Friday, December 25, 2009

The night journey of 9th december, 2009

2141 hours. The long winding road stretches endlessly. I look out my window and witness the scenes unfolding on one side of the road. The night is cool, dry and silent. There are no streetlights and I’m certain that this part of the world has neither seen any kind of technology nor will it any sooner. The roads are full of potholes: a result of what looks like long neglect or half-hearted attempts to make them traversable by journey-by-night trucks, long-travelling buses and the occasional smaller vehicles. The road snakes its way through hills and rugged plains that were long ago wounded, blasted away and razed to a level ground in order to lay down long, black and tar reptilian routes. Now, with their holes, humps and bumps and tortures surfaces they seem overwhelmed by the plethora of still untouched nature on either sides. The trees, plants and vines closest to the road are caked with mud and dust and look sinister and ghostly, illuminated only by the car headlights. Apart from the trees and vines, there are walls of sliced up earth where I can see dead roots of mighty trees thrusting out of the mud in the most bizarre angles, whose lives were cruelly cut short when great elaborate machines sliced away the earth. Undisturbed, these roots would have spread far and wide below the earth to their full glory. Now these skeletal roots with their dead trees lie grotesquely displaying a gory image of man’s activities. Now and again the headlights sweep over breaks in the seemingly infinite train of jutting vines and looming trees. Dark gorges and foreboding chasms, carved out by waterfalls that had gushed, gurgled and teemed with life and there was lush greenery and heavy water laden clouds to complete the picture, now lie painfully bare with only memories of lively springs and ghosts of tiny streams trickling down the slick and mossy rock faces. We move ahead seemingly uncaring: our car whipping up dust clouds and adding another layer of dirt on the trees by the side of the road. I gaze listlessly at the milestones and my mind vaguely registers the changing figures under the names of places known and unknown; each stone showing a couple or three miles swallowed up by our robotic, indifferent, relentless need to move onwards. I lie inside the car but my thoughts run amok, treading the perpetuity of nature. Sometimes they fade to a blur like the ground below, sometimes they surface and make their presence felt like the stars suddenly appearing through stray clouds and silhouetted canopy, sometimes meandering warily like our precarious journey on these serpentine roads to imminent destination and finally merging with the mysterious shadows and overwhelming darkness beyond the reach of the meagre headlights. After attempting vainly to bridle my thoughts, I sigh and resume gazing out my window, at the mourning forests and at the long winding road that stretches endlessly...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The nostalgia

12 years ago I was about 10 years old; young, innocent and carefree.
Things were blissfully simpler and the most worrisome problem was my little sister getting a bigger share of chocolates and sweets because she was “just a baby”.
The 6 year old rascal was my arch enemy.
The pinnacle of humiliation was my own sister calling me by name without a trace of respect.
The thing that shortened my 8-hour sleep to 7-hours was the frightening possibility of getting 9 out of 10 marks in my Kannada dictation.
I was a content soul and ignorance was my prerogative.
The most delightful idea of fun was playing hopscotch with all the neighbourhood girls who were more or less of my age. It meant I could leave my cheat of a sister at home and not worry about her going to Mother bawling, when I don’t let her have her way in hopscotch.
I used to experience a feeling of warm humility when those girls looked up to me to take any decisions and solve any complicated problem that we faced regarding a particular hopscotch rule.
My heart used to soar with joy whenever I realised we were not getting on the city bus to the boring market but the express one that would take us to Mangalore, the enormous city of wonders.
I adored the sly smile on Father’s face when this trick of his worked every time before we got on that express bus.
I used to do my chores with great enthusiasm when guests were to come over. With great effort and concentration I used to make myself presentable for the guests and wait for their arrival with barely contained excitement.
On my 10th birthday I glided around in my new dress proudly showing it off to the monotonous crowd of the apparently awestruck students in uniforms. Wearing “colour dress” on your birthday was an accepted rule then.
Whenever I fell and scraped my knees badly, it was heartening to see almost all of my classmates running around to get cotton, gauze and Dettol, even when I knew what would follow were a couple of painful stings.
The bitterest fights were over getting window seat in the school van.
The momentous day was when Mother told me she had a baby in her tummy and soon I’d have a tiny baby brother or sister.
The most mind boggling challenge was choosing a name when, eventually, my little baby sister was born.
The biggest dilemma I faced was when I was dying to hold her, yet didn’t want to; afraid I would hurt her soft fragile body.
I first felt cheap thrill when Mother admonished my rogue sister one day, to be more considerate towards our little sister as she was “just a baby”!