Mera naam Chin chin choo
|Your Japanese Name Is...|
of just about everything... since a little learning is a dangerous thing.
|Your Japanese Name Is...|
There is a feeble tap on the door, instead of the usual doorbell or adult pounding.
R opens the door. Finds short brat and shorter brat standing outside the door. "What?" he asks.
Shorter brat extends a small box of Parle milk chocolates. "Eh?" R's eyebrows sneak up in a curve.
"Happy birthday to me!" shorter brat says.
R's eyebrows even out. "Oh! Happ..."
Short brat intervenes, "No, happy birthday to me!"
R's brows arch again.
This is for real, and no, I'm not the R. :)
Davidraj cursed under his breath in Tamil. The drawer he had jerked open with such fury had crashed to the ground and nicked his foot as it fell. "Che! What kind of a place is this? Nothing ever works properly. All rotten on top!" he ranted for the twentieth time that day.
Irritated, he put his hand on the bell on his desk to summon Arokiyamani. At the end of its tether, the bell croaked a hoarse metallic cough. Davidraj flung the bell from his desk, exasperatedly. It flew up in a graceful curve and landed at the feet of Arokiamani, dozing on his stool outside the room, waking him up. He jumped onto his feet, picked up the bell and rushed into the room, "Saar, I found your bell at my feet, saar," he said, scratching his hair.
"I threw it at you, imbecile. Now, get here and put this rotten drawer back in its place." Arokiamani ducked under the table. His ears twitching with fury, Davidraj moved out of the room and lit up a cigarette. Inhaling deeply, he let the smoke burn his lungs and then let it out in stuttering puffs...
* * *
The only reason he had put up with years of signing over the dotted line authorising the purchase of several tonnes of chlorine tablets and bleaching powder was the rat at the end of the rainbow.
He had begun, like most boys his age do, with a healthy fancy for rodents, lizards and spiders. Only, unlike most other boys, Davidraj was never to grow out of this. As he grew, his fancy quickly shifted into an unhealthy obsession for Rattus rattus, what the rest of us know as the common rat.
More slowly, the powers that be shifted gears to put Davidraj in the driver's seat of the Vector Control Department in the Municipal Corporation.
So slowly, it took twenty five years and a plague.
Though others took the credit, every rat hole in the city knew it was Davidraj that did the trick. It was magical, almost like the Pied Piper, the way the city's Chief Vector Control Officer seemed to speak the rats into dying or maybe, just going away. The newspapermen came from all over, masks round their mouths, stepping gingerly over dead rats on the roads, following Davidraj in his battered Mahindra jeep, chronicling, attesting his achievement.
After this, there was no question that the usually nepotistic behemoth had finally found the right man for the job.
* * *
Letting out smoke in interuppted puffs, Davidraj crouched over the railing. Things were going from bad to worse. After all, he had dedicated his life to his work. One would think the powers that be would have more appreciation for his work. He could not fathom why they were not bowing in front of him, pledging their gratitude to their pied piper.
After every encounter with an ingrate higher-up, Davidraj felt worse. In anger his face and ears twiched madly. Like they did today, after a rather foul encounter with the health officer. "Enough!" he muttered to himself.
* * *
His colleagues did not really notice the changes. The file pushers were not really an observant bunch. They did not see it begin with the twitches, primarily of the nose. But it soon grew, like bacteria on a culture plate. Facial twitches came next, the imperceptible darts of the head, the nibbling, the crouch and eventually, the sniffing. Over a period of time his voice changed to staccato squeaks, short sentences rapidly delivered by a man in a hurry, his gait a scramble around the edges of rooms. It seemed his skin was turning from the usual bronze brown to a black grey and his luxuriant moustache dwindled down to a few whiskers. But they dint notice a thing.
* * *
Not a thing. Until the day they found him crouching, shaking, his whiskers quivering, in a hole hollowed out in his bedroom, hiding from the neighbourhood cat.
I began writing this in the sunset of last year! And kept writing in fits and starts, not quite satisfied with the way it was shaping up.
Thanks Hari, for that final SMS push to get this thing wrapped up. I still cannot decide if I'm happy with this story or not, but at least it is a story now. :)
yesterday's tree-climbing dream
meets today's confused nightmare
in silly continuum:
you cannot keep time
while you sleep.
You know, sometimes I tend to agree with the generally held belief that it is a small spark that starts a forest fire.
Actually, I wouldn't stop with a forest fire. I'd go as far as rejuvenation.
But when you are pathetically down and out, a little, unexpected, unadulterated expression of joie de vivre livens you up. If you know what I mean. You might, if you have ever felt LIFE speaking to you. Out of the blue. Not like a bolt, more like a blessing.
That's when you realise what you had forgotten: The Force is always with you!
I've had my blessing today. And I'm willing to be yours: May the Force be with you!
Late last evening I was obsessing so much about cutlets, I could nearly taste them in my mouth. As a rule, i only obsess about food. Infrequently.
Hmmmmm. Ok, maybe frequently.
Like last evening. My food fantasies are painfully brand-specific; like I have sometimes lusted for Qwality's Kuchi Ice; Ratna Cafe's idlies soaked in sambar; Hyderabadi biryani, India Coffee House' fluffy omlettes ...
And last evening the specificity whittled me down to Indian Coffee House' vegetable cutlets. Not any India Coffee House. Just the one at the corner of Burkit Road, T.Nagar, seated just where the road curves into the madness of T.Nagar traffic. This particular food fetish seemed to have come from inside me, from a memory of several years ago. As a child, my father used to bring us these Indian Coffee House cutlets, hot, sweating and soaking the leaf and paper wrapping they came in.
The smell was what got me addicted, then. The fragrance, I mean, of overcooked vegetables wrapped in a crumb-crust fried to a dark brown-purple. And as you see above, there would be an orange-red sauce/ketchup lookalike and slivers of onion sliced up with small rings of green chilly. Suddenly, all this came back in a rush yesterday, memory morphing into a sensory feeling that sent me all the way from Nandambakkam to T.Nagar. It was like the memory led me on and I only remember sitting on one of those greasy chairs of Indian Coffee House, trying to find a non-greasy part of the table to rest my hands on, watching the man at the next table devour a plate of parotas and move quickly onto puris.
And then, there was the cutlet.
Just like from my distant childhood. The smell, the all-so-familiar muffled taste of beetroot and potato in strange purple, the crispness of the crust. Ah! What satisfaction lies in the realisation of a food fantasy!