This has some seriously good pointers.
Here's the post. Hope its OK Cory.
This has some seriously good pointers.
Here's the post. Hope its OK Cory.
And Anjali quietly got two of her poems published in the Academy of the Heart and Mind site - Ghosts and Top Speed. Here's the link. Good show Anjali. Intense stuff.
From the page!
By Anjali Paruvu
I thought I'd sewn up all the tears in my blue dress I'd used thread made of shining chloride It took me months to repair, their nails were so sharp, and now I'm sitting wondering what the point was I thought I had made the taps all leak-proof I double-checked and triple-checked so many times But then I woke up one day and felt the world slide Like everyone was moving and I was left behind I thought that the skeletons of my past would die I never thought they could climb out from a grave so deep Then why is it that suddenly I feel like I'm the creep Why does the look of my face disgust me? I thought I'd got my restart I thought I could abandon all the ghosts of my past But here they are again, shining in my face I don't know if I'm confused or silently weeping in pain And all I want to know is - was it my fault? Was it my fault that caused the earth to crack? Are these little lies from a darker source Or is this as far as my shallow heart goes? And everybody tries to solve my problems so I stopped I can't be weak, that'll break my soul again They used to call me 'sensitive' for crying as a child So I stopped, now where the hell am I? I don't know where my friends have disappeared Did they abandon me or did I isolate myself? My mother's the only one who knows no one stayed Was I born this way or did the world change me? Did I hear people wrong or did they really wrong me? And I'd rather be right than have people who love me And I'd rather cry than live with myself again And I'd rather die than to be alone again
Have I been put in a rat race One with endless mice All just like the others Blinders on both sides I'm so sick of running as fast as I can Haven't taken a breath in a while When was the last time I looked to my side At the remnants of the people I liked I don't know how to escape these walls How does a locksmith break his own lock And everybody's trying to get in my head But if I give in, will I give up? I can't find the path to a happy life One with light I only know how to run all the time If I stopped, would I be able to start again?
Anjali Paruvu is a poet and blogger from Hyderabad, India.
I met a father of a young cricketer from Hyderabad the other day. He told me he got a call from one Mr F. He identified himself and spoke very pleasantly about the boy. He then told the father that the selection for the under 14 was coming up for the state team. The boy's father said he was aware. However only 5 league matches had happened till now (normally most of the season would be over by November) so the father was concerned about how the selectors would select the team - how they would see his boy and his performance.
Mr F said that was not a problem. There was a simple way - pay 2 lakh and the boy will be in the probables. Pay 5 lakh and the boy will play in the XI - guaranteed. The father was taken aback. F said is they did not want to play (pay and play) they better go some other place because unfortunately things work like this only here.
Assuming there are 5 matches that the state team plays and assuming some 10-15 boys pay up to play in the XI, that's 50-75 lakh collected as selection money. And assuming some 101-5 kids pay 2 lakh to be in the probables (why would they want to be I wonder), that's another 20-30 lakh. And god knows who F is and how it all works.
Play three kids in one match, drop three, and play three more the next, and so on. The team will keep changing, may win some, lose some. But promises will be honored and every one (who pays) gets a chance.
Some can, so they pay. Some cannot so they give up. Some probably take loans or sell houses, I heard of one fellow, son of a coach, who told a couple of parents that he will make the boys play IPL and collected 15 lakh each from the parents. Then obviously he could not get them to play so he said they should be patient. And he has paid the right people and if they file a complaint their kids will never play. The parents are obviously worried and 15 lakh short. The kids waiting in hope. Some kids pressure their parents to do the obvious because they have seen their friends do that. The parents are under pressure to keep the kids happy so they find the money somehow.
If this is true (and its pretty much an open secret) then one can understand why one would not conduct league matches because then performances will not come into the equation. All one needs to do is pay. Normally league matches began in June-July and at least 10-12 games were done by November, apart form Inter schools or one knock out tournament so the selectors can see enough performances.
But now, this year the 3-day and 2-day have apparently not played a single game and the 1 day teams have played 4-5 games. How does one select a team like this?
And for all this talk of women cricketers and pay parity etc they do not have a league. For all this money that is spent, women cricketers have no league. There is no school's league or Inter college league. It is amazing how these things are being turned a blind eye to - all BCCI has to do is check whether certain basic things are being followed - leagues, schools and colleges - etc.
I hear about parents buying league teams (a team now costs 1.5 cr), parents setting up academies, trying to get some agency to get their kids to play - one way or another. Right now it looks like most ways are being shut and there appears to be only one way.
Boy, am I glad I am done with my playing days.
