Category Archives: Literature

The Unknown Son

Iravan is the eldest son of Arjun and also the most unknown one. This is the story of the first meeting between Arun and Iravan during the great war of Mahabharata. (Warning-May not strictly follow Jaya written by Ved Vyasa)

http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=4101876

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The man who conquered sleep

Many great men have walked on Indian soil- many of those whom Bharat Mata has nurtured and cared. Today I write about a man who had been born hundreds of centuries ago who has been an inspiration to millions of students. He was an archer- a relentless one. He had never missed a single aim. He had never been defeated in a war. He used to stay up nights practicing archery. He had conquered sleep in his relentless struggle to become the best archer in the world. Hence his name- Gudakesha. He trained himself to wield arrows with both his hands, Hence his name Savyasachi.

Yes, I am talking about the son of Pritha, Partha better known by the name of Arjuna. He is the protagonist of the world’s greatest epic- Mahabharata. He is known for his enormous valour, patience and generosity. A student of this century has a lot to learn from that man born under the constellation of Falgun (thus called Falguni).

First of all is patience and determination. These two factors are key to enabling your success under any circumstances.

Second, concentration. When you see your target, everything around it vanishes. We find an example in Drona’s bird eye test. Some students of Drona, the preceptor of the Kuru prices, complained that he favored Arjuna the most.  So he arranged a test of archery for students to prove that Arjuna was a supreme archer. He placed a wooden bird on a far tree and his students were asked to shoot it. Yudhistira, the eldest Pandava was called first. Drona asked Yudhistira to describe all that he could see. He named the wooden bird, the tree, the branch, the stream, the sky. Drona in a disappointed manner  asked him to go back. Each and every of his students including his son Ashwatthama  were asked the same question but the answer of none satisfied him. Arjuna was the last. On being asked the same question he said that he could see the bird’s eye and only the bird’s eye. At that point, Drona asked him to shoot. He hit the mark. So, concentration is man’s one of the biggest weapon.

At last we need to hold our duties in life over everything. Let us again read a story. once a bhramin came running to Arjuna to save his cows being stolen by bandits. It so happened that his bow was in the room of Draupadi, the shared wife of the five Pandavas. On advice of Sage Narad, the Pandavas had pledged that only one brother will be with Draupadi for a year. In that period if any other brother enters Draupadi’s room he will be exiled for twelve years. Arjuna did not stop for a second to think and went to collect his bow from the room which was being occupied by Draupadi and Yudhistira. He fought of the bandits and saved the Bhramin’s cows disregarding the pain he would have to bear for it.

For success, we need to be patient, concentrate only at our goal and seek to achieve it with every last bit of energy we have. Remember-

‘To get something, you have to sacrifice something”

 

 

 

Who was she?

It was a creepy friend I had. A very unnatural boy with unique habits and unique hobbies. Maybe it was this uniqueness in my friend that made me like him. He was my roommate. Maybe if I knew him before we became roommates we would not have become roommates but as destiny would have it, a small thread of my life got tied to his. 

I anticipated that it would also be a devil I will meet that day. But the person I saw was not obviously a devil. He was no angel also. In his looks he was quite normal. Tall, underweight, chocolate coloured and wearing goggle-like-glasses. He sported a long nose, which fell a bit short from that of Pinocchio’s. Only a small bunch of hair was left on the top of his head. He came out on my the third ring of the bell an apologized saying that his mind was wandering. He was courteous but not friendly.

It was the room, or to say the location of the building that convinced me on putting up my quarters there. It was 10 mins from Dumdum airport and metro on both sides and 20 mins away from my place of work. There were three markets, a smaller one near and the others at 5 mins distance by bus. Light but not the sound from the main road reached the apartment. Fresh air entered from each window. Mosquitoes were a problem but not a great one. The rent was not cheap but affordable. 

On weekdays I was engaged at work from nine o’ clock in the morning till eight o’ clock in the evening. I had neither patience or energy to interact with my roommate after this hours. He did not seem to mind an I did not seem to care. So our interactions always took place during Saturdays and Sundays. He never volunteered to talk so I always began the conversation. His voice was low and weak. It took me a few weeks to know that he was an assistant professor at a god-knows-which institute.

He used to make tea. I don’t know what unique ingredients did he add to his tea but it tasted really good. So I insisted on him making more.Once I had a desire to find out the special ingredients of the tea and went to the kitchen. He was talking to himself. I spoke aloud,”Hi!”He literally jumped up an saw a ghost in front of him. It was several seconds before he realized the ghost was me. Go knows what was he doing. I also came to know ,except his talking-to-himself habit, his tea’s special ingredient. Guess what? His skill.

Except for his tea and his talking-to-himself habit, there were many things eccentric about him. For once he never switched off the light of the room at night. I don’t know how he managed to sleep will all lights on. Maybe he was afraid of dark. He hated power cuts. He actually made a bulb which runs on a battery and always carried with him. Some professors are boring. But I have not any professor who has not seen a cinema even once in life. He never wore anything but his grey pants, off-white shirt and his BATA canvas shoes.

One day I had returned early from office to join a friend, Sihika’s birthday party after dressing up. When I entered the flat I heard Akhil screaming at someone. I entered his room hurriedly without knocking to find out what was wrong. Something was terribly wrong indeed. He was screaming on no one. His phone was on the desk. The moment I entered he saw me. He was panting. He colored, and then grew pale. He looked at something with beseeching eyes. Then he looked at me again and grew pale.

What is it Akhil?”,I asked.

“Nothing, really nothing. I am too tired. Its just that.”

“Whatever it is Akhil, you can tell me. Trust me.”

 “It’s nothing. I need some rest.”

“OK, have some rest.”

 Yes, he needed rest.But it was not work that tired him. I knew that he was among those few men who loved their work. It was something else or maybe someone else that was bothering him.

I was most surprised when I found a letter from a well known psychiatrist addressed to Akhil in our common letter box. So I was most probably living with a psycho. Very well. I had to fight the desire to open it. But I knew I had to know what was happening with this man I shared the flat with. So when he was sitting in the dining room, reading the morning news, I handed over the envelop to him looking at him with a quizzical eye. He opened his mouth to say something but could not utter the exact words. I raised my eyebrows in disgust.

“I see her. She was a research scientist. We were on a project together. A very important one. But it went wrong. She blew herself up. No I blew her up. I mixed the wrong ratios of the chemical. A slight change makes a great difference. So when I left the lab I heard the explosion.”, he could speak no more. He sat there for some time and continued,”She is coercing me to continue the project. But I can’t risk it. I can’t risk another life.” Tears went down his cheek,”She is my best friend.Was my…..”

I didn’t keep any time to find out who this ‘she’ was, a ghost, a delusion or whatever. Living with either a psycho or a ghost didn’t suite me. So I deserted this friend of mine, and in a week from this incident, shifted my position to the present quarters. I pray to God to help him where I had deserted him. I wish that life erases this memory from my mind.

25th of Baishak

Kabi Guru Rabindranath Thakur

Hello guys! Today we celebrate ‘Pachise Boishak’. This really is a very important day as is it the birth day of a most unique man- a poet, a lyricist, a writer, one of the most brilliant men who set foot on the Earth- the bday of Rabindranath Tagore. Today even the hot Sun, raising temperature in Kolkata to 40 degree Celsius, can not lower the spirit of men and women. From dawn till dusk I can only hear the Nightingale like voices sing Rabindranath’s songs, recite his poems, love, respect and adore him. Tagore did not only start a new school, wrote brilliant poems and songs, won the Nobel Prize but also started a new culture- a culture of love, brotherhood, freedom and equality. Today I pay my respects to this Bengali legacy by only saying that we are trying to build, we will build the country where-

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee to ever-widening thought and action.

                                                              -Rabindranath Tagore

Lives Change

Time changes,people change,you change. The same happened to me. I remember myself as the free living beautiful creature with no bounds, no addictions, no love and no hate. I loved myself, adored myself in little ways I did not know. Lethargy, laziness were not the things that were prevalent in my dictionary. I praised myself on little things, I cried on little things. Everything was so simple, so just, so open, so transparent. Life was so easy, so good, so bountiful. Nature was so beautiful, human beings were so joyful.  I lived in Dehradun then, living the happiest life I have experienced till now. I do not remember the houses, the trees, the roads, the rivers. But I remember I was innocently happy and innocently sad. I remember the farewell party which was organised and all the Bengali friends invited. I remember the bus which was rented to take us to the station and I remember us standing at the door of the rail car, while the train accelerated, while streams of tears rode down my eyes and we bade our last ,but not the least farewell, with my parents’ and mine closest friends.

