Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CM's coming

This post is a chapter from a book i hope and dream to finish. I have changed it a little to suit the blog readers. Please do let me know of your thoughts.

My village Bagamandala was already abuzz with the news of CM visiting the village to offer prayers at a temple in the village. It was a first for the small sleepy village in the far end of Coorg district. I always thought I was the only famous person to have visited the village, but now I had competition from the Chief Minister.
Being a guy from the capital city
Bangalore, I didn't understand the genuine festive spirit of the people around me looking forward to meet the CM. The whole evening was spent with people talking about the CM's visit and their own theories of what it meant to this small remote village.
The talks continued in every house, and my house was no different. At the dinner, grand dad, the President of temple committee and one of the head of the village couldn't control himself from smiling throughout. Luckily for him he had saved up a lot by not smiling for years. Grand mom and I, exchanged glances during dinner, both comparing the stern cold face of grand dad to now his child like smile with certain warmth to it.

I woke up to sounds of cooking in the kitchen, and I knew it was already eight in the morning. I couldn't hear the voices of the people on the road, but I could feel the excitement of their preparation flowing in the air. I got up from the bed, washed my face and walked towards the veranda. As I walked closer, I heard loud voices of grand dad and some other people who had gathered in the veranda. I peeped through a window to see my grand dad sitting with some of the important people of the village. They looked to be planning the grand gala for the CM's visit. I decided against walking out to the veranda, when I saw the stern expression back on my grand dad's face. He looked like a Major planning his attack on the enemy with his faithful few. I changed my direction to the kitchen to find out what grand mom had planned for breakfast and what it actually turned out to.

After eating a weird dish whose name was impossible to pronounce, I walked out with the confidence that now I could eat anything in this world.
I stepped out of the house to take a walk around the village, and with a hope that I digest the cement that I was treated to by my grand mom.
I always liked to walk around the village, everyone recognized me, and they spoke with respect around me. I was a hero to some of them, and a well versed scholar to most. Their innocent child like concentration, when I spoke of computers, or mobiles or even a simple toaster had locked up my sarcastic side.
I reached the centre of the village, stood there surprised to see efforts of putting up a stage in full swing.
I turned towards the only main road, actually the only road that ran through the village, I walked a little ahead to meet excited kids running shouting "Road roller". A little ahead I walked to see the road being tarred by the authorities who had come down from the district headquarters Madikeri.
Lot of people had gathered around the road roller, to most of them it was a brand new experience of being around the machine.

Prakasha the man Friday of my grand dad had his hands full trying to control the kids from running on the newly laid tar.
On spotting me, he left everything and immediately ran up to me. He greeted me with so much respect, that it was enough to keep my ego happy for the rest of my life.
I greeted back and asked looking at the newly laid tar
"When is the function?"
He replied, surprise in his voice, at my question
"Sir. Tomorrow morning
ten o'clock."
I nodded and stood there deciding to walk back to the house. The excitement around me was too much for me to comprehend.
I went back home, and parked myself in the room the whole day. The whole day was spent trying to write my book. Electricity as usual played the elusive villain, staying for a few minutes, and just when I think of recharging the laptop or I pod, go missing for few hours.

Grand mom has got used to power cuts and has taken to singing folk songs that talk about a wife taking food to her husband working in the field, or songs that glorify the three hundred thousand Gods we pray to. Initially I hated them, but after spending a month I have grown immune to them.

The day arrived, when the higher mortals thought of paying a visit to the lesser ones, who entrusted them with unlimited power. Grand mom woke me up early in the morning urging me to get ready for the big event. She pulled my warm blanket, speaking aloud
"Wake up! Grand pa is already dressed. Get ready, the function will start in a couple of hours."
I sat up on my bed, rubbed my eyes and replied
"It’s not like Julia Roberts is coming to village."
Grand mom stopped at the door, turned around and asked me with a strong voice
"Julia who? Who is that Christian girl? Are you in love with her? Please don't tell me you are planning to marry a Christian girl?"
I thank God she stopped to take a breathe. There was an unspoken law in the house. I was supposed to only speak to Hindu girls and most preferably Brahmin girl. Thinking off or even mentioning a Christian girl's name would invoke the wrath of the three hundred thousand Gods. Not mention the temple priest and all of my distant relatives, whose existence I would know only when I meet them at my wedding.
"No. She is an actress I like. Now what special dish have you prepared for breakfast?" I asked with a giggle hoping she would change the topic.
She still had the expression patented by my grand dad. She relaxed only a bit as she spoke
"Don't laugh. I have made some special vegetable dosa for you."
Before I could reply, she continued
"You don't have to start liking cinema heroines; I will find you a nice girl within our family. You wait a few months."
I walked out of the room shouting
"I am not falling into a marriage talk with you."

I sat in the front row with Prakasha, who had reserved a seat for me. Grand dad sat on the dais with a few important people of the village. I was glad there was a lot of commotion around and nobody heard my stomach make scary noises, clearly in protest of the special vegetable dosa.
Everyone from the village was gathered under the pandal. Dressed in their best and neatly combed hair, everyone stood there with dream to talk to the Chief Minister.

Prakaska held a stick in his hand, with which he tried to control the kids running around. He like everyone had one of his eye fixed on the main road. The muddy road was now decorated enough to look like bride ready to get married. Everyone looked to get impatient with each passing minute.
Grand pa finished his speech and so did a few other people. Each one was greeted with forced claps and the same interest one has sitting in a college lecture.

Suddenly there was some kind of movement on the stage, a couple of new faces entered the stage and they looked to be having a word with the district collector. The district collector made his way to the mike. Seeing this people got enthusiastic sensing the arrival of the Chief Minister.
The collector stood in front of the mike, cleared his throat, which was followed by a routine i don't understand much "testing, mike testing."
He finally spoke
"With a lot of grief I say this. Due to heavy floods in the coastal regions of the state. The Chief Minister has cancelled his visit to the Bagamandala, and has decided to visit the coastal regions."
The sighs around me were loud enough to be heard in the entire district.
Some of them on the dais were almost in tears, one of the wooden pillar holding up the pandal suddenly collapsed, signifying the collapse of the hopes and dreams of the villagers.
Dejected people left the arena. The floods that hit the coastal region had also washed away the villagers two minutes of spotlight, their dream of rubbing shoulder with the elite.
I turned to Prakasha and couldn't control my smile when muttered
"Why can't a flood hit Bagamandala. At least then the CM would come."


Nethra A said...

It was nice. :)

Susan Deborah said...

What a lovely blog you have here. It seems as if one is entering into a surreal reality.

Keep writing.



grace said...

I loved reading this piece. Not only I enjoyed the simplicity and precision of your expressions but could also picture the events.
Really really well written!The thought in itself was put across so beautifully and realistically. For people who themselves believe that they are unimportant if not non-existent,such a big event is of unimaginable significance to them. They almost pin their hopes of salvation on the occurrence of one such event. And for the more commonly found breed of people, who think that they are someone its just another visit or another regular thing to do or happen.
Who else is sensitive to these intricacies of the human psyche but the sensitive himself.
Would love to read more of your writings.

Harsha Chittar said...

@Nethra: Thank you, hope u keep visiting.
@Susan: Welcome to the blog, hope you keep visiting. :)
@grace: Thank you very much, your words will go a long way in helping me write more.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

I felt as though I was there in the village, waiting anxiously for the CM to visit. I knew he wouldn't but I was waiting with those villagers, while you were having that conversation with Grandma abt Julia Roberts.

You have a great talent so keep working hard at it. This blog is fun and lively and packed with interesting stuff. Awesome!