Part of JR Jyoti saab's collection. Since we are writing a murder mystery now, it made sense to peep into this book. First up she says something interesting - a mystery was defined by the Greeks with the word 'mysterion' which means 'to keep silence'.
All mystery comes from a morality angle (earlier the God angle but now no more). It is filled with near-genius villains, foible filled heroes, funky heroines - all of whom lighten the crime and punishment theme.
There are 8 sub genres in mystery -
To get ideas she says explore a whole realm of ideas, look for sinister intentions. Nurture the ideas and finally nail the idea.
Introducing the 3 main characters
Crime, Motive and Solution
In the first 1/3 appeal to readers/viewers emotion as much as the logic. The primary emotion is suspense. Introduce the scene of the crime early, introduce the 3 important characters early, the sleuths
Who is killed?
Who is affected?
Who wants to solve it?
The Middle Game
Look at Momentum. Understand that the sleuth understands human nature very well.
Motives are normally - Greed, Thwarted Love, Revenge, Opportunity (Love, Greed, Pain - are main themes)
Challenges - more murders, multiple, threat of a murder, physical hurdles, psychological
Getting Information - About all suspects
Laying Clues - Keep track
Coincidence, Cliffhangers, Subplots,
Don't make it easy for the sleuth
Make it tight - Intense
Wind this up soon
Revealing whodunit is the climax
Creating Memorable Characters
Plot vs Character. The sleuth's burden. The Murderer's Mind. The victim's role. Suspects. Minor - information passers, local color, pace breakers.
Background for Murder
Natural phenomena as emotional backdrops. Using familiar surroundings: foreign, city, wilderness, rural. Special backgrounds;research and accuracy, consulting experts.
Good one. Got some good pointers.
This is a slim volume of Khushwant Singh's selected writing, about 130 pages and has his trademark jokes about Sardarjis, political jokes, women, drink and being Indian. Most of them have been heard before and he shares jokes that his readers shared with him as well.
It's easy reading and one or two made me laugh out loud though I don't remember which ones. In political humour he normally makes a case about how politicians don't like to let go of power. There are community jokes on different communities, one on Sardarjis, one on the joys of farting and the pleasure of pissing, one about nose picking (don't wipe on the underside of the table he warns). There's stuff on name dropping, on how to appear learned without learning (memorise a couple of lines from the Gita), on English, one even on cricket (Pataudi's wife calls for him while he is batting and says she will hold on - he does not bat long anyway). One on drink. Ah that reminds me which joke.
Its about this guy who gets into a taxi after a few drinks and suddenly notices as the car is moving forward that there is no driver. A curve appears in the road and he is scared to death when suddenly a hand comes in from the window and moves the steering. The hand then withdraws and the car keeps moving until the next curve when the hand reappears. The drunk thinks it is god in action and when the car stop she rushes into a bar and tells the barman his divine experience. Soon as he is done, two men walk into the bar and one of them says. 'Who was that idiot who sat in our car when we were pushing it?'
I like it. Light. Mischievous. Black. Good to read and laugh or at least be amused by his funny references.
How to convert weaknesses into strengths!
Everyone is a leader. To be a better leader know the why,how, what and who.
Forming habits the 'atomic' way!
How 100% responsibility can be 100% freedom!
How to be enthusiastic and double your income and your happiness!
How to convert our weaknesses into strengths!
So my partner in this venture is Sagar - and he and I finally shot a few videos and added to the 12 that we had shot earlier. The topics included
1. How to move forward by using our strengths
2. How to convert weaknesses into strengths
3. Leadership Basics - Why, How, What and Who
4. Time Management - Do First Things First
5. Building Habits - Atomic Habits
6. Double Your Enthusiasm, Double Your Income and Happiness
7. Stress Management - Focus on What You Can Control
8. Why 100% Responsibility Gives 100% Freedom
9. People Management - Practicing the 3 As
I'll add one video a day.
Today's video is on People Skills - 3 As.
The title caught my attention when we were buying books for Anjali's birthday and somehow I felt it was an appropriate gift for her - with her love for the arts and humanities. Andria Zafirakou won the Global Teacher Prize in 2018, a million dollar prize which she proposes to use for arts education - a field where there are likely to be more cuts thanks to skewed education policy.
There are smart people and there are those with a heart. The smart one understand how to promote themselves, stay in power, get the most of everything by doing the right things, saying the right things. What ultimately matters to them is staying there - like many educational policy makers are. To stay there they are willing to sacrifice all that is good for the customer, the child, because the parents want something. Its like how many top schools function. The parents want something - give it to them - irrespective of what the child needs. And then, there are people with a heart. Andria is one of them.
