Be Careful of Cats, Particularly Black Cats

My grandmother had no affection for my lovely feline friends. She had a particular and a serious dislike for one such friend of mine that had a dark complexion. This jolly good friend had often found a way to enter my house in search of food and, if I may say so, love. I liked it immensely and named it Darkie. For giving such a name, I could have been accused of being a racist, I could have been tried in a court of law as well, but it was a cat and I knew cats could file no law suit; all they can do is say ‘meow!’ So every time I called Darkie by its name, it meowed!

The dark complexion of the cat, said my grandmother, was a sign of pure evil. To get some attention when Darkie came to me and purred and rubbed its body against my legs, my grandmother would say that the cat was cursing me in its language, that it was spreading its nefarious power over me, and that something bad would now befall me. She used to scold me whenever I had walked past a path that the cat had crossed before me. She used to say that I must call the names of all the gods and goddesses before I dare to take a step ahead. “But, granny,” I had objected, “the cat is going its way, and I, mine.”

She did not like the way I gave my time and attention to Darkie and she made faces and said that I had no respect for her, that I was arrogant for not heeding the words of a wise old woman. I knew, like any other cat, Darkie had a heart as well, and I could vouch for the fact that Darkie had a heart of gold. But my grandma said that if Darkie had a heart at all, it would be darker than its complexion!

My grandmother was unreformable. Her beliefs and opinions, though superstitious, were strongly held and she had lived with her opinions for over 80 years, so any newfangled idea hardly mattered to her. Before my grandmother bid adieu to the world, her last piece of advice for me was: “Be careful of cats, particularly black cats.”

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Upon Making a Mistake

Even a minor mistake rattles me
When made, shame engulfs, guilt overpowers
And a cloud of sadness around my head hovers
I would have been better off without being so silly!

The thought of having made a mistake,
Of having not been more careful,
And of having made myself a fool
Is, although I try, difficult to forsake.

Yes, I see the mistake and I know I made it
But, no, it’s not that I don’t know
The right way of doing it and saying it.
Only for a moment I let the rein of my sense go.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Bulging Belly

No one wants to be fat, no one! But, and this makes me sad to say, I am putting on weight (after looking at me in my present state, my friends, too, have said that to me). My belly is growing bigger. It is not beer which should be held accountable for it. I have stopped drinking beer a long time back (but, let me also inform you, when I say ‘a long time back’ I mean it has been a month). And, no, it is not even the junk food; I avoid all kinds of junk food (burger, vada pav, and what have you, to hell with them!). Lately, on the basis of one of my colleagues’ suggestion, I have started drinking green tea (it works wonders he claimed and I, the fool, believed). All this, no matter what merit they may have, don’t seem to work for me. Hence, like many of my friends, I decided I would join a gym. But after hearing what my parents had to say about me joining a gym, I decided not to join any gym ever.

My mother asked: “Gym? But what is gym?”

I tried to explain what a gym means and what people do in a gym.

My father, being a business-minded person that he is, asked, “Well, then, how much will you get paid for it?”

I told him that it is I who has to pay instead. Hearing this my father heaved a sigh of disappointment. “I grew up doing hard work,” he said in a very serious tone, “but never have I taken the pain of lifting someone else’s load.” He looked at my mother who also seemed to be of the same opinion as him. “And,” my father continued, “if at all I ever did that, I got paid, not that I paid for it!”

Perhaps I can find a better way to be in shape than lifting someone else’s load. I suppose running would help, but I fear what my parents would have to say about that. Would they say: “What are you running from?” or “What/Who are you running after?” And then, I wonder, would they also add: “We never ran from or after anybody or anything.”

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

A Long Paragraph From A Short Story

In the night we had the drinks in our room (Kranti’s and mine became the common room). Narayan was not feeling well and he said he would rest for a while in his room. Bosco had brought playing cards and he was ready to teach me and Kranti how to play (innocent as we were in the game of cards), provided we staked our money. Bosco has great love for America but this time it was Kranti who wanted to play in American Dollar, and we had to acquiesce to his demand. We played Teen Paati (the real game for the real gamblers, called Flush or Flash in English). It was my wish to play that game although I had scant knowledge of it. I wanted to know how this game is played, and perhaps be a master at it, because it is this game that robbed my father of all his fortune and made him a pauper, thereby degrading our family’s stature. Bosco taught us the rule of the game and we began playing. The game, it seemed, purely depended on luck, and my luck was no better than my father’s. I lost all my money but to keep the game going on (for I still hoped that I would make some money, or compensate for the losses at least) I resorted to borrowing. At first I borrowed from Bosco. “How much?” asked Bosco with a smile (he was only too happy to lend me, it seemed; but the real reason for his happiness was because I was going to repay the loan with hefty interest). I lost again, but I still had some guts and I borrowed again. I decided I would continue playing as long as Bosco was lending me his never-ending money. My luck favoured me once and I earned some, repaid a little to Bosco and I told him that I would pay the remaining very soon. But, again I lost and again I had to borrow. Now with the principle and the interest I owed a total of $1300 to Bosco. Now Bosco seemed uneasy about lending me anymore, he feared that his loan would turn out to be a bad loan. Now the only other alternative I had was to borrow from Kranti. Kranti did give me some bucks (but he was cautious and gave me only a few Dollars) and he charged a rate of interest almost double the rate Bosco charged me (cruel, no?). But, all the same, I needed money, and needed it desperately. Again I lost the money I borrowed from Kranti. All together now I owed $800 to Kranti. In short, I was broke and ruined! But, patient and gracious reader, shall I tell you a good news? I don’t owe any real money to anybody. We considered another card called UNO (heard of it?) as our American Dollar and that was what kept us going! So, after all, it was not a real game for the real gamblers (if it were, neither would Bosco nor would Kranti had given me a single cent) and I took no foolish step like my father did. Now, lovely reader, bemoan no more but make merry!

