The Lost Salary

Anand was a happy man today. He had counted his salary twice as it gave him a nice feeling as his fingers touched the crispy notes. After all it, it would not remain with him for long. He checked the wad of notes in his pocket when he climbed on the bus, once more while he was seated and when he left the bus at his door step. Thank God, it was still there, but he knew, all these would disappear soon. He wondered if inflation was the main thief in the country.

“Good evening Anand, you look a happy man today, am sure it is the salary, ” remarked the grocer Dayal, to whom Anand owed a month of grocery bills. “How much do I owe you, Dayalji? asked Anand bringing out the wad of notes. Painfully he parted with almost 20 percent of his salary. As he approached the gate of his housing society, he saw Ramu, the milkman with big milky teeth, waiting with glee on his arrival. As they parted, another 1500 had vanished from the crispy notes. The measure of happiness had already started vanishing along with the size of the wad of notes.

The society office boy came next day morning well in time to catch him before he left for the office to collect the monthly charges. Anand’s wife asked him to keep a 1000 for the cooking gas cylinder that might arrive any day. Just as he wanted to contain any more spends, he bumped into the newspaper boy who collected another 750 for his 2 newspapers that satisfied his morning ablutions.

With the electricity bill giving him a shock, as he paid it at the electricity office, Anand wondered how many more debits awaited him, now that a paltry sum remained from the salary he received, a few days back. On the train, the ticket checker asked for his ticket or pass, which he promptly showed. The checker handed it back with a smile. Only when he was putting it back, trying to make meaning out of the smile, he noticed, that the pass was expiring the next day. That means another set of notes would vanish tomorrow.

The second day evening, coming back from office,  he saw boys at his apartment complex trying to get a tangled kite from the network of television cables. Anand called the cable boys lest these kids might wreck havoc on the cables. They arrived in minutes but only left after collecting their monthly due payment.

Anand was now left counting as to what remained and if he had enough money to survive the rest of the month after provisioning for miscellaneous expenses like bus fare, school fees, vegetables and fish at the market where they would not give him credit. Despite the lost salary, he firmly decided with the next salary he would buy a small camera, a thought he had been cherishing for so long…

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The Lost Sailor

 

albatross

The high winds struck the stricken boat
with only a lone survivor that was me
the torn sails that resembled some flag
the ropes holding on to it now in tatters.

Fresh water was as scarce to get now
like water in the expanse of a desert
my heart came close to my mouth
whenever the boat somersaulted.

No life was in sight anywhere near
save a lone white bird in the distance
was that a friendly albatross circling
checking upon me and giving me hope?

I look up on my rations, my  treasures
how valued  more than pieces of gold
no sight of land or rocks or any ships
how long Lord will I endure this state?

My plight echoed by the crying bird
it kept me company circling for long
my eyes riveted on that hovering giant
how long I know not as I rested below.

Left to my tidbits of biscuit and water
I was to wait till good providence came
patience now a virtue, as was meditation
was I glad to see a ship coming this way?

As  they finally hauled my good self up
a bird that had kept up with a lost sailor
had now vanished in the misty evening
wonder who it was, that gave me hope?

The Lost Garden

It was an October evening and there on the playground made green by the lush grass and the receding rains were butterflies hopping from one shrub to another on the lookout for that elusive flower that could provide some nectar.

A group of children were huddled together making huts of mud and sticks where the sticks came from twigs, discarded ice cream sticks and dried branches. In that group were budding potters, architects, masons and designers. They surveyed their creation and now made walls of clay. They planted some twigs that now looked as trees in the tiny courtyard. In that group was a boy who was telling stories of long lost kings and warriors to eager ears as the huts were being built.

The sun which was shining so bright on glazed leaves when they had started off was now beating a hasty retreat behind the large block of buildings in which they lived. A miniature well was getting dug and some kid brought water from the nearby tank and poured it into it only to see it disappear. The next generous lot of water persisted in the freshly dug well to make things look complete. They surveyed their creation and sat for some time as the storyteller among them was fast finishing his story partly because it was getting dark and also it was getting difficult to feed his imagination that was now running wild as the script.

There was some sand that had been dumped for construction by a shop long back and this was used by another group of kids who were designing roads and tunnels across and over it.

A puddle of water made by the overflowing tank in the morning had some kids busy digging canals and launching paper boats. This all looked funny to elders and adults surveying the group below from floors above but nevertheless it meant so much to the children who always descended on this play field and got creative every day to make most of the strip of land to feed their imagination.

With the disappearance of such strips of land in metro cities, imagination that was once put to constructive use in such a lost garden, was now restricted to new games that came up for the new generation…

Wonderful foggy night scene at a playground, BBD Bagh, Kolkata, India
Brett Cole Photography

 

Orpheus and Eurydice

I do not know how many of you have read this lovely story of Orpheus and Eurydice that ends in tragedy. I am repeating this story for the benefit of my readers as this mythological incident teaches us something important.

