Thursday, 24 January 2013

Smoking Elephant!

Dec.25, 2012

 [Rena looks intently at Sham, clears her throat and starts reading aloud a book]

 Rena: To train elephants not to run away, the Indians would capture baby elephants and tie one of its hind legs with a strong rope to a stake fixed firmly in the ground.

 [She pauses for a while, looks again at Sham and continues]
 Rena: For the first few days the baby elephant would struggle to break free, but without success. When the elephant was fully grown and was able to uproot the stake, its memory would keep telling: ‘You cannot break.’ So the elephant was no longer bound by the rope and the peg, but by its memory.

 [Sham puts out his cigarette, blinks at Rena.]

  Sham: Why, Rena? Why do you read me a fairy tale from Manu’s [daughter] text book?

 Rena: It’s not a fairy tale, but a real one… happening everywhere.

 Sham: What the hell you’re talking about?

 Rena: Come on; tell me Sham, why can’t you stop smoking?

 Sham: That’s habit. I have grown with it helluva time.

 Rena: Yes, that’s it. Your habit is like the stake. You’re the elephant tied to it. You always think you can’t break coz: you lack desire, decision and determination.

 Sham: Uh, what is wrong with you today? Think the day is not dawned well for me.

 Rena: Nothing wrong with me. I’m as clear as the day. Now, tell me how many packs of cigarettes are you smoking daily?

 Sham: May be three. [He sulks; looks away from her]

 Rena: Three packs [she screeches] and that means 30 cigarettes
 Sham: Yea, you’re right. I never saw a pack with more than 10 cigarettes.

 Rena: Be serious Sham. Do you know that the odds are every cigarette you smoke shortens your life by five and a half minutes? By this time you must have been dead.

 Sham: Stop preaching, Rena. Every one knows the hazardous of smoking.

 Rena: Then why don’t you kick it. It’s a habit, an acquired one at that. You can undo it if you have the will-power. Why don’t you see the elephant in the room?

 Sham: I can’t do that Rena. I smoke not to flaunt my machismo. Nor I smoke for the heck of it. Rather, the white sticks are my shock-absorbers… god’s gifts like Noah’s ark. I have had so many tragedies in my life… so many skies had fallen on my head. But still, the white sticks carry me well through the debris of my life. They help me blow away my pains and accentuate my pleasures. They relieve unpleasant, overwhelming feelings. They provide me with the power of creative imaginations. I was wedded to the stick long before I have married you.

 Rena: You trickster, stop waxing eloquent about a bad habit.

 [She now starts yelling at him. What starts as a war of words ends in Sham getting a potpourri of things thrown at him-vessels, TV remote, newspapers, and combs et al. Peace returns after a prolonged pell-mell? Sham becomes apologetic and yields.]

 Sham: Stop Rena. Enough is enough. You want me quit smoking. Yes, I would do it from 1st Jan. Now, as you say, I have the desire and decision, will implement it with determination.

 Dec. 30, 2012

Rena: Why, what’s it Sham? Now, you’re smoking four-packs-a-day.

 Sham: Yes, Rena. I do it with a purpose. You know that things you consume too much will make you fed up with them. I’m smoking now four packs-a-day because that will make me contemptuous of smoking and ultimately I will hate smoking. I’m always ingenious, have my own scheme of things to tackle new critical situations.

 Rena: I don’t think so. Quite oft your ingenuity brings only chaos. Anyway, good luck, Sham.

 Rena: Sham, you’re still smoking. You smell of nicotine. Why don’t you keep your promises? Why you lack determination? You have a chicken for heart.

 Sham: Don’t get alarmed, dear. Sit down, perk up your ears and hear what I say.

 [She sits down reluctantly on the sofa, a bit agitated. Sham takes out a paper from his pocket and starts reading]

 Sham: True, the bull elephant find it hard to break free from the stake, since its memory says: ‘You cannot break free.’ But, a cow elephant calls on him soon and tells him: ‘you darkie moron, you can just-like-that uproot the stake if you shut down your memories. The world outside your stake reckons you. Once you free yourself from the chains, you can feel free air; roam about as you like. Try your luck, dear.

 The bull elephant now breaks the chain that bound him to the stake. It starts roaming about the town and eats whatever it wants. The delight of having broken its bond and thereby having freedom wanes as time moves on. It feels a sort of loneliness, hates its new-find freedom. It’s craving for the stake and that makes it desolate and depressive. Now that it has gone too far from its stake, it cannot reach to its chains. It struggles, trumpets in dismay and finally dies of cardiac arrest.

 [Sham smiles at Rena sheepishly, but has no guts to look into her eyes]

 Rena: So what you’re up to. Why do you manufacture such cow and bull story? What you mean telling such a story?

 Sham: Hmmm… I mean to say… [He fumbles for a moment, looks at the ceiling and continues.]Okay Rena, now you decide:  do you want a smoking elephant at home or wants him die of heart attack because of HWS?

