Few groundnuts and more thoughts tossed.


Men traveling alone without any female companion in Indian train journeys can rejoice to be in best of the luckiest times if he is allowed to take the seat he is allotted to. “Dude.. can you take that seat instead of this, we are a family?”, “Brother, can you leave the window seat for ladies and take that seat? (which could be near to wash room)”. I haven’t said ‘No’ unless the replacement seat is in an unreachable compartment. It was one of those so many Train journeys where I was asked to take a seat other than the one I was allotted, as it happens most of the time. Compartment was full with people and baggage. No more space for my only luggage to be placed in a non-hindering space; except a fitting gap below the opposite seat. So, I thrusted mine into that and squeezed myself between two fluffy men.

Mister in the right tossing groundnut into mouth told me – “Thambi(Younger Brother), you have so much space in the luggage rack at the top, you are placing it here?!”. He wants to slack stretching his limbs.

While I was looking up there to see if there is any space at all, Mr. at my left said – “No, space there, buddy. Leave it as it is.”

One in right started surging up his volume – “Yes, you can. If you think you can, you can. Push those bags and make some space.” But mine was a trolley, it was so big to push bags and make space for it.

Gentleman at left laughed out loud saying, “don’t be joking”.

I was able to hear groundnut getting crushed harder. I was too weak to portray logic for him then. So, I moved mine to the way path.

Then I slipped into – Dostoevsky’s White nights.

Eventually, a transwoman came clapping; asking for money. Prodding each and every one. They weren’t rude as the ones I have experienced.

At once the transwoman left the place, a women opposite murmured, “Why can’t they go and earn, aren’t they ashamed to beg..” to another lady beside her.

Mr. at my left asked, “What was that?”

“I said, why can’t they go work somewhere and earn..” she repeated.

“Say, you have a shop. Would you give them a job?”

She made a grin, “It depends”

“Depends on what, mam?”, he chuckled mockingly, “They are socially disabled. Ofcourse they should live a life as us. But that depends more on us than themselves. It is your choice to help or not to. But, don’t jump to judgements.”, he told her in a tone to defeat her presumed tidiness.

She whipped her sweat beads of embarrassment. Didn’t talk anything after.

Mr. at my right leaned down from slacking and looked at the Mr. at my left. Perhaps, he couldn’t digest the thought that the one in the left spilled.

Perhaps to leave out of inconvenience created, Gentleman at left started talking to me.. initially asking my whereabouts; for which I answered him only half true. Then, he started talking on Russian literature and Dostoevsky, for half an hour and more.

“Try, Ivan Turgenev sometime”, he said as we shook hands to depart.

“Train commutes are a unique ‘being’ ”, once a friend said. How true!

Bamboo Basket


“Why do you keep reading so much when you can’t remember most of it?!”. Little kid finally placed this question – that was lingering within him for sometime now.

A basket – completely dirty, made of bamboo sticks intertwined, used for carrying coal was given to him by his grandpa; and the Grandpa said, “Fetch water in this basket from the pond to water the tree”, tapping the tree that helped him beat the sun, with its shadow.

Trying to find a relevance between the irrelevance, kid stepped into the pond, fetched water in the basket as told, reached the tree, turned it down, but not more than few drops were left to water the tree; all water he had in the basket has drained in the way from the pond. Kid, looked at his grandpa, with brows pulled up, palms facing the sky.

“Make your self quicker, Son” grandpa said.

His little legs raced to and from the pond, fetching the water. Again, no water was left when he reached the tree.

“Perhaps your speed isn’t enough“

Kid tried very hard, not just the water but no luck as well was left to him, everytime he reached the tree.

“I can’t try any harder” said the kid, his nosedrils expanded enough to help his lung breath hug air in and out than the normal.

“Now, Look at the basket“

The basket was clean and a fewer mark of coal or darkness was found. The basket no more looked as though it was used to carry coal. Afresh. Anew. With little signs of being a carrier.

Grandpa patted on kid’s shrunken shoulder and said tilting the basket a little “This is what a ‘good’ literature does to you. You may not end-up remembering every bit of it, but you will end-up making yourself afresh, anew – may not be all of a sudden, but for sure a little by little. Your brain basket will be dusted out of ignorance and inability to see thing from others shoes; and characters and scenes in them would teach you things that has been obscured from your very little sized life and habitat, by placing you in that scene virtually”.

He couldn’t consume the reason convincingly enough to shun the question lingering in him. He didn’t argue further, but he buyed him sometime to arrive at a reason to own it or flush it.

Years later even – Neither his mustache grown upper lip, beard crowded cheeks, hardened skins nor completely grown brain could buy reason his grandpa said. He asked his grandpa, who has turned to his second childhood, to justify his argument.

Sliding down the book that hid the face from his grandson to his chest, he tried to answer through the questions. “Do you agree, you learn from others life as well?! ”

“Yes..”

“A good literature IS a simulation of life, believe it or not. At time, it is a simulator of more than one. The truth preacher with plausible lies. When you see someone suffer financially, ofcourse you get to know how much was the debt, interest, the numbers and names around it, which does less than least to you. But at the sametime you see how they tackle, pull themself out of their hole; or if it is otherwise, you see the source for the suffering and you learn from it. When you see people running out of track in life: what they do / did may bother least to you.. But you wanna look for corrections that can save you/ your kin/ your child from such, through others’. A Good literature does this to you through pages and letters.”

‘Not a reader’ grandson, went searching for reasons to justify the answer to himself again, in the real word.

📑