humorous short stories by raghavan p k
Post on 27-Jan-2016
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DESCRIPTIONThis is the first collection of life stories written in a lucid manner from the experiences of the author. The rustic village and its environs are things of past. It is all brought to life by the author through various episodes.
Short Stories of Raghavan P K (English)
Humorous Short Stories by Raghavan P K
Contents with Page number1. Albino who sold alphonso mangoes! p22. An appointment p43. Lachu the free bird p74. The humpy Nandu p95. The signature of Singvi p12 6. The dismissal order p157. A Roja p188. A Dentist in the making p23
Albino who sold alphonso mangoes!Villages in India are loosing its identity at a faster rate now. As a regular visiter of the village fish market I was enthused by the happenings there on daily basis. The struggle for eking a livelihood and the survival techniques applied by those sellers and buyers are real life lessons you may not learn from a University. Despite all odds there is love and life to kindness and cruelty prevalent there. An episode is here!Overlooking that sprawling pond is a market in the north east corner. Somehow the village is developed on the outer periphery of this waterbody leaving the surrounding vast agricultural field. Here the word market simply means fish market. True to the tradition other than fish nothing else is sold here. Even if someone ventures with something else, be it fruits or veggies, chances are that the fish mongers there will bamboozle anyone. They are such rogues enough to thrash the person to chutney. This village market functions only in the afternoon sessions. Evening only one can witness the hustle and bustle of this otherwise calm market in action. There are varieties of shops outside this premises also but not under the name market.The unbearable foul smell you have to bear here while making a bargain is no reason to abandon a few bites of crunchy munchy fish meal every day. So you venture out daily there to buy fish, armed with a bag that refuses to shed its odour and hence cannot be held anywhere near the body.Many of the neighborhood villages are even without this facility. So these villagers are considered lucky by the local administration. True it is the road side and street junction that are usually turned as fish market in those days when 'Swatch Bharat' scheme was half a century away. The wooden platter darkened by the constant contact of oily fish over a long period is essentially the platform for spreading the stuff in a rosette fashion to conjure up an illusionary view of more quantity than what actually is there to the buyer's satisfaction. One would realise the factual error of judgments only when reaching the destined kitchen.Now in pursuit of fishing in the troubled market I entered and had a thorough look around to grab what is supposed to be the best bargain. Today's display include pomfret, shrimp, tiger prawns, sardines, mackerel, baby sharks, crab, mussel, mullet etc. besides the nameless humble paral fish and the royal seer fish. What more choice one needs for the pittance that you are going to spend? Your soft spot for the seer of fishes fall the hook line and simper. The paral, a mixture of small fish varieties, is usually known for what a person with small coins can look for. Depending on one's currency colours like the blue for a rupee, red for two rupees and green for five rupees as were the norms those days, one can involve himself in the bargain.The fish arrivals are not uniform. There are days you have to contend with the dried ones available almost every day there. It is sold only by those two fat dark complexioned damsels. It is their prerogative it seems and anyone found selling dry fish will be thrown out in the drain lock stock and barrel by those demon like figurines. Not only that no one will be allowed to occupy the space around them come what may. They sell sardine, mullan, mackerel, small whale and shark all cut open and salted and dried at special rates. People are more interested in fresh fish and for the women earning is not much. Make hay while the sun shines is the policy.
It is a sullen sunless sky in the summer. Market has just started. I found an Albino selling Alphonsa mangoes there in the place occupied normally by those damsels. It is surprising that in a market full of fish sellers and buyers jostling for space the new guest has coolly found his way in that vacant spot and started selling his mangoes heaped high in front of him. No one dared to buy the golden colored king of fruits from him. The damsels arrived with head load of dry fishes. They saw the encroacher enjoying the space right where they have been selling for years without an iota of guilt. The damsels tried to scare him, shouted at him but with no effect. They are about to physically lift and throw him out. The Albino picked a few mangoes and offered them to the damsel pairs. The ladies' anger melted down like an ice block. They now occupied his left and right to continue their trade.After a decade I am back in the village. I wished to see the places that were part of my life once again. And if there is one place I never want to miss, it is that stinky and musty fish market. I went there well prepared to hold my nostrils at bay. I was amused to see a dozen children of differing ages exactly the replicas of that Albino playing around those pair of women. To my surprise a heap of ripe golden coloured mangoes are there adoring the dry fish baskets. I went close to them under the pretext of buying some mangoes. I wished to know how the Albino is doing. To my dismay the pair of ladies said it in single tone that he left them recently leaving the children to them! Not a good day for the fish lovers!*****
GG is a senior person and Jikkuis his grandson. They have interesting discussions very often. We love to see our grand children to be of some assistance to our elders. One such episode is here.In anticipation of an imminent constipation and associated emancipation the nonagenarian 90plus Great Grandee of Jikku wants to call his doctor for an appointment. Not that he has no solution to these recurring idiosyncrasies of modern life. With no other serious work worth doing, such triviality takes the front seat. Hale and healthy he needs neither a wheel chair nor a walking staff to support him. Slight hearing loss that is natural to his age and the occasional discomfort of stomach, the genesis of which lies in microwave cooking oven, is all that he encounters for some time now. GG now seated in his favourite arm chair that has seen a thousand or more full moon tries to dial the bulky black telephone instrument kept on a footstool near, that he inherited when Indian telephone company was inaugurated in Whitefield. Someone from the other end lifts the receiver and answers but is not audible to GG thaatha. The problem is one that of compatibility. Those century old crossbar tele-exchanges for which this instrument was designed is only kept in Museums now. Still GG believes that 'old is gold' and is not prepared to give it up.
