A slice of memories

A slice of memory

This short story is actually a continuance of  “My Soulless Hometown”. However, I’ve tried to create it as an individual story of it own. Hope you’ll like it. 🙂

When he finally arrived at the main market, he saw a number of cars parked haphazardly on one side of the road, but the town still seemed deserted though. The hubbub of market place was absent. And the shops, on either side of the road, looked the same as it did eight years ago. And still as unattractive as before and were devoid of any customers. It gave him the feeling that only place with any sign of bustle was at the Bus Station.

Obiro felt uncomfortable when he suddenly became aware of the prying eyes of the shopkeepers, who were standing outside their shops, eagerly waiting for the buyers to grace their shops and watched the people passing by.

But he couldn’t escape the stare as he had to go past the market place to reach his home. Amid scores of viewers, he was a stranger in his own hometown.

As he neared his home, he stopped at one store ran by Bengali tradesman, where his parent used to buy grocery items when he was a child. He distinctly remembered how he loved running errands for others, not because he was attracted to the displays of the shop, but because he could earn little pocket money out of it.

Obiro didn’t notice much change in the inner of the shop. It had retained all the old fixtures. The high platform, where the store manager used to sit on mattress and did his daily transactions, was still there and still too high which reminded him one of his childhood experiences. He had come to buy some loose cooking mustard oil for his mother. After the shop assistant had filled the bottle, he was told to pay the money at the counter. Uncle, Dada, Manager – he tried many different names to draw the attention of the store manager. But the high platform stood like a wall and blocked them from seeing each other face. Besides, the store was packed with customers at that time. Several attempts later, he left the shop – oil bottle in one hand and crispy red two rupees note in another.

When he returned home, he couldn’t tell his mother what had happened – out of fear and shame. He was convinced that his mother would send him back to the shop to return the money if she comes to know about the unpleasant incident and it would be very embarrassing. He felt awfully guilty, but he was not ready to part with his crispy two rupees note at the same time. And that time was not like now when you cannot imagine buying anything with one rupee.

For a week, he dodged the shop and made excuses whenever his mother would try to send him on an errand. He was afraid that one of the shop assistants might grab him and pull or twist his ears.

Obiro chuckled to himself while handing money to the manager. He chuckled at his memories. But he knew his memories would never be able to hold him back from his resolution – to say goodbye to his aging hometown. There was no love lost between him and his reminiscence. He gathered his groceries and went on his way with his heavy luggage.

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My Soulless Hometown

My Soulless Hometown

Obiro slightly opened the window to take a look at his hometown. The topography of the valley appeared quite straightforward to him from the bus.

He was returning to his hometown, after a long gap of 8 years, and it didn’t seem to him that much had changed. The small town was still bearing the same old sleepy sombre look. The drizzling afternoon rain was also throwing some additional gloom to its appearance.

Many wooden and bamboo house with rusted tin roof were still looming over nearly all landscape. The distant smoke emanating from a house suddenly brought back all his childhood memories. He vividly remembered how he and his siblings would gather round the hearth, on such dull day, to make popcorn over an open fire.

His siblings – all married and well-settled – now lived in a different town.

Obiro was oblivious of his surroundings. He was lost in his thoughts. So he didn’t heed the bus conductor entering the  passenger cabin. He cleared his throat and announced out loud that all passengers must alight at the station as they were not allowed to drive through the main market, and this roused Obiro from his daydreaming.

He didn’t expect any of his relatives to receive him at the station. He disliked the idea of sharing information of his travel plan to anyone. And most of his friend had also moved out of town to make a living in cities. So they won’t be there either.

Some passengers seemed to be in a great hurry. Obiro saw them retrieving their luggages before the bus pulled to a halt.  The energy of this sudden activity became very infectious, and the other passengers seemed to be drawing it in as they also started salvaging theirs from the rack. When the bus finally stopped at the station, everyone struggled to get off before all others. Obiro waited for all of them to disembark. When, at last, he stepped off, he found his one foot in a pothole, which was filled with muddied rainwater. He had to ignore his wet shoes, soiled trousers and the muddied pothole lest he might knock over his luggage in the puddle.

The muddy road ahead was all too familiar. The potholed road had been disregarded way too long by the officers. Obiro said to himself that the corruption had sucked the last bit of life from his hometown.  Suddenly, it occurred to him as if a black carpet had been laid out to welcome him.

