Saturday, May 23, 2015

The accident

The mornings to the office are always conjusted. People have no time, be it on the car, motor bike, public transport or on foot, the mode of transport is immaterial. The suited guy uneasily trying to maneuver his BMW or the impatient school kid who does believe that his cycle has an infinite power to evade traffic; these scenes are trivial to a seasoned traveler like Ramesh, who resonates the very pulse this everyday traffic. What frustrated him to the core at the beginning, became a part of his morning routine. Ever since he bought his Skoda Rapid, he had shut himself from the outside world, enjoying the solitude of the music on his way to work. The construction for the metros, the pavement encroachments, the ad banners that supplement the shades and coolers, the non existent traffic symbols, the road dividers that are as big as the road itself, all add to the canopy of the morning traffic.

Few minutes into his journey, that started like any other day, Ramesh saw a small agitated group at a cornor that was unusual for the location. Curiosity got the better of him. He slowed his vehicle, parking it along the road and got out to find out the reason behind this untimely commotion. As he got out there was a person shouting, “Just called the ambulance, they should be here within 15 minutes”. There was another calling, “ There has been a bad impact on the head. Its important that he is taken to the hospital as soon as possible.” Only then Ramesh realized the gravity of the situation. There was a young boy lying on the lap of a middle aged lady. She was sobbing, holding the bleeding head and trying to stop the blood with her red saree. With the moist throat, she blurted out, “ There is the General Hospital near by. Can some one please get an auto. I don’t want to wait for the ambulance.”

Seeing the plight of the woman, Ramesh involuntarily responded, “you can use my car. Guys can you please lift him up carefully?” Three men from crowd, quickly heeded to his request and along with Ramesh picked the boy up. She was holding the wound on the side of the head tight. There were tears seeping out of her eyes continuously. They carefully moved him to the back of the car seat. She sat next to him. One of the other guys called up the hospital and told that the boy is on his way and asked to keep everything ready for their arrival.

“Do any of us need to come with you?” asked one of the guys who had help in lifting the boy.  “No thank you. I think I can manage”, she replied. “I have my two wheeler on the roadside, can you pls park it some place safe”? He quickly ran and puched the two wheeler to the side and locked it instantly and threw the keys to Ramesh, who had already kept the ignition ready. He kept the keys in his glove compartment and slowly started the car.
“It will take only 5 minutes” he assured her. But her eyes were fixed on the bleeding boy. He was mumbling something and was losing conscience. Now and then he opened his eyes and that was encouraging. Ramesh in spite of being ignorant in most of the things related to medical profession, quickly checked if there was blood coming from his ears. Thankfully it was not. Looking at her, he got reminded of his mother from his younger days. He could see the pain in her eyes. He now had only one task and that was to reach the hospital as soon as he can.

The traffic thankfully was not that bad. Still he had his hand fully on the horn and maneuvered the crowd expertly. As planned there was a nurse waiting outside in front of the hospital and she along with a few others helped in lifting the boy, transferred him to a stretcher and quickly went inside.  She was following them and was stopped at a point. The boy was rushed into the emergency unit.

Ramesh still lingered around wanting to know the diagnosis. A nurse came out running and told the lady standing just outside the door, “We need to quickly check for clots in the head. If there are no clots, it should not be a problem. But before we can proceed further, we want a kin of his to sign this document. Can you please sign for your son?” and she extended a paper on a pad to her.

“Just make sure he is all right.”

She quickly signed the papers and turned around saw Ramesh waiting there. Ramesh wanted to say something to comfort her and give her encouragement that her son will be fine. She came near Ramesh and started searching her shoulder bag.

“Thank you very much for the help. Can you do me another favour also?”

“Ofcourse, pls tell me.”

“My hands are bloody, can please take this phone out of this bag? It’s the boys phone and can you pls call his parents as soon as possible?”

Inspired by the Tamil idiom “petraal than pillayaa!” English translation is difficult. It exactly means a question “A son only if born out of a womb?” Dedicated to all the mothers out there.
P.S if there is some medical BS in this pls ignore.