If anyone who reads the story wonders what we learn or why Orpheus failed to regain Eurydice in his memorably journey to Hades or the so called netherworld, it will come back to two simple words.

It teaches us how important it is to use faith and patience as our two legs in our journeys, and if you use them well, you will reach your intended destination with the person whom you set out with…

Source: www.greeka.com

Orpheus is known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. It is said that god Apollo was his father, from whom he took his extreme talent in music, and the Muse Calliope was his mother. He was living in Thrace, on the northeastern part of Greece. Orpheus had a divinely gifted voice that could charm everyone who heard it. When he was presented first the lyre, as a boy, he had it mastered in no time at all.

The myth says that no god or mortal could resist his music and even the rocks and trees would move themselves to be near him.

Humans and beasts alike would be enchanted by it and often even the most inanimate of objects would yearn to be near him. Well into his youth he had mastered the lyre and his melodious voice garnered him audiences from near and afar.

It was at one such gathering of humans and beasts that his eyes fell on a wood nymph. The girl was called Eurydice,who was beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamored by his voice and such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two young people and soon they fell dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment apart. After a while, they decided to get married.

There was one man who was despising Orpheus and desired Eurydice for his own. Aristaeus, a shepherd, had plotted a plan to conquer the beautiful nymph. And there he was, waiting in the bushes for the young couple to pass by. Seeing that the lovers were approaching, he intended to jump on them and kill Orpheus. As the shepherd made his move, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and started running pell-mell through the forest. The chase was long and Aristaeus showed no signs of giving up or slowing down. On and on they ran and suddenly, Orpheus felt Eurydice stumble and fall, her hand slipping from his grasp. Unable to comprehend what had just happened, he rushed to her side but stopped short in dismay, for his eyes perceived the deathly pallor that suffused her cheeks. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shepherd for Aristaeus had witnessed the event and had left. Few steps away, Eurydice had stepped on a nest of snakes and had been bitten by a deadly viper. Knowing that there was no chance of survival, Aristaeus had abandoned his try, cursing his luck and Orpheus.

After the death of his beloved wife, Orpheus was no more the same carefree person he used to be. His life without Eurydice seemed endless and could do nothing more than grief for her. This is when he had a great but yet crazy idea: he decided to go to  the underworld and try to get his wife back. Apollo, his father, would talk to Hades, the god of the underworld, to accept him and hear his plea. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and his voice, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded entry into the underworld. None challenged him. Standing in front of the rulers of the dead, Orpheus said why he was there, in a voice both mellifluous and disquieting. He played his lyre and sang out to King Hades and Queen Persephone pleading that Eurydice was returned to him. Not even the most stone-hearted of people or Gods could have neglected the hurt in his voice. Hades openly wept, Persephone’s heart melted and even Cerberus, the gigantic three-headed hound guarding the entry to the underworld, covered his many ears with his paws and howled in despair. 

The voice of Orpheus was so moving that Hades promised to this desperate man that Eurydice would follow him to the Upper World, the world of the living. However, he warned Orpheus that for no reason must he look back while his wife was still in the dark, for that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. With great faith in his heart and joy in his song, Orpheus began his journey out of the underworld, joyful that he would once again be reunited with his love.

As Orpheus was reaching the end of the Underworld, he could hear the footfalls of his wife approaching him. He wanted to turn around and hug her immediately but managed to control his feelings. As he was approaching the exit, his heart was beating faster and faster. The moment he stepped on the world of the living and was in the light, he turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld. When Orpheus turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the Sun and, as Hades had warned Orpheus, his sweet wife was drawn back to the dark world of the dead…. In conclusion, when one runs out of patience, he loses faith and vice versa…

 

Sun Stories

Ganga had come late to school today also. The teacher chided her for being late every now and then. She was late most of the days in a month, let alone some days when she was absent. The only municipal school that stood at the periphery of  the village had an assortment of pupils drawn from various walks of life from the village residents.

Little did the teacher know that Ganga’s day started at 4 in the morning. She had to supply milk from Lalchand Seth’s diary to around 25 households which used to get over by 5:30 and go to Ratan Seth’s house to wash and clean the dishes.
Today the teacher had had enough and decided to give the punishment to the little girl. As she stretched out our hands for the cane to land, the teacher’s eyes fell upon the marks on the hands. It was full of cuts and bruises. When asked what had happened, Ganga preferred to remain silent. She escaped the beating this time, but will have to sit outside the class for 2 hours as punishment. As she sat outside, her eyes fell on the chirping sparrows playing in the sand and the parrots flying to some far off land. If only, I was one among them, she wondered as she shielded her eyes from the hot Sun making his presence felt.

