Freshly fallen mangoes- A short story

Mornings in June are an out of the world experience if you are in Kerala. But for a school student it was always a nightmare. The onset of monsoon strangely coincides with the school reopening date in the state. And Kerala being the fortunate first place in the country the monsoon decides to hit after its long sojourn at the sea, it gives a feeling to the onlooker that it was sadistically waiting all the while for this reopening date. For Kids spoiled by the lethargy of a two month old vacation the drenching in rains was further exacerbating the ennui of going to school.

It was such a June morning and as a kid I was reluctant to get up despite my mother’s repeated calls. She finally came shouting with that hot utensil in hand threatening to press it down on my bum. A loving mother never hurts her child and I continued sleeping, this time pulling the blanket over the head. This irritated my mother and she executed the threat. I sprang up from the bed crying at the top of my voice but still defiant to get up. My persistence prompted my mother to check up if something is genuinely wrong and she gauged my body temperature which was unreasonably high. It was decided that I should not go to school that day, though the decision was mainly due to the guilt feelings of burning my bum.

It was fun to enjoy the sympathy and care when one was ill. Chappathis used to be a delicacy in down- south those days. My mother was the only one in that joint family who knew how to make Chappathis. So she used to make Chappathis with much pride. When one was ill, the general norm was he should stay away from the staple diet of rice. Either Kanji (Boiled rice in a semi-fluid form) if one is an adult or Chappathi soaked with sugar syrup if you are a child. I used to love falling ill, since I relished this kind of Chappathis. Things though took a serious note when fever grew to Mumps and it was really painful to gulp in the food. Being the cynosure of all the eyes is enjoyable otherwise, but not when you have a painful illness. But the care and angst in my mother’s eyes is the only takeaway I still have in my mind.

Summer vacations, though the summers in Kerala are not acute enough as they may in other parts, were a mixed bag of travelling, festivals and lot of time with the Grandmas. Our courtyard were more than a few acres and my maternal grandmother was very particular of maintaining that. The cashew crops and mango trees were particularly taken care of. Coconut trees being the main crop were always on priority, but unlike other house-holds, we took care of other crops as well. It was a pleasure to follow my grandma in her criss-cross of this courtyard. Stories, raw mangoes to eat, small fights with neighbours whose kids used to trespass for mangoes and cashews; these were the benefits of hanging around with the grandma.

It was one such sunny day that she was carrying my little sister in her arms and doing this dutiful ritual. And there came a cobra hissing. It was her sheer presence of mind that saved her as well as the little girl. That Cobra was killed by my cousin, inspite of strong resistance from all of us. We had three Sarpakavus (Snake deities) in our place and killing snakes were a big no-no for us. But my communist cousin never heeded to such superstitions. Within a few years he met with an accident and had his left leg twisted and fractured badly. After a long hospitalisation, he could walk normally but the grafted skin was struggling to take shape. It somehow was scaling as if a snake would. Grandma said “Yes I had warned you not to kill that snake”. Akin to my defiant cousin, the rational boy in me also rubbished the superstition aside.

But my Grandma came back strongly with her theory when another cobra was found in our well. She said this should the mate of the killed cobra and it wanted to poison the whole well. Don’t know how few drops of snake venom would poison a whole well. Many people including the neighbours flocked around the well to see the snake with a mission. But after a couple of it was never to be seen. We as a family of communist progressives ganged up again against a conservative Grandma.

It was not much later that her health started deteriorating. Decades of struggling as a widow to bring up four children had taken a toll on her body, which she was desperately trying to downplay. The Poojas and other rituals to appease the snakes went futile when she breathed her last. The whole village came to a standstill to bid farewell to their benevolent matriarch. I could see the feeling of loss in the eyes of our cows, our pets, and even the trees who were refusing to stand up to the rising sun.

Decades passed and my mother had taken the mantle from her mother quite successfully. The trees, animals, neighbourhood, all were happy with the new matriarch. Though the partitions had substantially reduced the size of the courtyard, it was still an uphill task to sustain it.