      

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Judgement

Ramesh was sitting in the balcony, reading the Sunday Times. A retired school teacher, he filled his time with the morning walk, temples,  the newspaper and an occasional visit to the market. Hourly tea-breaks and the spice of his wife’s regular rants made his day. His wife, Saranya despised Sundays as most of the time he was glued either to the newspaper or the television.

Just then, Vikram, Ramesh's son walked in, “Good morning Dad! What news?”

“Oh! The usual run-of-the-mill stories of scams and politics,” replied Ramesh casually as he pointed at the paper.

Vikram, in his early thirties was a highly opinionated man with strong work ethics, worked as a Manager in a reputed firm. Busy throughout the week with meetings and target deadlines, he made it a point to keep his Sundays free of the official clutter, so he could spend time with his family. Vikram grinned at his Dad’s casual comment and settled down on a chair. Suddenly they could hear loud voices. They looked at each other. Putting a hand over his forehead, “Damn! It’s no different here either. The usual grind over petty issues,” lamented Vikram.

“A dash of homemade made baji with national news,” smirked Ramesh.

“How can you be so cool?"

“Will losing my temper fetch me any peace of mind? It’s a blame-game; a time-pass, nothing more than crossword puzzle is to me. By the way did you have your morning tea?” asked Ramesh.

He persuaded his son to get some tea for himself, to lighten his spirits. But Vikram refused to step into the house, as he thought the volcano had erupted and feared that the lava was spread throughout. Finally, Ramesh decided to get a cup of tea for his son and a second cup for himself. He  didn’t bother the volcano as long as he got to gulp the steaming, hot liquid.

Vikram sighed and thought, ‘Hat’s off to Dad’s patience, a go-getter, I can never be like him.’
**
Sunday evening, at the beach.

Vikram and Namratha, his wife, enjoyed the crisp, cool breeze that caressed their cheeks and tickled their senses. They walked along the length of the beach, kicked sand and let the surf wet their feet. They shared a plate of hot molaga baji and munched on hot roasted peanuts. They made their way to a lone bench, where there was little noise, except for the waves hitting the sand front.

He had been married just a year ago to Namratha, a bubbly, carefree corporate girl. She was candid and outspoken in her views. A novice in home-making, she had regular confronts with her rather forgetful  mother-in-law, Sarnaya. She was still learning to manage her full time job with her house hold chores.

“You know what happened in the morning,” spoke Namratha coinciding with a large wave that hit their knees.

She didn’t wait for him to answer and blurted out, “Last night the milk had to be heated and set for curd, which usually your mom does. She forgot and left the milk out. Today morning, it got spoiled and two liters of milk got wasted. She holds me responsible for her forgetfulness. I work through out the week and its only in the weekend i can have some peaceful time.”

“If she forgot, you could have either reminded her or it’s a simple task which you could have done,” added Vikram.

“I dare not interfere in her work, she complains about everything. It doesn’t matter, whatever I do, she just has to argue. You know it’s a daily charade,” complained an irritated Namratha.

“You always take the side of your mom, no matter what she does. It looks like you don’t care for me.”

Vikram tried to pacify her, “It’s just that I was trying to make things easier for you.”
‘How could he take any one side? Both of them are dear to him, but they behave like two parallel roads which never meet. He is in a ‘Catch-22’ situation, which they will never understand. It is he who is most hurt in their squabbles.

**

Monday morning.

As he left the house for his office, when the cost was clear.
Vikram was busy throughout the day. At about seven in the evening, he got a call. For a moment he was in shock, he left office immediately.
**


To his chagrin, the heavy traffic tested his nerves. He yelled at the driver to drive fast. Anger and anxiousness brewed within, he ran to the reception, as soon as he reached the ‘Lifeline Hospital’. Namratha waited for him. He looked at her with pain in his eyes, ‘How’s he?’

“He is out of danger, still in the ICU. They have done a procedure called Coronary Ansgioplasty to remove the blocks in his arteries. Now he is under sedation. You can go in and have a look,” explained Namratha.

