Monday, December 26, 2011

The Laughter of Jesus

Here is an interesting piece of thought from Osho (the late Rajaneesh).To be offended by this loud thinking is unnecessary, but to introspect conventions as fed to us will be interesting and a revelation.  

Christ's message IS rejoice and be merry. But that is not the message of Christianity. Christianity's message is: be sad, long faces, look miserable; the more miserable you look, the more saintly you are. Sometimes I really feel for poor Jesus. He has fallen in such wrong company, and I wonder how he is managing in paradise with all these Christian saints, so sad, so dull.
He was not a dull man, he was not a sad man -- he could not be. The word 'Christ' is exactly synonymous with Buddha. He was an enlightened person. He rejoiced in life, in the small things of life. He rejoiced in eating, drinking, friendship. He loved companionship, he loved the whole life.

But Christians down the ages have painted him as very sad. They have painted him always on the cross, as if for thirty-three years he was always on the cross. And my own understanding is that a man like Jesus will not die sad, even on the cross. He must have laughed before he died( if he ever did).
That's what Al-Hillaj Mansoor the Sufi mystic and poet did before he was executed in public by the fanatic Mohammedans, because he had declared: ANA'L HAQ -- "I am the Truth".  Mohammedans could not tolerate it, just as Jews could not tolerate Jesus. They killed him – tortured and chopped of his organs one after the other- but before they killed him, he looked at the sky and laughed loudly.

And that's exactly what Jesus must have done, laughed. But Christians have tried their best to depict Jesus as sad. They have made a saint out of a real authentic human being; they have cut everything. The gospels are not true stories; much has been changed, much has been reduced, much has been added. They have become mere fictions. Emperor Constantine decreed what must be the Gospel . A happy Christ is a misfit for Christians and Christianity.

Down the ages, Christians have been trying to paint Christ as  sadder. Why? -- Because all over the world religion has been dominated by a neurotic kind of people. It has been dominated by the people who are masochists, sadists. In the East too, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism -- they have all been dominated by the masochistic people, the people who enjoy torturing themselves, the people who are incapable of living life in its totality. The people who are too cowardly to live, escapists, have dominated religion up to now. These escapists have depicted Buddha as not laughing, Mahavira as not laughing.

And Christians actually say that Jesus never laughed in his life. Can you believe that? Jesus never laughed in life? He enjoyed all kinds of people, and he never laughed? Can you imagine that a man like Jesus, who was always feasting for hours with his friends, never laughed? It is inconceivable! How can you go on wining and dining without laughing? He must have joked, he must have told funny stories. They have been edited out. He was a very true man, and very courageous. He accepted Mary Magdalene as his disciple. It needs courage, it needs guts. I cannot believe that he never laughed.

We are made to cry – as soon as we are detached from the womb. Up to now doctors have been very Christian. The first thing they do is they hang the child upside down and hit him on the buttocks. Do you expect a child to laugh? This is a great welcome to the world, putting the child upside down, giving him a hit -- a good beginning, because his whole life he is going to get hit in the pants, again and again. And hanging upside down, how can he laugh? No wonder he cries!

Now there are a few doctors working in a different direction. They bring the child in a more natural way out of the mother's womb; they don't cut the umbilical cord immediately because that creates crying, that is violence. They leave the child on the mother's belly with the umbilical cord intact. They give a good bath to the child, a hot bath, they put the child into a hot tub of exactly the same temperature as it was in the mother's womb.

In the mother's womb the child is floating in water. The water has the same contents as sea water, salty. In the same salty chemical solution, of the same temperature, the child is put in the tub. He starts smiling. It is a real beautiful reception. And not with glaring tube lights... that hurts the eyes of the child. In fact, so many people are wearing glasses only because of the foolishness of the doctors. The child has lived for nine months in the mother's womb in darkness, utter darkness. Then suddenly so much light... it hurts his delicate eyes. You have destroyed something delicate in his eyes. The child should be received in a very dim light, and the light should be increased slowly, so his eyes become accustomed to the light. Naturally the child smiles at the beautiful welcome.

