Wednesday, November 19, 2008


But fate had something else in store. After completing my 9th Std. we got transferred from Mumbai to Gujarat. Crucial board years that followed restrained me from going back to Kerala in vacations. I used to send Appu new year cards without fail. Appu would go all around Krishnapuram showing my card to everyone concerned with an air of pride about him. And here I was, as an engineer coming back after 7 years to visit Krishnapuram on New Year’s eve with a card for Appu firmly clutched in my hand.

The cart shook a little and came to an abrupt stop. “Saar! Krishnapuram Ethi (Krishnapuram has come)”. I alighted and after paying off Vasu headed for our ancestral home. I was overwhelmed by the pompous reception I received from my cousins and other relatives. Delicious lunch was lined up for me. Relatives squared up to have a glimpse of me, to hear about everyone back home.
By evening my arrival phenomenon seemed to fade out and I slipped out of the house under the pretext of taking a bath. I walked along the mud road, had a view of the overflowing river and the temple ruins, and took a shortcut along the fields to Appu’s house. I walked straight into the backyard of Appu’s house, my eyes searching for him. There he was… dearest friend Appu, but not in his usual bubbly self overflowing with enthusiasm.

He was eerily silent, lying still inside a large mound of mud with a few flowers by where his head was supposed to be. My dearest friend Appu, buried there. My feet suddenly gave away and I embraced the mound, letting out a loud wail, tears swelling in my eyes. The news of his death last year, when I was in my final year of engineering, had come as a big shock and hit me hard.
Our very own Bharatapuzha river had swept him along on one of his bathing sprees, taking Appu with her on the embarkment of an eternal journey.
I could not stop crying for the months to follow at the thought of loosing my dearest friend. But gradually, I began to feel that an angel form heaven was always by my side, ushering me to go and get everything under the sky with that usual stammered call of his, “Ssss…..andu, Go, Get it !!”. I placed the new year card by his side, looked up towards the sky, as I knew that Appu was up there, and whispered to the winds, “HAPPY NEW YEAR,APPU. I REALLY MISS U DA!!”
The setting sun was painting the sky with a flourish of gold and red. I had a strong feeling that Appu was welcoming me back to Krishnapuram. I listened to the symphony of the water lapping against the hull of the boat. Like a miser, I clung desperately to the moment. It was late into the night when I got back home, blew out the hurricane lantern and surrendered to the bed.

The End.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Appukuttan or Appu, as he was more popularly known, was 10 years older than me but behaved as if he were a 6-7 year old. Since my primary school days he was my soulmate during the summer vacations, remaining with me like a shadow for these 2 months every year. It took me some maturity to learn the fact that Appu was not normal, that he was mentally retarded. But that did not deter me at all. Our bond grew stronger and stronger and stronger with every passing year. I had become used to that familiar stammered call of “Sssss…anndu” ( as Sandu was what he lovingly called me). Tucking up his lungi every now and then was his hallmark. His description is incomplete without the mention of the heavy Gandhian glass he wore. A constant source of worry for his father, a new pair of glasses would not survive more than a week. His father’s novel idea of tying a string around his neck attached to the glasses to prevent them from falling down wasn’t much of a help either. Yes, it did bring some improvement in the survival time of the glasses. Appu was a staunch believer of cleanliness. Just a speck of dust on his glasses, and he would give them a nice wipe with his lungi. In this way he ended cleaning up his glasses nearly 35-40 times a day. So thorough was the wipe he gave them that many a time while cleaning the glasses, the glasses would succeed in finding their way out of the frame that seemed to imprison them.

