Sunday, February 23, 2014

During a Storm - Part 2

Ufffff!!!  Where the hell is Srinu, she thought yet again,  for a thousandth time.

Not a single soul seemed to wandering about in the rain, while Srinu was yet to return.

Just then a Lightning flash came and the little one not yet having experienced fear ran out to the locked front-gate to experience it.

He came in back running, and announced, You know what? The tube light has fallen.

Jaya became curious, how can he see the street lights tube from the gate? She went out to the gate, along with him to see. She couldnt make out in the dark if the tube of street light was intact or not.

Pandu, can you see Street light?


But then you just said that the light has fallen?

But I wasnt talking about the street light.


I was talking about the tube light of God.

She forgot everything about anything else. She became curious, Gods tube light?

Yes, wait, Ill show you, God has many tube lights.

Then there was another lightning through the sky, and the little one exclaimed, See, I told you.

Jaya remained silent for a while, but after comprehending what he meant, gave a hearty laugh, seeing his innocence, took him into his hands and hoisted him on her waist. She kissed his pink cheeks and said, My dear scientist, it is not Gods tube light, its a lightning.

The bewildered little one said, What does that mean.

Although she was itching to explain the reason behind it, she herself being a teacher hated to keep people devoid of the reason, she brushed off the thought as she wasnt sure if she can patiently explain the science to a mere toddler, while she was constantly worried about her husband.  In the end she retorted to say, Youll learn when you become big.

When will I become big?

Soon, if you take your food and milk without throwing tantrums and listen and obey to what the elders say.

Just then, fully drenched, came home Srinu. She left the child aside, and slumped her shoulders in ease which, till then, were taut with tension and anticipation. She became flustered again, “Where were you till now?”

It was Srinus turn to be surprised, You know that there are dramatics competitions going on in the town auditorium.

But theres a storm, I thought theyd be cancelled.

Its not an open auditorium, and has some nice acoustics, no outside noise, how can storm interfere? said Srinu who was a big connoisseur of Drama, he, being a reputed stage artist in his youth, but could never pursue his interest as he was a son in a big family which meant opting for a good government job and financing his sisters marriages.

All the same, he came back alright, that's all Jaya cared so she was back in her high spirits, though she felt like strangling the organiser for his not-so-wise decision to carry on with the schedule.

She didnt want to give Srinu the impression that she was concerned and worried, so she said in an affected angry voice, Anyway, who cares about those damn dramas, there were some things to be brought, the oils and spices in the kitchen need to be refilled. I dont think we can refill them today, no one in their right mind would open their shops now.

Though thats a lie, she knew Srinu would never get that its a lie, for it is but a kitchen news.

With a tired sigh Srinu sunk in the couch having washed his hands and legs and having removed his dripping wet shirt, and shivering a bit due to the cold weather while she brought steaming cups of tea, for herself and Srinu.

Srinu, who was playing with the little one, left him and took the tea, feeling a little grateful for the hot drink.

I want tea too, declared the little one, goaded by the scent of masala tea, which Jaya makes really well and the picturesque wisps of smoke coming from the porcelain cups, accentuated by the candlelight, evoking the sense of warmth to the senses numbed by the cold and continues rain.

The masala tea of Jaya, so famous in the family, was usually compared with that of Jain's tea, it's the regular tea plus some ingredients Jaya adds in precise quantities, rich in aroma unlike normal tea which hardly has any odour.

No, my dear young man, you cant get tea.


Youre not big enough for tea and coffee, Ill give you Bournvita again, if you want, said his mom.

He contemplated for a minute and said, When I become big, Ill grow a moustache, like daddy, and drink coffee and Tea and call you Srinu and call you Jaya. Grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt and everyone else call you Jaya and Srinu, except me and brother.

They let out mirthful unrestrained burst of laughter, which wavered their hands and Srinu, who was listening avidly to the little one, barely touched his tea yet, which now trickled over the white porcelain cup. But having just come home from his favorite avocation, he didn't let this tamper his ebullience. Still laughing he put aside his cup, and drew the little one near, pinched his cheeks and acted as if pulling and twirling the imaginary moustache of the little guy, and they all laughed, just as the elder one woke up and joined the party and started laughing, after allowing himself a huge yawn and stretch, though he had no idea whatsoever.

During a Storm

Brows knitted together in concern, and a comb perched in her three feet long, coal black hair, Jaya was looking out through the rusted out gate, while an umbrella was protecting her from the rain. Even as she squinted it was of no use, no sign of anyone on roads, as the unusual rain, reported to have resulted because of a cyclone.

