Sunday, February 24, 2008

95

Shivu was waiting at the shankarmutt bus stop at 3.15pm on a sunday afternoon. He was lanky 20 year old with cheap clothes on and with a hairstyle to match. He himself loathed these clothes but then as time wore on he got used to it...

His destination was shivajinagar for which he had to wait for the sole route no. 95 bus coming from kamalanagar to take him. Atlast the bus arrived. He got himself a seat pretty easily for it was not the peak hour... he surveyed the crowd and saw an old farmer who carried a load beside him. The bus moved on along with its cantankerous conductor. Shivu flourished his daily pass to the conductor and fell into a reverie (which was triggered by the sight of the old farmer) about the early phase of his life...

He was a sprightly lad from Solur - a village not far from the outskirts of bengaluru... The family consisted of his farmer father, caring mother and the ever advising grandmother. His childhood was fun filled; replete with mischievous incidents which still evokes laughter in the family. His schooling was at the Govt. school nearby which just about managed to teach the village children with the facilities it possessed...

Apart from his mother, he had a special place in his heart for his lovely granny. She used to prepare him wondrous dishes apart from listening to all his school stories with glee and later at night tell him heart warming moral stories which used to put him to sleep... Those were the days of cocooned existence in his own small world. He would run along the lush fields on his off days enjoying to see his father at work, lending a hand now and then and walking back home with a tender coconut in hand...How he had rejoiced his first full grown moustache only to be spanked by his father who seemed to hell bent on getting it removed... And there was Savitri his sweetheart at school.His secret rendezvous with her by the sarayu river were the moments in his life which he felt should have never ended...

"Savitri", he said; startling a few passengers in the bus. " what if i asked her to marry me?"," Marry?! You?!, Begone you presumptuous worm", she might reply, he thought...

Years rolled on and he passed out of his SSlc with a first class which was celebrated with much fanfare in the village. He could still remember the tear filled eyes of his appa telling every other passerby in the street" see my son, he passed his sslc. Can you even dream of such an achievement ?". The future was hazy for shivu. The village couldn't offer any more education to this lad....

The loud noise and the simultaneous clicking of the tongues woke him up as the bus passed Harischandra ghat... he felt sad looking at the dead body and at once remembered a story which the cane wielding history teacher maadayya had told him. Alexander the great wished his arms outstretched with his palms facing skywards on his final journey- to signify that he left everything behind... Shivu was troubled by the metaphysical question that why should the humankind keep accumulating wealth when they had leave it all behind at some point of time... He shied away from racking his brains over such philosophical matters...

His father dared not to suggest his son to follow agriculture for his mother would come up with "why did we make him study at all, then?". His grandma however felt that the fields will make better use of his knowledge than any other occupation. She also felt he shouldn't be sent to the city...

One fine day a distant relative of his father visited him and upon being briefed about shivu's predicament he had one thing to say," Just send him to Bangalore, with his knowledge he will survive in the city.." After hearing grandma's protest regarding the polluted culture and the bad influence of it on shivu, he said," amma the struggle among the evil forces might mould him to be better person than he is today, one day or the other he has face the harsh realities of life, isn't it?". With that argument the entire household was more or less convinced...

Shivu's problem was how to confront savitri on this issue. On the banks of the river with the red setting sun and the murmuring casuarina trees as the background they sat down hand in hand. Not able to open his mouth on the recent developments, he fidgeted. Sensing his discomfort as only women know how to, she made him tell her about the Bangalore trip. She did make a lot of hue and cry about missing him and took a promise from him that he would keep in touch through the snail-mail. A promise which was broken within a few months of his stay in the city...

To say that shivu was overwhelmed was a bit of an understatement when he saw bangalore.. The big roads , the fashionable people, the vehicles, the malls made him to gape at almost everything. He stayed in that distance relatives' son's place and tried desperately for a job. He realised that having studied in kannada medium throughout his life, he would never survive in this city. He wrote letters to both his parents and savitri with the intila excitements as any small kid have on acquiring a new toy...The son made an alternate residential accomodation for shivu unable to bear his wife's taunts on the unnecessary expenditures on account of shivu...

He finally got a job as a PCO operator which didn't require much of a skill. He was bored with the job and began begging for job offers among the many customers who used to frequent the PCO. One fine day a portly man with a scar running thourgh his right cheek asked him to come to shivajinagar, and promised him a lucrative job. That was the first time he climbed 95...

The boss had a soft corner for shivu as he had for other village lads in his gang....The initial assignments for shivu were simple extortions in and around shivajinagar, but after 2 years he had graduated to slaying rival gang members without much of a remorse...

"Cunningham road" shouted the conductor. Shivu was amazed at how he came to be what he is today. "Perhaps, The boss had the uncanny ability of turning my inability to make a living here by ordinary dreams, my frustrations on being without my parents, village and my beloved, into an uncontrolled anger which was needed for the job..." He felt that the boss had taken good care of him and that it was his duty to be at his bidding....

Outside the window he saw a government ad regarding their agricultural measures which consisted of a picture of a happy farmer family standing in a lush green fields.... Shivu fought as hard as he could to hold back his tears as all the memories came rushing to him in full force. he lost the battle...

"Get down brother!! bloody jobless fellows; make our jobs miserable...." shouted the conductor to which shivu got down and wiped his tear soaked face worried if the boss might notice it...

P.S: credits to RKN for "begone you...." and the village setting...

7 comments:

Akshata said...

Yes, noticed the distinct RKN touch. :) A good one though. Do write its concluding part..that'll be a good read.

Bharath said...

Nice post bro. Proud of you. You have a sense of style which is pretty unique. However I do have suggestion on the English though. It should be easy to read and comprehend. All good writers have this ability. Somehow I felt that you have stressed an over emphasis on choosing words. Don�t get caught in the misunderstanding that, high profile vocabulary words make a great writer. Some words can be better communicated and understood if you explain things in a common language. But there are some words which cannot be described in simple terms and then a good vocabulary comes handy. However, I really liked the underlying essence of the story and Shivu�s predicament.

Kritical said...

A real warm story with the "Indian"touch which makes it more appealing...defenitely does justice to RKN:-)

Arjun Bharadwaj said...

Nice story...

And is RKN, who I think it is or....
*Rolls Eyes* ahem ahem =))

Nakul said...

@akshata
to quote brad pitt from 'the devil's own',"It ain't an american story(good ending), but an irish one..." Let the end stay.. a sequel wouldn't be okay...

naren said...

Excellent story man and i agree that a sequel would take the essence out of the story..

soda said...

nice tribute to RKN !