Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fables from the age of innocence

-To my friend who says that our basic sense of childhood innocence needs to be reclaimed if we are to love and hug the nature in its purity.

It seems, at rare moments of reflections, that many aspects of our lives have become metamorphosed into an artificial existence these days! At times, in order to escape this unfathomable feeling of disillusionment and boredom, at least for a while, many of us, our minds may tend to take refuge somewhere in the past where one could somehow find some kind of solace, traveling back to that time and space where perhaps we had been less concerned about material achievements or failures.

At moments like these, it is your childhood days that you can always depend upon. Those endless chain of treasure hunts. Where else could one retreat to when one finds oneself woken up from such colourless dreams and delusions!

It's like growing back to that fragile infant baby again and falling back onto the lap of your mother once more. To be consoled on her benevolent bosoms, to be fed with her breast milk and falling back into that careless sleep on her ever-supportive shoulders and be worried about nothing in the world. No earthquakes, no tsunamies, no stock market rise or fall is going to worry you anymore. Her soothing voice humming in your soul even while you are carefully being laid into the cradle, and her melodious singing and the swinging of the cradle keeps you calm and quite, you might as well place one of your thump fingers into your toothless mouth in sheer ecstasy and be oblivious of the whole world. In company with beautiful angels, you may smile looking at the stars around you and giggle yourself, seeing this, your mother may forget all her perpetual sorrows and worries and sing for you yet sweeter lullabies and Aesop fables.

Or, it is like growing back to the days of your childhood when you were still in your primary school classes. You had in your neighborhood, very close to your own home, a large mango tree. Your very memories begin with this huge tree with its long leafy branches spread across and around the field where you used to spend your whole days once upon a time, long ago, yet your memories seems still frozen with those times. The time when that mango tree gets ornamented with its blooms, the time when those tiny baby mangoes are grown and seen hanging down from the green thick leafy branches, the time when they keep falling to the ground because of your passionate prayer and desire to mouth them in their tender age.

You may have tasted Chinese food, Japanese Sushi or Mexican delicacies or exotic fruits of various breed or brand. But that pungent smell and taste of those infant mangoes in its early stages, then the juicy rich, mouth watering sugary taste when it ripens never fade away from the tip of your tongue.

Those wild summer seasons, the month of May, when the school is still on vacation and you the children are camped around the mango tree from dawn until dusk. Waiting in the soothing shadow of the vast mango tree in a hot summer, waiting for the cool breeze that brings you on its wings the cooling comfort of the Mother Nature. The same breeze that blesses you when it passes through the leafy branches of the mango tree when ripened, sweet, yellow burst, mouth watering mangoes are waiting for the feather touch of the wind to fall into your hand. The other companions that you fondly remember are those beautiful noisy, mischievous squirrels, crows and party above you who in their own celebration of the season jump from branch to branch in merriment and endless dancing that makes the ripened sweet mangoes find their way down to your eagerly and earnestly waiting little hands.

A falling mango is expected to make a thudding noise when it hits the ground. So, you keep your ears in a permanent state of alert. Once a mango falling noise is heard, your eyes simultaneously jump into action to locate the fallen fruit. It may have fallen on pure earth, or among the dry leaves. In the later case, it demands further exertion of your eyes to locate it exactly. Once it is located, begins the real "survival of the fittest" contest. The most sharp, agile, able runner may grab it. But if someone is lucky enough to be near the falling hot spot, he or she may get it without much effort. And others continue their wait for their lucky moment to arrive (fall).

Sometimes, arguments arise over a disputed grab of the mango. One says, “I got it first, but you snatched it away from me. So, it belongs to me”. Or perhaps he would say, “I saw it first” usually a weak argument point to make a claim.

But, often, with good solidarity, children share their fortune of sweet mangoes with their buddies who were not lucky enough that particular day. Thus, the good camaraderie is kept intact for the most part between the kids. After all, it was an age of innocence. Wasn’t it?