The spirit of education is doing what is right by the child, understanding that each one has a special ability, immense potential, that circumstances somehow make them behave differently, that love shown the right way (including tough love) is what they need to see a glimpse of what they could be. They all need a shot at making their dreams come true instead of being made into factory line people. Artists, designers, creators - it is a world that involves you completely.
Coming from a Greek immigrant family that left a beautiful and bountiful land and came to London to restart their lives with nothing more than a dollar in their pocket, Andria understands immigrant lives so well. She was always clear that she wanted to teach she says and when she joined the Alperton Community School in a tough area of London ( a bit like Sydney Poitier in 'To Sir with Love'). Immigrants from all over the world - Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Algeria, Syria, West Indies - there were over a hundred languages that the kids spoke in the school. Being an immigrant apart from being an empathetic person made Andria learn to say 'Hello' in almost eighty languages, a factor that put many immigrant parents who do not speak English to rest.
Andria went through her years as a teacher with one single aim - of giving each child a fair chance - however badly they behaved or where they came from. From buying clothes for those who could not afford them, helping with portfolios, counselling parents, counselling kids, dealing with hooliganism - finding and coaxing the brightest side in each of her students. Some could not speak, some had no social skills, some bad hygiene and no food to eat, some from violent backgrounds, some who had no family - horror stories - that she understood and helped. She was tough and ensured that she was not their 'friend' who would tolerate any nonsense. She put her foot down where needed and where she felt the child would benefit. She used the same technique with her colleagues who could not cope with teaching as well.
Andria was always tuned into the child and her needs. It probably came from her work ethic, her culture, her own nature and it made her a wonderful teacher - one who believes in you, gives you the chance, backs you, pulls you out and puts you on track.
I loved the book and I loved the way it is structured. The chapters, each one telling one story that explains how one goes about dealing with the tough situations, her own back story interspersed with her career, are easy to read and always saying something that we as humans need to pay heed to. Success in any field is based on the same things - a love for what you do, caring for those you are working for. I can imagine how she must have felt when she returned from Dubai after winning the prize and found a hundred of her students, her collages, waiting at the airport. That must have been bigger than meeting the Prime Minister! Lovely book and I hope Anjali gets to read it.
Nothing else. Long as we rely on others for our happiness, we are unhappy. We have someone to blame.
But own your decisions, your life, what you love, what you want to do. Then you are happy all the time aren't you?
Happiness is ownership. Simple.
Akela has one true love - this big, serious-looking, mature dog called Shiva (I think). Shiva lives in the new apartment block that's being made close to our house. He is the alpha in the colony, the one who acts like the head man, surveying all he sees, trotting out every now and then to check on his kingdom. Brown, majestic and dignified, there's no reason why Akela should not fall in love with him.
|That's the direction where Shiva lives|
Akela completely goes nuts when she sees Shiva - a strange transformation happens to her. Joy descends on her and she forgets all else (including the hand that feeds her) and she runs off like a teenager who has got access to her mobile phone. The way she prances after Shiva and the way those two walk off - he all serious like Amitabh and she all fun and playful like Jaya Bhadhuri (pre-Sholay days). It irritates the hell out of me to see her run after Shiva like that - completely giving herself to him. I suspect Shiva was the one who took advantage of her and made this young lass pregnant last time (and tried many other times too before we got her spayed). Anyway, they like their strolls and their little dalliances every now and then when the fellow comes out of his lair and their times coincide.
But there's a catch.
Shiva has a primary girl friend. A dog that's as big as Shiva (they are twice the size of Akela who is pretty small). This one has white fur, is big and matches Shiva in size and style, manner and lineage perhaps, and often they come to survey their kingdom together. And that's when the jealous lover in Akela wakes up and she is in so much pain - whining away, running at the gate and making almost human sounds of pain - emotional pain. Shiva consciously and smartly avoids engaging with Akela during these walks because he does not want to upset his queen and that upsets Akela some more.
Sometimes she cannot control herself and despite her small size attacks them out of plain jealousy. The white queen has attacked Akela savagely many times - their battles are epic in the colony - this small dog fighting a dog twice its size and not backing off. Every one thinks Akela must be nuts to fight that big dog but what they do not know is the reason for it - her true love. The fights are so bad that people gather to watch and find it difficult to separate. Cuts, bruises, blood are all par for course for Akela and she just comes away licking her wounds and looking past us to see where her lover and his queen have gone. The pain in her eyes much more than these bleeding wounds.
And what's worse is that Shiva joins in attacking Akela with the Queen. That I find is the unkindest cut of all. I wonder why Akela puts up with that fellow - ok let her attack me but why are you attacking me, I would think. But no, the next time he comes sauntering by she wags her tail and forgets all of us and his attack and runs off happily with him. Those few moments with him are pure bliss for her.