I can't believe Jesus not laughing at all. He lived thirty-three years and did not laugh? -- That can only be possible if he was absolutely perverted, absolutely pathological, and ill. Something must have been wrong if he didn't laugh. But nothing is wrong with him; something is wrong with the followers. They depict their saints, their messiahs, their Prophets, as very serious, somber, sad, just to show that they are above the world, that they are beyond, that they are not worldly people. Laughter seems shallow, seems unspiritual.

Although the message of Christmas is rejoice and be merry, still there is sadness, because the whole of Christianity teaches you to be sad. It is not a life-affirming religion, it is life-negative. It is much more life-negative than Hinduism, much more life-negative than Judaism. It has no sense of humor at all. And a religion without a sense of humor is ill, pathological. It needs psychological treatment.

Peter, standing in the crowd, looked up at Jesus on the cross. As he watched, he distinctly saw Jesus motioning him forward.
"Pssst, hey Peter, come here," said the Lord.
As Peter moved forward, two Roman guards blocked his way and beat him till he fell to the ground.
A few moments later, Peter, bruised and bleeding, looked up and saw Jesus again motioning him forward.
"Pssst, hey Peter, come here!"
Looking around, Peter noticed that the crowd was gone and so were the Roman soldiers. He moved closer to Jesus, "Yes, Lord, what is it? What is it you want?"
"Hey Peter," said Jesus. "Guess what? I can see your house from here!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

St. Antony- A Story

It was late January and a holiday. The tropical weather was mild and comfortable at that time of the year. And besides, being little over couple decades and more ago, the severity of climes have not begun to be felt then. The sea breeze that came from the west when blowing in over the inland lake and caressing the bamboo shrubs in the perimeter of the church, ensured to bring along heavenly spell and mirth. Or was it the sheer presence she lend or the gaiety that accompany a wedding- the wedding of a close friend?

It must have been early dawn, well before sunrise and I was woken up to the clutter and chatter, the excited shrieks and exhilarated talking, shouts that results when dear and near ones meet. She had arrived by the early morning train that must have laboured in some time before then. Not being quite congenial and comfortable with young strangers of the fairer sex, I chose to stay a little longer than usual in my bed And when I came out of my room it was with some pleasance filled  excitement and curiosity and caution. Something told me that I must not betray clownish discomfiture that can envelope me when unfamiliar young woman are near. A woman who I have only seen in photographs and not seen or personally acquainted before!

I saw her lazing down the stairs and I guess the first smile, nod of the head and the “hello” was not too bad. It was apparent that photographs captured in a camera are sometimes a faint image of what the subject actually is and can be grossly unjust too. Something inside pumped the excitement and heightened the heartbeat. Strange, I thought. All through during the couple of days she stayed at the apartment ,whenever I could  grab and create an opportunity to be near her and engage in some conversation, I ensured the chance never went begging. I wonder if others noticed the sudden oddity.

Something always kept telling me, there was a mutual attraction, but more latent in her!

She came back a few months after. There was no communication between us in that short interregnum. However the second meeting was a friendlier and alleviating affair. She had come for the wedding that afternoon of my close mate. Though social prescripts did not require her presence at the wedding, I was thrilled that she was there in any case. Perhaps she was gracious to accept the invite and be there as the representative of her parents’ .Perhaps, looking back destiny enticed her!

After the wedding we all moved to the adjacent banquet hall for the grand feast that the bride’s father had richly organised. I and a few friends amongst us proceeded out after the sumptuous feast and the brief revelry involving indulgent drinking of wine. We took off towards the pier to take the boat ride across the lake to the island. She was the last one to hop on to the boat and I offered her my hand to hold on while jumping on to the rocking watercraft. Which she unhesitatingly accepted!