She was eagerly waiting for the arrival of her husband, Srinu, while controlling her little kids, guys, six & four, while also trying to shove away all the apprehensive thoughts that are coming into the back of her mind.
Its almost his usual time of return.

The rain is expected to become violent and turn into a full cyclone in a few hours.

-----Cling Clang KalangThump.....------

She hurried inside, as a sharp sound of something falling came from the house.

The elder was not posing any problem at all, true to what is expected of an elder son, he was more mature and silent, even at a young age, and taking his moms advice, he went to sleep, lulled by the sounds of rain splashing on the roof tiles.

The little one, also true to what is always expected of a second kid, was mischievous and unstoppable, he couldnt stay put in one place, always running around in his pichku pichku shoes, and was posing a great problem for he was trying to go out in the rain, and in the process of rummaging for his treasures felled a neatly arranged column of the cooking vessels onto the floor.

The little one's face contorted with alarm, cheeks flushed in pink, though he tried to convey a feeling of apology, it looked rather funny.

Jaya clicked her tongue impatiently but said nothing more for her mind was too occupied to give him a nice scolding; otherwise he would have gotten a nice little spank to his back.

Go to the room and sleep, she ordered.

I want to go out, please, he persisted.

Although Jaya wanted to say, No, you cant go out, this is not just a rain, it is a cyclone, She knew he was too young to understand this, so she just shook her head in a brisk horizontal way, meaning a big NO.

They were not yet rich enough to have a telephone, even if they have had one, Jaya had always problem remembering the lone telephone of the telephone office, where Srinu worked, 327380.

The evening, which usually by that time was in full sunlight, was pitch dark, for the power which would be disrupted even for a short drizzle, was understandably gone by then.

Her anxiety kept increasing as the sound of the rain crashing the tiles increased, its roar growing as the time went by.

She knew the office, should she go there herself? No the little guy would definitely tag along. Moreover she was not sure if she can go out in this darkness.

Earlier in the day after teaching for half a day in the school, the management (all the 3 teachers) thought it would be wise to stop it and get back home early, for the incessant rain is only becoming thick over time. And by the time she came home, both her kids were home, and the elder guarding the young one against his will to go into the rain, using all the authority vested in him. The rain had become a full scale storm, and nothing in the streets was visible for as mentioned before it was pitch black. There were rumours that this might lead to flooding which is not unheard of in this coastal place. People here learned to live with it.

As she was married in the South Indian wedlock way, the arranged marriage, the expressing of love /concern /worry in words was very rare. The love was always masked in the cheerful bitter comments about how she had to abandon her studies to marry Srinu.

Its already 7 in the evening, time for the second round of evening tea, and Srinu has not yet returned.

While Jaya was waiting and worrying, the little one, in his shrill babyish voice, shouted, Please let me out, my boats are waiting.

He recently learned from his brother making paper-boats, and ever since it was one of his favourite pastime, launching paper boats in the overflowing drains, a habit which he embraced till he was a teenager. He made few modifications to the classic design taught to him by his brother so that they stay stronger and stay alive some more time before succumbing to the eddies of water swirls and the falls due to height variations within the drains.

No, Pandu, you cant go out.


Cant you see its raining, youll catch cold

The little one remained silent for a while and announced, All the cows and buffaloes stay in the rain and they never catch cold.

Jaya laughed at his reasoning, which helped her leave aside her tension, if only for a teensy moment. She with a fake seriousness, said, But you are not a buffalo are you?

The little one, not knowing what to reply, asked, Where is dad? Why is he not back yet?

Jaya thought to herself, Ive the same questions, to whom small I pose them to?

Suddenly the wind became so brutish that it seemed like it was hell bent on murdering the windows, while the curtains billowed out and we're swaying vigorously as if trying to run away from their harness.

Hold on the curtains while I bolt the windows shut. They had had a very difficult time shutting them.

click here for part 2

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

S8 39 Circar Express - part 13

Just as we settled down in our seats, Siri came in a quick dash, with an infuriated look, ‘Ravi, the painting, in the exhibit board, we gave it on behalf of green group, though you did it, it belongs to green group, you just can’t take it.’

‘Whoa! Wait a minute, how can you say it’s me who took it?’

‘Oh! Come on, isn’t it obvious, you took it for your darling here.’

Visibly intimidated by the imagined consequences, Mahi said, coming to my rescue, ‘I’m sorry, I took it.’

Siri left saying, ‘I don’t care.’

Mahi was noticeably upset.


