Saina and Sania: A Tale of Two Women

Saina Nehwal (Courtesy: rediff.com)

There’s this thing about sport in India. You very rarely hear of an Indian team (other than our cash-rich cricket team) winning a tournament or championship somewhere. Most of us don’t remember when the hockey team last won an international tournament. And we don’t even have a football team to talk about. Indian sport has always been about individuals. People who couldn’t keep their talents hiding against all odds (the odds being the system). And people who had enough money to override the system (Abhinav Bindra?). Be it Vishwanathan Anand, Abhinav Bindra or Leander Paes; P T Usha or Anju Bobby George, it is the individual who has made a mark. Even in team games it is the Sachin Tendulkar or M S Dhoni who grabs the lime-light. Or the Dhanraj Pillay or Baichung Bhutia.

It is almost always better not to talk about women’s sport in India. Especially as India is a country where women are not even allowed to be born, let alone grow up to be sports-persons. But in spite of such hostilities and many more others, we do have women who have made it big in sports. Women who have battled against adversity to prove their worth. Like Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal.

That their maiden names are only slightly different permutations of the same set of letters is perhaps a coincidence, just like their games are both played with rackets, only that one is played with a ball and the other with a shuttle-cock. Or like both of them hail from Hyderabad (Sania was born in Mumbai and Saina in Haryana, but both have been living in Hyderabad since).

Sania Mirza (Courtesy: rediff.com)

Sania Mirza, until recently, was the media’s baby (perhaps ‘babe’ would be more appropriate). The tennis star reached the peak of her career in 2007 and at that time, there were very few days she wasn’t featured on the sports pages of dailies. And she deserved most of it, except perhaps the needless controversies pertaining to her on-court attire and her religion. Sania Mirza is the highest ranked tennis player ever from India with a career best ranking of 27 in singles and 18 in doubles. She has many other firsts to her credit, being the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam tournament, to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament (at the 2005 U S Open) and to win a Grand Slam title (the mixed doubles at the 2009 Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi).

Besides her achievements in sports, it would not be wrong to say that she’s the first real glam-girl of Indian sport. She was almost made to be the Anna Kournikova of India. Perhaps it is because women’s tennis is always associated with glamor and it was inevitable that she, like most female tennis stars, be known more for her sexiness rather than her playing skills. But what got lost amid all the glitter and glamor was her game. The hype that the media gave her certainly increased people’s expectations (and perhaps even her own) beyond her actual abilities. She was regularly plagued by injuries in 2008 which almost led to her oblivion from the tennis scene. Though she picked up her game in 2009, winning the doubles at the Australian open with Mahesh Bhupathi, she did not live up to the sky-high expectations. And the media did not spare her personal life as well, with stories of her initial engagement to childhood acquaintance Sohrab Mirza, break-up and her subsequent marriage to Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik running for days together on news channels. It can be strongly contended that she got more media coverage at these times than for any of her achievements in tennis. Though Sania has said she’ll continue playing for India after her marriage, one strongly doubts if she will reach anywhere near her past glory.

Aparna Popat (Courtsey: thehindu.com)

Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, has got less of media attention, at least until now. It maybe because badminton is not as glamorous a game as tennis is. And maybe because it’s not the first time an Indian woman achieved something in badminton; Aparna Popat being the other familiar name. Saina’s achievements in badminton, though, are no less than Sania’s in tennis and there is much reason to believe that her best is yet to come. Her recent hat-trick triumph at the Indian Open, Singapore Open and Indonesian Open Super Series –  three international titles in three weeks – is something no Indian has achieved so far. That all this came after much hardship only adds more shine to it.

Hailing from a middle class family, her father faced a lot of financial difficulties, spending a considerable chunk of his savings on training her from the age of eight. In the beginning, she used to train from 6 am in the morning at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad, which was at that time 20 km from her home. Her father used to take her early in the morning on his scooter for her training and after that, to school. No wonder then, that she used to sleep off on the back seat often! Her family subsequently moved nearer to the stadium in 1999. However, her training cost did not reduce as they had to keep buying shuttles, rackets, shoes and the lot regularly. In 2002, Yonex Sunrise sports offered to sponsor her kit, which according to her father, was a “big relief“. Subsequently, she received support from the BPCL late in 2004 and later, was spotted by the Mittal Champions Trust in December, 2005. Add to this the fact that till 2003, what she got from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was Rs 600 per month, which was raised to Rs 2500 that year.

