Celebrate Blogging – Chapter 13

I am participating in collabrative novel writing activity as a part of Blog Adda’s Celebrate Blogging Initiative. You can read the previous chapters by following this Facebook page.

He decided that his first stop would be at the obvious. He had to get a first person account of what happened fourteen years back. The only person who could answer that was the priest.

With the little Malayalam he knew, he managed to find the priest’s house with much difficulty. It was a typical ancient kerala illam house. There was no one to take care of the priest who had fallen ill. A teenage boy was sitting at the doorstep reading a magazine. When Cyrus approached the house, the boy had a quizzical look on his face.

“I want to meet the priest” Cyrus informed the boy.
“No Malayalam?” the teenage boy questioned Cyrus in his broken English.
“Erm… I don’t know.”

“Then can’t see. Namboothiri– health bad. No talk properly. Talk only Malayalam. What you do? You go, bring Malayalam and English man” he said.

“You can translate whatever he says for me” Cyrus said slowly while acting it out.

“But my English…”

“It’s alright. I can understand you.”
The boy hesitated.
“I will pay you”, he showed his wallet.

“Ok” said the boy with a big smile on his face.
They entered the room where the priest was on his bed. He appeared to be bedridden for a while now. The room stank of human excreta. The boy appeared to be used to this scent and did not react. Cyrus however, covered his nose with his kerchief.

“Maid come everyday to clean house” the teenage boy said, while he woke the priest. There was very little life in his eyes. He had not shaved for many days. He was paralyzed and only one side of his body was functional. He tried to sit up, but Cyrus said that it would not be necessary.

“Some writer has come to see you” the teenage boy announced to the old man.
The boy looked at Cyrus, ‘You book writing?’
Cyrus touched the partially grown beard on his chin and gave a little smile to himself. The beard and the glasses had made the teenage boy assume that he was a writer.

The priest motioned with his hand to ask questions. Cyrus really didn’t know whether he could trust his interpreter. But the boy seemed to be innocent and sincere.

“I want to know about the incident that happened 14 years ago” Cyrus said. When his interpreter translated it to the priest, the priest’s eyes become sadder. Cyrus could say that he was bored of such questions. But still, he wanted to know the answers.

The old man started to describe what had happened that day. It was like a long sentence, without many emotions to it. But the expression of the boy changed now and then. Cyrus could not wait for him to begin translating. Suddenly, the old man stopped talking and motioned to the boy to get him some water. The boy brought the water to the priest.

“Well?!” Cyrus asked. This is what he learned.

“He is tired of telling everyone the same story over and over again. He could clearly remember what had happened 14 years ago. The procession had begun and they reached the pond for the holy dip. He and the child Anamika went down the pond’s step together. She went for a dip and our old man was about to give her the idol. That is when he slipped and fell down. He became unconscious. When he woke up, he was told that he was half paralysed and that the girl was dead.”

Cyrus looked at the old man. He was lying to his side. A tear drop sliding down to his pillow.
“What happened to that child?”
“He don’t know. Only this he remember. He always cry after telling this story.”
“Did anyone else come for this story?”

The boy told him that a lot of people used to visit the old man. People from all sorts of backgrounds. People who thought that the old man could open the doors of some underground chamber which held gold. All he did was, tell them this story.”

“Oh!” Cyrus exclaimed, partially disappointed.
Cyrus paid the boy and turned to leave the old man’s house. Something struck him and he came back to the boy. The boy was about to resume reading his magazine when he saw Cyrus approaching him again.

“You said, he was tired of telling the same story over and over again. How do you know that? Did he say that?”

“I always here. So I know. My house there.”, he pointed at a little hut in the next compound.

“Listen carefully now. You need to think a bit before answering. Whenever he recounts the story, does he use the same sentences without changing the order?”

The boy was confused. His eyebrows twitched meaning that he was thinking. After thinking for a while, he said, “Yes! Always say it same way and order. Like sad song”

Cyrus pressed a fifty rupee note in the boy’s hand and left.

If the old man was the tape recorder, whose song is he singing?

*****

The investigative team comprised of a chosen team of policemen, Sudheeran, the priest, Tara & her crew including Jennifer. They were all seated in a hall, inside the police station.
Tara asked Roohi to watch her favorite television show in the police station’s television. She kept checking on Roohi every hour.

They began by questioning the madman again. Their first doubt was, if the madman could get the keys to the chamber so easily, anyone else could have.

He said, ‘Memana Namboothiri’s keys had fallen next to his bed while he was asleep. I took them, and kept them back after use. What is so difficult about that?’

