Monday, May 05, 2008

The story that never took off

More than a year ago, I tried working on a story about a man, born in Kashmir, immediately after the land was formed out of the water body.

It went on like this:

In the beginning there was only water.

Even one’s thought could not go beyond it without getting wet. Nothing escaped it. Water overwhelmed. It shocked. Its massive tongue devoured everything.

And then, one day, the Earth woke up.

It yawned and the mountains trembled. The tremors created a massive vent, which sucked the entire water, like marrow from a bone. Someone, I do not remember now who, told me that I was born immediately afterwards.

My ancestors broke up from their group, while travelling through the mountains of Hindukush. My mother was carrying me in her womb when the breakaway group arrived in the newly-formed land.

The water had left its mark everywhere. The land was still a slush at most of the places. But something about the place stuck them so much that the group decided to settle there. And that is where I opened my eyes, escaping narrowly from being strangulated by the umbilical cord.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The professor of Calculus

He walked alone on a frosty winter morning. Fresh snow had fallen in the night, and the sky was overcast. Beneath the soft cushion of the fresh snow lay hidden a muddy crust of ice, capable of breaking the bones of the children and the aged, should they slip over it.

He walked fast, trying to keep pace with the calculations his mind had gotten into. Inside the long pheran, the stitches of which were torn from one side, the thumbs of his both hands moved together over the lines around his fingers.

It was over these lines, many years ago, that his father had taught him counting and, the habit had stayed with him. He no longer attempted simple problems of addition or subtraction. It ran much deeper now, so much so that people around him thought he had gone mad.

Dinanath’s entire life, one could say, revolved around Calculus. A professor of history, who was also a Marxist, had met Dinanath during a marriage ceremony and is said to have remarked later, “Calculus is the opium of the masses.”

Dinanath was still solving equations when he crossed the Ganpatyar temple. The sound of bells along with multiple voices of people singing hymns in praise of the elephant God, Ganesha, could be heard on the road outside, and, in fact, till the last corner of the street.

Beside the temple, the old milkman was beginning to set up his shop. He sat on a goatskin with a Kangri kept next to him. From the circular loop of wicker, on the top of the earthen pot, hung a silver spoon, used to stir the burning coal inside.

“Oye Dina,” the man shouted when he saw him, “where are you headed towards, in this cold wave?”

Dinanath stopped. His fingers stopped as well. He turned his head and looked at the milkman. And then, without uttering a word, he moved on.

On the wooden bridge – one of the seven built over the river Jhelum, Dinanath stopped. He leaned over the railing and looked at the water. That was when his neighbour, Ratanlal spotted him.

“Dinanath,” he said sarcastically, “are you done with your mathematics? Are you contemplating jumping into the water?”

Dinanath looked at him and, then, he looked back at the grey waters.

“I don’t need to jump over to establish contact with water,” he said slowly, almost weighing his every word.

Ratanlal laughed. “What do you mean, my learned Sir?” he asked.

Dinanath touched the railing and, with the knuckles of his right hand, he began hammering against it. And then he said: “You see, Ratanlal, I am on the bridge, the bridge is on water; bridge bridge cancel, I am on water.”

And then he let out a smile. As Ratanlal looked, Dinanath’s hands went back inside the pheran. It was time for some more Calculus.

(In this story, I have tried to imagine the world of a man, who is believed to have lived in Srinagar around the Habbakadal area - a man who, it is said, was in love with mathematics and philosophy)

Photo courtesy:

Friday, May 02, 2008

Three cheers for daughters

Just like that! With this sentiment, Avinash of Mohalla started a new blog after he became the proud father of a baby girl. Aptly titled, Betiyon ka Blog (Daughter's Club), this little space became a meeting point of all proud fathers, and of course, mothers.

, for example, put a few sound clips of his daughter Tanini's attempt at singing. Vibha Rani wrote about how her daughter Toshi is trying to spend her holidays. Kavita wrote a heart-wrenching poem on female foeticide.

The blog has now won the Laadli media award for gender sensitivity.

If you are a proud father or mother of a girl, you are most welcome to become a member of the blog. Since I am still growing up myself, I plan to put a few anecdotes about my darling niece, Sharanya. Among other things, we both love to watch Mr. Bean movies. Sharanya thinks I look like Mr. Bean.

As far as I know, that is the best compliment she can give to anyone.