The next moment I realized that I was laughing my heart out and Vasu, the cart owner was giving me an amusing look. “Saar! Bet you just saw a very nice dream, didn’t you?”. “ No Vasu” , I replied, “Just remembered my good old Krishnapuram days. Those 2 month summer vacations every year when this place was my heavenly abode. By the way, anything new in Krishnapuram? What about the Bhagawathi temple?”. Vasu answered in a sad tone, “That temple’s now in ruins saar. After Unni Namboothiri’s untimely demise 5 years back, the temple has had no caretaker. Even the suspension bridge to the temple is in a very bad state. Every year the politicians pledge to repair the whole thing but do a disappearing act after the elections. Even the public is not interested saar. The world is definitely going to end soon, with the people having no time to spare for their creator. Oh God!! Please forgive. Shiva, Shiva.”

The cart was speeding its way through the jungle. I felt sorry for the state of the temple. The good old Bhagawathi temple on the other side of the swaying suspension bridge, poised on top of a pinnacle like hillock that seemed to soar out of the swirling waters. We would sit there for hours over viewing the beauties of nature. I used to luxuriate there in the gentle pace of unhurried activity engulfed in an enlightening divine feeling. Here, overlooking the land which celebrates the bounty of nature with a riot of vegetation, I relaxed and contemplated the seconds as they ticked by. Sailing with Appu across the Bharatapuzha river which kissed Krishnapuram was like drifting into a mysterious world untouched by time. Our days used to start with a bath in the river, often accompanied by my father. Ever heard of someone taking a tumbler along to the river for a bath? That was me, as I didn’t know to swim and neither did Appu. But that did not deter us from going to the river for a bath. We would set about with a professional swimmer like stature. Villagers would enquire where the Siamese twins (villagers gave us this name) were heading for and Appu would give them a prompt reply, “To the river to have a bath. Ssss…andu is too scared to go all alone you see. Moreover he doesn’t know swimming as well.” As if he himself was a born swimmer. The villagers would giggle at his reply and I too couldn’t help giving a faint smile. Once near the river bank we would just go knee deep into the waters as we knew our limitations and then use to exchange turns to use the tumbler, with the river serving as a bucket for us. Appu would often treat me with a soda at Renjith’s store where his father had opened him an account in his name. Appu was a complete movie buff. Sometimes even I would doubt on his mental status when I would hear him delivering dialogues from each and every movie he had seen till date. Appu was my soulmate and I would confide in him everything. He would be really concerned to hear my problems. No one could break our friendship; no one could take us apart.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


“All passengers to Krishnapuram to alight here!!” , shouted the bus conductor at the top of his voice. Half-drowsy I strutted about my way to exit and alighted down to confront the mild welcoming morning breeze. This along with the excitement of getting back to Krishnapuram, my native place, after a gap of 7 years was pumping adrenaline down my viens. “Namaskaram……Saar!!”, saluted a rather stout looking, dark, lungi clad man heading straight towards me. “Saar…Vandi (Malayalam for vehicle)” , barely had he uttered these words that he had snatched my baggages from my hand and was directing me towards his bullock cart. I followed him blindly like a man in spell. Krishnapuram, a sleepy village in Kerala, was a good 30 kms away from this city and one had to take a path through the forest to reach there. Once I got seated comfortably (not on par with the comfort of motor vehicles), Vasu, the cart owner, gently tapped his buffaloes and we were on our way. The morning breeze along with Vasu’s humming of an old Malayalam song was creating just the right atmosphere for me to relax.

My first glimpse of what lay ahead was when, on the outskirts of the town, a swarm of butterflies fluttered across the road to create everchanging patterns of rippling colours. A dramatic welcome like that is a hard act to follow, but Krishnapuram did not disappoint. The jungle was filled with a deafening void and only the occasional twitter of a bird nibbled at its fringes. As I sliced through this quiet on the cart I started to understand the potency of silence; it is the code of the wild, the invisible fabric behind which the predator hunted and the prey hid. Yes…….this was Krishnapuram; my soul, my great escapades after a torrid year of academics in the concrete jungle of Mumbai, year after year after year. How I simply loved to reach here everytime in my vacations, to run along the river banks that skirts this lovely village chasing a host of colourful birds with my dearest friend Appu. Appu……….my fellow adventurer, a total freak.

To be continued...