Sunday, November 11, 2007


When you graduate from high school to junior college, life gives you a chance to make right all the wrongs you have done. You have now learnt from your mistakes and you are ready to face a whole new world. You can choose the people you want to stay in touch with and stay clear of all the people you don’t want to stay in touch with. Sometimes a whole new life with a whole lot of new people and a completely different atmosphere is just what you need.

When I came to Mithibai I had all the hopes of making lifelong friends. I dreamt of all the wonderful times I would have that my older cousins kept boasting of. I imagined myself in the famous canteen surrounded by people I would call my friends discussing unimportant things and laughing at just about anything and having a good time. It is strange how everything you dream of never happens. What you dream of is almost always the opposite of what actually happens. I have had this experience several times and yet its one of those mistakes that one shall never learn from. Well, my point, in short is that my first few days of college life were not exactly what I thought they would be.

The first day I entered my classroom (that was going to be the place I would see the least in college), there were only two girls in the room. They were in deep conversation and didn’t seem like they would appreciate company. So I sat down on a bench away from them. They threw me a glance but before they could see I was smiling, they had returned to their conversation. It seemed one of the girls had recently been through something traumatic and the other girl was trying to console her. I believe that judging people by their attire is highly prejudicial and I generally try to be least prejudicial at all times. By the ensemble of these two girls I could tell that they suffered from the Freedom From School-Uniform Syndrome and had planned on attracting as much attention to their brightly clad torso and scantily clad legs as possible. I waited for some more people to enter.

It seemed there had been some sort of procedure whereby people had chosen the person or persons they wanted to enter the class with; an arrangement they had forgotten to inform me of. I say this because within 10 minutes of my arrival into the classroom, it was full and all had entered in twos and threes deep in conversation with each other as if they had known each other all their lives. I looked around at the people surrounding me to find the group that would be least hostile by my intrusion and people who I would like to hang out with. But before I got too far a teacher entered and I decided to postpone my mission. In class I answered a couple of questions; this endeared the first-benchers towards me. During the break one of them came up to me and asked me my name and if I would like to join them in the canteen. To be frank, they did not seem like the kind of people who liked to have a lot of fun but I was getting desperate for company and so I went with them. What I did not realise at that time was that this little mistake of mine would cost me my popularity in class. When we went back to class after break, I excused myself and looked for place elsewhere but it seemed every seat was taken for people who hadn’t come as yet. So I found myself sitting next to the nerds. The next day, I promised myself I will find a place farthest away from them.And thus I sat at the last bench the next day.
Having taken up Arts, is sometimes like taking admission into a girls college. There are rarely any boys and the few that are present are treated with great care. But if the boy is even slightly good looking, he would be treated with utmost reverence. I honestly had not planned on sitting on the same bench as Rohit Gala. It was pure coincidence that the seat next to mine was the only one empty and that Rohit Gala came late that day (like all other days after that, when he did attend lectures). I will not waste time describing him because I would go on for pages describing his perfect face and unbelievably attractive physique. As you might have already guessed, Rohit Gala was the Greek god as far as FYJC girls were concerned. We did not have much of a conversation except when he asked for a pen. He did not come to class for a few days after that, during which time I became the girl who sat next to Rohit Gala, although it did not endear anymore people to me. I did manage to have a few random conversations with people here and there. One particular group of girls came to me on that very day and asked me if I was from their school. But when I said I was not, they quickly left. They seemed nice people to hang out with. They seemed to have quite a lot of fun as I had noticed the previous day, but they made it quite clear that I was unwelcome and so I did not impose myself on them.

As I came into college the next day, I saw a notice for a dance audition to be held that day after lecture hours. I was quite good at dancing and so decided to go. The auditions went quite well. Even Rohit Gala was present. I was selected (and so was Rohit Gala). We were to start practice next morning itself. I was more than happy as it meant bunking lectures. Dance rehearsals were fun. All the people around were quite cordial and fun to be with. Soon they became my closest friends in college. We did almost everything together, including getting yelled at by our teachers for not having attended lectures. Unlike some of our seniors I tried to attend some lectures but, let’s just say, when man is given a choice, he will almost never choose wisely.

I have had some of my best times going to various college festivals, going for dance rehearsals, organising various events of our own, simply hanging out in the coffee shop when we are exhausted after all the work done.

