Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Papa

I stuck out and curled my tender little pink tongue, and pressed it against the dog's. I did the same with my little nose - so that my face, was now flat against the dog's face. I started making nasal sounds, there after - at times to scare the animal, otherwise to tease it. I was shaking my head from side-to-side, looking the pug straight in its eye, when the heavy hand of my Papa gently tapped my tiny bum, urging me to stay still and make peace with the cur.

The train whistled and trundled its way through the dark night - past nonchalant trees, trying to outrun a wind that came down from the mountains afar.

My Papa, never good at planning things, had got us the two side berths in a train that had far outlived it's glory days with some last minute booking.

My Mama was sleeping on the berth above and my Papa was trying to catch some shut-eye having placed me on the not so gentle curvature of his belly.

I loved to run my hands over the outline of the dog, but I disliked the smell of Papa's sweaty t-shirt, quite unlike the fragrance of my Mama's hair that put me to sleep every night at home. I could see strands of cloth standing up from Papa's t-shirt like the smoke that came out of his cigarettes. The strands would disappear under my fingers as I traced the dog, and would reappear, curled up, as the fingers moved on.

The lights were still on, and I could see the pallu of my Mama's saree hanging over the side of her berth. Once in a while she pulled it back, but it always re-appeared and peeped back at me through the flowery-eyes of its patterns. I could see my Mama's dangling right hand and was fascinated by the vermilion dabbed nails of her fingers. But, as I strained further to get a better look at all this I was stopped by a tap from my Papa - at times he would coat it with a gentle reprimand. He would inevitably rest his hand on my back, as a final sign for me to go to sleep.

Outside, the moon stared at me from a vast lonely space.

***

The skin felt cold, membrane-like, stretched over what was inside. Papa had lost a lot of weight in the last few months and the belly had flattened, leaving little signs of the once prominent protrusion.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the pallu of my Mama's saree, now a faded white,a lattice of criss-crosses, pulled up every now and then to dab her eyes. Her fingers were bony and her nails a pale white, a white that only old-age could paint.

Papa was bare-bodied, and I was on him. There were no sounds, no smells, and I knew his hand wouldn't move to hold me still.

As I looked at it, his hand, the skin long shriveled, and the bones and muscles stubborn hard, the memory of that night in the train popped out at me, like the contents at the back of an old drawer.

11 comments:

Girl With Big Eyes said...

I could visualise it all. Subtle, but very moving.

AK said...

Thanks GWBE!!

Mridul said...

Cheer people up man, it is easier (imo) to write stuff which is depressing ... i have enough of it already in my life :-)

AK said...

eda, ellavarkkum oru P.G.Wodehouse aakan pattilla!! :p.. jeevichu pokatte :)

Pandi said...

nice.

AK said...

thanks man

Unsz.. said...

cool :)

AK said...

thank you Unsz.. :)

Malavika said...

This was beautiful

Gireesh said...

I thought Murakami is able to write the way he does because of the weird quirkiness that is omnipresent in Tokyo and Japan (in addition to being a great writer). Its great to see that Indian experiences can be translated into similarly awesome writing. Really liked the way you built up the intrigue, yet handled it subtly without an overt shortstory-esque climax. Have not been too into blogging so far, but I think your blog is going to inspire me to get involved! How do I subscribe?

AK said...

Thanks Malavika and Gireesh