30 Mar 2008

The Adventures of Pinku the Frog

Chapter 1 Pinku and his Friends

Once, there was a tiny little green frog called "Pinku". Pinku loved hopping around his lake, from one lotus leaf to another. He loved the nice fat flies buzzing over the huge Lilies, he'd jump on a leaf and catch his favourite fat fly and munch happily. He loved his home, a small muddy alcove in between two mangrove roots. Sometimes he would sit in his enclosure and spend an evening singing latest croaks, which his friends would have had requested earlier of him… the thing is Pinku loves to croak. He loves the sound of his voice as he forms a huge croak inside the base of his throat which would turn a fine shiny banana green with effort, and then finally blowing it out, slowly as his throat would deflate back to a dark shade of musty green. But Pinku liked to feel the tire, the fatigue after a good croak. He’d do this for a living, thought Pinku the frog. But how could he do it alone? He needed friends to help him pursue his dream…and friends he had aplenty.

Pinku loved swimming in the lovely lake; he would jump to the slippery green bottom sometimes, to talk to Tabz, a big blowfish. Tabz the blowfish liked to make grave boomy noises with his big yellow gills. They played hide-n-seek together, amongst the lake ferns and weeds. They, however, had met later; their friend Akko, a charming young duck, with a fine shiny green collar and strong hind quarters, had introduced the two. It was a funny meeting; at Akko’s party, in a tiny puddle by the lakeside. It was Akko’s birthday, and Pinku was supposed to croak for the gathered audience: which, apart from the birthday duckling and Pinku, was peopled by Tabz the blowfish, Dave the otter, Chumbie the squirrel, Pritty the chirpy woodpecker, who herself had hatched only a month earlier, and Nobby the yellow snail. So, as the party was swinging on, Chumbie and Akko began to pester Pinku to croak their favourite song, a classical number, and finally after much coaxing, the reluctant star gave in. He began on a throaty note, taking it higher as he went; everybody was mesmerized with Pinku’s magnificent croaky rendition of the song. As the final note was about to end, with a very difficult croak-note, the calm was broken by a deep grim and grave vibrating boom around. Pinku stopped half note, shocked, as did everybody else, who were by now trying in their own small ways to sing along. It so appeared that the sound had come from Tabz, who was nestled near the edge of the lake where the party was. Everybody waited, for Tabz to say something as to why he interrupted the beautiful croak, that too at the very last note, because it was not really every day that Pinku would agree to croak a classical piece. When Tabz realised everybody wanted him to say something he said, “What? I didn’t do it on purpose! It was all that birthday mud-cake! I never burp that loud!”. And everybody burst into laughter and the party carried on, however, Pinku felt very offended, for somewhere he knew Tabz had done it on purpose. Which was true, to this Tabz had confessed later when the two were best of friends, saying “I could not take it anymore buddy, all of them foaming over you, and you sat so far from the edge of the lake…I wanted some attention too!”. Now they laugh about it, but it is true that they really detested each other when they met.

Pinku and his friends spent the days in fun, playing and singing and sometimes eating together, when Pinku would catch nice and fat flies, and everybody else would also bring their favourite foods and they would all have a great feast together by lake, laughing and making jokes. Sometimes Akko and Pinku would race, Akko would swim as fast as he could paddle with his bright orange webbed feet and Pinku would make amazing leaps from one leaf to another, towards a spot Tabz would be waiting to blow a grim trumpety end signal. And naughty as always, Akko would sometimes try to gain distance by flapping his icy-white wings. Chumbie would squeak with laughter from his branch, as Pinku would jump a little farther to win. Dave, their other friend, was a quiet little otter, he loved being with the others but he was the quietest one, he would float on his favourite log near them in lake and clap his hands, as the others played and spluttered about. Sometimes Chumbie would join them on the bank, he did not like the water much; he had fell in once when he was younger and he was scared of it ever since. But he loved his friends, so he’d enjoy it all. Pritty joined them once in a while, her nest was a little far from the bank, so her parents asked her not to fly very far too often. But she wanted to peck a hole on Chumbie’s branch soon to start living near her friends. So these were Pinku’s friends, friends he loved very dearly.