His great grandson Jikku who calls him double G, gladly reveals very often that his Great Grandee's extraordinary faith in his black bulk telephone instrument of yore and the home remedy for constipation, that is the 'thriphala-choornam', cannot be shaken even by God Almighty. He says the minuscule mobile phone is not suitable for Thaththa. Thinking it as his thriphala-choornam tablet he might swallow it by mistake.
GG IS just trying his luck again for fixing the appointment for him with his regular Dr Venky. Yes, he is Venky for GG and Dr Venkat for others, a super speciality doctor. The ultra modern and ultra specialist hospital is a recent development. Don't get confused with the appearance of the building, It is the same old one. It is not the building appearance that is going to treat you, it is the doctors, mind it! Hospital is accredited to International standards and procedures. What good on Earth is there on account of mere certification of this sort, asked GG once to Venky himself. Dr Venky smilingly replied,"A herd mentality ! When the hospital next door has all these certifications, can I lag behind?""No, not at all." GG firmly nodded his hairless head in full agreement.GGs' previous visit was when the mobile towers were on the design desk. Now communication is competition. There is not a single person who is not gluing, one or two gadgets connected with a mobile phone in his or her ears on the go at any given point of time. Be it while crossing a busy road, or eating in a Pizza Hut, no matter how risky it is. GG was taught for talking less and working more, but whenever he advises this his great grandson Jikku corrects him saying "No thaaththa, talk more is correct ! This is twenty first century."GG continues his efforts. In his more than nine decade old life only in the first decade he claims to have depended on someone like his mother. Had it been not for such a mental make up he would have left this world long ago, he used to say. 'Try try try again' is his philosophy. When struggling Jikku will volunteer to help for which he will repeat "Try try try again is my philosophy." Quick will be the response from Jikku , "Right thaaththa, but philosophy bakes no bread you see!"This time lucky with the line, GG proving his philosophical statement tells Jikku, "See what happened now?"Jikku agrees but adds his corollary by saying, "Thaaththaa, Getting the required person in the first attempt is what matters, and not trying and dying."The generation gap and technological advance plays havoc with elderly and sick sometimes. Now that the phone call is through he starts conversing."Hello, I want to fix up an appointment with you Dr. ""Chief is not available immediately. His junior Dr Vikatan Saar is available. Can I fix it with him ?""Give him this phone......... hello, hello, is it Vikatan Dr?""No he is on his rounds.""Then may I know to whom I am speaking now ?""I am his assistant Saar.""Ok very kind of you, Can I have an appointment today evening please?""No vacancy today.""I am not asking for an employment Saar, I need a consultation appointment.""I too said about that only. I do not want to disappoint you. Is 8.00 pm ok for you?""I am too old, if you can make it first in the evening I will be grateful. This is bit urgent too.""Then do one thing. You try to come at 4 o clock itself . First appointment is at 4.15, so if any one not turned up on time, You can see the Doctor in that slot. No guarantee, anyway 8 o clock you are going to see the Doctor.""May God bless you". Saying that thaaththa put the receiver down."Jikku.., Jikooo..." with his forceful hand signal that seems like grabbing a mosquito creating nuisance, Thaththa calls the boy and tells the matter.Jikku thinks for a while and guesses the problems and possibilities in all its totality. Now he is well aware of the troubles and turbulence elder people face. He cautiously asks his double G, "Thaththa, you are going to the doctor only in the evening. There you may be waiting long hours to see the doctor. Doctors cannot maintain punctuality. So may I suggest with all humility one thing for your kind consideration?!""Most welcome ..." GG said.You may consume two teaspoon full 'thriphala-choornam'1 in warm water right now and wait for four hours. I am sure you can cancel your hospital visit after that.Jikku turns out to be right !GG profusely thanks and blesses a delighted Jikku and happily cancels the appointment.*****'thriphala-choornam1' a mixture of three herbal powders prepared as per Ayurveda text.
Lachu the free bird!There are several unknown stories of loneliness of girls married and departed to their in laws houses. While the cities and towns it is easy to find a way out for the monotony and boredom, it may not be that easy in a village. The disparity of age and education is vast in certain cases. The interests and hobbies are abandoned once married. Here is a story of a young lady finding a solution to her problems own her own.The misty T junction of Poonakkal is reverberating with action on a chilly winter morning. It is the tea shop of Achchu Muthalaali (owner) at the criss cross that forms the nucleus of this energy. A provision store that will envy the showy blitzking department stores of present genre is camouflaged to the tea shop to optimise the business. The shop has a tinge of a Laurie Baker design mud house attached to its rear side that has access only for muthalaali and his confidants. There are only two members in this house, Achchu and his wife. The canopy of this century old edifice resembles like the Egyptian pyramid of Pharaoh's. Bamboo rafters and country tiles darkened by age give an all weather ambience therein. Headroom at the shop entrance will make a person of a fathom tall, humble down a little to make his or her entry safe. Once entered the dim light inside will confuse you over the next direction. There are different levels of floors, steps and ways inside. Shaky wooden benches and parapet walls are here and there for you to relax. If you are the one seeking a hot cup of tea in the morning peak to energise your sleepy body, you can shout it to the tea master and squeeze yourself anywhere you see a vacant space. The rest follows.The tea section is managed by Achchu's able and efficient lieutenant Varkki. Varki by position is number two in the hierarchy. Nobody knows for sure who this person Varkki is. Generally it is believed that he is an illiterate orphan and muthalaali has shown a gesture by accommodating him as an assistant after his marriage. Varki's outstanding mannerism and behaviour makes him dearer to customers day by day. Over the tea one can glance the vernacular news papers just arrived there and start igniting fiery discussions