Saina Nehwal has not yet become a page-3 personality like Sania Mirza did. Though it is a bit too early to predict, it is doubtful if she ever will. Quite opposed to Sania’s “oomph factor”, what Saina has is an innocent charm that is very much likable. Sports-persons are best when they remain focused on the game rather than the fame. Saina, until now has shown no signs of compromising the former for the latter. One fervently hopes, she doesn’t think otherwise, when more spectacular achievements come her way.

Prakash Padukone has maintained that Saina is the best woman badminton player that India has ever produced. This humble writer here, who somehow fortunately knows how to hold the racket and put in a few shots and who has watched quite a few games of Saina Nehwal on TV, agrees completely and earnestly prays that she will win many more championships for her country and for its women. Way to go girl!

Three Cheers!!! (Courtesy: mynews.in)

Advertisements

Tree-House

Remnants of a fallen tree

There are times in life when you narrowly escape disaster. And there are times when you aren’t so lucky. There are bound to be incidents belonging to both categories in everyone’s lives. This is about two of them. One in either category to be precise. Or perhaps it’s not so precise. If it were, I wouldn’t be alive writing this. The classification is probably unwarranted. The fact is, I was fortunate to have escaped a bid on my life in at least one incident.

Let me part the curtains of mystery that I have rather unintentionally drawn around you with my enigmatic introduction a little, so that some of you can decide whether you want to read further or not. Actually, the incidents are not so personal in nature. In fact, they affected my whole household. And there are trees involved. The title is of course, not a small clue.

People say you should not let big trees stand near your house. They must be chopped off. There are primarily two reasons for saying so. First is that big trees have big roots that can dig into the foundation of your house, leaving you surprised when it all comes tumbling down one fine day. Second is that big trees may not always stay stable; they turn into rogues when intoxicated by strong winds and rain and can potentially fall on your house like an old drunkard on a new highway. But our family is quite Eco-friendly, for we have not chopped off any of the numerous trees that surround our house. And we almost paid the price this time.

The first (and nearly fatal) incident (calling it an accident would perhaps be more appropriate) happened long back. And it was not because we let trees stand. It was because we tried to chop one off. It was before I passed the 10th standard as I was living in my old house then. That means sometime before the year 2003. I don’t think being more exact would add anything to the story.

It was a holiday. Or else I wouldn’t have slept until almost 10 o’ clock that morning. Sleeping alone on a double bed is heaven. You feel like you are sleeping in a football field. You will never reach the end of the bed, however much you roll over on either side. It was really cozy under the sheet. I guess I had just finished an entertaining dream and was wondering what to dream about next, when I heard the huge BANG! I thought the whole house was going to collapse. It was quite probable, considering the age of the house, and the fact that most of it was built using lime instead of cement mortar. I jumped out of my bed. The sheet fell lazily to the floor. I rushed to the western side of my house where I thought the sound came from. I was right.

We had a bathroom on that side of the house. Thank God it wasn’t a bedroom! For now it had a coconut tree in it. Only that it wasn’t standing. It was lying with its considerably fat trunk on top of the bathroom. Most of the ceiling tiles had made the futile attempt of resisting the fall, getting shattered to pieces in the process. And there was a gaping semi-circular hole in the wall, where it met the roof. I ran outside. The top of the tree was standing in the air, above our terrace. It didn’t make contact with the roof of the house, as the bathroom wall acted like the fulcrum of a lever (remember the “simple machine” you studied in elementary physics?).

I was wondering how a whole coconut tree fell without any provocation at all – for there was no wind or rain or let alone a breeze; in fact, the sun was shining brightly – when I heard ammachi (my grandmother) yelling at somebody. Later I came to understand that it was a useless coconut tree and was arranged to be cut. Apparently, the tree had been cut, only that it fell on the house in the process and those who did it were nowhere to be seen. They had fled as soon as the rope they used to hold the tree in place (somebody said it was a rope normally used to tie a cow, not hold a tree) gave way, letting the tree down on our house. So, we were left with a destroyed bathroom and a helpless coconut tree. Thank God I didn’t wake up earlier and go to the bathroom. Else it would have been difficult finding me under a heap of bricks and tiles.

