Monday, September 19, 2005

A very small story

(the story has been lying in my vault for a long time now, sent to me by kedar long back)

A small idol of Ganesha, a picture of Rama and family, and another small idol of Saraswathi were the first thing Varun saw as soon as he opened his eyes that day, as he did everyday—but it wasn’t day yet; only the lights in the hall were switched on. It was only 5:30 in the morning, and he almost never got up before 7:00, in his life of 8 years. He felt refreshed at once and got up from the bed. He walked into the hall. He knew, his father was taking bath, from the chants he said during his bath. His mother was out in the backyard in a silk sari and she was picking flowers. She just had a “head-bath” as it is called in our country and had her towel wrapped on her head along with her hair. He went into the kitchen which also had a compartment for Gods. His grandmother was making something out of black-coloured mud.

“What are you doing grandma?” he inquired

“I am making two idols of oxen. It’s “poLa” today.” She told him without lifting her head, engrossed in her work. He vaguely remembered they were talking yesterday night after supper about getting up early today because it is some festival.

“It is a festival of the country-side. On this day, people pay their respects to the farm animals which sustain them. We used to celebrate it on a big scale in our village when I was young. Now very few even remember it,” she mused pausing for a moment, and then resumed her work.

Varun and his little brother Ashvin always liked to celebrate festivals—major or minor. The younger one showed more enthusiasm of the two even though he was only beginning to understand what was going on. He just had to be there at the puja, he had to be the one to ring the bell while giving aarti (though his hands use to tire easily), and he had to be the one to give theertham to all others in the house (Prasadam rights, he ‘gifted’ to his elder brother out of his fabled generosity). Now he was fast asleep. The puja was about to begin and the elders would not allow Varun to wake up his brother—A recipe for calamity of the worst kind.

Varun quickly took a bath and attended puja and aarti (he already knew most of the common aarti songs by heart). After a while, Ashvin woke up and found his brother already dressed up for school. He wondered a bit at this, but was still sleepy. Varun was careful enough not to say anything at that time. After a while, Varun heard loud wails and saw brother coming out of the kitchen crying. He immediately knew what had happened—Ashvin had come to know of the festival puja and aarti. And now, there seemed to be no end to his crying. His parents and grandmother tried to console him with words and promises of next time, but the crying wouldn’t stop. Varun sat for his breakfast contemplating how to bring the situation in control. He finally struck on an idea, but hesitated whether it would work. Well, he knew the only way to see if it worked was to test it. He went to his brother whose eyes were still watery and said something in his ear. The crying stopped, but it was sometime before he could smile and be in his usual sunny disposition. They went to school and the day passed on. When his father came back that evening, he was relieved to find everything normal.

After supper, all of them sat together awhile and went to bed. But after sometime, the two brothers got up and went stealthily into kitchen. They had their own plans. About half-an-hour later, a familiar aroma filled the house, and a faint ringing sound was being heard. Varun’s mother got up and hurried into the kitchen. She was puzzled by what she saw. Varun wore his father’s silk dhoti (almost perfectly) and was performing puja just like his father. Sitting beside was his brother who seemingly took care of all arrangements from flowers, sweets for offerings, incense, and all. These were arrayed in front of him in the most disciplined fashion. Ashvin was sitting with his eyes closed and his little palms joined together. There was such sincerity and devotion in his face that she thought not all the temptations and dangers joined together would dissuade him from his present state. She didn’t disturb them. She went back and came back with her husband and mother-in-law. They saw the two perform the puja very quietly from the corner of the room. And after puja, Varun started singing aarti in his sincere voice, and the elders looked at one-another in silent admiration and felt proud of their children. Of course, Ashvin got to ring the bell and he relished it with utmost delight even though he was dead tired and sleepy. And then Varun offered theertham and Prasadam, and gave some to his little brother. They were about to fold the ceremony for the day when the elders suddenly walked into the kitchen to the surprise (and a little embarrassment) of the children. But they simply took aarti and prasadam with same devotion and seriousness that the children had and kissed the children.

Then they took the sleepy children back to their rooms, wondering if there was anything more from life that they needed.

-- Kedar


Pingu said...

wow..that is so beautiful..loved the story totally!

Pingu said...

god,I read it again..perfect!The details are amazingly accurate!

Ragz said...

Very nice, couldnt help myself from reading it a number of times, good narration bro

divya said...

thanks for posting it vidya.was a complete pleasure reading it.and kedar,hav already told u how beautifully its been written.i love the feel in the story...lovely!