to enhance the sagging spirit of camaraderie. The shrewd Achchu muthalaali is very particular that no one should bring religion into the discussion for that he is sure his cash box is very secular. If you are a shy person not willing to get your silent mode disturbed and do not want to indulge in this exercise of power point argumentation, better vacate the sooner you gulp the hot brew. Don't forget the bill please! The lean and cheerful Achchu muthalaali is a nice man only for those who meticulously make payment . Clad in a white starched and ironed kaadhi cloth he displays a pro Gandhian non violent look. Behind the symbol of nonviolence, kaadhi, lies a coarse mind that can tear opponents to pieces. He never moves away from the cash box where every penny from sales is deposited. The jealous compare him to the ghost protecting the treasure chest. The only occasion for him to relieve from this ghost duty is the lunch hour when the responsibility is transferred to Varkki, albeit for a while.The village-women folk in a hurry will simply stand at the entrance and shout for one or two items they wish to buy. Achchu will promptly respond to such eventualities and deliver it down the steps at entrance in no time. Quantum, quality and cost are what Achchu decides. Contrasting is the attitude he maintains to his wife. A caged bird after tying the nuptial knot with Achchu, she is lonely at home. More than a year passes and there is no sign of motherhood in Lachchu, a norm other ladies in the village follow. With no issues and not being seen, the twilight world of secrecy shrouds her. Monotony of cooking food and housekeeping everyday has made her homesick. Her dreams shattered when she was compelled to marry an unknown man of her double age. She yielded to the wishes of her poor parents as she too had no idea of what is in store for her for the future. With the number of footprints falling in the shop on the increase, Achchu muthalaali has no time for spending with Lachchu. Her protest and mumbling is of no consequence to Achchu. The business grows. The cash chest is filling faster and faster. The number of assistants increases. Varkki loses his preeminent position. But gains the confidence of Lachchu. Lachchu's newly found friendship has its quota of misdemeanor. She starts playing hide and seek to draw the attention of the charming Varki. Love blossoms. Varki also displays his shirtfront. The 24x7 format of business model makes it difficult for the muthalaali to bother what is happening just behind the wall he stands. There is a mappila folk song that is recently being broadcasted much to the delight of Lachchu. It is a popular playing tune on the radio now. She is humming it too often to the ears of Varki.It is a day at the weekend and as usual the morning fog is thick in the air. T junction of PunnaKkal is reverberating with unusual commotion. It is the shop of Achchu muthalaali at the criss cross facing the crisis. The ladies gathered there is heard discussing some missing persons. The mist subsides. The community radio blares the much sought folk song.".....kunhi paaththummaane kaanunnillaa..neram veluhthappam kaaNunnillaa...!"( "........ ..., ...!" )(The pretty girl Kunhi Paaththummaa is missing,We realised it only after sunrise now!)*****
The humpy NanduWhat is so significant about the person from this Paalayam ? Nothing unusual. Who doesn't know these matters now a days! Moopilaan is not one among the one billion crow heads. He is a tribesman keeping his origin and culture intact. All his community people had migrated long ago and scattered beyond any trace of their original now. Moop is a proud owner of a humpy bull. He calls him Nandu. When he first told the name, Cheenu who was wary of the wet street floor flinched in reaction.Cheenu, a young consultant in a multinational technology company is a peculiar man. He is very evangelical about predictions. Neither the latest technology exposure nor that bag full of electronic gadgets he carries all the time, which can foretell everything under the sun, diminished even an iota of Cheenu's unflinching faith in predictions. He is a votary of good old practices and he follows as many as he could right from childhood. Habits die hard you see! Cheenu's weakness for such old matters are so profound that he has no qualm in spending many hours with soothe mouthy persons he come across on the streets occasionally. Today he IS surprised to see a pair of new guests that is altogether a different genie.Cheenu's morning rush to his office is notorious. That is what the onlookers say. He couldn't spare a minute to gulp a sip of that steaming filter coffee awaiting his sipping pleasure right on the dining table, radiating aromatic fragrance penetrating one's olfactory senses. Least said better about his breakfast habits. All for want of a few minutes! Those indispensable few minutes and seconds in the morning hours have no parallel. It means different thing to different category of office goers! Why, watch Cheenu for a moment. He is yelling and shouting to the persons standing on his way while rushing to catch his office bus. He will sacrifice anything that would encroach on his precious time in the morning on a working day. If confronted by any well meaning person, he would quickly retort by saying, "Call of duty, sir !" Such is the audacity of Cheenu, who, today incidentally meets two strange guests on the kerb side of the main road he is walking.Cheenu is pleasantly surprised. He thinks these two are messengers sent by god. He spends a long thirty minutes with the strange guests he has met now with no sign of any hurry whatsoever. After all, isn't it true that "ahithi Devo bhava !" is our tradition? He is in that minuscule minority of species still practising the tradition of our land. You might immediately think who this Devo bhava (God incarnation) type guests are ! He is Moopilaan from Paypalayam, a village near Napalayam.This Napalayam was such a dangerous word for those who had been living in Madras for almost a century. They were the people who had suffered and survived a bomb attack several years ago. Canons were fired from an enemy ship from Bay of Bengal targeting Fort Saint George, the capital of Madras and harbour during the world war.You see, there are varieties of bombs that an enemy can drop. Someone was heard saying that it was a napalm bomb. The neighborhood "Napalayam" sounded like a bomb and people in other areas viewed anyone from this village Napa with a suspicious horror look reserved for a dangerous explosive stuff that is the napalm bomb. When the matter became serious, Napa Villagers consulted their katta panchayat. Katta panchayat members were of the opinion that they were