Friday, December 01, 2006

As Appu lost himself

Appu was sitting in the veranda of his home, watching those raindrops percolate through the coconut leaves and shatter into a million minute droplets as it fell on the pebbles. The petite pools of water around seemed to linger for those tiny droplets, like a hungry cat waiting to devour its own litter. Rains always carried a wide range of emotions with it. He was reliving those old days, when that tender cold drizzle somehow rendered his psyche gloomy, when that sudden gushy flow of torrent made him march ahead with inspiration, when the flowing rhythmic rain slowly rambling on the leaves made his teenage life romantic. Rain always seemed to mystify him; he understood that rain had always remained a part of himself. And there he was - after all those years of roaming around, back in that old chair watching that slight drizzle turning into a ferocious downpour. There he was - drinking a glass of black tea, with a book in his hand. It was on the same chair that he let his adolescent mind wander free in those rains as the heroic Dostoevsky of ‘Oru Sankeerthanam Pole’ or in search of that lost ‘Athiranipadam’ of ‘Oru Deshathinte Kadha’. It’s been ages since he got some time in peace to himself, like this- with just books for his company. When he looked outside of the compound wall he felt that years had not moved at all, as he watched those different shades of umbrella cloths traipse through the road as if they had lives of their own – poor ones, elderly ones, indignant ones, bouncy ones and even colored ones. An old gray umbrella that walked quite slowly, took his mind to those old days.

It might have been in his school days when he was studying for the exams, that Appu noticed a hand with a gray discolored umbrella opening the gate to his home. It was raining from morning, and he saw an old hand clasping tight to the cloth bag that hung from the shoulder to prevent it from getting wet. As that gloomy shadow turned in the rain, he saw an old man with a wrinkled face and pure white beard walking towards him. He saw a kind smile on the old man’s face and the presence of a crude walking stick told him that the old man was a beggar. When he dropped a 25 paisa coin to the old man’s hand, he saw a kind grateful smile and a kind voice that seemed to come from his beard said “Let Murugan shower you with all the blessings.” The downpour had reduced to a drizzle when he saw the mystifying character closing the gate. That was the first time he saw ‘Velu Appoopan’.

Velu Appoopan used to come to his house every Saturday noon and call ‘Appooo… Dharmam Thaayo…”. And Appu would take the coins that he used to collect for his pocket money to raise a rupee for Velu Appooppan. Velu Appooppan used to tell the stories about his small hamlet near Palani, where they had lot of land in which they used to farm almost everything in the fertile soil, where the green paddy fields meet the blue sky at horizon, where the ‘Jallikkattu’ race is so much a part of everyone’s life. Their conversations went on for weeks, and Appu shared many a joke sitting in that veranda with Velu Appoopan when rain was lashing its soul out. He remembered putting his books down and listening to those tales from Velu Appooppan with an open mouth, with lot of worship. The stories ranged from the floods of 1950s that erased quite a number of souls of his farmer kin, the killer malaria which followed, that took his wife and sons with it, the cock fights and murders following that which used to ensue after harvest festival at his village. Appu was largely inspired and thrilled when he heard about how Velu Appoopan organized his villagers with his speeches and poems, even after he was down and out with the killer disease that took his family with it, how he built a farmers union to fight the case for the grand of agricultural land and how he became the chief of that village. Appu was mystified about why a village chief would roam around begging for food and coins. All Velu Appooppan told was “When everything is lost for yourself, and then you go through the process of gaining everything for others….there comes a time when you realize that you have served your purpose. If you are lucky, you reach that phase of your life - when you realize that you can keep smiling and you become a part of those clouds that travel places to keep raining with no tomorrow. But most of the people would be unlucky, as they keep standing in that rain, looking up at the pouring heavens, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rainy days would be over. I am glad that I am lucky to be a cloud that cools down places with these rains!”. He did not see Velu Appoopan after that…Maybe the cloud moved on to create new rivers…

Appu woke up from the trance and kept his glass down. The black tea had gone cold. He wanted to go back to those times; he wanted to become a child, sitting in that veranda hearing those heroic stories again. He wanted to see that wrinkled hand holding the gray umbrella, and the kind old face that told him inspiring stories with that constant wheezing of the raindrops in background. He wanted to gape his mouth in adoration, and dream about being a good man in the future. But…there he was. Sometimes years stop passing by, and you realize that it’s not Time that moves ahead – it’s just yourself that’s moving ahead and the time actually stands still. He walked into the rain. He felt those drops kissing his palm. He realized that he was smiling….he was floating around, in those clouds just like his Appoopan told him.

