Travel

Pause & Pass – Feb ’16


I was the only outsider dwelling in the shore in Kodiakkarai (Point Calimere), in that afternoon of Feb 2016. It was a sea shore without waves. Apart from me, there were two other fishermen on a fishing boat stopped at the shore; where they were untying the fishes and other aquatic animals caught on their net.
Sea shore without waves; many flocks of seagulls flying around like – kites all tied to a pivot – raising and raising and round and round, finally landing and raising again; wet sand shore holed and carved with architectures of crabs; a fishing boat with two fishermen on it plucking the fish from their net. It sounded to me as a backdrop enacted there just for my presence.
I reached to the fishing boat. Just stood there to see what they did; Didn’t talk or near them very close for sometime; they didn’t talk to me either. A young boy and his grandmother(atleast I assumed so).
“Can I take a photo of you two?”, I asked.
Grandma looked at me, then his grandson.
“No, don’t take”, boy denied without looking at me.
“Why?”
“No, don’t take”, he denied again.
“ok, I won’t”, I respected their refusal. Didn’t picture them.
But it affected me thought, not because I was refused.
I somehow felt that, he denied and acted to me like that because he was not happy to be captured by a well fed someone and who are not bother of his life at stake for his daily needs; like How a not so happy sibling would deny a sufficiently supplied sibling. Kodiakkarai, if you don’t know, is twenty five kilometers away from Srilanka. Kodiakkarai fishing community is one of many others who are neglected by central government and tortured, boats damaged, sometime shot at, by Srilankan navy.
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***
Next day, when I was in Pichavaram – chidambaram, second largest marshland in India. People were fishing in rowing boats.
“Anna (brother), will they say anything if I picture them?”, I asked the boatman on who’s boat I was in.
“No no.. don’t mind to..” he told me and he shouted at them – “hey.. You.. Pose for the photo here…. nobody is going to eat you if you smile…. Show your teeth….”
I smilingly took the photo and showed them the thumps up.
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***
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Fiction

Woke-up Panting


I do not remember how it started, it was dark and blurred-up. Nobody remember a dream, as clear as day, do we? I don’t anyway. Given a choice, I would copy the dreams to a memory stick, bottle it up, peruse them, and be fascinated again. Most of the dreams aren’t remembered to the least when I be awake. I’m happy to have remembered this atleast as fragmented scenes.

But I do remember from the scene where I was asked to interview Mr. Modi, for a TV show. Don’t ask me who asked you to.. which TV Channel was it. It was all blurred-up or skipped perhaps to say it better. Even I wasn’t able to say, “Ok, Stop..” and make these questions, because I couldn’t afford to – it would wake me up, moreover there is no way I could resume a dream, once terminated.

The place all this happened was a Bazaar street in my town, that is very much familiar in my memory; to be more precise – a building that looked more like a garage from an outer look, reached crossing multiple alleys. I could vaguely remember a tea shop near the garage like place with worn-out wooden door. Yes, I was suppose to interview Mr. Modi in that place that looked more like a garage, with worn-out wooden door. Insane, I know. If not so, would you say it’s worth being a dream.

Next scene, I was preparing there for the interview, with questions.. that I don’t remember. I can guess though.. : You proposed “Clean India”, people expected Dustbins, But you gave a 0.5% cess and you said “helping farmers” people expected loan cancellations and promoting native breeds, But government gave a 0.5% cess. Why do you do this Mr. Modi? I was asking to the empty chair opposite me. I was nervousness enough in the dream to debacle the hosting place.

Woke-up panting, glad to have not interviewed Mr. Modi.

Fiction

The Most Truthful: A Short Story


1

A woman, and a girl kid – must be of six or seven years old, have come from Colombo to see someone here, near my town, without a precise address: having just the village name and a photo of someone – shot years back. Spoke sweetest of Tamil slangs – Srilankan Tamil.

I neither knew them nor owe anything.

The woman, wanted me to help find the person she is searching for. I resisted as much I could. But, she wasn’t ready to let me move, without what is needed from me. She wasn’t lending her ears to my point, she was just concerned about hers. I was loosing my patients. Annoying!

Kid, didn’t utter a word, just replicated the facial expression – adorably, from her mother. Perhaps, She understood the situation.

“Please…I have been desperate to see her for years…” She said, in a voice half swallowed.

“I told you already… I can’t come with you people to find the person you are looking for”

“Please…!” She said again. With her palms clasped at her bosom.

