Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Horrible Henry?

Gwenda was ready for school and climbed proudly on her new four geared bicycle. “Gwennie, why don’t you avoid that busy main road and go through Apple Garden Street. That is safer sweety. I will be relaxed if u opt that” said Linda.

“Mom, u know that Henry with long curly, sticky and greatly tangled hair lives there. The very sight of him terrifies me. Especially when he is out, with his hair loose, that would swing hazily around his broad shoulders making a weird sound. It is safer for me if I go by that busy road. Bye Mom. Love You.”

And yes, little Gwennie was brave girl. It was only when Henry was visible, she felt like a real coward. Humming a sweet song, Gwennie was pretty slow enjoying the fresh air with greeny aroma that hit her face. She smelled someone closer to her. “Hey Gwenda, I think even a snail can overtake u. Pretty cool right?”. It was Bob. She gave a cheerful smile and pedaled fast to keep pace with him.

“I came through Apple Garden Street.”, said Bob. Gwennie stumbled for a minute and looked at him for more details.

“And, I saw that Henry. Unusually, his wild hair carried a lighter shade, making me his looks more fearful. And he carried a huge leather bag. Tommy said that the bag contained all chocolates and candies, which he uses to attract children who reciprocate to his odd smile. Once u use anything out of his leather bag, u will obey him like his pet dog and for sure he will use u for his witchcraft. But I am not the kind who will fear him. One day when I get a chance, I will peep into his house and find out who he is”

Gwennie was now terrified. She wished Bob would close his mouth for God’s sake. She wanted to change the topic. Probably she would ask him some history questions which would make him to fumble. Otherwise too bossy and shrewd Bob always lost confidence when questioned in History. Gwennie was happy to see him fumbling. That tactics worked and Gwennie congratulated herself for that wise idea.


It was a tiresome day for little Gwennie. As usual, she had a fresh tale about that Henry. Linda was almost bored of such stories. She always refused to believe that Henry was well versed in witchcraft. She wished her daughter could be brave enough to ignore this. But not all parents shared the same thought with Linda. Tommy’s mother almost banned him to play in Apple Garden street. So funny, thought Linda.

But Nancy, her neighbour was almost sure that Henry was wicked. “He goes to Richard street daily and he meets few awkward looking men like him there. That place is so deserted and was used by outlaws to gamble and drink. No man with genuine intentions would choose that place to do whatever legally permitted work there. And u know, the restaurant owner who has his hotel in the same building where Henry meets his friends is absconding for the past one week. Henry is the prime suspect in Police’s list. He can be caught anytime,” said Nancy.

This piece of information gave Linda a little restlessness. ‘But Nancy’s words cannot be relied upon always. Still, it is better if Gwennie avoids him. Gwennie need not be taught to keep a safe distance from him. She already knew it’, thought Linda.

Now, Gwennie could hardly control her from telling that new story about Henry. “Mom, he changed his hair colour today. It was dyed black. Earlier, it was silvery white. I almost thought he would be 60, looking at his white hairs. Probably he wants none to guess his age. As he was walking past, a really old man, too skinny, and probably too hungry asked for water. Henry was carrying the water bottle. But he just ignored the old man heartlessly and headed towards his house. That is how sorcerers are. Heartless and cruel.”

Linda became thoughtful and wished Gwennie could do some other productive work. With her quota of sandwiches, Gwennie knew what she had to do next to please her mother. She went to her room upstairs, sitting before the computer to complete her homework.


That was Monday evening and Linda was worried, looking for Gwennie. Little Gwennie did come, but was looking miserable. Linda ran to her, and comforted.

‘Tell me my dear. What happened?’

‘He.. Hen..ry’, that is all she said and lied on the couch.

Now greatly terrified, Linda sat behind her.

‘I saw him in his compound, running behind someone, with .. blood drenched knife.’

“What!” exclaimed Linda.

As a matured mother, she contained her feelings. ‘Honey, do not imagine things. Nothing is as wild as u think. Just relax. Forget it for now. Have this hot porridge girl.’

Gwennie did feel better after taking that porridge. But started feeling feverish soon. Aprehensively, Linda rang to inform Walter, her husband.

Walter was in soon.

‘What is the problem? I see that Henry is harmless. We should educate Gwennie’ said Walter.

‘But Walter, I cannot blindly rely someone. Neighbours do not have good opinion about him for some odd reasons. And our little Gwennie has a solid reason this time. He ran with blood filled knife, behind someone. Is not that dangerous? Don’t u think we should do something to make this place safe for children? Ya, henry looks terribly awkward and carries sorcerers look with his tangled hair. I cannot tolerate to see Gwennie like this.’

