Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another fairy-tale

                                                                   Courtesy- blubellbooks


She was fairly tired of playing at a single place. It was her elder sister who prevented her from moving even a step ahead right from that place. They were seated under a banyan tree at the upper right side of the canal. All other kids had vanished from eye sight. Only few women were taking dip, down the canal along with their earthen pots. The canal makes most of their living. Their father like many others catches fish from the canal on regular basis. That too is a great source of merriment for the kids like her. She is nearly eight years of old. Her parents and only sister Rini calls her by the name Sini. She attends a local school like her elder sister who is in a bigger class than her. She is jealous of her elder sister due to her relatively stronger position at home. She has been instructed by their parents to obey Rini Di* all the time. It was such a bitter thing for her to always carry out orders of Rini Di. Such a tyrant Rini Di is  not letting her go down the canal, she murmured. Rini Di usually remains away from her during day time as then she attends her bigger class where all the big girls study with her. Then she gets all the time to be a tail of her mother. When mother goes down the canal to take her afternoon dip and to get water for casual use, Sini follows her. There, she plays with the stray puppies, muddy sand, pebbles and also with other kids available there until mother finishes her regular afternoon dip. Today, she is missing that regular joy. Today she finds herself as a hostage of Rini Di. 

She is missing her mother so much that in a large frequency tears are rolling off her chicks. She can't remember the last day when her mother was away from home and Rini Di was in charge of her. She hated staying with Rini Di whole day long, who is much matured a girl than that of her age. She, in the absence of mother keeps house clean and also cooks rice pudding. Today she has prepared such rice pudding for her. Sini appreciates the only thing in her sister is that she makes delicious rice pudding that no one in the whole universe can ever be able to make such special pudding; not even their mother. But today she is denying to take rice pudding. She is very much hungry, it is as blatant as the moving shade of the banyan tree. Yet she is firm at her determination not to eat pudding prepared by Rini Di. Because Rini Di is preventing her from moving freely and also she is not taking her to the canal bank even though they are sitting very near to the canal. Their house is too small for playing. Their parents often move a little bent in their one room hut to avoid hitting their heads on the thatched roof. It is a little dark for having no windows; yet it is the luxurious most place of relaxation as a heaven can be for the family. Since no activities other than eating and sleeping can be done inside the house, they had all the permission to play within twenty meters from their hut. The cemented floor under the banyan tree was the best place for playing, sleeping and also finishing the school home works. It is the most lighted place even during night as it gets light from the street lamp on both sides and and from a near by shop. During night their mother cooks rice and curry in front of their hut and father accompanies both the sisters to their regular place of sitting, relaxing and studying, that is near the big banyan tree. When the two sisters finish reading their school books, father usually tells stories of ghosts and fairies. Both of them get immersed in the stories for a long period even forgetting their post studies hunger until mother calls for dinner. Rainy season makes their regular life much difficult as most of the time they remain inside the tiny hut and mother affords food with much difficulty by cooking under polythene cover. 

But it is winter, a very pleasant season. Yet she is the hostage of Rini Di. She can't do what she wishes to do in the absence of mother. When Rini Di was preparing pudding, she secretly grabbed two puppies to arrange a marriage ceremony for them. She was the groom's mother who was to welcome her daughter-in- law her home. So she tied the groom puppy with a stump and took the other puppy down the canal alone and bathed that puppy with canal water. She was about to take her would be daughter-in-law towards her groom son, when being informed by a woman taking bath in the canal Sini Di came infuriated. By freeing the damp puppy from her hand she dragged her by her ear to the hut where she would take rice pudding. Sini is crying vociferously. It was beyond Rini Di's tricks to make her stop crying. It is not new for Rini to see her sister Sini making puppies wedding by tieing them together. Even she has joined with her in the interesting play many a times before. And they have also organised feast on that event. But today she is irritated by the site of the mischievous deed of her sister. She even can't stand if Sini argues with her. As yet she had slapped Sini on her face thrice. Sini was also adamant with her decision of not taking even a little of rice pudding from Rini Di until mother comes. Rini who also was not in a mood to coax her sister, told in an uninterested voice that she has to take rice pudding prepared by her every day. Suddenly Sini was silent with a shock. "What! are you not going school any more?" 