But i learnt an important lesson through the ordeal of making friends.
A lesson that I have learnt in the past five years of my college life is that, there is always a category of people that you fall into whether you like it or not. As for Rohit, he was one among the several Greek gods we came across.


The queue for the railway ticket at Andheri station was as long as the train on Platform No. 1... I was in no particular hurry to reach my destination and so my mind was left idle to wander. This was not the first time that I had been to the station. In fact, I am such a frequent visitor to the juice-wala at the corner of the booking office that he recognizes me by face and often awaits my arrival with one kokum juice ready for me. But I had never bothered to notice the whitewashed walls which had turned cream on top and a bright brown and maroon on the lower areas or the number of pamphlets stuck on the walls (hiding the creamness), calling for young talented actors and actresses of all age or the vacancy for a paying guest who ‘must be single male’. I had barely noticed the stench of dirt mixed with dried spit and betel juice that permeated the place and least of all the beggar children right under the counter. We usually turn our face in the opposite direction when we see one of these children coming our way begging for alms and completely ignore the existence of the ones that don’t obstruct our way. But this one child had my rapt attention for the 15 minutes that I waited in the queue.

The girl must have been barely 10 years old and had a little infant of probably 5 or 6 months in her hand. She wore a ragged frock with frills. Her dirty brown hair was tied in a bun at the back of her head and her complexion was the testimony to the fact that she had spent all her life on the street. But her face seemed to have a strange sort of serenity; A silent radiance of a child who has been trusted with responsibility and is ably doing it. She walked past the long queues silently making sure a torn little blanket covered the infant sufficiently. When she reached the counter she spread another little rag on the floor with one hand and carefully lowered herself over it. She placed the baby on her lap and made sure it was comfortable. She then looked at the numerous people around her. I sensed a feeling of longing in her eyes as she passed her eyes over the people. She then looked down at the baby and looked up again. But as she looked up this time, her face was contorted in to a frown and her mouth was wide open, as she droned on a rehearsed set of lines and looked up at the men and women passing by, with impassive eyes and outstretched hand.

Suddenly all the serenity and radiance was gone from her face. She became just another beggar girl who is intolerably loud and screechy. I could still not take my eyes off her. Barely anyone heeded her pleas for alms. But it did not matter. She went on with her pleas and I continued looking at her. She would stop every 2 minutes for breath and in those 2 minutes her face would return to the serenity that first attracted my attention. I was amazed at the change in her facial features as her face moved from serene calm to contortion and back. Begging for alms was a daily job that she did without passion, for the sake of survival. There was no fun in it or any skill or talent required, but it did not matter. This was what she has been conditioned to do since the time she was born. Fun and play were words that found no place in her dictionary. I did not realize it but there was a look of concern on my face. The child noticed me and glared at me as though she was offended by the attention. I quickly looked away but my eyes returned to her as she returned to her pleas for alms.

I was only 4 passengers away from the counter, when an older girl of about 16 stomped her way to the little girl, scolded in a language I did not understand and forcefully snatched the baby from her and walked away. The little girl just sat there and screamed and tried to call the other girl back. But to no avail. She curled up against the wall, hugged her knees and began to sob quietly. I looked around for the other girl and found her sitting at the opposite corner nursing the baby. I presumed the older girl was its mother. I looked back at the girl who was still sulking like her favorite toy was snatched away from her. It was not as if she will never see the baby again but the grief of having something so dear being snatched away from a person is deep. There could have been several explanations to what had just happened. But it did not matter.

About half a minute later, the child looked up and wiped her tears. I was now only one person away from the counter. The girl looked around her, the feeling of longing again in her eyes. Her eyes locked with mine and I was transfixed. The thread was broken when the man behind urged me to buy my ticket fast. I bought my ticket and began to walk back. Suddenly I remembered there was a bar of chocolate inside my bag. I looked back to find the child still looking at me. I took the chocolate out and gave it to her and smiled. There was nothing she could do but to take the chocolate. She then looked at it and the ends of her mouth curled upwards in to the most fascinating smile I have ever seen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Steal every moment that you get
For cherished or not that is all you have
Not silent not hidden not covered
It is open. Blatant. Naked
For everyone to see and everyone to know
But you steal it; You hide it; You won’t let it show

Why bother having a private life.
Why hide what cannot be hidden
Why scare the few who may be true

By stealing something they have already given.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

In the Sabbatical

After a sabbatical of three months, I write on this blog again. Nothing much to say... but here's what I've been upto...

