Friday, October 25, 2013

the lil champ

Last month my elder brother got married. A lot of my cousins had come for the marriage and we had a nice time after a long time.Some of my elder cousin sisters who were married placed official invitations to me to visit their cities. I reluctantly nodded to all of them at once.

Finally the Navarathri festival was upon us and I was wondering whose requests to address first. One of my cousins in Chennai had given birth to a baby boy a year ago, and I hadn't even visited them yet. Feeling bad about that, I decided that I would spend my Navarathri weekend with her. Also, there were already comments that the boy was of the same birth star as mine, and people were talking about how he would now follow my path. This was the fourth such instance in the family and so far the cousins and nieces of the same birth star were strikingly similar in nature. So, I too was curious to see this new avatar nephew of mine, wondering how he would fit the gang...
Dream nephews
I promptly booked tickets and made it to her home on the morning of the Saturday of Navarathri. I was spoke to my brother-in-law for a while. My cousin was nowhere to be seen, as she was bathing the baby. I decided to go inside and talk to her. One seeing me, she waved to me and talked while massaging the  baby who now lie on her feet, with some smelly oil from a red bottle. She seemed to be rubbing and massaging quite strongly. I was worried seeing that and asked her whether it was safe to handle a baby so roughly.
someone was enjoying it..

To that, she replied with a wink- "This will make him strong. How do you think he will be strong like you and climb mountains and ride up the Everest?". I nearly fell for that flattery but making a late detection of mockery, made my escape to the kitchen for a bite. I kept thinking of how a small baby could take such rough handling and what she had meant. I decided she was just pulling my legs, glancing at my 2 year old 'IT' tummy. Automatically my hands took the cue and dropped the biscuit packet, which I was half way through. My legs dragged me to the guest room and I went to get refreshed.

After a bath in the cold water and a hot breakfast of 'Infinite Dosa', I washed the plates and with a burp dragged myself to the drawing room for some TV. Karan, my nephew was now all freshened up too after his rough bath and a tummy full of cerelac(or whatever it is that babies eat these days). He started following me around on his knees. I ignored him for a while, walking at a normal pace that I was sure babies couldn't keep up with.
a jolt to bolt..
But soon I found him crawling between my legs or obstructing me again and again. To play around a bit, I started moving zig-zag making him play catch up. I was sure he wouldn't make it, so I moved around slowly, calling him to me. But I was surprised to see him catch me even before I could finish calling his name. Though it was a 25 yr old adult against a 1 year old baby, I decided I should win at least a round. But he didn't let me and I was tired after a while. Frustrated, I went out for a walk and on returning, I was glad to see him asleep. I somehow spent the rest of the day without going head-on against him. "This wasn't happening!!!". The Leo in me was clearly depressed.

My brother-in-law had the night shift and left for office by evening. The action movie we decided to watch on TV was quite boring. Karan was lying next to my sister who was beginning to doze off halfway through. I noticed that Karan was awake now and was playing with some stuffed toy. My phone rang suddenly and I jumped up startled to check it. My hand must have hit something heavy and it hurt. I pulled back my hand and looked around to see what I had hit. To my horror, the heavy cupboard was tipping over and it was gonna fall straight on top of Karan, who seemed busy kicking his toy out of his cradle. I wanted to scream, to kick my sister awake, and pull Karan out of the way. But my feet seemed frozen to the floor and I couldn't feel even a squeak come out of throat. I closed my eyes and tried not to think what would happen, praying to all the Gods whose pictures hung on the wall behind me. "Why Oh Gods??"
innocence is bliss
After a second, not hearing even a sound, I opened my eyes to see that the cupboard now rested on the cradle. I found my feet were stuck no longer and ran to Karan to check whether he was OK. He seemed to be perfectly OK and in fact was overjoyed and lay there giggling. A wave of relief passed over me. I didn't notice until then that his legs were held high. My eyes followed his legs to see what he was doing and I almost had my heart in my mouth seeing what he had done. The cupboard rested on his tiny feet and he seemed to hold its weight. I was busy rubbing my eyes several times to check if I was dreaming, when he kicked it aside and it landed with a loud THUD on the ground.

Next thing I know, I was wide awake staring at the TV which had started playing some Teleshopping programs and I looked up to see my sister standing above me with a rolled newspaper in her hand. Her expressions told me all that I needed to know. But feeling the dry throat, I craned my neck to check on Karan. I was glad to find him rolling in his cradle, giggling loudly. As I got up and examined the red bottle from which my sister had taken the oil for massaging him, I couldn't help feel something uncanny.

The 'Tail' expert
This post was written as a part of the Indiblogger contest "Traditional Knowledge, Natural Growth".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A short movie on history of the Israel/Palestine conflict

Usually I never write about videos and other social media content I find on facebook and leave it to the people who notice it to enjoy it.

