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Showing posts from February, 2021


 Fiction Ramakrishnan wanted to retire. “50 years is not the age for sannyasa,” said Saroja, his wife indignantly. She had been noticing some weird changes of late in her husband’s lifestyle. Ramakrishnan was the Managing Director of a major wing of a renowned corporate enterprise whose ostensible objective was to buy up the whole of India – from footwear manufacture to nuclear weapons manufacture. Yet he was becoming increasingly discontented over the past few weeks, Saroja had noticed. “What will you do anyway after throwing away the job?” Saroja asked her husband who was sitting on the plush velvet sofa looking like a unique specimen of borderline mental retardation. “I’ll go to a cave in Badrinath and become a fulltime monk,” Ramakrishnan said. Saroja snickered. “Fulltime is any time better than the part-time monking that our PM, your boss’s thickest friend, did once.” That landed like a boxer’s punch on Ramakrishnan’s cheek. Back then, when the PM spent a few hours in a

Fastag Extortion

From Deccan Herald   What India now has is an extortionist government. It raises the prices of everything on a daily basis. Petrol and diesel prices are just conspicuous examples. Today the price of cooking gas went up yet again. Do you know how many times the price of gas has been increased in the month of February alone? Probably, you don't. We have stopped thinking about price rises. We have got used to the mounting prices. Maybe, we have accepted the rising prices as the cost to be paid for keeping Narendra Modi as our PM. Maybe, this is what patriotism means:  attaining multiple orgasms while  being screwed wholesale by your government.  What are we to Mr Narendra Modi? Are we citizens or subjects?  In the olden days there were kings and subjects. Not citizens. We have been taken back to those old days by Mr Modi. Of course, he is in love with old days. He spoke to us no end about the greatness of the old days. Now we are there: king and subjects. No more citizens of a democra

A patriot and a billion traitors

  Wherever I turn, traitors everywhere. I love my country and its five-thousand-year-old civilisation. Patriotism runs in my veins like the holy waters of Ganga mayya.   But I see traitors all around me. Millions of farmers who question the wisdom of the infallible government. Scores of activists conspiring against the infallibility, from Bhima Koregaon to Disha Ravi.   We’ll fill our jails with you traitors. You’ll vanish from our public places without a trace.   This is the land of the pure. The is the holy land of gods and their avatars. Your mission is to sing paeans to this Punyabhumi, your Pitrubhumi And endure little hardships for its sake.   Don’t be a traitor questioning the government of the Punyabhumi, your Pitrubhumi. Endure the pain whether it be in your neck or in your posterior so that we shall have a Narendra Modi stadium in every state of this Punyabhumi, your Pitrubhumi. Your children can play cricket tomorrow

Tang of dried figs

A cartonful of medicines and medical accessories were being placed into my hands by the dispenser at the hospital where a beloved person had just undergone an angiogram when my phone rang. 'Benoy is no more,' the voice said stifling a sob. Benoy was a friend who was my batchmate from 1975 to 1978. The friendship endured till his ultimate departure because he had a unique ability to retain friendships. He took extraordinary pains to collect the whereabouts of each member of that particular batch and organise a gathering of theirs in Kochi about a decade back. He made a data bank of each one's significant dates such as birthday, wedding, and spouse's birthday. He wished each one on those occasions at the WhatsApp group he formed. Every friend was special for him. 'I won't leave you,' he told me when I left the WhatsApp group which I found a bit obscurantist in outlooks. But I was adamant on leaving the group with which I couldn't identify myself. Moreover,


  Courtesy Though my country is obsessed with memories, I am not fond of them. It’s beyond my comprehension why my country loves to dig up the ghosts of Babur and Aurangzeb, people buried centuries ago. It looks like my country is getting tired of digging far into history because of late young girls seem to be the targets. Girls in their early 20s seem to be the most favourite. Middle-aged journalists and activists were the focus some time back. Well, tastes vary as time changes, I guess. Back to memories which is my concern this morning because an old friend of mine called me “bastard” yesterday when I refused to respond to his seemingly endless messages. This friend – let’s call him Harry as in Tom, Dick, and Harry – has been trying to renew a lost friendship for a while now. We had said goodbye to each other in 2001 standing on shifting sands on a mountaintop. Future looked utterly bleak to me as I descended the mountain and walked away into absolute uncertai