only there to intervene in criminal issues and hurling crude and abusive bombs, not the type mentioned by them. The villagers then decided to widen their consultation with little more authentic elders, more popularly known as "perusu". It was one of the perusu who suggested that the problem was culminating from the fact that the villagers forgot its original name. It was not used any more. "If the original name is brought back the problem of napalm bomb threat too will disappear in thin air," they claimed."What was the original name?" curiously asked the village folks."It was Naaypaalayam!" said the elders in chorus.As if it was little below the dignity to go back to century old name with a dogma, it was decided to use the name of immediate neighbouring village for some time, where mat making was a predominant community job.Those neighbouring villagers never abandoned their community job. Paay making was their job. Paay means mat. Napa villagers readily adopted that name Paypalayam. By that time the original villagers of Paypalayam were not all that enthusiastic in their own village name for better reasons. Some of the lucky few in the village progressed under the rule of white men. One of the villagers from Paypalayam became the peon for a Dorai. He discovered eventually that the English word for paay is mat. His knowledge beckoned the new name matu-paalayam and he pronounced it as Metupalayam. Thus the evolution of the new name made Paypalayam obsolete and Metupalayam super hit. The Napalayam villagers were too pleased with the turn of events that saved them from the embarrassment faced by the napalm bomb.Cheenu enjoyed the narration but failed to track his office bus.What is so significant about the person from this Paalayam ? Nothing unusual. Who doesn't know these matters now a days! Moopilaan is not one among the one billion crow heads. He is a tribesman keeping his origin and culture intact. All his community people had migrated long ago and scattered beyond any trace of their original now. Moop is a proud owner of a humpy bull. He calls him Nandu. When he first told the name, Cheenu who was wary of the wet street floor flinched in reaction.Nandu bull is dressed up with an embroidered shawl. The shawl is fixed with long string of mini-bells that will jingle with every move. His extra large hump That makes it look different from other oxen, is covered with a silken dark scarf. Another attraction is a pair of beautiful horns mounted with custom made caps fitted with tiny bells. A pair of anklets for legs and the elaborate face ornaments that has tiny conch shells sewn on to it makes Nandu a divine bull indeed!Cheenu is under tremendous peer pressure to take a final decision. His idea of married life has started blossoming recently. He thought it is too early to get into a rigid circle that has left many a people who tried to escape soon after entering it, with not much success. He has several doubts. Only a divine creature like the Nandu bull could clear it, he believes. Love at first sight of these guests today is for these reasons. It is amazing how Nandu Bull cleared all of Cheenu's doubts and dilemmas by the rhythmic shake of its head that is musical too by the jingle of the bells. At times when the bull is confused Moop will murmur by holding its long ear gently and then comes the reaction.Now richer by few bucks Moopilaan is leading his humpy bumped bull in the lookout of another Cheenu. Poor Cheenu is running after a call taxi.*****
The signature of SingviHere is a story of signatures that would make your muscles relaxed for the day. There was a friend called Ramki. Not long ago he by virtue of his position had certain authority to put his hand on any day on any paper that reached him in the absence of his boss. His signature was like a newly harvested grape bunch, that is 'drakshakkothu' in simple Tamil. We called him Drakshakkothu Ramki to distinguish him from other umpteen Ki's. Ramki was supposed to sign on the dotted line that his secretary had flagged. There was no work that was tougher to Ramki than putting his signature on paper. Read on ....!Signature is a significant matter. The value of a person's worth is what his signature is up to. It is the security key for individuals and corporates alike. A treaty between two or more countries is recognised when it is signed only. Why, even when you pay the restaurant bill through your credit card your signature is what values the greenbacks. Every person has got his own signature which is distinctly different from one another. At least that was my thought till the other day a distant relative reported a heist from his bank account. A small amount was withdrawn by some scrupulous big gentleman forging his signature in the withdrawal form. To prove the point, the idea was big enough to alert the crime branch, vigilance branch, flying squads and all other branches of the same tree and all forms of economic offence wings that don't even walk economically let alone flying. Anyway it triggered some filmy action that would make it appear that no wrong doer could escape the super smart security of the civil defense. They woke up and now it is chase, case and chase !Before the start up of investigation the sleuths wanted for sure there was an account holder who really suffered a loss of his money as defined by the law of the land. They consulted their legal luminary who was kind enough to guide them to an old book that he enjoyed most in his best part of service kept under the sunken pillow to make up for the loss of height . He lifted it by using both his long arms of the law. The smudged and crispy old pages that were loose like fried appalams needed a trauma care specialist to handle it. The learned lawyer turned out a few pages of that dog eared smudged yellowish moth eaten holy book to locate the definition afresh for the account holder. To his bad luck the page that he admired to see had already been passed into history. It was beyond his comprehension how such a sensitive document was missing from the book that was literally hidden under the pillow. The culprit seemed to be a genius in his trade. Before his deadly operation he had blocked the possibility of a strong legal action.Doesn't matter I can retrieve it from my absent free mind as from the book itself.The question is who is an account holder? 