Walter was quite. ‘Linda, u r not right. Still, I do not find a point to blame Henry. Better do not jump into conclusions. Sure, we have to do something about it. Till we know the facts, it is good not to blame a possible innocent.’

Linda acknowledged. For Walter would not stop with his words. She relaxed, relying his husband.

That did put an end to discussion about Henry. But not to Gwennie’s ill health. She missed her classes for two days and was feeling extremely feverish.

At last, she recovered, much to the relief of Linda. She scared to hear the word Henry even, making Linda to realize that something has to be done immediately.


Gwennie was playing with her little brother Tom, as he was fondly called. They were in the lawn. Linda was in the front door, watching their little kids play.

Just then, Henry entered the house, with his terrible looking hair.

Gwennie receded, wanting to escape and equally, wanting to safeguard her little brother. She looked at Linda for support. Linda did not react in negative.

But Tommy viewed Henry funnily. He advanced near him, trying to jump and catch his hair. Henry, kneeled down, as if to help little Tom to accomplish his wish.

‘Hey, boy, u like my hair, just have it.’ He removed the wig, exposing his bald head.

Tom was more than a happy boy now. He was happy to have that funny wig. And was happy to glance through the bald head. The first bald head he had ever seen in his two years of life.

Gwennie, though relaxed to see Henry that way, was still shivering.

‘Gwennie, he was just chasing his pet dog, as he grabbed his fresh bread pocket. And the knife had no blood, but only jam. It was ur imagination Gwennie’, it was Walter.

Now Gwennie had a mild smile on her face.

She went near Henry. Shook his hand and said, ‘U look wonderful this way.’

Henry thought, ‘My dear little girl, that wig was uglier way to hide my complex. Not meant to hurt u kids’. As a happy, man, Henry walked bald, leaving his wig as a present for little Tom to play.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Guarded pride

Note: Did i say fiction is not my piece of cake? Forget it. Here comes new short and sweet(?!) effort of mine.

Where are my insurance papers? I remember keeping them on computer table. Now I find no trace of them. Kausalya is the only person rearranging things in the house in the pretext of keeping the house neat and tidy. “Kausi, did u see my insurance papers. I need them urgently.” I shouted.

It seemed that my wife was least interested to answer me. That aggravated my anger and as a hurt lion I roared this time. Though Kausi did not rush out of the kitchen like a meek deer, she did come out with inquisitive face.

“So u want ur insurance papers. I am no guard of papers u have thrown carelessly here and there. I did not touch ur papers. It will be there were u have kept. Let the hell break, I cannot help u atleast for 20 minutes. Chottu has to get ready for school”, saying this, my wife went to fetch little Chotu from the bathroom.

I was left with no choice. Had it been some other time, Kausi would have succumbed to my shouting. But not when Chottu needs her. I always get secondary treatment, a thing which I badly wanted to complain to my mother. Cursing my fate, I carefully analysed my office bag, checked for the papers in my shelf and also took the pain of scrutinizing my pant pockets. But no, nothing helped me.

It was well over 20 minutes and I did not succeed in my attempt of getting my wife’s help. But I could not give up. I need the papers badly. So, I went to my clothe shelf, pretended checking for those papers, and started throwing my shirts out of the shelf. I know Kausi could no longer bear this rogue way of finding the lost thing.

“U r such an impatient fellow. U want me to arrange ur shelf the whole day because u threw ur papers carelessly? Just get out of my sight. I will get u those papers.”

Having given the responsibility to a responsible person, I was damn sure that she will get them for me. I just went near her to see the progress in the work she had been doing. She was now out of that shelf and was researching the old cup board which serves as dumping ground for all unwanted stuffs. But I resisted. ‘Kausi, there is no use looking there.’ But she gave an I know look and ignored me.

As she was investigating, I found four of my books bundled together and kept safely in that cup board. Those were the books I was half way through and badly needed those two months back. I thoroughly scanned the house and concluded that they were lost. I was happy that atleast now I got them. Also became extremely angry unable to bear with Kausi’s habit of hiding things that were unused for sometime.

Opened one of those books and started reading from the bookmarked page. I was so lost that I forgot that I had to get ready for office. I almost completed 10 pages when I heard that thud.

Kausi was standing beside me. ‘I scanned the full house. No such papers are there. I think u have kept it in ur office itself. Why don’t u check them there?’

Now, I could not control my anger. ‘u call urself educated. But keep on rearranging things from one place to another. See these four books. Do u remember, I asked for them two months back and u swore that u knew nothing about them. I found them in that cup board. Who else could have kept them there apart from you? The same thing has happened to those papers also. U wanted to keep the whole house look good, that u shifted those papers probably to dustbin. I will check the dustbin before it is emptied’.

