Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Beggar Man

The Story of the Post: This poem was written in 1991. I used to argue with my English teacher that when some people could set their reason to rhyme, there was no need to use the term "poetry" for words without rhyme. Then one day, I saw this really old man sitting on the road side and I wrote this. I meant to write this as a prose piece, but realized it was more poetry than prose. I ate crow.

The Beggar Man

The dusty road meandered
Past old worn out, dried trees.
The empty tin can rattled;
The only coin in it seeking company,
Like any other lost soul.
Lost, in the darkness of a void.
A void unfathomable and frightening.

A pair of feet passed by.
He sat there, still,
Very still;
The wizened old man.
The pain dulled eyes
Stared unseeingly into the
Little clouds of dust raised by feet.
Feet scurrying to and from God knows where!

The tin can picked up courage
And voiced its complaint.
Still more feet.
Denser cloud.

The courage turned to boldness.
A louder protest issued forth
from the very bottom of its being.
The listless eyes in the wrinkled face,
focused with difficulty on the legs.
Legs busy.
Legs uncaring.
Legs unfeeling.

The can now pleaded.
Pleaded piteously.
The man's voice reinforced the plea.
Not with a word,
Not with a cry -
a mere, almost inaudible grunt.
Old worn out hands
shaded the now pleading eyes,
as the upturned face caught the full
wrath of the morning sun.

Feet. More feet.
Now rushing, almost at a run.
One trod on his stick.
From somewhere above came a
hurriedly flung apology that
was lost in the crowd's hurry
and the man's senile reflex.

The tin cried now. Openly.
Feet flew past.
Clouds thickened.
The eyes blinked.
And then it all subsided.
The final cry, waning slowly
into a small "clink".
The clouds settled.
No more feet.
A whimper from the disappointed throat.
The eyes again unfocused.

The dusty road meandered
past old, worn out,
exhausted trees.

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Monday, 7 May 2007

How I Became a.. Part II

(Contd. from How I Became a Family Woman Part I)

WM... I think I would rather use the acronym WaMu from now on.. So, WaMu's shyness lasted about 24 hours. The next day, I spied a rather overly large orange head and a tiny body peek out from one of the furniture in the family room -- which was decidedly NOT where we had left him the previous night. So, we dutifully ignored him and tried to act as nonchalant as possible about kitty cuddles' forays into the world of man (and woman) and proceeded to tip-toe about the house, doing the things we had to do. Soon enough DH turned the TV on, as is his wont (I mean what did you expect, he is a guy after all!! ;)) and the sudden noise from the TV sent WaMu flying vertically about 2 feet. Once back on terra firma he made his eyes rounder and wider than his whole body (or so it seemed to us) and stared at us, dead in his tracks.
Look I have round eyes!

Then he realized that the noise was not coming from our direction and quickly turned around and stared at the TV. He sniffed mightily into the air in front of him, still dead in his tracks. I suppose he did not detect anything through his nose and so he stared at the TV for a while. If he were Midas, the TV would have turned gold! Well, he wasn't... so nothing happened to the TV. After that one incident, he pretty much combed, nay, vacuumed every inch of the house with two, full grown, fascinated human adults in tow!! Once he had satisfied himself that no other nasty surprises were in store for him, he promptly started to play.

Everything, but everything was a toy to him -- something to be pounced at, attacked, chased, nibbled at or batted around! The list was endless and included dangling bits of stream, pieces of dust balls under some futon, in some corner of some room (you could hear him sneeze!), skirts, curtains, casually tossed clothes, swaying palloo's of sarees! Everything.
I stalk my prey

Then I pounce on it

Then I kill it!

One of his favourite tricks was to climb on to DH's chair and get in between DH's back and the chair. Once there he would not sit still, he would constantly re-adjust himself until he found himself in the most uncomfortable position - on his back, with all four paws sticking up in the air, body twisted between DH and the chair back!

Hmm.. I need to adjust a little!

Then he would pause to assess the situation and strategize and then, all on a sudden, as if he had hit upon the most brilliant military manoeuvre, he would begin kicking and scarping and twisting frenzy-- all in an attempt to get himself out of this position. He always managed to free himself -- always to the accompaniment of an almighty scream and jump on the part of DH. He would entertain himself in this manner most of the day until he settled down for a nap on DH's shoulder at about 7:00pm.
This is how you should sleep after a good day's work!