An inspiration away is a world,
Where I tamed the sun,
And now the wolrd is mine.

Have I the courage, the grit,
The motivation to drive on?
Survival is a a thin string.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


It was still dark inside the house, when Kalyani opened her eyes. She groped on the window-sill next to her bed for the small table clock. It was 5:30 am. She looked around to see what had woken her up. The room she shared with her grandmother looked orderly. Everything seemed exceptionally quiet. Her grandmother, as usual, was outside on the veranda chanting her morning prayers and there was a cricket crying somewhere among the tiny bushes in the small courtyard outside, but these sounds only seemed to add to the silence. Kalyani looked out at the veranda. Everything was in shades of blue and black. The courtyard of dried cow dung looked disturbingly peaceful. She fell back on to her bed, still feeling groggy from sleep and thought about what had happened yesterday.

A cab driver from Dubai! Everyone was so excited. ‘I will see my Kalyani well settled before I close my eyes.’ Her grandmother’s voice rang in her ears. There was such a sparkle in her eyes when she said it. Mother was skeptical at first but as soon as she was told that he has never touched alcohol in his life, she was thrilled. Her own experiences had taught her enough about alcoholics. She would have chosen a pauper over an alcoholic for her daughter. Kalyani wasn’t excited about leaving her mother and grandmother alone and going to a strange country with a stranger, but then again she must get married and go someday, might as well be now with a person well capable of fending for her. Everyone said such a connection is hard to come by. The sun was up now and she must finish taking a bath and washing the clothes before 7.30. Her mother did not like it if she was late for breakfast.

She had just finished sweeping the floor and dusting the scanty furniture around the house, when she noticed a visitor at the door. ‘Radha!’ she yelled and sprinted to the door. They hugged and Kalyani pulled the visitor in to the kitchen. ‘When did you come? Has your college closed for the vacation? My god you have grown so thin. Don’t you city girls ever eat?’ Radha was the daughter of one of the richest men in the village and she had been Kalyani’s playmate since childhood, much to the disapproval of their parents. She was doing her first year of MBBS in a city down south. She stayed in the college hostel and it had been more than 6 months since she had visited Chenur in the onam vacations. They were of the same age but Kalyani had given up studies after tenth standard. Her family was neither as rich as Radha’s nor were they as enthusiastic about girls being more educated than their prospective husbands. And unlike her friend, she was hardly interested in academics, so she felt no remorse for discontinuing her studies.

‘I came in the evening yesterday. We have three days of leave because of a strike. Let that be. What am I hearing, you are getting married!’ Radha hardly sounded excited. Kalyani giggled at her shock.

‘Don’t get so excited. The wedding is not tomorrow. The proposal came through my uncle… you know the one who is a match maker? He told grandmother about it and they spoke to the other family. They are going to come and see me tomorrow.’ She went on to tell Radha all about the proposed groom.

‘Are you happy?’
‘Yes, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?’
‘You mean you really want to get married so soon?’
‘What do you mean ‘soon’? I’m almost 17. Maalathi got married at the age of 15. She is 18 years old and a proud mother of two healthy boys. I also want to have my own family.’
‘But there is so much more to do in life before you get married.’
Kalyani laughed out loud at this. ‘Now you have started speaking like a city girl. You are studying and are going to become a doctor. What do I have to do? I’m the daughter of your house-maid.’
Before Radha could react to this, Kalyani’s mother entered the kitchen. Her face did not encourage amity. But at seeing Radha, she immediately changed her tone and graciously offered her tea or something to eat. She yelled at Kalyani for having made her sit on the rickety chair in the small kitchen. ‘I don’t know why you like to spend time inside this pile of mud and brick.’ She said to Radha. As she scanned through the kitchen, her eyes reached the sink were the vessels lay unwashed. Her mood immediately changed again and she caught Kalyani by the ear and pulled her toward the sink, ‘you haven’t even finished washing the vessels. What have you been doing? Is this how you are going to behave at your in-laws’ as well? Are you going to make me listen to insults from them? Why do you make life so difficult for me?’
Radha tried to defend Kalyani but to no avail. When the initial storm was over and her mother went out mumbling to herself, Kalyani said almost to herself, ‘May be it will be better for me to go after all.’
‘She will never get over the trauma of losing your father to that tramp.’
Kalyani let out a bitter laugh. ‘Ha! Losing my father? I never had a father. She never had a husband. He was jus a man who forced himself upon us, stole our money and went out with others like him, come home drunk and beat us as if we were pieces of iron in his workshop. The only good he ever did to us was to go away.’
Radha knew being in the house would only make Kalyani bitterer. They decided to go out and walk around in the woods. On their way, they met Maalathi with her son in her arms. They shared pleasantries and spoke for a little while and moved on.

