Monday, September 28, 2009

Dholu bhai- a tribute

DholuBhai was a small kitten. He had nothing special about him, apart from the chip on his small shoulders that he carried.

It was my mom who first noticed the brown and black kitten roaming in our backyard. And then I got the news, and then it was Bela who made it known to everyone around the vicinity that a kitten had made inroads into her territory. The kitten was first noticed when he was trying to eat discarded tealeaves which made my stomach churn with pity for the small cat.

Apparently he was so hungry that he was eating anything to survive. As was bound to happen, the poor petite still unnamed kitten became one of the many regular animals that were a part of our extended family. And soon, with passage of time he moved into the inner clos er circles, causing much heartburn to Bela. And I named him DholuBhai.

And the two never went alone again, his name.

DholuBhai had an aura about him that justified the use of Bhai. RaiBahadur Dholu too would have looked good, but that would have created a false impression that he was from a royal lineage, which he wasn't.

A closer scrutiny of his past history presented a very disturbing, albeit a very common picture. His mother and two siblings were killed by a male Cat, and his mother died while saving her kittens.

DholuBhai was arrogant to the extent of being disrespectful to our family members. Once me, dad and mom were having morning tea and enjoying the morning sun rays that were being scattered by the huge Mango tree leaves that stand in our garden. Our attention was diverted towards a small, baby squirrel that was still learning the tricks of running down from the tree and stealing nuts from the Duck and Tortoise enclosure. The baby squirrel would climb down, steal a nut, dodging the ducks and climb back into the safety of the huge tree. This happened for 3 times, and then came in Dholu. As the poor squirrel came down for the fourth time, Dholu pounced on him and in less than a second the squirrel was in the hands of god. A sense of anguish was visible on our faces as I ran down to free the poor squirrel from the mouth of death.

But that wasn't to be. DholuBhai had killed the rodent the moment he caught it and he climbed onto a tree, with the prized possession in his mouth. I and two other people working at my home tried for 30 minutes to bring that feline down but no amount of cajoling or threatening worked. When he finally came down, DholuBhai got a sound beating from mom and was admonished from entering into our house again.

As he walked towards our neighbour’s house, which was also his birthplace, he gave me a glance which said that he was heartbroken and would never come again. But he came back soon. My mother couldn’t bear the pain of her beloved Dholu roaming outside in the cold nights and called him back.

Dholu then got into the habit of drugs and he would regularly kill wall lizards and after taking a bite or two he would go unconscious. Leaving me to search for the dead unfinished body of the lizard. Many a times we felt that he would not be able to come out from the poisoning but every time he would defy the inevitable and spring back into life.

He would sleep on my chest, near my pillow, on TV, near the aquarium, with the duck. He loved my sister and would climb on her legs as she would come from Delhi. He would sit on my dad’s lap when he would be having tea, with Bela watching him with envy. He would claw at my mom’s feet asking her for bits of chicken.

Life was good, i was preparing for my IRMA and Bank exams and it was the month of November and it was raining like it had never rained before. It was well past 11 in the night and Dholu bhai had still not arrived. And we searched for him, but he didn't come. 2 days passed, and we were all but heartbroken. We resigned to the fact that Dholu bhai would never come home again.

Then something extraordinary happened. And in the midst of night while having evening walk, I heard his meek calls. And I instantly knew where he was. I ran to my fiat, threw the cover and saw him lying behind the windshield. He was on brink of dying, his eyes were wet, and he was severely dehydrated and was not able to stand on his feet. Apparently he went inside the car along with Bela when our driver took her for a drive, and was forgotten inside. He was stuck in the car for more than 65 hours. But he survived.

After this incident he became more darling of our family. DholuBhai the survivor.

Soon Dholu celebrated his 4th (months) birthday. He got a fish, a chicken and a red ribbon around his neck as his birthday present. But as is with great personalities, his life was not meant to see normal, mundane days for long. One night we heard cat fighting and saw two male cats moving around excited in our neighbour’s house. I could figure out that Dholu was stuck in between them. And that night he didn’t return.

The next morning I saw him sneaking inside our main gate. All bloodied. His tail was broken, had blood rashes all around the body, his front paws were bent at an angle that disregarded biological realities. And his left eye was closed for good. We took him to the Vetenarian and he was admitted there for 2 days. All was over for him, as the doctor thought so. But defying all logic he again survived.

When he came back from the hospital , he was confined to our home, and was made to sleep in our veranda in the night so as to stop him from venturing out. And it was only in the morning that he was permitted to go out. This went for a couple of weeks. And DholuBhai didn’t complain.

After all this not so pleasant happening, I started having this intuition that Dholu bhai was running out of his luck. And that proved right.

One fine afternoon, just before the New Years Eve, a big male cat attacked Dholu and injured him and he was only saved because Bela came and threw the Tabby cat into the air, causing a deep wound. But that was not the end. The same night Dholu went to his birthplace, where his mother used to play with him and where she along with his siblings died. And he was pounced on by the waiting male cat. The fight didn’t last long and by the time I could cross over the other side, there was nothing but silence.

Why did he go there, in spite of knowing the fact that he would get killed is something I would never know.

For the next few days we frantically searched for him, calling out his name, keeping the doors of our home open so that he could easily walk in. We knew what had happened, but we didn’t want to believe it.