On questioning the priest, he said, “Yes, when I woke up, the keys had fallen down. It has been 14 years since I have been working here. Never before something like this happened. I always keep the keys on my chain. I never removed the chain. I have no idea how it fell off from my neck.”

The madman laughed, “It was Amma’s play. Why don’t you accept that? She had given me the directions.”

They didn’t progress any further by questioning the madman. Hence, they asked him to leave. They decided to test the fake idol.

“We asked a few of our trusted Goldsmiths whether they could test the idol. We said, we just wanted to know about the idol’s constituents and value to get an idea about the temple’s worth. But people in Kerala know too well about the Goddess’ powers. They fear her wrath. No one was willing to test it.’ Said the officer.

“But, we can’t take the idol out of the town. It will lead to unwanted commotion here.” Sudheeran said.
“So?”, interjected Jennifer.

“So we will have to wait for someone willing to come and test the authenticity of the idol”
“But Mr. Varma, people here are scared about the powers of the deity. There are more unpleasant situations for non-believers and those who chose to play games with this deity. Even if we bring someone from outside, the villagers will only scare him away.”

“So what do we do?”

“We need to find someone who will trust us and whom we can trust. The person should also be willing to test the idol without fear. When he realizes that the idol is fake, the news shouldn’t reach the public.”, said Tara

“Are you sure that the idol is fake? It looks like genuine gold to me.’, said Jennifer.
Sudheeran looked thoughtful, “I felt the same. Only the diamonds looked fake. But the madman, he is a tough material. He is very knowledgeable. He can’t be wrong.”
He continued, “So now, we need to search for a dependable Goldsmith or someone who has deep knowledge about metals. I’ll contact my friends outside Kerala and enquire if they know anyone. Meanwhile, our Mumbai friends can do a bit of searching too. But make sure that you do it discreetly!”
The team decided to disperse for the day. During such circumstances when no one could be trusted, all they could do was have faith in the Goddess’ powers.

You can read the next chapter here

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

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Celebrate Blogging – Chapter 3

Team – Alphabet Soup

I am participating in collabrative novel writing activity as a part of Blog Adda’s Celebrate Blogging Initiative. You can find the first two chapter here and here

Chapter 3

The National Law University of Delhi was yet to wake up from its slumber. A tall & extremely fair boy, stealthily walked out of his hostel room. He slowly shut the door behind him but didn’t lock it. His roommate was fast asleep. Cyrus Daruwala had his sports kit slung over his shoulders and a basketball in his arm. He was heading towards the basketball court. There would be no one waiting for him. He would be practicing his game all by himself. The University had various sports tournaments. But none of them interested him. The cricket tournament was named “Bails Denied”. He wondered what the basketball tournament would be named, if at all there was one.

This was his third year into the university and it would take another two years before he could begin his legal practice. He played basketball to calm his mind, so that he could think clearly. The last few days had been quite hectic reading the case papers, preparing counter arguments for the assignments they planned in the university. He had been reading a lot and sleeping late. His eyes were tired and they had dark circles around them.

He dribbled his basketball as several thoughts crossed his mind. His mind shifted from the various mini topics going on inside it. He tried a shot at the basket. No luck.

Politics always interested Cyrus. But the consolidation of provinces after the independence, made his head spin. He didn’t want to get into such mess after what had happened to his father. He was a historical researcher. Cyrus had inherited a part of his father’s abilities. His grandfather didn’t like the cases he chose for his assignments.
‘That is always a curse to our family’, he often said.
He also mentioned something regarding Cyrus’s father’s trip to Kerala. But that was not his concern now.

His thoughts settled on the documents which he had read the day before. They had disturbed his sleep. Yes, that was the thing troubling him. As a part of a project, he was supposed to take up one case that interested him & prepare a thesis on the same. As he was looking up a hundred cases on the internet & the case files, one particular case, interested him deeply. It wasn’t simple. It was a case that was closed long ago. But having inherited his father’s thought process; he believed the case could still be solved.

He dribbled faster. He tried another shot. Yes!!!

Two hours later, he returned to his room, freshened up and picked up the newspaper lying on the door mat. After skimming through the pages he reached the section of the regional news.

Temple trustee oversees the preparation for the celebrations of the temple. Tourists and devotees from all over the country and overseas are visiting Kerala to witness the beautiful deity’s procession.
He retrieved the documents related to his new case. He had requested for the case files as soon as he had the chance to. Since the case was closed long back, they gave him access to the files. He converted them into pdfs and read them whenever he got a chance. He read it again – one line at a time.