‘She is happily married, isn’t she? You can see it on her face.’
‘Oh, her husband is a very nice man. He is very hard working and sincere and takes care of his family. He is hardly 25 but I hear he earns quite well in the city. I hope I will be like Maalathi one day.’
‘And you are hoping a cab driver is going to keep you happy. Don’t you have any ambition in life?’
‘You don’t understand. This is life for me. This is what I have to look forward to. The only ambition I’m allowed is to hope my husband doesn’t start fancying other women. What I don’t understand is why you have to waste so many years reading and learning and racking your brains when one fine day you will also get married.’
‘Because getting married is not the end of the world for me. I will work even after marriage. I will work and have children and manage a family and a professional life together, like most women do these days.’
‘And what do you get after doing so much, money? But you already have so much.’
‘No! It’s not the money. It’s the satisfaction of having done something in life, the fact that I can be independent.’
‘You have turned in to a city girl. I always knew there will come a time when we will not understand each other. We come from different worlds. Our priorities, our goals, everything is different. To you the world is full of endless opportunities and prospects. To me the world is my mother, grandmother and this little village where everything goes according to a plan; a plan that has never changed and has hardly any scope of changing: the men will work and earn money for the family. The women will take care of the children and the house and teach her children to become men and women.’
‘May be you are just scared of trying out new avenues. The world is changing and you need to change with it. That’s the only way to survive. Or else you get out-dated.’
‘But I don’t want the kind of change I see in you. I don’t want to gain so much knowledge. I don’t want to earn a living. I don’t want to worry about the entire world and forget about my family and friends. It’s true once you become a doctor, you will only have time for your patients. You will have to beg for time with your family. And even the time you get you will be worried about your patients. I’m sure you will handle it very well but I want peace of mind. I’d like my world to remain small. It reduces worries and makes life much more meaningful.’
‘So you will accept the proposal tomorrow.’
‘I don’t know. What if he isn’t such a good person as people say he is?’
‘But if he is, you will marry him?’
‘I’m still worried about my mother and grandmother. When I go they will be left alone here.’
‘May be you should leave them here and start your own life. May be you should get married.’
Kalyani looked at her friend with a knowing smile. Radha returned the smile. Then they both stared at the mud road that lay ahead of them. A little way ahead it split. One goes on further, up a little bridge over the river to join the main road that goes to town, while the other leads to the river. The river runs parallel to the main road. The two mud roads never meet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Ghost Within

