The Quote -

"Nope, I don't really have anything new to say. but then, I always have something amazing to tell about things that you already know!!"


Monday, April 20, 2009

The pitch of perspective – A short story

The snap:

The story may contain a very few common place hindi words and the meaning of them are given at the end of the narration.

The Story:

When he first laid his eyes on the idol, he simply couldn’t understand how people could stand the sight of such a hideous image, let alone pray to it considering it as a holy deity. “The female god of motherly love” was what the temple priests had said when they invited him into the temple. But nothing prepared him for what he would later recall to his friends as “the most ungodly image ever to be prayed as god”. May be he thought to himself being a tourist who is just passing in and out of India without actually dipping his hands into its daily life, it may not be just on his part to judge anything. But praying to a life sized deity of a hideous black faced hag fully smeared with blood,her tongue hanging out grotesquely, with a garland of skulls and a girdle of severed hands around her neck as decoration was a bit too much for him. Goddess Kali – even the name sounded ominous and bleak to him.

And to think that all the crowds around him were jostling about in frenzy like hungry hyenas fighting over the last piece of meat to catch a glimpse of this horrific and ominous deity was really above his comprehension levels. Soaked in sweat in the compressing inner chambers of the temple he started to have second thoughts about his decision to come into this temple. It took a good load of hard shoving, pushing and stumbling across for him to get out of the inner chamber where the deity is housed. He must have been more than relieved when he sat on the much sparsely crowded outer part of the temple and relaxed stretching his arms and legs.

It was as if he was sending out a homing signal to the poor and the needy kids who always frequented the temples of India trying to catch the eyes of some rich guy who would have the heart enough to drop a few coins in their bony arms. He always had a soft corner for children. He placed a ten rupee* note on the hand of the child and saw with satisfaction as the brown eyed girl walked away from him with a gleeful smile and with a purposeful gait. In a few seconds he realized his mistake when the girl returned with a bunch of other kids all desperate for some cash from the kind foreigner. May be if he would have walked away from them at that instant he would not have set into motion the chain of events that was to follow. But fate and god had their own agenda in their minds.

He distributed among the children the few coins he had not knowing he was causing quite a ruckus in the middle of the temple. It must have been in jubilation when one of those kids in his jumping glee tripped and fell down with a helpless wail. It was then that all pandemonium broke loose and before he realized what was happening his bag with his visa and passport was snatched. In a desperate attempt to catch the thief he started to chase after the pick pocket who was running with his bag.

The streets were crooked, narrow and were marked by sharp bends and angles that were so much a characteristic of Indian roads as class and caste to the Indian society. The bustling crowd rushing past him towards the temple immersed in their local celebration compounded to his problems as he tried to keep up with his bag. The sight of some country punk making away with almost all his cash and his identity documents must have sprung some hidden reserve of resolve in his mind that ignoring his heaving lungs that begged him to stop and the pain in his legs that craved for some rest he plodded on. He had to get his bag. He was not going to lose all the cash he had on him in such a fashion. He had to get his bag.

Then suddenly as if in response to some divine command from out of the blue his feet simply refused to obey him and he slowly came to his knees feeling a slow excruciating pain radiating from his chest and just as it dawned on him that he was having a heart attack he collapsed unconscious.

People die everyday, every single hour, minute and second someone is grieving with all his heart and soul over a lost loved one. Life in retrospect can be pretty bleak and uninviting if not for the joy of seeing tomorrow. May be tomorrow it will rain, May be it will snow or even hail, May be it will bring us joy unbound or perhaps it will shut us in eternal gloom. Nobody knows for certain but everyone still looks forward for tomorrow with a word as preposterous as hope in their minds.

And hope was the very last thing that came to his mind when he came awake drenched in his own sweat and fear. He tried to open his eyes and failed – the lids felt heavy like the petals of lotus and his body numbed and weakened pleaded and bargained with him resisting his every attempt to sit up. He heard a jumble of sharp sounds and noises that were too much shrouded in the daze to give any clear idea of where he was. He thought he picked up the clear voice of his 9 year old daughter which slowly faded into the distant racket of a lot of people moving about, a small child crying in hunger, the shrill voice of some one shouting out “help” which slowly melted into dark embers of his sub consciousness facade.

