Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Winged horses and Peacock Feathers - 2

continued from part - 1

Just as he was finishing his conversation with Rakesh, Ashish came out of nowhere and suddenly touched him, no almost pushed him, announcing loudly, “Now Ravi has the drilla”

Ravi should have known better, everyday by the end of second period someone or other is in drilla, and the time in between two periods, the small slice of time available before the next teacher comes is the dangerous time when drilla is passed on to an unsuspecting person, if he/she had not saved themselves by making the protecting gesture with their two fingers, tip of index finger touching the pad of the middle finger, almost like crossing fingers. If you’ve made that gesture even if the drilla person touches you, it can't pass on to you.

Apparently that day Ashish was in drilla since Anusha saw and announced when Ashish, while yawning and stretching touched an old chewing gum sticking from the inside of the bench, and everyone else other than Ravi and Rakesh had made the protective drilla gesture.

“Great, now I’ve to find another idiot to pass it on to!!!”


Dejected that there is still a lot of waiting for the winged horse Ravi went home. Adding to his misery was the fight he had with Harika. He still didn’t understand why she was crying for such a trifle thing. He thought he should in fact be thanked for cleaning up the mess in her place. What’s worse all the girls seemed to understand and sympathize with Harika which was even more a mystery to Ravi and Gangadhar.

All he did was he threw away the pencil saw dust which for some reason was in abundance at Gangadhar’s place. And later mistaking Gangadhar to be the one who threw away the pencil dust, Harika knocked him and since Ravi is a good friend of Gangadhar he has no choice but to get involved in the fight.

All along Harika was crying that she has been amassing the pencil dust to feed her peacock feathers.

“Whaaaat?” Asked Ravi and Gangu together, surprise evident in their voices.

She opened a page in her notebook and sure enough, there was a small peacock feather amidst of a lot of pencil saw dust, which clearly puzzled most of the guys and they surrounded the bench where Harika, Gangu and Ravi were.

She explained, “If we feed these peacock feathers, they’ll grow into big beautiful peacock feathers”

“You’re kidding, right?” Said Ravi with a hint of uncertainty in his voice, since Harika was still crying a bit and Ravi didn’t know what to make of it.

“Why would I lie in a matter like this?”

“Then you’re being stupid, how can a feather which was detached from the bird regrow?”

This time she pushed both the guys out of the bench with the help of other girls who sided with Harika without a word, like it’s an obvious mistake of Ravi.

“Girls are stupid,” said Gangu to Ravi later in the playground.

“Guys are stupid,” said other girls to Harika, while religiously sharpening their pencils, to generate some pencil saw dust to compensate Harika’s loss.


Contended with the few little sips of tea, he has filched from his mother's cup, while she was in the kitchen (since tea for adults & hot chocolate for kids), Ravi went to the terrace. And just he came up, he saw a flock of cranes going across the sky.

He wanted to test the incantation Bangarraju has told earlier in the day to get that coveted mark on one of his nails.

He closed his fists and kept them in front of his chest and made little circles with his tiny fists, saying, 

"కొంగా కొంగా గుడ్డెట్టుదేవుడి గుడిలో పువ్వెట్టు" -

- Hey crane! Please give me the mark and offer a flower to the God in the temple.

He didn't know the second line of the incantation.

He kept doing that until the flock were mere tiny specks in the distant skies and sure enough his ring finger nail has got a fresh white mark which he can't wait to exhibit to his friends in the school the next day.

The folklore and fairy tales have lives, they just attend to one generation at a time and keep them submerged in a river of pleasant dreams and beliefs, playing with them, providing them with the fortresses, filling everything with colors, magic and life and adding a melody to the childhood.

Winged horses and Peacock Feathers

Parking his cycle he tried to sneak into his class line at the morning assembly unnoticed, and hoped no one would notice him, for he is not the tallest, to stand at the back. He would come somewhere between Ashish and Gangadhar, and of course there was an unsettled quarrel between him and Aparna, on which of them is taller.

Sister Vinitha, his class teacher, saw all this and Ravi being her favorite student was torn between admonishing him and remaining silent. She caught his eye and rased one of her eyebrows which clearly meant this is the last warning. Ravi gave a barely noticeable nod, which meant I swear I'd never be late again.

Except for a couple of Ravi's friends no one noticed this exchange of warnings and apologies, for all of them are still trying their voices at the prayer song lazily, while the more lazier bunch were just moving their lips giving an impression of singing.
Their nascent minds still lingering in the fair their family had gone to over the weekend, that awesome roundabout, the pink cotton candy; and the Scooby Doo show that morning, which was granted after so many protests and pleadings with mom, “I can watch the show and still can get ready in time, please ma.”

These implorations were a daily happening, each hoping the other would eventually get used to it. Kids hoping their mothers would realize how important the show is to them, mothers hoping their kids would come out of it so that they can get them ready to school in time for school bus / rickshaw. But neither of their hopes seem to be fulfilled, ever.


Once inside, sharing his bench with Sireesha, Ravi brought out his pencil and gave it a contemptuous look. He hoped that he can use a pen that year, but to his utter melancholy they were told that students of grades one, two, and three are only to use pencil. The crest fallen Ravi counted on his fingers and said to himself, “that's three more years of waiting to write with a pen.”

His only consolation was the thought that his brother, elder to him by two years, would also not be allowed to use a pen yet, somehow this news seemed to lessen his grief. But then with a shock he had realized his brother was born in the first half of the year and he in the second half of the year, making the difference in their academic years three.
So his brother was in fourth grade, and sure enough their dad has gifted him a nice Parker pen for a new and auspicious beginning. All this came to his mind whenever Ravi brought out his pencil from his bag.

Just two years and 10 months more, he whispered to himself. He whispered something in Siri’s ears and she left for a back bench when the sister was not watching. And upon the cue Rakesh came and occupied the place. Best friends.

They talked in suppressed tones.

“So did you catch the winged horses?” Ravi asked Rakesh.

“I tried, but they are very fast.”

“No, you are just being lazy, that's all.”

A little incensed Rakesh said, “Then why don't you catch yourselves?”

“You know why.”

Sure enough Rakesh knows why. Ravi hated insects, though actually he feared them, he would never admit that he was afraid of anything.

There were these little thorny trees near their school, beside the big banyan tree. Those thorny trees had no fruits, and do they flower? No one was sure. Their sole purpose seemed to provide shelter for some queer looking insect sorta things that colonized only on those trees. Everyone knew as a fact that those grew into winged horses if properly fed and cared for. Those trees were always crowded with boys and few tomboyish girls of lower grades, usually in their initial years of primary school.

Did anyone ever succeed in feeding one properly and making a beautiful winged horse from those? No one was sure, but when asked almost everyone said with a strong certainty that he / she knew a certain someone near their house who actually groomed one, but alas, in the end, all their enchanting narratives ended with the horse being flown away as soon as they sprouted big enough wings.

And to have their own winged horses and proudly showcase it to all others, Ravi and Rakesh decided to catch one, feed it and groom it.

“Tomorrow you’re going to catch one, at any cost, ok? Or else I’ll, Dishkyoon,” he said, making a killing gesture with his finger gun.

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