Saturday, June 28, 2008


January 28, 2007

The blue gates, the front drive-way, the marble step leading onto the porch, were all too familiar. I rang the bell out of curiosity. A beautiful young woman with curly hair flowing down to her waist opened the door. “Good evening.” I said. The woman’s reaction was rather uncanny. Her eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped.

“Where have you been? We were worried sick about you. Vikas has gone out searching for you, right now” Thus saying she pulled me into the house. I didn’t resist. The house looked nice and cozy. I’ve been to this place before.

“Your sandals look like they have been through muck. Did you go to the fields again, papa?”

“No. I was on my way back home from the court, actually.” I replied to her question. “It has been quite a tiring day. You couldn’t make a cup of tea, could you?”

The woman sighed, closed the door behind me and went into the kitchen. I heard clattering vessels, running water and the gas stove turned on. But the cup of tea never came.

A man opened the front door and entered the house looking very worried. But as soon as he saw me, he relaxed. He took a few steps towards me, as if to ask a question, but instead he sighed, shook his head and settled himself on the sofa next to me, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion.

“How was court today?” he asked.

“Criminal law is very tiring, young man. This Kurian case is a tricky one too. And these bloody journalists! They are capable of sucking the blood out of you, I tell you. They will do anything for a juicy story.”

March 4, 2007

She keeps feeding me. She only wants to feed me all the time. Sometimes it’s good food. I like sambar and rice with mango pickle. I don’t like fancy food, unhealthy food. My mother made the best sambar. I still remember the taste.

“Can I have some tea? I’m really thirsty… It was the closing today. That man must learn how to curb his anger in court… So that settles it. That is how we come to the conclusion that… is that tea I can smell?”

Next case begins day after. The court has finally announced the dates. Mr. Kurian will finally be happy. The papers are all ready. But I’m feeling a little uncomfortable. I’m an old man now. My memory is failing me. I’m not sure I will be as sharp as I used to be. This case is big. I must not lose it.

May 25, 2008

Little Tarini is quite a handful. She never wants me to get out of the house. I myself am quite attached to her. She loves coming to my office and playing around with my associates. After all it’s just the other room that she needs to crawl into. It’s quite a relief for Lalita. She feels the burden of becoming a mother at 35, sometimes.

“Papa, it’s time for your medicine. Come, get up.” This lady is quite a nuisance. “You can continue writing after you have had your medicine. Now come on, papa. Besides you should not be lying on your stomach and writing.”

“Amma, please don’t bother me. I’m studying now. I will have my medicine later. Just keep it on my study table.”

“Tarini, what is all that noise?” It’s that man again. He keeps calling me papa. But I have no son. Only one daughter, isn’t it? I do have a daughter, don’t I? I wonder where she is.

“You go tend to Appu. He says he has finished studying. Come, papa. I brought you some tea.”

“I may not be as old as you, sir. But I’m old enough to know that what you have in your hand is not tea but the medicine the other lady wants me to have.”

He is laughing. But the laughter sounds sad.

“So, now you’re not as old as me, is it? There was a time when you were against my marrying your daughter because I was too young.”

“My daughter is barely one year old. You can’t get married to my daughter.”

August 30, 2008

“Papa, what are you doing? You will catch a cold. Please, come in. All that dirty water will have insects that will bite you. No, no, don’t do that you will fall.”

“Rain is so beautiful, isn’t it? I like getting drenched in the rain. Ho! Hahaha!”

I don’t like this woman. I was having so much fun in the rain. Amma never stopped me from playing.

“Amma! This woman won’t let me play in the rain.”

Amma is too busy. She won’t hear me in all the bustling inside. The preparation for Onam has begun. My distant relatives have all poured in to my house. Now there is no chance I am going to be able to study. The last room on the left of the floor above used to be my only respite, during the festival, for any privacy. But now that is filled with big wooden boxes. And my foolish cousins will not let go of me.

August 30, 2009

I have a beevy hed. Think me sick. Want slip. Newspaper say I be wrong.

“Papa, come have lunch.”

“I object. That was completely uncalled for. What do we gulp?”

“Papa, what are you saying? I can’t hear you. Speak up.”

“That’s that... I shall bring the flowers for you to examine.”

“Papa, do you remember Vikas’s parents? They are here to see you. Yes, come shake their hand. Now come, lets all have lunch.”

“It has bing good doing bigness with you, sir. Very happy. This table is gigantic. All can sit on it and eat. All very happy and gay. Very nice.”