We had a refreshing couple of hours on the island. The optical illusion in the west caressing the ocean- of the sun set and the magical shadows the illusion provided on the lush green foliage and trees that fondled the island and also the sparkling waters of the vast lake that straddled the piece of land we stood- all,   was wonderful for the occasion. There were three women in the group besides her. It was exciting. All the more for the two of us, which we knew and we alone knew in our hearts, unbeknownst to each other and the rest. Modesty demanded that I must be cautious not to reveal any sort of excessive care for her comfort or needs.  Lest her brothers would notice .Quite timid I felt of myself, but could not go any farther than being so.

It was dark when we returned to the boat that would ferry us back to the mainland. The journey back to the apartment had to be sorted out as some of us had taken a taxi to the wedding and now all had to reckon with the few motorbikes we had. I was the loner on my bike and wished   I could suggest that she could travel pillion with me. But timidity stamped out the grit to say so. As luck could have it or destiny having its say, one of her brothers suggested that she travel pillion with me. And he reminded me to take care of her while on the road. She accepted the suggestion without hesitation. It was perhaps a relief for her too if she were wishing so. I chastised myself for thinking for her. Stupid Cupid! But she travelled the distance back with me.

I rode the bike with great caution and sensed her timidly holding on to my shirt, while I maneuvered through the traffic. On the way back she suggested that we stop at the church of the Saint Antony .She enquired if I had any difficulty in doing so. I answered absolutely in the negative. I smelt that doing so would fetch me more time with her on the road. We went in to the shrine. The shrine of the Saint was a popular destination for the faithful who believed that their supplications and petitions will get favourably disposed by the benevolent Saint. One’s wish is sure to be granted! I wondered what wish and favour she might have had in askance submit to the holy saint. She bought candles and flowers from the vendor outside and I joined her in patiently lighting them at the altar. It was indeed a good feeling to be in the shrine with her .I wished that time stood still.

When we began our ride back I was disturbed and annoyed that the distance to the apartment appeared shortened. I frantically thought of  ways to stretch the distance and time, so that it could be a long never ending ride with her.

Did the Saint see my thinking?

Monday, November 28, 2011

There is no Snow on Kilimanjaro

The hills were verdant. But it seemed to her barren and desolate. The dark green canopies of the trees and the tall elephant grass rocked in the wind. To her they seemed to be expressing violent disapproval. The wind wailed and came incessantly brushing the tall grass, bending it as if by coercion, but something the shrubs seemed to relish before it went back to its former state. The wind then hit the hillock where she lain with a howl. She felt them like the calls of the hyena. "You raunchy slut go away, you charlatan keep out”. They seemed to howl their cat calls in chorus. The symphony that Nature played did not touch her faculties.

Is it or is it not the state of the mind? She again began to hear the words reverberating from far away-the words that were spewed at her. And now the wild has taken up the call, “Pariah, get away.” Nature too has a way to tell her annoyance with her for being there. Her being there – did that defile Nature too? The cold roaring wind was like profanity directed at her. It came from far over the hills, know not its genesis, know not where it goes and know not what it holds in its way in passionate kisses. But they seem to whip her, lash her lacerated torso, piercing through the torn fabric of her dress. Even the wind, the grass, the trees, the hills, all has begun to express discomfort, disdain and repugnance for her. Is it or is it not the state of mind? The mind refuses to see the dance of the ballerina, the tango on the green hills.

She knew she have not much far to go. Her broken limbs were twisted and swollen. She bit back the pain, though not more excruciating than those words that come after her, haunting her ears like the sound of the cymbal. She laid her head on the rock and lay still, looking far above up into the blue sky. She could see no angels, no fairies but void, not even floating fleeting clouds, just void. And the words kept resonating, “You ........raunchy slut go away.”