It took him sometime to realize that the music he was hearing was not that of nature, but of the mobile in his pocket. The usual voice told him “Test case 248 is failing. Report immediately. Priority 1”. Appu jumped back to the veranda. His mind wandered to the test case and the priority deadlines of the work. He looked up into the pouring skies, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rain would stop. As he cursed the rain, little did he realize that he was that unlucky human, just like Appooppan told him. Appu just kept looking at the firmament….And rain fell down in buckets. He kept staring at the horizon, as the rain began to blur his vision … He steadily dissolved in it, as he lost himself.

* - Picture courtesy - Dhanush

31 comments:

b v n said...

Excellent post Abhilash ! Its those moments we take a break from the glitter and be ourselves that these things strike us. you've said it very nicely.

preetha said...

it was so beautiful. loved everyline, though this was my favorite
“When everything is lost for yourself, and then you go through the process of gaining everything for others….there comes a time when you realize that you have served your purpose. If you are lucky, you reach that phase of your life - when you realize that you can keep smiling and you become a part of those clouds that travel places to keep raining with no tomorrow. But most of the people would be unlucky, as they keep standing in that rain, looking up at the pouring heavens, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rainy days would be over. I am glad that I am lucky to be a cloud that cools down places with these rains!”
It would be the greatest thing that could happen in life if you can complete it with the satisfaction of knowing you have served your purpose.
Your post was too good!!
thanks for tramping thru' mine :)

Scribbles said...

Good one Abhi !!!
Test case #248 :( Priority high !!!
:) Rain.. a cuppa hot coffee and piping hot kadi's :) Yearning for it... But no no no test cases to disturb me..

pophabhi said...

bvn:Thanks BVN! Yes - you are right, we take a slight break and they hit us real hard. Right on the face!
Preetha:Thx again! It would be indeed the best thing to happen if we realize that we have done our worth. Whenever that happens! Welcome aboard!
Scribbles: Cup of Kattan Chaaya and a Parippu Vada would be awesome, indeed! But poor Appu - he had those test cases ;-)

Seema said...

WONDERFUL Post…so much to soak in ! The flow was amazing…so natural like the trickle of raindrops from the cloudy reservoir high above ! Absolutely engrossing…

“When everything is lost for yourself, and then you go through the process of gaining everything for others” - Thanx for sharing this bit…re-affirming pearls like this always helps!

Having said of all this…Appu still knew how to enjoi the pouring skies inspite of the brilliant TEST CASE 248 that got onto his life…so much so as a reminder during those precious moments…he still steadily dissolved in those blessed showers…aint that really something wonderful…to loose oneself in the pouring clouds..divine!

The pic...amazing picture...beautiful capture of rain dipped forests..nostalgic moments arrested on camera again!

neermathalam said...

Do u know why you are smiling ???

As usual the excessively violent
alarm stole my sound sleep.
with drooping head I woke up to
face stark realities of early morning.

Whistle of the cooker,buzzing sound
of the mixer and all the pending works
at office,created an urge for change.
I mused with a piping hot cup of tea.

The gentle breeze of the morning
became successful in planting a
rare smile in my ever gloomy face.
And that breeze spred my smile all over,Now you know why you are smiling

If u posted this before...
yur post wud hav inspired me to scribble something better...:)..( I wrote this soemtime back..)...

Awesome post dude...as usual...
try this link also...i wud rate ur post a close..second before this..because..nostalgia..always happen in malayalam for me...;)..

http://kuttyedathi.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_13.html#links

neermathalam said...

“When everything is lost for yourself, and then you go through the process of gaining everything for others….there comes a time when you realize that you have served your purpose. If you are lucky, you reach that phase of your life - when you realize that you can keep smiling and you become a part of those clouds that travel places to keep raining with no tomorrow. But most of the people would be unlucky, as they keep standing in that rain, looking up at the pouring heavens, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rainy days would be over."

expression at its best...

pophabhi said...

Seema: Thanks! Happy to know that it brought back memories for all of us.
And that photo is just amazing and beautiful. Thanks that I have a great friend named Dhanush aka 'The Photographer' to make contributions to my blog :)
Neermathalam: That was a class act! Instant poem! And a big thanks for that link. Nothing can beat our malayalam. I'm not even anywhere close, leave alone second! :) beautiful that was!

abhishek said...