These days the fights have reduced in frequency and intensity. I can see that the white Queen is carrying some sort of a wound on her leg and is limping. She is not as aggressive as before.
And that perhaps made Akela more aggressive. She is picking fights more often and I can see the white Queen actually ignoring Akela and moving on despite provocations.
Something in Akela's jealous heart seems to have triggered a huge fight. Normally most fights are near our house where she feels safer and attacks them - prompting a backlash. But this fight happened some distance away which can only mean that Akela went after them.
Again - epic it must have been.
I was stepping out for a walk when I heard sounds of a vicious battle. A bunch of fellows were trying to split the dogs. The two big dogs attacked Akela. It came out of the melee and as the two dogs were trotting off, turned again and chased them. The person who was breaking up the fight had a tough time keeping Akela off. Then she came trotting back. Something in the way she was feeling her mouth made me suspect she injured her mouth.
Meanwhile Anjali heard the sound of the fight and came out. She is so tuned in to Akela and many a time she had stood in between Akela and these bog dogs and fought them off. Anjali does a good job of nursing Akela who seemed fine except for whatever was on her mouth so I went on my way.
In ten minutes I get a call from Anjali. 'Her tooth has come out with the root and is hanging from her upper jaw,' she said. 'We have to take her to the vet.' I rushed back home. Akela looked wounded, not from the physical wounds but her emotional ones.
'She does not whine despite so much pain,' observed Anjali. I nodded. The only time she whines is when she sees them together. Then it is difficult to pacify her.
The injuries were bad. Akela looked on stoically, shivering like a feather in pain and fear but not whining a bit. At the vet she was pretty much the same - shivering but not whining. Her eyes, terrified, at the vet clinic. 'She has high fever,' said the doctor. 'I cannot sedate her to see what is wrong with her. She may need surgery.' He was going out of town so he referred us to another doctor. He stuck her tooth back in and put a bandage that shut her mouth.
Three visits, X rays, medicines etc and it now seems that it might heal by itself - collar and muzzle required though for a week. Akela looks a sad sight with his collar and muscle. But she will suffer willingly. Quietly.
After all its for her love. Have not seen such madness but yes, if one has to love, one must love like Akela I feel. With all its heart.
I have a new respect for her.
We've all read Kabir ke dohe in school and most of us remember them even now which speaks volumes of the stuff the mystic poet wrote. The simplicity, the presentation, the metaphor, the idea all beautifully conveyed in two lines. Kabir (1455-1518) was a religious reformer, a champion for Hindi-Muslim unity. He was an abandoned child, raised by a weaver family in Varanasi though he finally moved to Gorakhpur, where he died. Some of his abiding philosophies have been that man needs to find his real nature, awakening of one's consciousness through the sound. He also denounced recitation of vedas and rituals, plumping for real devotion and love instead. His principles were based on truth, non-injury, simple living, continence and sense control.
Kabir's works are written as Sakhis, Shabad and Ramaini. Sakhis are the couplets we have all read and they are divided into various categories such as Sakhis on Guru (surrender to the Guru he says), Holymen and holy company (will lift you, give you happiness), Devotion and remembrance, Love (no rules, surrender), Separation, God (is within), Non-violence ( a true hero is one who controls senses), Right speech, Truth, Mind, Maya, Women, Suffering.
Who can forget these
Sadhu aise chahiye, jaise soop subhay
Saar saar ko gati rahe, thotha dhed bahaay
Kasturi nabhi base, mrig dhoondhe ban mahi
Aise ghat mein peev hai, duniya jaane nahin
Kaal karein so aaj kar, sabhi saaj tav haath
Kaal kaal tu kya karein, kaal kaal ke haath
Wonderful to read this small and simple book. Thanks for the book SM.
2022. Malayalam. A man walks into a police station saying he had had an accident and when he gained consciousness, his wife has gone missing. The cops search and find no trace of her but he persists. A local who helps him, offers to sell his deceased son's house to the man so he can continue his search. The man agrees, buys the house and pays cash.The house owner is found dead. What unravels is a tale of crime, greed, revenge.
I found the title interesting, and the subject, so I picked it up. Much of author Gita Ramaswamy's book is also my world - Hyderabad, Osmania University, some of her contemporaries are known to me as parents of my contemporaries and some of the issues she faced on campus were faced by us as well, though from a distance. I have always been interested in how deeply some students get involved in party ideologies (having lost one of my classmates from Osmania University Engineering College, Vijay to the movement). And how some others give up pretty soon and head west. Gita Ramaswamy somehow found it in her to continue her idealism even after she quit the party and remained true to her chosen path stubbornly, much much longer than most. She also adapted along the way to add more meaning to her work it appears.