Earth waits for nobody. Slightest apathy from human beings it fills that space in its own fashion. Flora and fauna captures what was always rightfully theirs. I could see the partitioned and henceforth forsaken land by my mother’s siblings who lived abroad. It was nothing short of a forest. The pond which as a kid we used to swim and jump around was totally filled with filth and overgrowing weeds. The beaten down paths which I used to sprint on were not visible at all. The mulberries and sapodillas were not to be seen. Above all, the white saree-clad grandma was conspicuous with her perennial absence.

It was then that the first rumours of people having seen her in the courtyard started. Initially we pooh-poohed it saying that, it were the old people after being accustomed of seeing her for such a long time, still had her in their minds. But the instances of seeing her kept on increasing and it became difficult for us to trivialise it any more. My mother had no other option but to call up her sibling from abroad to seek her permission to clean up her part of the yard. After lot of tussles she finally agreed to bear the cost and gave the nod to erase everything on the ground and pave tiles, eventually to sell if off.

As the work progressed there was a black board tree which needed to be brought down. As the first axe fell on the stem, it was blood which oozed out of the crack. The workers ran away from there since black board tree was always linked with the ghosts. A bunch of villagers came to us asking us to stop the work. They said blood coming out of the tree is a bad omen for the whole village and we should first make arrangements to contain the free-roaming spirit. Our vehement opposition was to no avail. Free-spirits and the related stories always looked humbug to us. Seeing our opposition the villagers brought in the local politicians and threatened us. But that only made our resolve stronger. It was then that my elder brother donned the hat of an investigator.

The burgeoning gulf-money that was flowing seamlessly from the Arabian-gulf had already made Kerala a real estate hotspot. The real estate prices were unaffordable to most of the ordinary citizens. Only those who had some of the family members working in the desert could hope of buying land. Others were all on the selling side.  It was some months before that one real estate agency had approached us to know our willingness to sell the land. But when we told that the land belonged to our relatives settled abroad, he wanted to speak to them. But we discouraged him saying that we could get him a response later.

My brother’s sharp mind suddenly joined the dotted lines. All these stories of ghosts had started floating around only after that enquiry. We came to the conclusion that all these were orchestrated meticulously by vested interests to bring down the land prices. And the hullaballoo by the villagers would catalyse the land owner’s decision to sell it off and finish off their headache. Now the task was to catch the culprits red-handed, yes literally red-handed.

It was a lunar eclipse day. The sky was unusually cloudy. I and my brother were out to try our luck to see the eclipse. But the clouds were playing spoilsport. We waited for some time and decided to call it a day. It was then suddenly some noises were heard from near the black board tree. We decided to inch forward like leopards and waited with bated breath. We could hear the murmurs from below the ground adjacent to the tree. It was pitch dark. We assumed that the eclipse is at its peak. The ground aside the tree was opening up and the dragging sound of wooden planks broke the surrounding silence. A silhouette walked towards the opening and said “hand me over the mannequin, we should dispose this off in the river before dawn’. The voice sounded familiar.

Earth’s shadow must have shifted away from the moon, we assumed seeing the gradual picking up of visibility. But it was heavily overcast forcing us to assume things. But suddenly the through the big gap between two clouds a highly handsome full moon gave us an eyeful. Two men were carrying a white saree clad mannequin. My brother who was a Kalari expert and martial arts teacher pounced on them like a panther. Before I could make out what was happening both the culprits were down on the ground. A Kalari expert knows where to strike to instantaneously ground a person. He shouted out to get him two ropes, which I fetched running.

The next day morning was a feast for the whole village. We had called the police beforehand to avoid any controversy and manhandling. The two guys admitted their crime and expectedly had done that to scare away people and bring down the land value. In fact their hands were red with the beetroot juice they were injecting into the stems of black board tree. The mastermind was the person who came to our house as real estate agent. They had bosses who were builders who were planning big residential towers at the spot mainly targeting non-resident Indians. The incident was celebrated by the local media.

