3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 2
#Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge
By Neel Anil Panicker
Summer’s not yet done,
sunny days are still galore
Fun times on cool nights.
When winds of change blow
Life takes a turn,
ushering fresh hopes.
These are the rules:
I nominate the folliowing bloggers
– ritu; TJ, and Aithling
Neel Anil Panicker
Dear Bloggers and Friends,
Life is a never ending journey of discovery and as we traverse through it we encounter a multitude of varied and varying things, incidents, feelings, and most importantly people whose sights, insights, and foresights help us as we (wo)manfully shift gears, hurtling from one milestone onto to the other as we try and make sense not just of our inner selves but of the world around us.
Helping us in this noble quest are words. Words and their palliative powers help us figure out a pragmatic solution in tiding over the never ending fusillade of problems that beset man at various stages of his life.
They not only educate and motivate us but also, and most importantly, inspire us to further heights; hence are omnipotent in their effectiveness and role in mankind’s evolutionary process.
Pray, for what’s life without some inspirational words that help us in our overall growth, understanding and development.
And what better way to get inspired than to read and thereby experience the power of words in transforming our lives and making them one better than what it were.
As part of that noble quest, I am kick-starting a new series entitled-
MONDAY QUOTATION CHALLENGE FROM NEEL.
Here is the first one:
# 1 “The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.
The above is a quote by the British playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw. Shaw, in his seminal treatise “Parents and Children (1914), Children’s Happiness.
And how true, I must say. Look around you and you will find an army of miserable people, people who wallow in self pity; people who like to draw pales of sorrow from the wells of others’ happiness.
These are people who are sad and depressed and dejected not because they are not of any worth or that they not have any work but only because they labour under the utterly fanciful and so obviously false belief there is no work worth their while.
And so such a person while away his or her precious life simply ambling, tumbling, mumbling , grumbling, rumbling and fumbling several times over doing nothing better than peering and peeping into the lives and happenings of others with the sole purpose of comparing their happiness and success with his or her and , and then most tragically doing nothing but getting unhappy over his ‘supposedly’ unhappy life.
An effective anti-dote to all this untold and definitely uncalled for suffering would be for such a person to instead busy himself with his life by immersing himself in his work to such an extent that he or she does not even have an iota of time to think about others and their happiness.
Such a man or woman then becomes happy simply by being burdened by doing do much as to not have enough ought time to even figure out whether he is happy or not.
So, then there you are, the secret of happiness : BE BUSY, HAPPINESS WILL FOLLOW
GIVE ME MY SUMMER BACK
By Neel Anil Panicker
I got up later than usual today and then was reminded of the fact that it is still summer time. Well, what can I say, there are seasons and then there is the summer season.
There is a special place in my heart for this ‘shiny’ season. Every summer transports me back to my childhood, back when days were long, and nights even longer.
Every summer sees me go down memory lane wandering around in an enveloping maze of childhood memories as kaleidoscopic montage of wondrous images run through my mind, like an old black and white movie picture that unspools itself at a bullet-train speed.
Remember, I am talking about an era when radios were just about the only means of entertainment and the now ubiquitous televisions that beam 24/7 entertainment were pretty much conspicuous by their absence.
But if such is the effervescence and innocence of childhood then what more does a spindly boy barely caressing the first decade of his life on this planet want but the company of friends.
And so at the first glow of the early morning sun, we would be out of our homes hitting the neighborhood parks, playing ‘chor police’, marbles, gulli danda, pitto, football and what have you.
And when, several hours later, the Sun would stand astride perpendicularly right over us and threaten us with ‘his’ glares, we would languidly troop down to our homes__our skins all darkened and our bones dripping with sweat__; but not before very quickly regrouping to continue with other indoor activities, all a ruse to kill time, which seemed to have entered into a state of limbo.
Within the cozy environs of our rooms, would be the time to indulge in lazy summer activities such as spreading ourselves on spartan beds, exercising our fingers and figuring out the appropriate geometric angles on the humble carom board table.
I remember one summer back then when I fell in love with ‘Businesss’. I remember falling in love with this absolutely stimulating card game to the extent that one entire summer saw playing this highly addictive non-combat sport in the company of my brother and two other bosom ‘summer’ friends.
I also remember it was during one such summer that I was introduced to chess. What followed were endless hours of chess in the company of my brother, or even father; our marathons only interrupted with mother’s frenetic cries announcing that it was time for lunch or dinner or even snacks depending upon what hour of the day or night it was.
