Cast(e) away…

Walking stick made with bamboo caneHer humour was many-layered. The essence would lay hidden between the layers, above them, beneath them and everywhere else. Her repertoire of anecdotes, folk songs, free verses, ditties and wisecracks was so rich that each time we prodded her a little, she would burst forth with many more juicy tales and no one would ever give it a miss.

My grandmother had stories about people and animals and people and animals connected to those people and animals and so on and so forth. She knew so many people, their personal histories, their faces and characteristic tics; the way they dressed, walked, ate, sat down and stood up—details, details, details and details.

No one complained. They just listened. And laughed.

Wrinkled and wizened, her mind would take a stroll down the past so effortlessly that she would come back with many more vignettes and memoirs and nuggets of wisdom. For her, the art of storytelling would come as easy as plucking flowers.

Sounds like a nice person? You may be wrong. She was spiteful and so casteist that she would not let anyone beyond her caste touch her. She would scream whenever a child darted out from nowhere, touched her accidentally and ran off (frightened). I remember how she used to clutch at her walking stick and point at my friends viciously meaning: “I will hit you so hard that you won’t look at the direction I sit”.

I could not invite my friends home. I hated that. Continue reading

Heart of darkness

His body lay squashed on the bridge that connected my hometown to the rest of the world – a typical dusty Indian town that stumbles on its own follies but never rises above them.

A monstrous 10-wheeler truck had run over the doctor leaving his bloody innards entangled with those of his bike. Dr Dinakar Shetty had met with his end on the same bridge from where he dumped black plastic bags stuffed with female foetuses and newborns into the rivulet flowing under—some poisoned, some smothered, and some throbbing soft and warm. Continue reading