* * *

Now, back to the present. This happened two days ago. It was an unusually hot day. We wondered why, but never in our wildest dreams expected it to be a fore-warning of the torrential rain that was to pour out from the distant heavens in the evening. And the wind. It was blowing all around quite annoyingly. There haven’t been such strong winds in the whole history of Edayaranmula. Maybe the winds wanted to make a strong statement, for after a while we heard a huge THUD! and several smaller thuds to follow.  There were small vibrations across the walls of the house. My sister and I were in the study when we saw branches and leaves falling at random from the roof, through the window. It was raining mad, with thunder and lightning providing the additional special effects. Nothing can scare you more than a sudden blast of thunder out of the blue. And it rained for the next one hour. The electricity had already announced it’s inability to stand the test of the winds as it had gone with the slightest hint of a breeze early in the evening.

The Teak that Fell

The rain subsided, finally. We went out to investigate. We saw the top of our neighbor’s teak tree lying in front of our house. One branch was still lying on our sloping roof, refusing to fall down. I went to the rooftop. There was a solar water heater there, with nice costly glass tubes circulating hot water. It was safe. Not even a scratch, though it was situated in the normal trajectory of fall of the tree. From the information gathered  the next day, it was understood that the top of the tree flew through the air a few meters before falling on the front part of our roof, which was a slope.

Teak trees have huge leaves, catching the wind in them and hence when there are strong winds, they may not fall right where they are. The trunk missed our roof, just grazing away a bit of plaster at the edge. Only the branches fell directly on the roof. Fortunately, they couldn’t do much damage. And this time I was safe inside the house.

The House without the ‘Edge’: see the exposed part at the end of the shade?

Worker removing a part of the trunk
Another casualty: A papaya tree that was uprooted

MORAL: It seems trees can be rogues sometimes…

Actually the problem lies in wide open spaces that let the wind gather speed. If there are more trees, there will be enough hurdles for killer winds which will considerably reduce their speed.

Trees are never rogues. We who chop them off, are…

Aaj Kal Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya?

Love Aaj Kal

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya

A week ago (since I had nothing else to do), I happened to watch the Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. No, don’t worry. I don’t intend to add another review to the multitudes that are already available for this pretty decent (though over-rated) movie in various media, written by those who are (hopefully) much better writers and film critics than me. It is just that I had run out of things to write about on this newly and very enthusiastically set up blog of mine, when I happened to watch this movie. And I thought, perhaps I should write something on that favourite subject of almost all Indian movies – the four-letter word starting with L, ending with E… you know what I’m talking about.

When I thought of the word, another movie that I’d watched a few months before flashed across my mind screen. It was Love Aaj Kal. On further  probing and analysis, I found two reasons (apart from my being a fan of Deepika Padukone) behind the sudden popping-up of this Hindi movie into my mind:

1. The word LOVE appears in the title of the film

2. Both these movies seem to follow a similar approach in dealing with LOVE.

The first reason is quite clear (unless you don’t know English and have still managed to read this much). The second reason perhaps needs a little explaining. But first, some filmy facts. Take a look at the conventional love stories we see in mainstream cinema. Most of them have the boy and the girl meeting (somewhere somehow, very frequently in situations that can be imagined only by a scriptwriter who’s gone  completely mad) and falling in love (which is equivalent to going to the Swiss Alps and singing songs. Or if the producer isn’t that ambitious, singing songs closer home). Then, they want to marry (this is before live-in relationships started happening), which is but natural. But then, their families don’t think it’s natural. So then we have to solve the issue. And what better way to go about it than with fiery dialogues, heroism and villain (yes, he came into the picture somewhere in-between) bashing? Finally, our hero manages to take the beauty home. And they live happily ever after.The families either get fed up of advising (read threatening) the young lovers and disown them, or come to realise their grave mistake of trying to stop the force of divine love.  The sheer number of films built on this basic premise is mind-boggling.

