“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Smt Kunjamma Wd/o Late Sep Joseph

Cheques, neatly printed, issued in favour of
Smt Kunjamma Wd/o Late Sepoy Joseph
Smt Nalini Pavithran Wd/o Late Sepoy Pavithran
Smt Chandramathy Wd/o of Late Swr Gopalan  and so on and so forth
Cheques of the Army Welfare Board,
Doles, for the survivors.

Scrawling my signature over them, ticking, rapidly glancing
Back and forth at the PC and cheques
At the amounts, dates, and other details
I flip through the leaves
Cursing inwardly at the mounting work
And my aching eyes and having
To fix a glassy smile on my face – suddenly - 

Before my eyes appear the mountains, the deserts
The gullies and ravines
I feel the numbing cold of the snows
And the searing heat of the sands
I see blood and gore and hear
The booming of cannons
And the sharp barking of rifles
And men shattered and blown to smithereens
I see Joseph and Pavithran and Gopalan.

I slow down the speed of my scrawl, pause
And consign the cheques gently into the basket.

**********  Balachandran V, Alappuzha, 23.11.2011


I am getting old,  naked
Eyes cannot focus sharp.
I said, ‘Excuse me’ to a mannequin
That stood on the doorstep of a shop
And blushed to realize that I had talked
To a lifeless doll.

Strolling, alone, through  busy streets
With full of clothes and jewelry shops
Ravenous, I peek at the ravishing
Papier-mâché or plastic or something else
Mannequins that man the entrances.

I like these new ones, what grace,
How lovely, live, how curvaceous are they!
That subtle lift of the breasts, tantalizing,
Teasing you, inside the scanty clothes,
Slim waists with a delicious hint
Of flat, smooth bellies and button.
One can always act as if
Appreciating the modern dresses
While swallowing, ogling hungrily
Wishing the dolls were real.

The mannequins,  in their eternal youth
Don't look at you
But through you, to far away
As if looking in askance why
Life was not blown into them.

Strolling, aimless, through the busy streets
Full of clothes and jewelry shops
I look appreciatively at the young girls passing by
The foreign tourists scantily dressed
Their shimmering golden thighs
Heavy, full breasts and shapely behinds
All for a connoisseur to admire and enjoy.
They don't look at me, but look
Through me, glancing hither and thither
In search of life, pleasure and love.
Youth, for now, for now only, though it seems
Eternal to them.

I slink into the dark corner of a little shop
Lighting a cigarette, realizing that 
for all I care,
The world could be full of mannequins only. 
*********  Balachandran V, Alappuzha, 25.11.2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Syndrome

In the fleeting moments that fall
In between fleeing from one task to another
At the back of my mind, desparate, I wonder
How to freeze Time to an eternal Sunday!
********** Balachandran V, Alappuzha, 21.11.2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Blogger Passeth Away

She was an opinionated, strong- willed, orthodox-leaning lady, no doubt. But she wrote beautiful English. She had a wry sense of humour. She was generous and true in her appreciation of what other bloggers wrote, so long as it didn't conflict with her views. She was sensitive; and loving.

I have never met Ms  Kochuthresiamma P J in the flesh. I met her in the blogosphere.  I learned that she had been the Professor and Head of the Dept of English at Assumption College, Changanassery.  She always commented appreciatively on most of what I wrote, though my post on the Sabarimalai hoax wasn't much to her liking.

After battling with the 'Emperor of all Maladies' for 5 years, she finally succumbed a week ago. In her writings she often mentioned about the battle with the disease; every word shone with her courage and indomitable will.   In her blog, 'Pareltank', the last post appeared, written by her son, a beautiful eulogy on his mother.

KPJ is my first blog friend to pass away. She leaves an inexplicable, disturbing vacuum. I have always wondered at such a situation, where the words left behind by a blogger remain for eternity (?) floating around in the ether.  The late blogger is still talking to you, you listen to him/her with this eerie knowledge that it is deadspeak. 