Today again a couple more decades have passed. Time never waits for anyone. As part of a great social disturbance driven by political changes and the subsequent lack of jobs, my family migrated outside. The courtyard once a lush green space is a concrete jungle today, housing many well-to-do families. There nobody sees a white-saree draped woman trying to pluck the mangoes and cashew nuts, but I see her in my dreams offering me those freshly fallen mangoes. I don’t know what happened to those squirrels, rabbits and snakes, but I’m sure if they were around, they also, like me, should be missing my Grandma.

I wish there were a world, where children remained as children, mothers remained as mothers and grandmas remained as grandmas. I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.

 

 

 

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Dying Earth – A Short Story

A lot of things flashed through my mind. The dream I had last night, or was it a nightmare? I could still feel the reverberation of those children crying. Those were the children who got orphaned in the bloodiest battle that was fought, all for a small river. Two Indian states fought tooth and nail, making a mockery of all the ideals that half-naked fakir stood for. The casualties were in lakhs, as the Indian troops stood as silent spectators. The Indian government was more worried about losing votes than saving lives, especially when the fighting states were not ruled by their own party. More the casualty, more the ire towards the state government. Fishing in troubled waters, literally. I happened to pass by those relief camps set for the destitute children and the exploitation and apathy was more gruelling than the riots. Food packets that were so costly in these days of famine and drought, never reached the needy. I wish I could cry out “Oh My God”!

Suddenly it dawned on me that before going to sleep last night, somebody had called on me to inform about the prevalent lung cancer deaths in China. Years of mindless development had taken its toll. Millions were suffering from Asthma, Bronchitis, lung cancer and loss of eye-sight. A defunct society reminiscent of George Orwell’s English novel 1984. People who were no better than robots. The man who called upon me was himself coughing vigorously, unable to speak out. He had hanged up the call before he could fully explain the conditions. Again I was about to wail out “Oh My God”, then somehow I had to restrain myself.

Then there were the religious cries I heard from the streets a stone’s throw away. Streets where beautiful women were barred from showing even their faces in public. They wore all-encompassing gowns, making one wonder, what for these beauties were made for, if not for others to see them and get inspired to write poems eulogizing their celestial looks. What if Kalidasa and Shakespeare were born into such societies? How a Shakunthala or a Juliet would have looked in gowns. Would a Dushyanta or a Romeo have fallen in love with those veiled figures? What would have happened to those umpteen tales of love where a woman’s appeal surpassed all the physical boundaries, whether geographical, social or religious? On the other side of the street, there were men busy lynching a poor butcher for having slaughtered a cow. That man had five stomachs to feed, was that cow more important than those starving kids. I remembered the words of Swami Vivekananda, who after having got stunned with the caste hierarchy of a supposedly beautiful state in India, yelled that it was nothing but a lunatic asylum. I once again relented to the fallacy of calling out “Oh My God”.

“More you make me wait

More it makes you a gift

More you keep silence

More it gives me patience

More you make me guessing

More it makes you gushing

More you make me chasing

More we would be kissing”

These were the words written by a boy in a nearby town. He was desperate to woo his college mate. The girl wanted to say no, and in fact she said that in many ways, some subtle but some very blunt. But the guy was more influenced by the famous movie he saw “Haseena Maan jayengi” (girl will eventually say yes). Under this false inhibition he kept on pursuing the girl till she slapped him. Next thing he did was to throw acid on her face, disfiguring that wonderful creature forever. And this country has many such cases where the culprits go scot free. “Oh My God”, is it worth uttering those three words at all?

Somewhere in the deserts, a son yesterday stoned his mother to death for alleged blasphemy of the Holy book. Somewhere else a mother killed a son for not reciting the verses of the holy book properly.

Very close to where I reside, girls were getting forced into prostitution since they were from a particular caste. Another set of people were to continue as scavengers carrying the night soil, despite born into a caste bearing the name of a great sage. Scores of small boys and girls were getting subjected to exploitation, child-labour and were preyed on by paedophiles. There is not a single household which does not have a case of domestic violence against the ladies. And ironically most of these societies thump their own chests as the ones who protect, worship and provide for women. God forbid do not think of those three words.