Born into an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family - fourth of five daughters - she studied in Madras and lived in a strict and orthodox manner at home (and had a very Catholic experience at school). In 1968 she moved to Hyderabad and it is here that she seems to have found herself in the city's more liberating atmosphere - debating, quizzing, being Head Girl of KV Picket. Somewhere along the way it becomes evident to the reader that she had an independent mind and one that would ask uncomfortable questions. She got admission into the IIT and stayed back because her father had other ideas. But what she told herself were two things post her schooling - to fulfill her potential and not to depend on any man.
A year in Women's College, Koti, where she experienced more freedom and met new friends - Sumeet Sidhu, Geeta Patel and Kiran Mirchandani. Sumeet Sidhu was from IICT (another familiar place) and she would go to their house and eat stuff she was not allowed to eat at home. In 1972 she moved to Osmania University and her life took a turn from which there was no going back. Starting sometime around the murder of George Reddy she met up with a group of young men - Burgula Pradeep (younger brother of Rama Melkote, and friend Sagarika's mother), Sasi, Gopal and others, and pretty soon was neck deep in left student politics. There was romance in the air and the mood of the leftists was quite romantic as well - fight the system, secure justice, fight for a cause. Four of them were girls - Lalitha (Nandu) who later joined the RSU and died prematurely, Lalita (who started Anveshi) and Rukmini Menon. Their idols - Vanaja Iyengar who taught at the Arts College and smoked in the staff room and Veena Shatrugna, who rode a scooter and wore sleeveless tops. Another friend she mentions and one who has done work that got a lot of recognition is Shantha Sinha (who married Ajay Sinha, a Professor at Arts College, an adventurous elopement - Ajay Sinha died early as well).
In 1973 Gita joined the Chandra Pulla Reddy group of Marxist Leninists (Naxalites as they were called) along with the others in the group. Some time then she met her husband to be Cyril Reddy who incidentally is George Reddy's brother and an activist. Other ML groups included the popular Kondapalli Seetaramaiah group and one other TN group. Much violence was unleashed those years and the Naxals were much feared. Gita dived headlong into her party's work, changed her attire from trousers to saris, wearing hand me downs, walking miles because she had no money for the bus, mobilising girls from various colleges in the twin cities - Vanita Mahavidyalaya, St Francis, AMS. The party membership grew from 15 to 1500. Smoking beedis, watching cricket matches at the OU 'A'ground (maybe the times of Rajan and Vasan), talking books and rebellion - stuff that all collegians dream of. Obviously, with such a radical change in her life, it was difficult to keep peace at home. Her father would berate her in public and even took a transfer to Madras hoping she would join them and get back on track but she stayed on. One interesting job she did then was to take a huge trunk to Varanasi and deliver it to someone there - only to find the trunk had guns and pistols and cash! She also was rather taken in by her need to do the right thing for the party (the perfect team player) and even suggested bumping off a colleague Chalapathi, who was thinking of surrendering. Luckily no one listened to her advise (she did that on a couple more occasions later too).
Come 1975 and the Emergency came and they had to go underground. Many of their friends left the party because they had to give exams. There was a lot of going underground and hiding in different safe houses, coming out only at night, and even carrying on their romance at night. If I remember right they would go for a meal at the Melkotes' house, probably even stayed the night. When she and Cyril thought of marrying her family did something drastic - they got her to go to Madras citing some serious illness to her mother, locked her up, got her treated with shock therapy to set her brainwashed mind right. The psychiatrist did manage to cure her - his shock therapy managed to make her lose some parts of her brain. Obviously not the ones he wanted to because she continued her activism for decades after - minus her photographic memory.
Sometime around this period her disillusionment with the party also began and she and Cyril started writing against the party's ways and inconsistencies. She had an issue with the way Chandra Pulla Reddy, her handler, lived with his wife, which was also inconsistent with the way these people lived. Cyril and she quit after the party stopped their stipend - and the party later expelled them. Now, without the shelter of the party, and having to hide from the police, they went to Delhi, Chandigarh, lived for a while with Cyril's brother Karl who was an IAS officer. After that they went to Ghaziabad, lived with the balmiki community in their slums, eating roti and pork of pigs that ate the shit in the community, fearing tapeworm infections, teaching their children English, managing to survive suicidal thoughts before finally returning to Hyderabad. The kids in the community they taught did well later she found out.