The life lived was not! She deluded to live in the tower that she crafted, the tower which she in her supercilious and imperious living did not see was a tower in a dune of sand. The frenzied aspiration to reach the skies could only built the tower of Babel. She saw the days come back in a time machine. She had deign much, but the illusion of trappings and wealth did not tell her the condescend living that it was. In these moments when the retinue that flocked to her beck chose to foresake and this miserable solitude in the hills impelled by remorse, guilt, infamy and now having purposefully wandered afar into the wild, lost her way, she knew she will eventually surrender to the lonesome cold moments before life would gradually ebb away from her. Her clothes were torn and in tatter. She now has been wandering for almost a week, aimless and in trance. The leeches in the rain fed mangroves downhill have preyed amply on her. The sores were bleeding. She understood that she cannot any more delude the world let alone herself that they were stigmata.  Hunger and starvation was throwing her into intermittent delirium. Brief moments when she slid into hallucination brought to her apparitions of many faces whom she had hurt, had trampled with her wicked mechanisations and crafty innuendo, the ones she shut out selfishly.  She will gradually yield to hunger, the cold, the insects and the predators who feast at night. She knew she may not see the light of another sunrise. Her time of reckoning was fast nearing. She longed for darkness, for light was dangerously fearsome.

She feared going back to civilisation. Was it the fear of repeated denials- all those who once stood at her beck? When did she lose her way? She lost her way early in adulthood, to avarice, glamour and wealth. Then the lost ways became the path to often tread. The hubris of youth, the lust for wealth, the malicious pleasures that infested and intoxicated her veins, when she used and jettisoned people -men and women, she lost her way! When she decided that there was value for nothing, but price for everything, she had lost her way! She lived and thrived in false hood, trickery and emotional black mail.

She quivered and trembled seething with anger and it was aided manifold by the physical impuissance and weakness she felt. She remembered that old woman cover unable to look her in the eyes and turn her wrinkled weather beaten face away when she chose to feign having not heard others disown her. The very same hag, who did nothing but encourage, when her own flesh and blood walked astray! In fact she prodded her, urged her, and exulted in her perverse ways. For pounds of riches would silence all tongues.  It was frailty at its loathsome worst.

She now recalled the old fable of the felon who was sentenced to be hanged till death .When asked what his final wish was, he pleaded to transpire a personal longing to his mother. And went forward as if to tell her something in quite to her ear and locked his teeth on it like a vice to wrench the organ out of the woman. He wildly then exclaimed to the wailing old woman- his mother ,blood dripping from his lips  and holding the  blood drenched pried out ear, “It was this very ear that  you lend as deaf to all those little infractions  I did as a child .And it was this very ear that feigned to the many greater sins I did. The very ear that encouraged me by pretending being deaf! And now bring me to the gallows. It is not worthy to be on you no more.”

She sobbed and cried. She lay there crying until tears up to the last drop let out and dried .Flies were insistently feasting on the sores that lay open .She saw the predator bird circling above. It had sensed that the time was up for the feast. “The crunchy feast on the invalid raunchy”!

She rolled her eyes towards the tall peak a little to her left. She longed to be there on top. Then she saw that it was this fiery longing for being “there” that made her tread the path that she should not have. She saw that she was not invincible, but a mere mortal in the intrigues Nature has. It began to bury in her, though she all these years believed, liked and exalted in desiring , in believing that she was essential. She deluded! Like Marie Antoinette entrapped in the comfortable cocoon of pomp, lust and wealth, she failed to see the harbinger.

It dawned on her that there was no snow on Kilimanjaro. She closed her eyes and slowly sensed her going down the yawning abyss to be free of all that she ever had, ever relished and all that finally vowed her away. The final image that stayed in her before the last iota of consciousness slipped away was the scavenger bird circling above in patience.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

 Some time ago, I bought a book on Winston Churchill. Though no admirer of him, it was a volume of his collected speech. Known for his eloquence, oratory skills and phrasing of communication with eternal words, I presumed that the book will be an interesting read. It was a disillusionment of sorts like the disappointment Winston Churchill must have felt after losing the elections in Britain after winning the Great War!