He took his backpack and stuffed the laptop inside along with a few jeans and t-shirts. He looked at the mirror. His curly hair was an unruly mess. The unwieldy spectacles adorned his stern face. He had not worried about the way he looked in a long time. He studied himself further. For some unknown reason his face has turned red. He stood there staring at his reflection, without smiling. He was unsure of what to do with the unidentifiable fuzz growing on his chin. Some people would have referred to it as a stubble, some would refer to it as the 5 O’clock shadow.

He wanted answers to some of the questions which ravaged his mind and left him sleepless at nights. He had to go in search of them.

You can find the next chapter here.

“Me and my team, The Alphabet Soup, are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

E tumi Kemon Tumi

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I wonder who is this person

who sits in my eye, holding a mirror in her hand;

Whenever I try to talk with her

I get only silence as a reply.

I still have no idea why

she has that mirror in her hand and

what she is trying to make me see.

Like a speck in the corner of the eye,

while you drive in a busy main road

I try to ignore her and try to look

beyond her.

But I know she is still there

trying to attract my attention

Only through her prolonged silence.

I know that I know her.

But I cannot just recall where I had seen her

It is like that ancient melodies of our land

which follow you after centuries and you

dont even know who was singing that for you

A mere word from her may put my nervousness to a pause

But she fills my day with language of sighs

Her face disturbs me

I want to say a thousand things to her and

no words come out of my mouth.

I should have been a  poet in one of my previous birth

who was cursed with a verbal constipation.

She showed me in the mirror

the days I was smiling

I was laughing

I was ME

which I didnt dare to do for a long time.

Now I want to treat her again like

a speck of dust in a busy road

As all the mirror shatters and

She will also dissolve in tears.

Kerala Diaries – Part 4

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The trip kinda ended so soon. But this series did not. I apologize for the delay in post, pretending that the cyber world is waiting only for my travelogue to get released on time. But then the fourth day dawned so soon for me. I took bath and checked with the reception about our dues and paid it. Then we went to have the buffet breakfast while Sarayu’s friend called up to say that she was joining us that day. Good to explore Kochi with a local guide I thought.

The traffic was quite heavy that day and along the way all I could think was only about how I had to go to office the next day. Sometimes that very thought could put us in bad mood. Similarly most of the people in the car were in their own world. They may have been thinking about what they would do the next day at their home or reflect upon life in the free time they have had last few days. But anyway the car was quite till Sarayu’s Arathi hopped in the car.

She had beautiful voice. Soon, our nightingale of the trip and she started crooning one of my favorite song “Munbe vaa en Anbe vaa”. I recorded it in my phone but couldnt upload it because unfortunately I couldnt stop myself from joining them and thereby spoiling the whole thing. We reached the Mattencherry palace and started to look around. It was unbearably hot. We entered the bookshop to have a look. They had a good collection of books, but all in English. One of my friends had asked for “Aadu Jeevitham” and one more book in Malayalam. But those books were available in English. I was kinda shocked.

I always thought Keralites take their reading habit and their language seriously. Almost all the important books in the world literature is translated or being translated in Malayalam, I hear from my friends but in a busy book shop, a book written by a malayalee in malayalam is not available was a rude shock. He asked me to go near the train station to find such books. It was not only the books.

Throughout our stay, we didnt have a typical Kerala breakfast. The only Kerala item, we tasted would be Pazhampori and Curry fish. The tourist space is totally adoptive to the visitors. You could easily get pancakes in the resorts we have stayed. Almost all of them served cereals and milk for breakfast. I didnt see aapam, puttu, kadalakari or beef. It was really saddening. But the government is taking some serious steps towards tourism in Kerala. Be it online campaigns or local fares and exhibition, it must be applauded. All the hotels follow an uniform pattern with the toiletries. They are named, well stacked and have instructions which was really helpful. But at the same time the government should also understand some people like me visit Kerala, because it is Kerala. I had a feeling that these tourist spots become a colony of the visiting foreigners. Much like Pondycherry.

So those things aside, we wiped our sweating faces throughout the palace and walked a really long way to jewish synagogue to find it locked, entered an artist’s workshop to find out that he was out for lunch leaving two old people who didnt know the value as well as cost of his art. The best thing that happened was lunch at Kashi Art Cafe. For Others.

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Again, this was not a authentic kerala space. They again served typical English lunch, in which I was not really interested. Vidya was interested by Nandu, one more friend of Sarayu about Kochi Carnival and the graffiti that were done in that part of Kochi. She took a walk to capture some images. And when she was back, it was time to part ways. I had to take train in another half an hour.

