Friday, February 02, 2007


Vasuettan's new thoni

I heard it first from Kannan. While coming back from school one day, we had sneaked into bhaskaran nair’s parambu but couldn’t find one single moovandan worth the effort. Kuttan wanted to show off his stick-throwing skills, but we decided we wait till the next week. I don’t know what made Kannan say it then, but that’s when he did – there is a new thing in Josettan’s hair cutting salon. He had seen it yesterday when he had gone akkare to cut his hair. Even though I did not get much idea what it was, it aroused enough curiosity in me to actually long for that trip akkare for my monthly haircut. Ever since, the thought always failed to escape me whenever amma tries to comb my oil-dripping hair before I leave for school.

Today morning after breakfast Amma told Ramettan to take me akkare for the haircut. I was all excited. Only thing that did dampen it was that we just missed vasuettan’s kadathu-vanchi and had to wait ikkare for another half an hour or so. This, even with all the howling ettan and I tried when we saw the vanchi leaving. I really don’t know why people howl instead of just calling out ‘vasuetta’. Maybe that’s why he left without waiting today too.

I reached Josettans salon to find that he was already cutting another boys hair. Ramettan sat next to me in the waiting bench after exchanging some pleasantries with Josettan and a session in front of the mirror with the new round comb. By now my curiosity was at its peak and I was trying to decide how long it will take before it’s my turn. Apparently, the father of the boy whose hair was being cut was squatting outside the salon, smoking beedi with his cheeks caving in each time he takes a puff. He was holding down his lungi and looking in the direction of the kadavu. I am sure even he is thinking about the white paint on the underside of vasuettan’s new thoni which shows up only when all the people have alighted. Or am I the only one who has noticed?

That’s when I saw it. Josettan took out something from the draw and I instantly recognized it by the description given by Kannan. It looked beautiful. It had a handle of gold and the whole thing was shining. I am sure Josettan had to go to Aluva angadi to buy it. I am also sure it was made in London. He moved it along the back of the disinterested boy’s head and also behind his ears. It worked much like a scissor, but I could not see what exactly it was doing to the hair.

My turn came, and I waited eagerly for him to take it out. But that never happened. When Josettan had gone out briefly, I asked Ramettan to tell Josettan to use it. Ramettan dismissed it without even giving a reply. He just said he is going to the vayanasala above and left. Sometime later the cutting was over, as was the anticipation built over two weeks.
Today I will go to the Kaavu and pray that my hair grows back soon.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Outboard Motor

Except for the fact that the tobacco I had bought near the Moratawa market tastes bad, everything is fine with my life right now. The rich guy in pressed pants and a golden watch sitting next to me was not very amused at the way I spit out the tobacco last time around so I think I will have to hold the remaining for the next 45 minutes till I reach the bus-stop near my fishing village in South Kalatur. I had gone to Moratawa to see my brother-in-law’s friend Sirithunga who was selling his two year old Honda Outboard Motor. Now I too am a proud owner of a motor boat. Since I have all reasons to be happy, as Pastor Nelson said two days ago on Christmas Eve, I should pass it on. Pastor Nelson is one of the nicest man I know. Maybe I should buy some sweets from Perera’s bakery on the way. I will give it to Johnny’s kids because I have been fighting with Johnny for sometime now and someone should take the initiative to change it.

Now that I too am an owner of a motor boat, I have started thinking of everyone’s ‘uncle’ Victor who has been fighting for the community’s welfare. He never liked the Government allowing big fishing companies to start fishing and he always wondered how Sri Lankan economy is so dependent on US Dollar flow. I do not understand any of this anyway, and I cannot care less. He was part of a very successful struggle which ensured that the government cannot take away land rights from us for ‘development’. But I think he is overly worried about pollution caused by synthetic nets and the large-scale modern fishing depleting the fish breeding pattern. But he is right about the big trawlers spending 30-45 days at sea and bringing back fishes kept in ice. They can never be fresh. He was also always apprehensive of the motorized boat owners because of which the common fishermen could not compete to survive. But now when even I have one of my own, why is it that suddenly even I am not able to agree with him fully? Does having an outboard motor change your whole attitude towards life? But ‘Uncle’ Victor also acknowledges that these changes are inevitable and that we should embrace it gracefully.

There is a traffic block ahead and people on the road are talking of a rise in water level nearby. Don’t know how long I will be stuck in traffic here. Radhi and kids will be near the boat mending the net. The kids don’t know that I have gone to buy a motor. I cannot imagine how excited they will be about that and the sweets.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