The speeches that were included in the edition were more concerning the domestic policies of his Government in Great Britain and his comments on the inland matters of that country. Though there were glimpses of his eloquence and rhetorician arrogance on World affairs, men, colonies and most of all reason why he must be detested for many of his opinions!

Here are samples  of few that may be read and concluded the way you may want to.

1-      1-The short crisp sentence that shot into international fame and immortality

“I have nothing to offer but blood toil and sweat.” (In the House of Commons, 1940 when Great Britain was crudely thrown into the World War II).

2-   2-   “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”(In the House of   Commons 1940. referring to the pilots who fought  the Battle of Britain).

3-    3-  Now here is something that the purist of Indian Jingoist would frown at.

“It is ...alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organising and contradicting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King Emperor.”

4-     4-  “You have enemies.Good. That means you stood up for something sometime in your life.”

5-      5-The Churchillian hubris at its detestable best.

 “Before we proceed let us get one thing clear. Are we talking about the brown Indians in        
 India who have alarmingly multiplied under the benevolent British rule? Or are we speaking about   the Red       Indians in America who, I understand, are almost extinct?”

6-     6- Here is the one that proved his insensitivity and macabre philosophy. Stiff upper lip or otherwise Britons were wise to show him the door after the War.

“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the Black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the very fact that a stronger race, a higher- grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” (Churchill to the Palestine Royal Commission in 1937).

7-Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit as member in the Commons, 

“Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison”. Churchill, “If you were my wife I will take   it.”

8-Now here is one that if Mr Churchill were alive now and uttered would have seen him     enshroud with Salman Rushdie fearing the fatwa from the vile looking Mullahs.

“ ......the fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.”

9- Here is a blister that should keep all India thinking.

“India is a Geographical term. It is no more a United Nation than the equator.”

10- And the perseverance and courage in him is amplified in these words he spoke,

 "Never, never, never give up.

Summing up , perhaps I have to wonder,is it not true that all men are sculpted from contradictions?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Ides of March

                                            Morte de Caesar

" Julius Caesar in derision,"The Ides of March Have come ". The Soothsayer," Aye Caesar, but they have not gone".

Those who extend much credence to the influence celestial configurations exercise on earthlings, wish off ill lucks, good tidings, ill tempered acts and omissions as matters that are not under the realm of ordinary mortals. While the heavens wreck havoc and shower largesse on us they are determined by forces abe initio not within our control. We are just marionettes, mere puppets dancing to the whims of the Puppeteer.
Destiny is written or foretold for each of us, it is said. That happens sometime during the exit from the mother’s womb, it is claimed. The heavens, widely acknowledged as the stars or the planets in the solar system, including the centre piece the sun, aligns in some predestined or ordained way that they directly influence the child that is born. His or her destiny, pallor of the skin, character, and life, all are influenced thereon by the life less planets that were  held also as beacon at night to men of the sea in the past. The trials, tribulations and triumphs in life are chartered by the alignment of the planets. Henceforth each course of events  in the life of the new born  is called fate.

Fascinating raison d'être from the oriental thoughts! Take it or leave it.

Dhuryodahana the villain of the piece in the epic Mahabharata, was obstinately impervious to reason, advice and sane suggestions by the elders and even from the mystical sorcerer Krishna. He was truculent, wanted war and nothing else. The aftermath is well documented in the epic. It is said that Dhuroydhana would never have seen reason because he was consumed by hate and lust for power. These attributes were instilled in him and latched like limpets because the constellation of his birth star was such. That he will have to fall! And hence he could not be redressed by reason and wise discourse. A wise head on those massive shoulders ought to have helped the man see reason and the safety net of a via media and détente. He and his retinue of brothers could have kept the chunk of the kingdom. But that was not to be, he invited wrath and chartered his and the elimination of his clan.

Don’t we see many a similar fate invited with ticker tape parade by many men in high places, Kings, Presidents, despots, and dictators of varied hues?  Manifestation of celestial alignments or otherwise, Man has often displayed bêtise and to great repercussions.

