Dec 14, 2009

Long Distance Call ...

Ranga would always be waiting for his annual holidays to come because that is the only time he gets to see his grandparents who are living in a very beautiful village near "tenkasi" a very scenic place in Tamil Nadu. He would not want to miss even one annual leave and before even the exams start he used to tell his dad and mom that they should take him there the very next day after the exam gets over. Though Ranga used to live in a very posh bungalow in the city, his heart always liked that village house of his grandparents. He was too young to understand the family politics and he has no clue of why his dad and mom are living away from his grandparents or why his grandparents are not coming and living with them, but he did not give more attention to figure out the reasons and all he wants is to go to that village. Taking bath in the river which flows right at the back door of the house, drinking the fresh milk which was taken just out of cow's bowl, climbing those chikku trees, drinking unlimited tender coconut, walking in the middle of a farm land by inhaling that greenish scent those paddy crops would mix in the air, watching a white crane doing his fishing amidst of those green lands, jumping inside the pond where a pump set would be pumping out heavy gush of water are some of his "to do" list of things when he goes to his grandparents village, oh yaa and not to forget those lovely bed time stories his grandpa would narrate ...

His grandparents house is quite a big one and his grand dad being the zamindar of that village, he gets the first priority in whatever happens in that village, he is well respected and admired by many people in that village for the kind of "heart" he has, no one ever has been turned out empty handed if they step into his house. That house is very big in size which would span several streets in length and breadth, Ranga would have lots of places to hide and he would give a very tough time to his grandma who would be constantly searching for him and that is one of his favorite games. The best time in a day for Ranga is when the sun sets, there is no electricity in that village and all they would be having is that "chimney" lamp which runs on kerosene. Ranga's favorite pass time is to catch those flies that fly around and put them inside that chimney and watch them burning to death. His grandma would always make dishes which are his favorite and before preparing the menu she would ask Ranga of what he wants to eat, unlike his mom giving him those "bread toasts" three times a day, so Ranga would think every possible dish that he want to eat and would demand his grandma to do it for him, knowing the fact that he has to settle with those breads once he goes back to the city....

Early mornings would always give Ranga a very different experience, for a boy who is always used to get by with the sound of "beep beep beep beep" alarm clock, getting up after the cock announcing the arrival of dawn is something he loved and he used to ask his grandpa of who will wake up the cock first so that he can wake all of us up ?. Early mornings in the village would always be a pleasant sight to watch. If he peeps out of his house, all he could see is green paddy fields and dark mountains. There is a big banyan tree right opposite to his house which is actually a resting place for 1000s of birds, he used to see lots of birds in that tree and he does not know most of its names and he used to get to know from his grandpa, and that is how he got to know about "rettai vaal kuruvi", "mann kotthi maravan", "kondai mudi naadaan" kinds of birds. He always used to compare this sight with the sight he used to see from the 18th floor of his city house where he could only see smoke, dust and a huge concrete jungle with no signs of any greenery in sight. He loves brushing his teeth out of a freshly broken "neem" tree branch, though he hates that taste, he enjoys brushing his teeth in that because his grandpa had told him that no paste in this world can give that strength to his teeth.

After a pretty long walk with his grandpa amidst of those paddy fields, Ranga would want to go back to his house before the milk man comes to collect the milk from their cow. Ranga would sit next to that man who comes with a small barrel and he would admire the technique that guy would use to get the milk. He would first spray some cold water on the breasts of the cow to make the nipples go strong and erect and he has a knack to catch hold of the nipple and would apply gentle pressure to get the milk out, while all these actions are happening, the cow would be happily munching his breakfast of "parutthi kottai and punnaakku" mixture which would be placed in front of her. Ranga never understood the concept of why the milk man is keeping a "straw stuffed" calf like doll in front of the cow before milking it, one day he asked the milk man the reason and that actually shook Ranga and he felt so bad for that cow. The milk man said that he is cheating the cow as if her calf is still alive so that she will give him more milk, if the cow comes to know that her calf is no more, she may not give him the milk. Ranga had a special liking for that cow from that day onwards.