However, it is a notable fact that the two films I mentioned  here tell the story a little differently. Of course, there may be other films as well, but I choose these as representatives of the new-age love story because they have managed to grab the attention of a wide audience.  There are two aspects of these films that make them different from the usual fare.

1. Perspective

Both these films have chosen to portray a close-up view of a love story. The camera probes into the intimate lives of the lovers, instead of focusing on the wider world around them and being philosophical. Lovers’ small and undramatic conversations have found considerable space in both the movies. For example, while watching Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, there are several instances, especially in the second half, when you feel this is going nowhere. You find yourself getting fed up of the lovers’ childish fights and fantasies. You somehow want them to get over these trivial things and move on to more important things like proclaiming their love for each other.

In Love Aaj Kal, this focusing on individuals is in the extremes, so much so that there is no other character of significance in the film, apart from the two lead protagonists. The whole film revolves around just the two lead characters Jai and Meera. In fact both of them act as though they don’t have anyone else who is interested in them and their affairs – not even a friend! This seems quite unnatural. VV (for short) does not go to such extremes though, and acknowledges that both the girl and the boy have parents (and didn’t drop on this earth from outer space like Love Aaj Kal seemed to suggest) who are concerned about their relationships. VV even has the conservative dad who is opposed to his daughter marrying a guy who is not of the same religion. The point is, both films have in common an individualistic (or couplistic?!) viewpoint of a love story. I would even go ahead to say it is a closed view. Nothing is said about the impact the two characters have on the people around them. Even in VV, this is shown only to a very small extent. And even though it is a viewpoint devoid of heroism,  it has managed to gain popularity. I suspect this is because our society itself has become ‘closed’ to an extent. Most of the families have gone nuclear and most people are concerned only about themselves. I have doubts on whether this will be a sustainable trend in mainstream cinema though, unless the dialogues are as refreshing as those (by Imtiaz Ali) in LAK or the visuals as pleasing as in VV.

2. Confused Characters

Every man was once a boy. And every little boy has dreams, big dreams of being the hero, of beating the bad guys, of doing daring feats and rescuing the damsel in distress. Every little girl has dreams, too: of being rescued by her prince and swept up into a great adventure, knowing that she is the beauty. But what happens to those dreams when we grow up?

– John Eldredge in Wild at Heart

Now, the more important point. It is true that secretly every single human being enjoys being loved by someone. However the truth is that most of us are bound by the shackles of logic and practicality and self-imposed ‘constraints’. Love and commitment are all filmy concepts that do not work in practice, or so we think. The beauty of both these films, I feel, is that they acknowledge and reflect this reality of today. LAK starts off with the couple who were till then ‘in love’ deciding to ‘break-up’ as their careers demand their being away from each other. They decide to be just ‘friends’. This is very much like the youth of today, for whom commitment is just not practical and is so old-fashioned. (The Docomo ad for daily plans and the Fastrack ad urgin you to ‘move on’ are perfect illustrations that substantiate my point here!) VV, on the other hand, portrays only the girl Jessie as being confused. The guy, Karthik is sure that he ‘loves’ Jessie. Jessie is depicted as secretly enjoying all the attention Karthik gives her, though she doesn’t have the courage to go against her father’s wishes and marry him. This is aptly represented in the climax where we get a glimpse of Jessie’s real desires  on screen. LAK ends on a ‘hopeful’ note with the message that though the way in which you realize your love for each other changes, the feeling remains the same now and then. VV is more closer to reality!

Now, you must be wondering why I said all these things about these not so exceptional movies. I feel, the films through their characters and plot, accurately reflect two important aspects of today’s society: individualistic nature and lack of purpose or conviction in people. It is a pretty sad fact that today’s youth are very apprehensive about standing up for what their conscience says is right. I just used the characters in these movies as an illustration of the same. It is true that man’s nature is generally very complex and there is nothing wrong in that. What is wrong is that we are apprehensive about chasing our dreams, about living for others, about so-called selfless love. Some even deny the existence of such things. Today, chasing your dreams implies meeting selfish ends by any means. Living for others is almost non-existent. And selfless love? What’s that?!

