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March 28, 2011

Movie With Venky - Part - 3 (Final)

The sight of dad holding a school-belt in hand fully assists me feel the ants in my pants and I usually almost pass out. Emotionally too, I feel the sorry sight is too demotivating for a kid of my age and of my emotional resilience.

The belt's buckle - which has my school’s name, logo and postal address embossed on it - acts as the hilt and provides awesome grip while dad wields it during the ritual. And it is the other end, with a metallic loop / clasp (henceforth referred to as the Loop-end) that usually makes intimate contacts with my skin and leaves discernible traces. Each independent trace resembles a sort of mini swelling as though a group of 12 mosquitoes had conspired to bite me simultaneously by sitting in a straight line.

Humor apart, after dad stopped moving towards me, he swang his arm out and I saw the loop-end of the belt wildly zooming in towards me. Incredlibly fast.

“AMMMAAAHHHHH!!”. I yelled my bladder out as the belt made its first contact.

During the assault, I scrunched down and twisted my body in reflex. Due to a mis-timed scrunch, I ended up receiving the blow on my back, precisely in the small area right between my shoulder blades - the spot we often consider an uphill struggle to reach out with fingers to scratch at a random mosquito bite.

Crying my lungs out, tears gushing over my cheeks, and ‘FEAR’ written all over my anatomy with a virtual highlighter, I gave a quick self-sympathetic glance at mom anticipating she would jostle my dad aside and run towards me to give me a motherly massage on my back.

She did not budge. Nor did she give a hoot about me. I lost heart.

She got on with her blank stare at me as though she was not fully satisfied with the proceedings yet. For once, her indifference coupled with dad’s hatred made me feel like an orphan - well, not a real orphan but sort of metaphoric you can say. I struggled to reach my back myself and somehow managed to rub the impact area with the middle finger. This eased the pain a little.

To induce sympathy in her mind, I played an innocent about-to-be-slaughtered lamb and looked at her with a pity-inducing frown. Even butter wouldn't melt. I sniffed twice, deep from the lungs. And this time she moved, but only to shift her weight from one leg to the other, and kept staring at me indifferently. Not a speck of motherly emotion could be noticed on her face. Then I wiped my nose against my shoulder to wipe off the watery fluid draining out through my nostrils. Right before I tried wiping my nose against the other shoulder, the watery fluid shaped itself into a small bubble at the nostril.

I burst it out by exhaling hard.

The pain on my back didn’t seem to alleviate completely and so I tried touching the impact area again. I felt a 2-inch bump out there. Before I could feel the bump and do further analysis of its shape and size, I saw the loop-end flying towards me, yet again.

“Ayyappa” I said to myself.

When the belt was half way through, flying towards me at a supersonic speed, I pushed my dad on left and gestured at mom not to try stopping me on right, and headed straight towards the door that opened into our backyard. Dad came running after me, with long strides, holding the tip of his lungie with one hand and the buckle of the belt with the other. Mom followed him with a brisk walk, as if she was already late for an important board meeting .

After reaching the backyard, a few feet away from the wall facing the door, I cut back and stood right there. Dad has just arrived and was huffing and puffing. He stood there stooping a little, with his hands on his knees, panting, trying to catch up on his breath. Mom arrived too and settled about three feet away from him and continued giving ill-disposed stares at me.

In the backyard, I was territorially locked up - by 6-feet walls on three sides and a 5-feet 7-inch man on my opposite side. The backyard had a tungsten bulb already switched on, thereby giving adequate visibility to all the participants.