A little while later one of my friends came up to me and told me there’d be a re-election for the post of the Class Representative. I laughed at the evident joke, but later when the instructor was diligently trying to affect the same during a leisure class, I was veritably dumbfounded.

I was the Class Representative ever since anyone can remember, and I have held that post since my day one. And as someone who is ambitious enough to be good in academics while also participating in every other event, I was in a way respected and never for once anyone even tried the suggestion of a re-election for the Class Representative. It’s a post of privilege and honor, and some useless things. I was even more stung when I came to know about the fact that it was a suggestion from a group of girls, obvious enough, Siri and her girls’ gang.

We have gone with the tedious process and not surprisingly, I was re-elected.

Some guys visibly favored both me and Siri for the post while a wink in their eyes during the process told me that they were doing so just for the fun of it, and moreover, it’d definitely be more entertaining to get a ‘girl’ boss over them.

At the end of it to my nasty shock, she was made a deputy to me, who, according to the instructor, could  help me do the things, standby when I’m not around, and also help me not to lapse in my duties.

I brushed of entire issue as merely a childish annoyance, but it established one thing for sure, I’ll no longer get those small helps from Siri, like writing my record, helping with my notes (I’m a bit lazy, particularly when there’s a lot of pointless writing), and getting attendance for me in one of those few classes I bunked, though my teachers never suspected me.

But all the same my instructor called me into her room to have a small word, though I felt, she was a little amused herself at the idea of these re-election and stuff and enjoyed the show thoroughly.

‘Ravi, I just have a small advice to you.’

‘Yes, madam.’

‘Already you take part in too many activities, so I don’t want you to get distracted, you should always put your academics first. Of course! I trust your capability and judgment.’

‘Okay, madam.’

‘Also, I was told of a particular painting having been removed from the exhibit board?’

‘Yes, madam, I removed it since it was torn badly, someone might have accidentally did that. I’m doing a landscape in oils which I’d  put on exhibit board on behalf of our group.’

Everything went better than expected, and with a swelling pride I recounted to Mahi how I handled the issue, but for a greater part of the day she didn’t talk with me, which puzzled me like hell.

At the end of the day, she was waiting for me silently and just when everyone else went out of the classroom I asked point-blank, why she is behaving strangely.

After some more persuasion, she asked, ‘Do you always lie?’

‘I usually don’t, unless I think it’s necessary.’

‘So you’ll lie to me if it’s necessary?’

I didn’t know what to say.

She said, ‘I admire you, don’t do these silly things and whatever it is, please don’t lie to me, I don’t want to start a relationship based on lies.’

There was a prolonged silence.

‘Did you just say relationship?’

She bit her tongue having understood that she accidentally blurted out her feelings, and to her defense, she said, ‘No, no I never said anything like that, I might have said friendship,’ saying which she turned back, so her face wouldn’t betray her feelings.

‘And you were just telling, no lies.’

Hmmm! I’m caught! Am I not? It’d have been better if the guy proposed — hey, where are you going?’ She screamed as I immediately ran from her.


I have taken a while before coming back after my brief disappearance. The sky was already becoming a dark, bluish abyss with a tinge of crimson revealing the place of sun’s exit for the day. I had gone to her, who was waiting under the Mango tree, tensed and not knowing what to do.

I knelt in front of her and asked, placing the ring towards her, ‘Will you marry me?’

She looked at the makeshift ring I made out of coconut leaf and coconut leaf rose, and loosened a bit.

She was a little misty eyed, and with a little rawness in the throat, she gets whenever she becomes emotional, she said, ‘Where did you go? I thought I freaked you out by saying that, you - you aa-almost frightened me.’

She was still emotional, but not with grief anymore, I guess as a corner of her mouth started moving up before the other corner joined and slowly formed into a complete smile and she then let out a wholesome regal smile, and then pursed her lips to control the further flow of emotions.

I got up and put the coconut leaf rose in her hair, while almost caressing her ear with my lips I told her, in a soft whisper, ‘I love you.’

She gave a small peck on my cheek (I'm not sure if I can call it a kiss),  and thrust her hand towards me.

I slipped the coconut-leaf-ring on her finger.

click here for part 14 

S8 39 Circar Express - part 12

She seemed to be studying the swing, which later became her favorite place in my house, 'Interested in coming to school, dumbo?'

I stared at her in disbelief, having stunned into happiness.

She smiled at my discomfiture, and said, 'You definitely need nice shades.'

Here comes the first ever girl who liberally uses the words stupid, idiot and dumbo on me.