When I talk of selfless love, it is not just the love between a boy and a girl. It could be anything; where you sacrifice your own selfish desires and start living for something. Sure, you may argue that terrorists do the same. But that is not what I mean. Give yourself up for something just; something worthy; make life better for someone else, instead of just keeping on accumulating for your own and worrying about the consequences. Think big. Paint on a wider canvas.

LOVE is giving up yourself for someone/something that is just and worthy, even if it may not benefit you.

So now coming to the title of this post, do you have the courage to cross the skies?

DOG (Contd.)

Years passed. He discovered Selvan’s drinking habit, when he noticed that his stock of liquor was diminishing a bit too rapidly. Sometimes he even thought he saw Selvan taking bottles out with him. He doubted Selvan was drinking with his friends in town. But he said nothing about it. He couldn’t dare to lose Selvan at this time of his life. Besides, he had more than enough money to satiate both Selvan’s and his friends’ drinking habit. He was in his early eighties now, and Selvan in his late twenties. His eyesight was dim, and his hearing capabilities were no doubt deteriorating. He seldom heard any sound that was more than two meters away.

It was that time of the year again. The cold seemed to grow more bitter with every passing year. His woollen overcoats weren’t as effective as before to counter the new found strength of the cold. The whisky was good however, and that was his only comfort in the harsh winter. That evening Selvan said he was going to town to buy some things. He agreed. He didn’t know what all things were needed. And he wasn’t sure if Selvan was in fact going out to “buy things” as he had said, or to entertain his “friends”. Only Selvan knew. And he didn’t care. After all, Selvan was running the house now. But he still made sure that he complained, if the water wasn’t of the right temperature. That evening was unusually cold. The cold was clenching its fists around his frail bones. He needed a drink. ‘Selvan!’ he called out. It was then that he remembered Selvan had gone out. He was exasperated. He decided to get the drink himself. He started descending the steps slowly.

It happened suddenly. He lost his balance. He was surprised that there was no step where he had put his foot. Before he could think more, he was rolling down the staircase. Rolling and rolling. It never seemed to end. Until it finally did. He lay sprawled on the floor. He was numb. He tried to move. His leg hurt. It hurt like it was going to be detached from his old body. He opened his mouth. He tried to call out for help. He couldn’t. No sound came out of his mouth; only warm air, which condensed in the cold surroundings, forming a mist. He wished he could spell what he wanted to say, in it. Perhaps someone would see, then. There he was, lying on the floor with a broken leg and no one to help him. Where the hell did Selvan disappear? He felt like he was falling. Falling deep into a dark black hole. He lost himself.

Suddenly he was brought to himself by a throbbing pain in his head. Something had hit him. He groaned. He moved his hand to his forehead. It was wet. He hoped it was sweat. It was not. He looked at his hand. ‘No!’ he thought. But it was. Blood. As red as ever. He didn’t know who or what had hit him. He couldn’t think. He suddenly felt like everything was going to end. He had no one to think about. His wife who died long ago? No. His two daughters? No. Selvan? Yes. Where was Selvan? Why had he forsaken him? Didn’t he give him all that he needed? He tried to call out. ‘Selvan!’ He thought he heard a faint laugh. The exertion was too much for him. In fact, it took his whole life breath away.

* * *

It was the day after the New Year. The Inspector was in his bed at home, pulling the warm blanket over his head, and prolonging the act of waking up. He made a quick glance at his watch. Its hands glowed in the pseudo-darkness under the blanket. He could make out it was almost 6 am. He stuck his head out of the blanket and looked out of the window. Mist covered the hills.  They looked beautiful. As always. He liked this place. It didn’t have the frenetic pace of the city. Life was relaxing. And work as well. He had another look at his watch and then at his cosy bed. ‘There’s time’, he thought and closed his eyes under the blanket, slowly drifting into his dreams again. He heard someone calling him. Someone was shaking him, telling him to wake up. He opened his eyes. It was the constable who was supposed to be on night duty. And it was not a dream. ‘What is it? Why are you here?’ he asked. ‘Sir, a newspaper boy came to the station in the morning. He has something to tell you.’

