The story unfolds – Part 2

 

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You might want to read Part-1 first.

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Manojavam and Manjula had decided that after their marriage they must, limited to their capacity, contribute to the society. Manojavam always remembered what his father had told him,”It is the failure of a nation if any of its citizens could not afford a good meal once at least a day”. He had taken this to his heart. One day while coming back from work he noticed a set of young rag-pickers loitering in the streets. His inquiry led to the fact that they were from the nearby orphanage which could not even manage their basic needs due to poor funding. He got an idea. But never did he take any step without consulting his other half. He came back home and while having lunch brought up the topic. “I saw a bunch of four very young boys from an orphanage loitering in the streets in the name of rag-picking. They are lacking basic needs and their thin frail bodies are a result of malnutrition. I know the person who is running the orphanage. Can we at least support them with one good meal a day.” Manjula remained silent for a while, which he misconstrued as her disinterest and understood that he was asking for a bit too much. But when she spoke he was pleasantly surprised. “Janu, God has given us so much. It is not a problem even if we support them with two meals a day. I don’t mind it. But I am interested in food for the brain more than the food for the tummy. I am free the entire day once you leave for work. I am a B.Com graduate too. Can I give them some basic education during my free time.” His eyes was almost moist. He felt annoyed at his narrow-mindedness and was blown away by her progressive thinking. He thanked God for the best gift he had received in the form of his wife.

The four boys readily agreed to be educated. Manojavam, due to the good name his father had, readily got permission for them to take up the annual exams in the Government School. The boys enjoyed food for thought and food for the tummy. Manojavam and Manjula both made it a point that they will have at least one meal a day along with the boys. Manjula loved cooking. She made sure she served as many varieties of food as possible to the hungry kids. Masala Dosa, Onion Dosa, Rava Dosa, Uthappam, Rava Idli, Chow-Chow bath were among the top of the mouth-watering delicacies that were served. She loved teaching them too. You need to have a hungry tummy to respect the food you eat and at the same time you need to have a hungry brain to respect knowledge that comes your way. In this case the boys had both. The couple got so much involved with these sweet kids that they postponed having kids of their own for some time. Four years rolled and these kids were ready to go to high-school. Manojavam, again due to the good name his father had, made sure these students got into a decent school in a nearby town. On the day when the kids were leaving, both Manojavam and Manjula dropped them off to the bus stand. The kids waved good-bye with heavy hearts and along with the bus their journey to the next phase of education began. Manojavam and Manjula returned back home. After an year their first child was born.

The doctor was surprised as he came in to find out how Manojavam was coping up. Manjula could read the surprise in his face and asked as to what was it due to. He said the he saw four distinguished gentlemen waiting outside as he went on with the check up. He took a pad and wrote down some new medicines and then remarked “IAS officer, ACP, Lawyer and a famous Doctor” from the town are waiting to see sir. There are many people in this part of the world waiting to meet these distinguished men, but they are patiently waiting to see sir. Is sir such a big person?” Manjula smiled and briefed about the four rag-picking boys story.  The Doctor was overwhelmed at what the couple had done. He accompanied Manjula outside to the corridor and at once all the four stood up and fell at her feet. The Doctor was shocked at their gesture. The IAS officer noticed the shock on the Doctor’s face and remarked ” Doctor, this is the lady who gave us food in more than one ways.” Manjula was overwhelmed to see her four god-given kids. She held them by hand and escorted them inside. Manojavam was awake and readily recognised his rag-picking boys. They together presented him with his favourite book. This took Manojavam down the memory lane………………..

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I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. I have chosen to narrate a single story in parts and each part would be in response to that days prompt. Hope all of you like it.

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The story unfolds – Part 1

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Manojavam was going to die a natural death and anyone knowing him personally wouldn’t  misconstrue it as an overstatement if one stressed ‘natural’ again. After all, he was 100 years old and almost, slowly, inching towards 101: just like how a cricket batsman would momentarily slowdown and take a new guard after scoring a century. They say wisdom grows with age, and his certainly did. The gleaned wisdom over a lifetime had sought refuge in the abundant luminescent white hair, the many undulating morsels of cheek muscles bravely protruding out from in between the wrinkles and the intensely deep eyes that had seen the tortuous journey called life, uninterruptedly, for ten decades. His six year old great grand daughter Priya, who was mad about her great grandpa, was told that he had gone into deep meditation. That was the best possible way Satish, her father, could make her understand the medical condition of her great grandpa.

