"To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Buzz Fuss

The sun was about to set. The mosquitoes were beginning their evening rounds, buzzing in swarms, droning into my ears and driving me crazy. My brother was doing no better, slapping his arms and legs and flaying wildly to shoo away the aerial attacks. We compared the black halos on each other's heads formed by these revolving pests, as to whose was bigger or more dense! We also argued about whose blood was sweeter and thus more likely to attract attention of these blood-thirsty pests! 
While we thrashed about hopelessly, I observed periappa blissfully immersed in his newspaper ensconced in his deep easy-chair. He didn't seem to be having any problems with the mosquitoes. 
We were in the native place, down south during the winter vacation. It happened to be peak mosquito season, our bad luck and their (mosquitoes) good luck I suppose...exciting to check out the flavors of city blood!😒
We'd doused ourselves from head to toe in the toxic smelling Odomos. The windows were tightly shut to the brink of suffocation, while strategically placed Tortoise coil fumes lent more drama to the scene. We'd even procured a plastic fly swatter (these were pre-mosquito racket days) each and were trying to swat the critters in a vengeful mode. Our theatrics made little or no difference to the aerial tormentors.
These country mosquitoes were nothing like the ones we saw in the city. They were definitely twice the size, probably as big as flies and were not shy, frightened or dissuaded by our tactics. They relentlessly buzzed round and round our heads and any exposed body part. It was rather entertaining to watch the saree clad womenfolk leap a feet high and curse wholeheartedly when the bites dug in at the sensitive exposed midriff. 
Periappa was sitting at the table polishing off his evening tiffin of idli with chutney and sambar, washed down with a tumbler of piping hot kaapi, with absolutely no signs of discomfort. He invited us to join him at the table even though we'd already stuffed ourselves silly with the savouries and sweets periamma had fed us earlier.
I could bear it no longer. I went up to him and asked him about it. How come the mosquitoes did not bother him? What was his secret?
Periappa guffawed delightedly and replied,"Do you see how small these creatures are? Can you imagine how small their stomachs will be? All a little fellow like this needs is a tiny drop of my blood. So I allow him to take that measly drop. Once he's satiated he will not bother me again and I believe he conveys to his pals that I am their partner in crime, so they don't bother me either. Good no?"
I sat down, flabbergasted at this logic. It did seem to work for him. 
Maybe if we stopped taking our aerial attackers so seriously, they wouldn't oppress us as much. A wee bit of blood in exchange for a buzz-free evening seemed to be a good bargain.
(To clarify, this episode is from the uncomplicated, not so prevalent, 'pre-malaria-dengue' days when a mosquito went about biting people on strictly official business, foraging for food and not with the ulterior motive of inflicting unsuspecting victims with dreadful fevers.)
Sadly, large-hearted periappa recently passed away. I think this would be an ideal epitaph for him:
Enjoy life, stop complaining and fighting off your troubles, they'll vanish soon!

In life if we stopped complaining and fighting off our troubles so actively and aggressively, they wouldn't bother us as much. They'd simply follow their own path and fade away in due course.

periappa:  Uncle - father's elder brother or husband of mother's elder sister.
periamma: Aunt - mother's elder sister or wife of father's elder brother.

20th August is World Mosquito Day

Enjoyed this post? Read more southern-spiced pieces....

The Mami Saga:

1) Common-place Curd Rice

2) Kaapi-ready

3) Of Dangling Drumsticks, Wily Vadus and more

4) Idli Seria Vanduda?

5) Mamievolution

6) Buzz Fuss

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Friday, 2 August 2019

The Seat by the Window

It was her lucky day; she’d got a seat by the window after ages and was gazing idly at the rather unsightly view outside. The train had stopped at Kurla station, notorious for overwhelming crowds, where a thousand got off each compartment while a thousand more got in, all in a matter of a few seconds. The station was a rampage with each person jostling to find their way towards or away from the train. With a lurch the train started again and she caught sight of man staring intently at her from the now rapidly disappearing platform. She brushed it off as a figment of her imagination and concentrated on the open book on her lap. 
The next day she got a side seat, after having stood for a good 40 mins. At Kurla station she noticed the man from the previous day desperately scanning the ladies compartment. She continued to observe him as she was sure he couldn't see her seated all the way inside. The train moved and the man looked angry and frustrated. 

The following weeks, the train was so crowded that she had the misfortune of being stranded at the entrance of the compartment, unable to plough her way inside. She could feel the intense scrutiny of the same man's eyes on her from the platform, standing at the same spot. She pretended to be unaware of his gaze but managed to sneak peeks from lowered lashes. He was probably in his 30's, of an average height and built, fair complexioned, always dressed in kurta and jeans, sporting a stubble and disheveled hair, a rather ordinary looking man except for his furtive eyes and thick brows. It made her very uncomfortable, this stalking. God knew, since when it had been going on. She was aware that she wasn’t a classic beauty but something about her made heads turn wherever she went. Maybe it was the trendy clothes she wore or the way she carried herself. She started wearing dull conservative clothes, no make-up, but still nothing changed; the man persisted with his ogling.
This could not continue, she thought worriedly and decided to change tack. She took the ladies compartment located in the front. As the train entered the crowded Kurla station, she spotted the stalker. He looked at his watch and started scanning the train, waiting for the ladies compartment in the rear. She was wary yet a thrill passed through her; she'd managed to give the stalker a slip.
The next day, she was innocuously seated in a middle seat in the front ladies compartment. Her heart jumped to her mouth when she perceived disapproving eyes boring into hers. The lecher had somehow figured out her plan and taken the adjoining men's compartment and was now staring at her through the metal mesh partition.
Thoroughly rattled, she stopped taking the train altogether and resorted to cumbersome bus routes instead. 
A couple of months passed in sheer agony of travelling in overcrowded buses stuck in traffic jams and she desperately hoped that the creep at Kurla station would have given up the idea of stalking her by now.

Today, she got into the train at Tilak Nagar, a station before Kurla station. All the daily commuters were pleasantly surprised to see a brand new train and empty at that, rumble into the platform. It was fresh and clean from the railway yard.
She was pushed into the ladies compartment in a swirling mass of arms and bodies and wonder of wonders; she bagged an empty seat near the window. The new train, its spanking upholstery and trimmings, made for an excited buzz of conversation in the ladies compartment.
The train rolled next into Kurla station and to her horror, she saw the wretched man there. Restlessly striding and watching with furtive eyes. When he caught sight of her sitting by the window, his expression changed to one of fury. He looked every inch crazed and psychopathic!
It terrified her when she saw him approach her at a run, wildly pushing through the crowd. She cowered and sat away from the window, her spine and head plastered to the back of her seat.
With a cry of rage he pulled out a bottle from his pant pocket and flung its contents towards her just as the train pushed forward.
Acrid, vile liquid oozed down the closed clear glass shutters of the now fast accelerating new train. A collective loud shout passed through the compartment as her co-passengers noticed what had just happened.
She’d just escaped an acid-attack, by freak luck, courtesy Indian Railways.


I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop. The prompt for this month was "Outside My Window".
I received this tag from Amrita Basu at Healthwealthbridge. It's my pleasure to pass on this tag to Jyothi Nair at Shortened Tales.
There are 47 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days - 2,3, 4 August. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI