Son of the Soil

A poor man cared for his family, worked for his landlord all the while but never cared a bit about himself. He worked in the fields from dawn to dusk. His skin weathered the elements, the seasons and the taunts of the landlord on whose fields he worked. His shirt and dhoti was all torn. He never cared for foot wear. His feet had developed corns and these days he walked in pain.

One day it was the village festival and he went to the village fair with his wife and daughter. He was in search of a young man for his daughter. He had come to know of Chandan who worked in the village office. He would be an ideal suitor for his daughter. But his parents were middle class. He had once mooted about it to Shri Dinanath who did not give any reply to him at that time. How could Shri Dinanath, Chandan’s father agree for a poor farmer’s daughter. This had been his worrying thought for a few months and when he passed the village shrine, he would talk about it to the diety there in the evening at the temple gate. Yes, he could not enter since his whole body and torn shirt was soaked in mud while coming home from work.

With his family in tow, Girish walked in front wearing a clean dhothi and light blue shirt. But the layer of sand laid out at the village fair was not favourable to his feet. It was paining and it was really getting difficult to walk. He told about his situation to his wife and all the three decided to go to the temple which was nearby and walk back home.

As they were leaving the fair, a hawker selling footwear was calling out for prospective customers. He also appeared poor to Girish’s eyes, when their eyes met. His call seemed desperate. Who would buy footwear when there was so much else on display to buy. Why don’t you buy one for yourself, his wife said. Maybe I should, more for this poor fellow than for myself, murmured Girish.

There were many varieties on display to Girish’s confusion. Sensing that, the hawker looked at Girish’s feet, measured it and went around looking for one that would give him comfort. Finally he got one to his satisfaction and put it on Girish’s feet all the time looking at him with a pleasant smile. Girish paid more than what the poor hawker asked, thanked and bade him goodbye and walked towards the temple with his family.

After leaving their footwear behind, they ascended the steps and prayed for the wellbeing of all in the village. As they came out after taking the prasad from the old Pujari, Vaishnavji, who had been serving the temple for  decades, they found that Girish’s footwear was missing.

It was really unfortunate Girish thought. More than the loss, he had taken a liking for it and the comfort it gave. Simple people were content with simple treats like these in life. Maybe this luxury was not for me, thought he, as he tread his steps slowly due to his pain. Since it was getting dark, he asked his wife and daughter to hurry home as he would take time walking across through the freshly laid gravel.

Before long, Vaishnavji having finished his duties at the temple caught up with the slow walking Girish and enquired about his feet. Girish told him all what had happened. Vaishnavji comforted Girish and gave him company till he reached his house. That night there was thundershowers which gave a welcome relief to the villagers from the heat.

The next day morning, when Vaishnavji climbed the steps of the shrine he found it dirty with mud. It was as if someone had walked with footwear not only on the steps but everywhere outside and inside the sanctum. And there just below the feet of the diety was a pair of muddy footwear. Who could have done such an act, he muttered, getting angry. I am sure someone who came to the village fair from far would have done this.

Tendering an apology to the Lord, he started to clean the inner sanctum and was shouting curses at that ruffian who had the audacity to do this. Did he hear someone giggling or was that a laugh. Did he really hear or his old mind was playing tricks. Never mind, thought he and continued on with his work and it was then he remembered that the muddy footwear was still inside the sanctum. When he started removing it, a voice boomed. “Do not remove it, dear Vaishnav. It is dear to me. It was I who danced around with it last night amid the rains. Do not bother, as from now on, it will be my footwear” .

Vaishnavji was enthralled with what he had heard. The Lord had talked to him after all these years to him. Girish had woken up early and started to tread his way to the fields. Surprisingly he did not feel any pain today while walking. He had thought of taking a longer route instead of the gravel filled village fair path, but since it was not paining at all, he decided to take the short route and thank the Lord on the way. It was still dark and dawn was still a few moments away.

Girish climbed the temple steps along with Chandan’s father who was also a great devotee of the Lord and both of them saw Vaishnavji in a trance. When they enquired, he told them all what had happened. To set their sight on the divine footwear, they hurried to the inner sanctum and  was Girish surprised when he saw that it was the very footwear he had worn the last night. He prostrated before the Lord crying out how thankful he was to see that the very good  Lord had taken a liking for it.

The booming voice came again. “Girish, I was twice lucky yesterday. To touch your feet and adorn this footwear on your feet and then like a thief snatch it and play around here wearing it that gave me so much joy. Let it remain here with me and in barter I have taken away your painful corns from your feet”.

How glad the three were that morning to hear the Lord’s voice. Dinanath with tears in his eyes embraced Girish remarking, “you are the true son of the soil and I will be glad to have your daughter grace my home  after our children’s wedding at the next auspicious muhurat here in  the temple”.

I fervently hope, the good Lord who inspired me to write this, bestow upon my readers, simple gifts and the best of health as we walk across the paths in life which may not be comfortable at all times…

Paths in Life.. It is your choice. Thanks to Rupali who has a photography  blog at mazeepuran.wordpress.com for allowing me to use this lovely picture.

Examining our cultural journey

I have reblogged this post from Vidya’s site.

When we were children, India was still an agriculture-based nation. Coming home to Kerala during our vacations meant coming home to the fields. Of course, the young people had all found their way out of agriculture, but the fields of paddy that had been created painstakingly by our dedicated ancestors who had mastered the art […]

Examining our cultural journey

Coined Treasures

Once a rich man invited all to give some amount of his wealth to all the poor folks around him. A poor man lived with his son and wife. He also came to see the rich man more because he wanted to meet and talk with the rich man. After spending a few minutes he came to know that this person was very generous at heart. The rich man’s stock of gifts had exhausted by the time their conversation ended. So he asked of the rich man that nobody even thought of.