In Hyderabad she set up the Hyderabad Book Trust with other like-minded people and produced low cost but high quality books in Telugu which benefited many readers who had no access to such literature. HBT did and probably does exceedingly well to date and why not - Gita went into it with all the commitment and conviction she had - 100%. Carrying books, collecting dues, threatening non-paying customers. She would have been a brilliant capitalist with her drive and commitment and conviction. HBT has since published over 400 titles since 1980 (and has translated works of Alex Haley and Mahasweta Devi). When she turned thirty her attention turned to the dalits of Ibrahimpatnam near Hyderabad and she went there. Cyril lived in Hyderabad, now a lawyer, and was working with Salaha, a legal resource cell for the downtrodden.
In Ibrahmipatnam Gita found a whole new story of bonded labour of dalits where the reddy landlords exploited them for generations, paying them nothing, beating them, raping their women, torturing them. Gita worked with the Madigas of the district and formed the Ibrahimpathnam Taluka Vyavasaya Coolie Sangam (ITVCS) which fought for the rights of these labourers who had no voice. Over a period of almost ten years she fought the tyranny of the reddy landlords and had about 14000 acres of land released from them to the Madigas, got them minimum wages, got old loans repudiated. There was always the threat from the landlords, once even a supari of one lakh was placed on her head. Some authorities were helpful, many hostile, but she continued. Again, riding a bicycle, taking lifts, buses, walking, organising, rebelling - almost like someone possessed. Now when we hear about these places she talks about in the surrounding districts around Hyderabad, they are all worth crores (and apparently the beneficiaries are selling them off). After a long, fruitful and hard battle of almost ten years she returned, perhaps sometime in the 1990s decided to start a family.
The book has testimonials from those who benefited from her work, her Sangam associates, and their words ring more powerfully than those of the celebrities who endorsed her book. Gita Ramaswamy has since written several books including a biography of George Reddy (Jeena Hai to Marna Seekho), India Stinking: Manual Scavengers in Andhra Pradesh and Their Work and other such.
I enjoyed reading the book for so many reasons. The Hyderabad I know, the people I am familiar with, the campus politics of the times, the mad idealism that I could never have, the conviction in causes with seemingly no reward, the reflection over a life full of hard choices. It is almost as if she drove herself to find harder and harder choices but it worked for her and all those who benefited from her work. As a book it worked very well for me because she kept her honesty alive, accepting her mistakes, not apologising for anything, saying things as she saw them. It sustained its energy over 400 odd pages and I read most of it in one afternoon. Many insights into the times, into those who believed and carried on their work. I am definitely richer for the experience. And if the testimonials are anything to go by, it is sure to sell, may be win an award too. One can only applaud Gita for her convictions, her work, her honesty, and for writing this book.
The thrill of seeing your name in print as the author of something you have created is something else - especially the very first time. My first time was perhaps during my engineering college days when my piece got published in the college magazine but that never compared to the time when I wrote a letter to the editor of The Telegraph and it got published. That was something else. And then the first article that got published in the AP Times took it to another level.
So I was thrilled when Anjali, true to her style, quietly sent us a link on the family group. Her short story 'A Scandal' had been published in an online Literary Yard. Where she found this journal, when she sent her submission I don't know (if it was me I would have made a huge song and dance about the entire process!) but very Dhoni-like she came up with the outcome and went on with her life. But whatever she does, I feel its a huge thing and I am so glad she wrote and got herself published (and even got some nice comments too). So all in all very glad. Keep writing A. You're doing good.
Nice title, theme, humour, wit, darkness, hope...what else!
Here's the link
And for those who cannot open the link, here's the text straight from Literary Yard
By: Anjali Paruvu
I cracked my knuckles out of boredom, even though I didn’t really know how you get the “crack” sound. I looked at Prerna on my left, who was either chanting a mantra or reading off formulas. I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention. The kids in the front were immersed in their books, flipping pages rapidly. The ones in the back seemed to have surrendered to their impending doom and were discussing their family’s reaction to their imminent results.
“She’s going to say, go! Go to movies, go out with friends, and come home late, for what? To get 10 out of 100! Shameless boy, what will I tell your aunt?” said a scrawny boy in the back with an exaggerated imitation of an Indian mother.
“At least it’s just words for you. One fat thappad I am going to get.” said the burly, flat-haired man-boy. Probably from all the thappads.
Nervous chuckles filled the room. They weren’t really feeling the jokes.
And I, I stayed in my chair and looked at everyone else. The excitement of the day was too much for me to focus on anything. I had studied a bit already, not too much, but I had tried.
In walked our History teacher, looking particularly scary in a large red bindi. “Good morning, ma’am” broke out an earnest call, almost like a war cry before battle.
