Sunday, June 24, 2012

The woman in the sun

Everyday I took the same road. Everyday i saw her. Her lustrous black hair, glittering in the golden sun. She would stand there under the old and ragged dead tree, waiting for someone, and staring into the hot blistering afternoon sun. Her pale dusky skin would shine like the king's royal guard. When I would return back, she would still be there, staring into the red sunset. I imagined what her face might have looked like. Serene, calm, Or old, ragged by standing in the trecherous heat for so long. Every night i think about her. Thinking where she is now. Wondering if she is still staring at the white prince of the night. It was one of these nights that i could not stop myself. I went again on that road. I could see the silhoutte of the old tree. And then I saw, illuminated like an angel in the white moonlight, staring into the abyssal pits of the starry night.I could not stop myself, I went ahead, and I saw her face.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mr. Checkers


Mr. Checkers loved to bounce a lot. In fact that’s the only thing he did all day. The escalators at the South City Mall, the plush lawns of Lake Gardens, and even the long stairs of Rabindra Sarobar Metro station, Mr. Checkers, bounced on them all.  The interminable  “Bounce Bounce Bounce”  would add melody  to the melancholic daily sounds like the screeching of brakes on damp railway sleepers , the grumbling and mumbling of unhappy Bengali men who are probably still hung-over by the East Bengal and Mohunbagan football clash  the previous day. Echoes of innocent laughter of Korea would follow Mr. Checkers wherever he deemed suitable enough to bounce. Korea’s face would be red with utmost glee watching Mr. Checkers tumble each day down the stairs. They were inseparable. Korea was a seven year old boy. His parents, like most Bengalis were avid football fanatics and named the poor Kid Korea after the 2002 FIFA World Cup which was held in Korea-Japan. It was a trend among Bengalis to name their kids with weird Western names. So, don’t be surprised to find a lot of Gogols, Titos and Tintins running around clutching a cricket bat or more commonly immersed in a Tintin or a Phantom comic book. Korea was no different. He loved to read his favorite adventures of Tintin and Captain Haddock, and yearned to play football. That’s why him and his football, Mr. Checkers were inseparable.


Korea would wake up every day at 6 o’clock.  He brushed his teeth for 5 minutes, lest the evil master, Germia, and the warlord, Cavity-le-quish attacked his precious milky white teeth.  He put his batman limited edition toothbrush back to its rack and started changing into his school uniform. He had been taking care of himself for quite sometime now, after all, he thought he was a big boy. He made sure he did not give a chance to his mother to scold. So he dressed up on time, went to the kitchen, poured himself his favourite breakfast cereal, kellogs fruit loops. Korea was the king of the kingdom of breakfast cereals, and the fruit loops were his bad subjects. With a sideways glance at his prime minister, his ever faithful and witty, Mr. Checkers, Korea gave an evil grin. Crunch crunch ! There went two spoonful of bad subjects. Glug glug ! Two mouthful of freshly squeezed orange juice and the punished subjects would swim in the hot molten lava in his stomach. Finally, after providing justice to his bad subjects, he picked up his school bag and water bottle. He stowed Mr. Checkers in his favourite netted green bag. His mother was still watching the morning news. After shouting a hurried goodbye to her, he left for the schoolbus. 

Korea used to be scared of the big yellow school-bus. The big metallic feline contraption would creep up every morning and would gobble up the poor unknowing kids. The bus would screech to a halt right in front of the shivering kids, equipped with water-bottles and leaden school bags. The doors would slide open like a subtle wink from a hungry jaguar waiting to pounce on its prey. Today, like all days, was no different. Mr. Checkers also showed a gloom in his faded pentagonal eyes to show his apprehension towards entering into the metallic vehicle of doom. Korea sensed the fear in Mr. Checkers's eyes and stood firmly. He slung his water bottle like a lasso, and just like the fearless Paleontologist, Indiana Jones, he was ready for another adventure. As he climbed the steps, his path was blocked by the evil master of the vehicle. The evil master squinted, and as Korea was shuddering, he gave a wry look towards him and smiled, revealing his black, decaying teeth. Korea covered Mr. Checkers's eyes and ran past the evil master. As Korea was passing him, he could hear a significant jingling from his bag. It must be all the teeth he steals from poor unwary kids, he thought, and still he could not replace his own teeth, he thought. Korea took the last seat, and wondered, why everyone called that bad man, conductor, after all, he was the keeper of this vehicle of doom. 