I do not remember the journey or our stay at my aunt’s house in Tollygunge, Kolkata. I remember that some dangerous bacteria or virus or whatever else had attacked me and that I had to spend long nights in the children’s ward of a hospital with something itching all over my body.  We did not go back to my aunt’s, I was taken to a small quarter in the thirteenth floor of the longest building I have even seen by now.  We went up the floors using a lift which used to look like a mini-train to my exploring eyes. Once in a while when I returned from school I found that there was no electricity, I only climbed all the way up using stairs because the Kurkure packet in my brother’s hand seduced me. I remember the days when I used to cover all the easily breakable things with pillows and make a boundary out of it so that I and my brother could play mini cricket on bed. I remember rearranging those pillows into mountains and hiding some mini-objects into it so my brother could find it(he did the same for me).

Then I remember another move, to the opposite side of Kolkata, to a better house, poorer neighbours, better connections, poorer school and better friends. Yes, in that new school painted red, with plasters peeling out of walls, with cobwebs hanging on the classroom walls, with a single toilet that smelled like hell, with broken marbles and sand filled ground I found my best friend, that I found myself to undergo a change.

The girl who I described as my best-friend appeared to me at that time to be a thin girl with large dark eyes and chocolate brown hair which used to form a fine braid. She is and was quite a beauty if you could imagine her without the limp. I met her on the second day of my new class. She sat with me. She might have bored anyone else with her nonsensical talk but she did not bore me for I still had not gained the habit of talking and hearing much. Whatever were her failings in studies, she made it up with her good behavior, polite manners, helpfulness and caress.

I liked her to be on my side through petty happiness and trouble. But I was attracted to other students, students I considered of a higher value than me, those who I despised and yet at some part in my heart admired. they did not like me,they never talked for I never brought up a conversation meaningful enough. So the more I despised myself and them, and so the more I admired them.

Then suddenly I discovered that I was a good enough to compete the students  to whom I gave such a high stature, then I became sure. At some point I become proud and then over-proud.  I had come to believe that it would be easy to change-to forget the old and accept the new. I desired to be the friends of those who who had popularity,intelligence, smartness and somewhere hidden in them- a desire to live and to ignore the life.  But somehow my plans backfired. Somewhere I went against the plan of God.

Yes it was easy to forget much but not all. Yes it was easy to adopt some but not all. Somehow I got hung between two branches. I no longer belonged to the clan I had tried to leave for good, it being stated by material mouths matter-of-factly (which carried some amount of regret I assume).  I entered partly into the group i desired but not as full and whole. They now talked to me but not let me be with them. I sat with old friends but did not share with them. I became oceans between two lands, wanted only for having fun. I became salty like sea, remembered but yet not truly essential. I lost something to get nothing. Somehow those days made me lose something inner,made me lazy and tired. Somehow I lost my beauty, my grace, my bounty over the thing you consider as a trifle incident. Somehow I lost my charm. Somehow I lost myself. I got for the hate of me something I hate more. Chains broke to let me starve. I recovered from that dreaded state of human life, but it was not me who recovered. I am not me, no longer.

Two Cups of Coffee

Two Cups of Coffee

She is sitting alone on a small circular table by the large glass-paned window. A light rain is pouring outside. The cafe is crowded. There are old couples, a crowd of bachelors and young girls gossping in groups of threes. They are eating different snacks- brown breadies, peanut loaf, orange cantenbury, Paneer sausages and the new favourites- Trickle Tart. But more diverse are the coffees. All the ubiquitous varieties from every corner of the world are brewed and served here. “And it all began fifty two years and nine months ago”, she remembers,”With two cups of coffee.”
It was eight in the evening. The last customer had paid his bill and gone away. In this small  town, all fell silent quickly and nobody was to be seen outside after fifteen past eight. Business was bad. The new restaurant on the other side of the road had taken away all the customers.
She cleared away the tables. She was shivering slightly in the cold. She took a last glance of the restaurant which had snatched away one of the two meagre meals she had managed in the past and went in.
Chacha had lit a fire in the chimney and seemed to be brewing something, probably tea. He looked with a sad smile on the shivering girl wrapped in a torn shawl which had once belonged to her long dead mother. He motioned her to sit near the burning fire. She obeyed. With a sad glance towards the fire she thought,” How long would we be able to afford the firewood to light the chimney?” Chacha was looking at her.