Chapter 2 Pinku and the Poet

One day, Pinku was sitting all alone in his alcove, humming a little tune he had heard the other day from Pritty, she had come meet them by the puddle on the far end of the lake. And there she had stated in a very excited chirp, her story about how she had met Jimmy the handsome colt, who was passing by her tree with his herd. He was shiny and black, and very very articulate. Pritty was fawning over him, and he let her sit on his back and peck bugs from his silky mane. But, what was more interesting was, that Jimmy was a poet. He was, as Pritty told them, a poet… which they did not understand. They had never met a poet. Chumbie had asked in surprise,
“What is a poet? Is that a name for ponies?”
Pritty had chirruped madly at their jokes and had replied,
“You’re all just jealous! Jimmy is an artist! He can rhyme words and make beautiful poems in his head… Ahh! He’s so brilliant! And you know what? He sings his poems!”
To this, Pinku, who was silent all this while, sat up. He cleared his throat and asked,
“What do you mean by singing his poems? Like he puts words into tune?”
Pritty was a bit taken aback, for Pinku always joined in on the fun, but he sounded serious when he asked her the question. And immediately the tension in the niche rose. Everybody was now listening in, Tabz who was almost dozing off till now, was wide awake, and Chumbie climbed down from his branch a little, to have a better view of the scene, and Akko and Dave who were both swimming around, slowly floated towards the bank where Pinku was sitting.
“I mean, his songs have words. Words he puts together in his mind”, said Pritty.
Pinku took a long pause, while the others waited with bated breath. Then he said, with a visible croak forming creepily under his throat,
“What words? What are they about? I have never heard of songs with words in them.”
Pritty looked from Tabz to Chumbie to Akko, but they all seemed to avoid her eyes. She finally said, “Well, he sang one to me. It was about the storm, and how birds ride the storm when they are far from home and stuck in it. Its in beautiful words, as Jimmy put it.”
The croak that was forming in Pinku’s throat finally belched out, and it was surely not a pretty one. And Dave who had swam unmindfully towards the gathering, was closest to him, and was knocked off guard on Pinku’s croak, and fell off the log he was floating on. Tabz, who was also listening in cautiously so as not to miss a word, gave out a sudden loud boom, that he was holding back for quite some time now, and blushed green around his gills in embarrassment.
“This Jimmy, as you say, sings in about birds and storms…what else does he sing about? Can he sing like me?” asked Pinku, and Pritty was at loss of words, she looked around for someone to help her out, but everybody seemed eager to know the answer as well. She took a few gulps or air, pecked on the worm she had brought along with her, but she didn’t seem very keen. Pinku waited, so did everyone else. Finally Pritty said, “Well, its very different. You croak well Pinku, in fact you’re the most amazing croaker ever!” To this, Pinku turned a slight purplish hue. “But,” Pritty continued. “Jimmy can sing his poems like I have never heard before, my mum and dad are always talking about different songs, and how all sorts of birds can sing so well, though we are not the song bird type, but we are very aware about things like these!” She sounded almost teary, “Jimmy can sing songs like never before. And I have heard him sing. Even though he carries a saddle and there are humans accompanying him, he is always humming beautiful songs, as if he has no care in the world!”
Pinku stretched his hind legs and jumped towards the edge of the lake, as if about to jump. Everybody was breathing in silence, as if dreading the worst, but afraid to speak a word…but Pinku did not jump, he sat by the lake and said in a heavy voice, “Can you sing to us what he sang to you?” and he turned his toady head towards Pritty for an answer. She was staring at the worm, avoiding all eyes, which were fixed on her, she said in a small voice, “Yes. The one I heard him sing. But I’m not a song bird, I can’t sing. But I can tell you how it goes…if I remember it.”

