I want be a child, all over again!

Life in the early 1980s was nothing fancy, it had no glitter whatsoever, but every minute was loaded with excitement. There were dear friends, of whom I don’t have a clue anymore. There are places still standing tall that I long to go back, and embrace. 

I miss being dozed off in Granny’s comforting snuggle. I yearn for the evenings when I use to sit on Grandpa’s lap and learn Samskruta slokas. I crave the sweet aroma of incense sticks being lit while watching Ramayana. 

I want go back in time, plead Mom to boil and sauté the freshly picked Sorghum seeds with spices; and devour them to my heart’s content. I desire to get hands on my Dad’s National Geography and Reader’s Digest collection and read every single page. I want to go back, sit on the wooden benches and learn English alphabets from Sundaramma Madam. 

I’m eager to get hands on my daily dose of 20 paise pocket money from Dwarika ChikAppa and buy my favourite piece of coconut burfee from Khadar’s store. All over again, I want to miss that one particular tender coconut which almost wiped my head off. 

Every night, I want be scared of Owl’s hoot. Once again, I want to save my sister Rashmi from being supposedly kidnapped. In these rainy season, I want to curl up, turn into a 2nd standard kid, and run for cover holding a school bag over my head. 

If given a chance, I want to be a 7 year old Bharadwaj that everyone loved, and never want to grow up. But alas, childhood comes only once, and that’s the fact of life.

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Payback’s a bitch!

This morning as I got ready to go for office, my mother asked if I was all set to have breakfast and I replied with an enthusiastic yes. As she handed out my favourite jackfruit seed with potato combination sambar* and Ragi mudde^, the mood swing kicked in, I lost interest in meal and I declined the plate. With a very worried face, my mother beseeched me to eat. I refused, grabbed few slices of cucumber and got up.

I got out of the house with an empty stomach, a heavy heart, a restless head and I started my bike. Right at that moment, I was one grumpy old bugger.

In next 10 minutes, my bike was roaring and I was about to race up the Allalasandra railway over bridge in Bengaluru. As I got closer to the access ramp, further on to me a Toyota Etios was following a leisurely driven tractor with an over loaded trailer. With intent to overtake the slow-moving vehicles, I throttled hard and zipped ahead. As I was getting closer to the car, suddenly I saw a blinker switching on; the Etios slowly crawled out, moved on to my lane and got ready to overtake the tractor.

I was about 30 feet behind the car and I was getting closer, faster.

With a stiff limb, I pulled the brakes hard and right away I heard the sharp screech of my bike wheels grabbing the asphalt. The sudden fall in speed made my rear wheel to drag right and as I started to lose balance, I released the brakes and thumped them back again to correct the lug. But this time I lost balance, my bike started to wobble and once more, I grabbed the brakes.

The wobbling got worse, and a chill ran down my spine.

The Etios was still crawling in front and now I was right behind the car, unstable and shaking badly. In the following microsecond, I mentally prepared for the finale – either to rear-end the car or go down with my bike, both of which could conclude in terrible consequences.

As I frantically struggled to control the motorbike at such close proximity to the Etios, I flashed my headlights and thankfully that grabbed the driver’s attention. In the next second as I was about to crash into the car, the driver accelerated hard and rushed ahead. This gave me precious space to sit tight, control my bike and slowdown. As I steadied my bike, I opened my LS2 visor, screamed the most offensive expletives at my own self, and rode ahead in one piece.

I should have listened to my mother, had my breakfast and I should have kept a steady head. And yes, I should drive easy, and safe. Truly, payback’s a bitch!

***

*Sambar – A lentil-based vegetable stew.

^Ragi Mudde – Ragi millet flour cooked and made in to soft balls, a staple food in many parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states in India.

My Yugadi, with Dad’s Thrashing!

Today – Friday, April 8, 2016

Today as we celebrate Yugadi which marks the beginning of a New Year and also the onset of rains, people across cities and villages in Karnataka indulge in bouts of gambling as part of the festivities. Played in memory of Pandavas losing their kingdom to Kauravas in a deceitful game from the Mahabharata days, traditionally the farmers gambled to determine if the New Year would bring them luck, or not. Huddled in groups under a shady tree, or beneath a pandal – a temporary shelter purposely erected for the deed – on Yugadi people gamble openly. The police mostly overlook these bouts and allow the public to enjoy the wager for a day or two, before raiding and dispersing the spirited past due congregations.

On a day when cops keep low-profile and publicly allow the outlawed games, my memories take me back to a day in my life when I was just a 9 year old youngster, a time when even a fifty paisa pocket money was enough to modestly treat your couple of friends. After all, it was the magical 1980s!

