Sunday, 28 June 2015

'Dalit' sir and his big 'small'world

You will be wondering about my mental stability for calling somebody a 'Dalit' sir at the time of technological brilliance and advancement. Back on1955 people of a particular village in Kerala used to call a teacher the same name as a part of religion made barriers and caste biases, which was the practice across India. This real life story has actually written by my father(Thamarakulam Ravi) during his college days and won the 'Best short story' award on 1973, now recreated by me. I tried my level best not to make the story banal. My father hails from a small picturesque scenic village called Thamarakulam in Kerala which I was referring to.

1955, A time where India as a country was hovering with poverty, religious biases, economical catastrophe and intellectual depletion, but patriotism at its very best. Our country and people has shown exceptional courage and grit to come out of all post independence effects but not from the caste bane. Thamarakulam was the perfect example of a village with scenic locations,greenery,water falls and innocent people who were religious. The nearest city was Kollam and it was considered as the main business center buzzing with activities.

Origin of the name 'Dalit' Sir

Dalit sir was a primary school teacher in this village with an exceptional acumen and superior intelligent quotient. He belonged to a Dalit caste called 'Parayans' as widely known in Kerala. All the lower caste people  in Kerala had gone through all type of mental and psychological trauma from the higher caste. Dalits were primarily used for all type of labor work of high caste people and they were not even allowed to visit temples. They were the condemned class and there was no respect shown. There was a time where they were not allowed to come face to face with a high cast fellow. Such was our caste partitions which divided our society thereby, exposed people to 'religion active' toxic waste. My Dad was a pupil in the same primary school. Dalit sir toiled  through out his entire childhood financially. But his parents supported him to get higher education since he was very good at studies. He was the first person in his entire caste to clear Class X with distinction in spite of all types of hurdles created by society, caste and poverty. He had shown tremendous will power to weed out all the problems and completed his degree from City college. He decided to work for the upliftment of Dalits and wanted to pull them out of their miseries, through education. He joined as a primary school teacher even though he had better career opportunities.

The villagers started calling him Dalit sir because of the rarity of the incident of a lower caste person becoming a teacher. He never objected for the same. He taught many students and imparted them with knowledge. His way of teaching was different, earning the respect of entire village. The pupils also started calling him the same name and after some years, he became an important and respectable person in the village but with the name 'Dalit Sir'!!! Is it irony or respect? Let the villagers decide!!! Dalit sir himself forgotten his actual name in due course of time!!!

Birthday and Social activities

Dalit sir was a tall person but thin, looked flimsy but energetic. He was bald with a square type eye gear, with an affinity to wear white color dresses. Many of the people who belonged to higher caste were not able to digest the fact that a dalit was teaching their kids. But Dalit sir slowly earned respect of all class of people over a period of time with his comprehension, brilliant expounding and warm-heartedness. He celebrated all his birthdays along with underprivileged dalit kids. He brought them chocolates wrapped in flashy colored papers. These types of chocolates were considered rare and precious those days with kids flocked to get a taste of the same. He used to go to Kollam to purchase these, only to see joy and happiness in the eyes of these innocent kids. He was the center figure for all type of social activities. Apart from social and upliftment activities he found time to study new teaching techniques and etiquette.
Dalit sir used to wear a white colour dhoti which covered, his short pant like under garment, where he used to keep his wallet thereby ensuring the safety of his money.

Brahmin hotel incident

Dalit sir was always happy with his life and there was no regrets for him with lifestyle or situation. He had only one ultimate wish to be fulfilled. There was a Brahmin hotel situated at Kollam. The hotel was famous for its vegetarian dishes and the ambiance. He had seen the hotel during his visit to Kollam. The surprising factor for him was the Brahmin management of the hotel, who were  not reluctant to cater delicacies to people irrespective of religion, with all types of people eating under the same roof. This was very appealing to him because of the caste biases in his village. He always thrived to have a Masala dosa from the hotel but couldn't able to fulfill this wish because of  the shortage of time and  distance from his village.

He finally retired from the school after a remarkable period of teaching excellence and social activities. He received a healthy sum of money after his retirement. He finally decided to visit Brahmin hotel to fulfill his wish on a Friday. There was a flux  of excitement and joy in his heart. The only way of transport to Kollam was steam locomotive (Train)which ran on Coal. He got up early in the morning and was ready for the journey in a flash of time and worn his favorite white shirt and  dhoti. This steam train was famous for contorting the most handsome guys and beautiful girls with its vicious black smoke bellowing out of its mouth. People looked in black irrespective of their color at the end of the journey, which temporarily removed the caste biases!!