As the vehicle moved, Korea glanced towards all the other children. Everyone seemed to be engrossed in a chatter of Playstations and x-boxes. Korea thought he was good boy. He never played video games. He did his homework daily and played outside. Maybe thats why no one talked to him on the bus. Maybe thats why Mr. Checkers was his only friend. 

Finally, after a long and terrifying journey, the bus screeched to a halt, for the Castle of school-ator was in view. It was in here, where all the children received their formal education. And reluctantly Korea, got down from his seat, and walked towards the school, making sure not to make any eye contact with the conductor. The class started. Korea would drift away to his world. He took the last corner bench, which was ideal, because of the high windows it had adjacent to it. A pigeon’s nest, lay idly on the window. The mother pigeon brought some yummy wiggly worms for her children. Poor children, Korea thought. They also have to endure such boring classes all day. At Least he could go back home after six hours. But for those pigeon hatchlings, they have to hear Miss Rosie ramble daily on english grammar, and still those pigeons cannot utter a single english syllable. 

Korea remembered the day, when Miss Rosie scolded him for not finishing his homework on time. So from now on, he completed his homework everyday. But when his homework was complete, Miss Rosie would never ask for it. Korea again groaned that day, for Miss Rosie ignored his finished homework once again.

The echo of the bell resonated in the silent hallways of the castle, and the gleeful shrills of its young inhabitants that followed was ear splitting. It was lunch time, and everyone would empty their tiffin boxes to their rumbling stomachs. The waft of pav bhajis, Sandwiches, noodles and many delicious delicacies filled the classrooms. Korea checked his lunch box, and it had cucumber sandwiches again. He got bored of eating cucumber sandwiches everyday. He saw Ram Lal drooling outside, eying ravenously at the gourmet spread before him. Korea went outside and gave one of his sandwiches to the hungry Ram Lal, who wagged his tail in appreciation. But alas, he also seemed to have lost interest in the cucumber sandwiches and stared inside the classroom gloomily, ignoring Korea's generosity. Mr. Checkers seemed to have chuckled at Korea, for even he did not like those cucumber sandwiches. Enough of lunch thought Korea, time to make Mr. Checkers sweat. He ran to the playground and kicked Mr. Checkers hard. Mr. Checkers soared in the air, higher than the birds, nearing the clouds. His pentagonal eyes squirmed and if only he had a mouth, then he would’ve squealed in delight. Bounce, bounce, bounce, and Mr. Checkers fell to the ground. Bounce, bounce, bounce, and it made Korea pounce. It was their favourite time of the day. Mr. Checkers was free and so was Korea.  Mr. Checkers would then whirl past the swings and and see-saws, inviting people to try to catch him. But no one bothered to chase the poor canonical fireball, whizzing past them. So Korea picked up Mr.Checkers and dragged himself to attend the rest of the school. 

The feline vehicle of doom made sure Korea reached home in the afternoon. As he got off, the doors shut, winking, that the monster would be back again tomorrow. Korea, ran. Ran like Indiana Jones, dodging metal arrows and nails, jumping over poisonous snakes and with that surge of sudden adventure, the young paleontologist reached his home. He was just about to ring the doorbell, when the delightful sound of the ice cream walah caught his attention. He imagined the soft, sugary, creamy dollops of heaven he could indulge himself into. He followed the excited chatter of animated kids, all lined up to buy their share of ice cream. Korea checked his pockets. He did not have any money. His parents did not give him any pocket money. He asked Mr. Checkers if he had any. But Mr. Checkers was drooling over the sumptuous looking ice cream spread, so Korea knew better than to trust his spherical, rotund friend. The ice cream walah never gave free treats. He had the same moustache as the conductor from the bus. That same evil look. Tricking hapless kids into eating his treats, so that the milky white teeth of those poor kids would go dark and ugly black, and his twin brother, the evil bus conductor would collect those falling, rotting teeth and jingle them provocatively, to scare the terrified children, in his vehicle of doom. So, Korea, like a good boy, stayed away from ice cream and went back home. 