It was a Yugadi day, I was decked in a new pair of shorts and half-shirt, my school was closed and most importantly, Dwarika ChikAppa – my Dad’s youngest brother had offered me a generous one Rupee pocket money to enjoy the festivities.  He wanted me to buy something to eat, may be a hard boiled candy and a big portion of coconut burfee, a sweet confectionery. Clutching the coin, as I ran eagerly towards the general store, something grabbed my attention. Sathyanarayana, my relative in his early 30s was in argument with a bunch of teenagers.  Out of childish curiosity, I went to check out the hullabaloo and soon realized that it was an argument over a Head or Tail bet gone sour.

coin

The group soon settled their dispute and started over with a bet of 20 paisa for each round. For a 9 year old kid, the game of Head or Tail was an unusual curiosity. Every time a coin was tossed in the air, the hum it created was hypnotizing. The clanking of metal, the cries of winning and the growl of loss were delightful.

Looking up, Sathyanarayana asked if I had any money and I wobbled my head in agreement. Next, he invited me to bet and without thinking twice, I sat down and got ready for my life’s first gambling bout. I was thrilled. The coin was tossed, and before I could call out my first bet, a hand grabbed my shirt collar and hauled me out of the group. With startling eyes, I looked up and realized that it was my Dad who had caught me by the neckline, and in an unforgivable act of gambling.

What unfolded next was witnessed by the entire street in a ghastly hush, and on that day, no one was brave enough to stop my Dad from giving me the beating that I will never forget in my life. That one unfortunate Yugadi day in the 1980s, my Dad was enraged and equally, he was hurt.

By the time he had dragged me back in to the house, I had pledged in my heart never to gamble in my life, ever again. And to this day, I have never bet with money and even today, the only cards game I can understand is the Solitaire on my computer.

The love at first note!

This reminiscence is way back from the mid 1980s and it will remain forever fresh in my heart.

I guess the location was somewhere between Arsikere and Kadur. Outside it was hot, horrid and as far as our eyes could gaze, we were surrounded with desiccated wilderness. I was sitting on my Dad’s lap in the front seat and the heat from the Matador engine was unbearable. We were travelling to Shivamogga for my ChikAppa’s marriage and the van was packed with my parents, the groom, aunts, uncles and our luggage.

Beating the torrid monotony, a Kannada song starts to play over the van’s cassette deck and out of the blue, I feel elated. The tune was lovely, the orchestration is simple and yet, mellifluous. The interludes are grand, the lyrics divine and most importantly, the female vocals are blissful. Without my knowledge, I start to hum along and by-heart the lyrics, because, my mind suddenly realizes that I’m listening to something so incredible that soon I will be falling in love with it, forever!

Devara Aata Ballavaraaru from Avala Hejje, a 1981 Kannada release, is the song that made me fall eternally in love with the melodious voice of S. Janaki, and the melodies in general.

[ChikAppa = Dad’s younger brother]

 

My Last Words –Tale of a double murder, and a suicide!

Even as I write these words, I can still hear her hapless screams inside my head – deafening, heart wrenching screams longing for mercy. She was on her knees, naked, bleeding. She was begging me not to hurt. But as I ignored her pleas and slashed her tear soaked cheek, she looked vulnerable.

Nalina was a woman I always wanted, physically.

 ***

Right after graduating from a prestigious college in Mangalore, I had decided to continue my Dad’s profession. Before his untimely death in 1998, he was a successful coffee planter in Chikmagalur and in March 2011, my mother had died after suffering from a long illness.

Today, I’m 36, unmarried and wrecked.

    ***

In this deceptive tale of shameless envy, I have bared my soul of a heavy burden – a profound weight that I concealed for 4 long years in my heart with a great anguish. 

Initially, from feeling exceedingly pleased at my deed to slowly getting emotionally derelict at what I did, in last few years, my life has taken numerous twists and turns. But there was one last bend waiting to be traversed – a self rewarded last voyage, a journey that will end all my misery. And I don’t have to wait any longer, for I have already cut my wrist and drip by drip, the blood is dribbling on to the carpet.

I opted to rinse out my blood and depart from my dark existence, because I deserve it. To live with a massive guilt of cruel manslaughter is impossible – I tried to live with it for 4 long years, and I have failed miserably.  I made them suffer and die, bit by bit. Now I want my ending to be slow, and painful. I want to watch me die.

Before I pass-out from the loss of blood, let me take you through the events that led to the unfortunate death of Vishnu and Nalina, who were ruthlessly murdered by the author of this fictitious tale.

***

Nalina was young; she had a charming face and an awesomely captivating body – curvy, flirtatious and passionate. Making love to strangers was her line of work and after meeting scores of unknown faces in last few years; I realized Nalina was the best in her profession. Several rich men from faraway places called on her, but these days, I kept her busy.