Vikram went in to see his dad.  Ramesh was sleeping peacefully; he was surrounded by wires and digital meters which monitored his condition constantly. The duty doctor assured him that his dad would be fine in a couple of days. 

As soon as he came out, his eyes searched for his mom. She sat in one corner of the waiting lounge with Namratha, who was holding his mother’s hand, an oddity. He sat beside them, “What happened, Mom?”

With tears in her eyes, “He had pain in his chest since two days, but he didn’t tell us. He was watching TV, and was drinking his tea. Namratha had just returned from office. He babbled something, the tea cup fell from his hand and he held his chest. Thank god, Namratha was quick enough to summon a taxi and bring him here. The doctors told us ‘more delay would have been fatal’. She was the one who had been handling everything since we brought him in. If it wouldn’t have been for her, I would have been helpless,” said his mom

“Why didn’t you ring me up?” demanded Vikram looking at Namratha.

“We did, but the network was not reachable. We obviously couldn’t have waited for you,” shot back his mother defending Namratha.

‘True,’ he had been at the site today, where signals waver. It was strange that his mother was all praises for Namratha, a volte-face. The way they spoke and comforted each other was new to him. A defiant Namratha was now the caregiver. They had proven him wrong. He was privy to their innate qualities of love and care, especially in need. 
**

The next weekend, his dad was discharged from the hospital with a list of do’s and don’ts. Namratha took charge and both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law worked in tandem.
His dad looked at him, meaning to say, ‘Didn’t I say?’ Yes, a blame-game of sorts that did no harm.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

K Balachander - The Director who revolutionized tamil cinema






K B - A small Tribute (Image source - https://www.tumblr.com/search/k.+balachander)
What influences the thought process of a growing child? In the late 90s in addition to the parents and teachers, there was another medium that more than influenced the growing child! It was 'the television'. For a child growing in a middle class family in Tamil Nadu, the television everyday had atleast a film or a TV serial either written, directed or produced by K Balachander or simply known as KB. So when one returns from the school, it would be Bhama vijayam running in classic matnee, A roja on Republic day / Independence day or watch Marma Desam on Thursdays, Kasalavu Nesam on Wednesdays, Premi or Kailavu Manasu. This, my readers is 'the influence'. Watch this bit where Crazy mohan talks about KB in a recent Coffee with DD episode. Cant put things better!!

 He was, probably, one of the few directors who worked on themes which had strong connection with the day to day life of the common man. The result was that most of his films have gone well with the masses. He made films on subjects to satisfy his own ego unmindful of its success commercially.KB changed the content, context and the actors in the Tamil Film Industry and infused a new breath of life into the movies. He also started the revolution of serials in the small screen. Not many people, had directorial success in both small screen and silver screen. His characters portrayed the nuances of middle class predicament perfectly.  Sadly, he is no more. It is indeed a pleasure for me to write about him, a celebration of the cinematic journey of a simple man, from humble origins, achieving monumental success. 
He never lost in touch with contemporary film making! "He is in conversation with Amir after his Dhobi Ghat"

Jonathan Swift once said, "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Going by that definition, KB would mean visionary in every thesaurus. Let me give an example. Having been KBed into comedy in Thillu mullu Tamil Cinema, Rajni kanth added comedy to his repertoire, which truely made him connect to the masses.  Even Rajni, on the back of successes like Muratu kalai and Billa was not sure of taking up a full time comic role. The way he shaped the career of Kamal Hasan requires a separate post in itself. Its not just Rajni and Kamal, the list of people who got their breaks because of KB is a long one!! Special mention must go to 2 people - Major Sundararajan and Nageesh, the 2 character artists who got to explore and experiment without any problem in his films.

In between KB has won Nine National Awards  and innumerable State government and Filmfare awards, for his films, which he made not only in Tamil but also in other languages such as Telugu(Maro Charitra, Aakali Rajyam, Andhuleni Katha) , Kannada( Benkiyalli Aralidha Hoovu),Malayalam and Hindi ( the iconic Ek Duuje Ke Liye). 