‘Just a minute’

I went to the cycle and putting a show of examining the tyre I actually pierced it and made it flat, so my parents would not ask me why I’m walking and thus abandoning the cycle and we started walking.

Another reason for leaving it at home was to make sure it won’t play any tricks on me, since I didn’t yet comprehend how it came to be back at my home.


It had been a little difficult to keep calm in spite of the mirth of the situation, a part of my mind was wondering whether I really took the cycle to the school the previous day.

Once or twice I touched her cheek, to make sure she is real, on the pretext of dusting off some odd sticking particle.
She is real.

I, usually a garrulous person, found it difficult to strike a conversation.

She was just walking with a pleasant, happy smile.

After walking for some distance, to say something, I said, ‘Can we walk a little faster?’


‘Otherwise, we will be late to school’

‘Does that affect you?’

I didn’t know what to say, lest she should think of me as a nerd, what are we to do if not going to school anyway?

She continued, ‘Besides, who’ll scold you?’

‘No one will scold you, because you’re new, but what stops me them from scolding me?’

‘Trust me they wouldn’t’


‘Sindhu, our classmate lives near my house, she accompanied me till your house today morning, and she is all praise about you. I came to know from her, that you’re the class topper.’

‘So, people don’t scold the class toppers huh?’

‘It’s not just that. Earlier I didn’t realize that it was you, but when we came for admission here, the headmistress and the teachers were talking very highly of the class topper Ravi, which I came to know today that it was you. Ravi is this; Ravi is that; trust me, all the teachers love you too much to scold you. They were saying I should give stiff competition to you, I was a district topper in Rajasthan, you know. Hey by the way I can help you with your Hindi, if you like, because I’m a north Indian and it’s my native language.’ She said, putting an obvious Accent into her speech.

‘Thanks, but I don’t need that, I’m a tad too good at Hindi, I’m afraid I’d beat even any native in that.’

She laughed, ‘Clearly, you don’t embrace modesty much, do you? Let us see. Is there anything you’re not good at?’

I thought for a while and said, ‘yes, I guess I’m not so good at talking to pretty girls.’

‘That, I very much doubt,’ said she with a soft giggle.

I never realized when we held our hands; somewhere and at some point we held our hands and were walking with our hands laced, which we pulled back as Rakesh came towards us.

He got down from his cycle and said, ‘Why are you walking? What happened to your cycle?’

‘It has got a flat tyre.’

‘It was okay, when I brought it to your house yesterday.’

I let a huge sigh of relief, it relieved me of the minor frustration that clouded a part of my mind since morning. So that was how it got back, thank goodness, I’m not imagining any things.

For once the news felt like a final chapter in a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot mystery where that inexplicable tiny trivial detail is given its due explanation.

‘It got punctured today morning when I went out for a workout,’

Mahi asked, ‘Wait a minute, you had your cycle yesterday, but walked all the way?’

Hmmm! Guess I forgot.’

She laughed gently while struggling to stop the unleashed laugh.

‘Rakesh this is Maher — Sonia, Sonia this is Rakesh, my best friend.’


We walked to school, along with Rakesh, never for once suspecting the drama that was about to unfold at the school.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

S8 39 Circar Express - part 11


     (pic credits: flickr)

I stuffed my books & other things into my backpack while my mother tried to push some breakfast down my throat just so that I won’t be hungry, muttering, ‘I pity your future wife, guess she should also go through this routine every day, when will you become big enough to eat by yourself’ (I still don’t).

I may be an ideal student for most of my teachers, but after all I’m a student and this Mahi thing is definitely messing with my head. Wow! Mahi huh? ‘Dude, you definitely have an awesome imagination, you even came up with a pet name for a non-existent girl.’



My idea of escape from this world usually has two routes — books and music. I diligently wedged my most important book into the front pockets of my backpack, the Harry Potter instalment that I was reading then, borrowed from Gautham. I took the book into my hands and spoke to it, ‘I hope you understand Emma, that no one would take your place in my heart.’ Emma Watson the Hermione was in a way my first crush.

'What the heck am I doing? Talking to a book? Something in my mind has definitely gone awry'

Having made sure no one is watching me, I carefully sneaked the Walkman from the wardrobe, which my parents would not allow me to as it was not allowed in the school.

Just as I was ready to leave the room, my Dad, in saffron robes, on his way to Pooja after having had cleaned the flowers with water, to decorate the gods, came in & announced, before going to his usual routine, 'A friend of yours is waiting for you.'

I silently sent a thank you to ... to whom? Never mind, I just silently sent a thank you, for my dad being in Pooja mood, otherwise my very prudish father would have smelled something wrong and would have discovered that I was taking the Walkman to school with me.