He for once again fell unconscious.

Skeptically speaking, helplessness takes on a complete new meaning for a patient who is at the mercy of doctor to save him who like any of the other working professionals works for the money that is being paid to him. He is not working for free or doing social service for that matter. Then why should anyone feel they owe their life to the doctor for doing his job? But alas the human mind becomes so feeble when it comes to face it's own death that no such thoughts leap up into the mind when you get up from the hospital bed after a close brush with Yama* and realize that the doctor has saved you. And of course it was nothing different with the foreign tourist either.

The bleak wall stared back at him as his eyes tried to focus and the pungent smell that is so much a characteristic of the hospital assaulted his nasal faculties when he rose back to the world of the living again. He felt much better through thoroughly exhausted as he looked into the eyes of the doctor who was checking his vitals. The doctor gave him a calm reassuring smile and said in a gay voice “welcome back”

Funny the coarse voice of the doctor sounded to him like the sweetest baritone that he has ever heard. He for a second felt like jumping with joy, thanking everyone around and relished the feeling of feeling alive. It must be the effect of almost losing something that he cannot bear to do without – his life perhaps. The doctor, who now seemed to have finished with him, got up and seeing his desperation to know where he was calmly averred “Do not worry. You are safe in a hospital. You have had a minor heart attack and you need to rest. We have notified your embassy and they assured they will send their representative over. I have given you a sedative so now try to relax and go back to sleep”

It took a couple of days for him to regain his strength and vitality and by that time he had learned that he was saved by a rickshaw walla* who seeing him collapse on the road had brought him to the nearby hospital where they identified him with the papers they found in his pocket and treated him. Arrangements were made by the embassy for him to be transported to his home country once the doctor gave his health a clean chit and pronounced that he was fit to travel.

It was as he was getting out of the hospital lead by the doctor, thanking him profusely for saving him he saw a middle aged guy wearing a blue lungi* looking at him with curious eyes. The doctor with a smile said “I just did what I had to. If you want to really express your gratitude then thank the rickshaw walla over there. He was the one who brought you here in time to save you.” He turned to see the middle aged guy giving him his best smile with a the sparkle in his eyes. Despite his worn and dirty clothes, prematurely wrinkled face and bare feet on the blistering hot streets, he had the warmth of life clinging to him.

The foreigner rushed forward, caught the rickshaw walla’s hand and with his eyes moist with emotion and voice trembling with gratitude said “Thank you, Thank you. I owe you my life”. The rickshaw walla was embarrassed not used to such open show of appreciation and racked his very very limited English vocabulary to give the foreigner some decent reply. After a few seconds of desperate thought the rickshaw walla folded his hands with extreme reverence and said to the gaping foreigner “Jai Kali Devi*.”

The end.

Rupee* - the currency of India.
Lungi* - a local garment used by the working class.
Yama* - The soul taker at the time of death in accordance to hindu mythology.
rickshaw walla* – one who drives a rickshaw(a pedaled vehicle) for a living.
Jai Kali Devi* - a slogan in the local language Hindi meaning – all the praise goes to the goddess Kali(These words are mistook to be partly English by a lot of locals.).

Author’s note:

Legend says that Kali Devi or Goddess Kali was once a very beautiful lady who was so fond of dancing and also good at it that Lord Shiva – the ultimate god of death, destruction, nirvana, meditation and dance took her to be his pupil. And once when Lord Shiva was sleeping, Kali Devi stepped on his chest too lost in her dancing. Lord Shiva in his temper cursed the one who stepped on his chest to be as horrible looking as one can be. When he got up and realized his mistake, he gave Kali Devi the power to become a destroyer of evil as he could not take back the curse and thus was born the God of motherly love and paradoxically also the destroyer of evil. Silly as the story may sound but every culture in the world has its own belief systems which when viewed by someone outside may be too much to understand.

For further information on Kali Devi, kindly visit the following link.


Puneet Parakh said...

very nicely build story man.. good job!!

Vinnie said...

