Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My doll house was green and white. Large green windows and door with picket fence white walls. There was a pink bed in it and a tiny shelf that was my larder. There I kept everything that the famous five ate while they , spread out on heather, planned breathlessly exciting ways to catch smugglers and the many others who were no match for four kids and a waggy tail dog. If the Famous Five had their sea ,island and castle, I had my own pond and secret shed. Ponds have their adventure stories too!

So I had lemonade and ice, my mothers lemon tarts, cookies of ginger, oats, jam, scones with huge chunks of disappearing butter, plenty of plum jam and as many Enid Blyton books as I could fit into the space between the bed and the window.

In that tiny house, sunlight and candle flame and the endless thrill of possibility, of adventure, of magic lit up my childhood.

..............( to be contd.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

“The first is the worst,
Second is the best,
Third is the one with the treasure chest!”

As the buses enter the school gates, I silently join in the chant with the children as they look out to see how many buses have come before ours. It is un-teacher like to sing along!. Today we are the treasure chest.

Sometimes when we are first, the chant is edited to make the first the best.

Hurried attempts are made to invent something cool when we come in fourth. Buses after that do not even deserve to qualify. They are simply not good enough.

The ride in the bus is perhaps the most exciting part of my school day. Yesterday a first grade student showed me his treasure. Shining crystals hidden in a black stone. He had two small pieces to show his friends in school and many more at home. “Look” he said , “it has a million crystals.”

I looked at a gravel pebble shining in his hands. “Put it in your hand and let the sun shine on it. Look how is glitters.” He said. I had to agree. It did have millions of crystals peeping out of grey-black stone.

I told him I loved them and that he was so lucky to have them. He smiled and spent the next few minutes in silence after which he told me that, after a lot of thinking, he had decided to give me a bit of his treasure. I would have to wait though, he would have to go home and find something that was nice enough to give me.

In my secret life, I also collect pebbles and imagine them to be precious stones. The flower beds in the garden are tropical paradises and I, shrunk a million sizes smaller, am an explorer.

I will take any chance I can to take off my shoes and allow my feet to burn deliciously on the stone footpaths in school. The grass that big boards tell us to keep off, plump themselves up in mossy clusters, daring us to roll on them. I walk till the edge and pretending to be in some deep thought, let a toe touch the edge of the grass.

There is also an attic in my secret life. In that attic there are old wooden chests. One of them is full of old forgotten books. Books that I can draw patterns on with the dust they have collected. They are hardcover and have beautiful illustrations in them. Someone who owned them has written a note for anyone who might read them. The note is in code. It is my job to decipher it and try to figure if I am being guided to a treasure or being told some terrifying secret. Right at the bottom of the box there are comics. All kinds of comics. Hundreds of comics. I will spend long summer afternoons with the sun coating my feet, my back and my hair, next to me will be ice lemonade and chips. A pile of comics will lie next to me. Enough to last me a few hours. The sun and shadows will bind me with invisible threads to the ground and so I had better stock up on supplies till the threads wear thin with the setting sun.

The other chest will be full of all kinds of odds and ends. Mismatched china plates, blue and white, each whispering a story. An old old clock that goes CLANG in an rusty 80 year old voice, raggedy dolls with many dresses to spare, doll tea sets, coins from all over that I will allow to sing merrily in my hands, shells, tiny ones, colourful ones, too wee to hold to the ear and allow the sea in.

I do not know what the other chests hold. The key is lost and I want to allow them to keep their secrets for now. Who knows, I may find emeralds and rubies. Sapphires and opals.

…………………sigh…………….when the school bell brings me back to my dull desk…I must , forcibly pick up the text book and become a dull boring teacher and keep ready a yelling, just in case the work I asked them to do is not done………

……….will ramble on though…later..

Sunday, March 25, 2007

JP told me once, "at the end of it, no seems to want the stray dogs, whether it is those of us who love them and want to bring their population down by ABC or those who want them dead." What he said is true and it made me very sad.

I look at the dogs on my road. The world for them is one happy place. They sleep, legs in the air, rolling in the pavement sand, their hearts and minds free of worry. Do they know the battle we are fighting for them? They are licensed, collared and I want to imagine that they are safe. I cannot. Even those with collars are being picked up because for their death, someone gets Rs.50.

Can you put a price on chocolate eyes full of life?

Three legged Jack, who runs faster than his able bodied gang of browns, hangs his pink dotted with purple tongue out in the noonday sun. A watchman gives him water. Some years ago, another watchman had almost scolded me for not providing him with an artificial leg. He had heard that Jack had lost his leg after an auto drove over it. It was something he constantly worried about. How will Jack manage, he asked me angrily.
His three legs melt everyone’s hearts and he takes full advantage of the extra treats and cuddles he gets because of it. For now, he is safe. But who knows, with the way the media is feeding this raging fire against dogs.

Is loss of a human life justification enough to carry out this massacre? Is it enough to condone it? Dogs injected with cyanide and thrown in landfills by a bulldozer? Dogs hung with their necks between trees and left to die? Dogs beaten on the ground like clothes against a stone till they die? How different is this from the many torture camps we read about. Saddam Hussain’s men would pull out the nails of the POW’s and use many such horrific torture methods. We shudder at the very thought. Yet, somehow torture of animals is shrugged off by most people and those who fight against it are dismissed as eccentric and interfering.

Any torture, any cruelty any willful act of harm is wrong. Animal or human. We are cognitively more developed than animals, true but animals share the same emotions as we do. They as capable of love, fear, anger joy, sorrow as we are. What gives us the right then to inflict suffering on them? They were not made for our enjoyment and use as some religious texts choose to put it. We share the planet with them and all we seem to be doing is behaving like a very psychopathic school bully with them.

People should think. Those dogs catchers and killers who have so easily and seemingly pleasurably killed dogs in the last one month in Bangalore, will not think twice, given the chance to do the same to a human being. This is because the manner and method they are using show classic text book psychopathy. Here they have the license to kill by a corrupt and bloodthirsty BBMP, steady practice on these animals will perfect their skills to eventually replicate the crime on other easy targets. Children perhaps?