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The story is rather a long one, not a lengthy one though (mind you) and I thought it was too long to be a blog post, hence only a paragraph (the longest one, and I know it seems daunting) is made available here. To read the full story, please click here

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

My Wish Remains a Wish

I wish only peace could prevail between the two of us
And all the trifling arguments could come to an end thus
But, as it happens, my wish once again only remains a wish
And, alas, instead of peace what prevails is the disease
And as the days further, the disease only spread and spread
Though I could’ve wished a little more, but from wising now I dread.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Big Brother Is Watching You!

Do you have an elder brother? What is he like? Conservative and dominating or friendly and humble? If you have an elder brother who is conservative and dominating, I feel pity for you as much as I feel pity for myself. If your brother, on the other hand, is friendly and humble, I will congratulate you, for you have a gem of a brother.

In India, as in the other parts of the world I assume, elder brothers are given great importance. Well, they may not be given as much importance as we give to our father and mother, however in the absence of our parents, the elder brothers (or sisters) play the role of one.

Now, from time to time – that is, on special occasions (which, I must submit, are rare in my case) – I like to indulge in a little drinking. Many people find it difficult to spend their time without imbibing a little on the night of 31st December (the night of the nights). A few days prior to 31st December, friends and neighbours start asking what your plans are for the 31st. When a neighbour asked me the same question, I replied to him saying that I was not doing anything much; I would just sit quietly in my room and have a glass or two of wine and have something to eat with it. My neighbour wanted to say something but he was holding back. At last, when he could hold back no longer, he wished his desire to have a drink with me in my room. That was the 31st of December and I wanted to say goodbye to the year in a high spirit and welcome the coming year with even more enthusiasm. I could have denied my neighbour to have a drink with me by giving some excuses, but then I thought what’s the harm in having a company who will only make the environment livelier while I drink? So, I said that he was welcome. He asked me whether I would mind if he brought in a friend of his. I said I would not. He seemed delighted to hear that. He informed me that he would join me in a few minutes.

After a while, he came to my room. Along with him came his friend and (well, yes, one more person) his brother. I looked at them, they looked at me. I was just about to say, “come, feel at home and make yourself comfortable,” but they did it voluntarily and I saved my words. The neighbour had something in his hand that was wrapped in plastic. When I asked him what it was, he placed it on the table and started unwrapping the plastic and said: “See for yourself, homie.” It was a bottle of Whiskey.

I sat on my chair. The neighbour and his friend sat on two chairs near me, while the neighbour’s brother lay down on the sofa (he didn’t join us). I had prepared salad and made omelette to eat while drinking. The neighbour suddenly had an idea and asked us to wait a few seconds till he returned. The sudden idea of the neighbour was a mystery to me. After about five minutes the neighbour returned and with him he brought a few pieces of fried chicken. “Excellent stuff!” he exclaimed. His friend gave a half smile and his brother seemed sad and occupied with some thoughts.

I had my wine with me. The neighbour and his friend drank Whisky (which I found too strong due to its high alcohol content) and chew on the chicken pieces. The neighbour’s brother looked at us all the while and I thought he wanted to join us. “Come, join us,” I said. But he did not come. I did not know what was stopping him from doing so.

I asked the neighbour: “Doesn’t your brother drink?”

“He does or he does not,” said the neighbour, “I can’t say for sure.”

“Oh,” I said, “he is a good guy unlike us.”

“He is or he is not,” said the neighbour, “I can’t say for sure.”

As we were drinking, suddenly, once again, the neighbour got an idea and he excused himself and said he will come back soon. Right after he moved out of my room, the neighbour’s friend locked the room in a hurry and then what had to happen, did happen. The neighbour’s brother jumped from the sofa and sat right in the chair where his brother was. He poured a glass full of Whiskey and offered his thanks to some god, dipped his little finger in the glass of Whiskey, sprinkled a few droplets and, without even mixing water, he emptied the glass at one gulp. “The chicken,” he said and he had one piece, thereafter he had many more. His elder brother never came back and, after a while, after thanking me a thousand times, the neighbour’s brother and his friend went tipsy topsy out of my room.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

A Short Conversation Between Two Men In a Washroom

One man: [Enters the washroom].

The other man: It’s been a long time since I saw you here. What happened, don’t you drink enough water? But, anyway, it’s good to see you.

One man: Good to see you, too. It’s winter time, and water is cold. Don’t feel like drinking much.

The other man: Do drink a lot of water no matter it is winter or summer. I am not saying that, like some nutritionists do, for your good health, but I am saying that because that way I will have the opportunity to see you here more often.

One man: I would rather contain the water in me as long as I can than visit the washroom, as often as you do, and waste my time.

The other man: Be careful of such thoughts. Have you not heard of people accumulating stones in their bellies? It is winter, and if you contain the water in you for too long, the water would freeze, and then you would find it difficult to carry yourself with all the weight, plus, of course, you would incur unnecessary cost to remove the stones.

One man: Well… [Makes a move out of the washroom].

The other man: See you again! The sooner the better.

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS