Travel

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!

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Fiction, Travel

He showed his palm at me.


Looking at my reflection on the rear-view mirror, “Where else do you want to visit, thambi (younger brother)?”, driver anna (Elder Brother) inquired.

I paused for a minute and asked him, “Is there any, you think, I should visit?”.

It was quarter past five already in Vedaranyam. My plan was to stop at Chidambaram next, which takes a 3 1/2 hours of bus travel. Then look for a room there to stay, for Vedaranyam didn’t really have a convenient place to halt for a night. I was getting late.

“There is a small Agaththiyar temple, on our way to the town, if you want to visit..” he said.

“A temple for Agaththiyar? I definitely want to visit.” I couldn’t resist.

“Okay”, he laughed, “lets see if it is open still; nevertheless, will ask people nearby to open it for few minutes”.

I thanked him, he was indeed very kind to me.

Tholkappiyam – written by Tholkaappiyar,  lays the grammar for Tamil. Tholkappiyam is the oldest available scripture of and for Tamil. Tholkappiyam is believed to be derived from Agathiyam – written by Agaththiyar; which was lost and gone forever. Agaththiyar is the father of the language Tamil; Word ‘father’ here is not honorary; but an actual.

Vedaranyam

A simplest of Castles for the father of a Grandest Language. Uneven and unpolished rock floor; peeling off limestone painted walls; a deity as dark as the electric lightless room; dull light from the only oil lantern simmering on a side of the face – of the bearded statue and the priest with just a dhoti that has long lost its life and charm. I felt pressed by unreasonable reasons.

I was watching all around the place until the priest called, “Thambi..”, and nodded at me asking to reverence Agaththiyar while he showed the flame towards the father himself. It was emotional. Reverence was all pure.

I prayed, “Say all you left unsaid to this world, through me” and smiled. He showed his palm at me.

“How do you travel all alone?”, asked driver anna sipping tea, “isn’t that boring?”

“No, it is not. I’m comfortable alone”, I told him and smiled.

“Strange! did anything happen for you, recently?, like.. “, he meant unfortunate life-events and smiled.

“no..”, I laughed out loud.

He shook up left out little tea in the glass to dissolve the sedimented sugar and turned it down into his mouth; until no more drop of tea was left in it.

With empty glasses, we just sat there on the wooden bench for a while: I – looking around, him – reading a newspaper and shaking his head, perhaps, in disappointment, angst, apprehension that the happenings he read could have caused.

“It doesn’t seem like you could earn enough from your taxi..”, I asked about his earnings other than this.

“True, my brother does salt farming”, he said, “we are a join family”.

‘oh..’, I nodded.

“So, how’s life here na.. Happy?” I smiled.

“Happy?!” driver anna laughed throwing his head back, “I don’t really know, thambi”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t know..”, cuddling his grey beard he said, “sometime, even if I am happy, I doubt if that is what happiness is or is it like I’m faking myself about it, you know what I mean? For I can live, feel and perceive everything only from one life and body; I don’t have an approval, you see.. for many a things. And your feeling are nobody else’s. Sometimes, even the hard times, when I look back, I feel I enjoyed it; but does that mean happiness? I don’t know” he chuckled, twisting his wrist to show something is unknown, “like colors, ha ha.. you see, the green your eye balls may perceive may not be same as my eye balls do, they say. You can’t have an approval for it with just your eyes and brain. O! it is the same with the sadness, I may doubt sometime if I’m being too touchy. That is why I think, I really don’t know. Perhaps, I have allowed myself to analyze too much of a bare reality. Perhaps, we would be able to feel only ecstasy and despair as right as rain. uh?”

Leaning on the wooden bench, balancing my two arms over it, with my heads facing down, I smiled within, out of unexpected grander in his thoughts.

“what is that.. thambi”, he asked caressing my back.

“Nothing..” I tapped his thigh, “It is getting late for me, anna. I think, I must take a leave”

I settled up the money for his car rental and took a leave from him.

I don’t know if I’m right about it; but there wasn’t any want of an approval more assuring than that day has provided me for the kind of travel I wish to have.

Fiction

Wee Fiction #2


“Why are you so kind to me?!”, I asked him. 

He lifted his face to look at me, then smiled and he said, “I should atleast be generous in being kind, isn’t it? Whatelse we have – that is to give genuinely to justify being a supreme species.”

I nodded my head.

“But.. why me?”

“Favour is not about what, but to whom; I think”.

I pulled his hand into mine and said “Thank you!”, that didn’t spell out.

Fiction

A dinner in street.


‘Haeli(tell me)’ cashier nodded his head at me. 