Vishnu was my close friend. He was just a week elder to me, a hedge separated our coffee estates and before I moved out to Mangalore for higher studies, we had attended the same school and the college. In a far-off region covered with large coffee plantations and distantly placed neighbours, Vishnu and I had grown-up together. He was my only real friend, and we both relied on each other during our good and bad days. Also, we both had a similar craving that had sealed our strong friendship – women who shared their beds for money.

After failing to change Vishnu’s wayward adulterous life, his wife had gone back to her parents and since that day, Vishnu and I had an unopposed liberty to fulfil our steamy desires right inside our homes.

A friend had introduced me to Nalina and after spending an amorous night in her bed; all my previous hook-ups seemed insignificant. In following weeks, I started to spend most of my time at her home and similarly, she liked my company. Every time Nalina and I met, she earned handsomely. Suddenly, I had turned into her most preferred customer and for me, she had become an obsession.

Nalina was a woman I always wanted, physically.

In next one month, I met Vishnu only thrice, and for the first time since his wife had moved out, I started to skip our habitual debaucheries with usual courtesans. This surprised Vishnu, but I kept Nalina far away from his senses. I detested the thought of sharing her with anyone, not even with my best friend and a long time companion in my lurid traits. Nalina was my prized possession, and for as long as possible, I wanted her to be exclusive.

One fine evening, as I entered Nalina’s house, I was bewildered. Sitting next to her on the couch, Vishnu looked wicked. As I walked in with a sheepish grin, he winked at me suggestively. Somehow, he had found my secret love nest and I was not happy. As I stood with a bemused look on my face, he got up and briskly walked towards the door. Before stepping out, he blurted curtly “You are not as smart as you think Mr. Murthy!”

Clearly, Vishnu was not amused. But strangely, his frustration lifted my spirits and before he was out of the door, I started to passionately kiss Nalina.

This incident triggered an avalanche of unforeseen events in our lives. First time in 32 years, I and Vishnu started to ignore each other’s presence in the same vicinity and personally, I begin to detest him. Our lustful orgies fuelled with abundant supply of sleazy courtesans were stopped and frenzied drunken revelries were cut short abruptly. As I ignored Vishnu and the upkeep of my coffee plantation, Nalina kept me busy wholeheartedly, or so it seemed for a while.

As the days filled with fervent coitus passed into weeks, and then into obsessive months, slowly I sensed Nalina turn a little indifferent to my presence. The passionate hug that I got on my arrival turned a little cold. It was as if my being there inside her home wasn’t exciting Nalina anymore. Initially, her mood started to show the signs of annoyance to my demands and as the days passed, her passion on bed turned into an effort, it felt as if she was in an obligation to satisfy a customer – hurried, dull and unromantic. Her intense tease, the avid flirts and her stunning ardour slowly withered and in few months, I was treated as if I was just her another customer looking for a few minutes of heady outburst. After spending months in her home, and on her bed, I could sense it all, and it infuriated me immensely.

More importantly, in midst of this melancholy, she started to go out for hours, and come back in high spirits. This had never happened before and when demanded, her reply was that she went out to meet friends, and I shouldn’t be worried. But I knew she had no friends in Chikmagalur.

Gradually as the days passed, when every morning I drove to her home, I found the door locked, and Nalina gone out. Every day, sitting impatiently in my Jeep, I waited for her to return. And when she did return, all hell broke loose. Every day I went mad on her, and she responded with equal verbal fervour.  One gloomy evening, as I was abusing her for betrayal, she silenced me by telling brusquely “Murthy, you are my customer. Stop behaving like an obsessive lover. And please, stop coming home from tomorrow.”

That evening, I lost my cool and slapped her tight. Stepping out of her home, I vouched never to return. The whole night, my rage for Nalina kept me awake and by sunrise, I wanted revenge. But first, I decided to find out  her new admirer.

Hurriedly, I drove out of my estate on to the main road and as I started to climb up the hilly road, I saw Vishnu’s car coming from Chikmagalur. As he passed by my Jeep, he slowed down, looked deep into my eyes and grinned with an evil scorn. Sitting next to him, Nalina looked ravishing.

Looking at Vishnu’s wicked smirk, I went crazy with rage. After aimlessly negotiating the winding roads for few more kilometres, I slowed down my Jeep, turned around and drove towards Vishnu’s estate. Suddenly, I was determined with cruel frenzy.

***

 It looks like I can’t write any more. My end is near. Most of my blood has oozed out and it has turned into a large puddle at my feet. I don’t have much time left. Even in this frosty air, I’m sweating profusely. I can feel my palms turn cold and dry. I feel weak and very uneasy. But, I feel liberated.

I have buried their bodies in Vishn