Rini replied with a shaky voice "no princes, I am not going your school anymore. From today onward I will be your caretaker." She began weeping. Wiping off Rini Di's tears Sini wondered why she can't go to school anymore! Rini said with a low voice, "we are very poor in this big town, Mother has also to work along with father to feed both of us. She would not be home during the day time. Father was telling that I have read enough and should take care of your studies and take care of you instead of going to school." Both the sisters for a while were looking outside vacantly from the bamboo door of their hut. There was a strange silence as if that was some marooned land and two girls unknown to each other are fallen from above from different places of earth! Suddenly Rini pinched her hand. Both the sisters smiled towards each other. As Sini was taking her pudding, Rini began telling the story of Cinderella which is written beautifully on an old water bottle she once got laid on the canal bank and which she had been using as her school water bottle as yet. Now she is handing over her pet bottle to Rini. She can use the bottle as her own which was pretty a matter of pride for her. Poor Cinderella was asking about her mother to a tiny speaking bird on the branch of a tree. The two sisters were peeping outside as the speaking bird was sitting right on the drumstick plant near their hut. Four tiny eyes sparkled with joy as they would ask speaking bird the exact time of arrival of their mother.

*Di  or Didi means elder sister in India.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Cuckoo

A sunny day; the building, the footpath, the Neem plant standing behind the fence, everything blazed out. Everywhere reigned a bizarre silence as if the earth had stopped rotating to match the situation. Yet a faint sound was coming from within some mango tree in distance; that of a cuckoo. That sound did appear to me as an unpleasant yelling of a miserable soul. I could hardly find the paltry difference between my anxiety and the cuckoo’s peculiar yell. I cried, could anyone tell the cuckoo, how peculiar his voice seems in the dreary piece of earth! With a tiny bolster of breeze, his voice became more prominent to my unwilling ears. Is the cuckoo scoffing at me or at the daunting mute envelop of my frugal perceptibility! Yet I was in doubt.

I could remember the summer noons’ in my childhood, when my mother after wrapping up her daily drudgeries of kitchen used to fall flat unconscious in the cozy veranda beneath the shades of voluminous mango and jackfruit trees after failing in all her attempts to make me sleep. Neither her visibly serene condition nor my brother’s relatively luxurious status on the mat of occupying three giant pillows could allure me to succumb before the deity of slumber. I rather preferred to heed to every bit of sound that entered tardily into the dense domain of my imagination. The cuckoo then was the messenger of blue fairy. She sometimes would come to my tiny wonderland where beams of light passing though the dense bed of leaves, used to play with one another the game of run and chase. Ants with their red attire would march in a big procession; a tiny spider like a little sprite would swing with her silvery swinger!

Now! I am not able to find these little players. Ain’t it possible, I get that pleasure alone; that virgin pleasure! Ah could it happen over and again! It’s not that I didn’t try. I tried but failed miserably. When I notice these creatures now, the first thing coming to mind is- “hapless, nasty insects…. I would rather enjoy those in my T.V screen than getting close to them”. The hot blaze of summer then was a treasure box of secret exploration for some fairy land; a quintessential prerequisite for harbringing the freezy breeze which through the shivering body hair touched the core of the soul widening the blooming smile. And now, the sun is igniting everywhere and the fire rushing straight towards me and crawling all over my body like a venomous snake! The cuckoo no more is the messenger of blue fairy; he is a treacherous fellow; a fanatic deceit. How come I endure his stabbing arrogance! Were I a ghastly demon for the moment to drive out the cuckoo or to force it to stop yelling!

But who am I to behave so? Who am I ! Am I a frantic maniac? No never, I simmered. I cried, I would close my ears altogether. Yes that’s certainly a good idea. I have also been closing my ears and eyes to so many things for years. I have been pretending to be deaf, dumb and blind for all the lurking miseries around me. I too had my share of miseries to fight with; was not that enough? I fought and won. I have everything that I wanted; wealth, fame, family….. Yet why am I feeling so helpless, miserable and lonely? I am in sheer dilemma… is my fifteen years’ incessant toil rewarded with only a big three storied building, a handsome bank account, luxurious vehicles and security for my family. But something I have lost very precious, I am yet to find it…. Even I can’t tell if it is the yell of the cuckoo or call of my thirsty soul… I can’t tell who is the real deceit- I or the poor cuckoo!