Up far across the seven seas, a man sitting on the most powerful throne on the planet, decides not to care a damn about the changing climates. He has decided to increase those smoke-puking industries so that he can make everything around him great again. The plastics and electronic waste pile up like a Satan’s tongue all across the world, and leaders of the world have shunned the cause. Millions of fish die due to the rising temperature of seas mainly because of the global warming and the warm water being discharged into the sea by the power plants. Half of the species on the planet were on verge of an existential crisis with their habitats being challenged by either human trespass or ill-effects of so called development. It’s said soon the ice formation at the poles were to melt and the sea is going to rise. I was feeling pity for all the Gods who had their abodes near the sea, they must be getting ready for their own perennial immersions.

Many had joined the ilk of Arthur Clarke, Isaac Isamov and Dan Simmons, who had written the obituary of this planet and had already fantasised about settling on distant planets going around their respective stars. The planet earth true was struggling to take the load of ever-increasing human population, presently at a staggering figure of 6 billion, and also their greed and gluttony. It was sadly witnessing the decline and degradation of its other species, its resources, its flora and fauna. Human beings were her proverbial prodigal son, spoiling the fortunes of the whole family. And true to their colours they were fast fantasizing of ditching her, eagerly waiting for her death. Gods better be immersed.

yada yada hi dharmasya

glanir bhavati bharata

abhyutthanam adharmasya

tadatmanam srjamy aham

 

paritranaya sadhunam

vinasaya ca duskritam

dharma-samsthapanarthaya

sambhavami yuge yuge

Some gentle souls in the world, who still had some love for their mother wanted this divine intervention and kept on believing in the above hymns from the Bhagavat Gita. Some others believed the Son of God would soon arrive to salvage the situation. But why should the Gods interfere when human beings have been given the gift of intellect. Luck favours the brave, likewise, Gods help only those people who help themselves. Human beings need to change themselves and protect their only abode. Shedding her for better abodes would remain only a fantasy. By the way, who would love you more than your biological mother? Not even God.

It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back….

The soft knock which had propelled my mind towards some wild thinking, had become a clarion call by now, to open the door. The door was being banged by somebody clearly in distress, matching the rumblings of thunders outside. I hesitated for a moment more, then thought that I already did lot of thinking, now let me see what was in store for me across the door.  I slowly creaked the door open.

I wish it had been a damsel in distress, but it turned out to be an old woman, but yes, she was in distress. She was wearing torn and soiled clothes. Her wrinkles and blemishes were making her look older than what she actually was. Her eyes were sagging and swollen from the torture and pain she must have gone through.  But the eyes, despite the deformities, had the pomp and gaiety of a regal past. I gazed at her for few more seconds before I could recognize who it was.

“How long should I sustain this?” she asked. “You never told me things could get this bad and it is getting worse day by day. I was happy with those bigger kids of mine, which you decided to finish off in one go. You never heard my cries as a mother. You said all that was for something good that was going to happen. Is this the goodness you were talking about?” she kept on wailing and I had no answer.

“I am a mother of many, but I love each one of my off springs. I have done everything possible to accommodate all of them, bending backwards as far as possible. But beyond this I cannot be flexible, since I have to sustain myself to sustain them. You cannot be so irresponsible, it is in your name that half the time they fight. Why couldn’t you visit even once to cool off the things? You cannot leave everything to me and live in isolation like a coward. I’m fed up with this last offspring who is hell bent to destroy everything” – she was in no mood to spare me.

For a while I pondered upon what I should say. She cannot be cajoled for sure. If she had even one ounce of energy to hang on she would not have come to me for help. I knew her. I believe yesterday’s misadventure by that crook of a guy in Pyongyang must have blew the top for her. She simply wanted to avoid a catastrophe. I could fully empathize with her.