Having invoked a guilty feeling in her, I found her searching talents at their best, which covered every inch of the house. But I could not keep my mouth shut. ‘better I will keep all my belongings in office itself. Because, anything which comes inside the house apart from my own body is found missing. I cannot think that an educated wife can be so careless about important papers kept.’

Though she badly wanted to open her mouth and answer me back, she was unclear whether she had shifted those papers. That doubt in her mind made that moment a little peaceful and gave me courage to enrage her again. After all, there are hardly few moments when she does something wrong and I get a chance to shout at her. I did not want to loose that opportunity.

‘Let me leave now. Today is the last day for filing returns. What if have to pay few thousands extra to the government? That atleast relieves u of searching for those papers’, I said those words, wearing my shirts, though I did not even have the slight intention of leaving the house without getting those papers.

Tensed Kausi gave me a pacifying look and begged me to wait for few more minutes. I accepted showing my grimaced face to her.

When I turned my head something caught my attention. What was that paper laying in my office bag? I went near my bag, after checking for Kausi’s presence. Finding her busy in some other room, I analyzed my bag. Those insurance papers were in my bag, safely filed in the outer folder.

Thank God I got those papers. But what if she knows that it was my entire fault? Nothing of that sort would happen.

I made a brave face, arranging my bag and looked at Kausi. ‘Do not pain urself searching for those papers. I remember having kept a copy of them in office. I will check for them and will call u. if necessary, resume ur search then. It is already late. I will call u. Bye’. Without giving a pause, with great caution not to invoke her doubt, I was almost rushing to get out of house.

Kausi gave a suspicious look, thoroughly taken back by my magnanimity. She almost wanted to ask a dozen questions, but I would not be there to answer her. I nearly flied to reach my Maruti, leaving for office after waving at her affectionately. After all, we men know how to guard our pride, atleast in very few occasions like this.

Friday, August 12, 2005

My vague thoughts

A human being has his religious duties too. But complications in an ordinary Hindu’s religious life are many. Firstly, we have plenty of religious books to choose. Secondly, they are in Sanskrit in which most of us are not conversant with. Thirdly, philosophical concepts are too complicated that one has to take special efforts to understand them.

Thus, I always had the guilt of an ignorant Hindu, knowing nothing more than a grandma version of Ramayana and Mahabharata. But when I started Ashok Banker’s version of Ramayana, I understood how greatly the epic can be narrated. When retelling can be so enchanting, which did not have the divinity and had more of commercial motive, surely, original version of Valmiki should be beguiling.

Thus, this Ashok Banker’s version of Ramayana could not help me in getting away from my guilt feeling. I have to learn more. With this thirst as I was seeing around, I came across few who knew more about our religion, who took some genuine efforts to learn what our holy books say.

Strangely, all those few were Vaishnavaites. Definitely, that is no coincidence.

Talking about iyers and iyengars, one can say that iyers are liberal or we can say iyers have liberalized their rules to a great extent so that they can co exist with iyengars. While u may find n number of Ramanathan and Narayanan in iyers, not even one Sivakumar or Ganesh will be there in Iyengar. There are staunch iyengars who choose to shut their ears, even when their hands are extremely busy feeding their own mouths or their grandson’s mouth, whenever they hear the word “Shiva”.

The motive of this post is not to blame any vaishnavaite. With this, please continue reading.

They believe in just one form that is Vishnu. Though I am not sure, I think they are not keen in worshipping navagraha also. I always curiously observe any iyengar classmate or colleague of mine to know how attached they are to Vishnu and Vaishnavism. Astonishingly, everyone I met was staunch believer and followed the religious routines vehemently.

As a routine they sing Thiuppavai and Thiruvamppavai. Thus, the religious thirst is inculcated in them when they are very young, and that makes them to know more about our religion. Their thirst grows beyond Vaishnavism, forces them to know about Hinduism.

Whereas, we iyers, who chose to be liberal, who chose to accept every form of God, (assuming someone is a pure saivaite and chooses to worship only Shiva family, then he has to worship a minimum of four gods), cannot boast of having many youngsters who still believe in chanting Thevaaram or performing Suryanamaskaram.

The values which we carried are slowly diminishing and I won’t wonder if they become extinct in near future. Because, we chose to be liberal with Gods initially, then we chose to be liberal with our religious duties, then we chose to be liberal with our religion itself. Now we iyers are completely modernized, that even an atheist is seen forgivingly by an elder.

They are so rationalized that they are fully into the practical world, forgetting completely about our religious world, formulating their own convenient ways of worshipping Almighty, that I fear our future generation would find it difficult to figure out whether Krishna comes in Ramayana or Mahabharata.