An astute strategist Adolf Hitler refracted on his pact of non aggression with Russia and attacked her. His army went deep into the Russian country and eventually was decimated by the harsh reality of Russian winter and her fire power. The collateral damage was the combined assault of the allies from the south and the west. The rest is history.

In the 1970s Sergeant Samuel Doe led a military coup in Liberia. It is said that on his way to power he killed the then President by disembowelling him while asleep. As it usually happens to despots he was impervious to reason and finally nemesis caught up when he was arrested after a coup d’état by his former accomplice. One can watch on “you tube” the execution of Samuel Doe. He was mutilated and killed. Alignment of the stars at his birth?

In contrast Iddi Amin one of the most infamous and notorious of African despots , who was quoted saying that human flesh was like Sushi and delicious. He was in fact a modern day cannibal. But when it mattered most he chose the wise way of vanishing to the sanctuary of the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he lived a comfortable life well into his eighties.

And well in recent memory the despot of Babylon, Saddam Hussein was impervious to reason and sanity, that he chose the path that ensured his destruction. A haven and sanctuary for him with his booty was not a distant possibility, if he had agreed to relinquish his despotic hold on the country. But that was not to be. He was blind to reality of the American fire power and that decimated him and his cronies whole sale.

The harsh sandy desert soil may not have set in his grave, and it looked that Muhammad Ghadaffi was obstinately insistent that he must end violently, and seemed he craved for it. And he did meet the horrendous fate. There was ample opportunity for him and his clan to relinquish power and vanish into oblivion in some tax havens. But again, was it some strange combination of lack of reason, he went the oft trodden path of deluding in his invincibility?

It is said that the ides of his stars could not be resisted, that the demon king Ravana kidnapped the princes Sita. He was reticent to his brother’s pleadings to send back the kidnapped damsel and befriend the warrior prince Rama. The “Ides of March” had to be bewared of. But not, he did!

Is it a desideratum that Man must blame the stars for the ills that befall him? Beware of the Ides of March!

Friday, November 18, 2011

To Sir, With Love

My first teacher in my living memory was a woman who lived near my house. She was, I guess, a tutor in a Government primary school. I remember she coming home daily for an hour to teach me and my sister. I must have been about five. Memory is sketchy to be specific. But she taught us the first lessons in language- Malayalam and simple Arithmetic. We then had the  slate, wrote with the  chalk  & slate pencil and used the ubiquitous (those days) “Mashi thandu”shrub to wipe and erase the slate clean.

The next person who taught me was again a woman.Saroja (Saroja teacher) was in her twenties and lived near our house. She was a Brahmin and we (me, and my sister) were treated to fabulous Tamil dishes- sweets, savouries, bajis, paniyarams etc when we went to her house for the classes. She taught at the same convent we studied.  She taught me through my first standard to the fourth. The wonderful thing was the eagerness to make the short walk to her house for the classes were I was initiated into the fantastic collection of comics of Phantom , Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Casper the friendly Ghost, Riche Rich and Mandrake the Magician. The comics were in a huge collection in that house. They were owned by her delinquent brother who apart from reading comics, having sumptuous food and blasting  hell a lot of crackers for Deepavali did nothing much. He was a drop out! She used to be annoyed when I used to devour the comics between classes . She exclaimed that language was not grammatically perfect in comics and may actually damage a child’s language. Her big sister was always around to soothe her and let me go on with those fascinating comics.

I think I can recall that it was from the third standard and parallel to the classes at Ms Saroja’s, I and my sister were also sent to  the  middle aged Ms E. Sawyer who lived opposite our house and across the street. She was Anglican by descend (not the Anglo Indian) and a spinster. She coached us English. Ms Sawyer had a parrot called Polly that spoke English words fairer than we did. Many years after, I visited Ms Sawyer who had moved away and lived in a different part of the town. But, now I notice that someone else live at the place she moved into. I ‘m sure she must be about one hundred if she is alive now. She was the quintessential English woman, mysteriously marooned back in the sub continent.

