Thursday, September 27, 2012

“The return of the native”

Vasu lay on his chest and tried to revise his english lessons loud in the dim light of the kerosin lamp
to brighten up his knowledge in the language as he was going to the town to join an english meadium
school.His uncle was supposed to come that night to take him to the town where he lives with his family.The smell of the specialy cooked fish cury while garnishing with curyleaves and coconut oil reached his nostrils and his mouth became watery.He stopped reading for a while and gulped the saliva. Then his mom yelled out from the kitchen”Vasu it is time for the bus to go to the bus stop and collect your uncle” and she came out with a choottu’{the end part of the dried palm leaves 
tied together like abroom or stic} lit it from the kerosin lamp and gave him.He ran down the hill swinging the choottu too and fro in a peculiar way towards Mathayi chettan’s pan shop where the buses usually stop..Mathayi chettan’s pan shop is a thatched shed under a shady tree and he usually
put a bench outside the shop for his customers and the people wating for the buses to sit.When Vasu
reached there he was about to put the the bench inside and close the shop.He asked Vasu “What brought you here at this time..? “He said uncle is coming by this buss.. and mom asked me to come
and collect him”…”That is good…long time he is not coming this side..I could hardly remember his face.”By the time the bus came and uncle stepped down,Vasu grabbed the bag from him and walked in front.He looked very weary and tired.Mathayichettan and uncle exchanged afew words and they started their way home.On the way he patted his back lovingly and asked “Vasu..are you very
good at your studies.I have made all arrangements to give you tuition for english.You have to work is not an easy job to get admission in an english medium always remember you are the only one to lookafter your mother and the younger sisters.Do you understand me.”..”Yes..”He noded his head  with a smile.Uncle grabbed the choottu from his hand and waging it..walked in front.As soon as they reached home he took off his shirt and said “..Ya..Gowry..first of all give me a little oil..and let me have abath is too hot..and I am tired.”Vasu accompanied him to the pond with the choottu .Uncle spent more than an hour ...diving  and swimming; from one end to the other; back stroke; and dipping…enjoyed himself like afish in the pond.
After that Uncle the two lttle girls and Vasu sat together for dinner.He enjoyed the food and spent more than an hour with Vasu’s mom sharing the treasured memories of their childhood and the golden days of the past.He preffered  to sleep in the verandah;enjoying the smell of the cowdung spread
floor and the cool breez e that brings the fragrance of the padd y shoot and wild flowers.Next morning
Vasu full of hopes and dreams of the promising city   started his journey by the first bus...and then
by the train.Vasu was travelling in a train for the first time and he was verymuch impressed by the arrangements of the seats berths toilets and everything in the compartment.Next evening they reached the city where they had to get down.Uncle grabbed his hand tightly  and squzeesed through the crowd and pulled him down to the platform.There was a big rush to get down as well as to get in.
The platform was very busy people running to and fro amid the piledup lugages ; passengers  and porters running to catch the train in the last moment and so on…He was in a new world of light and sound.He opened his eyes wide and looked around.Uncle pulled him out of the station.It was another
wonderland of vehicles of different size colours and shape running up and down like achain of different coloured beeds…so also the pedestrians along the footpath.Vasu enjoyed the beauty of the
streetlights glittering like a dimond necklase.Uncle stopped an auto and they  got into it.After an hour
or so they reached a pocket road.It was very narrow…dirty…on either side there were old and dialapilated line houses.The people there he saw ; was not welldressed as he saw in the city.Later on
he came to know that it was the mill’s colony where uncle and aunty used to work.Aunty was a very pious and calm lady; without grumbling does all the work …cooking ,wahsing ,moping the floor and so on.The house was a very small one with ,two rooms and a corridor for the kitchen .As soon as they reached home aunty
came to him,hold his hand …patted on his back lovingly and asked in a different language ‘weather he had a pleasant journey’”.Uncle translated it to him .He noded his head smilingly.Uncle asked Vasu to have a bath first and he was led to the bathroom.The bath room was too small that one has to move
to the corner to close the door.There were two buckets full of water,…and he almost finished it.When he came out uncle went in and came out whispering something to aunty very apologeticall and aunty
brought him half a bucket of water from the kitchen.After dinner uncle led him to the other room to sleep and he introduced him to his children.When uncle got out of the room the boys started murmuring and gigling and he gussed that they were teasing him.The room was so small for the four children to sleep and they were stuffed like sardines.After sometime electricity failed ;the room became
too hot as a furnace .Vasu could’nt sleep and he got up…looked around and saw the small window closed.He opened it.As soon as he opened it the foul smell of the drain and a fleet of mosquitos rushed in.From the next room aunty yelled out”God’s sake please close the window”.While he was closing the window
the boys giggled again.Next morning uncle took him to the tutionmaster.On the way he said”…look
Vasu… water is so precious.We get water only in the morning…by 6’o clock hardly for an hour.
By that time we have to collect it and store for our use in the kitchen and bathroom till nextmorning So we have to be very careful  in using water.In our village water is of no value”.Then he remembered
uncle’s face of contempt while he took bath in the pond…swimming … diving ..and dipping for hours and hours.Now Vasu felt like  swimming in the pond.
      Tinku and Richu uncle’s sons always tried to keep a distance without mingling with him and exchanged glances while he passes by.For them Vasu was a clown…coming from a village don’t
know how to behave properly and to speak english at all .He does not know even to cross the road
 Uncle has to hold his hand and led the way.Slowly Vasu stoped going for the english tution because he could’nt follow the classes.Once the master made him stand on the bench.There also he was isolated by the other boys.Uncle though he is very loving and affectionate he has no time to spend
with him.In the mornings he used to help aunty in the kitchen…cutting  vegetables ….collecting water in the kitchen and bathroom…packing lunch for the boys and dressing the baby…carrying her to the
play school.There everybody is going on like a mechine simultaniously  with the needle of the clock.
Nobody has time exept Vasu.He has nothing to do.To get a relief from his boredom  he started washing the vesels ; moping the floor bringing the baby from the play school ….Aunty was very happy…so also uncle .Slowly  …without the knowledge of aunty ;..uncle…and even he himself all  these work fell on his shoulder.By the time he realise that he is a missfit among the modern children
and to the english meadium school as the langueage is not viable to him Vasu tried to keep himself
apart from the boys…and he spent the time in the kitchen.
One day he had a letter from his mother asking about the progress of his studies and life in the city
reminding him of his duties to the youngerones…just to encourage him.Then he realised sadly that he is in the wrong path.Hefelt his heart heavy….something clotted in his throat ..and he could’nt move..
as if his hands and legs were tiedup.He wished to go home and join the malayalam school …there he was a very good student scoring high marks and was the leader of the class.He wanted to be a help
to his widowed collect firewood for the landlord ;to feed the cow…to ..; draw water  from the well …to sow vegetable seeds and water the plants.As his mind was wandering  like this in his village
aunty came in.She asked “Vasu didn’t you mop the floor.”From the kitchen she yelled out “The vessels
are also not washed?..what were you doing here…?”He didn’t utter a word.Uncle looked at his face..
apologetically and Vasu looking at a distance  murmured..” Uncle..Iam a misfit to the english meadium
school..and to this modern city.I want to go home and be a help to my mother.