Can you give me 1/10th of what you have every year to which the rich man agreed.

So every year our poor guy visited him and took his share and returned. Everybody envied the poor man and asked the rich man to stop giving to the poor man every year. But as was his nature he gave a lot of presents to everyone who came to him for help. Slowly all his wealth disappeared and his business suffered and he saw bad days where he couldn’t survive with some help from the villagers. He had to sell his house and look for a small shed at the outskirts.

His wife told him to ask help from the villagers whom he had helped all along. But nobody bothered to help and chided him for wasting his wealth away and for his charitable acts. On the way he met our poor man who looked the same to him. He lived in the same hut with his family and worked in the same fields as before.

Feeling sorry the rich man asked what did he do with the wealth gifted by him. You are still poor. I thought of asking you for some money but you appear worse as before. The poor man smiled. Nobody is poor as long he wants to help someone. At one point of time you were rich and you were generous and true to the word. I, by my experience knew that wealth and trade do not flourish for ever if we aren’t careful. So all the money I took from you is still safe with me. Take it, buy back your house and live peacefully. Help others who are needy and don’t give away wealth to those who do not value it. You may earn yourself a name but that will vanish as soon as your store is empty.

Depression

When you are experiencing any of the below it is high time you call out, raise your hand, confide and get help.

When daylight peeps in on you

You wish the sun had slept all day.

When you see the crisp newspaper

You see it just as a piece of  trash.

When someone does call you

You just hear through the rings.

When cloudy thoughts thunder

How you wish the ground to open

To envelope you from painful darts

that fly around and pierce you…

Snatched away

As I entered the ward, I saw her lying calm
It was a dull morning, though seemed bright
cause the surgery being over, a job well done
adding to the numbness she must have felt.

I sat beside her, shaking her hand with a prayer
telling her it would be a matter of time before
she could be at school making merry of the past
in a few weeks, I thought, how she must have felt.

While leaving her, I took her hand, encouraging
her, at the same time with a prayer on my lips
looking at her eyes, when she returned my glance
a faint smile on her lips, how she must have felt.

I turned back and left, hoping to meet her soon
when time permitted, at home with her family
a few days back or so, then I heard the sad news
she had left us, parting with pain, and how weak I felt…

The Cursed Pirate

He had always lived the hard way
and became famous by the day
A ship is what he wanted to be on
how he liked to sail on the high seas
but then his habits came haunting
when he set sights on the treasures
that sailed the seas with men on it.

Once he raided a ship with his buccaneers
full of chests, this one belonged to a King
he had always dreamed of, to conquer one
all this shiny wealth would be his, if only,
he could reach home by the green islands
but for the curse of the captain and his crew
who got slaughtered with their cutlasses
thrown to the seas for the waves to bury.

A storm was brewing in the distant sky
it could hit them this week or the next
they all spent drinking the stolen liquor
went into a stupor that lasted many a day
it was when, someone noticed a patch
on his skin which turned into a rumor
they would all overthrow their chief
for the disease would cause havoc
if allowed to run its usual course.

The next day, they started an argument
the pirate was prepared, having noticed
the patch on his skin and their reactions
With his flaming pistol, wrecked them all
before the calamity could strike them
throwing their bodies and guiding the ship
through channels of rocks and great fish.
The storm hit him and his ship  for days.
the ship wrecked when it hit the rocky land
though it was an island, he did not despair.

He got himself occupied carrying the chests
full of gold and silver, emeralds and rubies
and buried them in deep holes dug by him
when the job mighty done, was he happy?
but the next day, the disease knocked him
the ration of fresh water and fruits dried up
the curse of the plunder came back to haunt
he was rich but the wealth of no use now
his body lay dried in the sun on the rocks
searching for dear water, when all around
it splashed in fury not giving him a chance.

 

 

 

 

The gardener

It is a hot summer day and the plants are waiting for you to water them. Duty-bound as you are, you have already got up, and are pulling the lines of rubber pipes that would carry life giving water to each of those trees and shrubs that you had lovingly planted.

The strip of land that you had bought long back brings back memories of your youth. You had never known then that at one point of time you would come back to this very strip and grow plants in abundance, so much so, that the sun would need to take an appointment if he wanted to grace you with his sunshine. You wander among the bushes to do the final round of checks to see that these pipes have not got entangled and are laid properly and would not damage the fledgling bushes that you had taken so much care to bring up in the last few weeks.

All looks proper as you survey the long network of pipes neatly laid out that would now start transporting the water as it gushed through them. You take the shovel in your hand to make the finishing touches for plants around their roots so that they could have more water as it would come in turns towards them.

The wind is gently blowing carrying it with shades of warm and cool air, as it sifts through the dense network of branches and leaves. There are some sparrows on the ground chit chatting and waiting for you to turn on the motor so they could enjoy frolicking in the water that would present itself at any moment from now before them.

A squirrel jumps just in time, as you make your way toward the shed that lodges the motor pump that would draw the water from the pond. In the olden days, you had to be alert as there were no pipes and then canals made out of the sand would do their job in assisting you with the gardening process. You had to be on the look out lest any of those sand canals would give away before your very eyes.

You switch on the motor, amble across to the bushes till someone who watches you loses sight of you. You take the end of the rubber hose and start watering the plants, the roots, the branches and the leaves and sometimes playfully at the sparrows who all love you for what you are…images