The Umbrella Man

  These days I'm constantly reminded of a short story I read as a young man. It was titled The Umbrella Man . I don't remember the author. There are only two characters in the story: a man and the Umbrella Man (UM).  The man is travelling home after work by bus. Suddenly he feels a knock on the back of his head. He turns back to see a nondescript middle-aged guy sitting in the seat behind him holding an umbrella. Our man thinks that the knock was accidental.  But the knock is repeated. Man turns back and bestows an annoyed look upon UM. That doesn't work, however. The knock is repeated again. And again. Man gets up and gives a punch on the nose of UM. Even that doesn't deter UM from gifting the knocks at regular intervals.  Man is obviously exasperated. He gets down when the bus reaches near the police station. He has made up his mind to file a case against this eerie intruder in his life. UM gets down and follows the Man, awarding the umbrella-knocks at regular interva

The Great Indian Wife

 I happened to watch the Malayalam movie The Great Indian Kitchen  on TV. The movie has been discussed much and in great detail by almost everybody who is a somebody in Kerala. Let me add my little bit too to all that.  First of all, I endorse the cause espoused by the movie: women's liberation . Liberation from the kitchen, from man, from religion, from traditions.  None of these - kitchen, man, religion, traditions - is necessarily bad. On the contrary, all of them could be good and great. But the movie shows an ordinary woman married into a rigidly traditional household where the man is the boss and the wife is a slave. Religion and traditions become useful tools in the hands of the boss to ensure the woman's perpetual slavery. The climax of the movie is a brilliant scene in which the woman's rebellion takes the form of the dirty kitchen water which she hurls on the faces of her husband and father-in-law before walking out of her slavery with bold steps.  Secondly, I lov

The Saga of Dharmapuri

  A genuine leader liberates his followers. He leads them to the discovery of their potential, enables them to unfold their greatness, and thus creates a noble place of noble people. Bad leaders divide people into belligerent groups in the name of gods or cultures or languages or anything at all. Good leaders want a better world. Bad leaders want political power. Good leaders live in the present. Bad leaders live in history. Without history, where will the nationalist and the patriot set their feet? Without history, where will the soldier stand for shooting at and for being shot at? It is history that creates politics which in turn creates power, says the Minister of Sorrows in O V Vijayan’s apocalyptic novel, The Saga of Dharmapuri , originally published in Malayalam in 1977. The Minister is lecturing about the importance of history to Lavanya, a maidservant, whom he is disrobing while his own wife is being disrobed by the President. “Without power, can I disrobe you whene

Religion in a murder mystery

  First edition of the novel, 1887 From Wikipedia The first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet , has a religion at its centre: Mormonism. A wealthy American Enoch Drebber and his secretary Joseph Stangerson are both murdered in quick succession in London. Sherlock Holmes soon identifies the murderer Jefferson Hope. The murders were acts of revenge. Drebber and Stangerson had caused the untimely death of Lucy Ferrier whom Hope was to marry. They had also killed Lucy’s father, John. Both Drebber and Stangerson are top leaders of the Mormon religion followed by all the settlers in Salt Lake City. John Ferrier was not a Mormon but lived like one because he had no choice. He detested certain practices of the religious sect like polygamy and the authoritarianism of the religious leaders called prophets. Both Drebber and Stangerson wish to marry Lucy though they already have many wives. John and Lucy run away from the place with Jefferson’s help. They were being guarded heavily and

Blogging and Life: an interview

Sitharaam Jayakumar Sitharaam Jayakumar is one of the few bloggers who caught my attention many years ago. His writings have a touch of genuineness that one rarely comes across nowadays. They suggested to me a charming personality that is a rare blend of  forthrightness and meekness. But his fiction pieces gave me another impression altogether. I met him personally once for a favour and he struck me as an ideal human being: a personification of authenticity and magnanimity. I think he is one of the many good people in the world that need be brought into some limelight. Especially in today's India where all wrong people seem to grab the spotlights.  Over to Sitharaam Jayakumar who is known among his friends as Jai and the rather silly me whom Jai calls Tom.  Tom: You have been an active blogger for quite some time. What brought you into blogging? Jai : There is quite an interesting story behind how I ended up in the blogosphere. It all began on the founding day function of the org

