Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I think I will take a break.


Friday, August 11, 2006

What will you rather be?

Hello. If I were a glowworm, things would have worked out quite differently for me. Hmmm...
What would you rather be?


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In Law, In Line? 3

Parvati had prepared herself for this, ever since Manjari Maami in the corner house had put the thought into her head.
But when she saw daughter-in-law in the morning - hair tousled, sleep still in her eyes, smiling at her, she nearly din't. Except that she had been warned about being soft, so she steeled herself and in her best 'mother-in-law' voice said, "Decent women don't wear shorts at home..."
The smile dried on her daughter-in-law's lip as quickly as sleep went out of her eyes and hurt and anger entered it. Fisting her hands, she turned on her heel and walked off in a huff.
Parvati sighed. Maybe she should'nt have listened to Manjari Maami after all.


Friday, August 04, 2006

An Ordinary Life 8 - Azhagu

Warning: If you find this cheesy or tacky, be aware that it was meant to be. Just exploring that side of me! :)


Even at first glance it seemed as if the man lying across the tracks was dead. The blood from his wounds was fresh, still a gush. The flies were just coming...
"Azhagu!" someone screamed. As if roused by this call, a man rose from his crouch beside the dead man on the tracks, tall, bloodied, dazed.

*** *** ***

Come to think of it, Azhagu's connection with T.Nagar was umbilical.

*** *** ***

It was poverty that drove Azhagu's parents, Venkatasamy and Dhanam, from Therambadi, a small village near Madurai. When the rains failed three years in a row, even the odd jobs on the fields vanished. Venkatasamy held on, hoping that things would change, but then, they heard that people in the next village were reduced to eating field rats. While Venkatasamy did not care much for himself or his wife, clearly this would never do for his future - his son.

So he balled up all their belongings in one tin trunk and one old saree and took his heavily-pregnant wife to the station. He intended to move to his ancestral town in Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh, where he was assured of employment, even if not the pot of gold.

*** *** ***

Riding 'unreserved' on Pandian Express, they had just been offloaded at the Mambalam station for travelling ticketless. Venkatasamy had pleaded with the ticket examiner, "My wife will have a baby anytime, saaar" he cried, pointing to Dhanam's swollen belly. The TTE thought she was faking it.

It was as they were hopping off the train onto the platform that Dhanam felt her sac break. She clutched her husband's arm and whispered, "The baby, he's coming..." before collapsing in a heap on the platform.

It was in the waiting room of the Mambalam station that Azhagu had emerged, screaming a healthy infant scream. And that is how his fortunes became irrevokably intertwined with the cobbled pavements of one Chennai Corporation zone.

*** *** ***

Azhagu grew up a strapping young boy, bronzed from a life outdoors and hard labour-carrying heavy sacks of vegetables and fruits on his shoulder in Ranganathan Street. His parents had stepped out of Mambalam Railway Station with their baby and seen a mine of opportunity in the fruit and vegetable market of T.Nagar. Andhra and the ancestors forgotten, they joined numerous squatters in rented hovels adjoining the railway tracks.

Which meant Azhagu was never very far from the place where he was born, Mambalam Railway Station, and strange as it might seem to some, he believed he was deriving essential life energy from the place where he was born. Every breath he took seemed to be elevating him, physically or socially, in the hierarchy of the market.
And so he grew, in height and stature, building vegetable empires in one narrow cobbled street, yet so expansive, any seed sowed on its compost bed would prosper.

*** *** ***

Which is why multiple empires could exist at the same time. And much enmity, in one street.

Azhagu's fiefdom and power was only compromised by Silamban's authority on the other half of the street. And their rivalries were not recent - it seemed they were natural adversaries. Fueled by the intensity of adolescence, the petty skirmishes that dominated their childhood turned mere enmity into evil, a battle on the streets, as the boys turned into men.

As the sun descended behind the tracks, and darkness crept in, the two groups would fight it out, their struggles a dim halogen silhouette against the walls and pavements of the street. The urchins, lying on the pavements, would scramble out of the way, clutching their gunny rags to their chest, afraid.

The morning, nevertheless, would bear the signs of their battle. Vendors would sweep aside the torn clothes, shards of broken glass and pour buckets of water on the dried blood before they'd set the incense sticks on one banana fruit. And as they settled down, they would bet surreptitously on the winners of the night and set wagers on future battles, on the count of broken limbs and bloodied noses, strangely enough, never murder.

Not until it happened, of course.

*** *** ***

In retrospect, it is still not clear why things went the way they did. There was only a rash of a rumour later, when Silamban's body had been picked up from the tracks. Possibly a midnight tryst had gone wrong, an extra hard blow, a flippant swing of the aruval, a head that was not meant to be where it was... It certainly brought things to a head and if one were to believe the onlookers, one of them would have had to go. Azhagu or Silamban.

The two seemed to be evenly matched, in power, strength, weapons and fatigue. The fight raged on, well past the darkness into the faint weep of the morning. It turned out at the end to Azhagu's advantage that he believed he was invincible as long as he was fighting along the tracks.

*** *** ***

Casting one final look at Silamban lying face down on the stones beside the track, Azhagu staggered out on to the platform, shrugging off hands, triumphant, joyous, that scrambled to help him up. His shirt and lungi absorbed the blood dripping from his forehead and then let the droplets fall in slow motion on to the pavement, forming a haphazard pattern on the concrete. Azhagu wipes blood off his eyelid and looks through the haze… he can see his mother run towards him, tearing her hair, beating her hands against her breast, her wailing reaching his ears. And then, smiling faintly, he collapses on to the concrete, falling in a uterine crouch on the hard floor.