Korea washed himself, gave Mr. Checkers a good scrubbing too, because he was very naughty and was always bouncing away to the muddy end of the playground today. He finished his homework. There was one difficult essay which he could not write. Maybe his mother could help. But his mother ignored him completely. His mother always ignored him, since the day Korea was very bad. It was the same day him and Mr. Checkers became best friends. He sometimes remembered that day. His mother had always warned him not to touch unknown objects. But how could he had resisted not playing with beautiful, beautiful Mr. Checkers that day, who was lying invitingly, in the Metro station. He remembered it getting hot, and Mr. Checkers going all red, orange, yellow and then black. Nobody would talk to Korea after that. Nobody, except Mr. Checkers.

"Goodnight Checkers", muttered Korea

  

Copyright © reserved by Gaurav Singha Roy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yellow

All looked yellow and mellow. The trees, the green fields, all looked as if the chlorophyll was sucked out of their serene and yet poignant lives. I look around me, I see colorful seats, colorful people, colorful suitcases. The waft of freshly cooked meals surrounds me. The air inside is cool. I look through the old yellow windows of this old carriage, and I see yellow. Finally, when I get down, I look inside the carriage through the yellow glass, and all I see is, yellow.

Mrs Chatterjee's Toothbrush

Mrs. Chatterjee was very organised. She packed some chicken sausages and potato wedges into one of her over-priced microwaveable containers, one of the few hundreds which filled most of her pricey modular kitchen cabinets. The kitchen was her speciality. The jewel in her crown, in her overly expensive bungalow in the posh Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi. Like her mother, Mrs. Chatterjee was a brilliant cook. Probably the reason for her excessively lardy children, which by the way, is not a very uncommon occurrence in a Bengali household. But Mrs. Chatterjee was not rotund like the chowmein and chilly chicken gulping buffaloes who called her mother. No, Mrs. Chatterjee was very well maintained for a thirty seven year old woman, with a figure that could make any twenty-two year old shy away. She brought envy amongst her bus sized kitty party members and the constant source of admiration from their balding and portly other halves. And the secret for Mrs. Chatterjee’s voluptuous incarnation, nothing ! Some people are just born lucky.


So, Mrs. Chatterjee packed some chicken sausages and potato wedges. She tucked some chicken salami sandwiches in neat aluminum foils. Like a true Bengali housewife, for the mere six hour drive, she packed enough food to feed her family for a week.

“Did you pack my reading glasses”, her husband shouted from the living room.

“Yes dear.”

“and my tobacco”

“of course dear. I’ve also packed your pipe. Let me make sure the toiletteries are packed.”

“don’t worry, I have packed them with my shaving kit”

“please don’t forget my toothbrush”

“of course”

“don’t forget my toothbrush”

“Make sure the kids are ready to leave for their aunt’s place”

Mrs Chatterjee gave a disgruntled look and went over to her children. The Chatterjee’s recently won a free weekend trip to camp near Rishikesh. Finally the services of the swanky VISA platinum card of Mr Chatterjee paid off. And after so many years they get a weekend to themselves.

Mr. Chatterjee pulled the Mercedes in the driveway. Mrs. Chatterjee hurried to the sparkling new black Mercedes after making sure the house was locked.

“did you check everything, did you pack everything”, she asked her husband.

“yes ! Now please get inside. We are already twenty minutes behind”

Mrs. Chatterjee gave a disparaging look, her enormous mushroom nose fluttered, and she quietly sat in the car, while Mr. Chatterjee speeded his expensive car through the gulmohar covered metallic roads of New Delhi.


Mrs. Chatterjee was a good housewife and a loving mother. She left no stone unturned in her fourteen years of marriage. She quit her high paying job as a hotshot journalist, to become a housewife, an altruistic sacrifice. She met her husband an year before her marriage. Mr. Chatterjee was usually unperturbed by the daily affairs. In fact he hardly knew what went around in the house. He spent most of the time in expanding his software outsourcing business. And at home he would be found immersed in his vast collection of books and smoking his pipe like a chimney. A cold man, he was usually unruffled by the hustle and bustle of the household activities.