I held her on the shoulders, looked straight into her eyes. I straightened the curls that were hanging onto her face, and gave a gentle pat on the cheek. “Now you listen carefully. I am going to tell something you never knew before. If I had to straighten them up, I could have done it effortlessly. Remember they are not there to enjoy their lives, but to exhaust their Karma. Eventually if they want to perish, so be it. I will never go to them. If they need to come to me, then they should qualify themselves. Let them introspect and find out why they have been sent there. I cannot do anything for you as well, since you are also going through your Karma. As I told Arjuna many millenniums back, let all of them try to come out of this cycle of sufferings. Right now they are trapped in the Maya of materialism. Unless they understand this, I expect nothing from them but the frequent yelling of Oh My God!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Iconic Fevicol Ads That Will Blow Your Mind With Their Wit & Creativity!

Fevicol

Mad Over Marketing

The creative strategy of Fevicol has always been to rise above the physical bonding of tables and chairs, and instead bond with the consumers by taking a strategy that is metaphorical. These gems by Fevicol over the years will prove it :

1. Cut, copy, paste. Simple!
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2. Remember when this happened back in school?

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3. Rural India runs on Fevicol!Fevicol

4. Zara zara touch me, touch me, touch me!fevicol-adhesive-cycle-small-74861

5. It will take a second look for you to understand this.fevicol (1)

6. December 21, 2012? Lol JK!fevicol-adhesive-end-of-the-world-600-99265

7. Smart bwoy.

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8. On spot!1 Fevicol

9. Pakde rehnaaa, chodna nahiiii
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10. There’s a reason no one’s sitting there. fevicol-adhesives-sea-face-small-33730

11. This was released in newspapers a day before Independence Day.10635963_765299766869293_6256737636994165762_n

Chipkale saiyan Faavicol seee

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Ebook-Review-26 Words-A to Z of short stories

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Smitha Pal Sinha has done a very decent work in her short stories.

First of all, hats off for highlighting the women centric issues in an A to Z capture. Nice creativity in capturing the topics and relating with the stories. I didn’t know that there so many issues being faced by the womenfolk, thanks for bringing these to the public notice in a nice and creative way.
Having said that, she could have covered more gender-centric issues, yes, child labour and the likes were gender -centric, but it could have given a balanced view if it was gender neutral.
Social isses are bothering the boys also, for example sexual harrassment and exploitation of boys go unnoticed.
Anyways, the book is a good beginnning, I hope the author carries the spirit forward with more and better books.

#BlogchatterEbook

Randamoozham – Book Review

Magnum Opus! MT’s talent to spot the untold story remarkably comes out in this monumental retelling of an iconic epic. The icing on the cake is the new version of Bhimsen getting embarrased by Karna in the midst of war. As justiifed by the author in the epilogue, only MT can see such nuances of a story untold.
Keralites are already aware how he made a hero out of Chathiyan Chandu overnight, bringing down to earth with a thud the blue blooded images of Unniyarcha and Aromal Chekavar, in a bold retelling of a popular folktale.
When Bhimsen along with Karna, Draupadi, Duryodhan take the laurels, the likes of Krishna,Arjun, Kunti and Yudhistar take a back seat.
Kalyanasougandhikam known to Keralites through the ubiquitous Ottamthullal narrations, loses its fragrance, in MT’s fervour bring in an earthly touch to everything. The beauty of Bhimsen adventurously looking out for the flower, in his desperation to appease Draupadi, and the disinterest she shows once having received the flower since she had already started Arjuna’s tenure, totally disregarding the pain Bhimsen had to undergo, gets no mention in MT’s version. The romance of Kalyanasougandhigam is something the reader misses in in this version. Overall, the original may lack originality, but Mahabharthma as told by the collective selves called Vyasa, is more mystic, readable, enduring and romantic than MT’s quest for originality and his venture to read the fine lines. MT, I’m afraid you won’t be counted as one of those Krishnadwaipayanas, the collective soul called Vyasa, since the version may not get accepted with the masses, who would rudely refuse to accept Krishna as just another rusty character.
I’ giving five stars sine I’m in love with this story teller since my childhood, completely bowled over by his aura, and rightfully think that his version of Mahabharat is in all liklihood is more invclined to be like what must have really happened, if at all it was a real story.