But rarely, I come across class material that makes me want to shout to the world - "Bloody go and watch this".

Here is one such

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

I have never in my life seen such a clear illustration that details the long history of a political and humanitarian conflict.

Centuries of bloodshed, by various tribesmen, men of religion and ethnicity, all kill each other for the same piece of land, singing the same piece of shit song about peace and prosperity for everyone.

ha, could things be any more clear?

The four legged fur ball of love

Anjana was the princess of the Anga kingdom. Her father, Chitrasena was very fond of hunting. It was after one such hunting expedition, four years ago that she saw Chatur for the first time. Chatur was a Royal Bengal cub whose mother was killed in the hunt. The king had no heart to kill the cub and had brought it to his palace.

Anjana took an instant liking to the ball of fur that kept winking at her now and then. She used to erupt into laughter when he did that. She took up the task of feeding him and taking care of him. Soon he started following her wherever she went and she never went anywhere without him. She named him 'Chatur' which means intelligent by the way he conducted himself. He seldom made a sound in the presence of strangers,but constantly kept purring and playing around when in the presence of the princess or the family.

As the princess grew up, so did Chatur. But he seemed to be growing at a faster pace. There wasn't enough space in the palanquin anymore for Chatur to accompany the princess. So he stopped accompanying her outside the palace. Her tutors too complained to the king secretly that they couldn't teach in peace with the beast lying so close. Soon he was kept restricted to his exercise yard and the princess' bedroom at night. The only time he could roam freely with her was during her free time. They walked around the huge palace gardens and sometimes went for camping near the jungle palace. Even in the vicinity of the forest, he never seemed interested in anything related to the wilderness. He still preferred the meat that the royal steward prepared and looked forward to the princess' poetry session, which he seemed to enjoy. He lay listening to the long lines of poetry with closed eyes and whenever the princess slips up a bit, he cocks his ears and made an expression which seemed like a smile.

Years rolled in this manner and marriage proposals started arriving for the princess from various young princes, kings and noblemen. The princess didn't show much enthusiasm in this, but girls seldom had much say in such matters. Everyday the court astrologer would line up a list of suitable princes and a messenger would read up volumes of heroic acts and virtues of the men. Everyday the princess waves them all off and retires to bed, tired and lost. Only Chatur would cuddle up to her and listen to her sad sighs, purring in rhythm until she slept.

One fine day, a young man with dazzling looks walked into the court and asks for the hand of the princess to the king. He doesn't talk anything about his virtues or titles. He just introduces himself as the king of some kingdom she never heard of. The king seemed impressed and looks at Anjana for her approval. That is when she realizes that she was gaping at the young prince.

the charming prince
Embarrassed, she suddenly gets up to leave, but stumbles. The young man rushes to catch her. Before any one could react, a yellow mass flashes through the corridor with a deafening roar and the entire court jumps up to see the prince on the floor with Chatur pressing him down on his chest. It takes the entire royal guard supported by desperate requests by the princess to make Chatur to leave the prince alone and walk back to the yard, while the doctors tend to the badly injured prince.

Immediately Chatur is put under captivity and banned from entering the court premises. An emergency court session is called to discuss the consequences of the mishap on the diplomatic ties with the prince's kingdom and also their own future safety. The king is advised to kill the beast, which is the standard practice as per traditional rules. On hearing this the princess cries inconsolably and doesn't eat for days together. Her father, weakened by his love for his daughter decides to leave Chatur alive, but orders to banish him forever to the jungle. The queen consoles her daughter and makes her understand why it is a better decision for Chatur to return to where he belongs. The princess gives in finally and but obtains permission to accompany the team that would take Chatur to the border of the jungle.

At the border, when the cage is opened, Chatur walks out. But he doesn't know what he is supposed to do and stands there meekly staring at Anjana. She too stands helplessly and sobs. The captain in charge becomes nervous as night was approaching and he looks up at the princess with pleading eyes. She understood the gesture and walks to Chatur. She undoes her platinum necklace and ties it around Chatur's neck,kissing him on his head with tears rolling down her cheeks onto his eyes.

She remembers her fathers words when he had gifted her the necklace- "This is made of a very rare and precious metal, and its value is not just in its beauty, but the fact that it stays forever. It is a symbol of my eternal love for you". Nothing less would suit Chatur, the piece of her heart, who at the very moment was walking away from her. She watched him walk into the bushes, with eyes blurred by the tears and thoughts muddled in sorrow. Suddenly he turned and shot her a glance before jumping into the bushes.
She couldn't believe if what she saw real or imagined. On the slow return back to the capital, the soldiers carrying the palanquin thought they could hear raucous rounds of laughter from within..

