Thursday, 15 August 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Chithiram Pesudhadi - 1


1991...

"Bala, don't sharpen the pencil too much. I bought this only yesterday and now look at what you have done to it." my mother snatched the pencil from me and held it in her hand. The pencil which was whole and new in the morning was now the length of my little finger.

I found the act of sharpening a pencil to be really interesting and  I liked writing only when the lead was totally sharp and pointed. So, whenever the lessons get monotonous or the lead gets a little blunt, I start sharpening the pencil. 

2001..

"I am so glad that you are not asked to use pencils to write anymore." my mother said and I grinned.

2011..

"Amma, Look!! I drew this today. Tried sketching on my own. How is it?" I asked excitedly.

My mother looked at my first pencil sketch and clicked her tongue impressively and said with a smile, "Happa!! at last you have found how to use a pencil properly."

And here it is, my first pencil sketch,

                                                    Kaarmughil vannaa...
                                                                     Karumai nira Kanna...
                                                                     Kann kavarndha manna!!!


More to come..!!

---Bala Iyengar---

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Six Word Memoir - Tagged Post


As a part of Six Word Memoir Tagged posts series, CBC has given the complex task of describing one's life in just six words. I am obsessed with giving detailed descriptions; so, I found it pretty difficult to confine my own life in six short words. Well, I have tried my best.


Special thanks to Purnima Gopalakrishnan, who had successfully completed the task of describing her life in six words. She had handed over the responsibility to me now.

So here it goes,

Harmonious Blend of Rhythm and Grace

(P.S: Not able to believe that the post is over)

The next post will be by Sylvian Patrick who blogs at http://www.sylvianism.com. He is famous for his posts on Raja sir's songs under the name "Projekt Ilayaraja".


---Bala Iyengar---







Monday, 13 May 2013

Thulasy to Daisy - 2


Note: Every day morning, I wake up listening to the “Nachiyaar Thirumozhi” (hymns of Goddess Andal describing the dream she had about marrying Ranganathar) at home and it leaves me wondering about her love for the God. I got a sudden inspiration today and here I am, writing a story based on their love. I have modified it to fit the modern age. Pure imagination of how the love would have been in the present age. No intention to offend anyone's sentiments.

 Please find the previous part here (Part 1)



The street was a typical example of what people called an ‘Agraharam’. It was a long, broad street extending from the palatial entrance of a grand temple; it had lines of houses built following some uniform pattern. The early morning sun was rising, bathing the houses and people on the street with dim yellow light. Venkatesa Suprabhatham rose in the air and blended itself with the ‘sarak sarak’ sounds when few women swept the street and with ‘slukk slukk’ when people sprinkled water on the street, preparing their house’s entrance for the daily routine of ‘kolam drawing’. In front of few other houses, women were bending down to draw kolams on their door step.

Athuzhaai was sitting outside one of the houses on a stone bench (read as ‘thinnai’) wearing a light green long skirt, pink blouse and pink half saree. Even while sitting, people would easily be able to judge that she was quite tall. She had a slim yet perfect figure with an oval shaped face on a willowy neck. There was some inexplicable attraction about her almond shaped, dark brown eyes, her slender nose and her dense black eyebrows. Her lips looked like they were chiseled by the finest of artists available under the sky.

From her expression, it was transparent that some serious thought process was going on inside her beautiful head. Her long, thin fingers were pressed hard against the stone bench and there was a rhythmic jingling sound lingering about the air as she was tapping one of her legs absentmindedly.

“You can go in.” – grandmother said as she stepped out of the old Brahmin style house. Somehow realizing that her grandmother was referring to this house as temple and wondering why God should be inside this house, she ascended the steps silently.

The house was just like every other house on the street. It had three long rooms constructed one behind the other. The first room was empty. Athuzhaai walked along the hall and was about to step into the next room, but froze on the spot with one leg on the small step that separated the two rooms, for the scene she witnessed in that room was completely unbelievable and remotely sane. 

She saw Lord Ranganathar sleeping on a battered old wooden bench with his back facing the door. He was in a complete human form wearing a blue dhoti on his waist and white pearl strands around his neck. He was tall and lean with dense curly black hair and adding mystery to the already insane situation, He was breathing.
 