Oh, sweet summer, how can I not talk about summers without mentioning about that king of fruits__ mangoes?
My relationship with mangoes began one summer way back when I was still a toddler still needing help to strap on a pair of half pants.
There was a mango tree, two in fact, in our backyard. For someone who prided himself on his generosity, I would turn the exact opposite and would guard the tree and its offerings with a proprietorial zeal much like a lioness watching over her brood of magnificent cubs.
Though mother would without fail every summer distribute the bounty almost equally amongst our neighbours, in my pre-teen warped mind, I would still feel that all the mangoes were ours and for us alone.
And so when the season would almost be at its fag end and when all the low lying mangoes would have been plucked, distributed and eaten away to our hearts content, the battle for the very last few mangoes would begin in right earnest.
To make matters worse the location of the tree was a borderline case; though its root were firmly entrenched in our garden, its branches tethered all over__ the tentacles dangling, almost invitingly into our immediate northern neighbour’s garden.
Even today, several years later, I vividly recall how we children across both sides of the fence, would wake up at the crack of dawn, and armed with our weaponry, which in this case would be a humble long stick improvised at the edges to shoot down the solitary mango safely ensconced high up in the branches.
Our efforts would continue for sometime and the enterprising amongst us would then try to fell the mango, aiming stones and bottles and when too desperate even our very own slippers.
As the mangoes would prove too resolute for us, and when our bones get a wee bit tired and our throats too parched what with all that non-stop shouting and hooting and cheering and jeering that accompanied such ‘pristine’ mango picking activities, a sort of unspoken truce would be called for, and the warring ‘enemies’ on both sides of the border would repair to their homes for a ‘chill’ break and come back, their frail selves energized and with renewed vigour, all thanks to whatever our mothers fed us with, be they a glass of milk, or a plate of hot chappathis or pray, even a mango.
Oh! what delight would turn out to be the grand finale when, hours later, (and just when even the sun had given up on us __ having got mighty tired watching the human madness that was playing out in front his eyes__, would finally decide to call it a day), the entire neighborhood would reverberate with huge wondrous shrieks ringing the air as the ‘winner’ proudly strutted around, walking no less manfully than the great Dara Singh himself, carrying in his nimble hands a near spherical deep yellowish red mango_ the catch of the day.
Years later, come the summer season, I do eat mangoes, but trust me, I am yet to find one that tastes as sweet as the ones I ‘ stole’ during my childhood.
Oh dear summer! I can go on and on about this summer and that summer and then till the summer when I grew up and got embroiled and entangled in the mangled web of materialism.
But, even today, after all years, I would happily trade all my ‘adult’ summers to be able get back to those ‘footloose and fancyfree’ days when life and relationships were built not on the basis of who had the maximum amount of rupees or pounds or dollars in the bank but on the sole criteria as to who among us would make for the ideal partner in our mindboggling summer ‘escapades’.
The Cuckoo Clock
By Neel Anil Panicker
A splitting headache woke Shefali up. She lifted the sheets a little and popped her head out. She could not see a thing. Her eyes tried adjusting to the dark, but she could not see a thing. The room was pitch dark barring an orphaned beam of thin ray light that somehow seemed to have snaked its way in, piercing its way through the almost opaque-like fortress of curtains that clung on to the dark walls not quite unlike leeches attaching themselves to human blood.
Shefali propped herself up against the bedstand and squinted her eyes. Vision restored, she turned left and her shoulders shuddered. Her mouth contorted and a painful sigh escaped her lips. Her knuckles tried to find solace as they clung on to the frayed ends of the pillow. She could feel hot blood pumping into her chest as she heard her heartbeats shoot up alarmingly.
A spasmodic revolt ran through her entire body.
She moved her eyes away.
This is what it had come to. Five years and two months and three days into their marriage, Shefali had reached a stage when the mere sight of her husband brought in seismic convulsions of fear that jostled for unholy matrimony with a sheer distaste that hovered on borderline hate.
She moved to the farthest corner of the bed, trying to distance herself as far away from Aman.
A while later, with the help of a couple of painkillers that seemed to have slowly worked their magic, she looked around the darkened room; her room, his room, or more specifically the room that could have been theirs.
Her eyes fell on the near bare walls that seemed to her as if they kept a watch on her at all times; she a prisoner or worse a potential prey, or even worse a prisoner on death row who needed a constant 24/7 hawk’s eye supervision.
A sort of suicide watch.