He has his own set of friends in that village who would be equally eager to see him every holiday. That is the place where Ranga learnt the meaning of "empathy" and those friends taught him the secret of being happy even if they don’t have anything to eat. Ranga used to invite all his friends to his house and then give them food and toys and he would be happy by seeing them happy. This would remind him of his sickening city life where his mom would not allow any of his friends to even come in and giving something to someone is defined as "being cheated". Ranga who has played only with those electronic games and dumb play stations, love to play with those kids in a open land, they used to play hide and seek, top, marble dashing, gilli and paandi, he would play until it gets dark, more he plays, the more he gets hungry, more he gets hungry the more he can eat, Ranga used to think it would be nice if his life freezes right now and he hate growing old. After a game of "burning the insects" without the notice of his grandparents Ranga would be waiting for bedtime so that he can listen to some interesting "king" stories. His grandpa injected a liking in him towards history and culture. He learnt many stories of some great kings who ruled our country, the Chera's, Chola's and the Paandiyaa's. His favorite historical character is "Abhimanyu" and he used to tell his grandpa to change his name from Ranga to Abhimanyu.

Every time the holidays come to an end, Ranga would hate that day when he would be taken back to his den by his dad. One year, his dad told Ranga that they are going to his grandparents village, and that came as a sweet surprise to Ranga as he knew, there are 8 more months for the annual leave to come, on hearing this, his joys knew no bounds and he was literally flying, but that poor kid did not know that he is going there to attend his grandpa's funeral. That's when Ranga got to know about "death" for the first time and though he did not understand any meaning of it, he realized that, his grandpa would not talk to him again. He was confused to see his grandpa lying motionless, because he has always seen him as a very energetic person who is always active, he has no clue of why everyone are crying, and he just could not see his grandma crying, he went near her, took her by her cheeks and said "nee azhaadha paati, naa iruken unakku", and that dialogue increased the "crying" decibel in the room and that confused him more. This time he did not like to stay in that house for long and he wanted to go back, and also he did not understand why his dad and mom are fighting with his grandma by showing some paper and his dad threw that paper in anger on his grandma's face and walked out of the house and that was the last time he saw his grandma alive and the next time he went back to that village was to attend her funeral.

Ranga's world came to an end, he was so angry on himself that he don’t understand what is happening and whenever he pesters to his dad and mom to take him to that village, all he got was beatings and slaps on his face. Time is the best healer and Ranga too learnt that, as he grew old, he sensed that he will never go back to that village and that remained inside his heart as a scar even now. By the time he understood the meaning of his dad and mom living away from his grandparents, the fight they had over a will, the mis-understanding between his mom and his grandparents, it was too late for him to take a corrective action, he told himself that he will not let this happen to his grand children when he grows old, all of a sudden he heard "Hey grandpa, what the hell ?? Are you still on line ? for god sake just don’t waste my long distance call, it’s not my fault in you not knowing the internet, bloody old man, you are wasting my dollars here. Ok then, my pre-paid card is getting over, will call you next month, take care dude", that's the voice of his un-seen grandson who was talking to him from the United States. Ranganathan was laughing to himself and goes back to his good old memories ...

7 SAID FROM THE HEART:

chennai girl said...

nice read. Good twist at the end..You have got a way with narration. Very nice.

Swetha Guptha said...

hey good post! was taken back to my annual day holiday at my grand parent's place...we used to have umpteen number of "nungu", not the ones we get here. We get them directly from our grand parent's farm. They will give it to us like how we get the tender coconut's top cut off. Apparam veral anda ottaile vittu, nungu veliya eduthu sapuduvom. Cha...ippo nenacha kooda ore kushia irukku. We still visit our grand parents place, but now the old charm is not there :(

Amrita said...

:) interesting read :)

Chan said...

Gud one mate!

Viji said...

Interesting read:-).

The end really nice....what goes up, comes back!

Shylu said...

A detailed one...was good!!

NATZMYID said...

Awesome!

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