We had hopes that one day he would return, defying every plausible logic as he had done before. But that didn't happen, Dholu Bhai didn’t come. Some days later, we found his dead body, just besides the wall separating our and neighbours house. He was lying there in midst of wooden boxes. Eyes closed. He tried to come home safe, but this time he couldn't make it.

DholuBhai was only 6 months old when he left us.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Abhivyakti- a rich past

It is this phase of season in Bhopal which i have liked the most all throughout the 15 years that I have spent here.

The season of Garba.

The onset of winter is just on the cards, the breeze starts shivering you in night. And there is a light visible mist in places. With Navratri starting you can hear hymns all around. The colors and the excitement that the Garba brings is more than enough to lift even a lifeless soul.

It was in 2000 when i was in class 11th. Had just graduated to the big league of toddlers turning into boys. And at that time everything was in a short supply. Had to be home by 11 PM and had a limited purse.

Best days as they were, they were always too exciting too be forgotten. Still remember how my friend and i used to shiver like a drenched puppy on a green scooter while returning from the Garba at 12 in the night.

The "Shimla road" leading Barkheda through Shakti Nagar was the ultimate test of strength. And as the name suggest that particular stretch of BHEL used to be particularly more chilly. And if rumours were to be believed, unknown ghosts and known goons used to patrol that lonely area in the night. But by gods grace we would reach home, eyes wet and swollen.

And as I entered into my home, i Would get a mild words of anger lecture from mom and dad but who would care as mind was still captivated by the "Dholi raa's and Pankhida".

Saw adolescent love blooming and then withering away. The blue and red ghagras would blend beautifully with the brown and gray kurtas. The abundance of deep black eyes and the long dark hair were too captivating to even stare at.

The whole atmosphere was so electrifying. Anticipations of every nature and hope of every depth that are associated with the Garba made sure that we never missed them.

As one would walk across the Garba ground familiar faces and age-old voices would greet us. I bet that you would meet all those at Abhivyakti whom you have not been able to meet for the last one year.

"It was love in the times of Garba" as Gabriel Garcia would have put it.

Eyes would meet and then fall away, and we would call it "haya" (shyness). And if they rose again we would term it "ada". The stares in between the smoke of fag, the constitution of a search party of able bodied man to look for lost mojdis and stolen shoes, and the final meeting before the temporary parting at Press Complex over poha,jalebis and tea...ahhh.

Have many a tales to tell, from where should i begin and where should I end.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bhopal diary III

Bhopal is at its best. After a long season of no rain and more pain things have assumed new proportion.

The city of lakes, love and night out, is greener and cleaner. The best of the visual delight comes out in the night, when the moon is at its full bloom. With virtually no or less cars plying on the street, one can start from the High hills of Ansals, going to the sparkling VIP road and after having a steaming tea at the Bus stand head for the all time favourite Kerwa. And you present yourself with endless opportunity of various nature.

After a hard days work [ :) , i know many of you won't agree], it is long hours of endless talks with friends at the road overlooking the magnificent lake behind Lake View Ashoka, which is just at a stone throw away distance from my home.

The best thing one needs at that time is a slight drizzle and a serene breeze. Just the way it happened yesterday night. And your "gappey" session starts extending. From 9 it goes to 11 and to 1 and beyond.

Two-three days back I watched a play " Mahanirvan" at Bharat Bhawan. And I was moved by an act where the wife cries for her dead partner. I could experience a veil of grief falling over the entire amphitheater as the heart rending cries of the artist echoed loud.

And the next moment she was perfectly normal as I still tried to compose myself. Capability of what a human mind and heart can do are endless. And I, like everyone else, have experienced both the positive and negative outcome of this ability.

Have been travelling a lot, mostly at local level. From the Chappal market of Lakherapura to the diaper making unit at Mandideep. Were you aware that a completely finished child diaper is a product of 16 different components. How many of us knew that?

Another startling fact, Bhopal has a unit that manufactures Bullet Proof vests!!!

In between these inspection tours I was caught in a traffic snarl and saw a Hindu Dholras procession passing through the narrow streets of a local muslim area. People were dancing on Bollywood songs as they were being showered with petals from above, thrown by the local population. The atmosphere was electric. Two religions embracing each other, just like they have done all though these years and decades.

All in a days work at SMECCC,SBI.

Soon, I will be heading to the now cliche "interiors" of Madhya Pradesh on official work. My all plans of taking lessons of Garba stay dashed. Still i am sure that i will be back in Bhopal for Abhivyakti. But if it comes to choosing between attending Abhivyakti or staying in the interiors even thousand hurdles of profound depth would not be able to stop me. :)

Would recommend everyone to read "The Corridors of Power- An insider story" which is an autobiography written by P.C Alexander. I have just started it, and am sure it will live up to my expectation. His proximity with people who mattered in India gives a good insight of how things work at the highest levels.

IAS lobby in Bhopal have asked for 3.25 acres of land in the posh Char imli for a mind boggling lease of 1 Rs. Yup, you read it right ONE Rupees. The actual cost of the land is around 50-60 crores.

What to say except that I would be least surprised even if they manage to get it, such are tales of the various lobbies of Bhopal.

Two of my very close college friends will be getting married soon. One of them is marrying her long time sweetheart and like I have said in the earlier posts, it is a privilege to attend such a great culmination of simple love stories. The other one has opted for a more traditional approach.

Best of luck mates,comrades, countrymen.....and not to forget the quintessential Romans.


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