The hot noon is stinging more and more matching to my burning self. On the concrete footpath adjacent to my house the raged sun is pouring fire. There is not a single person or stray visible. Yet I am waiting for someone or something… May be someone or something to promise me that soul satiating cooling breeze… Who would dare to come out in this imbibing heat! O’ to my utter surprise, milkman “Nira” is walking forward holding two giant cans in his hands! I doubt if his wretched thin pair of slippers protecting his foot from touching the hot earth. And I doubt if the damp loosely hanging terylene shirt and half pant acts as a cooling machine for him! I am suffering from a power cut on a holiday when I were supposed to take rest in my air conditioned bed room. How Nira is able to walk in this summer carrying two giant cans! He must be returning home after distributing milk in his customers’ houses. Earlier he was coming to my house when my son ‘Som’ required it. Now he is big enough to hate cow’s milk. So our choice shifted from Nira to packaged milk. I remember how Nira was dutiful. There was not a single day when he didn’t come with his milk cans. He came even when a big cyclone was showing its acts of devastation all around the city. He came when river Mahanadi was infuriated with devastating flood! I often see him near my office which is five kilometers away from here. I feel pity on this poor chap. “Why don’t he get a cycle for him?” this question I have asked him several times; but his reply never could reach my ears. Either a phone call or my son would be there to distract me from listening him fully. Even my laptop or rambling thoughts would make his narrow speech trivial. I felt nagging myself. I decided to meet Nira in the evening at his home and to give some money as a reward for his past record of sincerity and humility.

The raging day passed on. Slowly the dusk dispersed its magic wings on the earth. My quetching mood also went down. The cuckoo went to sleep and I smiled. Late in the evening I went towards Nira’s hut at the end of the footpath- He has a neat and cozy mud hut well polished with cow dung and mud. Near the hut there stood three cows and a calf in their safe home, a little cow barn. From within his hut a little girl came out and asked me about the purpose of my coming. I expressed my desire to meet his father. In no time he appeared and greeted me with his folded hands. His eyes were sparkling in the dim light as if he had a grand occasion to explore me in his hut… Eagerly he asked me about my son Som’s and my wife’s (kunibaabu and Maa’s) well being. I assured him of being everything good by my side. While taking the glass of buttermilk from his wife, I began asking him-

“Nira, I wanted to know from you, are you a happy person?” Being surprised with my question he starred at me. After sometime he replied “Sir, moreover I am a happy person.” I exclaimed- “Moreover, what does it mean, yes or no?” He with an utter calm voice said- “Sir, life is a mixture of happiness and sorrows, we can’t expect happiness alone. We have to accept the present situation- happy or sad; and what I am doing is not doing for myself, I am only a medium to perform certain tasks given by God. Being happy as well as surprised at the maturity of his thought again I asked “Has God told you not to ride a cycle and walk up and down ten kilometers on regular basis?” Again with a little surprise and shyness in his voice, he said, “Sir my daughter is going to English medium school, unlike me or her mother, she will study very well, I have big dreams for her. I am saving whatever money I am left with after meeting our routine expenses for her future only. How can I spend money for purchasing a cycle when God has gifted me two sturdy legs!”

With a voice chocked with emotions I offered him the five thousand rupees I wanted to give him to purchase a cycle. His eyes suddenly were filled with tears. He denied to take the grant from me. Again I requested him to accept the money as a gratitude for his sincerity and humility. With much reluctance he agreed to keep the money for purchasing a cycle.

Cool breeze was blowing touching deep down my heart. I felt as if I was transformed into ten years old boy who used to search a wonderland within every bit of ignorable things coming across. While standing on my terrace whenever I see the milkman, Nira riding his new bicycle, from a mango plant somewhere in distance a voice of a cuckoo would reach my eager ears... And I learnt exploring joy by attending those aspects of life which had been neglected by me for over a long period, with my little love and care and with a little giving...