimes croons softly while applying those red, yellow, dark brown liquids and pastes on their wounds. When they slip out of her clutch she runs after them with the spray can in hand. Interminable arguments on hygiene and sanitation and the neighbours have given up. But not my aunt Philomena!
The boy lives down the lane. The boy with the dreamy eyes loiters aimlessly in the sun. I have seen him playing hide and seek with the jumpy squirrels. He picks up the tadpoles from the puddle caressing them with delicate warmth. In the blazing afternoons, he bathes the skulking mongrels in the alley with a gushing hose pipe. They sprint away and he after them flooding the streets and the pavements. Sometimes he squats on the mound of dried leaves and looks on with vacant eyes. At other times, he rummages the garbage looking for the truant kitten that has missed her daily grub of milk and bread. His mother pulls him by the ears and drags him home. The next day he is back again amidst his vagabond friends.
The scatter-brained professor stares absently at the ripples laced heavily with foam. An obnoxious odour rises from the waterbed and fills the air. After a while it is suffocating. The scorching sun turns a blinding ball of gold and the stink spreads like an incurable disease. The foams coagulate into a kind of floating islands of waste and stench. At this bend, the river has a hesitant, almost halting gait, as though exhausted by its course of journey. Passers by sometimes stop short and look at the still figure curiously. A few pat him on the back and ask what it is that troubles him. The man’s face contorts in pain as he whispers pointing a finger at the tired flow “Can’t you see? Why don’t you let her off the burden?”
They are sneered, jeered snorted at and sometimes feared. The old, bent man in the park is often told not to venture out alone. He may slip and fall. The gardener has almost been written off by the residents. My aunt Philomena is a constant threat to her sterile neighbourhood. The boy gives sleepless nights to his parents. The mad professor has more than once been caught accosting the factory owners, shouting wildly “Let her off the burden! Let her off the burden!”
The misunderstood lot!
Those who tiptoe on the grass with careworn steps lest they trip on a dozing ant. Those who place their ears against the breeze and listen to the murmurs of the surround. Those who look at the sky and touch the clouds, smile with the moon and sing with the stars. Those who pick up the dew drops in their palms so that they don’t fall on the dusty ground. Those who speak to the bees and caress the trees and place their cheeks on the leaves and tickle the river with tingling tips and sing a lullaby to the snoozing beasts. Those who have not waged wars, pillaged lives, marauded lands and squandered wealth.
Those obscure, unknown, unrewarded souls who have suffered ironies of fate in their own obedient ways. Those who have never stamped a foot on the ground they tread on and bellowed “Its mine” and left the rest behind in a whirling rage. Those who have relented to human arrogance without a protest and never complained or shown regrets. Those who have never lamented of unrequited love or the rest of the sorrows that have come their way. Those who have found solace in kind words, a petal hug or in the whimpering dog. Those who have slogged, soiled and toiled hard and wept with joy when the rains lash after a scalding summer’s day. Those who by their little deeds have sustained what little is left and rare. Those who have bestowed a new dimension to nurture and care. Those who are the healing hands of God the silent crusader of compassion and sublime love.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Then I had a brainwave and one foced daub of Neosporin the redness mellowed to a husky pink like a wisp of memory left behind by the melting evening sun. Applied two-three days more, the discharge stopped.
So dog lovers and pet owners of the world unite and unitedly use Neosporin E.O you have nothing to loose but the soreness of your adorable pets' eyes but of course under advice of the Vet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!