Athuzhaai convinced herself that she had gone completely mental and turned to leave the place but her heart stopped beating when she felt a hand enclose her thin wrist. The warmth and gentle pressure of the hand made her turn automatically. She saw that the Lord had woken up and had stopped her from leaving by holding her hand. Too shocked to react, she looked blankly at his face.

He looked at her with so much love that her heart forgot to pump blood to her brain and the brain stopped thinking. With an endearing smile curling on His flimsy lips, He sat bolt upright, pulled her close to Him and made her sit on His lap. Chuckling softly at the shock on her face, He looked deeply into her eyes and ran His long fingers along her cheeks slowly and lovingly. He touched her lips with the tips of His fingers and embraced her totally.

Athuzhaai was dumbstruck and couldn’t react when He dug His face deeper into her neckline. She felt remote with her own self when she felt His heaving chest against her own. After few minutes of silence, God lifted His face up and whispered in her ears – “Athuzhaaii, Give me your anklets.”

Now, she couldn’t have heard him right due to her slow processing brain, her anklets? Athuzhaai pulled back and looked into The Lord’s face. He smiled softly and said – “Athuzhaai, Give me your anklets.”

As if in trance, not taking her eyes off his brilliant eyes, her hands automatically moved to her legs to remove the new anklets that she was wearing. Not breaking the eye contact, Lord Ranganatha bent sideways and held her hand to stop her. He said – “I need your old anklets, Athuzhaai.”

Athuzhaai got up from his lap and ran outside the house. Panting for breath, she told her grandmother who was waiting outside – “God wants my old anklets.”

Without stopping to see her grandmother’s reaction, she hurried into another house and came back to Lord Ranganatha within minutes. When she came back, The Lord was sitting cross legged on the floor. She leaned on the door frame and took deep breaths to calm herself down, looking at the Lord.

He turned towards her; with immense love pouring out of his flamboyantly lustrous eyes and with a mysteriously captivating smile on his lips, he extended his hands and beckoned her closer. When she walked shyly and stood next to him, he pulled her by the arm and made her sit on his lap again.

He hugged her again and the comfort and security she felt in his touch, made her hug him back. She was astonished that she was able to feel the sweat on His skin against her palm and the bones of his shoulder blade. Even in that situation, Athuzhaai wondered why the Lord is so skinny.

She also realized that the Lord’s touch wasn’t at all alien to her. It was as if Lord Ranganatha hugs her day in and day out, a daily affair.

He whispered in her ears again – “Have you brought your old anklet?”

She nodded and opened her palm. Her blackened, old anklet was sitting on top of it. Lord Ranganatha smiled and enclosed her hand with his broad, warm hand.

“Holy shit!!” – Athuzhaai sprang up from her bed and looked around at the room. It looked as normal as she had seen it before she dozed off the night before. She checked the time on her mobile. It was nearing day break.

She opened her palms and looked down at it; the feel of His soft, wet skin was still etched on her hands. She sucked in a lot of air and breathed through her mouth to calm herself down.

“Damn it. The dream was so real.” – She thought and wiped her face with her hands. She groped around for her water bottle and drank deeply from it. She slumped back on the bed and wondered how stupid and insane she might sound if she narrated the dream to anybody.

Nonetheless, first thing in the morning, she narrated the dream to her father Vishnuchittan.

“and Ranganathar asked for my anklet paa.. Why would he want my old anklet paa?” – She wondered loudly and continued animatedly – “You know how he looked like, he had lot of curly black hair, brilliant black eyes, thick eyebrows, small lips, long nose, prominent ears, and big big hands.” She added as an afterthought - “skinny.”

Vishnuchittan frowned at his daughter suspiciously as the description sounded familiar to someone he knew.

“He looked exactly like how I have described the hero in the novel I am writing paaa. Blue dhoti, strands of beads, thilak, tall, lean..” – She was saying with flourish.

“What????” – Vishnuchittan cut in, totally taken aback in disbelief.

To be continued…

photo courtesy: www.exoticindia.com 

---Bala Iyengar---


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Thulasy to Daisy - 1



Note: Every day morning, I wake up listening to the “Nachiyaar Thirumozhi” (hymns of Goddess Andal describing the dream she had about marrying Ranganathar) at home and it leaves me wondering about her love for the God. I got a sudden inspiration today and here I am, writing a story based on their love. I have modified it to fit the modern age. Pure imagination of how the love would have been in the present age. No intention to offend anyone's sentiments.