Lets talk about favorites!! Let me list out my favorite movies and serials Chonologically!! I am  going to limit myself to 10!!

1. Server Sundaram

A movie written by BB about how a server( Nagesh ) from being a waiter turns into an actor and excels in his life. Some classic comedy scenes in this movie include Audition Scene, Acting Scene with Manorama. The movie ends on a rather tragic note, a constant feature of his earlier movies!

2. Bama Vijayam 

A refreshing satire on the middle class mind set, with uniformly good performance by all the lead as well as supporting actors. Each and every role is to be cherished in the film and this legendary song!!
3. Avargal
Arguably the best story written by KB. Excellent performances from Sujatha, Rajinikanth and Kamalhaasan. The movie portrays the emotional struggle of Anu (Sujatha) with 3 men in her life. Kamal is also said to have learnt the art of ventriloquism to portray his character perfectly. The movie keeps you guessing right till the very end and every guess you make ends up being wrong ! Along with Aval Apadithan, this movie portrays the acting brilliance of Rajni Kant. He outperforms Kamal and even overshadows him in almost every scene.

4.Thaneer Thanner
A movie about deprivation, greed and corruption. Also subtly mocks the system in failing to protect the weak!!  Arguably one of the best female performances in Tamil cinema by Saritha. There was a copy of this movie in my college local LAN. For writing this post, I wanted to watch it again, but could not find a copy!! If some one has one, pls do share!!

5. Thilli mullu

Along with Bhama Vijayam the best comedy directed by KB!! I need not write anything, just watch this scene.

6. Varumain Niram sivappu.

KB, the director of this flick has delved deep into the problem of unemployment in the 80's period of India. Easily one of Kamal best in the early 80s late 70s. The license restrictions made unemployment further higher in the country and this story deals with a well-educated youth who is extensively ideal and does not lose his morality for mere survival. A period I have not seen, but heard stories from my dad.  There are some melodrama and cliches, but the movie ends on the right note. Pratap potan in another awesome sadist kind of a role!! Thengai Sreenivasan appears for a few incredibly funny minutes, proving that there are no small roles -- only small actors.

7. Achamillai Achamillai

Personally the least favorite of the 10. But I am including this in the list just because of Sarita. Hands down a national award winning performance. It is a moralistic tale of how politics and power can corrupt the best of men. To be honest, the latter part of the movie is a bit cliched but the first half an hour is very absorbing. Sarita, Rajesh and Delhi Ganesh throw in wonderful performances, and VS Narasimhan's melodies remain fresh even today.

8. Puthu Puthu Arthangal

A brilliant tale of search for companionship. The definition of companionship is put to true test in this movie. In the conservative India, not many directors have tested post marriage affair as beautifully as done in this movie. This film features, one of the most brilliantly written on-screen couple, Sowkar Janaki and Poornam vishwanathan!! Add to mix some soul crunching melodies from Raja, this is easily one the most underrated KB films.

9. Jathi Malli

During the time when the caste and religious clashes were reaching their peak, KB came up with a movie that hit the bulls eye in this issue.  

10. Vaname Ellai

 My favorite KB movie - the last of the master pieces directed by him. Its the story of a group of 5 youngsters, frustrated by the filth around them, decide to commit suicide in 100 days. But they want to spend the last 100 days to the fullest. It was kind of a first time in tamil cinema,  the 5 protagonists, 3 men and 2 women live together without any romance brewing in between.  Even if released today it will not be out of place/space. KB has always been a "dheergadarsi". This movie subtly passes on the message of hope. I would watch it over again and again and definitely one of the path breaking movies of Tamil Cinema. Sadly this movie was overshadowed by a couple of other movies released around the same time. "Anamalai and Roja". And oddly all the three movies were produced by KB. 

There are many more movies, that did not make it to my list. I have watched almost all the tamil movies KB has been associated with, and definitely leaving out movies like Manmatha leelai, 3 mudhichu, Unnal mudiyum tambi, poova thalaya has been pretty difficult. 


