About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place .
“Namaste didi” – A bold voice struck in my ears as I was walking along the street. I hesitated a little but quickly passed a smile to the speaker. She was a girl of ten to twelve years, wearing a grey colored sweater and a very old and torn frock.
“we are going to inform the police if this girl is seen wandering in this colony again…got it?” some fat ladies were scolding the watchman.
“Sorry madam…I will take care from next time.”
The other day I asked my mother
“Mummy…Do you know that skinny girl who is always roaming in our colony…O that with old grey frock?”
“Yes beta…she is mad.” my mother replied.
“How do you know? Who told you?” I said curiously.
“The maid was telling me.That girl is our watchman’s daughter.” Mom got busy in doing her chores, but I still was thinking about that “mad” girl, haunted by her reality.
I had some old bangles and a few hair pins. Trying to find out anyone who could take those things, I recalled that girl – “the mad maiden”.The next day standing in the balcony I watched the same girl again.
“Girl !” I cried out from the balcony.She started looking around herself.
“look above…yes here” she glanced at me with twinkling eyes.I told her to wait, ran inside and brought those old possessions of mine tied into a polythene
“Do you want these?”I tried talking to her.She was silent as if trying to find out what it was.
“Take them.”I threw that polythene below. She took that and started gladly looking at those possessions. She ran wildly toward her father, laughing and screaming with joy.
“Was she really mad?”This question kept on revolving in my mind.
“yes…perhaps she was…but at least lesser than the people exploiting each other, madly snatching things and then killing their own kin. I pondered over and over. “She can’t be called mad. She is absolutely normal. In fact we are mad people in the disguise of normal philanthropists.”
“hmm… what am I thinking?Gosh bring me back.” but I was sinking deep somewhere into an unknown valley, compactly surrounded by wilderness from where my voice could not be heard.
‘Om bhoor bhuwah swah tat sawitur vareniyam’ the doorbell ringed.
‘Here is my lovable son back from Korea‘Ramakrishna stormed toward the door and his wife Leelawati followed his steps.
As they opened the door an enthusiastic voice came
‘Hey dad…o mom, so nice to see you both again.’ Parag exclaimed.
‘O my child, you’ve grown even fairer and handsome’ Leelawati praised him.
‘My dear mother… I take after you’ Parag replied wittingly.
‘Enough of the talks! Give Parag some water and the carrot halva especially cooked for him.’ Ramakrishna pinched Leelawati.
Leelawati hurried toward the kitchen and came back with a glass of water and halva.
‘Have this Parag’ she said while stroking his head.
Parag took some bites of halva and gulped water.
‘Listen mom…listen dad. See what I’ve brought for you.’ His parents glanced at him surprisingly.
‘A nice Korean kettle.’ He was delighted to see the glitter of amazement in his parent’s eyes. Leelawati had long ago desired for a kettle which Ramakrishna never fulfilled. Now her son had enlivened her dream.
‘Wow …this is outstanding.’ Leelawati cried out followed by Ramakrishna’s giggles.
‘Darling…Please prepare tea for him in this kettle’ Ramakrishna advised.
‘Yeah…sure’ leelawati chirruped like a bird.
She left the father and son talking to each other and trotted toward the kitchen holding kettle in one of her hands. Leelawati opened the fridge and grabbed the utensil filled with milk. Dipping a spoon in the milk, she took out thick white cream and licked it.
‘I must start preparing tea’ she pondered.
Suddenly her eyes caught the manual inside the carton of kettle.
‘Who cares…I am well-educated and intelligent enough to deal with it without any manual.’ She muttered.
‘Lalala …take two capfuls of milk. Add one cup of water. Mix two spoonsful of tea and bring to boil.’ She muttered.
She covered the kettle with its lid and waited for a few seconds. Being an impatient middle-aged lady she started roaming in the kitchen and switched on the radio.
‘I know you love me. You know I care.’ Justin Bieber was twisting his tongue. Leelawati started taking dance steps.
‘BOOM! …shut…BOOM! ‘The kettle started making metallic noise.
Leelawati went near the kettle and Alas! The kettle lid opened as a result of which the tea started flowing out of it.
‘O Gosh…what will they say. I am such a dumb…really I have done a blunder.’
‘My first love … broke my love for the first time’ Bieber continued singing.
‘O damn shit…Bieber go to hell’ She groaned and started cleaning the slab and floor. As she stood up, the vessel full with milk clashed with her.
MILK MILK EVERYWHERE
NO WHERE FOR TEA
On hearing the chink of utensil, both father and son ran into the kitchen only to see Leelawati covered with milk listening to Bieber.
‘Are we an item girl? Quit playing.’
Neelu marched toward her school with a huge smile. Her dusky dimpled cheeks were filled with a reflection of happiness. It was quite unusual.
She hated school since the very first day. Not aday had passed without her feeling low while going to the temple of learning. Yes, a temple indeed. A temple where she sacrificed her happiness on the altar of the headmaster’s nagging. And an incomplete homework was like committing a unrepentable sin.
But that day, she felt as if her happy days in the school were about to start. Why not? Neelu was in the third standard now, she, because of constant scoldings, had got first rank in the class. She had a new bag, new shoes, new waterbottle and a new lunchbox, and she was a grown up girl now.
‘I will not talk to Sunita … she never shares her lunch with me.’ She murmured. She heard the school bell ringing as she entered the building.
‘ Neelu … Neelu ‘ it was Sunita’s voice.
‘I won’t pay heed’ Neelu thought.
‘ Neelu! There is a worm on your shirt’ Sunita yelled.
‘O my God, O my God!’ sayimg these words, Neelu ran toward the gate with all her force. The gate was stiil open. The guard tried to stop her, but her determination to run failed him.
She flung the bag near the gate, and kept on screaming while running.
‘What happened Neelu? Are you okay?’ Shocked Sushma aunty asked her.
‘Wo…Worm’ Nervous Neelu cried.
‘Where’ Aunty took Neelu’s shirt to check if there was really any worm on it. But Neelu continued running toward her home. Every villager present in the way followed her to her home.
At last she slipped inside the house. Ammu, who was sorting grains heard her scream and rushed toward her.
‘What happened?’- Ammu asked her nervously. Neelu kept on jumping and shouting.
Ammu took out a stick and angrily asked her again- ‘speak out’.
‘Wo… wo..worm on my shirt’ Neelu told as the tear drops rolled and rolled on her cheeks.
In the meanwhile, many people stormed into the house. One was carrying Neelu’s bag, and other her waterbottle. Sushma aunty came holding her school-shirt in one of her hands.
‘There was no worm on your shirt dear.’ Sushma aunty said with a smile.
‘No..there was..’ blushed Neelu said hesitantly.
The only voice heard was that of bursting laughter.