“Anna, why do you have to play the Veena everyday to wake me up?”  - A sleepy voice asked, muffled by the comforter.

“It’s the duty given to my family during your grandfather's period sir. I have to keep up the tradition and I also love doing this.”  - Arayaranna replied politely.

Shyam scrambled out of his comforter hurriedly and sat up, tousle haired and puffy eyed. Arayaranna looked up at him with a mild surprise.

“Anna, how many times should I tell you not to call me 'Sir'? Shyam would be fine. You are almost my dad's age.” - Shyam cried, outraged.

 “Had he been alive this day, he'd not have allowed me to call you by your name sir.” - Arayaranna said.

“To hell with your sir!!” - He muttered angrily and got out of the bed.  Arayaranna placed the Veena back on the stand and followed Shyam.

“I'll send your morning Chocolate drink in some time sir. Would you need anything else?” - Arayaranna asked in a respectful tone.

“I am not going to talk to you till you call me by my name. Can't take it anymore.” - Shyam cried desperately and shut the bathroom door. Arayaranna chuckled softly for he knew Shyam could not do that. He cannot bear the idea of not talking to Arayaranna.

The room did not look like any normal bathroom at all. It looked like one of the finest you could find in a seven star hotel's top class suite. It was one of the kinds that any average person would stand admiring for a minute or two and then start their work in there. Shyam did not pause for a second to admire the beauty of his bathroom though. He flicked open the tap that stood on the gleaming wash basin, and washed his face.

He closed the tap and checked his face on the mirror. Shyam was the kind of a guy who had   features that looked like it was chiseled after studying the art of making a sculpture thoroughly.  He had a dark complexioned, clear skin and immensely curly black hair. His thick eyebrows were set perfectly on top of brilliantly lustrous, beetle black eyes. He had a needle sharp nose and flimsy, small lips and prominent ears.

He straightened up to his full height and wiped his face on the fluffy towel placed on the ornate towel stand and stepped out of the bathroom.

Shyam belonged to a very rich family in the village. According to his dead parents' wish, he completed his education in UK and came back to live in his village. Just like every other guy who was born with a silver spoon, Shyam also had n number of people on his command but he did not like to boss over any of them. He liked being friendly and kind towards everyone. Of all the people around him, Shyam felt comfortable with two. One was his care taker, Arayaranna and the other was his personal assistant, Vishnuchittan.

Shyam came down to the main hall, after a luxurious bath, wearing a cream colored cotton pant and pale blue casual shirt, his curly hair bouncing as he walked. After finishing his breakfast, Shyam entered his vast office room and found Vishnuchittan sitting with the laptop.

“Good Morning Uncle. Had a good sleep?” - He asked brightly, as he walked around the table and sat on his high chair.

“Good Morning Shyam. Yes, it was fine. And you?” - Vishnuchittan asked.

Shyam did not answer for his gaze had fallen on the flower vase kept on his table. It was decorated beautifully with pale blue daisies that day.

“Uncle!! The flowers match my dress today as well. This has been happening everyday for the past one month.”  - He exclaimed. “But how?” - He asked, struck with amazement.

Vishnuchittan looked up and said unconcernedly - “Oh, my daughter gets them from our garden everyday these days.”

A mysterious smile spread across Shyam's face, he gathered the flowers in his hands and inhaled the sweet smell of it. Every bit of him seemed to do a somersault when the aroma of the flowers reached his smell sensors.  “Daisies have such sweet scent, do they? Really?” - He muttered.

Vishnuchittan looked at Shyam and said - “Shyam, if you don't mind, can we look at today's schedule please?” suggesting a little impatience in his voice. The urge to grab those flowers from his hands was pretty overwhelming for Vishnuchittan.

Shyam's eyes flew open at Vishnuchittan's words. He looked around with a start. He seemed to have lost himself to the smell of the daisies. “Oh Oh yes uncle. Go on.”  - He said, placing the flowers back into the vase and running his hand through his hair in embarrassment.

To be continued...