And so, Pritty had sung a tune, in a strangely woody chirrup. Pinku stood the farthest from her, while the others gawked, pricking their ears (those who had them) to listen carefully. He memorised the tune, because Pritty had faltered at places with the words. The words…how did he never think of putting words in his songs…how come he never thought of becoming a poet! He stopped humming. He wanted to hear the poet sing, be there in person when Jimmy sang! Yes! He told himself. That is what will put his mind out of misery; he will learn how to put words into tune! And instantly, he jumped out of his alcove and formed a deep croak in his throat. When he finally croaked it…he was sure all his friends had heard him, and as he had expected, he saw a yellow mass swim towards him beneath the water followed by a handsome white duck. He heard Chumbie scurrying down the branch and Dave was only a little away, swiftly brandishing his tail to reach the spot quicker. As they all gathered, they looked anxious, almost as if having been expecting the call. Pinku cleared his throat and said, “I have been thinking, since Pritty mentioned him to me, I have been thinking about meeting him. What do you fellas think?”
Tabz spoke in a grave voice, “Brother, if you think you should, I am certain you are right!”
Dave nodded in agreement. Akko, however, smiled and said “Hey buddy, don’t you think you are putting in too much thought into this? I mean, who knows, what if Pritty made a mistake?”
Pinku shook his green little head and replied. “I do not think Pritty would make such a mistake. But, if you wish to stay behind you can, I will go and find out this poet singer myself!”
Akko swam closer and pecked Pinku on the head affectionately and said, “I am where you are my friend. With you always.”
Chumbie climbed down from his branch and said, “I will find out where his herd grazes and if it is safe for us to go there, because Pritty had mentioned humans. Let me find out and we will go!”

...to be continued!

23 Mar 2008

Indistinct Blabbers of a Biased Blogger

Ah! Delhi... Dilwalon ki... Is it? Or was that the line from Delhi tourism advert? Like I care...but, whatever I do, I get irritated, angered, flustered, embarrassed, ridiculously emotional, shocked or even surprised...its a sure thing that I cannot simply ignore it. Life belongs here, now... and so be it... As the city gets warmer, I shop for new shoes, the kind that won't melt as the pitched roads start fuming in a month or so... The umbrellas spring out of the bags, lady-like and masculine, with equal grace... flowery...patterned...dull black... ...frilly around the edges, double coated... heat resistant... UV protected...all imaginable variations. The evening cups of tea will soon be exchanged for "thandai" and "banta".

Now that I come to think of it, well... the place isn't all that bad, save maybe for the fact that there are more chances I'd get mugged, raped, abducted (by near-alien intelligence, and not the E.T sort), or addicted... to various unhealthy activities. Then again, its a city where I know more surprises await me... good and bad. They sort of come in pairs... one good one bad, if not worse. Although my first love will always be my only love... My Calcutta is impeccable, the sweat, grime, dirt, smog... the waking up into surrealistic pleasures brought on by Promoder cha... the hustle bustle of Dharamtalla, the biriyani of Biriyani Galli, the crazy beggar woman in front of New Empire, she's very much still there... the quickies to Shovabazar ghaat... the walks through Boi Para, and the impregnated smiles on the face of Jhantuda...the bookshop owner... I owe my Gibrans, Coelhos and an odd Perry Mason or James Hadley Chase...ones I sat and read all through the afternoons and never bought, to him! The visits to T3, one joint (as in food joint, ah! silly me) that still craves...besides Oly, the pub that beckons love even through its ever-grumpy waiters n moth-eaten couch-like things one usually sits on in there... Even Salt Lake... around and around its labyrinthine gol-chakkars, the place is dear... the parks we'd scale walls into... the school I once claimed to belong to... the crazy people I met there... the craziest things I've done there, been caught doing those... and returned to resume. It all bubbles back into my head... Those shadows I walked past, ran past... and then ultimately got swallowed by... everything is a part of me.

Everyday I wake up feeling I could be there... But I guess, there's an explanation as to why I'm not. Sometimes, life requires us to understand the meaning of things, a little differently than the usual peek into a dictionary... sometimes, understanding means to really feel what it is supposed to. I'm thankful to my fate, that I'm now able to comprehend this love, that I've perhaps never felt foe anything or anybody else. I love Calcutta, almost as if it were a person, because being in love with a person keeps the option of reciprocation open... and I feel I'm loved back, by the city.