Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Puttu at his First Movie - The African Safari

He looked up at the big poster that hung from a big wall.
Standing with his granny in a long queue,
With his little pair of hands he shielded his face
Against the scorching sun’s rays;

The people in the row moved at snail’s pace,
Step by step they finally made it to the ticket counter.
Puttu stood on his toes to see through the semi circular hole,
He saw a big bundle of pink papers and a pair of hands tearing them off.

Granny took two tickets in exchange for some money,
She gave it to Puttu and escorted him out of the line.
Both climbed up the broad, spiral stair case,
This led to a giant glass door next to which stood a tall old man.

Asking for tickets he smiled at Puttu looking down upon him.
He refused first, shaking his head, and looked at granny with an angry face.
Granny gently assured him with a smile and took the tickets from his hands.
Puttu was puzzled to see the oldie tear the ticket in to two like a mad man.

Holding onto granny’s index finger in one hand,
And a pair of half torn tickets in the other;
They stood near a half open door, which seemed like the biggest in the world;
Puttu looked petrified to see such a big wooden door;

He pulled granny’s hand twice and looked up to her,
Granny looking down at him asked “What’s the matter?”
“Is this the gateway to Africa, Ammamma?” He questioned filled with fear.
For this she laughed and told Puttu “You’ll know when you’re inside my dear”.

Rows of chairs with heads popping up here and there,
The hall was partially dark with dim lights but he could clearly see,
“Is this Africa all about? Puttu asked again in a soft voice.
After all, it wasn’t dark or scary as he thought it would be.

Out of nowhere a man surfaced with a big torchlight,
Puttu was almost taken aback and almost anxious
To see him peer into the torn tickets,
After which he led them to the centre row, corner seats.

The chair was comfy and Puttu began to bounce and recline,
The excitement seemed never ending till he saw a huge curtain.
As it lifted up people began to whistle and kids started to clap,
“What’s the big deal?” he thought “It’s just a plain white cloth like his bedspread.”

It completely turned dark followed by the ring of a bell,
He held granny’s hand tightly and granny told “Ssshh! Puttu, just wait and watch”.
Colourful slides appeared on the big screen and there was silence everywhere.
Some titles appeared with music but before Puttu could read they quickly changed.

The screen was covered by a gigantic figure,
It was the enormous African Elephant.
Puttu clapped in total excitement like never before,
He felt like he’d seen it all even though the movie had just begun.

Giraffes, Deer, Snakes, Hyenas and Lions,
Every scene had a surprise in store for him.
Granny helped him by repeating the narration,
He watched with curious eyes, relating to everything, about Africa, he had once heard.

The Cheetahs hunting a herd of Buffaloes,
Ants together building an ant hill,
Hippos lazily basking in the sun and lying in water holes,
Chimpanzees busy in their own world handling their monkey business.

Ostriches stretching those small wings and walking with long legs,
Geckos escaping from Rattle snakes and slipping into holes,
Rhinos running through the wilderness or standing still wagging tiny tails,
And Hyenas laughing over some old joke;

The movie ended with a mustering of storks flying into the sunset.
Three hours just flew past before he even knew,
And the lights came on as the movie came to an end.
He looked at Ammamma with an enlightened smile.

“Let’s go Ammmamma” he said pulling her towards the screen.
Ammamma said “The exit is on the other side Puttu, not that way.”
Instantly a reply came from Puttu’s lil lips, it left Ammamma thinking.
He told “Now let’s go and meet the animals behind that big, white bedspread”.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Puttu and his Birthday Gift

Squatting on the mosaic floor,
His hands were busily putting together something.
Two boxes, one big and the other a size smaller;
To steal his attention from it there wasn’t absolutely anything.

The fan turned in full speed over his head,
A smile surfaced on his face as he stood straight,
Wiping some drops of sweat that were on his forehead.
He took a sip from the glass of lemonade that was by his side.

It was a big toy train track, which he had just assembled.
Jet black in colour and in the shape of number eight;
On the tracks were a brand new engine followed by six bogeys.
Next to it was a small Station with a Station Master who held a pair of flags.

With a coal black engine that had a blunt but long nose,
The train looked brand new and its compartments were in dark blue.
They had windows on the sides with tiny people seated in rows.
It worked with a small key that had to be turned to make it move.