“How the hell….. I’m…sorry… For heaven sake, tell me… How could someone on this good earth would find a person you are searching for: just with the village name and a photo – that can’t help..” I yelled annoyingly. Grabbing the photo she had, showed it to her face.

Holding my hands hard “Please…”, she plead.  Another word she utter would make her tear up.

Couldn’t move on from there, Couldn’t give myself to help them, Couldn’t resist myself from showing off my discontent: was sweating badly on a gloomy morning. It was one awkward moment! Throwing my head back, looked at the sky, sun hid itself behind the clouds.

Bringing myself to sanity, looked at the photo I plucked from her hands.It was a young mother with a girl kid. The women and kid I was speaking to, weren’t the ones in the photo.

Srilankan Tamil  Mother
Photo, the women had

“Who is she… I mean, who is the person you are searching, for you?”

With a voice dissolved in flood of tears, she said “My….Birth Mother!… I’m… I’m begging you to help me find my birth mother”.

She didn’t stop sobbing for minutes, I couldn’t stop her either. Kid started crying too: perhaps, for the reason – her mother was crying.

Calming herself down, the women, started telling me the things in detail: the fact she ended-up here, the reason she didn’t have an exact address or a photo that can help, the sense she was so desperate and self-centered.

I couldn’t speak anything more than “Lets go..”

2

“How long still…Velu?” Venbha inquired tiredly; resting on my shoulders. In those few hours of walk to the village, Venbha – the kid, got along with me so well. Perhaps because, I was the only of two grown-ups, who atleast tried to answer the questions she popped up – Why we walk? Don’t we have buses to this village? How come people live in these very small houses? Why did you make my mom cry there in the town? Why do people live in such a remote place? Can’t they live in towns or cities? , I quenched her curiosity as much I can.

“Another ten minutes” I said.

“ufff… You are saying the samething again…” she said disappointingly, balancing her jaw with her little elbow over my head.

I couldn’t keep down my curiosity any longer.

“So… who brought you up, then?” I questioned Venbha’s mom.

“Asylum”, was the reply.

“What?!!.. I mean.. Why?”

With a faintest smile her face can express, she said “Abnormality is the normality of life, if you are a born Tamil in my Island. Will be shot before you speak, buried before you are dead, hospitals are the graveyard. I’m not afraid of hell.. you know. Hell must be a far better place than my slaughter-island. Giving birth to a girl kid in a place like that – my mother must have had her heart in her boots. My father died before I was born. She took refuge here, leaving me there to someone she had trust on. They brought me up – as long as they could and they left me in an asylum. I don’t know, why she didn’t take me with her. Perhaps because, I was too young to go-through what she would have gone through – to travel across sea. I came here not as a Tamil, but as a Sinhalese woman. Growing up as a street’s child, I have learnt sinhala too. My desperation to see my mother was more than my love on my mother language. Venbha is my adopted child. I have atleast got the news years later that: my mom is alive here. But, Venbha’s parents are in a better place than this planet, already”

Nobody, except feathered creatures and plants, made sound there for another few minutes.

“We have come to the village” I declared, looking at Venbha’s mom. Her face worsened: all at once – longing, anger, happiness; she started shivering.

I had the photo I grabbed from her. Showed it to every one we saw, inquired every home we passed by; only acknowledgement we got was “no”. Time passed fast, Twilight diffused all over the place.

A women – hairs grayed out, wrinkled skin covering her bones – without muscles, came towards us, saying nothing; Her face looked as if – it was tired of expressing anything. Facing Venbha’s mom quiet and deeper…

“Isai priya!!”, she said.

Venbha’s mom nodded furiously. Both broke-down. Purest of hugs and kisses. The Most Truthful exchange of Love. Sun went below the horizon: to shed tears quietly in concealment.

“How did she find my mom?” Venbha wondered.

“She carried your mom for months, in her womb” I said.

Coming back to the present, isai priya and her mother thanked me till words dried out.

Soon, I become the chief-guest for the village. Dinner that I never had in years, fulfillment that I never sensed before. That night, I stayed there in their hut. Lighter the heart, deeper the sleep.

Next morning, Holding Venbha’s cute little hands: “I’m afraid, I must take a leave from you” I said.

Looking down, She just smiled. Smile that expressed not happiness, but the acceptance of reality.

Kissing her soft on the forehead, I bid “Goodbye”.