A scene from Vikom Muhamed Basheer's Balyakaala Sakhi comes to mind. In the beginning of the story, we see Majeed and Suhara under a mango tree arguing over a fallen mango. At the heat of the moment, ensuing an intense verbal fight, Suhara rushes forward and gives Majeed a skin peeling, burning scratch with her sharp, long finger nails. In reply, Majeed thinks over how to revenge her appropriately, but his imagination fails him to find a way. Then to his delight, Majeed sees Suhara’s small hut like house and his tile roofed comparably well built house through the coconut and banana trees. Both of them are neighbors. Looking at both the houses Majeed’s face brightens and he declares to Suhara with a victorious smile: “See, my house is tile roofed, but yours is leaf roofed” (roofed with dried coconut leaves). But then, to his horror Majeed finds out that Suhara is not a bit annoyed at this earth shaking attack on her honor. She simply stays cool and never loses her pose. He feels defeated and beaten by a “little girl” again. However, after this fighting between them and Majeed’s humiliating defeat thereupon, gradually, both of them become best of friends on the course, and the story progresses to a heart wrenching end that no reader of Basheer can ever forget.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

വഴിയില്‍ കണ്ട പന്ത്രണ്ടുകാരന്‍

ആരാണ് നീ? ഇവിടെ എന്തു ചെയ്യുന്നു?
ഞാന്‍ സുനില്‍. ഞാന്‍ ഈ ഫ്ലാറ്റുകളില്‍ നിന്ന് ടിഫിനുകള്‍ ശേഖരിക്കുകയാണ്.

എന്ത് ടിഫിനുകള്‍?
ഞങ്ങള്‍ ഈ ഫ്ലാറ്റുകളില്‍ താമസിക്കുന്നവര്‍ക്ക് ഭക്ഷണം ഉണ്ടാകി കൊടുക്കുന്നു. വൈകുന്നേരങ്ങളില്‍ ഞാന്‍ അവര്‍ക്ക് ഭക്ഷണം ഫ്ലാറ്റില്‍ കൊണ്ടുപോയി കൊടുക്കുന്നു. രാവിലെ വന്നു ഈ കാലി ടിഫിനുകള്‍ ശേഖരിക്കുന്നു.

അതാണോ നിന്‍റെ ജോലി?

അതെ, അല്ല. ഞാന്‍ സോണിയുടെ ഹോട്ടലില്‍ കുക്ക് ആണ്. അടുക്കളയില്‍ റൊട്ടി ഉണ്ടാകുന്ന പണിയാണ് എന്‍റെത്.

നിനക്ക് എത്ര വയസ്സായി?
12 .

ഒരു ദിവസം നീ എത്ര റൊട്ടി ഉണ്ടാക്കും?
800 നു മീതെ ഉണ്ടാക്കും.

നിനക്ക് എത്ര കൂലി കിട്ടും?
2000 കിട്ടും മാസം. അതെല്ലാം മണി ഓര്‍ഡര്‍ ആയി ഞാന്‍ എന്‍റെ മാതാപിതാക്കള്‍ക്ക് അയച്ചു കൊടുക്കും.

അച്ഛനും അമ്മയും? എവിടെയാണ് നിന്‍റെ വീട്?

മധ്യപ്രദേശിലെ, മോരേന ജില്ലയില്‍ ബാകപൂരില്‍ ആണ് എന്‍റെ വീട്. എന്‍റെ അച്ഛനു അര ഏക്കര്‍ ഭൂമി ഉണ്ട്. എനിക്ക് രണ്ടു സഹോദരിമാര്‍ ഉണ്ട്; അനിതയും, ശ്രീയും. രണ്ടു സഹോദരന്മാരും ഉണ്ട്. രാഹുലും രാജുവും. ഞാനാണ് ഏറ്റവും മൂത്തത്.

നീ പഠിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ടോ?

ഇല്ല എനിക്ക് എഴുതാനും വായിക്കാനും അറിയില്ല.

നീ ഒഴിവുസമയത്ത് എന്തു ചെയ്യുന്നു?