Hey, now there would be one foreigner who will say 'Jai Maa Kali' all his life!
great story..

the word verif is 'westo' ...strane, i could nearly imagine our foreigner man with name Westo

muthu said...

@ anoop - thanks dude.....

@ vinnie - yup.... :) like you said, that would be one foreigner who will say 'Jai Maa Kali' all his life..

And I always try not to use any specific names in my short story, giving people a chance to relate themselves with the characters..... Like a trade mark I think.. :P

Amal Bose said...

that was really good..

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Are you working on a novel?
Very impressive writing!

Thank you for dropping by.

muthu said...

@ amal bose - thanks 4 the compliments man.....

@ the girl from the cherry blossom street -

I have an idea for a novel, though i haven't put it all in words, the idea is up in my mind. The thing is I am going to need heavy research, documentation and interviewing into a lot of things like the working of a police station, prostitution, money laundering for the novel to be authentic ....

and now I dont really have a job (thanks to the IT industry collapse), so I think I will write a novel but It will take time.....

Thanks 4 your compliments and your interest.... i loved answering you.. drop by sometime again.....

poonam said...

gripping....!! nicely written Muthu!

Love to Experiment said...

Great and interesting story. I just loved it...

Archetypes India said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archetypes India said...

I loved your post. Though I am branded as Christian, I am fascinated by Kali, whom I interpret as one of the three aspects of Energy – the other two Lakshmi and Saraswati.

Deepa said...

Beautiful post Muthu. And nice note on that legend at the end, I love reading such notes on mythology without going too religious or philosophical.
PS: Not meant as an offence, you might want to do a manual spell check on some words depending on the context they're being used in : Like - course voice vs coarse voice of the doctor; feat refused to obey him Vs feet refused to obey him :) Sometimes automatic word spell checkers mess up more than help!

muthu said...

@ poonam ---

Thank you Poonam.. :) Welcome to my blog. :)

muthu said...

@ Love to Experiment ---

Glad that you felt so. :)

muthu said...

@ Archetypes India ---

hmhm... Hindu mythology is full of completely fascinating stories and legends. Though I am a self proclaimed agnostic, I love hearing the stories and the related facets of faith. And yes, Kali can be seen as you have put forth.

Thank you for your comments. :)

muthu said...

@ Deepa ---

First, thanks a lot Deepa- for pointing out my mistakes. Yes. Blind dependence on spell check has led astray too many words of the story. hmhm... Thanks once again for bringing me to notice. You are a great reader. Will be more attentive hereafter.

hmhm.... Did you try the latest Fiction I wrote on Navratri. It deals with the nine forms of Shakthi. I think you will enjoy it. :)

Also, thanks for your warm comments. Cheers. :)

Anonymous said...

What An Imagination! That was well written and loved reading it. First Rate Work!

Bikramjit said...

a lovely story sir.. and the myth behind Goddess Kali , I did not know about that ..

see learnt something new today


Nirvana said...

Mythology is one of my favorite topics of discussion - ofcourse, when you add such a twist to the story, it makes it all the more interesting. Lovely!

Harikrishna said...

A story through which you depicted the side of India both positive and negative... The unfolding of the mythology at the end regarding the elements of the story is also admirable... Excellent one...

Archetypes India said...

@muthu, I use Kali in ji-jutsu action as in my poem - These Offspring of Kali -
I shall be grateful if you comment..

muthu said...

@ ---

Thanks a lot for your comments.. :) Do hang around-- will sure post more stuff to engage you. :)

muthu said...

@ Bikramjit ---

hmhm... That myth is one of my own favorites. It gives perspective to a darker deity in the Hindu mythology.
And kindly don't call me Sir. Makes me feel too old. :D

Thanks for your comments Bikram. :)

muthu said...

@ Nirvana --

I am glad that you found it interesting. Do hang around, am planning to do something with regard to mythology for Diwali too. :)

muthu said...

@ Harikrishna ---

Thanks a lot for those comments Hari. I think not just India- but all nations have their own two sides of the coin deal (good and Bad) I am g;ad that you liked the post... :)

Do hang around for more interesting stuff. :)

muthu said...

@ Archetypes India --

Will sure do so.. :)

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