Manojavam’s wife Manjula, a nonagenarian, was eagerly waiting for him to recover. Never during the 70 years of their marriage life, had she seen him so helpless. A month before he had walked three kilometres to a government office to officially confirm that he was alive and collect his pension for the month. While coming back he also had bought fresh vegetables from the market. He entered the house and sat on a chair. He had cheerfully asked Manjula for a glass of water and as he held it in his hands it slipped and both Manojavam and the glass hit the ground hard. It was a massive heart attack. The doctors were surprised that he could survive the ordeal of the surgery. The doctor, clearly disappointed at Tendulkar’s retirement, put it very aptly when he remarked “It is like 90 year old Sachin Tendulkar successfully facing the wrath of the 24 year old Dale Steyn”.  He had just been shifted to the ward. As Manjula sat next to him, caressing his hair, with her eyes closed and head resting on the wall, her inner eyes were busy screening the memories of the yesteryears.

The scene that was currently on was the one when she first met Manojavam, which, by the way, was an accident in every sense of the term. Manjula was then 19 years old and also an L-board rider of her new bicycle. When she rode, people got confused whether she had a problem with balancing or balance had a problem with managing her. But somehow she managed to achieve the required displacement. They say things get done smoothly only on two occasions, one when there is perfect understanding and the other when there is perfect misunderstanding. In her case, it was the perfect misunderstanding between her and balance that got the job done. But her joyous rounds on her bicycle were marred with unfortunate incidents of poor people accidentally subjected to the impulse which would bring the joint momentum of the cycle and its rider immediately to zero. On that fateful day Manojavam was nominated by God to be subjected to such a treatment. He was dressed impeccably that day. White shirt that would make any modern day detergent bow down in shame, dark grey bellbottom pants that would leave Rajesh Khanna under a spell of jealousy, a tightly wound leather belt and a neatly polished pair of formal shoes. He was about to attend his first interview and was waiting for the bus. He placed his file on the platform beside him and bent over to tie the loosened shoelaces. The next thing he knew was that four or five people lifted him from the gutter adjacent to the road. An infuriated Manojavam, after cleaning up, walked towards the culprit gathering the choicest of words but instantaneously turned dumb when he noticed the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen offering the most convincing of apologies. He thought that if eyes could talk so beautifully then what about the lips that were yet to break their silence. She uttered, according to him, the most romantic “Sorry” and rode past him. As she left, he felt lighter by about 300 grams. Why wouldn’t he? She had stolen his heart. That evening both of them thought about the beautiful little story that God had written keeping them in mind. But little did they realise that God had indeed planned a saga, and the incident that day was only the prologue. After three weeks Manjula had found the right “balance” in her life, as Manojavam would walk along and hold the handle of the bicycle as she rode. Manojavam never dared to walk past her; he already had experienced the outcome first-hand, but always would walk along with her. Little did they know that God was teaching them the mantra leading to a  successful marriage. After seven months they had decided, with full acceptance from both families, that they were ready to take the “SEVEN PHERAS”. When he was about to tie the nuptial knot, both looked at each other. She could feel the deep love for her in his eyes. His eyes were so intense.

A sudden movement interrupted her thoughts and she at once came back to the present. He had regained consciousness and was looking right at her. The love for her that she saw in his eyes had not diminished even by an iota. His eyes even now were so intense. “Janu, how are you?” she asked as tears rolled down her eyes. “Manju, I want to eat the Masala Dosa that your prepare the best” he remarked. She smiled and nodded. Food was one of the reasons why their bonding was so strong …………………………..

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I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. I have chosen to narrate a single story in parts and each part would be in response to that days prompt. Hope all of you like it.

Mistaken to be mature.


I’d do things differently Mohan Chacha” he remarked. His mother, eavesdropping hitherto, burst into the room and launched a diatribe. “Don’t dare to swerve from the family path. Our family has worked hard to amass this wealth for generations. You are the next flag bearer. Don’t give that immature, vacuous and cheap brain of yours any work and just follow my directions. Learn from Mohan Chacha you pea-brained rascal.”

Rahul, taken aback by the sudden tirade, began weeping. Mohan Chacha, comforting Rahul, opened his mouth. “Madamji, we were playing Angry Birds. I secured two stars. He said he’d do it differently.”

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Posted for the prompt “I’d do things differently” at Write Tribe.