എനിക്ക് ഒഴിവുസമയം ഉണ്ടാവാറില്ല. ഞാന്‍ രാവിലെ 7.30 നു ജോലിക്ക് നിന്നാല്‍ രാത്രി വൈകിയിട്ടു വരെ ജോലിത്തിരക്കാണ്‌.

നീ എവിടെയാണ് ഉറങ്ങുന്നത്?

ഹോട്ടലിലെ അടുക്കളയില്‍.

നീന്‍റെ സ്വപ്നം എന്താണ്?

എനിക്ക് ഒരു ക്രിക്കെറ്റ് കളിക്കാരന്‍ ആവണം. ഞാന്‍ നല്ല ഒരു ബാറ്റ്സ്മാന്‍ ആണ്. എന്‍റെ ഗ്രാമത്തില്‍ ഞാന്‍ എപ്പോഴും കളിക്കുമായിരുന്നു. എനിക്ക് ബോള്‍ നല്ല ശക്തിയില്‍ അടിക്കാന്‍ അറിയാം. എന്‍റെ അടിയില്‍ ബോള്‍ പലപ്പോഴും കളിക്കളത്തിനു പുറത്തു, കാട്ടിലേക്ക് പറന്നു പോവാറുണ്ട്. എന്‍റെ അടിയില്‍ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്‌ 5 ബാളുകള്‍ നഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്.

നീന്‍റെ കയ്യിലെ വാച്ച് നല്ല ഭംഗിയുണ്ടല്ലോ?

അത് ഞാന്‍ 35 രൂപയ്ക്കു ഞാറാഴ്ച ചന്തയില്‍ നിന്ന് വാങ്ങിയതാണ്.

നിനക്ക് വീട് വിട്ടു നില്‍ക്കുന്നതില്‍ വിഷമമില്ലേ?

ഉണ്ട്. പ്രത്ത്യകിച്ചു എനിക്ക് ഏപ്പോഴും അമ്മയെ കാണണം എന്ന് തോന്നും.

നീ കരയാരുണ്ടോ?

ഒരിക്കലും ഇല്ല ചേട്ടാ. ഒരു വില കുറഞ്ഞ മൊബൈല്‍ ഫോണ്‍ എവിടെ കിട്ടുമെന്ന് പറയാമോ? ഇവിടെ വന്ന ശേഷം ഞാന്‍ എന്‍റെ അമ്മയോടും അച്ഛനോടും സംസാരിച്ചിട്ടില്ല. അവരുടെ കയ്യില്‍ മൊബൈല്‍ ഫോണ്‍ ഇല്ല. നാനൂറു രൂപയ്ക്കു ഒരെണ്ണം കിട്ടുകയാണെങ്കില്‍ ഈ മാസാവസാനം നാട്ടില്‍ പോവുമ്പോള്‍ ഞാന്‍ അത് അവര്‍ക്ക് നല്‍കും. എങ്കില്‍ എനിക്ക് എപ്പോള്‍ വേണമെങ്കിലും അവരെ വിളിച്ചു വര്‍ത്തമാനം പറയാമല്ലോ.

Monday, March 7, 2011

When the lullaby of rain never ceased

Gone are the days, never to come back again.

Welcome to a short journey down the memory lane through the isles of childhood, once more to feel and see the wind and rain and the sunshine of those times as though it was only yesterday.

Generally, people of those days were happier and more content. They lived a life that was calm, simple and down to earth. Their lively income mainly came from agriculture and farming. They walked often and rarely did they travel in vehicles. Life was more in-tune with the nature and the seasons.

The monsoon rain was a completely different kind. Contrary to our present experience, the monsoons always kept its date starting around 1st of June without fail. It was long, sustained, steady and stormy. The heavy rain poured down from the cloudy sky was like it was never going to cease. The wells and the ponds fill to the brim and then it overflows to make a narrow stream that leads to the paddy fields.