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#BlogchatterEbook Review-Life & Times of a 20 Something

Reema D’Souza has sketched out the reality of a twenty something lady through these 26 chapters. The struggles, stereo-types, social stigmas, social pressures all nicely stitched togeher making it a nice and easy read. I completed it in one sitting. I would suggest it to anyone who’s taking a long flight, a perfect read to pass 2-3 hours.

Some of the things that appealed to me are :-

  1. Staying away from home, the feeling resonates with me when I joined the Engineering college hostel, and suddenly started loving my Mom’s cooking skills.
  2. Falling in love with all its subtelty.
  3. Lazing out the sundays without doing anything, a creative skill ofcourse.
  4. Helping out the friends in their break-ups.
  5. Finding out that happiness is being ordinary.

#BlogchatterEbook

 

Ebook Carnival #BlogchatterEbook

“I take on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival from Bushra (hyperlinked to allaboutthewoman.com) whose Ebook “A To Z Of Pregnancy” (hyperlinked to https://www.theblogchatter.com/download/a-to-z-of-pregnancy-by-dr-bushra-nausheen/ ) is also a part of the mix.


About Bushra’s Ebook: ” A to Z of Pregnancy is the Complete Guide to a healthy Pregnancy and Childbirth. After a lot of research, I found that the Pregnancy reads available are so heavy that readers believe to be learning medical books. My motto behind writing this book is to give you knowledge in entertaining, light way. This is the handy book that covers all topics of pregnancy. In this book, I’ve tried to transform all the information about pregnancy and childbirth in easy to understand language. I’ve tried my best to keep it very accurate, to the point and added interesting facts that will increase your interest and enthusiasm as your reading progress. I’ve tried my best to cover the important topics and hope this book will solve all your queries, myths, confusion and nervousness about the Pregnancy and the Child Birth. The book A to Z of Pregnancy is divided into five sections according to the different phases of pregnancy. I’ve included many questions that come to your mind while being pregnant and after pregnancy. This book is written from my experience that I’ve learned from my patients. Read now to know more about this book. “

 

About Blogchatter Ebook Carnival:-

It is unprecedented in near past, that so many ebooks have been published in one go. I have gone through some of these books and some of them are real gems. Thirty five diamonds are up for grabs and what are you waiting for?

This is a God-given opportunity for unknown writers like me who lack the wherewithal and contacts to create any kind of hype or hoopla. Blogchatter gives you an audience who has the class and character to appreciate what’s good and therefore can differentiate wheat from the chaff.

It is also a God-given opportunity for a reader spoiled by choice to zero in on real stuff. I repeat some of the books featured here are real gems.

About my Ebook featured in the Ebook Carnival:- 

I’m proud to say that my ebook “The Thorough Check”, got this opportunity to be featured shoulder to shoulder with these gems. This book which is getting more and more prominent with the changing political scenario in the country is a good read for somebody looking for a contemporary subject. The icing in the cake is that the political and social message has been camouflaged under the garb of a crime-thriller.

“I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Romilla (hyperlinked to Novemberschild.com) whose Ebook “The Three Flowers” (hyperlinked to https://www.theblogchatter.com/download/the-three-flowers-by-novemberschild/) is also a part of the mix.


About Romilla’s Ebook: ” This E-book has 26 Micropoems on various topics which are not bound by word, stanza or syllable rules and rhyming is optional. Themes remain at the discretion from the humorous and bizarre, to the deeply personal and political. “

Life in local train by Paresh Godhwani

Paresh has given a decent description of life in a local train. Initially I thought it was just another eulogy of the Mumbai locals. Oh! Not again.

But this was a welcome relief to read about Gujarat memu. I myself was a season ticket traveller between Vadodara and surat. Hence in could literally live the experience while reading.

I should appreciate Paresh for having withstood the ordeal for eighteen months. I could sustain it only for six months, before I grabbed the first job that came my way in Vadodara.

What Paresh has glimpsed us through is hundred percent fact. Kudos to him for having put these experiences in black and white, for some of us to savour and reminisce. Paresh, please get it edited, and relaunch it. I’m sure it will sell like hot cakes or hot packets of bharuch ni seeng.

It was a short but sweet read.