Right people for the Job.

Political Party ad:

      Anyone** above 25 years can apply.

Posts: Future MLAs, MPs, Presidents, Spokepersons.

** Conditions apply

  • rowdies, criminals, underworld members. (attach reference letter)
  • unscrupulously educated (essay on “Not more than one vegetable a day”)
  • Scam oriented (essay on “Scam and render it a sham”)
  • defamed actors (email videos/photos)
  • common man need not apply. 

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This post is written in response to the prompt “Conditions Apply” for 55 on Friday at Write Tribe.

So near and yet so far.

Latif had a dream. He wanted to go to school. The garage in which he worked was situated right in front of a School. Everyday in his third hour of duty, which would start right at 6.00 am in the morning, his gleaming innocent eyes  followed the students walking into the school right to their classroom. If his vision had hearing abilities too, then his eyes would attend the lectures and then return back. Thats how bad he wanted to go to school.  Shining shoes, creased uniforms,  lunch boxes, well groomed oily hairs and backpacks flaunting 3-D Super Heroes, everything looked so perfect about going to school. There he was, dreaming about all these with greased hands. The intensified random thoughts in his brain slightly abated the speed of his hands working on the moped. All his dreaming ceased at once when a tight slap from his employer, Raja Saab, landed right on his cheek. He began to work, with his tears incessantly dropping on Mother Earth. At the tender age of 12, Latif dreamt of going to school.

That day was special. The city Mayor after dropping his children to the school stopped by the garage. He was accompanied by the headmaster of the school. Latif as usual was working his magic trying to revive a dead engine. He was all ears to the conversation between the two visitors and Raja Saab.  “Raja, something called as RTE has been implemented. The Government has taken this issue seriously. Now that the elections are nearing, my party wants to show that we are working towards implementing RTE. To that end we would like to enrol the three children working in your garage to the school. The Headmaster has agreed to enrol them in his school, so that he can claim for the funds released under the act” the Mayor spoke. The three of them then walked for a distance, discussed for a minute and then shook hands with each other and dispersed. Latif cried again, incessantly, this time due to unbearable joy. His dream was about to come true. That night in his sleep he had a dream.

He wakes up one fine morning. As he is struggling to open his eyes against the thorny rays of the morning sun, three shadow like humans greet him. He learns that they are Raja Saab with a brand new lunch box, Mayor with the creased uniform and the Headmaster with the new shining shoes. They get him ready. For the first time in his life the boy walks out of his home ready for school. From the dark interior of his dilapidated home he walks towards a bright exterior in the hope of a bright future. 

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Image Courtesy: Morgue File (http://mrg.bz/jnYWqY)

He then awoke in reality to be subjected to exactly the same events as in his dreams. But instead of School, he is taken to a photo studio along with the other two children. After the photo shoot of the children in their school uniforms, their finger prints are imprinted in the rectangular box of a form. Latif is shocked when they bring him back home and ask him to change. They take back the uniform, bag, lunch box and shoes. He feels like someone is taking away his life.  Raja Saab hands over a cover each to the Mayor and the Headmaster. That evening when Latif is as usual working his magic on a bike, the Headmaster drops by to leave his scooter for service. ” Two free services you remember” he remarks. “Ya Ya I know” retorts Raja Saab. Once the Headmaster leaves a visibly angry Raja Saab slaps the three kids and shouts at them. ” You bloody rascals. Because of you I had to pay 20,000 bribe and now I have to give two free services for that bastard. I will cut fifty rupees every month from your salary now onwards”.

Latif wipes his tears and resumes work. His friend, 10 years of age, comes near him and rests his palm on his shoulder and says ” It should be terrible for you. It was your dream right.” Latif answers with a mature smile ” At least I got to wear it for a moment. I will work like a donkey and make sure my children go to school”.

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This post is written in response to “The Boy”: Wednesday Prompt  at  Write Tribe.

When tension is your co-traveller.

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My first flight travel. At the queue, Had I looked back and noticed my tormentor friend, I would have cancelled my ticket. God decided to have fun and placed him next to me.

” Wow, Dude. If this plane crashes we will die together”.

Me:(perplexed).

“Two looked terrorists. They might attack anytime” he whispered.

Me: (scared).

During take off,

” I heard noise. I think tyre puncture. We can’t land.”

Me: (shitting bricks).

” If another plane is landing and both collide, it will be fun”.