Mr Sankaranaryana Iyer was the headmaster of a local government high school. He was in his eighties when he began to come home alternate days to teach me and my sister. He was gifted in English, Mathematics and  array of subjects. The couple of hours he spent with us were enlivening. He   let us feel that we were  on a discovery and not in any way coerced to study. He was deftly uncanny in imparting knowledge and making us question him. I still remember him going about the Second World War, the war time Prime minister Mr Churchill, De'Gaul and so on in the midst of his class in the nonsense subject called “Algebra”. That made me forget the anguish of  studying Algebra. He spoke about varied subjects in the course of his classes. He was of the opinion that learning must be a fascination and not a bitter pill forced down the gullet. He taught me from the fifth standard to the eight. Years after, when I was out of college and employed, I went to see him a few times at his house. He was then in his late nineties, but alert, and recogonised me. The last time I met him was at his son’s house, he was quite frail and was quite unsure of who I was. He died a few days after.

The memorable moment of my life- a moment when we met after almost ten years is etched with ample goose bumps. Before that, I last saw him when I went to his small apartment in my old High school to seek his presence at my wedding. He was the chief warden and retired from active duty as a teacher. The School authorities, as a token gesture of gratitude and in there graciousness offered him the warden’s job after he retired and provided him a room next to the boarders block in the school  to live in. He was unmarried-a bachelor, and his only relative, his mother died some years ago. He was a revered figure; a man  of average height, had a thin steady frame and bald. The long white beard and ocher dhoti and kurta  gave him a mystical look. Perhaps everybody who became mattered or not in  Thiruvananthapuram society and who was educated at the Government Model High School Thiruvanathapuram have gone through his tutelage.

It was the morning of my cousin’s wedding which took place in Thpuram. The traditional reception that was accorded to the groom was on at the gates of the Mandapam. And I was accompanying my cousin brother in the short ceremonial procession into the Mandapam.  I noticed this old man of thin frame and flowing white beard and whiskers and simultaneously him, me. He shrieked as if it was a joyous war cry and came running to me with hands outstretched. ”Eda Anil..ey” (Dear Anil). He hugged me in one mammoth bear hug -vice like grip and I in reflex responded by lifting him up. We  literally felt tears flood in our eyes. It was indeed one of the greatest  pleasantness and fortune to be embraced by a teacher when meeting him after many years and time. He was the family friend of the bride. The whole crowd of men, women and children who were witness to the event, all, were dumbstruck  and for a while in trance, and did not know  that it was the unrestrained natural affection of a teacher for a former student and a lousy one at that. He was Mr. Narayana Kurup, or with the abbreviated name “Kurup Sir”. To “Sir with love!”
He passed away a few years aback and a peaceful death. He died while having food at a local restaurant.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Electrician

Someone, look alike of Oliver Twist peeping from outside the main gate of my office. He was seen standing outside with confused but eager look, and I noticed him through the day when ever I ventured out.
The next morning, the watchman came in to my cabin and enquired if he can permit a boy to come in and that he wants to have word with me. Also that he was persistent that he was hanging around the gate since yesterday and would never go.

I remembered the chap I noticed the day before. I asked the watchman to send him in. He came in rather timid watch full but unsure of his next step forward, rather furtively- whether he should make it or not. He was certainly a late teen version of Oliver Twist- the image that we have seen in the work of Dickens. He wore khaki trouser, but no footwear. His long sleeved shirt was dirty and slightly open at seams. His hair was dirt brown and looked altogether not cocooned in a healthy comfortable living.

He was from a village south of Tamilnad, beyond Madurai. He has been in the city for a few days now and his hunt for livelihood was fruitless. He indeed looked distraught and famished. I asked him what work he could do. He pulled out a multiple folded plastic cover from inside his trouser pocket and took out a certificate which was almost in tatters. It said that,”Subu Raj …. Is approved Electrician in grade…” And that he has passed the Electrical curriculum from ITI.