'It is simply a person whose pass book is held like any other note books firmly in his or her palm using two or more fingers. So you need not doubt your ownership of your own account'.With such an enlightenment of the ownership he sat with the branch manager of the bank in broad day light to thrash out the issue of fraudulent withdrawal by contrived consent and compensation."Consent" is a word that would save even the most heinous rapist nirbhaya-type save his head from the gallows even if it is a blatant lie uttered in a poorly lit court of jurisprudence, during the power cut hours after taking an oath touching many holy books and declaring the names of all gods and goddesses, living gods and more prominently of those ruling politicians whose very mention of name will force any honourable judge to rush to the nearest rest room to hold the sacrosanct dilapidated court room in high esteem. I think it would be better in the interest of other litigants living or dead to let leave this litigation here as is where is and what is where is condition without propitiation to another case of Ramki.There was a friend called Ramki. Not long ago he by virtue of his position had certain authority to put his hand on any day on any paper that reached him in the absence of his boss. His signature was like a newly harvested grape bunch, that is 'drakshakkothu' in simple Tamil. We called him Drakshakkothu Ramki to distinguish him from other umpteen Ki's. Ramki was supposed to sign on the dotted line that his secretary had flagged. There was no work that was tougher to Ramki than putting his signature on paper. Not that he had some handicap in his hand or mind, but his graphical signature found it difficult to lie flat on the dotted line. It would be fired like a most advanced PSLV rocket and takes a nose dive as few motors refuse to cooperate doing some acrobats and plunge down the ocean surface, that is the permitted dotted line. No wonder the cashier always phoned up Ramki and verified if he indeed sent a cash advance request to clear the poison of suspicion that already entered the mind about the poor messenger.Coming back to the title, Singvi, is neither a singing bird nor a turbaned variety but an owner of a bright shining helmet like brainy head. He is a guy who sits in a posh office room that is well cooled like Antarctica and covered by the best Benares silky upholstery. The genius Singvi, good at number crunching and munching is a man of few words. The shining head under the lighting appropriate to his stature, and the status will be mistaken for a rising sun for those who enter his suite there the first time. I had the privilege of meeting him on a busy morning at his room ostensibly for a signature of approval to withdraw cash in lump sum. I made ready the paper book and aggressively pursued the paper file to its final A4 format with all formalities complied and entered with great confidence to obtain the final signature of the ultimate authority. The man was sitting alone in the middle of the room with no person or paper to give company, I thought it as most appropriate time for a valuable signature like this one. The moment I extended my hand with the paper he briskly pulled it from me by his left hand, a bad omen I thought, and made cursory look at the paper I submitted. Marking a big cross he gave it back to me with his right hand and continued with his sudoku game. I was completely bowled out by the cross he drew at the approval signature space on the paper. With no end to my agony I flashed out of his room and straight away dashed to cashier's room to find if it is possible to avoid the signature of Singvi even it amounts to a meeting with the MD. It was an emphatic NO. Giving the paper to cashier I asked him to have a re-look on the issue. To my surprise he graciously gave me the amount itself needed making me wonder how great this friend is to me and cursed the fellow who made the cross. I profusely thanked him and left telling him that I will settle the matter in a couple of days.It was like a punctured balloon I learned later that the signature of Singvi is like a cross! Now I am left to carry the cross all by myself.*****
The dismissal orderIt is not unusual for the space starved schools in our country to make use of any space for conducting classes for school kids. The lower class will bear the brunt in such a contingency. Here it is an example and consequences of such an eventuality.
On that day after lunch, when a nap was the most ideal thing, the students had their craft class. The craft class was where the young ones were introduced to some vocational trade as part of the curriculum. The class room where the craft lessons were conducted was a converted one. Not the 'ghar vapsi' type conversion. This had nothing to do with colour, creed or religion. A bath room was put to better use by repairing and renovation. Some might have a doubt about this misappropriated room. Was it that nobody wanted to bathe there anymore? Without bathrooms how could the cleanliness campaign be sustained? Were they not concerned about Swatch Bhaarat campaign? All this was not a concern those days when bathing was not a prerequisite to enter any temple of learning. Lesser said the better about toilets and violets. It was a 'roti, kapada and makan' type of concern then. For those who are outside the ambit of our National Language, let me mention that it is only the 'bread, cloth and a house' that is the main concern of large population.The severe shortage of space in the school compelled the Head Master of that school to innovate and renovate frequently. After a brainstorming session with all who mattered, the HM came to the conclusion that the grossly underestimated craft teacher Pakru was a genius of sort. It was his suggestion that was ideally acceptable without a penny of extra expense to the school. Thus a bathroom got its most glorified status as craft room much to the amusement of discerning staff and students alike. The poor school watchman was the only victim of this declassification. 'It was a conspiracy hatched by Pakru Maash to dethrone the watch man's supremacy over him', said some sympathetic to the poor chap.'Where was the need for a bathroom for the school where there was neither a urinal nor a toilet?!' asked some. 'No child will take bath in school. So it was a wise decision on all account' was the majority conclusion.The craft teacher, Pakru maash, a man in his forties, with a dark complexion and a matching spectacle frame demonstrated how to make thread using a spin called 'thakli' and raw cotton. Then he converted his table and chair combination into a temporary recliner, keeping a cane on the table for company, ever ready to use as a missile when such a contingency arises, on account of the kids disturbing his midday nap. Pakru maash then demonstrated a 'sleep-aasanam', a slightly modified 'Savaasanam', meant for complete body and mind relaxation, in his own inimitable style. No one would dare to question Pakru maash for introducing an internationally recognised yogasanam in his class, he was sure.