Meenaxi never had a dull moment; running around in her grand house, frolicking from one spacious luxurious room to another, climbing up and jumping down the narrow wooden stairs and playing catch-and-cook around the coconut trees and in the rice fields with her brothers. She was loved by everyone. There wasn’t a human in the little village of Telishery who could resist her adorable five-year-old giggles. Everyone loved to see little Meenaxi in her white petticoat with long curly jet black tresses bobbing up and down with her as she dances around the river side. And then she was lost........
“Meenu! Where are you?” It was lunch time and Meenu couldn’t be found anywhere. In and out of the numerous rooms Meenu’s mother and her two elder brothers searched frantically, but Meenu could not be found. “MEENU.....” the voice rang in the extensive grounds around their house but to no avail. Mr. Nair, Meenu’s father, who was the collector of the district, was called and told to come as soon as possible. The neighbours were asked if they had seen Meenu but nobody had. Some of them volunteered to help look for her. They went to every nook and corner of the village but in vain. Meenu was to be found nowhere.
While walking by the river side, Appu heard the men calling out to somebody. He went closer to them to find out who they were looking for. When he realized they were looking for Meenu he immediately ran towards them. Looking at the boy running towards them, the men thought he might know something. “Have you seen Meenu around here lately?” The boy nodded. He pointed to the west and said, “She was going towards the cottage in the afternoon. But after that I haven’t seen her.” This sent a chill down everyone’s spine.
“Why would she go towards the cottage.”
“There is nothing there but some trees and the cottage. She wouldn’t dare go into the cottage.”
Set amidst a bunch of mango trees which never bore any fruit, the cottage was a small structure of clay with a thatched roof a little away from all the other houses. It belonged to Ramanunni, the lunatic who had disappeared from the village many years ago. It was said he could speak to the dead and used to bring back messages for them. He would often go into a trance and tell a person that he had a message for him from the dead and for the message he would charge money. That was his living. Everyone used to be scared of Ramanunni, for he rarely brought good news. He never spoke to anyone unless he had a message for someone. He would roam around the village all day long and keep muttering to himself. Children would run away at the sight of him. And then suddenly, Ramanunni stopped coming to the village. Some said he must have taken ill and died, some said he must have abandoned his cottage and gone off to another village but nobody knew for sure what had happened to him. No one ever had the courage to go and look into his cottage. And hence his whereabouts remained a mystery.
Mr. Nair was reminded, now, about the number of times Meenu had asked him about Ramanunni. Meenu’s brothers had told her about Ramanunni one day, as a game to scare her. But instead of getting frightened she seemed to feel sorry for Ramanunni and wanted to know more and more about him. “It is quite possible that Meenu did go to the cottage”, thought Mr. Nair.
They set out immediately towards the cottage hoping to find her on the way or somewhere in the trees around the cottage. It was dusk by the time they reached the wooded area a little beyond the village. The trees hid the last rays of the sun. Although the men had carried electric torches, the atmosphere around them was eerie. The three men felt a knot of fear in their stomach, walking through the lonely path with the sounds of the cricket surrounding them. ‘Poor Meenu must be terrified all alone in this ghastly place.’ thought her father. The men proceeded slowly observing every movement, listening to every sound around them. The crunching of dried leaves under their feet, a solo whoosh of breeze that ruffled up the leaves in the bushes. Did that sound like someone’s in the bushes a little way ahead or was it just the wind? Is that moaning or just the dog howling?
Back home Mrs. Nair was in a terrible shape. She had been crying for hours together. She was sitting in the veranda and refused to move. But as the hours stretched on, there was no sign of either her husband or her daughter. The eldest son tried to persuade his mother to go in and eat something, but she refused. She refused to budge from her position. The neighbours’ wives came and tried to calm her but nothing anyone said had any effect.