Me: (Bricks got denser).

” 16 hours of your company, if terrorists don’t attack.”

Me: HAD I LOOKED BACK

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This post is written in response to the prompt “Had I looked back” ; courtesy Nischala Murthy who blogs at Verve for the 100 Words on Saturday at Write Tribe.

 

The “Mother”

Paul had lived life to the fullest. He drank the cup of life till its very last drop. The day he closed his eyes for the last time was, unfortunately, exactly hundred years after the day he opened his eyes for the first time. He died seconds after he became a centenarian. The entire town loved “Paul Chacha”(Paul Uncle). His Library, which he fondly called as the “Mother”, was open that day, as per his wishes. “Never deny people their right to study and learn” he would say. “Mother” was a  great Library. Paul had made sure that he left no stone unturned as far as the development and maintainance of “Mother” was concerned. It was truly “state of the art” in every respect except one. It was not air conditioned artificially. The library had these huge windows, which were open most of the time. The breeze from the beach nearby and the huge trees surrounding the library ensured that “Mother” was by default air-conditioned, courtesy Mother Nature.

Paul had read most of the books and knew the title and the name of the author of almost every book in that Library. “How can a son not know about his Mother?” he would always retort when some one asked him about how he managed to keep so much information at his fingertips. In the last eighty years hardly did he set his foot outside the library. “I cannot leave my Mother alone” he would argue with people who would advise him to take a break. “How could Mother’s lap not be peaceful?” he would assert. A small room annexe to the topmost floor of the library was his abode. His morning walk was well within the vast library. He would make sure he covered every nook and corner of the library. If he found any section dirty or ill-organised, the punishment for the person responsible was a special one. For a week Paul would clean the section on his behalf. The six-hundred odd employees were experts in what they were assigned to do, thanks to he innovative punishments of Paul.  “Punishments should not hurt the physical exterior but should tap and mend the gentle interior” was his mantra. He had two last wishes. The first one was obvious; His mortal remains should be buried in the park surrounding the library. The second one; The section in the topmost floor, which he fondly called “Amrutham” (life immortalising liquid) should be maintained as it is and none of the books, how much ever old they were, should be removed from that section.

Paul used to personally maintain “Amrutham” . Raju, 40 years of age, would succeed Paul as the main care-taker of the “Mother” and would personally maintain “Amrutham”. A day after the demise of Paul Chacha the entire town had gathered to pay its last respects. The venue was again a natural one – the Beach. After reading out the eulogy, Raju addressed the gathering. With a quivering voice, heavy heart and wet eyes he began his address. ” Paul Chacha is no more. But his legacy, his “Mother”,will guide us in the right path. “Mother” will inspire and educate the generations to come. Today, I would like to share something which is close to my heart. Most of you, during your visits to the library, have asked me about this. The story behind “Amrutham”. Today I will let you know the fact that Paul Chacha shared with me 15 years ago when he stopped me from committing suicide by jumping off the window in “Amrutham”.

Paul Chacha was then nineteen years old. He was from a very effluent family. At nineteen, he was the sole owner of one of the largest business establishments of the country. He had lost both his parents and his younger sister in a car accident. He could not bear the grief and decided to commit suicide. He came to our town, far away from his city, hoping no one would even recognise him. Fortunately, he chose “Mother” to end his life, which was then a big ill-maintained library. He climbed to the topmost floor and decided to jump off the window. He stood at the edge of the window with his eyes closed. He took a few deep breaths. And then something incredible happened. He inhaled the smell of old books. That scent had in it a life saving essence. It not only saved his life but instilled in him a new desire to live. That very night he completed reading two books. From then on, he never ever thought of ending his lifeHe named that section “Amrutham”  and the library “Mother” from that day. He went back home, sold everything in his possession. He came back to our town, bought the Library and poured every penny at his disposal for the revivification of the “Mother”.  15 years ago, as I was about to commit suicide a voice asked me to stop for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Now you know why I am still alive. “Mother” will never let her children die. Paul Chacha will remain forever alive in our hearts. These are the last few lines that he wrote hours before his demise. I will finish by reading them out for you,

Oh dear “Mother”, thanks for this life.

Happiness, knowledge and inner peace, everything very rife.

Every deep breath of every child, who is ending his life if it looks,

should carry abound the life-saver, the smell of old books.

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This post is written in response to this weeks Wednesday’s prompt “smell of old books” at Write Tribe.