KB would be definitely living as long as Tamil cinema exists. But how can I finish writing a tribute without this photo??? Hats off Mr. KB!! Its also an honour for me to write my 100th post as a tribute to KB :).

KB with two of his favorite prodigies!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mid Life Crisis



He was happily sleeping while his mobile phone kept on ringing. Having been adequately trained over the years in snoozing alarms, sleeping through a ringing phone was a cake walk for him.  But same thing cannot be said of his wife. Grumbling she picked up the phone and answered it, half seeing who caller was.

“Hi Albert, good morning. Ramesh is still sleeping.”

“Hi Sudha , this is Stella.”  Sudha was surprised to hear Albert’s wife’s voice. Worryingly she sounded agitated.

“Yes, Stella. Is everything alright?”

“Albert had a massive heart attack this morning. We have moved him to the General Hospital. Can you pls come here?”

“Ofcourse Stella. I will be there in 30 minutes with Ramesh. Dont worry. Nothing will happen to Albert. “

“I am trying to be calm. But Joseph also did not pick up. He had slept in the hostel with his friends. They have just taken Albert to the ICU.”

“No issues at all. Do you have enough cash with you?”

“I think so. I have just brought all the cards with me as of now.”

“Dont worry . Ramesh will take care of the Finance.”

Ramesh and Albert have been business partners for over 20 years and have known each other from their school days. Ramesh was hardly a deep sleeper, always a grumpy riser from the bed in the morning.  

Grumpy Ramesh was shocked when he heard about the news.
“Albert is one of the fittest guys I have ever known. How could this happen to him! We are only 48 years old.”

Albert regularly worked out. He successfully avoided having the middle age bumps. He had a healthy life style and was always in control of his health. He looked at least 5-10 years younger than his age.
Visibly shocked Sudha and Ramesh left for the hospital immediately. They were received by a rather nervous looking Stella. Their arrival calmed down Stella a bit. Sudha started to console Stella and sat with her outside the ICU. There were several other grieving families near by. Sudha hated the aroma associated with hospitals. The only time she enjoyed this smell was when her daughter was born. In the recent times luckily neither she nor Ramesh had to stay overnight in a hospital.

  There was some frantic action in and out of the ward, with several medical staff entering the room. Ramesh tried to enquire about the progress to the fleet footed nurses and doctors without any success. After a 6 hour wait, the doctors came out with some good news. They explained for a few minutes in medical jargons that they could only understand, the gist of which meant that Albert is no more critical.  There was relief all around. After about 8 hours, Albert was in a state to see everyone.  Ramesh and Sudha finally left the hospital.

“We have to come here again tomorrow” said a concerned Ramesh to Sudha.

“Yes. I will cook something for Joseph and stella. The hospital food is not upto the mark.”

“Yes thats there. But I have booked a complete medical check up for both of us in the afternoon.”
Sudha was intrigued.  

 “It’s true that we have been trying to improve our dietary habits, but don’t you think you are over reacting to Albert’s situation?”

“Are you kidding!  Albert was the best of the lot. Look at me, my tummy. God only knows what my cholesterol level is. There must be a start. You have also been constantly gaining weight, ever since Lakshmi was born. We don’t take our health seriously.  Albert’s healthy life style must have saved him today. If we get a cardiac arrest, I am not sure if we would survive that.”

“Dont talk inauspicious things.”

“I am just being pragmatic.”

The general check up turned out to be scarier than expected. While both of them were in the overweight category, they also had Hyper tension, near high blood sugar level. Sudha had weak cartilages in her knees and Ramesh had high Cholesterol levels. They also had other minor issues. In short, their health was in a mess. Their medical report was a rude wake up call.

Within two days, it was Ramesh who reacted first. “I have got us membership in ABC fitness center. They have aerobics and power Yoga also. Its 3 kms from here. Daily morning we can cycle there. I have ordered 2 bicycles also.”

 I have been browsing the internet for some healthy diet tips. I found this GM weight loss diet plan. It’s assured 5-6 kg weight loss in a week. Its mainly fruit and veggie based. Absolutely no rice at all. Starting from tomorrow let us try that.”