He decided to persuade his widowed mother to live with him in a city and walked home silently.

The Ginger Cat

The Ginger Cat

Benj Adwga wasn’t very fond of cat. Yet he didn’t mind all his neighbors’ cats’ occasional visit to his house. He disliked them especially during the mating season when they would wail into the night, much like the cries of human babies, in search of a sexual mate. It used to send shivers down to his spine.

It was a day off for him from his daily grind. He was on his porch, enjoying his free dosage of vitamin D, drop-shipped by the mother sun, when he noticed a solid ginger adult cat near a drain.

The cat was male. Benj instantly recognized this after seeing a bulge between hind legs, which was visible even from a distance, which also gave away the sex of the feline.

The cat was trying to cross the drain.  But he appeared to be a bit hesitant. He would put his paw forward and would retreat it immediately.  It went on for a while. Finally he mustered all his courage and leaped. Instead of landing on the other side, he fell right into the drain.

Benj decided not to interfere and remained where he was, as an observant.

Perhaps the cold blackish water of the drain stunned the cat and it triggered a panic in him but he somehow emerged from the drain, completely soaked in sludge. He turned and fled away in horrific excitement.

Benj couldn’t understand why the cat landed on drain rather than on surface of the other side. He wondered if the cat decided halfway not to cross the drain. It puzzled him.

The cat returned a week later. He saw him resting on the piles of firewood that had been set out in the sun to dry. Benj was in hurry, but saw his gooey watery eyes in some way. He stopped and gave a second look. In fact, the ginger cat was blind.

By hook or by crook

By hook or by crook - wordpress Even on cold days, I tend to let in as much liquid into my stomach as on any hot days, though I knew in my heart that it would keep me busy all day.

Sometimes, my female colleagues at school, would often eye it suspiciously as to why I need to use the rest room so often. However, they never mentioned it openly.

I even once visited a clinic to know if it is an illness which is causing me an unusual thirst and the frequent urination. The doctor ran some tests. A day later, I was told by the doctor that all tests were fine. And he said, “You’re in good health”.

That was it.  I was finally composed. I said to myself, “There’s nothing I should fret about”.

                     *******************

After conducting term-end examinations for the school children, the entire school staffs were invited for lunch at our school principal’s residence.

Before we set out on our short trip, I excused myself and headed directly towards the rest room so as not to cause any trouble on the way.

As soon as we reached his home, the sky turned really ugly. The bright blue sky was hurriedly overlapped by dark gray clouds. While we were having our Poré O, the rain prolifically poured down upon the land.

In the following hours, after downing a few mugs, the bladder urged me urgently to empty it.

Rain was noisily drumming on the corrugated tin roof. It was even difficult to hear our own voice. Such was the uproar.

Amid such commotion, I went down to use the toilet. The bathroom-cum-toilet door was open. The door had a hook locking system. As I was unzipping my pants, someone hooked and locked the door.

I called out to someone. I called out to Principal. I called out to principal’s wife. I called out to my colleagues. But the clamor of unremitting rain had utterly muffled the call for help.

Suddenly, I remembered my cell phone in my trouser pocket. I could phone my colleagues or my principal to tell my dilemma. To my ill luck, there was no network signal.

I looked around the bathroom for some solid materials to unhook the hook through the narrow gap between the door and the frame.

Near the soap case, I saw a broken metal tongue cleaner. I prayed and hoped that it would free me from confinement. I slid the metal through the gap and tried to raise the hook. Alas! It was too lean to unhook it. I attempted several times to hoist the heavy hook with the lean metal. But it won’t budge.

I got frustrated. I was hungry. I decided to wait for the rain to stop. I decided to wait for someone to come and set me free.

Above the WC, there was a window ventilator. I thought there’s no harm in trying. Besides, it was almost an hour since I got trapped inside the toilet.

My colleagues asked, “Where the hell have you been? What’s that in your head?”

I had no idea what was on my head. It felt sticky when I run my fingers through my hair. It was actually a cobweb. Perhaps it got stuck to my hair while I was slipping away from window ventilator.

They wanted to know how did I get dry cobweb on my head on such rainy day and they insisted. Finally I succumbed and told the whole episode. They all had a hearty laugh and so were the rains. So it seemed.