---Bala Iyengar---


Friday, 19 April 2013

The Uproar of Silence



Note: I wrote this one long time back for a competition where I had to restrict the story to 500 words. Forgive me if it’s not very detailed and elaborate. 











The Uproar of Silence” was the headline in a leading newspaper with a photograph of a girl in her early teens posing as incandescent Natraja. It was Aruna, a Bharathanatyam dancer and a different one in that kind.


Pavithra, Aruna's best friend, looked thoroughly excited when she waved the paper in front of Aruna's eyes. Aruna snatched it and looked at her photograph, tears falling thick and fast on the paper as she did it. She pressed it to her chest and hugged Pavithra.


With the paper, Pavithra ran towards the small out-house where Aruna lived with her father. Aruna slumped in front of the statue of Natraja and travelled back in memory.


“I touched the majestic statue and like every other day, I felt goose bumps. I wiped his dancing feet and found solace. I touched the hand that carried fire and felt peaceful. I observed his stance and imitated the same.


I felt a strong hand touch my shoulder and turned, flabbergasted. It was my boss, Dance Master Parameshwaran. Scared out of my wits, I took refuge behind the God I adored.


He smiled kindly and gestured at me, “Thats okay. Come out.”


I walked around the statue slowly and stood in front of him, head bowed. He knelt down and gestured at me again, “Do you want to learn to dance?”


I didn't know how he would be able to teach dance to a girl like me, who didn't know what sound is all about. I felt elated nevertheless and ran away to my house.


At home, my father gave me a dirty look that plainly wished me a painful death. He cannot be blamed because,

We were extremely poor;

My mother died while I was born;

I can neither hear nor speak;

I am a girl;

I was nothing short of a burden to him.


From the next day, I started a blissful journey of dancing with my Guru and his daughter Pavithra. First, I had to understand the concept of rhythm which proved to be a herculean task. I observed the way my Guru played the cymbalshis lip movements for the associated syllables and Pavithra's harmonized leg, hand and eye movements. Slowly, with their help, I started feeling the rhythm within me and also saw various new patterns of it in anything and everything people did.


Though I did not have the sound of voice, the voice of expressions was natural to me. With the help of my Guru, my raw expressions got transformed into a soulful language of emotions.


After 8 years of rigorous training, my Guru confidently put me on the limelight and today, I dedicate this milestone to him and my friend Pavithra.”


Aruna's father rushed into the hall and begged for forgiveness. The girl whom he detested had proved that she can make wonders with life. Tears welling up his eyes, he carried her on his shoulders for the first ever time and ran around the street, boasting about her happily.


---Bala Iyengar---

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Last Meet


This guy is ok with your TV anchoring job. He is also working as an art director. He looks good and he's from a very good family. We all like him and above all that, he called me all by himself. You always keep saying that a charming prince will walk into our house and take him with you; this guy can be your charming prince. Why don't you think on those lines? His parents will talk to me in a day or two. I will be very happy if you marry him.” She sang praises about that unknown “art director guy” who had called her after seeing her daughter's profile in a matrimonial website.

Aparna was sitting curled up on her bean bag, looking blankly at the ceiling. By now, she was used to being silent all the time and did not react to her mother's words even in the slightest.

I am talking to you. Do you even care to reply?” - her mother asked.

Aparna did not answer. She just changed her sitting posture and started staring emptily at the floor instead. Her mother tried to grab Aparna's attention with few more questions but gave up when she realized that she could better be talking to a wall and get a reaction from it than talking to Aparna.

***********

Sandeep's mobile vibrated violently and was about to fall off the table when he grabbed it in his hand. Without taking his eyes off the laptop, he swiped the phone and opened the message. His eyes traveled through the message unconcernedly and he threw the mobile on the bed. When his brain slowly registered what his eyes had read, his heart started racing. He took his mobile and read the message properly once more.

It was very short and it read “I wanna meet you just once before my parents get me married please. Don't ignore.”

He reread the message twice and truth seemed to hit him like an iron ball. “Getting married? What the.. but I never thought.. oh no..” - he thought and he called her. She did not pick up the call but he received a text.

Txt me. Can't talk.” - it read.

You wanted to meet. When and whr?” - he replied.

Same place where we first met. Today 6:30 PM” - she replied.