At this juncture, I've got an important revelation to make. It’s regarding the strategic objective behind heading towards the backyard. Backyard is the only strategic spot from where my screams would be somewhat audible to my neighbour, Mr. Arunachalam - a 51-year old gentleman, whom my dad has immense respect for and always puts on pedestal. Dad looks upto him not only for his age, but also for his demeanor, kindliness and mentorship. Dad has utmost regards for him and wouldn’t say a “No” to him – no matter what. (Like my friend Venky who didn't say “No” to my movie plan, thereby helping me land in hot water)

Dad stopped panting. He was now standing at ease, while stylishly wielding the belt. This time the blow successfully landed on the side of my left thigh, slightly extending to a part of the butt. Relatively, it wasn’t as painful as the first one. Yet, I exggerated the scream which was clearly louder than the first one. This is just to make sure it was audible enough for my saviour living next door – Arunachalam uncle – so that he would come running into his backyard, stand on the water tank against the wall joining our backyards, and articulate my most anticipated line “Please stop it Chandrasekharan!! Please don’t hit the poor boy! Please stop it if you really care for my words”

However, I didn’t find any signs of uncle’s appearance yet. “Is he out for doing grocery?” I asked myself. And gave a couple of quick glances at the wall on the left side, highly hoping for his appearance for once atleast.

Dad kept moving closer to me. I kept wobbling back, rubbing my thighs to soothe the burning sensation. I was hardly three feet away from the wall behind me. I could clearly see an unabated wrath on dad’s face – his shoulders rised up while he breathed in rage and his chest hair peeked out from the ‘U’ of his white VIP banian. He delivered another blow with the belt. A back-hand stroke this time. An effective blow straight onto the side of my right thigh. I screamed again. Twice this time. To the fullest capacity of my larynx. And continued throwing my glances at the wall expecting Arunachalam uncle, while rigorously rubbing down my thigh’s side.

After a couple of seconds, while my dad was visually searching for another new location on my body to deliver the fourth blow, I noticed the neighbor’s tubelight in their backyard has just flickered on. It was the light of hope. Light of redemption. I then heard the creaking sound of their backyard door open. I kept looking at the wall, hopefully, and a moment later, I saw a human head, with salt-pepper hair, slowly rising up behind the wall. Like a rising sun above the horizon. I could literally feel fireworks exploding in the background. And drumming sounds and trumpet blows in my head. Sounds of celebration. Arunachalam uncle finally showed up. I got all my confidence back. Infact, more than what I actually lost a few minutes ago. I then gave a heroic look at dad.

Uncle appeared cheerful and was wearing his bifocal glasses. Finally, he delivered the anticipated line. An obliged dad, immediately unfurled his lungie as a mark of respect, and showed his teeth sheepishly. I felt, the now unfurled and gently flying lungie was symbolic of a flag signifying my victory.

“But Arunachalam garu, you don’t know what he has done” my dad told him with a gentle voice and innocent expression, as if it was me who had been assaulting him with the belt during the past few minutes.

“NO" uncle said, sort of a military discipline showing up on his face. "No. Whatever he may have done. Please throw away that belt” he ordered.

Dad nodded his head looking at uncle. Denoting acknowledgement.

Face beaming utmost sincerety, dad handed over the belt to mom. Like a retired gladiator handing over his sword to his legal descendant. He turned towards me, and with a scornful look nodded me to go inside. I nodded back and went inside.

Mom and dad headed towards the wall to speak to him. I overheard a couple of laughs and giggles from uncle and parents. I guess they were not talking about me.

February 11, 2011

Movie With Venky - Part 2

Having heard my foot steps, he cocked his head looking at me. Mom was sitting on the floor with her legs stretched out, leaning against the wall, reading her favorite magazine Vanita (pronounced "Vanidha"). She looked at me over the magazine’s top. I could only see her eyes and forehead and the rest of her face was covered by the magazine. The magazine cover had a full-shot of a beautiful lady showing off her new saree.

“Where were you for so long?” she asked me, her tone implying a lack of respect, as if she already knew where I was coming from.

“Nowhere” I shrugged “I was just playing cricket near Fayaz’s place” I said, affecting composure.

Dad kept staring at me, suspiciously.

“Look at that face in the mirror" he said. Disgust, of the highest order, loomed on his face. "Go wash up, useless fellow!” he yelled.

'Out of danger zone', I said to myself, and released a long sigh of relief. Like my grandpa’s voluntary fart.

He resumed his focus back into the TV. And mom now hiding her whole face behind Vanita. Their looks and reactions would have been totally different if they had really known where I was coming from. I can smell their emotions, in fact.