Rain rain come again
(Please keep the speaker on)

My friends like Kunhippa (real name is Hassan and we sometimes call him Hassainar Aduvanni), Mustafa Neduvanchery, Satyan, Babu, Unni, Salam Neduvanchery, Ravi and a host of others come to my mind, and the memories of how we celebrated the rain. Usually we reach school by 10am and the study period is extended up to 4.30pm. At break periods we engage in games like hide and seek and small games of other kind, all the time we are waiting impatiently for the evening when we have planned our water adventures.

When the school closing bell rings at 4.30 we take a rabbit-race home and reach there before the bell is finished. As soon as we reach home, we rush to the large water-pool overflowing with sky-blue water to begin the real fun. He who jumps first into the water is a winner, and the race to win is exciting without end each and every day. Heavily pouring rain or earth shaking thunder and lightning doesn't deter us from our game in the water. Instead, it makes the game yet more thrilling even if it is fearsome at times. Some acts of the boys are really dangerous and sometimes life threatening. For example, while jumping into the water from a fairly higher ground, some bold-boys turn around in the mid-air. The one who makes a double turn-around in one take is a hero. Thus the water-game goes on and on till the approaching night makes it impossible to stay any longer.

A swim in the water-pool
(Please keep the speaker on)
Then, every one walk back home, with eyes reddened and hungry but still anticipating the thrills in store for the next day.

Talking of monsoon and rain, a beautiful passage from Arundhati Roy's Booker winning work "The god of small things" seems relevant here:
"But by early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn moss green. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across flooded roads. Boats ply in the bazaars. And small fish appear in the puddles that fill the PWD potholes on the highways.
It was raining when Rahel came back to Ayemenem. Slanting silver ropes slammed into loose earth, plowing it up like gunfire. The old house on the hill wore its steep, gabled roof pulled over its ears like a low hat. The walls, streaked with moss, had grown soft, and bulged a little with dampness that seeped up from the ground. The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of small lives. In the undergrowth a rat snake rubbed itself against a glistening stone. Hopeful yellow bullfrogs cruised the scummy pond for mates. A drenched mongoose flashed across the leaf-strewn driveway."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

ശാന്തി തേടുന്ന യുദ്ധങ്ങള്‍

പാരിലാകെ ശാന്തി പടര്‍ത്താനീ
നാട് വാഴും തമ്പ്രാക്കള്‍ നിങ്ങള്‍

നേരോ, നിങ്ങളുരിയാടുമീ വചസ്സുകള്‍?
പറയട്ടെയിവര്‍ പതിത കോടികള്‍
ബോംബു വര്‍ഷത്തിന്‍ പുകച്ചുരുളില്‍
ജീവിതം ആവിയായ് പുകഞ്ഞവര്‍

പറയട്ടെ, മണ്ണില്‍ കട്ട പിടിച്ചു കിടക്കും
കടും ചോരയിലാര്‍ത്തിയോടെ
കണ്‍ പാര്‍ത്തിരിയ്ക്കുമീ കഴുകന്‍റെ കണ്ണുകള്‍.

അച്ഛന്‍ തന്‍റെ
മൃതനായ മകന്
ശവക്കച്ച ചാര്‍ത്തി ശിലയായിരിക്കുമ്പോള്‍.

ന്‍റെ ചുടുചുംബനത്തില്‍
തുടുത്തയവളുടെ വിരല്‍തുമ്പില്‍ വിതുമ്പുമ്പോള്‍.

ന്‍റെ ജീവന്‍റെ ജീവനീ
പ്രിയ പത്നിയവളുടെ ബോധമുണരുമ്പോള്‍.

പറയട്ടെയവന്‍റെ ജനനിയവളുടെ
കണ്ണീരു തോര്‍ന്നെങ്കില്‍.

പറയട്ടെയീ അനാഥബാല്യങ്ങള്‍
തെരുവിലലയും സങ്കടങ്ങള്‍.
തകര്‍ന്നുടഞ്ഞ ശേഷിപ്പുകളില്‍‍
ജീവിതം തെണ്ടിയലയും ചോദ്യങ്ങള്‍.