She turned,”Is there no way out?”

“Conditions will improve my dear. Conditions will improve.”

“How?”

The old man passed his hand through the girl’s thin curly hair in an affectionate gesture. “God shall light the way. But you look cold my dear.Let me serve you the brew your father has sent as your New Year gift.”, said Chacha while putting the brew into the cup

“Father has?”,her eyes instantly lit up.

“Yes.”

She drank the brownish thing in the cup. It was bitter but warming.

“What is it?”, she asked.

“Coffee, it is very rare up here. It comes from Karnataka”

There was a malevolent glint in the child’s eyes,”We are going to destroy the restaurant’s business. Can you ask father to send more of ‘coffee’, lots more?”

“No girl we are not destroying anybody’s business.”

“Fine then lets raise our own business”

“What does it have to do with coffee?”

“You would see.”

“Well, its the only thing you have ever asked for.Lets see.”

Chacha wrote a letter which journeyed to a small house of a big slum in Karnataka. The person who received the letter satisfied his daughter’s only demand not knowing what use the products he has sent would have.

In Dhaba a new poster announced that a cup of coffee shall be served free if you eat a meal of Rs 25. People passed by but nobody noticed the dhaba’s announcement. In the evening regular customers came cloaked in woolen sweaters, hats and mufflers. These were the people who would search the whole town for the cheapest good. They ate their meal together and talked about local politics and criticized his or her shoes, hats or their body smell. It was followed by mimicry of Mrs.Sunita the English teacher who always liked to give everybody lectures in English whether they understood it or not. Then the coffee arrived. Everybody was mesmerized by the drink’s taste and warmth. Now they came every day and the praise of the brew spread from mouth to mouth till it had enough fame. A month went by and more and more customers poured in. The hot chocolaty coffee became the addiction of those who could not afford brandy and some of those whose who could. Now coffee began to be charged Rs.10.

Regular supplies of coffee came from her father and he was payed duly. At the time she began experiments with coffee. She brewed coffee adding different ingredients to it- From cardamon, choco chips,etc to vinegar and wine. she named it the special drink. She even took ideas from foreign TV shows. The special drink became the trend of the the place.

Now she became to improve the dhaba so that it became a cafeteria with a very different and elegant look. By the time the restaurant on the other side could start importing coffee her cafe became an abstract piece of architecture. Though small the room had large glass panes to let the sunlight come in while harsh wind remained out. It had small round tables all over the room. The two sitters were placed near the glass window on the opposite side of road so that the couples could enjoy the scenic view. On other side there were separate family booths. Noe this cafe became the main attraction of the hungry people poor or rich, miser or not. It had coffee and toast for everyone.

There had been a small loss the first year of Rs.2730, the second showed a minimal profit of Rs.5000 and the next year showed a comparatively larger profit of Rs.10,963.  After six years when she turned 18 and had already employed a manager and two waiters she decided it was time for expansion. the tiny cafe could would no longer be able to control the Christmas rush. This time she chose a plot at the center of the town. This became a success. This cafe now handled more customers than the previous one. In the successive four years she opened four successive cafes in the center or tourist spot of four successive towns. She chose to employ women as cooks who had less experience and more eagerness to experiment. So the items on the menu expanded as their price increased. The prices increased till people began to resist spending money on their favorite drink. The price was again lowered to a level liked best by the middle class and the owner.

Later coffee became the cash crop of the area. Now money began to be saved more. Profits increased and so did the no of coffee addicts. Like this the coffee empire expanded in the top of two hills- now known as the Capulus hills. Now the cafe has the biggest chain in India. The origin of this cafe is not known to anybody.

                 A lot can happen over two cups of coffee.