One, two, three, four, and he heard the creaking noise,
That was the signal, which the toy shop uncle had told,
He stopped turning the key round and round.
Now the train was all set to leave on its maiden tour.

Holding the train tightly on its track in one hand,
With his other hand he made the Station Master signal green.
Huff and puff noises he made in the background,
Left the train to speed and break the speed of sound.

A round of applause followed as he stood on his feet,
Like a proud owner he watched it merrily.
As he saw it taking a turn around the curve,
He remembered his first trip to Chennai, during the last summer.

The platform was bustling with people from world over,
Everyone seemed like they were lost and looking around;
Like a scattered army of red ants from a broken anthill,
Porters clad in red ran around carrying heavy loads.

Some sat or slept on the platform benches,
It seemed like they were residents with no train to wait.
The announcement sounded like it was from a machine,
Which told the timings of arrival and departure of every train.

The predominant pale blue inside the lengthy compartments,
With a series of fans and lights from one end to the other,
Looked down from above as they hung from the ceilings,
And some passengers were seated with faces covered with newspapers.

Voices from either sides shouting “Tea, coffee! Tea, coffee!!”
People asking for alms singing an old song or wearing a sorry face;
Idli, dosa, vada and sandwiches were at your reach for a sum of money.
Toys, books, maps and charts were also sold by people at every phase.

The train started to move and it gained momentum,
Sitting by the window he felt the strong wind stroke his hair and go.
As the metallic serpent raced over the split Siamese twin tracks,
Hills, trees, bushes and poles played spectators watching it move.

There was so much to see both inside and outside,
His eyes were wide open, in curiosity, like never before.
Dad was right next to him as though he was his Tour Guide,
Telling “Did you know?” facts and stories about everything Puttu saw.

Just then he was interrupted by a hand on his shoulder,
He rushed back from the land of memories.
And turned around to see his mom looking at his prized possession,
She patted his back and praised him for the effort he’d made.

He raised his right brow and flashed a smart smile,
As though this was not at all some kind of a big feat;
Mom asked Puttu “So, when you grow up you’re going to do this?”
Puttu replied “No Mummy, I just like trains ever since I traveled in it”

“I only like trains but I’ve always loved planes.
Trains have a track to follow and they just don’t go beyond.
But Planes have the entire sky as there aren’t ruled by any rails.
I too want to be like them. To soar higher and not be earth bound.”

“Make my own path and go the distance where nobody else has gone.
Pierce through clouds and fly above them. Yet leave no trail behind.”
Hearing this mom’s jaws dropped as she was amazed by Puttu's wisdom.
She lifted him high up and planted a kiss on his little forehead.

He freed himself from mom’s hands and jumped on the floor.
Now the train was about to slowly halt at the station below.
He waved the red flag holding the tiny hand of the Station Master.
Squatting on the floor he turned its key again and set it into motion.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Drop

Falling down into the oblivion,
I could hardly find the rock bottom earth.
Thinking it’s a dream I tried to wake myself up,
Just then I landed slickly on my feet.

Darkness all around,
I could hardly see my own nose.
Lost and estranged I felt,
Just then a ray of light pierced my eyes.

Led by instinct I followed the light.
Into an opening I squeezed myself out.
The narrow opening sealed up behind me
As I struggled my way through;

With a staff in my hand,
A pouch of silver in the other,
And a hood on my head
I found myself in a crimson robe.

The cobble stone boulevard looked deserted
Till I took a turn around the corner;
To my surprise the street unfurled itself
All around there was chaos churned by many hawkers.

With clouds resting over its edges,
and its tip doing the balancing act,
An inverted pyramid scaled skywards,
Surrounded by hawkers calling out for buyers;

This abstruse marvel was at the center of the mystic souk.
And its shade was the shelter for traders both big and small.
Some sat in tents and some with goods spread on the streets.
Each one had something or the other to offer that looked bizarre or vile.

The first stop was at a mannequin and vase vendor.
Crystal, glass, clay and porcelain,
He had a plethora to offer for every customer.
And in each he had captured the spirit of a gremlin.

Startled for a second, I just moved forth.
A few yards away sat a real old man with a blue beard.
Stacked up in his tent were cycles and clocks,
Timeless unicycles, sundials, hourglasses and single hand timepieces.

Everything had a similar price tag,
This read ‘Your soul or a feline’s nine lives’;
And the most illusory fact of these possessions was
The hands of the dial moved anti-clockwise.