‘Masal dosa’ I said and showed a finger to tell him the count. 

‘Thirty.  haeeyyyy…. ‘ he said and rushed to the street. Three teenagers were racing on a bike and dashed over a couple. 

They didn’t stop, though there were too many hands trying to grab a hold of them –  the three teenagers. They managed to escape them all and dashed themselves, missing the balance, on the vehicles that were parked at the sides of the street shop – I was waiting for Masal dosa. Few grabbed their collar, few jumped over them, many punched on their face. There was much hassle. 

I got my dosa a little while later, sat over a concrete near the shop and started feeding my hunger. 

‘What is happening here?!’ a voice directed towards me. A white. 

I told him what happened there, repeating many words again and again, I couldn’t twist my tongue proper to his mother language. 

‘But, why did they dash on those vehicles? ‘

‘They were trying to escape’ I said. 

‘Aaaahhhh…’ he said and shock his head. 

He was eating ‘Set dosa’ with a coffee by the side,  with bare hands. 

‘Good to see you eat with bare hands’ I smiled. 

He laughed out loud. “Food that are costlier than these are not tastier than these” 

‘Where are you from?! You are here for very long?! ‘ I asked. He said, he is from London and he has been in India for six months now,  traveling along Kerela and Tamil Nadu for past five months and his stay in Bangalore of one month is getting over by tomorrow. 

‘I’m leaving Bangalore tomorrow, but I don’t know where I’m going next. My travel so far has been as this, zero planning’ he grinned. 

I excused to get me a coffee,  got one and went back again to him. 

‘How do you feel about the past six months here? ‘

Staring with food, he continues praising good about culture, tradition and people. 

‘People here handle things by themselves,  which I don’t see in London, I mean, in terms of dealing things among themselves as it just happened now, in that hassle; without taking it over to an burocracy level. Ah.. where are those three guys who got caught?!’

‘Their plea has been considered after the smashing’ I said. 

He was raving about things here, I don’t know if it was because of my emotive nature, but I was more than proud. Perhaps, gloating. I couldn’t get ride of that thick grin that was sticking on my face.

‘You people get rid of your politicians somehow, I mean, somehow… You people can handle it all with yourself, you just don’t need them’ there was a firm genuineness in his expression then. 

I was just sitting there, with my grin for sometime. 

‘Alright man, good to see you, have a wonderful trip’, I wished him and started walking home. 

Only after crossing few meters, I remembered I had left the coffee glass in the place we were talking and didn’t give it back to the shop. 

I went back there only to see no coffee glass at the place I kept but the English guy I was talking to had picked my glass as well, along with his plate and his coffee glass, and was giving it to the shop. He was modest enough to pick something I used. I wouldn’t have done that in his place, just until then. 

I left the place, with a sense of making something really ugly. Only I couldn’t put that “Why?!” into words here.

Fiction

Nature Laughed – A flash fiction.


They were on ravage over buildings, bridges and roads, anything that was built out of cement, bricks and stones. They looked more like a human, only their head (perhaps because of larger brain) and hip-bone was much larger than us – the Homo-Sapiens, and their eyes could see through earth’s curvature. They are the upgraded version of homo-sapiens: “Homo-Meetpans”, I was told. They conversed in an humanly unrecognizable behavior, we shall call it the seventh sense.

No sapiens were concerned, until meetpans lived in jungles, not breaking Sapiens’ cycle of life. Meetpans were confined to a beehive – the Andaman islands, among Sapiens tribes -Jarawa, Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese. Meetpans started biting Sapiens’ life only after they threw stone at former by latter’s usual born habit of cutting trees. Earth started taking new turn – An Habitat for an Habitat. Boastfulness of sapiens was eating mud – they couldn’t stand against meetpans like any other opposing earth’s species. Because, Sapiens couldn’t read meetpans, their foe, in first place.

Keep your toes off our soil, you will have your hut to live in – was the message meetpans had conveyed sapiens indirectly. But, But.. that was only until they understood sapiens have consumed much of nature from earth, than what was needed. From then on, many sapiens lost homes and livings, sometimes food. Their humongous desires, boiled down to one – survival. No wars, No borders, one race, one country.

image

Meetpans ravaged sapiens made structured, as much as they wanted trees, plants, jungles. Need not mention, birds, animals and reptiles grew larger and larger in population. Endangered become sufficiently populated. Polluted air tuned to refreshing. pH of rain water jumped down to zero.

Then on, Seas stayed at shore, rain poured well, ponds and rivers shined with colourlessness. Traditional organic farmers among Sapiens become their demigods. Nature laughed of happiness.