***********

Aparna was sitting on the same bench on which they sat when they met for the first time in that temple. She was hugging a big cloth bag for refuge and resting her head on it. She didn't know why she was feeling so void and what she would talk to Sandeep. Would she hold his hands and weep “Sandeep, my parents are trying to get me married to another guy. I am not able to forget you. Please come and talk to them and marry me.”? No, because Sandeep had made it transparent that though he loved her, he cannot marry her due to some problem. He refused to discuss anything further with her.

Been waiting for a long time?” - he asked, arriving behind Aparna's back and jerking her back to senses.

Sandeepp..” - she said and uttering his name brought a smile on her lips.

Sandeep sat down on the bench and stretched his long legs and hands. He was looking around at the temple while Aparna leaned on the bag and studied him silently. The person who had once sat so close to her, held her hands, hugged her safely in his arms and had kissed her lovingly was now so indifferent and disinterested.

What?” - he asked when he realized he could no longer avoid her gaze.

Aparna shook her head and smiled at him. She patted the bag on her lap and said - “I bought T-Shirts for you and there's a small sandalwood statue that you can stick on your new car's dashboard.”

Sandeep took the bag from her and said - “That's so sweet of you. Thanks.”

He looked into her face for a second and then looked away immediately, heaving a deep sigh. Questions raced one another in his brain but he did not want to voice any of them. He swallowed more than necessary and kept punching the bag repeatedly.

Aparna smiled when she thought about the number of times Sandeep kept staring into her eyes when they met here almost one year back. Now, he didn't even want to look in her direction. She let out a deep breath and decided to break the silence.

So well, Sandeep. Like you said, I am going to get married. Mom has found a guy for me and I haven't said a no to her. At least, she shouldn't be disappointed in life.” - she said flatly.

The last line that she spoke rang in his ears repeatedly. Sandeep opened his hands and looked at it for almost a minute and Aparna tried not to look at him. She focused her attention on the kids that were playing near them.

Will you invite me for your wedding?” - he asked suddenly.

Aparna didn't know what she had expected out of the meeting but a surge of anger washed through her when he uttered that question. Without her knowledge, a secluded corner in her heart had hoped that Sandeep would somehow say - “Aparna, ask your mom to chuck that guy, let's get married.”

In order to control herself, she clenched her hands into fists and counted from 5 to 1. She shook her head and said coldly - “I don't want you to come. Please respect at least this one feeling I have and don't show yourself there. I cannot bear it.”

Immediately, she realized that her eyes were filling with tears and giving her away. She looked at him full on the face for few seconds and said, her throat choking - “This is the last time we meet and never will I get a chance to tell you this anymore. Sandeep, I love you.”

She stood up and ran out of the temple. She did not pause to wear her slippers and did not try to stem the copious tears that poured from her eyes. She was not concerned about where her legs were taking her. All she knew was that, before she could do something stupid, she should be well away from Sandeep.

Sandeep tried to follow her but was flattened near the entrance by a huge crowd that was trying to enter the temple at the same time. When Sandeep shook them off and came out, Aparna was nowhere to be seen. He tried calling her many times but her mobile was switched off. They did not have any mutual friends through whom he could find out what she was up to nor did he know any other number through which he could contact her.

Through out the night he kept messaging her on her mobile and facebook; there was no response. He didn't know when he fell asleep. The next day morning he woke up with a severe head ache.

He checked his mobile eagerly. There were no messages from her. Promising to himself that he'll go and check in the area where she had said she lived, he opened the newspaper. He spread it on the floor and started skimming through the columns. His eyes suddenly fell on a small snippet at one corner of the page and immediately, his whole body started shivering. The headline read “Raped and Brutally killed”.

Aparna (25) lived in Nungambakkam, Chennai. She was abducted, raped and brutally killed by four unknown men...” the article went on.

Sandeep did not need confirming; his heart somehow knew that it was his Aparna. He read the article again and again and each time it seemed to make more sense to him. He kept staring at the paper in a state of shock, dumbstruck and silent. After few minutes, he read the article again and wanted to believe that it didn't happen at all. It didn't help. He crushed the paper in his hands desperately and tore it into pieces violently. He broke down on the floor and cried loudly.

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

---Bala Iyengar---