‘Where is he’? the Inspector asked.

‘He’s standing outside sir.’

‘Wait. I’m coming in a few minutes.’

* * *

Soon the two men and the boy were in the jeep, driving to the sprawling mansion on the top of a hill. He stopped in front of the gate. The boy led him inside the house. There was the man, lying sprawled on the floor. He noticed there was a pool of blood around the man’s head that had dried up.

‘Sir, I came to check if there was anyone here, when I saw that yesterday’s newspaper was still lying by the gate’, the boy said.

‘Good. Did you notice anything unusual?’

‘What could be more unusual than this’, the boy thought. ‘Well, sir, the door wasn’t locked. I didn’t notice anything else. I cycled to the station straight away on seeing the body’, he said.

‘Constable, search all the rooms. Tell me if you see anything unusual.’

It was then that the inspector saw the stick. It was lying near the old man. It had blood on it. He picked it up and slowly rolled it in his hands. Then something caught his eye. A small grey, almost white, hair. It was stuck in the dried blood. It could only belong to the old man. ‘He was murdered.’ ‘What sir?’, the boy asked. ‘The old man was murdered.’ The constable returned. ‘Sir, all the safes and cupboards are open. I think there was a robbery here.’

‘Was the old man living alone?’, the Inspector turned to the boy.

‘I do not know sir, I am new in this job. In fact, I started delivering newspapers only yesterday. Sankaramama might now. He used to deliver newspapers in this area earlier. I can take you to him.’

‘Hmmm…’ He turned to the constable. ‘You stand guard here. I’m going with the boy. We may need more men.’

The Inspector put his arm around the boy.’Come, let’s go meet your Sankaramama…’

The constable looked on as the duo got into the jeep. He saw it winding through the snake-like roads through the misty hills.

‘Wonder, if I’ll get some tea nearby…’, he thought to himself.

* * *

DOG

He took a cigar from the box. Holding it in one hand he nipped off the end with the aid of his prized cutter in the other. He placed the cutter by his side and proceeded to take out a burning ember from the fireplace. Slowly he rolled the end of the cigar near the flame ensuring that the end never made actual contact with it. The rolling continued until the entire rim was lit. Light wisps of smoke started rising from the end. He took a long draw. The satisfaction was evident from the crooked smile under the bushy moustache on his puckered face. He closed his eyes, savouring the flavour, as he relaxed on the large sofa near the fireplace.

Temperatures dropped very low in Munnar in the month of December. The mornings and nights especially, when there was no sun to offer even the feeble resistance which it did during the day, to the cold that was mercilessly biting into the flesh right unto the bones. But he never knew what it was like to be out in the cold. He was always comfortable in his long woollen overcoats. He had plenty of them gifted to him by either one of his two daughters, both of whom were abroad. Far far away from this snapping old man. They sent him gifts for Christmas or on his birthday. They called him once every month. But they never visited him. They used to, at first. But then, their children had school, college and what not. They couldn’t come even though they wished. Or that was what they said. He had his water almost boiling hot, to bathe everyday; a bottle of Grand Marnier was always by his side. Selvan ensured that. Selvan did everything for him. From shopping to cooking to watering the plants. But still he disliked him. He was jealous of Selvan; Selvan was the embodiment of youth and energy, qualities he did not possess.

Selvan was just turning eighteen when Kuppusami brought him to the mansion, saying he could no longer work due to old age. Said the boy was from the village and was efficient. And sure he was. Too efficient for him. He could find faults with Selvan only with great difficulty. But still he persisted in the act. Either the water was not of the right temperature for bathing, or his clothes weren’t properly ironed. Or there was too much salt in his cooking. Selvan was never allowed to visit his village or his family. Once or twice some people from the village did come to visit Selvan. They brought news from the village. That was how he came to know of Kuppusami’s death. Days and months passed. Once a larger number of people than usual turned up at the mansion. The wanted to meet Selvan. It was after a while that he heard loud cries. It was Selvan. Maariyammal had died. Selvan’s mother. Selvan prayed for a week’s leave. It was not to be. He was allowed only a day. Who would prepare the hot water if he went?

