Mar 31, 2008

The Train Window

At 3, it was this dark, frightening hole through which a red-eyed, long-toothed monster would come and gobble me up if I did not drink that glass of milk.

At 6, it was a useful diversion for my mom who was bored with my constant “Mummy, can I sleep in the upper berth?” queries. A moving screen of continuous entertainment for a wide eyed kid who was more afraid of the heavy glass screen falling and chopping off his finger than of the red-eyed, long-toothed monster.

At 9, it was this wonderful opening through which aromatic coffee (“kids should drink milk, it is healthier”), mouth watering medu wadas (“God knows what oil he used… you will get a stomach upset”) and delicious icecreams (“you will get a bad cold… ice creams are a strict no-no”) wafted by temptingly out-of-reach.

At 12, it was the object of a terrible fight between me and my younger brother, as to who will get to sit near it. A fight which ended with, “You are the elder brother. You have had your share of sitting beside it. Now, let your brother sit there”, and made me realize that elder brothers were supposed to be mature and that it was certainly not acceptable to kick your brother over a mere seat.

At 15, it was the sentimental space through which I looked longingly at my mom’s face as the train slowly snaked away from the station, leaving me behind to survive in this big bad city, feeling so lonely in that crowded platform.

At 18, it was the slot through which my dad passed a 500 rupee note “for expenses”, just as the train was leaving the station, in spite of my repeated “I don’t want money”. (yeah, yeah, there was a time when I used to say that!!!). I suddenly felt all grown up and responsible, handling so much cash.

At 21, it was the peephole through which I could ogle at the few good looking chicks on the platform, dreaming that one of them would come and sit in front of me, we would talk, and things would happen, and I will live happily ever after.

At 24, with a nice job and some spare cash to sit in a more expensive compartment, it is just a dark glass pane with a curtain which cuts you off from the stench and filth of life’s realities.

Mar 13, 2008

The story of Palaniappan

Palaniappan always wanted to be a famous guy. He often dreamt of becoming a ‘Collector’, dreamt of people saluting him, dreamt of going around in a big, white car with lights flashing on top.

He did not know what a Collector did. All he knew was that whenever he asked his father about why he couldn’t go to school when all his friends did, his father used to scream, “nee yellam paduchu enna periya collector aaga poriya?” (“What is the use of you studying? Are you going to become a Collector?”). And, Palani would silently go back to attending the solitary cow in their backyard, sobbing silently. The cow, imaginatively named Gomata, was his sole companion in life. After all, he was the soon of a poor farmer, who couldn’t afford to go to school.

So, to cut a boring story short, while his friends completed their engineering and MBBS and MBA degrees, and found fancy jobs with fancier pay packets, Palani grew up to be a farmer, struggling to make ends meet.

He had always secretly fancied his neighbour’s attractive daughter, but she grew up to be a big doctor in a big city. And he knew, in his heart, that a poor farmer like him could never aspire for such a girl. After all, his father had always told him, “endha kazhudhai kazhuthula thaali kattu nu sollreno, andha kazhudhaiya thaanda nee kattikuve.” (too tough to translate, find yourself a Tam friend). And accordingly, he was soon married off to a woman who lived up to her description by her father-in-law by sheer dint of hard work.

Years went by, and his father passed away. Soon, long forgotten ‘relatives’ crawled out of nowhere to claim their share of the meager land he had. After a settlement at the local panchayat, the leader of which seemed particularly friendly with his ‘relatives’, he was left with a tiny piece of land and his beloved Gomata.

With no fancy degree to ensure that he got a paycheck for sitting around and blogging in office, Palani did the only thing he knew. Slog at his farm, morning to night. The rains were good, the harvest even better and he even made a tiny profit.

Since the disease called ambition strikes even illiterate farmers, he started dreaming again. He dreamt of buying another cow (“Gomata seems to be feeling very lonely”) and milking money, instead of farming all day.

After all, he had some money from the last harvest, and the bank officer who had visited him seemed so friendly. So unlike the evil moneylenders his father had put up with. Soon, papers had been signed, money had changed hands and he was the owner of another cow. He named her Lakshmi, imagining that the Goddess of Wealth will finally smile on him.

By now, since the story so far has run like a typical Tamil film script, you would know that the cows caught some unpronounceable disease and died. Palani was heart broken, but vowed to pay back his loan in full, since his dignity was the only thing left.

So, like all Tamil film heroes, he slogged his ass off and repaid his loan. He sold his wife’s jewellery, and though he did not want to, took his children out of school. After all, “better to be an illiterate child of a man with dignity than to be an educated child of a cheat.”

As he went to the bank to pay his last installment, he heard the news. His namesake, a much more educated man, had announced a loan waiver. All outstanding loans of small farmers would be waived. All defaulters could just forget their debts and apply for new loans. Palani was dumbstruck…

“WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS? WHERE WILL ME AND THE KIDS GO?” he heard his wife scream, as he saw the young student doctor sent on a compulsory rural stint struggle to revive him. The young doctor was too much of a rookie to know that the poison Palani had consumed acted fast, and there was no chance of reviving him. As the rickety ambulance rattled along the mud roads, Palani smiled.

He had finally achieved his dream of traveling in a big, white car with lights flashing on top…

Mar 10, 2008

What is 'it'?

What is it?

Its entry into your life denotes a dramatic new phase in your life – a phase which is supposed to make you more responsible.

Once it enters your life, it becomes the centre of attraction. You forgo your hobbies, leisure, social life, everything just to be around it. It just has to whimper a bit and you drop whatever you are doing to attend to it.

You look at it and think, “I wish I could be in its place – living life without a care in the world.”

You are willing to crawl on your knees just to amuse it and bring a smile to its face.

Just when you thought you have it all under control, it proceeds to piss on you.

It shits in its pants and waits for other people to do the cleaning up. And surprisingly, there are always some people ready to wipe its ass.

It is notorious for screaming at the top of its voice, especially at the middle of the night.

It can drool all it wants, and all the pretty women find it cute. You do the same, and you are branded a perverted MCP.

It experiences wide mood swings, happily smiling one moment and bawling away the next. The worse thing is, your mood entirely depends on its moods.

People bring it gifts whenever they come to pay it a visit. It can grab the gift and throw it right back at their faces, and yet they don’t feel offended.

There are books to teach you to deal with it. People write newspaper columns advising you on the same subject. But, most of those systems and techniques work only on paper.

Every little word it speaks, every little step it takes is regarded as a great achievement.

Some people may say it is God’s gift. But the truth is, it came into being because someone screwed up sometime.

It is a four letter word, starting with B.







Guess what is 'it'?

'It' is called BOSS