“You should have seen the drawings Rusheel made yesterday. All the teachers think he could become a true artist..With the brushstrokes, and the vivid colors he uses, his drawings becomes a pretentious piece of art. Are you listening?”

“Hmmm. ” Replied mr. Chatterjee and he turned on the radio.

Mrs. Chatterjee continued “Saanchi, called yesterday. She invited us for dinner next week. We could finally check out the new interiors of her house. We would go, right?”

“Hmmm”

“Are you even listening? All day, its only your books, your pipe or the stupid computers.”

“Hmmmm”

The crimson colored mushroom nose of Mrs. Chatterjee did very little to hide her vexation for her husband. She started to hum an old classical song she remembered. After all it was a bright sunny spring afternoon. She lowered her window pane and the fresh smell of gulmoher trees engulfed the tingling senses of Mrs. Chatterjee who had been longing to get out of the melancholy of her daily routine.

“Pull up the windows. The Air conditioner is running” Barked Mr. Chatterjee and Mrs Chatterjee’s Nature’s blast met a premature end.

“You never listen to what I say” whined Mrs. Chatterjee “You never do. Did you pack my toothbrush”

“Yes, I did”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes”

“Where is it?”

“In my shaving kit”

“I’ll check”

“I told you, its in the shaving kit !”


Mrs. Chatterjee reached for her husband’s shaving kit and started probing for her toothbrush. After minutes of prodding the contents of her husband shaving kit, she could not find her toothbrush.

“It’s not here”

“What?” Mr Chatterjee bellowed

“My toothbrush is not here”

“Yes it is. Check the compartment with the zipper”

“But this is a new toothbrush”

“Well, yes. You can use that”, replied Mr. Chatterjee

“But its not my toothbrush”

“Its a new toothbrush, isn’t it?“

“But its not mine”

“Just use the damn toothbrush”

A small flare of fire emerged from the dragonish large nostrils of Mrs Chatterjee. It was always the same, Mrs Chatterjee thought. None of her problems got any contemplation from her husband.


The rest of the journey passed without much significance except for a few loud growls of resentment from Mrs Chatterjee and the chide replies by her husband. After a comparitively uneventful and a six hour drive they arrived at the camp site near rishikesh.

The clear blue pellucid waters of the ganges, the chalky white sand banks, the plush green forest cover was enough for Mrs Chatterjee to make her forget her woes for she longed to be amongst nature every single mechanical day of her life. She started singing softly in her melliflous voice. Well, Yes, Mrs chatterjee was also a very talented singer. If only her nose were a bit a more proportionate, she couldve become a perfect sculpture from the machineries of God. A heartbreaking dissapointment indeed. Her euphonious humming met an untimely end when her husband perspicuously remarked that such juvenile behaviour could lead to embarrassment of his stature and she should stop immediately. Mrs chatterjee succumbed to her husband’s remarks and started unpacking.


The Chatterjees were bunked in the last tent of the camp. It was a beautiful location, just beside the blue waters and away from all the other tents. Ten years ago, It would have been an ideal place for a second honeymoon, but now, it was just another place. Mr Chatterjee, spread one of his folding reclining chairs on the sand and immersed nonchalantly into one of his voluminous uninteresting books.


Mrs chatterjee was gulping down the pulchritude of nature. But with the onset of the night, the issue which had been forgotten for some time recurred creepingly at Mrs. Chatterjee. It was almost dinner time and she still did not have her toothbrush. Mrs. Chatterjee, even though was a very adjusting woman, but there were somethings to which she could never adjust. For example, her toothbrush. Mrs. Chatterjee had a wierd obssession. She could never sleep without brushing her teeth. The thought of the bacteria, L. acidophilus combining with the proteins in the saliva of the food debris, forming plaque, spooked the life out of the poor proboscis featured fiesty bengali woman.


The campfire was lit. The extremeley delicious dinner spread was laid. But Mrs Chatterjee was too occupied to enjoy any of these. Spicy minced tandoori chicken kebabs, Roasted potatoes with a hint of lemon, and creamy, mouthwatering butter chicken with roasted naans, all of these delicacies did not help the cause for Mrs Chatterjee’s predicament. Only one thought spooked her mind, her toothbrush. How is she going to floss before she hits the sack. How is she going to sleep.