Amazing man. I felt as though I was standing there with you on that verandah listening to the sound of the rain. You have an eye for detail and a great way of capturing the nuances of each kind of rain in a way that anyone should empathize with.

Tell me something, what's your background - where did you grow up and where did you go to school?

silverine said...

This was such a beautiful narration that I had to read it many times to absorb it in its entirety. I like the tiny details that you observe and describe like the rain drops falling and splitting into tiny fragments. You will go a long way as a storywriter. I wondered why I put "tale teller" to describe you in my blog roll...it was instinctive I guess. Give us more :)

Flyaway Mind said...

great flow of narration..the story was interwoven with the rain throughout ..thats the best part i liked about it.. let test cases fail.. but let appu enjoy the rain ,the piping hot tea & the memories that comes with it...appoppan with white beard & sanchi stirred the memories of those childhood stories

Reshmi said...

Wonderful Abhi!
I have no words to express my appreciation for that one..:))
Keep such posts coming..

Regards,
Reshmi

Dhanush said...

Your tales keep haunting me and take back or forward to a time where I could read Oru Deshathinte Katha as Appu was reading.

Earlier that picture was just a proof of the torrential rains, but now you have provided more meaning to it. I am imagine myself sitting at the other end and looking at this frame, as Appu sat.

preetha said...

hi!
came in to find something lovely to read. But no new post.
thought I'll say hi and leave..

take care!!

pophabhi said...

Abhishek: Thanks buddy, and welcome! Think rain is a part of our life. Was born and brought up in suburbs of Cochin.
Silverine: Thanks Silver. Making you read twice is an achievement by itself ;-)
Flyaway: I think the characters and story itself dissolve in that rain. Its just rain. Plain torrents. Nothing more. Thanks!
Reshmi:Thanks! Nice to see you back!
Dhanu:There will be a time like that da, when you can just relax in a chaarukasera and keep reading. Thats why I am trying to pull you here, everytime I see you! :)
And your pic - Thats the speciality. You can imagine yourself standing outside and looking at a single frame. That says how good the snaps are! :)
Preetha:New posts will come!

Dhanush said...

I know da, but then there is that risk of a test case failing. I wish it wouldn't be there. Recently my dad made some good harvest in our fields of banana. Njaan athil pokano ennu koolankushamaayi chinthichu kondirikkukayaanu

b v n said...

"If this is marxism, then vinayan is an artist...."

from "random jottings" !!

Kalakki!!

kirfreak said...

great blog entry. you really capture the mood. 'The petite pools of water around seemed to linger for those tiny droplets, like a hungry cat waiting to devour its own litter.' great!!! keep on the good wrk

Ramakrishnan said...

Dear Abhi...

Wonderful post man..simply superb..Rainy season is a wonderful experience indeed...It has the magic to hold the time still and to take you on a nostalgic journey back to your good old childhood days...

Couldnt stop visualizing myself with the balarama in one hand and "tharikkuna mittai" in other hand glued on to kuttoosan dakini and luttappi's devious plot to trap mayavi when it would be pouring outside!!!!Those days were simply magical....Thnaks for taking me back..

Waiting to meet dear appu again ...

RK

Murali Manohar S said...

It was great reading ur post. Way to go...

pophabhi said...

Dhanu: Include me too. Maybe we can try our hand in other vegetables also?
BVN: Cheers! :)
RK: da...your tharavadu in chalakkudy really gives that feel. I can very well imagine sitting in the first floor room and watching the rain lashing out in the fields outside, through those windows. A balarama and a kattan would do a lot of good ;-)
Murali:Welcome here, and great to know that you njoid!

pophabhi said...

Kirfreak: Thanks! Tho I dont know who you are, nice to see you here and thanks for the push!

Alexis said...

Marvelous...exemplary writing.

the boor said...

nice! very very nice!
-ajay

Just Another Brick said...

Beautiful. Gotta love the details which paints a beautiful picture in my mind's eye :-)

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help with dissertation said...

nice story!!! Appu is probably really smart one, if he really can do all of that!!

symptoms of bronchitis said...

Love rain

really love this voice

I want it raining :(

I wish I live in raining place for ever ^^

thnx for this great voice ^^