I was washing up in the bathroom when I heard the door bell ringing. The door was opened and I overhead indistinct adult voices - male and female - talking to my parents in telugu. I couldn’t make out who they actually were, but sounded sort of familiar. After a few mins, their conversation came to a halt and I heard the door shut.

I was wiping off my face with a towel standing in front of the mirror. When I was through wiping my face, I saw my dad in the mirror, standing a few feet behind me. His sudden appearance scared me a bit and I was somewhat confused. I curiously stared back at him in the mirror to make sure I was not hallucinating.

“Where did you go, you said?” He asked me with a frown, repressing an unknown emotion within.
"Venky’s parents told us everything----” an unauthorized female voice broke in.

“Shhhh” he gestured at her to keep quiet.

A stroke of reality passed through my body, making a final stop in my head. That’s when I realized Venky can give me things even without asking. I turned around and looked at dad and mom alternately, like Wimbledon.

It took me a few moments to absorb all these.

“No No. I really went to Fayaz’s house” I muttered nervously “For playing cricket”, and in reflex sweeping my left hand, simulating a straight drive.

He looked clearly restless, his face turned red . He gave a glance at mom and nodded at her. If empirical knowledge is to be trusted, I knew what he had actually ordered for. Before she gets it for him, I thought, I should reveal the truth. Delay means disaster.

“Hum aapke hain kaun” I told him, in the humblest possible voice.

“What what what ?” he twitched his eyebrows and walked towards me like a wrestler, all set to do the honours.

I stepped back, raising my hands, indirectly gesturing him to stop moving towards me. 

No more space was left for me to step back further as I was already obstructed by the dressing table behind, which was against the wall. I contemplated climbing on it.  He however stopped moving further after making sure he maintained a strategic distance between us. Then, he slowly stretched out his right hand holding it in the air, his palm facing the sky. Instantly, a white school-belt dropped from nowhere.

After placing it in his palm, mom gave me a scornful look that reminded me of her afternoon’s double-cot bedsheet pounding, symbolic of the upcoming assault.

“WHY did you go?”  he asked me. The question of the day.

I knew this is a kind of question which, no matter how well I answered, would have one definite outcome.

I wanted to to fall down and pretend fainted. But having sensed the magnitude of his determination, I was sure he would carry on with the 'symphony' even if I am dead.
For once, I wanted to commit suicide by voluntarily holding my breath.
(To be continued...)

Movie With Venky

Dad was the only person I feared.

It was a half-day at school. On my way back home, I saw my best friend Venky playing with a stray puppy in front of his house. Venky was of my age, dark, infact darker than me, and was really good at heart. He never said a "No" to me whenever I asked him anything. That’s one of the reasons I always ask him something or the other. Venky lives right across the street, few meters away from our house. When he saw me coming toward him, he stood up holding the puppy in his hands and started grinning widely at me. I reciprocated with an even wider grin. It’s a pleasant feeling looking at the face of a person who has a good heart. It’s a strange feeling of warmth, which, only poets can describe.

Venky and I chatted for a while standing in front of his house before I suggested him an interesting afternoon plan. He agreed, as usual. I rushed home and threw my bag and waterbottle away. Mom was too busy in the backyard pounding a wet double-cot bedsheet hard against the granite rock. We lived in an independent railway quarters which had a decent 400-sqft backyard. A six-feet wall separated our backyard from the neighbour’s. Our neighbour Mr Arunachalam, was about 51 years old, and lived with his wife and grown-up children. Our quarters were quite identical.

I went upto my mom and stood a few feet away from her, holding my school tie in hand and playfully swinging it in the air, in circles. I showed up before her and tried to grab her attention only to let her know that I was back from school already. She paused. She turned around and looked at me top to bottom, twice, then continued pounding the bedsheet. This is her way of saying that it’s high time I took off my uniform and shoes. She doesn’t like me hanging around in the house with uniform or shoes on. I took them off and changed into civilian clothes.

Dad wasn’t at home. He wouldn’t be, as he would normally come home only after 6-00 pm everyday. I went into the kitchen and quickly served myself some rice, sambaar and potato thoran

“Edaa...Don’t eat away the entire thoran..!” she screamed from the backyard, her voice reaching my ears through the kitchen window. Now this doesn’t mean she didn’t love me at all. She has her own ways of expressing love, and has her own personal moments of showing affection towards me. Like any other indian mom.