Someday, sooner or later, so would be mine too. 

Balachandran V, Trivandrum 20-11-2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Backwater Cruise

On Tuesday, my old friends from Palakkad turned up at Alleppey. The last gathering with these guys, with whom I had studied in primary class in 1965- 67 at the Railway Primary School in Olavakkode was earlier this year, when we went to Nelliampathy; before that at Malampuzha. The reunion of classmates after 45 plus years was a memorable event. Abe, who is a doctor in the US, had made a short visit home and the old gang quickly got together and went for a day's cruise in the backwaters of Alleppey.

The cruise started only at 1100 hrs. We had hired a 3-bedroom houseboat through my friend Pradeep's contacts; There were about 14 of us. I was more interested in chatting up with the guys and the drinks than taking photographs. Daytime with its bright light is not much good either.

The package included a sumptous lunch, evening snacks, in- between Chicken Fry-s and Prawn Fry-s, dinner and breakfast. The houseboats are large, bulky. They lumber up and down the backwater lakes, ply till 1800 hrs and then drops anchor off some isolated strip. You are dropped back at Alleppey in the morning. With air-conditioning and luxurious beds, one can get a good sleep too. Otherwise the mosquitoes and other flying insects would smother you.

All of us are in our mid-fifties. Daughters have been married off, one guy already a grandfather. Many of us show the diminishments of age; BP, Diabetis, heart. One who was with us in the last reunion passed away a few months ago. Those in Govt. service have started retiring. Long ago we sat together in a classroom as little kids. Time, that eternal long-distance runner, took us through the years, how swiftly it all became past!

There is an old adage among my friends who dabble in photography as either serious amateurs or professionals - Do not mix photography with trekking or pleasure trips; photography should be done in a trip with its sole purpose as photography. So, these pictures are just a record of events. For those who want to capture the serene beauty of the backwaters, they should go to more scenic spots in the region, and that too in the early mornings and late evenings.

I had taken along my old Nikon manual system, but there were too many distractions to focus on shooting pictures. Anyway, the idea was to meet the old boys once again.

Balachandran V, Alappuzha, 11.11.2011

The Outcast's Cradle

I do not know whether they have something like this in other parts of the country, but the one in Trivandrum is near my home and now I saw this in Alleppey. Probably the Child Welfare Council has one in every district.

Once again, the highest evolved species of homo sapiens prove how unique and advanced it is in comparison to the rest of the species. I do not think even the most detestable rodents would do this - leave one's own flesh and blood to the streets...

To those who might not have reallised what it is - it is called 'Amma- Thottil' - Mother-cradle, where women may leave their unwanted babies, incognito. There is an opening beneath the picture, like the cat's passage or little door you see in western countries, inside which there is a cradle... In the evenings, thoroughout the night, a little lamp burns and whenever a baby is deposited, an alarm sounds, to alert the officials.

I try to imagine how it would be like to grow up without ever knowing who your biological parents were. It feels like an aching emptiness... like a rootless, drifting plant...
Is it a matter of irony or an instance of great insight into human nature that India's most revered epic, the Mahabharata has the incident of Kunti casting away her firstborn, Karna? Perhaps the very seed of the Mahabharatha War was sown by that! 

Balachandran V, Trivandrum 13.11.2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

While We were Away

Now that I am just a weekend visitor and K turns up only once in a quarter, P has all the time to herself. She is evermore active than when we were around.  She has enough and more work at the College, what with being the HoD of her dept., etc.  She is involved with a couple of nature conservation NGOs; often she is asked to give a talk or conduct a quiz or preside over a meeting - she commits herself to all these and more with gusto.

And now with the men away, she has discovered new arenas of passion - Saree designing and Jewelry making - and she is making  money too!


The photographs were taken by me - sorry, not done justice to her efforts. I've asked P to get a mannequin to drape the sarees on to.

Needless to add, I'm goddamn proud of her!

Balachandran, Trivandrum, 07-11-2011