In the woods, the men were quite close to the cottage. The woods had thinned down and they could see a shadowy structure ahead of them. About fifty feet away from the cottage they decided to go around it and call out to Meenu. Half an hour later there was still no sign of Meenu. “We have no other choice. We must go in.” said Meenu’s father.
“Are you insane? Go inside the house where Ramanunni lived? I will not do it.”
“Yes, you never know. This place is too scary for a man to live all alone unless he is practicing the dark arts.”
Although Mr. Nair found the idea ridiculous, he was also queasy about going inside the house. They decided to go a little nearer the house. As they walked closer and closer to the cottage they noticed a small dim light coming through the window. “He still lives there.” whispered one of them. As they got a little closer to the cottage, they heard a low moan coming from the cottage. It sounded as if someone was hurt badly. Fear gripped them. Shivers ran down their spine and spread throughout their body. What could it be? Who could it be? It was a continuous monotonous moan as if someone was chanting something incomprehensible and taking breaks in between for breath. Then suddenly the voice rose in a loud crescendo and then again went down to its regular pitch. All three men were rooted in their positions. They could not move an inch further. Sweat beads covered their faces. The electric torches now lay unattended on the ground at their owners’ feet.
Finally, Mr. Nair got back his bearings and mustering all the courage left in him, moved a little further ahead just enough to peep through the window. It was too dark inside the cottage to see anything but he could see a hooded figure resting against the wall. And next to the hooded figure he could make out a bundle covered with a white cloth. The moans seemed to be coming from the hooded figure. The source of the dim light was a candle which was almost extinguishing, kept right below the window. He could not make out anything but the hooded figure and the bundle next to it. He picked up his torch and pointed it to the window.
“Oh my God......”
Mr. Nair ran to the window to get a closer look. The small white bundle next to the hooded figure had legs emerging out of it.
“MEENU...” her father screamed and ran to the door. On hearing him scream, the other men also joined him at the door. The door was latched from inside but two hard kicks and the door gave away. The sight made all three men swear. The cottage did not have any furniture apart from a bed with a broken leg. In one corner of the room there were a few utensils lying scattered. The entire place had a dirty stench. The hooded figure lay there in the corner of the room opposite the window. And, yes, the little bundle next to the figure was Meenu, lying motionless on the floor. Her father ran to her and picked her up. “What have you done to my poor child...........?”
The hooded man lay there without a care in the world. He seemed absolutely unaffected by the whole scene. Meenu stirred as soon as her father picked her up. “I’m fine, papa. I was just sleeping.” Hearing his daughter speak, he had tears of relief in his eyes. “I must have fallen asleep. I was so tired after I came here. Please don’t be mad at me, papa. I will not ever come here again. I promise. But Ramanunni is not well, papa. He is very sick. All he does all day is moan and cough. He says he is going to die soon. What does that mean papa?”
While the child was speaking Mr. Nair had gone up to the man and taken off the blanket from his face. Ramanunni was never a healthy man. But now all that was left of him was skin and bone. The chanting they had heard were a sick man’s painful moans. “Meenu is right. He is very ill. We must take him to town as soon as possible. He needs to be hospitalized. Come. Help me pick him up.”
On their way back home, the men wondered if these were the same woods they passed just a while ago. The wind rustled to ease their fears and the leaves crunched under their feet to urge them to move on. In a sudden moment, the cottage lost all its eeriness and the woods around it looked serene.
The ghost was laid to rest.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Silver Bowl of Soup