  Rena: HWS???

 Sham: Habit Withdrawal Syndrome.

  Rena: My Holy Christ! All said and done, don’t you know smoking is injurious to god?

Sham: How?

Rena: Every human body is a temple and god lives in every soul.

Sham: Honey, don’t speak ill of god’s powers. He is almighty. He won’t get injured by a few bellows of smoke I’m blowing in and out.

Rena: You’re a cheat … hopeless argumentative Indian. [She races to the bed room and plops on the bed, stupefied]

PS [This is what I call my ‘wild writing’, letting my pencil to roam about the white sheets. I would also, virtually, give him a clump of clay and allow him to make out of it either a god or devil. However, my pencil fellow never fails me. Most of the times, he would come out with a god like this short play. But, I don’t know what your take is? Do you credit him with colors or send a knife to cut him into pieces. [Smile]

Image courtesy: Google

Monday, 21 January 2013

Never Die Some Memories!

My Mind- stuffed with memories, both sweet and sour- is like a python cud-chewing its swallowed preys, mostly the sour ones. The accident a ten-year-old boy met with[ my neighbor’s son] a decade ago on a New Year’s Day still lingers in my memory, burns my heart and never let itself eroded by the waves of time. I was then at Madurai having a short stint in a bank.

To me, until 2001, every New Year’s Day used to be a day of reckoning and renewal. Like snakes doffing off their old skins, I would, on that day, get my mind repaired and rejuvenated, filling it with some make-believe thoughts and promises. To me, among all the chores that I do on a new year’s day, visiting a temple and praying to god to paint my future green is a paramount one. But, after a few days, I would tend to forget both god and family when workplace storms catch me by the scruff of my neck.

The 1st of January 2001, as usual, dawned with hopes. My family and I were waiting in a bus station as we wanted to go to a nearby temple. Standing with us was a small, vivacious boy of about 10-years-old. He was restless, nagging his mother to get him a piece of watermelon from the fruit vendor who had pitched in his shop at the other side of the road. In a split second, the boy got released his hands from his mother’s grip, started running across the road only to get himself run over by a heavy laden truck.

 He was lying on his stomach under the front wheels of the truck, bedaubed with blood. Gosh! He was crushed to the dregs. While his body was mangled, his right hand was seen holding out a crumbled ten rupee note, the money he got from his mother for buying a slice of watermelon. ‘Muthu”, hollered his mother, ran over to him in one bound and cried her head off. She fainted soon, unable to bear the sight of her mutilated son. A few spaces from the boy’s mom stood the fruit vendor in awe and shock.

Soon, all my New Year’s spirit had waned as I stood dazed wringing my hands helplessly. For one moment the boy was in flesh and blood, animatedly chatting with my mom and regaling us with his wits, the other moment he was dead and gone. Hell with fate! We cremated him later in the next day, and his father lighted his funeral pyre.

12 years had rolled by quickly since the boy had gone to ashes, a small bud dropped on the ground without blossoming. Muthu’s ever weeping mother now got her recouped from the tragedy. Time had healed her off completely. I heard she was seen going to the temples every now and then, and the family was on its rails.

But what happened to me? Brooding still over the gory death of the boy, which I’d seen with my own eyes, I still remain not to get myself reconciled to what had happened. Time could not dim my remembrances of him. After the boy’s death, whenever I see the 1st of January every year in the gird of a daily calendar, I begin to think of Muthu lying on his stomach under a truck with his right hand holding a crumbled ten rupee note. I don’t go to temples on New Year’s Day nowadays.  In fact on the 1st January of every year, I become gloomy to the consternation of my family as I don’t involve myself in New Year’s celebrations.

This January of 2013, I was at Madurai attending a family function. I got up early in the morning, raced over to the race course road where the boy had met with the accident. It was still dark and the broad arterial road was lying in respite preparing itself to face the onslaught of the vehicles and the hustle-bustle of upcoming day’s activities. Moving slowly to the middle of the road and placing thereat a piece of watermelon, I stood still awhile, closing my eyes.

‘Amma, I want watermelon. Give me ten rupees,’ Muthu’s tender voice seemed to reverberate across the road. I felt like I had a thud in my heart. When I felt someone holding my hand, I saw a man standing beside me with cut flowers. The man was an old guy, must be in his mid-50s, sporting a long flowing white beard. He was bald, emaciated and his dhoti and shirt are crumbled and dirty. I was unable to recognize him for a moment. However, when he took away his power glasses, I began to know whom I was with.

Gosh! He was none other than the fruit vendor from whom Muthu wanted to buy a slice of melon. Even at that old age, the vendor finds it humane to remember a dead young soul on the day of his premature demise. The world, I thought, still moves on it axis because of the existence of such gold hearted  persons. God bless them.

Courtesy image: Google