എവിടെ നിന്നും വന്നതല്ല. ആരും അടിച്ചെല്‍പ്പിഛതുമല്ല. ഇതിനെ ചൊല്ലി ആരുടെ മേലും ചുവപ്പ്‌ പുരട്ടാനും സാധിക്കുകയില്ല. ചൂണ്ട്‌ വിരല്‍ ഉയര്‍ത്തിയാലും മുംബില്‍ കാണുന്നതു എന്നെ തന്നെ. എന്നാല്‍ മുംബില്‍ കണ്ണാടിയും ഇല്ല. എപ്പൊഴാണു തുടങ്ങിയതെന്നും ഉപബോധത്തെയാണൊ ആദ്യം പിടികൂടിയതെന്നും വ്യക്തമായി അറിയാനും മനസ്സിലാക്കാനും സാധിക്കുകയില്ലെന്നതാണു ദുഖകരമായ വാസ്തവം.
അന്യ നാട്ടില്‍ വസിച്ചു സ്വന്തമെതെന്നറിയാതെ പൊരുന്ന കാലം.എക്സ്പ്രസ്സ്‌ ചെയ്യാന്‍ വാക്കുകള്‍ അളന്നു ഉപയൊഗിക്കേണ്ടിവരുന്നു എന്നതു മനസ്സിലാക്കാം. പക്ഷെ ഒന്നും തന്നെ പറയാന്‍ പറ്റാത്തതെന്തുകൊണ്ട്‌? ചിന്തകളും വിചാരങ്ങളും സുപ്പറിംബൊസ്‌ ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്നതെന്തുകൊണ്ട്‌? ഏതു ഭാഷയിലും ആകട്ടെ, വാക്കുകല്‍ മുട്ടുന്നതെന്തുകൊണ്ട്‌? സംസാരിക്കാന്‍ ഒരു വിഷയവും ആലോചിച്ചാല്‍ പൊലും കിട്ടാത്തതെന്തുകൊണ്ട്‌? എത്ര അകന്നാലും ഒരു ചെറുനൂല്‍ ബന്ധം പൊലും ബാക്കി ഇല്ല എന്ന തോന്നല്‍ എന്തുകൊണ്ട്‌?
എല്ലാത്തിനും പുറമെ, എന്തു കൊണ്ട്‌ ഒരാളുടെ അടുത്തു മാത്രം ഇങ്ങനെയൊക്കെ? ഞാന്‍ എറ്റവും കൂടുതല്‍ സ്നെഹിക്കുന്നവള്‍ക്കു എന്നെയാണു എറ്റവും കൂടുതല്‍ വെറുപ്പ്‌ എന്നതറിഞ്ഞു ജീവിക്കുംബൊള്‍ ഇങ്ങനെയൊക്കെയാണൊ?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


The definition of tropical climate definitely should include 'cold', at least on days like today. Its still early May and God knows what June will bring with it. Twenty seven years in this part of Caracas, and I don't remember the last time I lamented about the chill. Since I am among the few people who go to work so early, there is not many people with whom I can debate it out too. A few of the people who do start early travel in closed cars anyway. What should they care about the various maladies that nature has to offer?!
Today the guy in a Ford who offered me lift demanded 20 Bolivars. Usually people demand just 10 Bolivars for the seven minute ride to Altamira. There is this physician who works in The University Hospital who has given me a free ride twice although a third time he did not stop as a lady(possibly his wife) was sitting besides him. I think all doctors are very good people by nature. Maybe they are trained to be good too. I looked hard at the road behind to see if I will be lucky enough to see another car approach, even though the curve in the road and the Oak trees alongside were conspiring against me. Eventually I did travel with him.
He had a radio in his car and the familiar voice of the newsreader from the local station was talking about a 'yet another flood' in Bangladesh. Just as he started the local news, my mind drifted to the the day when Papa brought home a radio he had bought from the store where his long-time friend worked. He had waited quite long. It was another day in May and I think I was ten years old. Papa bought the radio in the evening after spending the whole day in the store with his friend listening to the reports coming in that Gen. Marcos Jimenez has been ousted. The news at seven was the first radio sound that touched the four walls of our hall and the inner walls of our mind.
One evening in early October , many a years many a news' many a songs and two radios later, I heard Papa entering the house and directly switching on the radio. As I walked into the hall, I knew it was early for the news. Mama and Aunt Angelica, who were making pudding, joined too without asking any questions. After two minutes of hearing, I pieced together the news that the Bolivian army had killed Che in an encounter. From that day on, I guess Papa could not see radio as a source of entertainment. He rarely listened to the radio after that.
Its been a month since I have been planning to buy a TV now. But being decisive is much more tough for a courier dispatcher like me than the Doctor who gives lift for free. But maybe I should buy the TV today itself.
Will radio now be relegated to just thoughts on chilly mornings like these? Will I think of it at least then?
As I was realizing that I did not want the radio memories to fade, the local news did.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Umma said Onam will come soon. I am in fourth form and this is my second year in school. This year I am walking alone to school with Basheer. Last year salimikka used to walk me to school and back. Bapa says it is five furlong to school. Even he has to cross my school to go to his peedika. But he goes very early and so cannot take me with him. Sometimes he goes through the fields on his way back but i think it is a much longer walk. Umma cries most of the days and one night I thought she had gone mad. Twice I have heard her tell that it is because Bapa comes home taking that route. Maybe she is also scared of madananchettan's big black dog. I think all mothers cry for no reason at all.
Sometimes we meet Rajan near the big well while going to school and he says the three missing stones around the well fell into the well when a wild boar ran into it. Basheer does not believe it. He thinks it was the elephant which comes to the temple that did it.
Today also Ammini had fainted in class and Sarala teacher said she will take her back home and talk to her mother.
Anyway, today Raman maashu came to teach us science. In third form, we did not have science and today will be the first day when someone will be teaching Science to us. Raman maashu also teaches us malayalam. Today he told us that Ammini fainted because she did not eat anything in the morning or for lunch. He told all of us to try to eat good food at least twice daily and also drink milk if we have a cow at home. He said children should eat lot more than big people. But we have such small stomach. Maybe he was joking, like he sometimes does when he reads a story to us.
Even I dont eat much for lunch because I don't have time to. Also the kanji from morning will be still full inside my stomach. Tomorrow I should ask Ammini why she did not eat in the morning. Oh, and I have to ask Narendran about his new ball-point pen. Hope he lets me see it.