Gasping every moment and taken aback
By whatever I saw,
I kept on walking, tirelessly, looking around
Trying to find a purpose behind this endeavor.

I’d almost seen each and every stall,
Except the weirdest and the biggest of them all.
It was the pyramid itself which I finally had to glance.
At its tip were a platform and an elliptical entrance.

The dim light of oil lamps welcomed me as I entered.
They were on either sides of the staircase
That spiraled up to an attic.
Reaching there I saw something I’d least imagined.

Amidst cobwebs and fine dust
There were rows of dolls arranged on shelves of the walls.
At the far end of the big chamber, its little caretaker, stood.
He looked like a kid who’s really puny and small, from afar;

Humming a tune he limped slowly towards me with radiance.
An old, one eyed, albino dwarf with blonde hair and pointed ears,
He wore a wicked grin on his wrinkled face,
Carried a doll that imitated my image;

Stretching his other hand forward,
He asked for the pouch with silver in my hand.
That’s when I realized he wanted to trade.
Silver for soul that was in the voodoo doll;

I felt perplexed the very moment I knew,
But my mind wanted to play the fool.
Knocking the dwarf’s head with my staff,
I tried to seize the doll off his hand.

Apparently, it didn’t make much of a difference,
He stood like a rock, three feet tall.
I tried to run but I just couldn’t,
Holding the doll up in the air he began an arcane chant.

Pulled out a needle with a diamond eye
That was hidden under his sleeve;
Into the voodoo doll’s heart he pierced it deep,
I could feel an unseen sliver penetrate me.

Frozen in pain I closed my eyes tight,
I wished I was dead than go through the pain.
The world around turned dark and I felt like I’d lost my sight.
Into the oblivion I, once again, continued to fall.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lot

Staring at the passersby
On a newly built wall.
He sat under the scorching sun
And the incessant rain,
immobile, unshaken.

Partly turning green,
Losing shape over time;
People seldom looked at him.
And even if some did,
Each one had an opinion of their own.

Some thought he was a reject.
A few called him an outcast.
Whereas, some thought of him
Without even thinking twice
That he was one of the leftovers of a lot.

On a gloomy, winter noon,
A crow sat on his shoulder after lunch,
It gave him company all through the noon,
Without exchanging glances or words.
They just silently stared at the busy road.

The crow tilted his head left and right,
Looking on either sides of the road.
Curious looking at every subject and the rat race,
But our protagonist sat there unimpressed,
Sporting his usual deadpan face.

People crossed them from life’s different facets.
Some were really old walking down, step by step,
While the youngest ran mischievously, up and down.
Vehicles and vehicles were all they could see.
In fact, he recalled it was one of these that had brought him here.

A burp or two and some droppings white,
The crow felt a little light to resume its flight.
Sharpening its beak on the snow capped observer’s shoulder,
The crow lifted off into the air
But jerked him towards the wall's edge.

Trying really hard to hang on,
He somehow managed to balance for a while.
Suddenly, the crow returned and sat again.
Apparently, he gave up as he lost his balance.
Straight down, he plummeted but the crow flew away, loudly, cawing.

On the ground he lay on his back.
The world looked like it had turned upside down.
Fallen apart and broken into tiny bits,
His past flashed right before his eyes.
In fast forward motion like a biopic.

The big furnace in which he was born.
The tiled warehouse where he was never alone;
Looking up to the tall chimney that smoked all day.
The tough times he had to go through before he was chosen.
Swinging from one pair of hands to another as he boarded a big truck.

The long journey he made on a truck’s back.
Reaching the place where he had to fulfill a purpose.
And being left behind as the odd one out;
Just about every moment of his life he recalled.
The vision blurred and it went blank.

He suddenly felt like he woke up from deep slumber,
Wore a brand new look as he was being carried away in thin air;
Discovered in a place he always dreamt of.
There were bricks, bricks and bricks all around.
In all shapes, sizes, shades and colours.

He was excited like never before.
At last, he’d found a place where he belonged.
Just when he was searching for a place to settle down,
He saw a similar wall across the street.
Aiming at the ridge of the wall he began to move.

To his amazement he was picked by a tender pair of hands.
Before he knew he was at a big construction site.
The foundation of which was just being laid.
He was placed carefully at the heart of the site.
He heaved a sigh of relief when he heard a booming voice say
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone today.”