“Good morning, take your seats.” the sounds of twenty students hitting their wooden benches carried across the room. We looked at her warily. We tried to decipher the level of difficulty of the question paper from her face, but she gave us nothing.
“I hope everyone has prepared for the test, considering that this makes up 20% of your board exam marks. Pens out, please. Right, there you go.” She said as she began to distribute question paper sheets to everyone.
I glanced downward at the same mundane font I had seen a million times before. I caught fleeting glances of my classmates’ reactions to the paper. Prerna looked relieved and concerned at the same time. He, sitting in the front bench, looked about as calm and collected as he did every single moment of every day.
The boys in the back looked unsurprised and nodded their heads dejectedly. They might have been deciphering ancient runes by the evident confusion on their faces. I picked up my pen and clicked it.
I wrote my name, my class, the date, the subject. I inhaled as I set out on my journey for the next 45 minutes. Give two reasons why power sharing is desirable in a democracy. I started scribbling out reasons, pulling from my experience of living in a patriarchal family. Like all kids do, right?
Who was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo? Instantly the song buzzed in my head, “At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender “.Thank you ABBA! This question paper was becoming a Slum dog Millionaire situation.
I continued scribbling and scratching for another half an hour, when I heard a familiar clacking of highly polished black shoes. “Done, ma’am” said Prerna. She walked to the front of the class, deposited her paper, picked up her bag and left. I was very confused. Prerna was the type who would vomit the textbook onto the paper for 40 minutes, then edit and strike for 10 minutes. She had never given a paper in on time. Ma’am looked slightly startled as well.
“Well then, 5 minutes or I pull it out of your hands.” The scratching of pen on paper became much faster and the writing turned from calligraphy to an ECG in seconds. I was drawing lines between my answers and when the bell rang, I voluntarily gave my paper to ma’am. She gave me a half nod.
I don’t think the others were as lucky. I heard a piece of paper rip, but was too late in turning back to see whose paper it was. She threatened a few with calls to their parents and subtracting marks, but their disobedience to her direct orders and their determination to “Just Keep Writing” was inspirational. Eventually we were all dismissed and we went home, relieved of this burden until doomsday. I was pretty satisfied with my paper. But then, I didn’t really believe in the curriculum that educational institutions preached. I find it contradictory to the objective of overall growth and health of children that in fact propagates a dislike towards learning. But all in all, I was looking at above 80.
The next week passed much faster than imagined. Soon, we were back in History class and Ma’am was looking passive-aggressively at each of us for three seconds at a time. Some smiled sheepishly, some did not make eye contact, some did not break eye contact.
She pulled a bundle of sheets from her brown, leathery purse and began calling out names.
She went on. I looked at my paper. A bright red circle indicated the looks I was going to get from my parents this evening. A zero. A nine. Ninety! I grinned to myself, then restrained myself from looking into the other papers. I, of course, did not care about this objective way of ranking children. Who cares who got more? I did. But who cares?
I heard a couple sniffles from the front bench and a few “Tcch, tcch, tcchs” from the back. I looked at him, same stoic, plain face. I looked to Prerna. She seemed as though all the colour in her face had finished. Like someone had pulled a carpet out from under her.
“Ey” I poked her shoulder with my pen.
She didn’t look. She looked down and then at Ma’am, then started crying hysterically.
“Come, Prerna.” said Ma’am gravely. Prerna might not have heard her over the noise of her tears.
“Get yourself together Prerna, follow me to the principal’s office.” Prerna rose. She didn’t make eye contact with any of the nineteen pairs of eyes staring at her. She walked out of the classroom.
“Niveditha, monitor the class till I return. Write down the names of any troublemakers on the board.” said Ma’am and then walked out the door.
I got up and stood with boredom in front of the greenboard. I didn’t enjoy monitoring. I didn’t really like telling people bad news. I spaced out while standing there and everyone in class took the hint. They began talking and laughing and playing. I didn’t really care, I was thinking about Prerna. What in the world could have made her cry? Probably the size of Ma’am’s bindi. I chuckled to myself.
Soon, period ended and so did my tenure as monitor. I sat down, now very worried. It was lunch when I finally saw Prerna.
She was sitting under the neem tree, looking sick.
“Hey, what -”
“I’ll tell you, just give me a minute”
I sat down next to her, looking at my knees. We sat like that for a while, I kept looking up for a microsecond at a time to see if she was showing signs of talking.
“I cheated.” Her eyes had stains from crying.
I looked up. She looked at her knees. I took the hint and looked at mine.
“Whaddya mean?” I said.
“Do you not know what cheating means?” she said.