I served potato thoran onto my plate, scooping out almost half of what she had prepared in the steel dish. It was still warm. Using the tablespoon, I spread out the remaining half of thoran in the dish, strategically, so as not to leave traces of my monster scoop. I generally do this and it proved effective all the time.

I went for a second round of rice. With rasam this time. According to me, rasam is poor man’s soup. I like pouring a tablespoon or two of rasam into my cupped palm and swooshing it up. I learnt this from my dad, who inturn learnt it from grandpa. It’s a genetic thing, I feel. My mom says it’s also a very good cure for upset stomach. “Da. Have a glass of rasam and it should be alright” she says, when I frequent the bathroom too many times. Honestly, I feel rasam didn’t receive the fame and popularity it truly deserves in the culinary world.

When I contemplated a third round, with moru curry, it just struck me that Venky might be waiting for me outside, as agreed during our discussion short while ago.

I came out of the house, and Venky was already waiting for me on his dad’s vintage bicycle - a model that belonged to the Mesozoic era and seemed as if it was built entirely out of rust. Its tires and mud-guards seemed as if someone had spent a real good time to diligently adorn it with cow dung and bubblegum. I used the reverse side of my T-shirt to wipe off dust from the pillion bar; it revealed a Karishma Kapoor’s sticker on it. 

Venky began pedaling after I jump sat on the bar. The pillion bar, that connects the rider’s seat from under and the handle bar, is an important feature that distinguishes a ladies’ cycle from a gents’ cycle. Ofcourse, besides the unbelievable speed difference on roads between these two. I sat with both my legs on one side, resting on my rumps. For guys, in general, sitting this way is the most comfortable of all. Sitting on the bar with legs on either side is anatomically unimaginable, and generally considered anti-social.

After a few mins, we reached Ramachandra 35mm, Malkajgiri. Right in time for Hum aapke hain kaun.

“Hey, I didn’t inform my mom” I told Venky nervously, holding the tickets in hand.

“Even I didn’t inform anybody re, so nothing to worry” he said.

That was sort of a consolation for me.

We got lost into the movie and didn’t realize the unusually long duration of it. Our original plan was to watch the movie and reach home by the time my dad returns from office. However by the time we reached closer to our homes, it was already 6-30 pm. I was sure my dad might have already turned home. Venky dropped me right in front of our quarter's entrance.

"Don't tell anybody" Venky said and disappeared into the darkness on his bicycle.

I stepped inside and dad was sitting on the brown sofa, resting his legs on the tea-poi. He was watching TV with utmost focus, and his mouth partially open. When he is watching TV, a mosquito can confidently fly into his mouth and come out of his nostrils, and yet he wouldn’t know about it.
Read Part-2 Here

February 8, 2011


Santosh had been laid off today. He came home and sat in a lonely silence. He felt weak while tears blinded his eyes. A sharp pain started growing, piercing through his chest. His wife didn’t seem to be at home. His phone rang. A lady voice said “Honey. I just got through my job interview”

February 5, 2011


Protagonist: ‘Jerry’ (Name changed for two reasons. First to conceal actual identity. Second, to save my a**) (Relationships are very important now a days, especially when you have the skills, talents, determination and IQ which nobody is pleased with)
Class: 4th
Classmate of: Victor Guerra
Academics: Good (but relatively better than the classmate just mentioned above)

Reynolds - 045 fine carbure - This was not a pen. But a symbol of pride in the class. If one didn’t have a Reynolds, a classmate would whisper into his benchmate's ears “Laxman, Laxman, listen --Kamble doesn’t have a Reynolds pen it seems. Ehe". And Laxman would instantly whisper back “What? Kamble doesn’t have a Reynolds pen? Tchah. Pity!”. And they would both bring their hands up to stifle their giggles. The breaking news would soon spread from one ear to another. One bench to another. In all directions. Like a forest fire.

