Monday, December 26, 2005

Who is Anu?!
To answer the question, I have to go 18 years down the memory lane. A late summer morning, we had all assembled for our first class in the 2nd grade (yeah, that long back! In fact, if I put in a little more effort, I can come up with the exact date and time, not that it would matter. But my brain contains a huge number of such absolutely useless trivia which I love showing off). Our teacher walks in with this prettily cute girl in tow. And you guessed it right, she was Anu.

Ok now, what about her?!
In normal cirumstances, it would have meant nothing to me, atleast not then, not at that age. But wait, am not yet done giving her introduction. She was the daughter of a new headmaster in our school. Mr. Wilson, with his daughter and the rest of his family had relocated to our town from someplace in Kerala. I hated her almost immediately from the time I saw her. And no, those lovely curls in her hair did nothing to soften my hate for her. To add insult to injury, I, being the class leader, was asked to introduce myself to her first. I faked a smile, as I outwardly did through all the years that I knew her. Inside, I was seething.

But why?!
The reasons were simple. Till she arrived on the scene, I was the undisputed king in the class, in academics that is. Now I sensed that I had serious competition. Before, I had to just attend exams to emerge as a topper, but now I had to slog and work real hard to earn my crown. And , being the daughter of a member of the staff made it all the more simpler for her. She had it all laid out in front of her, like a grand feast for a princess. Classmates would just love talking to her all the time. Her charm worked full time. Those curls and the 1000-watt smile certainly were accomplices in her devious conspiracy to steal the thunder from me. I seemed to be the only person in the class able to maintain my sanity and not fall to her influence. I struggled but kept my lead, most of the time, in the tests and the exams. A lot of sweat went in, but atleast it was worth every single salty drop of it.

So were you simply panicking in the first instance?!
Hell no! Didn't I provide you with enough clues in the previous answer to show that I hated her for more reasons than just being a strong competition? Ok, this incident should definitely turn you around to my side.

During those days, I was a passionate and prolific writer. I wrote short stories, stories that just about covered a full length page and with ideas culled from my meagre experience in the big bad world supplemented by generous readings of children's books like Chandamaama, Champak and Misha. I loved calling them my original masterpieces and believe me they were. And I call myself prolific because at one time, I had a collection of 50 such gems written in the space of 2-3 months. I wrote during classes, during breaks, at home (in lieu of my evening's dose of playing cricket) and at places I'd rather not mention. Surprisingly( to me), the few people who read these stories ever called them anything more than "good". I supposed then that they were just not candid in expressing their admiration because they didn't want me to take it to my head and see the world losing a prodigy. My opinion about them hasn't changed drastically now. Just that the bitterness at their action, or rather the lack of it, has mellowed. I understand their actions better and appreciate them for what they did.

Back to the story from the unintended digression, Miss Anu "ever so prim n proper" Wilson had to hear from someone that I had the gift for writing stories and wished to see one of them. She read one and the next thing I know, she hands me a story written by her and asks for my expert opinion (I somehow had a feeling she was being sarcastic, but never got concrete evidence to prove it though). It was a nice little fable with a moral at the end to boot. But I thought, loudly enough, that it was pretty ordinary. But surprise! surprise!, it finds a following among fellow classmates. They just cant get enough of her stories. Can you imagine my situation?! I try my best to show them what real writing is all about and they fall for a sweet as a candy story from an equally sweet (not in my opinion!) but novice (thats more like it!) writer!!

And the worst insult of all, she towers over my 4 feet odd frame by atleast a third of a foot. I will leave it at that.

Take your yammering elsewhere, will you?!
Oh relax, am coming to an end soon. I had to endure her for 5 long years during which I tried my best not to let my emotions come out in the open. Finally, at the end of my 7th grade, I had to leave the school for good. I would continue my next level classes in a different school. After the final exams, I bid farewell to my classmates. Our class teacher handed us each a copy of the school year book. I had contributed a poem (my first ever!) to the book. So the first thing I did, once back home, was to eagerly browse through the book to check if my poem was indeed published. I was devastated when I reached the last page not finding my poem printed anywhere. I had of course noticed that Anu had contributed something which was published, not surprising since she was in the editorial team. So I thumbed through to the page where Miss Anu had something, more significant than what I had, to say. It was a piece on the experience of her first day at our school. "How very pathetic!", I thought. It began "One misty morning in Bangalore, I enter the class of 2nd standard. I was nervous and shy, not knowing anyone in the class. The teacher introduced me to the class and asked me to sit down next to the class leader. He was cute and handsome and made me feel comfortable almost immediately...."


An Obituary

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The brave die never, though they sleep in dust:
Their courage nerves a thousand living men.
~Minot J. Savage

These words appears no more apt than today as I stand here mourning the death of a dear departed friend. Our acquaintance goes back more than 2 years when I first met him while travelling towards the Whitefield IT corridor. He lay there, as he did all through his eventful life, and made an immediate impact on me. My body reverberated from the impact and I knew I had met someone significant.

As time progressed, I noticed that I was not the only one whose life was changed by this noble being. Millions of others had a similar experience with him. That he was the best in business was a forgone conclusion. He did what was expected of him in a manner which evoked both awe and reverence. Thousands of his brethren were inspired by his deeds and the fame which followed. But they say fame inevitably invites problems. Our friend and his kind were brutally massacred and levelled to the ground on an unforgettable cold day this December by over-eager civil servants. This misdeed was condemned by the millions of daily commuters to the Whitefield IT corridor, for our friend gave them everything they ever wanted - joy, pain and more importantly, a lesson that keeping an eye on the path of life is the best way to avert regrets later. To them, he was the pillar of reliability, one they could rely on to be where he always was found, any day or any season.

To repeat a cliché, pictures speak better than thousand words. You can see him here. (picture courtesy)

He may have died a valorous death, but his soul lives on, in the millions of his followers who will, no doubt, crop up all over bangalore soon and strive to perpetuate his legacy. As Minot says, he has not died, he just sleeps in his dust.


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