Our practical world has become so demanding that we really have to work hard to survive. But religious duties cannot be ignored for that reason. To refrain we humans from being slack on our religious duties, the rules should be made harsher.

I understand the ferociousness with which we should follow our customs. Blind faith will help us more. Atleast when it comes to religion. Our scattered belief in all hindu Gods made us to loose our custom and culture and now we find that we know very little about our religion. With mutual respect to each other, we should go back to our age old custom. This will be of some good to every Hindu. Instead of having a scattered faith, knowing in detail about nothing, it is always better to have concentrated faith, with indepth knowledge about something. Our initial confined faiths, will help us to set a solid foot in our religion, which will ultimately grow beyond the divides of Saivism or Vaishnavism and will embrace Hinduism.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Letter to God

Note: I intented to continue with the story self made or ready made. But i thought that i am going so far away from what i intended to say and was concentrating more on characters. I thought of restraining myself from personal posts and generalizing my ideas. but that hardly suits my nature. Being straight and hitting the nail is the easiest thing one can do. (hey, see how well u can make up your weakness by telling it differently. to be frank, fiction is not my piece of cake i believe.)

Still i cannot leave a story half finished. When i was browsing a website,it spoke about a contest in which one had to write a letter to God. Ultimately, i was about to tell my own feelings about God through rohith in Selfmade or ready made. so i thought i should be direct. here is a letter which Rohith writes to God. In a confused state, whether to know that his life is like a ready made dress in which he could not do anything, or is like a dress material which he is free to stitch it to his wish, only his physique being the constraint, Rohith writes this letter to God.

Dear God,

Though I address U, hardly I believe in your existence. I was brought up as a pious boy, habited to say my daily prayers, with frequent visit to your temple. Till a few years back, if somebody was questioning Your existence, I mocked at them and ignored them. But now, I feel that they may be right.

When I was 20 years old, I read a book about a great sadhu, who personally believed that idol worship was not necessary. I have noticed every other sadhu, said that idol worship was primitive stage of bhakthi. Having read all those stuff, I started disbelieving in religious routines and concentrated my bhakthi on one single form. That was you, Lord Shiva. For a few years, I found that I was right in my form of bhakthi. Instead of giving offerings to You, I found it right to give up a bad habit of mine. Instead of showering You with milk and honey, I found it right to feed a hungry stomach.

I developed a sense of pride in my own form of Bhakthi, that I imagined you to be closer to me. So closer, that even the pettiest of my issues were consulted with You. Or probably I mistook my intuition as Your guidance. Whatever it may be, it worked well for few years. But now, I feel that the link is broken.

When I read books on mind power, I felt that there is no concept as God, as everything is so naturally explained and it is all the power of mind that drove me till then. Still, my orthodox brain did not want to accept all those stuff and continued to believe in You.

When the good old advice of our famous astrologers were thrust on me which meant a daily visit to God of my non interest or lighting akal vilakku in different swami sannidhis, I ignored them completely, thinking that only the form which I loved can help me. Till now, I do not feel the guilt.

But slowly, I found that the bond between You and me was loosening. My intuition failed many a times. I felt that I was guided wrongly. I blamed You. Then I found an equal chance to blame me. When I can blame me for a wrong decision, that means I have a greater control over my life. Instead of believing in You, instead of referring to You for all my problems, I found it right to consult myself and decide. And to a great extent, till now, it has been working well.

But still, this question haunts me. When others can find solace in going to temples and chanting the mantras, why I do not get peace?

To read all those philosophical books which are in a completely alien language and to get clarity is not a thing within my reach.

Is there not a simple answer for this question? Who are You? What do You do in my life? Can I ignore You? I tried to do that also. But as a weak human, when I found that things were out of my control, and badly needed someone’s help, I fell on Your feet. While falling so, I blamed myself for being selfish. I shied from opening my mouth to ask for favours. Rather, I had no faith that my prayers would be answered. Hence I feel no relief when I fall on Your feet.

Leave alone granting favours to me. I want to establish that old bondage which I had with You. I try my best to believe that You exist. But my Lord, something prevents me from that. Say a small disappointment which I face. The moment I feel that I should be a faithful devotee, I start expecting something from You. I try to blame You for all my miseries, though all happiness are accepted cheerfully with a small thanks giving prayer to You.

Now that I got a chance to visit your temple, I am dropping this letter in Your Hundi, hoping that these queries of mine will reach You. You may prefer to remain silent thinking that I am not a good devotee of Yours. But remember, I have always been a good citizen, a good employee, a good boss, a good son, a good husband and a good father. After all, that is what You expect from Your devotee. Hence I have every right to demand an answer. Before my heart shatters, my Lord, please answer me.

With Love,