Students started spinning and producing thread using the contraption thakli provided to them. After seeing various sizes and shapes of the threads produced, the children couldn't help laughing, chuckling, giggling and shouting. A disturbed maash pleaded the children silence with folded hands at first and next, warned with two-three hitting by the cane on the table like our police bursting tear gas shells before the real firing.According to Indian scriptures 'Sanaa, maana and danda' are the three steps to be followed to make anyone fall in line with the instructions issued. Pakru mash had already applied the first two principles. But his disciples were not in a mood to give up the joy.There was need for extra raw cotton by some of the kids. Vishnu and another boy Siva got up and walked near the wall where such things were stacked. There they saw a new variety of spinning gizmo called 'umber spin' lying partly concealed. Curiosity made them stand there and closely look at it for some time. Other children continued with their misdemeanour.Pakru maash lost his sleep and associated patience. An irritated maash kicked on the table two-three times in quick succession with the cane and just opened his eyes. You may be aware that Lord Parameswaran has a third eye and if opened it will spit fire. Pakru maash did the nearest of that sort with two of his normal eyes open. To his bewilderment, he saw two boys playing with the umber spin - a brand new addition yet to be commissioned. Others went silent like a switched off rolling mill. Those two kids were thrown out of the class for the remaining time.Both boys stood near the door outside the craft class room like senile guards on duty. The Head Master, a tall lean figure that was Achutan Nair, knew most of his students by name. He was strict and never tolerated indiscipline. Wrong doers were pulled up, talents and good deeds were appreciated. He was on a round on the first floor of the main building as his wont to catch those teachers who habitually enjoyed forty winks after the forty minutes lunch at the cost of the students. His prying eyes fell on the two boys stranded outside the class room down there. Nair was distressed to see two bright wards of his school in a punishment mode. After a few minutes he descended and made a fiery look at both the boys and made known his displeasure by a humming voice. Both were shivering with fear and their knees jerked uncontrollably, wetting trousers. The HM being known for his unassuming character and sarcasm, the boys cursed their present predicament. On one side the thought of his ruthless punishment and the other side, the consequence of the parents knowing this malevolence worried the boys badly.Now the HM was near the duo. He knew them by name and shamed them asking,"I see only Vishnu and Shiva here! Where has the great Brahma gone?"Vishnu and Siva immediately pointed their fingers to the teacher who was by then under eternal bliss of sleep god! The HM who suffered 'sleep apnea' felt undiluted jealousy of such a paid perk, that a last grade Pakru maash had availed by his own cunning suggestion fooling all others in a master stroke. The HM quickly returned to his office without uttering a single word to the fretting boys.The craft class for the day was over and all students returned to their regular class. In the evening when the last bell for the day rang long enough for students to wind up, they saw their disgusted craft teacher Pakru maash walking out of the school gate with a paper in hand and lowered head !*****
A RojaaAn old acquaintance of mine from a far off town just landed at my home. He brought with him a small packet and a cheque to be handed over to a guy somewhere in the neighbourhood. Rafathullah was in a hurry to catch his return flight of Go Air that rarely fly from Chennai to Bellary, a town where he worked. Seeing his hurry burry to catch the Go, I myself ventured to undertake his monumental task of benevolence. Much pleased with my gesture and hospitality Rafath added an additional packet of Arabian dates to the already heavy baggage he presented me. He left with a broad smile that would have fit in the best ad for any cheap brand of tooth whitener. Delighted by the extraordinary generosity of the guest, as a token of gratitude, my wife released a small fresh packet of 'Oothuukadai milk khoa' that she loves most next only to yellow metal. While such mutually exclusive thanks giving and thanks taking were in progress, the avuncular uncle Rafath had a word of caution to me about the would be action of the parcel delivery."The person Raaja, whom you are going to meet is an accident victim. Worked under me. Being a subordinate of mine I am duty bound to help him. On behalf of me you are going to present it. I need not tell you how sensitive the issue is !"I appreciated his sense of empathy with all the sympathy it deserves. I wondered, I too had several bosses named Prajapathy, Pasupathy, Raghupathy, Umapathy, Lakhmipathy and the like, none of them ever had such empathy, sympathy or compassion to the victims under them. Great Rafath ! I admired the genius.After a day of quarantine, the articles were pulled out from the deep drawer it was deposited and I started my street googling. Everything looked fine in the address except the most crucial part of the targeted action - the street name and door number which didn't seem alright to me. With the type of Municipality we have and it's fancy for making cosmetic changes in street names at recurring intervals, unless you have an experienced local dada with you, the task of reaching the intended addressee will be very dim. With many bitter experiences and unpleasant scenes experienced on account of mis-spelled, broken and incomplete street names in the past, depending on unknown persons for guidance was ruled out.When the street I zeroed in read Kaalan Street I was under the impression that there might be a cemetery nearby. That didn't deter me walking further in the dark narrow street. I am very comfortable with dead souls, but not with all live ones. However sole of my sandak chappal started showing signs of VAT. I mean wear and tear. I was nowhere near my destination street despite my GPRS gadget and other paraphernalia. I decided not to rest till I locate that particular street and continued my stroll. The challenge proved tough for my age and time spent.After all a globe is a globe ! You reach where you started. I had a closer look at the street indicator board which I misread. Sun already set. The badly lit street wad fairly dark now. The street name on the shitty coloured plank was not very legible for me to read. It resembled the street name I was looking for. The first syllable looked like a partially peeled A. The second one was a K and no doubt on that. The remaining was a very popular name. Okay, Got it. It was actually Abdul Kalam street written as A Kaalan street. I sighed with great relief. As it was already too late a night to proceed further, I returned home with some satisfaction deciding to