'Siri?' I ask, keeping a straight face.

Siri and we are family friends; she sometimes came along with me when she is not with her girls’ gang.

'No, not Siri, but someone I’ve never seen before.'

Well, it was weird; my dad has a knack of making anyone feel so comfortable and can connect easily, though sometimes I feel he talks more than necessary, the thing which I might have inherited. Nevertheless, there were some of my friends who I feel are friendlier with my dad than me.

Maybe it’s Gangadhar, although he and Rakesh are good friends of mine, they would, as a rule used to avoid coming into the house and lingered around the veranda (the front yard) and swing.

As I drew curtains and venture out clutching the shoes and socks in my hand, a shiver went across my spine making me as stiff as a board and I had to force myself to say something, because I was speechless. All that happened was real, not my figment of imagination.

Standing there in our front yard was Mahi, with the sun shining behind her and turning her hair a shade of golden-yellow, looked stunning, with a hand casually placed on the swing. May be this was how Veelas of Harry Potter looked like. Perfect.

'Interested in coming to school, dumbo?' 

S8 39 Circar Express - part 10

I happily went to sleep and woke up early the next morning, that, if you can call it morning, sometime between night & dawn.

The other times I wake up at that hour is when we would be going on a vacation and have to catch an early train, my mom would wake me up during those times, where I used to have a huge urge to go back to sleep in spite of the excitement.

This was different; I felt full of vigour & energy and didn’t have that urge to slump back.

I silently went up to our terrace & sat on the dangerously thin railing, taking in deep breaths of early morning air, which has a cool untainted rawness to it.
It felt as if the lungs were thanking me, taking in huge bouts of air. I sat there thinking of her. A part of me feared that everything was a dream, a pleasant, happy dream, which graced me just like the lovely breeze that was tapping the nape of the neck.

Yeah, maybe it was just a dream, because the day, which didn’t start so well ended up in the best possible way, something which doesn’t happen often.

I had decided to go for a jog just to feel good, after all it’s not daily someone as lazy as me wakes up feeling so fresh. Just as I descended to go for the jog, I noticed my cycle parked safely in our front yard, my faithful beast, confirming my suspicions that I was just dreaming, if it was true, the cycle should still be at school.

An unknown numbness crept into my body, eating away the previously felt energy as it progressed, giving rise to a sudden pang of melancholy and even before I knew what was happening, tears trickled down my cheeks, as I felt I lost someone I had known forever. 



I cycled vigorously to the junior college, letting the gravity propel me on the downhill road, thankful to the hour for not having the need to apply brakes as there were hardly any vehicles, thereby making the soft morning breeze hit my face turbulently. I parked my cycle and started running in the track half heartedly.

'I remember her face so vividly, remember holding her hands, remember her embrace, is my imagination so lifelike? Or am I just getting mad?'

I settled down to peace with myself, no more of these imaginations and thinking of her. Just concentrate on the workout. The jog, it didn’t last much time, though, the first day is always hard, after some distance it became more of a brisk walk than a sprint. 

Just as I returned home panting, my dad was coming out to get flowers for his daily Pooja, while having left a vessel at the municipal water tap, which comes into our home, thereby saving us from the usual scuffles for the municipal water from the taps in the streets, which one can see, even more exaggerated in the Indian movies.

He eyed me suspiciously, naturally, for it was a daily headache, waking me up, undertook by both my dad and mom, as it took them several attempts before I actually woke up. I almost ran into the bathroom, saying over my shoulder, ‘went for a jog.’

After my bath, I stopped at the bathroom mirror, clouded due to the steam from hot water, bare-chested and just wrapped in a towel waist below. I rubbed a small surface of the mirror clean with my hand to check the reflection of my face, like I always do, but for the first time I had noticed a small dent in the skin near my right eyebrow. How did I get it?

I went to my mom and asked her about the same.

She threw me a curious glance and said, ‘You, true to your nature, couldn’t stay put at one place even when you were a toddler. You once had a fall from the turned over water cauldron which earned you that dent.’

‘What was I doing on a turned over cauldron?’

‘Indeed! Right? We have had the same doubt; high time you realized it. Anyway, what excited you to suddenly take note of it? You know what it means?’

‘That I’ve been an idiot all the time?’ I offer.

‘It means you’ve come to the height of adolescence,' and she added with an obvious hint of humor in her expression,  'And it might also mean that you have met a new girl.’

Haha, very funny.’ I said aloud while thinking to myself, if only I really met her.

Click here for part 11

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