Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Joe and his Independence Day celebration

This is a thought of one of my independence day celebration while I was in my eighth. On every August fifteenth fluttering tricolor flags fills India. Most homes gatheres before the television, watching the live telecast of the Independence day parade held in Delhi. But for the past few years, everything changed. Since cable TV became common, most Indias preferred to watch some programs, which seemed better than the ID parade. Intentionally or not, many even forget about the ID parade or even Indian flag or even Independence Day.

Alappuzha village is also affected by the TV Channels. But I was thrilled. I was in my eighth standard. My village, Thathampally is in Alappuzha district. Which once was a big business place. As often that year also there is Independence Day celebration in recreation ground in Alappuzha. Even though I am a scout from the past two years, only in that year I got selection in the Parade group. That was my first chance to salute the Indian flag. I came to my school in previous day evening. It was the order that everyone should come to school before six O' clock. I felt uneasy in the silence in his Sanathana Dharma School. I had never seen my school like that. The leader of the scout asked everybody to keep silence and started to give some lecture in which I had no interest. Everybody was asked to sleep in the staff room.

I laid there but I felt impossible to sleep in that room. When I closed my eyes figure of the mathematics teacher of the seventh standard comes to my mind. While comparing with the right leg his left leg is a little fat. May be this is the reason students call him Unnimanthan which may have a literal meaning the filarial man. He carries a big stick that will reach his hip if the other end touches the ground. Even though I was in the eighth I was still afraid of Unnimanthan . I was an expert to hide behind the big pillars keeping my breath till he gets inside the staff room.

I fell asleep with the thoughts of Unnimanthan in my mind. In his sleep I started dreaming. In my dream another teacher came, whom the entire school was afraid of. A six something tall man with red lips out of chewing tobacco. His gray hair shined with coconut oil. Hair on his broad eyebrows had no order. His silk jubba and KasavuMundu brooked no wrinkles. Chicken pox marks on his face made him look more dangerous. A big line made with sandal paste in his forehead and in the center of the line there is a red mark made with Kunkumam, which will twinkle with the red lips. When he speak, it will make us remember about the sound when chiratta(the shell of coconut) is grind against a rock. It felt, as even Headmaster of our school was afraid of him. Maybe because of the knowledge this Malayalam teacher Bhaskaran pillai had in all the subjects is the reason for it.

Bhaskaran Pillai looked at me while standing in the assembly and shouted "JOMONEEEE…". I with sweating forehead and shivering legs opened my eyes

“Joe….” I heard it again but this time the sound is not so hard. I did not understand anything. I looked around.

"Getup and take your bath " It is his friend Raghavan. But still unaware of what is happening I looked around

"Joe are you not coming ". Now I understood about what is happening. I took the soap and ran to the tap. After the bath I wore my scout uniform and looked at myself in the mirror in the staff room. In the big mirror I made himself as a soldier. Everybody got in to the bus. I was going to recreation ground for the first time. The bus started to the Recreation ground, which is near the beach. We all reached the ground. I stopped for a moment seeing a giant building.
"What is that? " I asked.

"It is the Lighthouse, " said one of the senior members of the team. I, who have heard about the Lighthouse, didn’t need any more explanation about the huge white building.

"It looks like the Rook of the chess, isn’t it?" I asked to Raghavan.

"Yes" answered Raghavn who had never heard about the chess game.

"Come on, " said Raghavan.

"Can’t you hear the music of the bugle that means the parade is going to be started," said the leader. The chief gust has come. He hosted the flag. He was horned by the parade salute. But all these time my mind was on the Lighthouse which make us remember about the lost glory of the business town that was Alappuzha. In the parade I and my friends had to satisfy with the second prize. But I didn’t feel unhappy in it.

I was happy on the chance that I got to salute the flag. While they were returning the big Rook seemed to be becoming smaller. I kept on looking at it expecting to see it next time.

My First Love Letter

It is again a rainy season. The holidays are over. Like always, I was happy. I was in fourth standard from where I passed the examination and now is to sit in fifth.

Sanadhana Dharma School is in a big compound two other schools are there as its neighbors. In all the class of Sanadhana Dharma School there are three batches A, B and C. I was in B batch but when the class was reshuffled I came to C batch. I was not so happy to change the batch. I was so sad to lose my old friends and to come to the new batch. With me two other students from B batch were also changed to C and those two where the only friends that I have as of then . Sunil Paniker A fat bunny spacey boy and a lean fair boy Amith Menon. With these two friends I sat on the first bench with Menon on the left and Paniker on the right. A new teacher came to his class a lean young lady with long fingers and sharp nails. She is in a cotton sari, which is her specialty. Her eyes are sharp and the stick seems to be an extension to her left hand, which she always carries. Even though her name was Mary none called her so. The name Parunthu that students call her seems to suite her more.