The black smoke successfully created shades in the White dress of Dalit sir along with a superb black hair which was actually, partly white. Dalit sir used his small hair comb to comb the coal out of his hair with little success but continued his walk towards the Brahmin hotel. The sight of Brahmin hotel created a spiritual happiness in him. He ordered for Masala Dosa and Coffee. The Masala Dosa was served to him in a leafy plate along with curries made out of coconut. The taste was divine and the satisfaction was amazing. Dalit sir experienced delight which was euphoric and felt a completeness in his life. His face was lively and endured a reduction in age.

The waiter gave the bill and he stood up to take the money which was kept in the pocket of  his under garment. His hand had gone to the pocket but it has not stopped a bit instead gone deep towards his thighs. Dalit sir realized with a shock that his pocket had been cut out of his undergarment along with the wallet and his life time earnings by some one during his journey. His mind was unable to accept the fact that he was in distress. The hand inserted towards the pocket was reluctant to come out and it never came out. He had a deep breath and his heart suddenly stopped, failing the weak and thin body, with his hand in the pocket. The soul of that innocent human being went outside the body with an unparalleled  agony and despair, who fought through difficult muddles, but couldn't able to complete a simple wish. I am still wondering about the caste of the person pick pocketed Dalit sir!!

We can find people like Dalit sir among us, who struggle in their life to come up from caste biases. Our society was not able to accept Dalit sir with his actual name even though his intelligence level was exceptional. Brahmin hotels showcase the possibility of religious harmony, if the society insists and highlights the importance of a  'one religion' society called 'humans' for betterment of economical status. His story clearly underlines the fact that even though you are educated the caste and religion biases will create the necessary void between the people to a considerable amount.

The emotional duality is that small happiness always drives you rather than big achievements. Though you are successful person, you feel on top of the world, once you are able to accomplish your small desires effectively. It can really bring happiness to our big 'small' world.

Please note that I am not downplaying or projecting any caste or thoughts through my blog but simply trying to convey a message to all of you that "Caste, religion and money shouldn't be the yardsticks to codify an individual, but humanity and compassion is"

Thank you Dad for narrating this short story and your thought process back in 1973 through Dalit Sir!!!!


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Childhood sweet 'blemishes' and "Me"(Part 1)

Childhood-Golden era of every ones life ,which comes to us with out our knowledge and sway away from us with out our permission. The stage of life which gifts us sweet blemishes with out inviting the ire of society and will remain as the monument of happiness loaded with memories. I think childhood is unique for an individual which will be treasured  till their last breath. Curbing and suppressing any child's childhood with, never ending modern era demands can be the biggest crime a parent can induce to an innocent kid.
I am sharing my experiences during my child hood days with all of you and I am sure that you will also have many unique  things to share about your childhood which can be shared in this platform. My parents are teachers with an impeccable academic record and they allowed me to take decisions myself from the very earlier stage thereby generating lot of self confidence in me. My mom, was my real motivator who acted as a cliff against all my problems and showed me the way to pave road through difficulties. On other hand, Dad worked relentlessly against social discrimination and religious biases thereby dedicated a monster sum of time for society and minuscule time with us. But Mom stood like a rock for the family and contributed to my growth almost single-handedly. We were going through a rough patch during my child hood days financially, but I am still surprised about my Mom's management skills to get me good education and life. She never lived for herself but only for me and my happiness. She has come for all my school functions and meetings and used to wear a low quality scandal (Paragon rubber scandals) for years together but never delayed my fees!! Ornaments and new clothes were allergic to my mom, but always bought me new clothes and footwear.

Dad's VIJAY SUPER Scooter

Dad owned a 1982 model VIJAY SUPER Scooter at that time which was the BMW of our family. The front view of the scooter reminded me of a demon with  a tongue projected out of his mouth. This scooter was actually a demon with a starting problem and many issues unknown to the company itself. We used to go for outing in this scooter whenever Dad was free. The maximum problem-free distance for this vehicle was 20 km and the remaining distance used to test our will Power and patience. Dad was our gladiator for successful outings and I still remember his winning smile after all the tiring and horrendous outings. Kerala road resembled a ploughed farm land during those days and the scooter's side flap used to flung to some distance whenever we hit a road gutter. There were no safety for bystanders, who were in the path of this demon. But this demon helped me to explore my state with so many places, were we stayed overnight because of scooter repair. But, Ah!!that was one nostalgic memory with this so called "VIJAY SUPER" scooter.

Mom and Ground nuts

Fried ground nuts are my favorite choice, anytime, anywhere!!The rupee value was more those days and it always affected middle class as usual. Mom has to travel at least 3 KMs from Pandalam Junction to my home and an auto rickshaw is a must, since there were no buses plying near to my home from there. She preferred to walk with sun squeezing out her energy in no time so that she can save the money for buying ground nuts for me. As soon as I was back from school, fried ground nuts were ready for my happiness, but  unware of the sacrifice of my mother. This was routine and ground nuts bring tears to my eyes now also ,but reminds of mother's unconditional love..