Bala is standing beside the road with an assortment of guavas and oranges. Like his elder brother Shiva he is also a bread winner for his family, berefit of their father, and with 2 more siblings and an ailing mother to support. Both of them are out all the time selling wares. In the case of Shiva he has a make shift stall outside the main market that he uses to sell bangles, beaded chains and all  such items.

Bala used to buy 5 kilos of guavas and oranges and walk another 2 kilometers to a vantage scenic spot on the highway so that he could sell them to people or tourists frequenting the place. There were lucky days, when before reaching the spot, his goods would have been sold on the road itself. Bala had gone to school till his 4th standard and after that what ever knowledge he had gained in the last 5 years was  from these very tourists; He had picked up a bit of few languages at least that came handy in negotiating during the purchase or the haggling saga. There were days when very few people picked his wares or gave him a decent money in return for them. Today was a hot summer day and there were not many  people who even cared to look at him, let alone his fruit basket.

Rakesh was enjoying his vacation as his summer holidays had started a few days back. He along with his family is on the way to Nasik and planned to visit places that they had skipped in their visit last year. On the way, they saw some tourists have disembarked from the magnificent vehicles to see an attractive waterfall.

They also stop to get down to take pictures, selfies with all backgrounds possible. At this time, a boy of 12 approaches them. “Saab, madam,   Peru, Santra lo na; yeh bahut sast hai, saab ” in a pleading voice (translation: Sir..please buy these fruits Peru(Guava) Santra(orange), these are very cheap). Rakesh looks at the boy aged same as him, he appears shabby and sun burnt. The boy is watching him with awe and wants him to negotiate the sale with his parents. No no, the father says, we have enough food and fruits stocked in our car, no point in buying from this boy, don’t even know from where he has plucked all these.

The large guavas, for Rakesh, seemed inviting as also the boy’s eyes but his pleas fell on deaf ears and he had to get into his car that was raring to go with his parents. But before getting in, he waved back to the dark boy with his basket of fruits who was still looking at him with one hand shielding himself from the afternoon Sun.

While speeding through, in the cool comfort of his Innova car, that was now negotiating a hump, his eyes fell on a girl sitting outside a small school veranda near to the road. Pointing to her, he nudges his father.  Why is she sitting outside father? He curiously asked. “Maybe she hasn’t done her homework before coming to school ” was the quick reply..” Put the blinds on son for the sun is really hitting us even through the tinted glass”.

 

The Lost Poet

She wrote a poem while at school
many liked it and praised her well.

She wrote a few more but then no one
found time to read and appreciate them.

Why did her friends lose interest suddenly?
Why they failed to notice her creative head?

One day she took the sheaf of faded poems
discarding it  sadly along with her dreams.

She sold them to an old newspaper store
but divine providence had some other plans.

A publisher’s son saw the still lying papers
was overjoyed to read but could not trace her.

The publisher then had one published
every month in his  popular magazine

He, hoping,  kept the last line always blank
for his readers to fill it out and complete it.

A year passed by; He got a matching line
and another matching one on the next one.

It was time, he decided to invite the lost poet
and gave her share of the fame and appreciation

and made her creation known to the whole world
her past and her, would be delightful, future poems.

And no wonder, the Divine Creator was happy to see
the events as they happened just as He had planned

It was a great event with the blessings of all her fans
when our poet got married to the publisher’s son…

 

Note: Thanks to a fellow blogger through whom the Sun shines who put this seed of imagination in me with her recent post “Fill in the Blanks”…

https://sunnshhine.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/fill-in-the-blanks/

 

 

Lost forever

There never was and never will be
any one dear to me as you were
but it took long years to know it
now that you are no more with me
How will I reciprocate the feeling
that now criss crosses my mind
now that you are not there…

It took years for the love to mature
just as good old wine with sweetness
that fermented and lingered
How can I now raise a toast to you
to commend you on your support
etching those memoirs in my mind
now that you are not there…

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, where 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 Lost Dog

 

images
Pic Courtesy: Dogingtonpost.com

He appeared out of nowhere
looking for his lost loved ones
whimpering on his great loss
he looked at me only once at first.

He was lost in his own thoughts
would his master discover his missing
would he ever able to spot them again
will they come back for him or never.

It was then the poor dog  observed me
who was all the time trying to read him
the rain made things worse for him
a confused bundle of fur he appeared.

The road provided him no shelter
and running to and fro at first
It was then he observed me well covered
and  came near my large umbrella

When I offered a few biscuits, was he glad
as he looked at me with benevolent eyes
to gulp it down and rush back to the road
to be on the lookout for his lost master…