finish it morning.Now on "on operation delivery mode" I ventured straight to Kalaam street with essential operational requirement. Task one was to land like a drone at the designated slot as per latitude and longitude with the right attitude. If you take the first step, that itself is counted as half the job done, analogous to my old mathematics exam. I did much more than that. When I was so focused in my verification of the door numbers, I was mistaken for some petty official from the useless municipality searching to find some hidden malpractices that was brought to their notice by some shrewd politician. Those who are familiar with the typical low grade clerk who delivers the tax notice cannot miss my yellow pai (bag) in which the precious possessions are kept. Unlike yellow journalism, yellow bag and yellow metals are held in high esteem in patriarchal society. It is considered very auspicious to carry important papers in a yellow harmless bag.Ignoring curious onlookers I continued searching the door number. There was one 'pa na' and another 'pu na' appearing before every door number. I couldn't understand the logic of writing this way. When it was mentioned, another die hard fan of Tamil told me that it is for old and new number. My doubt was about his real love for the language. I wish to know from him why 'na' is written there for number? We have a beautiful word eN, isn't it? With some excuse I proceeded to finish my task on hand.The street has the best top surface with concrete. Having walked through most of the neighbourhood it was a surprise for me. There was no other development. No high rise buildings and no concrete jungles. The pigeon hole type dwellings with gutters on both sides were indications of ordinary mortals residing there. There were more people relaxing on the street than those in the residences.During my regular strolls since many months, I usually came across cross one particular flower vendor on the streets every time. I just thought of her... And there she was, just opposite me in the turning. What a wonderful coincidence! Petite and vivacious, her full moon face would attract anyone who has a pair of eyes. Her bindi added that extra grace. In that month of Margarzhi when the evening sun was about to set and the chill in the breezy air romance with nearby hillock trees, the lady, with a flat cane basket filled with a heap of fresh flowers set her foot on the streets in the neighbourhood. Keeping the basket on her head over her curly disobedient hair, balancing it with ease and walking in style she shook the hearts of many gentlemen on the street. Notwithstanding the vulgarity of cacophonous noises of fancy horns of vehicles punctuated in the air, she walked along the street hawking malligai, kankambaram, kathambam, rose and the like. My thoughts were following her but whenever she implored me to buy some flowers, I had always avoided it so far.Flowers are sold at astronomical figures! Would anyone think of buying it without a compelling reason? Then a day had come when I too felt offering some flowers to God for selfish reasons. Deciding to buy a yard of jasmine my stroll began. Not seeing my favourite flower lady in the streets already gleaned I concluded that she was not lucky that day! But not to be so as she appeared from nowhere at the last point of disconnect. This serendipitous encounter with her soared my spirit high. With a usual flowery smile she moved. Keeping my intention intact I too tried to smile as broad as possible with my rigid facial muscle not obliging enough to satiate the situation. Ensuring to ensure the gentleman impression of me, I asked her,"How long have you been selling flowers?""A few years." She replied.Her eyes appeared to be travelling in time. Her smile masked some pains, I felt. From her survival basket she pulled out one red rose and gave it to me saying that was the last one left. "You please have it.""Do you have jasmine ? I need a yard of it, if available.""No, my basket is empty."Then I gave her money for the rose she gave which she refused and walked away leaving the pleasant memory and fragrance behind ! My walking exercise couldn't cope up with the season and has been erratic for some time now. Days had passed without chancing upon the flower lady. It was at this time my friend Rafath made his flash visit. Because of the flight cancellation and delay he reached Chennai late and had to abandon his main purpose of the visit. More than meeting his ex-colleague Raaja, his emphasis was on the timely help that ought to be done to him.
So I continued with the task entrusted to me. The day was heating up and the morning scorching sun's rays started acting harsh. God's grace is always important even to succeed in a seemingly trivial job like the one I was upto. Virtually I submitted a handful of jasmine to Pillayar, the remover of obstacles and looked for signs of any Koil for actual performance. What appeared in the form of divine intervention was the flower basket that was passing in the crowded street at some distance. I tried to reach out the person and lost track of street numbers as well as person. At last I could see a ray of hope at the fag end of he street. There it was pu na 111, the number I tried to locate.I knocked the door. The door opened. What a pleasant surprise ! It was the same lady from whom I wished to buy jasmine. She was surprised to see me too."Is this Raaja's home ?" I asked her concealing my excitement."Yes, sir" she said and asked " what is the matter sir ?" Her dilemma was visible on her face. No one usually bothered her home and now a stranger like myself was knocking at her door and asking for someone."Can you call him here? I wish to talk to him."Her face paled and words clogged. A desperation writ large on her face. She went inside and came immediately. I was asked to sit down there on a masonry bench forming part of her house. To clear my doubts I asked her,"Are you Raaja's ......" wife I wanted to ask but stopped short of it. For which she said,"Wife , yes" and added "now you please come inside and see him."I followed her to the small room where Raaja was found lying on a cot. First look itself was revealing almost a vegetable: he was lying partly paralysed. With no hope of recovery and no resources to sustain they were in between the deep blue sea and the devil. Not willing to delay a moment more I disclosed the purpose of my visit. I handed over the cheque and and packet to him by placing symbolically in his hand supported by his wife. I made a call to Rafath and made both of them exchange few words with him. Accomplishing a task that was humanitarian in essence, a satisfied soul, I, moved out of their dwelling. She brought me a red rose expressing her gratitude. I asked her the last question,"What is your name sister?"She said, "Rojaa !"A name that smells like a rose.*****
A Dentist in the making
The rural parts our villages do not have qualified doctors or dentists even in this era of organ harvesting. An educative and humorous story begins to unfold here.