Thus began their quest of finding that perfect health. The first day they woke up at 5 in the morning and cycled to the gym. 1 hour of moderate workout was exhausting but, they enjoyed every bit of it. After that started the GM diet routine.  First  day was fine. But as they entered the 3rd day, the lack of food and physical exhaustion was taking its toll on them. They were getting easily irritated and started taking out the frustration from lack of food on each other.

It was the 4th day morning. The fight the previous night was plain bad and they were not in talking terms with each other. They got dressed for the gym and left silently in the car. Ramesh was driving and there was no eye contact at all between them. He stopped at the local restaurant.

“2 plates sambar vadai and 2 ghee masala dosas pls”.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweets

It was that time of the year and Ramesh was sitting in his school with great anticipation. His grand mom had come to visit them and she had been really busy making sweets. Today the first batch of sweets would have been ready. He was impatient for the final bell like a ballet dancer waiting for her very first dance performance. Just as it rung, it was music to his ears and in no time was down stairs ghosting past the corridor and playground towards the cycle shed.

"Ramesh, cricket by 4 30 at the BVR grounds?" shouted his friend from a distance.

"Sorry too busy . Wont be able to make it today" retorted Ramesh as he hastily climbed down the stairs ignoring the look of surprise in his friend's face. Ramesh usually was the first person in line for playing cricket. But there are darker things at play in the background. Smelted sugar in collusion with milk, ghee, oil  and other collaborators in their multitude of forms were playing havoc in this innocent young boy's mind. He had only one motto in his life for the day and it was to get his hands on those freshly made gustatory delights. He quickly unlocked his cycle and flashed towards his home.

"Mom, I am  back" he shouted as he was about to enter his ground floor building. He dumped his cycle in the congested place below the stairs and  wanted to burst open that door like Hannuman from the fables. The aroma of freshly fried sweets was piercing his stomach through his nose.

"Ramesh kanna" called out his elderly neighbor lady.
"Hi Uma aunty, good evening" replied Ramesh without taking his eyes off the door.

"Your mom has taken your grand mom for some shopping. She wanted me to give me this key to you. She will be back in another 30 minutes."

Ramesh was stunned, and could not believe how his mom could do this to him. With great disappointment he went to get the keys.  But that disappointment soon turned into elation when he realised that he would be spending atleast 30 minutes alone in the house without his mother's supervision with only the freshly prepared sweets for company. It's like having a deepavali vacations being thrust upon a week earlier.

"Would you like to come in and wait here till your mother comes ?"

"No Aunty I will wait in my house" replied ramesh hastily and grabbed the keys off her frail hands and burst open the door just like his hero Hanuman, but with the help of the keys.  He entered the cosy little apartment and set out for the kitchen. He threw his bag on the bed and did not bother to change his clothes. His eyes were fixed on the kitchen. Every step he took made the aroma stronger and increased his appetite.

He entered the kitchen which was very clean, the hallmark of the presence of his grandmother. Usually it is never this clean and it was arguably the only trade secret she had failed to pass it on to her daughter. Ramesh quickly scanned over the entire kitchen. He knew the blue print of the kitchen by heart and where to locate the most important stuff. He scanned through the shelves for new containers. His eyes were probably betraying him, but he could not find anything new. Refrigirator was his next place to explore. The only new things he found there was his grandmother's set of fake teeth and that day's sambar. His frustration peaked. His mother was quite clever and knew exactly where to hide things.  Ramesh had been successful a few times in digging out these treasure troves.

He closed the refrigerator and hypothetically wore his sherlock holmes hat.  He scanned the room once again carefully. He was the tallest 10 year old in his class. Even the tallest of 10 year olds have a problem and their parents are atleast twice their height. "Think like a criminal and you will solve all the mysteries", he told himself the famous quote of holmes. He took a few steps backwards and looked up. Eureka!! there it was. A complete new stack of porcelain and stainless steel containers on the top most deck of the shelf. The containers happily smirking at him "take it if you can".