CAT POLICE (Cop cat)story and my friends

I studied in NSS English medium school till 7th standard. Our lunch break was 1hr  during that time, me and my friends used to Chit chat. One day I have read the story of a cat, who was a cop in some kid's magazine. The story was short and showcased the ability of this cat to solve cases at real quick time. I started narrating the same story to my friends in which, Jyothi Karnavar and Prasanth were the main listeners along with others. The story was completed in the magazine and everyday I used to narrate different stories about this Cat police as per my whims and fancies. I got a considerable amount of listeners in a short period of time. I wanted to finish this Cop cat story because of scarcity of  stories. I told everyone that this Cop cat is dead during his investigation, to finish this story telling. But my friends were disappointed on his death and told me " Just think again, probably he is not dead ". The next day everyone assembled with me during lunch hour and I have told them that " The bullet from the shot gun of cow (He was the villain) hit Cop cat associate, a rat and not him. He survived and undergoing treatment in hospital. He will recover in one week's time ". I got relieved for one week by my friends,by that time I found out new story threads and continued with my story narration. During my school days, I killed this Cat many times, but on request of my friends he always came back to life, like James Bond to continue his adventurous spy journey. This story started at Class 2 and ended by Class 5 . My friend Prasanth was with us on during Class 2 ( shifted to a new school),but missed me till now only because of this story as per his testimonial recently, after 25 years!! The cow was the villain in almost all these stories because of her built and appearance like earlier villains in our movies. I laugh to the core whenever there is a face off with Cat and cow till now!!!

High school, Drama and Cricket

I finished my high school at St.Pauls H S,Nariyapuram and this time was blessed with so many friends and fun. Me and my friends planned for a drama act during our school anniversary. My friends were Mathews, Unniraja, Nihas pasha for the same but we were never prepared with a story, since all of us were busy playing cricket during drama practice hours. I was the director and Mathews, scriptwriter. I finally decided to use a story which narrates about a family. The family consists of a father and 3 children out of which 2 children were inclined towards cricket and Drama,whereas the younger one was mentally retarded. Every one in the family wanted the death of
younger one for larger chunk of family property. The father won a lottery and all the family members came together to get a share of the same. They served poison to father but accidentally consumed by the mentally retarded younger one leading to his death. Father's lottery story was false and his propaganda was to unite the family, which misfired. Mathews was the elder son (drama affinity),me the second( cricket affinity) and Nihas the mentally retarded younger one. Almost every dialogues were anticipated since we were under prepared. Nihas got the best actor award and the drama bagged second price for our surprise!! I have learned that if you enjoy as a team while working the results will be amazing!!!

The district level drama competition was screwed up royally and it was very funny. Our drama was about King Ashoka and Kalinga war. I will explain you the scene which turned as a disaster to us.The first scene displayed the wrath of King Ashoka on Kalinga. But after seeing the war destruction in Kalinga, he sat near a dead body and started crying thinking about his misdeeds. The next scene was the King's palace where he was supposed to express his anguish over the war. We waited for a long time with make up for our turn earlier and when our drama started, we were understandably tired. As I told you above, the King started crying near to the dead body and the scene ended. But because of tirelessness, the person who acted as dead body slept off in the floor unaware of the scene!!!! We were not having any idea about this!! Once the curtain was down the stage was dark and we arranged the palace for next scene, in darkness. There comes the twist!! As soon as the curtain raised the audience had seen the palace with the king on his throne and the earlier dead body still on the center with a white cloth covering from toe to head. The dead body got up suddenly because of the light and ran away along with the cloth covered in his body from the scene. The expressions on the faces of King Ashoka and his experts(including me) were epic!! It was followed with a laugh riot from the audience and the drama was doomed !!!

Cricket was our passion those days and used to be die hard fans of Sachin Tendulkar. There was a vacant farm land near to my home which we considered as our "Lord's cricket ground". Our cricket bat were made of coconut palm leaf. Rubber balls were extensively used with hardly 8 overs/team to play and more than 30 people to accommodate. Some times balls flied  in to near by houses, vegetable gardens, tapioca plantations etc damaging their windows, roof tiles and crops. Balls gone in to houses never came back. The balls gone to plantations had to be sneaked back and this was similar to an army operation!! Kudos to many of my friends who were instrumental to get the ball back risking their lives!!!! This sneak 'ball' operations had seen the death of many vegetables and plantations, with the ire of the owners extending to our families. Complaints from different people used to pile up by end of every day. These type of activities held me with my friends for a long time and our friend ship prospered to its depth.

I will share many of my other child hood blemishes with you in my next blog..