“I do. But I know you couldn’t cheat if you tried to.” I said. There was no way.
“I take offense to that.” I smiled.
“How did you cheat?” I decided to indulge her.
“It was quite clever, actually. I went to the computer lab three days before the exam. I asked the technician, very sweetly, if I could just check my email for a second since I was getting my Olympiad results. He let me and I copied the paper to my pen drive. Unfortunately, I cut it, instead of copying it, and ma’am noticed.”
“But why cheat?”
“I don’t know. I thought I was going to fail.”
“You think that every time. And then you cry over getting a 98”
“That’s it, isn’t it? It’s just expected. ‘Please, it’s Prerna. Don’t worry. She’ll figure it out. Our Prerna is a smart girl’ Well, you know what, I don’t want to be this stereotype. This law-abiding goody two shoes. Sure, I’m smarter than most”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Okay, I’m smart. But I want to live a life outside the rules my parents have made for me.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I decided not to study for the test.”
“And then you panicked three days before the exam, because you couldn’t possibly flunk a test?” I guessed.
I laughed. “What?” said Prerna.
“What did your parents say?”
“Oh. They said that they didn’t expect this of me. They are going to start tuitions. I’m going to ruin my life and shatter their dreams if I continue like this.”
“Because you cheated once? Your parents are hilarious” I broke out into laughter.
Prerna stared at me for two seconds. She started laughing too.
“They are quite stupid. As if anyone cares that a random 15-year-old in Hyderabad cheated in a unit test.”
We laughed some more about how insignificant we were. When we finally stopped laughing, Prerna said “I don’t regret it you know. I think now I have a story to tell my grandchildren. Your ammamma! Oh she was a riot!”
The prospect of Prerna’s grandchildren almost sent me into fits, but I didn’t laugh. She seemed serious. “I don’t think you should. Live life, ey?”
“So which test are you cheating on next? Chits? Copying? Graffiti in the bathroom?”
It's been almost two years since we went to our beloved ML Jaisimha Cricket Academy which has been the source of much learning and fun for the past decade and more. Weekends were about going to the academy, meeting Baig sir and picking his brains about cricket and coaching, helping any kid who wanted some help and mostly staying in touch with my favorite game. Bowling a few overs and getting the better of some young batsmen gave me great kicks.
|Me, Baig sir and Prakash|
Then came the pandemic and in January or February of 2020 the academy was closed during the lockdown and we never went back again. Baig sir fell seriously ill in between and was mainly confined to his house. Life has been going here and there - something was missing and that was when I thought we should get back to playing.
I called Prakash and asked if he wanted to come this Sunday - just a few of us to get the limbs moving. He was game and he asked Bhupinder. I called my old buddy Ramaraju and we were four of us at least. We were to meet at 630.
At 6 Prakash called me and asked if he should get Baig sir over. I said that would be great - he would so love being around the cricket nets - but was his family OK with it? Prakash said yes, they were and he would bring sir over by 730.
|Ramaraju (in red standing apart), Anu (next to him), Abdulla (kneeling, in yellow), Bhupinder (in blue stripes), Om (kneeling) surrounding Baig sir|
Word seemed to have spread because by the time we went there was a big crowd of Baig sir's coachees - Anu, Pande, Abdulla, Om, Bhupinder, Tarun - and it was heartwarming to see the affection they all felt for him. I met him and asked him how he was doing. He said he was doing good but what about cricket he asked. We laughed. I told him I now know him for 40 years - I had met him in 1982! I asked who would win today's match and he said - England (and so it did).
Everyone took pictures with him and he sportingly obliged despite his frail condition - a legend that he is. 'You realise that as you grow older your body cannot take its own weight,' he whispered to me. Almost philosophical. When I bowled a few deliveries and came he smiled in his usual manner and said - still good huh Hari. 'I am putting it on the spot sir,' said I. Not just that said he, you were trying variations. Now how did he spot that!
Arre this boy's foot is getting in his follow through he lamented when he saw one kid locking his foot in his follow through. Exactly what he had corrected me and made me a better bowler those 40 years ago at school. My heart went out for him. He was not strong enough else he would have dragged that boy and got him to correct it immediately.
A while later we told him we should not push it - first day out for him. Next week we can push it longer depending on how he fares today. And for the first time he listened to us - we had become the ones to tell him.
|The lot - they just came out of nowhere|
Once again a lesson to learn from Baig sir - when you love someone or something everything else falls off. Just being there at the nets he forgot all his pains, his illness and just became his old self. All we need is to love like that - like Baig sir loves cricket. If we can love anything like that, we are blessed. It is a life worth living.