The post was written as an entry for the "Platinum day of Love" contest in Indiblogger which requires one to write about how platinum was used to make a very special  day for your love.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Share your love for an eternity..

Clara never had a better friend than Thoralf. He was with her for everything worth remembering. There wasn't a single party (except a few that were supposed to be forgotten) that she would have danced without being in his arms and returning his childish smiles. He was everything she had.

The mistake was never his. Or probably it was. Spain was his favourite country and he loved to do crazy stuff there. He loved the sun, the beaches and the miles of open land. Last February, he was suddenly bored of the usual things and wanted to do the big one -the holy El Camino de Santiago itself, and all by himself.
Clara set him off as any wife of a brave Viking warrior would. But what returned was a box, and when the box was shut tight, Clara did the same to herself, no questions asked.

It must have been a year now. Clara was in the kitchen, staring at the card lying on the table. Jeremy and Jude were getting married. Jeremy and Jude were Clara's friends from childhood and they had stood by her all throughout the ordeal. She was extremely grateful to them and didn't want to weigh down on their happiness anymore. The wedding wasn't a normal one either and after hearing about the plans, she wasn't sure about how she could get involved. But she knew she had to be present.
The wedding day--

The wedding wasn't being conducted at their parish church. Jeremy got the few friends and relatives to board the bus that was parked in front of the church. After an hour of journey through parts of the town she had never known, Clara found herself in a dilapidated courtyard of sorts. A group of old men,women and kids in shabby clothes stood some distance away. It felt awkward to be dressed in one's best wedding clothes in the presence of these people. Clara felt nervous, frustrated and she wanted to cry out. Jeremy was shaking hands with another man from that group and guffawing loudly at her. She realized that all other guests seemed to be at more ease and they were taking their seats in the cheap plastic chairs that were brought out by a gang of boys.

Once everyone was seated, Jeremy announced loudly that they were in a leper camp. And the man he shook hands with was the parish priest. It took a while for the crowd to digest this, from the nature of murmur that was heard. Knowing Jeremy, and most of the crowd being his close friends and relatives, this wasn't something unexpected. The wedding got underway and soon it was all done. Clara didn't realize that tears were rolling down her cheeks, until she noticed the hands outstretched towards her with napkins in it.

Jeremy announced that they would dedicate one month every year to the cause of helping out the people in the camp. They apparently were being ignored by the townsfolk and short of supplies of all kinds. Jeremy requested the guests to donate whatever they wished to for the cause and after a brief toast by some friends the celebrations were in full pitch. All during the time, Clara kept to herself without mingling with anyone she didn't really know. But when it was time to leave, Clara felt someone pulling her gown and she turned back sharply to find a short and skinny girl standing close to her. Her dress was patched at so many places that it was difficult to not think they were actually meant to be so. She seemed to be in her late teens. Dust covered her completely and with one hand she was holding Clara's white gown. On any other day, Clara would have screamed. But the expression on the girl's face dissuaded her from doing so.

Clara must have stared at her face for while. She felt she could feel the pain of isolation and hopelessness in the girl's face. Clara recalled with horrifying guilt that at this age, she was probably running around merrily, living in many a boy's heart and breaking many more. And here was this pretty thing, all covered in dust and rags with nothing but her own broken heart and soul. Without much hesitation, Clara held up the skinny hand that clutched her gown and slipped off the platinum ring that adorned her own ring finger. The girl was taken aback at this gesture and tried to back off as Clara held her close and slipped the ring into the skinny finger. It didn't fit well, but managed to stay on.

the symbol of eternal love
Satisfied, Clara walked back to the bus, trying to sink into the enormity of her own action. The ring was a very precious gift from Thoralf. He had used up his entire savings and bought it for her for the first wedding anniversary. She remembered how she fell crying when he gifted it to her, and also how much she scolded him afterwards. This was the only remaining possession that reminded her of Thoralf. It truly was the symbol of his love for her, and it would be appreciated more when it helps the girl to live a life she dreamed of, instead of just adorning the finger of one sad woman. That made him eternal, and she cried with joy on the thought of it. The setting sun looked charming as it never seemed to all these years...

The post was written as an entry for the "Platinum day of love" contest in Indiblogger which requires one to write how platinum made a special day of love even more special.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

oh sweet mother in the heaven

what more do I need to offer
for you to shower ur nectar
for the pretty things I wish to forge

the music is there
the mad head shaking is here
and the frenzied prayer

I have but scribbled on the wall
but things are moving in a crawl
don't be so cruel..

the lights are dim
and the plates are clean
all that is awaited is the gleam

for you I shall embarrass myself before all
for you are the one who shall give me all
and am just awaiting your call

creativity, oh great mother of writers
will you not bless this critter
for to you is my fealty pledged.