SubuRaj reported to duty at 8. And precisely, the next morning. He was in a different clean trouser and shirt, but crumpled. He was bare footed. I called him sometime in the day and told him that he will have to compulsorily wear leather footwear while he is on work. I remember giving him a little advance for immediate personal chores.

He married in a year’s time. And I understood he lived with his young wife in a rented dingy room near the factory. He proved to be a fantastic worker. He had this keen sense and uncanny ability to handle electrical works, installations, trouble shoot, and all with élan, perfection and neatness. There was no hanging wires not tended points and all the haphazard matters typical of electrical works we often see in many places. I never had a breakdown in the factory and office while he was around. He eagerly ran errands for other members of the staff and fixed their electrical works in their homes.

He did a perfect and professional work in the new factory premises we wanted to commission. Later C asked him if he could do the electrical plan for the 4 acre plot we bought and wanted to build a small house amidst a jungle of trees. He planned things so wonderfully that in no time we planted some four hundred trees on the land. He did a wonderful work in electrifying various points on the land, drip irrigating every sapling. There was a small shack that was built on a corner of the plot, where tools and electrical mains were installed. Suburaj was asked if he would to stay there in the night. He was at ease. We lived some five kilometers away.

One morning around 7’o clock, I and C was on the verandah sipping tea and scouring the daily. The phone rang inside, and C took the call. I went in hearing C give a howl. She turned to me holding the phone and said,”Suburaj is dead, he hung himself.”

I soon began getting calls from other guys in the office. Some were already at Suburaj’s dingy home. They told me that he went back to his room after the night shift around 3 am. He even had tea in the way side shop and chatted with the guys loitering there, smoked cigarettes. He told them he will be back by 8 after dawn. And at 5 in the morning his sister-in-law who lived next doors along with two of her brothers went past his room and seeing the door open she peeped in to see the poor fellow’s body hanging lifeless from the ceiling. No one could tell what transpired in Suburaj’s brain between that short while from the teas shop to his hanging.

I asked the guys to inform the police and ensure that all help is extended to his brothers –in law to transport the corpse to their village. I promised to be there as soon as the policemen took charge.

At 8 am I stopped by the office to speak to the crowd of workers who gathered in shock. I got a call then from one of the staff that Suburaj’s corpse has been taken by the brothers- in law in a Taxi to their village. And that they were in a hurry. The police wanted the sub-inspector to be present before they could visit the scene. I was shocked at the haste and the lack of legal formalities. No autopsy, no police records. It can bring me trouble as he was on my payroll. I called the police station to record my anguish and complaint at the total lack of legal formalities. I suddenly felt something odd and expressed it to the policeman who attended my call. He said,” Why must you worry? The chap is dead, killed or extinguished himself and found in his place. Nothing happened in your premises. Let us not bother much. You take care of your matters. We have a lot of work to do than run after a dead man.”

Suburaj was not cremated in his village but buried and the same evening. I was told his uncle wanted it so.
His uncle a middle aged man came to my office one day and spoke to me. He said that he tried in vain to get the local police to exhume the body for an autopsy. And that he was certain the Suburaj was killed and then hung. He was adamant that the foul play was perpetrated by the two brothers in law.

Later it transpired that Suburaj was having a liaison illicit and amorous with his young sister in law (wife’s sister) who lived next doors. And his wife was upset with the matter and she went back to her village. And that Suburaj used to take his sister- in-law to the shack on our land for his amorous extremities. The brothers in law were furious that they could not dissuade either of them and struck on the plan to put an end to the man himself. I sat listening to all the matters in dazed attention.

 And even when his wife and infant son came with her brothers to collect his pending salary money, and dues, I could only mechanically sit and listen to the eulogies his brothers in law reeled out about him. When they were departing, I commented,”Suburaj did not kill himself, he was murdered and then hung.”