The roses and the thorns

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Roses are mystical. A beaut!

They adorn palaces and the place everywhere.

The fragrance that smells so sweet,

Spread delight everywhere.

Greatly guarded by human’s love.

Tenderly sheltered in a cove.

 

 

Who heed about thorns?

A sore for eyes: the salt in the wounds.

It stabs and oozes bloods from brawns.

And it pricks you when you are around.

But it’s only guarding the rose.

And let you compose a prose.

Gayal

Gayal. In Apatani, we call them “Subu”. And to the Apatani people, it means wealth. It is considered as wealth because it plays important role in economical, social and cultural life of Apatani community of North-East India.

My father used to own a fair numbers when he was still alive, when he was still strong.

Long before he was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis; long before he endured grueling treatment of tuberculosis medicines – he actually had a lung cancer and died from lung cancer – the numbers of gayal dwindled terribly. I was away at boarding school in Delhi. And he couldn’t tend to them like he did it before. Eventually we lost all our bovines to Swpya, or so they say. I don’t know what Swpya really look like. I’ve never seen one in my life – alive or dead. Some call it a wolf. I guess it might be. Anyway, at least they served their purpose of being in the food chain. And served it well.

To make a long story short, Gayals are very fond of salt. The one with tongue out that we’re seeing in a picture was stalking me. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry any salt in my backpack. So I shove my empty hand out at her – hoping without hope to lick it – she licked anyway. The touch of her warm tongue on my palm was healing and divine experience. It reminds me of old times – herding the gayals in the forest with my father.

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Crossposted [at] rotochobinphotography.wordpress.com

A lemon tree and her visitors

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” ― Emily Dickinson

IMG_3019 (The lemon tree)
The Lemon Tree

Two meters away from my bedroom window, close to our granary, we have a lemon tree. It used to bear massive and delicious lemons. Once I asked my mother how it got there. She told me that my sisters may have planted it while I was in boarding school.

Over the years, we’ve harvested its produce countless times. Sometimes it would give us a plentiful harvest; at other times good. My mother would take it to the market to sell whenever reap would be plenteous. But, many a time, we would just give it away to our friends and relatives to share the grace. Then there were our neighborhood that would slyly sneak in our property, but its robust spikes had often thwarted their ambitions.

As time goes on; as year turned into years. Everything begins to fade away. Our lemon tree is also showing us the sign that she has grown old. I’ve tried to prune its withered branches, but it didn’t help her much. Still it bears fruit, but the size has reduced to a tiny ball. Of late, despite her age, she began to attract a lot of new visitors. She‘s getting on quite well with feral birds, besides the fact that it has been a playground for numerous house sparrows ever since she attained three meters in height.

Some months ago, I saw a beautiful white bird with a long tail perched on its branch. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. A fine looking bird on our lemon tree! In the heart of Hapoli town! Since I’d never seen this beautiful bird in my entire life, I thought it must be new specie. So I used to address him/her as an “Angel bird” until someone told me its name – Asian Paradise flycatcher. For two days, Angel bird would come, groom and hop about for hours while hiding among the branches. Though it has never visited our lemon tree again, but its majestic look was permanently etched on my mind, will remain there till the last breath.

That wasn’t the beginning of the end for visitors. Among others, the Tits were also enrolled in the list.

In another incident; it was rather very early morning when I was woken up by birds chirping. As I opened the window a crack, I saw two Red-vented Bulbuls alighting on a branch. Two were already there – settled on nearby branch. House Sparrows consider our lemon tree as their own, their recreational area. So they were trying to scare away the new visitors. Despite their boisterous chirpings, they were unable to budge the Bulbuls.

After the flight of the Bulbuls, the lemon tree has become the dominion of Sparrows again. Not for long, though. The Bulbuls have kept returning to our lemon tree since last few days.

Needless to say, this chapter will pass. Nothing stays same forever. Someday we all are going to make our exit – at destined time. Our lemon tree. The sparrows. The Bulbuls. Money. Friends. Happiness. Grief. You. And me. However, I’m enjoying every bit of it while it last. I’ll cherish our lemon tree while I still can and I’ll miss her when she’ll be not around.  By the way, who can tell whose numbers will be up first?

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Asian-Paradise flycatcher
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Red-vented bulbul