Of late our neighborhood is blessed with one of the most essential health services that no modern citizen can afford to miss. The luxury that I am talking about is a new dental clinic. All these years the villagers were at the mercy of few hawks and quacks visiting the place once in a blue moon. What makes me proud is the fact that the dentist in the new clinic is none other than our friend Nair's son, Vinod. A pleasant, handsome and well mannered boy, he just graduated from a remote dental college.One day when admissions in all dental colleges were closed, a dejected Nair was heard telling everyone he saw that there was not an iota of scope for bright kids like Vinod for pursuing the degree they want. To those who asked for reason he bluntly told, "don't you know that he is a Nair boy and eligible only for the unreserved quota?!" However everyone knew that he is an enterprising person, who will never rest without achieving what he considers a prestige. To the surprise of neighbours, when the dental colleges reopened, Vinod was found enthusiastically packing to a college. Then Nair was heard telling his curious neighbours that entering the college was not the real problem but keeping the nitty-gritty of the knowledge one gained was! True, one has to spend such a long tenure in a dental college that is almost equal to the period of our first citizen, once elected, live in that sprawling palatial Raisina Hills at New Delhi. Keeping the government approval intact during those long five anniversaries is in itself such an uncertain process that none can any longer gloss over.It so happened that the dental college where Vinod procured admission was de-recognised by the same body which gave license to start with. But the college management never seemed worried over such catastrophic culmination of formalities called licence or recognition as these are matters needed only at the time of either student admission time or discharge time, I mean when a degree certificate is issued. When admission was admittedly a huge success, can the good-mission of issuing a degree with a seal be then a failure?Now let me ask you, "Will any person suffering a sudden attack of a nagging tooth ache care a damn degree of the Dentist or recognition of it? It is all the more immaterial for a person rushing for a grand meal party! For these reasons, no matter who the healer is, a hawk or a doc, the ghost that is causing the hell of a pain should be kicked out instantly!Anyway a clinic is already opened and I being a prominent figure, at least that is what the invitation letter states, is supposed to be there for the inaugural day. Not familiar with the abcd of dentistry I know how unwise it would be there at the prime time of the opening. The fear is that being a well wisher if my friend asks me to speak on the occasion what am I to do? With my past sordid experiences with hawks I have only several negatives to announce. The very idea of inviting friends is to sing paeans appropriate to the occasion. Isn't it? On the way to the clinic my brain warmed up by the morning sun and as a result flashed an idea from my memory archives.Can I suggest Dr Vinod to the young man whom I met in the bus stop? He wants to consult a dentist as soon as possible to check the occasional pain somewhere from the last tooth. I guessed he is talking about his wisdom tooth. But it also donned on me that, how unwise and risky it would be to refer a problem of wisdom tooth to such a novice, how so ever dear the friend may be to me! A counterpoint also was ready in my mind at lightning speed. If no one utilises the knowledge Vinod acquired painstakingly after a long struggle of four to five years, how good will he be in future as a dentist? Friends are friends; I must help this young dentist, I decided.At the clinic I could see an enthusiastic crowd jostling for the pepsi bottles that were distributed freely on the occasion. I heard one of the guest speakers delivering his wisdom. "No force on earth can move a little finger..., sorry tooth of mine" He said and of course demonstrated it by pulling out a pair of dentures to the surprise of everyone present. The wit and wisdom of this political animal was outstanding."In this large country of ours the dentist patient ratio is only one for one lakh population. A tiny country like Mali has ten times more. So the tooth doctors there have no work and no pay. Here we are fortunate to have an eighty twenty work out, I mean only twenty persons out of a hundred brush their teeth. I am pretty sure all the remaining people will have to visit this clinic sooner than you think." Thus spoke another guy.Though not a physician, one quoted facts and figures that would convince even a rustic villager. We chew 800 times in an average meal. That works out almost 10,00,000 times a year. We put our teeth under huge strain and often require fillings to repair them. There are thirty two teeth in every mouth. On an average only one in tens of thousands is in shape to attract you with a broad smile. A smile can give you an emotional boost. They not only just look good in pictures but also actually cause a release in endorphins. You know those feel-good hormones that you get looking at your baby or a pet animal? Well, that's just another reason to visit Mr. Nair's clinic. Your genes can also impact your grin. You have your appa's eyes, but you may have also inherited his konthanpallu or chakkappallu. Nothing to worry about! Dentists like Dr. Vinod will see your children. He will advice you on similar dental abnormalities.The speakers one after the other covered all issues and made me practically red faced. There is nothing for me to speak now. So I suggested Vinod, "let us be practical. I will refer you a patient itself instead of my speaking. You can demonstrate the general procedure". The idea worked very well. I called the young man I met at the bus stop sometime back. He was very happy with the treatment. Which patient will be unhappy, if all doctors treat patients free of cost! Word spread like wildfire. Nair's new found joy has no boundaries.The new dentist is very enthusiastic about his profession. Now he is a busy man. The whole family is now trained in preparing the patients before presenting to the Doc. Cleaning, cavity filling, caries caring, clipping, extracting exactly are all done here. The boy has become Dr chief. Patient screening doesn't need a dental degree, Vinod justified. A torchlight long enough to scare like a police lathi, which Nair wielded often would be a good tool for the purpose.Not to miss the opportunity to check the health of my teeth I accepted Vinod's offer and sat on the dental chair. Bean comedy flashed for a second in me and felt like laughing loud."Do you know," a relaxed Vinod disrupted my thoughts and asked me, "that before babies were even born, all adult teeth were formed? What the mothers ate and drank during their pregnancy can affect those tooth buds long before they became your permanent pearly whites."My expression of enlightenment made him reveal more secrets of dentures. "Teeth have armoured protection. Enamel is your body's strongest tissue. Do you know that?", testing my ignorance the Doc asked again. "Tooth enamel, which has the highest percentage of minerals at 96%, is even tougher than our bones," He added.While attending me he saw one chap biting his nail. Drawing my attention to that he told me, "Look at that person. It's really time to break this worst habit. Fingernails are not stronger than our incisors, but it's actually teeth hitting each other that is the problem. It's like two stones rubbing against each other. Same is the risk of grinding teeth you see."Non stopping Vinod continued his gospel on tooth by saying, "Sugar, it is acid in fact, is the enemy of teeth. Soda, plus other acidic and sugary beverages like coffee, fruit juices, and even some health drinks can cause erosion and decay. Don't allow your children to sip those stuffs all day long," Vinod warned me. "You never get the pH in your mouth to rebound. If you're going to enjoy your Cola or Coke, have it in one go and then cleanse your mouth with a glass of fresh water."The heavy dose of clinical expressions by the dynamic young man made me wonder if so many instructions are given at a time, will the patient have the patience to listen to it? Without showing any sign of fatigue I just told him the dullness of my teeth expecting some fresh ideas. For that he said,"Whiter teeth aren't the be-all or end-all. As much as we are obsessed with whitening products, at the end of the day the difference between natural colour and bleached white isn't that noticeable. It's the balance and symmetry of our teeth that are key to an attractive smile." Continuing the monologue he told me that teeth grow in three stages. First, they form under the gum and then develop the crown. And then finally, the root develops, which anchors your teeth to your jaw. With that we called it a day.*****