A Sunday Reverie

  From the Facebook timeline of a friend Sunday musings The Congress is becoming like the BJP day by day. The lead headline of today’s Times of India reads: “ Congress moots law to block women’s entry in Sabarimala ”. “Females aged between 10 and 50 were traditionally not allowed to enter the shrine…” The report goes. The deity at Sabarimala was a celibate. His chastity will face potential threats if women in the menstruating age group appear before him! Since gods have always remained beyond my understanding, I shall not enter into the subtleties and logicalities of divine erections and predilections. The Congress is determined to preserve tradition, if not the god’s chastity. The truth is that the party is trying to woo Hindu voters some of whom at least are enchanted by the intoxications of neo-nationalism. The Congress is playing the same religious card that the BJP plays rather shamelessly. Shameless because everybody – even the child on the sidelines – knows that all the bro

If I were not I

  “If you were not you, who would you like to be?” This week’s Indispire asks. I find the question rather tickling. First of all, I don’t like me at all. Whenever I have been asked what my biggest disappointment in life was/is, my answer has invariably been, “My birth”. When I say that I am accused of negativity and pessimism and all sorts of wickedness. But the Buddha said very much the same thing when he defined life as pain. I think Jesus detested life even more than the Buddha so much so that he drove himself to the cross. I’m not placing myself on a par with these two great beings, of course. God forbid! But would I like to be one of them since I don’t like me myself? That’s the question, isn’t it? Being Jesus is no option at all. I am a hedonist and the cross is my bĂȘte noire. The kind of beggarliness that the Buddha practised would never appeal to me. So he’s out too. I admire them though. Unlike them, I like abundance. Good food and drinks, beautiful surroundings, world tou

Dog in the manger

  Dog Ross by June Huff Fiction Samson was irritated. There were too many missed calls on his mobile phone when he came back to the staff room during the break. Almost all the missed calls were from father-in-law. The son-of-a-bitch! Samson had no choice but call back. After all, his wife was his last hope, the ultimate redeemer. Samson worked as a teacher in a private school which paid him and all other teachers a salary that couldn’t meet even a week’s expenditure of a normal family with four or five members. Not that he didn’t try for other jobs. All good jobs were meant for people with some connections: wives of MLAs or nephews and nieces of Catholic priests and nuns or followers of people who claim to be political leaders… Finally Samson hit upon an idea for the sake of survival and possibly success in life. Marry a nurse and leave the country with her. Nurses get jobs abroad easily. Eventually their husbands can be transported too. “You’ll be working at some petrol pum

Where rocks sing

Some places retain their pristine beauty in spite of human presence. Ezhattumukham is one such place just 12 km from Cochin International Airport. Literally the name of the place means the mouth of seven rivers. Maybe in the heyday of Kerala's monsoon, one could see those seven debouches clearly. What I saw the other day, when I landed there rather by chance along with Maggie, is an elaborate spread of granite boulders and chains of rocks with puddles of water in between. Of course, the river is dammed up keeping all the water on the other side and channeling part of it for irrigation.  The place has a quaint charm even with all those rocks and boulders. As Alice Walker said, in nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Even the contorted trees with all their bizarre bends and twists have a perfection that arrests your attention. Those contortions can tell you stories. Some of those stories will resonate with your own inner distortions.  A hanging bridge connects the opp

Make religion potent

  Jimmy Swaggart, American Evangelist Wikipedia estimates that there are about 4200 religions in the world. Religion dates back to 4500 BCE. That is, human beings worshipped one god or another for some 6500 years. That’s pretty long period of time for any species not to be affected by an entity. Why does the human species remain as savage as it was in spite of all that worship, all those divine contacts, infinite hymns and rituals – seemingly utterly unaffected by that divinity? Two years ago, Christian Today reported that the “ten happiest countries in the world are among the least religious”. The report which was based on a detailed study also mentioned that “the most unhappy countries in the world are also among the most religious”. Isn’t there something seriously wrong? Gods are obviously doing no good – not anything worth mentioning at least – to humankind. On the contrary, they are doing much harm. Evil keeps mounting in direct proportion to the number of gods and religions