Selvan was now a muscular youth in his early twenties. But he was the same old man. It was on the last day of the month of December and the last day of the year that it happened. It was evening. The sun had almost disappeared. The twilight gave a heavenly look to the misty hills bearing the tea plantations. It was then that the howling began. He heard it while reading a book on his sofa. He could discern it. It was most certainly a dog. He put on his overcoat and opened the door of the mansion. He stepped outside. The cold was trying hard to find its way through the layers of expensive clothing he wore. He could feel it. Then he saw the dog. It was lying just beside the huge wrought iron gates of his mansion. And of course, it was howling. Crying rather. It seemed to be in pain.

‘Selvan! SELVAN!’ he yelled at the top of his voice. Selvan came running toward him from the back of the house.’Where did this stupid dog come from?!’ he shouted.

‘I… I don’t know sir. I didn’t see it coming.’

‘Get a stick’.

‘Why sir?’

‘Just get the stick, damn you!’

‘Ok sir!’

Selvan brought a stick. It was stout. ‘Good’, he thought.

‘Chase the dog away.’

Selvan tried to motion with the stick to chase the dog away. It did not budge. And it continued to howl.

‘Why isn’t it moving? Prod it with the stick!’

Selvan prodded the thing with the stick. The dog turned over. ‘Sir, I think it has broken it’s leg, sir. It can’t move.’

‘What?’

‘Sir, it has broken it’s leg. Perhaps it was hit by a moving vehicle on the road. It can’t move.’

‘Then kill it! What are you waiting for?’

‘Sir, but…’

The howling continued. Now it was more distressing.

‘Give me the stick.’

He took the stick from Selvan. He started beating the dog. The howling grew worse, echoing through the misty hills. The sun was fading away. Darkness was setting in. He beat the dog on the head. Red blood spurted from its mouth, flowing onto the tarred gateway. ‘Sir, stop sir…’ Selvan’s protests fell on deaf ears. He beat it until it stopped moving. It was dead.

‘Take it and bury it outside the house. I don’t want to smell rotting flesh all night.’ The sun had disappeared. The cold was setting in. Selvan dug the damp earth just outside the iron gate. It was late in the evening when he finished the burial.

* * *

To be continued…

In the Beginning…

‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.’ [Genesis 1:1-3, The Holy Bible]

Without form and void. Darkness upon the face of the deep. That is how the mind is sometimes. Ironically or otherwise, ‘sometimes’ includes the time when you decide to start a blog. One finds himself devoid of ideas, or even if there are ideas, they are ‘without form’. Then, the most natural question to ask is, why take the pain and extract something out of nothing? Whether you like it or not, Boredom is the answer.

One can’t help but wonder if all bloggers started off like this… Even if all didn’t, there could be some at least, who were goaded into the blogosphere by sheer boredom. In that case one cannot exactly claim the sole ownership of a title like Boredom Blogger. It would be most suitable for all such poor souls who discovered the writer in them after starting a blog. Or perhaps it was the other way round and the world discovered the absence of a writer; the point is, they started blogging out of boredom. Whether the blog itself was a bore is a different matter.

It is debatable whether any sort of creativity flows out of boredom. I recall that “Boredom is the Devil” was the title of one of the articles in our college magazine. The author was in fact, my classmate. So, some think boredom is bad; that boredom is the devil. But I wish to believe it isn’t true. I can even argue that God started creating the universe because He had nothing else to do. No one knows for sure though. But if the universe was created out of boredom then boredom gave birth to the most wonderful of creations. Ah! How I wish it were true…!

So then, ‘encouraged’ by boredom, here I am, making my humble beginning. I am taking the step forward. I’m going to write what I feel like writing. And that could be anything under the sun. It could be the review of a movie I saw, it could be a story. It could be a reaction to what I see and hear around me, it could be sheer madness. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. Like everyone, I like to believe I’m right always. But debates and discussions are always welcome. In fact I earnestly hope what I write would be worthy of discussion. It is obviously a big hope, but I do not believe it is unrealistic.

Criticism is welcome. Who wouldn’t welcome encouragement?!

Let there be light!