His mind the raced fast and looked around for something that could make up the deficit of 2 meters  required to reach the top. The stool in the living room was the obvious choice. He slowly pulled it into the kitchen. He mounted on the stool and tried reaching the top shelf without any success. Still he was off by a few feet. He had to bump up the height. The future engineer had his instincts kick in and reached out to a container that was lying on the floor for drying. He placed the container on the stool. The container had a narrow top and a broad botttom. He placed the container inverted on the stool and  slowly mounted the 2 layers of height boosters. The plan worked to perfection. He almost reached the top of deck of the shelf.

Jealous of the young boy's success fate had to intervene. The container destabilised on the stool and he feel down with a huge thud!! The sweets were so close yet he could not gorge them. As he was contemplating a second try for reaching the top, the door slowly opened. The boy quickly set the container straight, masked his pain in his ankle with a bright smile on his face and then sat on stool keeping his face sad so as to gain his mother's sympathy.

"Mom where are the sweets? " He shouted as his mother entered the kitchen.

His mom could not control her laughter. "The little detective here must have searched the entire house and forgot to check his own table."

Stunned ramesh ran to his room. Lying on the table there was a beautiful little container with a note, saying "Enjoy the sweets. Love - Mom".


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The new Milieu

He slowly opened his eyes. His head was hurting, the vision was blurred, the muscles were aching and his mind just refused to turn on. The grass bed he was lying on was an ethereal sleeping pill which he could not shrug off. He then looked around. There was a dense forest cover. Tall bamboo trees, Kinos, Rosewood and Sandalwood blocked his view of the horizon. The noisy birds and the rodents were adding to the cacophony which more or less magnified the pain in his head. He slowly turned his head around, through the small cracks between the trees to see the morning sun rising behind the silhouette that outlined the tall mountains near by.  The  sight of the mountains startled him. His survival instincts kicked in and the information slowly sunk into him. "THIS IS NOT HIS HOME". He had never seen something that was that tall. He wanted to run as far far away as possible. He, summoning all his energy, got up and started to run. He slowly gained momentum, inspite of his frail health and non-existent stamina. But "BOOM" and he fell down. He hit a iron railing which was the barricade. The pain was excruciating and involuntarily he fell down giving up to the pain. His eyes closed and he started floating into the past.

The past looked secure and beautiful. There was the warmth of his mother,protection of his father and the security of his kinsmen all around. The bright autumn afternoon after rains is always a sight to behold. He was happily cuddling on his mother's lap. His father had returned and it was the dinner time. Playing with his brother was one of his favorite pass times, the pressing problem he encountered was how could he outrun his nimble brother who was older than him. As soon as he saw his brother he leapt off his mother's lap and started running behind him like his life depended on it. This was hardly part of the evening plan, but his parents were enjoying the fun their kids were having. After letting them run around for a few minutes, his mom with an authority only parents can have, stopped them on their strides and asked them to come for dinner. The food was ready to be consumed and the brothers in no time started to quarrel about who will get the first bite.

Everything was so surreal, and the reality was like a dream, but his brother was getting the better of him in this fight also. If only he could do something about it. Then as if  some soothsayer had heard his plea and sent down a prophecy, his brother fell down like a heap. His eyes lit up when he saw this and went ahead to gorge the food available. Little did he realise what was happening around. His parents' protection radar was full on and were trying their best to protect him. His smile slowly started fadding when he saw his father fall down just like his brother in front of him. His mother   roared at him to run as fast as he could.  He started running at pace to take cover. Then he saw his mother who was running just behind him fall as well. He stopped and turned around to run towards his mother. He felt it then. Initially it was like a thorn pricking him. Then it was like a big log striking him in his head. The whole world was turning dark and was closing on him. And then it all went black.

He opened his eyes once again. His head was spinning, hurting and his legs were trembling. He was far away from home and all the people he cared about were nowhere to be in the vicinity. Where are his parents and brother? Are they together or are they also confused and alone in some place? Will he meet them? He wanted to let his brother take all the food. Alas it was too late.  He ran in all the 4 directions and everytime  he hit the railing.

Behind the railings there was a small girl standing and looking at him with her mother.

