Friday, February 25

Tell me a story

For the Suppandi, Shikari Shambu, Kaalia, Tantri and Chimpu in all of us: 

For a kid, moving abroad is a peculiar experience. You are aware of the gravitas of leaving behind coddling grandparents, friends and every other familiar sight, sound and smell.

Yet, at that age, you're unable to express any of the sadness and dread in a coherent way. Even as you struggling to come up with anything that won't get you punished for 'being a nuisance' or 'in the way', the move is already over. One minute, you're waking up to the smell of filter coffee & 501 soap and the sounds of grandma grating coconut while the cooker whistles merrily; the next minute, you wake up because of the oppressive silence, don't see a fan, don't recognise the smell of carpet freshener and are introduced to the terms body clock, jet lag and dawn.

And Ovaltine... *shudder*.

So, what is a kid to do when he realises that classmates don't stay in the same neighbourhood, never mind the same building ? That the telly doesn't show Vicco, Nirma or Rasna ads anymore? That the only two things to watch on the telly are camel races and a game called football (which you're watching for the first time) with commentary in Arabic? What do you do to stave off loneliness?

What the kid does is start reading voraciously, with an appetite that completely unnerves the parents and results in stacks of books lying around in every room. In the summer holidays, when he visits India, the kid continues to blaze through the pages, leaving friends puzzled about the drastic change, and relatives pleased because they think the kid will eventually read IIT tomes with the same fervour.


In his cousin's house, the kid discovers a wooden cupboard completely filled with hardbound stacks of Indian comics. Only these comics are amazingly versatile, filled with stories from Indian mythology, science, adventure, clever talking crows, simpletons and even haplessly charming hunters who don't hunt. It is, in literary terms, manna from heaven.

Every summer, the kid comes back from Abu Dhabi, opens the cupboard, selects a random book and is lost for the rest of the trip. And then, one day he returns to find the cupboard and the books gone. "We had to burn everything because of termites" says the phlegmatic uncle. The kid has no reply.

But he continued to read other books and till today, has a decent knowledge of Indian mythology. He has not stopped reading. 

Dear Uncle Pai - Thank you for the stories. R.I.P

Song for the moment: Time is on my side - The Rolling Stones


k said...

Loved the post. I could completely relate to it and yes, I still have a hard-bound set of Indian comics with me.

girish said...

:) that set will be a priceless collector's item one day.

bhumika said...

You really don't need fancy words to narrate how somebody touched your life in such a significant manner. It just pours out naturally, like it did in this post.


girish said...

@ bhumika - tankoo. and nice to see you online again.

Shekhar said...

nice one..waiting for your next post..Shepa