Restless boiling turbulence,
Drawn in by the mystical fiery of the wind
Hiatus, a moment of sudden silence,
When I tear through me to find
A vast silver bowl of soup

It seems to say ‘come join me
On a trip to deep within you to feel
The warmth and love that be
The slayer of your miseries’, kneel
Before a vast silver bowl of soup

Forget existence beyond now
Let it wash every speck of doubt and let
The endless wall of orange endow
A peace in me that only the sea can set;
A vast silver bowl of soup.

Friday, March 9, 2007


“Come on Menakachechi, come fast. If we reach there before our mothers do, we will get to play in the water for longer.” I was being dragged along the same old dirt road again by my 5 year old cousin, Smriti. We crossed the little broken gate that divides our land from the others and trundled on barefooted on the soft mud and the tiny pebbles seemed to roll around in joy, as if at our arrival. The smell that tickled my nostrils was much too familiar. It was a mixture of mud, dried dung that was used to level the verandas of the houses and herbs. Everything looked green. A few leaves sported droplets of water which sparkled in the sun light. It had been raining sometime ago. . The same old houses with thatched roofs peppered the undiluted greenery around me. I had missed it all so much.
“Is that Menaka I see with little Smriti?” An old lady stepped out in to her verandah to greet us. It was Padmavatiamma, one of our neighbours, speaking in the very colloquial malayalam, i sometimes fail to understand. “I did not know you had arrived.”
“We landed just a few hours ago. Little Smriti here could not wait to go to the river for a bath. So I decided to take her before she gets too cranky.”
“That is nice. It is always good to take a dip in the river and go pray in the temple. And you will be just in time for the evening aarti. It is very nice to see you children again. How long are you here this time?”
“Hopefully for a fortnight.” By now Smriti had started to pull my hand forcing me to come along. Giving into her pressure I waved out at Padmavatiamma. “We really must be off now or else we will get late. I promise we will come visit you before we leave.”
“Yes, yes you must go. But keep good your promise. I will have some sweets made for you.”
And so we walked on until we reached the end of the road. Here there were huge boulders arranged to resemble steps so we could reach the riverbed below. The temple stood a few feet away from the ‘steps’. It was a small structure that housed the idols of three different deities.
“Menakachechi, tell me the story about this temple again.” Said little Smriti as we started descending the huge boulders. Although I have told this story to her over and over again, I did not hesitate.
“Well, legend has it that Lord Shiva sent his army of spirits, on his behalf, to build a temple on the banks of this river. Lord Vishnu, jealous of Shiva’s growing popularity did not want this to happen. ‘I cannot let this happen. ’ he said. ‘I must stop them and build a temple for myself.’
The army of spirits did not like to work in the daylight. They worked during the night and brought huge boulders to build the temple. Lord Vishnu came down to earth, hid under a tree and in the middle of the night and crowed like a rooster. When the spirits heard the rooster crow they thought it is dawn and in their hurry to go back to heaven dropped the huge boulders to be used for the temple on their way. These are the same boulders.” She pointed to the boulders they were climbing down.
“And what happened to Lord Vishnu’s temple?”
“Lord Vishnu attempted to build his own temple on the other side of the river. But when the spirits heard that it was He who had tricked them, they were so angry and cursed his temple to forever be in ruins. Till today, that temple remains in ruins. People have tried to repair it a lot of times but they never succeed.”
By now we had reached the riverbed. As soon as we stepped on to the sand Smriti took off her frock and dashed into the water. I was left to pick up her clothes. “Don’t go too far, Smriti. Stay close to where I’m sitting.” She waved back in agreement. So I settled myself on the sand and looked around me. The soft sand under my feet eased all the tension in my body. All the weariness of traveling in a train a very long distance was forgotten as I turned my head from left to right taking in the simple breath-taking landscape and filling my senses with it. The river flowed with a playful grace and let little Smriti enjoy splashing its water. A little distance away women took a minute off from their washing to watch the little girl take the real pleasure of swimming in the river, something they themselves had forgotten since their childhood. The light cool breeze brought their laughter to my ears. It sounded like a melodious tune to go with the atmosphere. Beyond the river, tall coconut trees and other bushes stretched as far as eye could see. And beyond that the clear blue sky, little puffs of white clouds were sprinkled here and there. The two words that sprang in to mind for the surroundings – magnificent and tranquil.
Suddenly I heard the whistle of a train from far away and its muted chug ensued. I tore my eyes from the sky to the trees below. And there it was, a train passing by. I could only catch small glimpses of it through the trees but I followed it till the end of my vision. Then the chugging got softer and softer until I could hear nothing else. I felt a tiny tingling run up my spine. I saw Smriti jumping up and down in the water, clapping her hands in joy at seeing the train. I let out a hearty laugh and felt the last of the tight muscle in my body relaxing.
I was in gods own country. And I felt his presence in every inch of the spectacle splayed around me. This was his creation. I was grateful to be a part of it. This place never failed to rejuvenate me, after a year long tension of the monotonous routines of city life. I was back in my hometown - Kerala.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Dipped in a thick warm rush
Thankfulness grows within
Cheers and applaud saturate the air
As you stand tall, great, thrilled

You saved yourself from shame
And regret, you helped were you were needed
You earned yourself a name
For in life you have succeeded.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

She (a poem)

Cocooned inside the protective shell
Or chained for she may go too far
Her pretty little face looks longingly
Beyond her world, the room, where life begins

Her window shut tight, latched and covered
The panes a blend of the room and beyond it
Bitter-sweet concoctions brought to her to taste
She’s not satisfied, for she knows there is more

Bitter or sweet edible or not, she wants
She craves the worldly things beyond,
The door lay open for her to leave, and yet…
Something there is that stops her… the chains.

She cries like rain relentless sometimes
Sometimes a drizzle that turns into storm
Sometimes a storm that gives up in a drizzle
Doubtful sometimes of the reason, but always wet.

Her respite, the world may not understand
But she does not live in the world.
She speaks to the walls she has known all her life
The only ones who will listen.

Of reason, of meaning, of consequences she speaks
She understands why this must be done
For her own good, as the world does explain
To make her stronger to build her nerves

Against all evils worse than these
She must learn to cope, accept and bear
With all that may come her way
When she will be freed in to the world

She speaks of longing to see for herself
What wonders may come her way
Good or bad, experience she craves
The ones that are real and not fake.