My mind was still in my old class. In old batch he has a friend Sangeetha Mallan. The fat Konginy girl with wheat colored complexion was my best friend. One day Paniker came with a proposal. Chapter No 1 love. Kochurani a girl with big eyes and dark complexion is the daughter of a teacher of the same school is a good in Barathanathyam too. A simple proposal Paniker just wants to know whether Kochurani, the top ranker of B batch loves him or not. Good three of them liked it vary much.

"But how to know?" asked both of us to Paniker. Three of us start thinking. It longed for two days. Paniker came with a solution.

"A love letter," said Paniker. But the Paniker is not the one who is going to write letter and Kochurani is not the one who is going receive. I should write the letter and that to Mallan. That was the solution Menon liked it. I with little hesitation accepted the proposal. I was happy that he can start loving Mallan who was just a friend to him. Two birds with one bullet.

Now the problems aroused How to give? On what to write? What to write? Where to give?

"You put the letter before her on the way and she will take it" it was a suggestion by Menon to me.

"Good" said Paniker.

"Okay first problem is over. What is about the second? This is not an ordinary letter," I said. For that Paniker took a paper from the bag. It was an advertisement notice of sunflower oil. One side it is full of picture of sunflowers. And on the other side it is blank. The paper is good. Three of us got satisfied.

" Now what to write". Asked Menon

"One thing is fixed. “ I LOVE YOU “. But it is not the solution of the real need. And what is the next thing we should write to know that whether Kochurani loves Paniker or not" I said.

"Dose Kochurani loves Paniker", Menon suggested.

"No that should not be asked like that". Said Paniker.

Then what" I exclaimed."

"You should not mention my name ", answered Paniker.

"Whom does Kochurani love?" Paniker said.

"That is not bad," said Menon. I wrote the letter. It had only two sentences "I love you. Whom does Kochurani love?" I took a red sketch pen and drew a picture of a heart.

"That is enough," said Paniker.

"Now next is the interval you drop the letter before her then she will take it " said Menon to me .

It was the last interval of the day. I took the letter and went to the ground I saw Mallan playing in the ground. The bell rang. Everybody was rushing to the class. I dropped the letter before her. Without understanding any thing she gave a good smile and went in to her class. I looked all around and took the letter and kept it safe in my pocket. I came back to the class and told my friends about what had happened.

"Now what? " Menon was curious to know. They started to think again.

"Got it, " I said. Both Menon and Paniker were looking very curiously in to my eyes.

"You and Mallan are in the same school bus. You jut give this letter to her and say that I have sent this for her," I said to Paniker. Paniker looked troubled.

"That is not a good idea," said Paniker.

"No that is the only idea left and it is a good idea" interrupted Menon. It was the last period the bell rang.

"Where is Sunil?" I asked Menon. We both had no idea on where he had gone. We searched for him all around.

"There he is " shouted Menon pointing towards the school bus.

"Why didn’t you take this letter?" I asked him.

"Oh I forgot about it," said Paniker with a smile in his face. I kept the letter in Panikers pocket.

It was very difficult for me to pass that day. Next day I ran to the school even without doing the homework given by Miss Mary. Menon was also there.

"Why is this Paniker’s bus so late…there it comes". I Said to Menon. Both of us ran to Paniker to know what had happened.

"Success", I inquired with a smile.

"You just say Sorry and that you won't repeat it. Don’t say any thing else." Said Paniker to me .

"What?" exclaimed Menon.

"I kept that letter in my pocket which a boy took who is a friend of Kochurani's brother. And he gave that letter to Kochurani's brother. "Paniker said it in one breath. Even before Paniker could complete I saw a boy coming with his friends towards him. He is a student of the same school of class tenth. I turned back just to find both Menon and Paniker missing. That boy came to me and showed the same paper to him on that he pointed his index finger towards the heart sign in red colour. It looked redder than when he drew it.

"Did you draw it?" the first question from him.

"Yes" I replied in a low voice.

"Did you write it". He showed the two lines in it and asked.

"Yes" my answer was again in the same tone. He tore the paper into pieces and threw it on the ground.

"You are lucky enough that it is his sister if it was to my sister," Threatened a friend.

"What dose it mean" I thought about the sentences in the letter. "I love you, whom does Kochurani love, Is he thinking that I wrote this letter to Kochurani…! Yes that's it" I confirmed.

"But it is not me and not for Kochurani ". Before I could say that they were far enough to hear me. I couldn't move from that place. I stood there looking at the pieces of papers that was flying in the gentle breeze.