The maintenance cost on Reynolds is partly to be blamed. When a Reynold's refill costed Rs 2, a similar looking cheap local ballpoint refill could be owned using a mere 50 paise. So, 75% saving. Cost arbitrage.

Jerry was surely from a well-to-do family. He had a Reynolds pen, but never spent money on a Reynolds refill. In his Camlin geometry box, besides other standard components, one could invariably find these - Reynolds pen, an empty Reynolds refill and new/partly used local ballpoint refill. Before the teacher walks into the class, he would look around to make sure nobody is watching him. With his teeth, he would tactically pull the nibs off both the refills and spit them into the geometry box first. Then, he would closely hold the nib-holding ends of the two refills facing each other, using his thumb and index finger. At this point, the so built hydraulic engineering prototype resembles two pipes strategically connected to one another. The thumb and index finger act as a gasket joint. Step-1 ends here.

Next step.
Cautiously, he would insert the other end of the local ballpoint refill into his mouth and seal his lips tightly around it. He would then take a deep pranayamic breath with his nostrils. This operation creates enough suction thereby creating a vacuum in his mouth. He would then start injecting pressure into the refill orally. Here, the pressure release would be incremental. And requires utmost patience.

Please note this is a high-level respiratory maneuver and so please don't try it at home. A slight mistake - in holding the refills or exerting pressure - would result in the blue fluid seeping through the virtual joint, straight onto your thumb and index finger. Thus, your fingers would be in a mess. You may end up spending a lot of time scratching and scrubbing to get rid of the sticky ink from your fingers.

I'm so sorry for digressing.

While Jerry keeps exerting the air pressure, a few seconds later, the pressure so exerted would push the sticky blue ink from the local refill ('donor') slowly into the empty refill ('receiver'). This is how the mission of transfusion is accomplished. Jerry would repeat this patented procedure whenever his Reynolds refill runs out of fluid. Known compatibility issues with the nibs ruled out the possibility of swapping between the local and Reynolds refills

That's how Jerry managed to keep up his pride in the class. That's how he saved 75% of his refill budget everytime. Not once, but many times. I was the sole witness all the time. Being his neighbor, all I could do was scratch my head and wonder in awe. The first time when I watched him doing it, I was incredibly shocked. With mouth wide open, as wide as possible. Displaying my uvula and may be even a part of my oesophagus. He looked up at me and wondered at my gape. With a sheepish chuckle he asked "Ehe..What happened re ?”
SCROOGERY. Or SCREW Jerry - You decide.

As you know, milk becomes curd. Caterpillar becomes butterfly. It’s high time we realized that the widely ignored and seemingly ignorable stinginess in children gradually transforms into a characteristic scroogery once they become fully-grown adults.

And as adults, they pose a threat to humanity.

Although I couldn't track Jerry through adulthood, I met similar other specimens. Some even better. If empirical knowledge is to be trusted, please be informed that it's a competitive world out there. Thanks.

February 4, 2011

News Week

Nation & Politics
It has been reported that school children under the age 12 have been flooding the offices of the “Registrar Of Births And Deaths” across the nation applying for a correction in their birth certificates. In an exclusive interview with us, Gopal, a 11-year-old student from Vignyana Vardhini Higher Secondary School spoke to us while standing in the queue at a Registrar Office in Warangal “We feel so left behind, uncle. We feel discriminated. The children-can-now-mate-with-each-other Bill allows only 12 years and older to have sex. How about below-12 children like me?" Gopal expressed his concern.

"Speak up Lavanya, say something to this uncle"  Gopal insisted, while nudging her repeatedly with his elbow.

Finance & Markets
During the National Investors' Conference held in New Delhi this week, Warren Buffet, the world renowned fund manager and investor, advised the indian investors to take long positions in onions. As of Dec 31 2010, the year-on-year return from onions - inflation adjusted - was a whopping 130.41%. And the returns on vegetables in general, stood at 77%.

Buffet also said onions, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbage together make for a strong and safe investment portfolio for the conservative investor. He categorically stated that these are potentially high-yield investment avenues – both institutional and retail. Pension funds can also go for it provided they hedge their portfolio by going short on all those companies involved in the 2G scam.