The night went on merrily for all the package tour winners. They hogged, they danced and they sang there hearts out. Everyone, except Mrs Chatterjee whose mind wandered to her exorbiant bathroom in Delhi, where her tootbrush lay comfortably inside the sleek, black cabinet. As the night grew older, people started leaving the campfire to proceed for a romantic walk on the moonlit white beach. Mr. Chatterjee, after a hearty meal and some generous quantities of scotch, remarked “Its getting late. We should head back to the tent”

Mrs. Chatterjee followed him to the tent with the thought of the long dark night with fear of leaving her pearly white teeth to the mercy of millions of bacteria.

“I am going to sleep. We have to wake up early tomorrow.”

“Hmmm” replied Mrs Chatterjee.”


Mr. Chatterjee switched off the electric lights inside the modern tent, and started snoring almost immediately. Mrs. Chatterjee on the other hand laid wide awake. The swirling sound made by the clear blue Ganges river seemed like a silent evil laughter, mocking the predicament of poor Mrs. Chatterjee.

“I told you to check my toothbrush. I told you to check so many times. But still you forgot. Its Jaipur all over again” muttered Mrs Chatterjee silently

Mr. Chatterjee gave a loud startling Hog-like grunt and rolled over in his deep slumber. Mrs Chatterjee was cruelly reminded of her traumatizing trip to Jaipur two years ago. She was accompanying her husband to one his boring and soporofic annual Cyber Trade Summit conferences. Luckily, that year, the conference was held in the Pink City, Jaipur. Mrs Chatterjee could roam around in the city exploring the majestic forts and palaces or shopping for woven jholas and authentic Rajasthani Jwellery. It was during one of these shopping sprees, that her husband left her small rucksack at the Amer Fort. It was only after they returned to the hotel that Mrs Chatterjee noticed that her rucksack was missing. She was absolutely distressed for the rucksack contained all her important stuff including her precious toothbrush. She knew her husband tormented her for her annoying habit of not able to sleep without brushing her teeth under all circumstances. He mustve left the bag on purpose, she thought. For because of that she could not sleep that night and the next morning she had to use the Hotel’s ordinary, plastic toothbrush. She could neither eat nor drink for the rest of the trip for the fear of the evil bacteria, brandishing their shiny intracellular parts menacingly .


It was Jaipur all over again, and it was her husband’s fault, thought Mrs Chatterjee. He always does this to annoy her, thought Mrs. Chatterjee.

It was almost dawn, Mrs. Chatterjee was still staring at the roof of the tent, without any hint of sleep throughout the night. She Rolled over and saw her husband snoring, with a jeering smile on his face. It was all his fault she thought.

“How can you always forget my toothbrush?”

Mr. Chatterjee did not respond, and his annoyed wife screamed

“I WANT MY TOOTHBRUSH !”


Mr. Chatterjee woke up startled. He stared blankly at his wife, and very casually picked his pipe and tobacco and went outside to enjoy his smoke in tranquility.

Mrs. Chatterjee was now very infuriated. Her big mushroom nose was now an alarming shade of scarlet. The small mole on her nose spewed smoke like a DRB Class 52 steam locomotive. She peeped from her tent’s door. Mr chatterjee was smoking his pipe, standing carefully away from the river’s edge, for the proud bengali never learned how to swim. Mrs. Chatterjee went inside and sat on her bed. She again got up, went outside, came back a couple of minutes later. She packed her bags, drove the expensive mercedes straight to her posh Bungalow in Delhi. She rushed to her bathroom, opened her cabinet. Her toothbrush was lying there innocently. For the next five minutes she brushed her teeth in peace. She checked her reflection in the mirror. She brushed away the tobacco ash from her sweater, put her toothbrush back to its stand, and went to sleep. And there it stood, its bristles grinning an impish smile in the darkness, its smooth red body glistened with water crystals, completely unperturbed by the recent events, Mrs Chatterjee’s Toothbrush.


Copyright © reserved by Gaurav Singha Roy