But for what? Shefali thought, her thoughts cutting through her semi-asleep brain cells.
Surely, what could be worse than the life she was leading now, she thought.
She bobbed her head away as if to brush away the unwelcome thoughts. Her eyes landed on the clock that hung from the wall opposite to her where she lay.
A torrent of memories flooded her mindscape.
She had loved it when she had first set eyes on it.
She remembered unwrapping the golden gift wrapped package with the infectious enthusiasm of a newlywed bride ready to embark on a new and beautiful journey. She had eagerly possessed with a childl’s unrestrained madness ripped apart the humungous assortment of gifts and goodies that had come her away alongwith a million well wishes and blessings.
‘May all your dreams come true’ read the beautiful embroidered lettering on the card on the outer box, and when she had extricated its contents and laid it on the table, there was another cute little red card emblazon with the words
HAVE A GREAT MARRIAGE.
Curiously, she had flicked it over to reveal the sende. A crayon lettering simply read: ‘From Pooja’.
It was then that her eyes fell on the gift. Much like an impressionable wonder struck child on her first summer holiday and upon serendipiditiously finding herself all alone at her grandmother’s forested backyard__, all eager to make good of the godsend opportunity__,Shefali had set out to explore the unknown.
Out popped a wall clock, and no ordinary one at that. In fact, a very antique quartz cuckoo clock.
Mesmeriesd, her eyes feasted on the exquisitely crafted piece of artefact and danced with abandon at what they saw.
She had it mounted on the wall in her room. And that is where it stood all these years, an apt chronicler of her marriage.
The entire first week post this ‘benevolence’, her eyes and ears rarely strayed away from her ‘cuckoo’, as she admired and gloated and watched over her gift__spending endless hours closeted in her room, just she and her cuckoo.
She noticed and appreciated small little things such as its conventionally designed wooden case with carvings of deer and one horned rhinoceros. She remembered wistfully how she would spring up with joy on watching the cuckoo peek out at the chime of each hour_ the sheer veins of pleasure that she experienced as the cute little automated bird made an appearance through a small trap door while the clock struck musical metronomic chimes, signalling the passing of yet another hour and the beginning of a new one.
She would watch with sheer fascination as the cuckoo emerged from its enclosure and would move up and down, flapping its wings and opening its beak to sing the famous two note cu-ckoo call.
In the very early days of her marriage (to be exact, for barely a week) her mind soared like a bird high up in the sky and her joy knew no bounds as she, seated in the comfort of her bed and sipping endless cups of piping hot Nilgiris tea, would watch with riveted attention and with an unfailing childlike enthusiasm as the cuckoo would step out not just to announce the hour of the day but also as if to mouth a personal ‘Hi’ to her, bobbing her cute little fluffy head from one end to the other, as if surveying the world around it; and, then when reassured that all was well in the world, gently excusing herself to her den, where she would be safely ensconced and probably asleep, only to wake up at the next hour to once again announce her timely presence to the world.
Shefali in the coming days had found certain interesting automata in her cuckoo clock and gone ahead to tweak these to her advantage.
For one, she had broken her day into eight hour cycles, and for the nights, she had ensured that the cuckoo would chime, albeit, silently.
She particularly liked the sound of a gurgling waterfall that followed, a fitting grand finale to the audio-visual fiesta that had unfolded and that she believed was hers for ever.
That was nearly five years ago and now, five years on, the cuckoo had stopped singing.
It had retreated into its shell. There was no cuckoo and its sounds and its dance. In place, just an empty shell.
Time, for both__ the cuckoo and just as well for Shefali, had stopped on its tracks.
It had come to a standstill.
Sleep deprived, and with eyes all puffy and a face bloated beyond recognition, and with the man with whom she was supposed to be happy and singing love songs along the highway of life lying beside her on the bedside__ useless and almost lifeless__, much like deadwood, Shefali stared into the wall, the wall onto which not too long ago she had tried to mount her life.
Her eyes couldn’t take the strain any longer. Disgusted, depressed and near deranged, Shefali looked horrified to the core, simply unable to fathom how, and more importantly, why she had allowed her life to take the course it had taken.
Unable to take the pain any longer, she turned her eyes away from the cuckoo.
Her eyes drifted towards the ceiling. The writing was on the wall.
Someone’s time was up. Someone had to die. And this time, for sure, she didn’t want that someone to be her.
(CHAPTER 15 OF CONTINUING SERIES “ A FAIR AFFAIR”)