The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Blithe Moment

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I feel so good these days seeing only things good happening all around. My feng-shui plant indoor grows luxuriantly, and I tease the friend who presented the gift to me that all his money is coming to me! Say like the geological phenomenon of oil migrating from the Middle East to India underground. The things for which I was just struggling the other day are happening just like that. Say, for example, I just ran into a freeware on the Web that converted my ISBN from digit to barcode graphic, again just like that—almost out of the box. I came across the news that my state has so much of gold and other minerals and they are going to lift them for the benefit of the state; I was happy to learn about the victory of Indians in the cricket match agaist West Indies, the Indian girl smash-hitting the tele hunt for celebrities in the west taking head on the racial onslaughts...

But that was not all to send me happy and blissful. I read in the newspaper today that a white owl was sitting on the window panel of the chief minister of the state. People here interpret it all auspicious, and everything good for the state is on the offing.

I don’t know if I’m sounding a little superstitious, but then what is the big harm in it to come across good things constantly, nay continually? There may be something harmful in it: if I can ascribe a meaning to chance happenings like this for good reasons, won’t I be doing the same for bad happenings for the opposite reasons? And loosing confidence for small deviations?

Here I tend to be philosophical, the Indian way. Happenings are like the predetermined things, say like a sunrise or a sunset and they are to be accepted, not without a question but with an understanding, the spiritual understanding. Then what about improving things by conscious effort? Oh yes, one should continue doing that because one’s living in this world has a purpose: to do things good, conscientious and enduring. Results are not to be assessed in the short run; there has to be a cosmic balance between efforts made and results achieved, not on one-to-one basis, but in totality. We are so much attuned to think that a father’s effort fructifies in child’s life, like planting a tree for the progenies! Wonderful, thy name is Indian philosophy. Any doubt? Then think of Kiran Deasi getting her Booker Prize in her first novel where as her mother Anita Desai is still waiting to be awarded some prize of that sort with her entire life devoted to writing!
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By
A. N. Nanda
27-02-2007
Berhampur
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Old Poem of Mine

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[This is an old poem of mine. It reads a bit like a teenager's composition for his school magazine, yet I like it, even if I had left my teen long behind. This I included in my book of poem collections "In Harness", published in 2004 with an ISBN numbering as ISBN 81-8157-183-5. I'm sharing it here in my bid to relive the feeling I felt while writing this.]
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Lovely Letter

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If I go near you
At an ice cream parlour
Or at a bus-stop-Q
Or at a card gallery
Or at a gift shop
Or just near a theatre entrance,
Will you spot me?
Will you notice me?
Or will you ignore me
Like you do to the hundreds in the crowd
Those throw their lusty stare
On your buttery face?

If I loiter in the lonely pathway
Beside your lofty apartment
In a December chilly morning
In my red fur cap and blue sweater
With hands pressed close to chest
Singing a movie song in a chaotic scale
And tapping my boot on uneven concrete,
Will you gently remove
Your window curtains
At least for the sunlight sake
And take a sweet notice
Of my little audacity and me?

In a crowded city bus
Spotting a vacancy near you
If I beg your sweet permission
To inhale your lavish perfume
And venture an intimacy closer,
Will you throw your gorgeous smile
And nod your silky head in style
To make my day lucky and oblige?

Waiting in vain for the last bus on route
At late night on your way back home
If I per chance come across you
And propose to share a taxi
And offer to give company up to your home
But timidly keep mum throughout,
Will you call me your home?
Or vanish from my dreamy view
Saying a short '' Thank U’’?

If I reach your home
As an uninvited fellow
Hesitatingly, with a red rose
On your next birthday
When you are still busy with your plaits
Chatting with your bosom friends sitting around,
Will you come near the door to receive
Stretching your hands so silky
Generously smiling between the sensuous dimples
To inhale the rose and make me comfortable?