"Mama, why is he so agitated?"

Her mother looked at her and asked her to look at the board near. "Tiger cub rescued from poachers. Will be temporarily kept in the zoo. Be careful, could be ferocious."

"Poor cub, he is agitated because he is yet to realise that he is safe."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The wish

The long and arduous trek was coming to an end. An 8 hour trek on an uncompromising trail for a bunch of amateurs is necessarily not a match made in heaven, but a challenge indeed. Ramesh and his buddies were feeling the ache in their muscles. This kind of weekend get away once a month recharged them completely. The confluence of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, along the western ghats is one of most picturesque places and is sparsely populated. A walk through the nature in the midst of the autumn skies, where the lush green face of the nature smiles through the convoluted path taken by these guys, with the incessant rains as their sole witness, is truly rewarding. With technology left high and dry behind, not by choice, but because of the lack of access for the gadget guys to weave their magic and fill the air with electromagnetic radiations. For about 4 hours they had absolutely no contact with the outside world. Ramesh and  his buddies Rahul and Imran are from Bengaluru. Its their common interest in trekking that brought them together. They have been going on atleast one trek a month for the past half year.

Slowly they were coming close to the human inhabitants, ably assisted with increasing levels of network connectivity in their mobile phones. The first village they reached was a very small one. Completely parched, they went on a hunt for a place that could serve them something to eat. After a 10 minute walk through a colony of thatched roof huts and mud roads, they found a small place that was serving hot tea and some associated edibles. The place looked no different than a hut nearby, only distinguishing feature being the board in the front telling about whats being sold there. The shop had a few customers happily munching the bhaji and having their tea. There was a girl, possibly in her early teens, standing and heating up her mini boiler to make tea. Another young boy, possibly older than the girl, was cleaning the space. As our trekkers entered the shop, they were greeted by a warm smile. Since the space was limited, only 2 could have a place to sit. Ramesh, being the only smoker in the group, let the others sit and wanted to go out for a puff. He was only person amongst three, who could speak the local language, Tamil. He ordered food for all three and slowly went outside stretching his aching limbs.

As Ramesh was smoking and checking his emails and messages in his phone, the young boy came out with Ramesh's tea.

"Anna, tea." He offered the drink to Ramesh.

"Thank you" said Ramesh stuffing his phone in his pocket and sat down on a boulder nearby with his tea and smoke.

"Anna, where are you coming from?" the young boy asked Ramesh hesitantly in the local dialect of Tamil.

"From the big town, Bengaluru"

"I have been there once. Its so huge. It must be larger than Kotagiri also. What do you do there?"

Ramesh was pleasantly surprised by the comfort level and the inquisitiveness of the boy.  He pointed to the truck near by and said "I build cars and truck. That truck is produced by my company. Rahul works with computers and Imran makes sure we have enough money to do our work." He also introduced his whole group to the boy.

With glittering eyes, he looked at Ramesh and said " Then you must be very well read. What have you studied?"

"I have completed a masters degree in Engineering. Do you go to school?"

"Yes I go to the high school in Kotagiri and I will be writing my 10th standard exam next year! I cycle 12 kms daily and nowadays I am taking my sister also", said the boy proudly pointing at the girl near the boiler also.

"Basically I have studied 8 more years than you as of now!"

Slowly they became comfortable with each other and started talking without any inhibition. The young boy was asking Ramesh all about Bangalore, his higher education and his work. Ramesh to his credit was patiently explaining and answering all his questions.

"Anna, do you have lot of money?" asked the young boy suddenly out of nowhere.

Bit surprised at such a direct question, Ramesh said, " I would like to have more, but I think I have good enough."

"Can I ask you for a help?"

Ramesh guessed what would be coming next. Usually when such conversations happen invariably people want money from him. Though he was kindhearted he usually did not approve of giving money. But he felt bad for this young boy and wanted to give him some money. So ramesh started opening his wallet.

"Ayyo Anna, I dont want your money. Can you please pray for me? Pray that one day I study a lot and become successful like you?"

People, they never cease to surprise.