All attempts at inducting the unsolicited and unsold Ganguly into the Kochi IPL team have been pooh-poohed by three fellow franchises. We ran into the owner of one such franchise - Royal Challengers - Mr Vijay Mallaya, at the Mangalore domestic airport and quickly asked for his opinion on Ganguly’s case.

“Pooh-pooh”  Mr. Mallaya said.

Sources also say Mr Mallaya had been seen at the airport with a fair and tall woman who had a striking resemblance to Deepika Padukone.

Meanwhile, in another interview, the IPL Governing Council chairman told us, on condition of anonymity, that Ganguly’s only chance for getting into the Kochi IPL is when an existing player is injured, handicapped or dead.

"How we wish Harbajan was in the IPL team of Kochi, so that he could break Sreesanth's facial bones this time"  says Akhilesh Chatterjee, a Ganguly fan from Kolkata.

"We want to see our 'Dada' in IPL, no matter what it takes"  he added.

January 29, 2011

Hero Ranger Cycle - Part 2

(Disclaimer: This is a fictional account and narrated in first person to sound like an autobiographical excerpt)
(This is a continuation of Part-1)

I could hear clinging sounds from the kitchen. Mom was doing utensils.
Doing utensils or mopping floors – she performs her chores with great dedication, complete focus and an unbeatable passion. Like a dedicated sculptor.

I slid into a Neelkamal plastic chair by the kitchen entrance and was silently watching her. She threw a glance at me, raising her eyebrows enquiringly. I shrugged, conveying a 'Nothing. Just like that". She acknowledged my shrug with a nod and after adjusting her unruly hair, she shifted her focus back onto the spatula and continued scrubbing. For once, I felt she is the epitome of an untiring indian housewife.

However, there is one thing I honestly don't like about her. Her morbid obsession with nighties. Right from my birth, I have always seen her in nighties only. Her almirah has more nighties than sarees. Even dad, for whom her nightie-obsession is still a mystey, had gifted her a nightie on their wedding anniversary this year. "That's what she had asked for" I overheard him telling Krishna uncle over the phone. All my life, whenever I thought about her in my mind, or seen her in my dreams, she always shows up in a nightie. The last time I saw her dressed up in a saree was during my cousin Rajini’s wedding 8 months ago. When she is in a saree, she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. So graceful. But when she is in a nightie, doing domestic chores, she looks like a Taliban refugee.

“Amma, when will you buy me Hero Ranger amma?" I gently asked her. She is aware of my latest B-grade feat and remembers her promise very well. Until the previous day, I used to re-confirm the promise with her every now and then.

“Eat some upma Babloo.You should be very hungry. Even yesterday you didn’t eat anything except three chapathis and a banana”.

This is a universal motherhood flaw. Women think their only purpose as a mother is to feed their children. And no matter how well the children eat, they feel it inadequate. Perhaps, it’s one of their pet peeves. Incidentally, with 3 chapathis and one banana, one can easily feed atleast 10 fashion models.

“I don’t want upma Amma. Tell me when are you gonna buy me the promised Hero Ranger” I asked her with a suppressed aggression.

"Babloo, quarterly exams are no big deal ok? Get a B-grade in the final, and then we’ll see. Until then, don’t talk about hero ranger in this house" she said with a hostile glare, sticking out her index finger.

That was so unsportsmanlike of her. A shameful foul play.

Mother or father, my conscience has a zero tolerance for cheating. My sense of right and wrong is emotionally unbiased. So I got pissed off at her response.

“You are a cheater Amma. You are a chameleon!” I yelled at her and became breathless with rage.

She was silent and irritatingly unmindful of my concern. She kept hard-rubbing a stainless-steel plate with her usual passion.

My temper flared further. And when my temper flares, I have a tendency to break or destroy stuff with the closest proximity, provided it’s not mine. I jumped down in rage and forcibly kicked the plastic chair up. It was airborne for a moment and then rolled over a few feet, narrowly missing her leg.

“ABAAA!@##” I groaned loudly in pain. It was the result of a healthy palm that crash-landed on my cheek from behind. Timing-wise, it was right after I had kicked that chair. I turned around and saw a familiar man, topless, right behind me. He stood there with a half hoisted lungie, exposing his thighs. His teeth were clenched, nostrils were flaring and his hands on his hips.