If this small letter
Incensed with rose water
Sketching a red heart on its top
Containing a bundle of unmixed nonsense
Lucky to reach your creamy palm,
Will you really read it alone
When all around have finally gone
And keep it hidden beneath your frock
Close to your warm bosom
Deep inside your pinkish cleavage?

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By
A. N. Nanda
Originally Written at
PORT BLAIR
22 / 11 / 1995

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sumia

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Sumia is an old lady of cheerful disposition. Her love for independence is rather overmuch. No wonder she has chosen to continue working at her old age of sixty rather than staying with her son and daughter-in-law. She doesn’t like to make compromises on every issue and fight with her daughter-in-law every now and then. She continues to maintain excellent health and works with sincerity.

And she works as the maidservant in a well-to-to household where she is loved for her simplicity and respected for her age.

In her sixty years of life she has not achieved many things but she does not gripe about that. One such thing is about her travel—say, until recently, she has had no experience of riding the wonder vehicle called a car, not at all. It was a luxury, denied to her so far.

Only the other day she got an opportunity to end her privation of car-lessness.

Everything happened a fortnight ago, during the last elections to local bodies. It was a gala incident in the rural area. Somehow elections these days have become more interesting, more expensive and certainly uncertain. Gone were the days—and everything about that is in our living memory—when there were no takers for the posts; there were many cases of elections concluded with lone members getting elected uncontested. Such was the popularity of local bodies!

This time when election was notified, it jerked all the sleeping politicians at the grass root into action. Power of persuasion was now put on test. There were cajoling from the contestants—a bit higher in intensity this time than it used to be the case on the previous elections. Everybody who has the eligibility to vote was cajoled...even the poor old soul called Sumia.

On the day of the election, a car came to Sumia. She got into it and the engine revved. Sumia was happy. Cool breeze came into the cab through its open windows, ruffled her gray hair, billowed her sari, and stroked her skin. It was such a feeling to enjoy the breeze! It was all fresh. The car sped through the village road.

Looking through the window was quite an experience for her. What a scene? Even trees were running past the car and all going back and back. Sumia could not believe her own eyes.

It was a journey of twenty minutes only. The booth was not quite far from Sumia’s place. As soon as she got down she was served tea, the real hot tea with thick dairy whitener in it. It was creamy and Sumia liked it. Standing in queue to vote would not be tiring now.

Then she went inside the booth, voted and came out. Now was the time to go home. But this time there was no car to take her back home. She came back walking, slowly ruminating the wonderful experience of her first car ride. Now she was aware what it meant getting into a cab and what it felt sitting on the cushion of a seat.

‘Who did you vote for, Sumia?’ asked the lady of the house where Sumia worked.

‘I voted for the “snake”, maa’m,’ Sumia replied. She did not know the name of the contestant who actually had the symbol "snake", but she knew it was he who had arranged a car for her to take her to the booth, one way.

‘But you were supposed to vote for the “dagger”, isn’t it? Hasn’t he given you a peace of sari?’ the lady of the house teased.

‘I’ve also given a vote to him. In fact I’ve impressed the rubber stamp on both the symbols of the ballot paper.’

Sumia paused a while and then asked a question to her friendly employer.

‘Maa’m, will there be an election next year too?’
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By
A. N. Nanda
Bhubaneswar
18-02-2007
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Lovely Thief Called Bindiya

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Simple is the way simpleton does. Gone were the days when even thieves preferred a simpler way to filch and then confess, and then to accept the punishments for the lure of coming back to a life of acceptance and love. Yes, I’m going to tell you a village story.

Bindiya was a permanent member of our village. It will be more correct to say that she had a kind of diurnal membership, for she used to remain in the village only for the whole of a day and go back to her house at the nightfall. She used to perform all sorts of chores given to her, like cleaning and scrubbing, plucking and herding, baby-sitting and washing. She was happy doing all these if we considered the importance given to her on every occasion. She used to be consulted for things like dealing with wasps, tackling a rat, or even killing and identifying a snake which used to be the poisonous ones invariably.