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Shijit was ready by the car, when we reached it.

“Shijit Etta, Railway station. How long will it take?”

“Oru one and half…”

“Etta!!”

“I know when your train is, you will be there do not worry” he said.

We dropped of Arathi, Shruthi and Sarayu in BTH, which was supposed to be the best vegetarian restaurant in Kochi. It was sad that we couldnt stop by for a coffee with Arathi’s dad. We reached the railway station at time. Bought some chips for the friends and relatives in Chennai.

Vidhya started to talk about how the trip was to her in train. Thanks to the AC tickets she booked, I was snoozing off in another half an hour. We woke up in the morning to rains in Chennai. It was what we were longing for in Kerala. But to smell the petrichor in  your own city is priceless.

I reached office an hour late than usual. And I got texts from everybody that their Monday started, from their office.

All good things come to an end. But this was very soon.

That is it. This was how I spend my days in Kerala. I may be back with a travelogue soon. From a place that starts with “A”

P.S. All the images in this blog post were clicked by Vid Dev.

Kerala Diaries – Part 3

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We had to cross Cochin city to reach Cherai Beach from Alleppey. I didnt know that before. It took us more than one and half hours to reach Cherai beach. In the car, Vid, Shruti and me tried our level best to explain the plot of tamil movie “Soodhu Kavvum” to Shiva. After a while we kinda gave up as we stopped telling stories but interesting scenes and confused him. We we sitting in silence, when he suddenly burst into laughter and said, “I didnt know you three two days ago and now we are talking like there is no tomorrow”. It seemed like something that was repeated a lot and then I realized, I was the one who was repeating it over and over in my head. The sad part was Shiva had to cut short his vacation to attend a friend’s wedding the next day.

We had booked our stay at Hotel Bluewaters Cherai. It was an awesome property with beach at the front of the hotel and backwaters at the back of the hotel. The girls wanted to try the ayurveda massage in Kondai Lip the day before. But there was no female masseuse available there. They kept on asking whether the facility would be available in Bluewaters. I was the one who was filling the forms and formalities in the reception. I remembered what the girls asked and inquired the pretty lady at the reception.

“Do you have female masseuse available here?”

She was kind of uncomfortable to answer. I didnt know why. She called for the manager and he came to me screaming.

“No woman-man massage. Only man-man massage”

They thought I was asking for a female masseuse for me. But then we knew there is facility for massage and checked in our room. The room was comfortable with the balcony. Before we went for the buffet lunch we booked our appointment in the massage parlor in the terrace.

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We finished our lunch as soon as we can reached the room. I was quite excited about the massage thing. In a corner of my heart, I believed that the Kerala Ayurvedic massage will give ma gold dipped color tone. Though I was not really expecting that to happen, it was there in my mind. We went upstairs after the lunch leaving Shruti to convince Shiva to drop his plans for the evening.

Two elderly ladies took the girls to their massage rooms and a man took me to mine. I was not very fluent in Malayalam and we had nothing to talk. When I stepped in the room, he locked it up and said

“Sir. Remove dress”

I sat with my shorts in the stool when he prepared some oil. He turned back to me and said.

“Sir! Remove dress. All”

“I am sorry?” I asked him.  I was not sure what he meant.

“For massage, no dress”

“What? No!”

“Yes” He then gave me a loin cloth which was like half or my arm length and tied it around my waist. It felt really really uncomfortable. But at such circumstances, closing your eyes help. I didnt open my eyes until he finished the massage. I had to open it only when he made me sit in the steam bath room. The oils had refreshing effect in my joints. But it was weird conversing with a person while you are sitting almost naked in a hot room, with only your head jutting out of the opening. Finally the given one hour was over and I was off to take bath. Wearing back my dress never felt so good till then. I was the first one to come to room and wait for others.

When three of us came back to the room, we burst into laughter. We were asking each other, “you too? you too?” leaving shruti and shiva confused. Soon it was time to head to beach and shiva to bid adieu. After a evening stroll in beach we bade good bye to Shiva as he took bus from Cherai to his destination. We came back to room to watch Mumbai Indians taste their first victory in IPL 7 and making CSK No. 1 in the table. We spent the evening chatting and chatting in the room. We had a relatively quite dinner and I had a very good sleep while the girls were having fun.

I didnt want the sun to come up the next day too soon. It was Sunday and last day of our trip. I hated the fact that all good things come to an end so soon.