I sensed an instant heat accumulation on my cheek due to the exothermic property of the slap. It also created a spinning sensation. As if I'd just got off a roller coaster. After a few seconds the heat transformed itself into a strange numbness on one side of my face.

Feeling a sudden weakness and vulnerability, with my palm still on the cheek, I looked at him. Glaring at me with reproachful eyes, he seemed he was preparing to say something.


I was gasping in silence


With a traumatized soul, and the numbness and warmth still fresh on my cheek, I turned around to give a quick self-sympathatic glance at mom expecting some consolation.

“ENOUGH?” she nodded, staging a cold sarcasm.

Mom’s indifference was a bolt from the blue. Words failed me. With tears in my eyes, I ran across the living room. Opened the shoe rack and hastily wore my white-blue hawaii chappal. Then I ran out the main door, down the apartment staircase, like a woman running away from her drunken boyfriend after an attempted rape.

After a few moments, silence filled the house, except the distant sound of street dogs barking at each other.

January 28, 2011

Hero Ranger Cycle - Part 1

(Disclaimer: This is a fictional account and narrated in first person to sound like an autobiographical excerpt)

“K.Vishal, 9th class D section, roll number 36” the handwritten label read when I handed over my quarterly exams progress report to my dad.  He was wearing a green-yellow-black lungi, resembling the national flag of Dominica. He was sitting on the couch cross-legged. His hairy legs were partially visible through the lungi’s narrow opening.

Straight down the nose, he went through the progress card, even as he cleared his throat mobilizing what seemed to be three days’ worth of phlegm within. “B-grade..hmm” he uttered, his face clearly conveying frustration and irritation. This is his usual reaction every time I show him my report. If my time is bad, I may also be subject to manhandling. He is quite unpredictable. Like my future.

He had never been happy with my grades. For the first time, I pushed the envelope further by securing a B-grade. Yet, he was not happy. His expectations have always been unfair, given my average memory and IQ levels. Beyond 55% is not my cup of tea.

He began speaking to the progress report "What! Forty two in social? You almost failed in maths. Pathetic!”

‘Did you really study at all for the exams?” he asked looking at me, his lips puckered with annoyance. I could clearly sense his angry-meter mercury rising up.

When situations are not in my favour, I generally remain silent. I fear him a lot, for he is a walking nightmare for me. He doesn’t like me talking back and I never do, especially when progress report matters are concerned.  Not even a sorry would work. Last time when I tried giving a logical explanation for why I hit Kamble at school, he was pissed off. He immediately beat me up.  He usually works over me with my school belt.

So I let him vent his feelings and stood there silently.

He scratched his ribs. Scratching is usual for him, as he never wears a shirt at home. Infact, all married men in our family and relative circle hang around in their homes topless. And lungi is our cultural legacy. Especially the floral ones.

“Better realize next year would be your board exams. 10th class! Ramaswamy’s son got 556 and stood first in school. He got admission into Little flower junior college --- MPC.  He is now preparing for EAMCET... See. That’s how children should be. And you? You will beg on the streets tomorrow ---You will regret, I‘m telling you!”

I was silent. I knew I won’t beg on the streets. Krishna uncle (my mom’s younger brother) who didn’t even complete his 10th, is in Dubai now. Happily married. With two kids.

“--- Are you listening to me, you idiot ?” he yelled.

I nodded in acknowledgement.

Idiot - That’s the word all his conversations with me usually end with. His another favorite word is ‘Rascal’. But this time he hasn’t used it at all. Not sure why.

He reached out to the reynolds pen on the tea-poi and put his signature. “Don’t expect my signature for half-yearly without an A-grade” he said with gritted teeth.

He then handed over the progress report to me and slowly covered himself with the Times Of India.

I had then taken a deep breath. My inner-self gave out a cry of relief. Then I marched into the kitchen to talk to my mom. Few months ago she promised me a hero ranger cycle if I get a B-grade in the quarterly. I'm somewhat excited.

- To be continued.