She had a family, consisting of three sons and a husband, all these she had acquired after her second marriage that was a successful one. She was poor like many in her hamlet, and she used to take the help of my village folks to tide over those spells of stringencies. She used to take loans, which she could pay back by working and making her husband and sons work in the debtors’ fields, and many an occasion she used to plead for moratoriums or even exemptions. She was also into small-time thieving, say lifting a plate or a bowl or plucking a few cucumbers or water melons. She was caught sometimes and some other times she was not, but none had chosen to award her the highest kind of punishment by firing her out of the job. She commanded love despite her occasional waywardness.

One day Bindiya chose to filch at our premises. She was delayed that day and when she came to us, the darkness had already set in. she was hurrying to get back, mumbling that her sons would be hungry and that she would have to cook for them. She was also telling how her husband would not beat her despite all her occasional delays. But she had no serious business with us requiring her to overstay on our premises.

Those days there was no electricity in our village. We had lighted a small brass lamp called ‘Chungi’ to illuminate the verandah outside. It was a naked light fuelled by kerosene. When my sister went inside leaving the lamp on the verandah, it gave Bindiya a chance she thought she could use. She promptly put out the lamp and took it to the fence nearby to hide it.

When my sister came there was no lamp. She enquired as to who had taken that leaving the place in abysmal darkness. Nobody answered. Bindiya was there. But she volunteered an answer, “How do I know?” She was not asked the question particularly and why did she have to answer it so defensively? This was enough for a suspicion. An intelligent child that was my sister had to come up with a doubt begging for its confirmation.

She did something quite clever. She went to Bindiya, pulled her hand and smelt it. Wow! It smelt kerosene.

She asked point blank, ‘Bindiya! You're a thief and you're caught. I’ll now raise alarm and you’ll be beaten to pulp. Tell me where have you kept the lamp?’

‘Small sister, my princess, please don’t? I’m always so good to you. Don’t I bring water lilies for you everyday? Don’t I bring berries from inside the brambles? Didn’t I give you a ladybird?’ pleaded Bindiya.

‘Aren’t you enticing me to give up, Bindiya? Go and bring the lamp from the place you have hidden it,’ ordered my sister.

Bindiya had no other go. She didn’t want to aggravate the issue. Presently, she went to the fence, dug her hand into the straw heap and pulled out the lamp. It was not cold since everything happened in a matter of five minutes: there was a stealing; there was an investigation; there was a lead and there was a solution! Even the justice was dispensed. My sister chose to excuse her, for she was promised a live bird in exchange of her silence.

But months gone, Bindiya had no time to catch a bird for living up to her promise. My sister felt cheated. She came public and disclosed everything including the secret understanding with Bindiya that never materialized.

The result: it was not Bindiya who was taken to task for her act of filching; rather my sister earned a few rounds of scolding for behaving so foolish!

Bindiya is no more but her memory lingers on.
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By
A. N. Nanda
Bhubaneswar
11/02/2007
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

So, I Sussed!

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I now realise that my blog has come adrift a long way from its original aim of being a blog of ramblings. For quite sometimes in the past I've been writing only about the book I'm going to publish, my short story collections "The Remix of Orchid", so much so that it has taken the shape of a advertising a product. Really, there is no satisfaction trivialising a blog spot like this.

So, I'll devote an exclusive blog for that book. With that objective in view I've created another one linked as http://remixoforchid.blogspot.com and now I shall devote this space into pure ramble, as in the past.

In the mean time something wrong has happened to my old blog http://books.myvisitindia.com and I don't think it will be up so soon. Oh, how sad! There was a built up of archives. This is now gone from the web. But there is nothing to worry. I've kept a copy of them. I'll post them here. At least they won't be orphaned; they will be nicely rehabilitated in the blogspot.

So, I'll post a story here tomorrow. Until then bye.
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By
A. N. Nanda
09/02/2007
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