This very welcome nap would last all of three hours. At 10:00pm, he would wake promptly and stretch himself carefully. And then, he would burst into activity. We could hear him galloping in the house way into the night.

He had to be on the other side of every closed door and figured how to do just that, if the door was not locked!!! He loved to hide behind furniture and wait for us to get into the room and attack our feet when we did get in! He responded to his name and would come when called. Even when he was deep in sleep. Of course, it would take him longer then and when he noticed that we did not notice his arrival, he would walk up in front of us with a sleepy "why did you call me and now that I am here why are you ignoring me? You really need to work on that nose and ears of yours!" expression on his face. Since he was responding to his name, he decided that it was time to give us our own unique name -- which sounded a lot like "help! a cat in distress" when we first heard it. He would call us with this "nickname" and when we went to see what he was up to, one mass of orange fur with some prickly little thorns would land on our feet from nowhere! We realized that WaMu needed to learn a lesson and the only thing that could teach him a lesson, would be something with a lot of fur and some prickly little thorns as well.

So off we went to the shelter again in exactly one month after WaMu's arrival. This time we walked rather swiftly around and was looking at some cats when I felt a tug at the pen I was holding in my hand to fill in the application form. I turned around to see what was snagging my pen when I saw a white tipped orange paw poking out of the cage door directly behind my head which was doing all the tugging! A more careful look into the cage showed another cat that was sitting miserably in the corner by herself and the orange and white one had one foot on her back, one foot in her water dish (which he had toppled over, when he had walked over from his side of the cage to grab the pen!) and both front paws clutching my pen. There was nothing to think at that point -- this was going to be kitty cuddles number two. He had no name and was just labeled as a stray. He and his sister were sharing a cage, I was too nervous to ask DH if it would be ok to adopt her as well. You see, it took a lot of convincing on my part to get him to agree to another animal in the house!

We filled out the papers for the new arrival and brought him home. As responsible pet owners we decided to follow all the instructions from the shelter. So, we put the new one in a room far away from the little room where WaMu's restroom was. Every morning we confined WaMu for a couple of hours in his "restroom" and tip-toed across the house to the "other room" to feed and bond with the new one. Every evening, when we got back from work we would again go through the same motions, except that now we would steal a couple of toys from WaMu and leave it the new one's room and vice versa. As per the instructions from the shelter, this was supposed to last for a week. It lasted for three days. On the third day, when we were bringing breakfast to newbie, the door behind me opened every so slightly and a very curious, very tiny orange thing squeezed through it. The expression on WaMu was "hello.. can I please join in this thing you do every morning?". After a moment of stunned silence, there was an eruption of argument between us as to who did not shut which door tight and what a catastrophe this all was going to be. When the elements of the so called top of the evolution chain paused for breath, we saw that a different kind of argument was going on right at our feet. There was a tortured sounding, long drawn cry from newbie who was extremely shocked and surprised to see another kitten in the room and he was doing all he could to threaten WaMu with his fluffed up fur and hissing and spitting.

We were open-jawed in our astonished, for, in all my dealings with cats, I had never witnessed this behaviour. We had never heard a cry that was simultaneously so mournful and angry. All three of us turned to look at the response this elicited from WaMu. The response was even more interesting than the first. WaMu merely rolled himself into a tiny ball, averted his eyes from the scared cat and mewed in the most pleasant voice I had ever heard him use. This was immediately greeted with much spitting and hissing from newbie. When newbie calmed down again, WaMu would again extend his olive branch. This went on until newbie stopped the spitting, but was still doing a lot of other vocalization. Encouraged by the new development, WaMu would edge a little closer to newbie and mew again. This time he got whacked on the head on top of being sweared at! This he took so calmly that the human parents could not but swell up their chest in pride and think "Oh my little boy has become a man!!" This back and forthing went on for a good many hours, with each iteration promising a quick convergence. Finally all the noise subsided a sort of uneasy truce was established. Uneasy for newbie, but seemingly perfectly fine for WaMu. Sometime that night we were woken up by a lot of noise, sounding a lot like a couple of horses on the loose. I stared for a moment into the night trying to understand what that was. Then it dawned on me and I fell back asleep with a smile.