“That’s the best papa can do to express his happiness at seeing you. The doctor says this is the beginning of moderate dementia. It’s the second stage of Alzheimer’s. Speech and writing skills are slowly being forgotten. It’s only a matter of time that he will lose all ability to communicate. He can still speak. But what he says can be barely understood. They say he was the most articulate among other lawyers at the high court. He earned such reputation for his precision and aggression in court. Now, all you see of it are these writings. He writes all day long. He will never go anywhere without his little diary and that pen. We have never had the heart to see what he writes. But slowly he is even losing his ability to grip the pen in his hand. He is losing everything day by day.”

Women cry lots of tim. Quietness is silent when peeple talk not. Case closed in due tim. Woman stop crying.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Thats Hardly Surprising.'

Tanur Station is one of the smaller stations in the state. It wakes up a little before 6 am and sleeps by 11 pm. Shops open, commuters begin to mill in, coolies have their day’s first cup of tea, hawkers set up; all around the same time. Office-goers and business men and mothers going to meet their ever-busy sons in the city and old women in brand new sarees with their purses tucked in their armpits on their way to a far-off temple. It is not because they are afraid of the rush-hour crowd that they start so early. They are the rush-hour crowd. They simply have the habit of getting an early start. There is all the time in the world for them to reach their destination and even if the next train to their destination is half an hour after the one on the platform leaves, there is no hurry at all. Life goes on in slow-motion here. Time seems to go on forever. Here, people do not sit idle to while away their time. It is as if time sits idle instead to give people a unique sense of freedom.

Shekharan is a misfit here. He is hefty and of average height. He is dark and his lips are black. He is partially bald and has a well-trimmed mustache. The scanty salt-pepper hair on his head and his thin line of salt-pepper mustache are the only indications of his middle age. He begins his day at the railway station; like every other rickshawwala in the town. He was the most enthusiastic of the lot when we approached, to take us to our destination. So we got in and off we went, leaving the wind behind. The panoramic view of gods own country swooshed past us like a blur. The wind beat against our ears so that we couldn’t hear anything else. Suddenly, without a warning, Shekharan pulled the rickshaw to a stop, right in the middle of a newly tarred road. It was only then that I heard a strange polyphonic version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise somewhere in the vicinity. Shekharan apologized profusely as he reached into his pocket and took out the source of the unearthly music. As he answered the call, he took out a small notepad from his pocket. Shekharan jotted down a date and time while he mumbled something about not being able to make it for the wedding because he was busy with election work. He hurriedly cut the call and started the engine again. He apologized again and zoomed on.

“You see, I’ve been waiting for this call since last night.” He said in Malayalam. “I need to look into the registration of this marriage. It’s a long story.” He turned to see if he had any audience. My father look intrigued, so he went on.

“I also teach at the local school. I’m a physical trainer. Children around here have enough exercise walking miles from their homes to school as it is. But they have no stamina. No food, no proper supply of water, you see. This little village is quite lucky though. It comes under the municipality of the city near-by. You people look like you yourself have come from a big city. What business brings you here?”

“We have family here” replied my father.

“I see. Who is it may I know? I might know them. I’ve been to almost every house in the area because of the election campaign.”

“They live in the large house next to the river.”

“Oh. Then I might not know them. I still haven’t covered that part. You see, I’m the Municipal Advisor. Any problem people have around here, they come to me to get it solved. Usually, they do not rely on the municipality, but sometimes when there are legal matters involved, then I have to look into it. That is how I know almost everybody around here.

“I’m also part of a local political organization. I garner the votes for my party in this area. That is why with the elections coming, I’ve been having a very hectic month. I start out with my rickshaw at 6 in the morning. School starts at about 8 am, but I go there only by 11 am. I get free from there by 3 pm. That is when I go to the party office. If there is much work then there is no chance of earning anymore money driving the rickshaw for that day. But, with only a wife and a child to look after, I get by quite comfortably.”

We had reached a little grocer’s shop, where we halted so my father could buy some snacks to give to our relatives. An old man in checkered lungi and a long white beard passed us by. Shekharan called out to him and the old man looked back.

“How are the preparations for the wedding, Mommad kaka?”

“Everything is going fine, Inshallah. How is little, Aadirakutti? And, son, I still haven’t received word from them about the water supply to my land. I’m giving that place as Chandni’s dowry. You know how important it is to me.”

“Don’t worry, Mommad kaka, I’ll make sure you receive it in time. I shall leave now, I have passengers. But don’t worry, it will be done.” He touched the old man’s feet, returned to his seat and sped on, once again.

After my father had paid him off, he handed my father his visiting-card, in case we ever needed his services again. The card read:

Shekharan Thampi

B.A., L.L.B

Municipal Advisor, Physical trainer, Rickshaw driver, Member of Communist Party of Kerala – Thrissur chapter.