Friday, 16 September 2011

The Unwanted Godess

          It was a fine Sunday morning. Selvan wanted to see a temple.I drove to the nearest Muneeswaran Temple at Plentong. It was five minutes drive away.
          At the entrance is a coffe shop where delicious thosai, chuttney ,iddly and sambar are available. After night work it is my usual place for breakfast. Though I go there daily I have not entered the temple premises once.
          I made use of my friend's request and decided to visit the temple on that day.He is a devotee of Lord Siva though he is a Catholic by birth. I am a staunch Lutheran Christian of three generations.
          We had our breakfast. I followed him into the temple. It was a temple of moderate size. There were different places of worship the deities. He was praying at all the idols of Gods that were placed there. There was a large portarit of the dancing Siva on the wall of a large hall at the temple entrance. It was a nice piece of art. " Appane! " Selvan retorted and prayed with both hands clasped. ( Appane means my Father )
          There was nothing much to see in that temple except for the worship of the deity at the main shrine.
          " You can wait for me at the coffee shop if it is boring. I will be back after some time. " Selvan said.
          On my way back I noticed a platform erected around a tree. There were framed pictures of gods placed on the platform. I thought that they were there for sale.
          I took another tea and browsed at the Sunday papers,
          Selvan retunred holding a framed picture. He placed it on the table and asked for coffee.
          I looked at the picture. It was a godess in a dancing posture. There was terror on her face. She had four hands. There was a sword in one hand, a slain head in another hand.It was frightening. She remined Kali.
          " Do you know who is this? " he asked.
          " Is this Kali? " I replied still gazing at that picture.
          " No. This is Durga. " he replied.
          " Did you buy this? " I asked.
          " No. I took it from the tree. It was lying there. Some idiot had thrown it there."
          " But why? " I was confused.
          " Hindus have a belief. They should not throw away pictures of gods in dustbins. Instead they should be thrown in rivers.'
          " But why should they throw away pictures of gods/"  
          " Maybe there was trouble in the family after putting the picture in the house. So they want to get rid of it."
          " What sort of trouble? "
          " Like quarrels, fights, financiacial problems and so on. "
          " If that is so, why did you bring this picture? " I asked innocently.
          " Why? Are you afraid? " his face suddenly turned red.
          I sensed trouble and replied with caution, " Afraid of what? After all, as far as I am concerned this is only a picture. Why should I be afraid? "
          No! you are afraid to take it back in your car to your house! You are scared you will face problems also! " I was dumbfounded!
          " You need not be afraid of this! And I am not returning to your house. Just drop me at the bus stand if you don't mind! I am going back to Singapore. " he said in haste.
          " Hei! cool down. Why this anger for nothing? I told you that I am not afraid of this picture. You can keep it with me if you want. You came to stay with me for a few days. And now you are losing your temper for nothing."
          " No! You call youself a writer and a rationalist! But you too are superstitious! That's why you are scared of this picture!You are scared this picture will bring bad luck to you! "
          " Whether it has brought bad luck or not or whether I am superstitious or not, it has already brought trouble! "
          We remained silent on our way to the bus stand.
( Selvan is my childhood friend. After this incident we did not meet for a year or two. )

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Last Supper

          27.8.2011 was the election day for a new President of Singapore.
          After casting the vote Jaya drove me to Little India for lunch. It was an Indian restaurant and the food was delicious. Chicken curry with white rice and a glass of Anchor Beer were appetizing.
         On our way back to the car park we casually entered a handicraft store. There were wooden and bronze statues of Hindu deities. Wooden carvings ansd portrays were exhibited along with a few attractive colourful paintings of Raja Ravi Varma.
          But I was searching for something else. Actually I wanted a portrait of the Last Supper embossed on wood. As mostly statues of Siva, Vinayagar and some Hindu Goddesses were seen in plenty, I had no hope of finding what I wanted.
          " Hey! What are you looking for? ", Jaya asked.
          " The Last Supper ", I replied still searching.
          " Look there! ", he exclaimed.
          To my astonishment there was the Last Supper hanging high on the wall!
          But to my dismay, the portrait was too large. It would be expensive. I wanted a smaller portrait, affordable and easy to carry to Malaysia. I have to return by the Sinapore Johore Express bus. I was a bit disappointed.
          " Yes! It is there. But not this big. I want a smaller one." I replied looking around.
          " Hey! You want the Last Supper? I will give it to you. I have a nice one from China! I have kept it with me for two years. Now I feel that it is meant for you." Jaya blurted!
          What a strange coincidence! I was shocked!
          " You know how happy I am to give it to you? I adore it so much that I did not give it to anyone. But today you were searching for it with me. You are the right person to own it. Come let us return home! " he hurried me.
          Our car crawled through the heavy Saturday afternoon jam along Upper Serangoon Road to reach Florence Road.
          At last we reached his two-storied bungalow house.
          Within minutes he was back carrying a large bundle packed in a cadrboard box.
          It was a three dimension portrait of the Last Supper! I was baffled at the  magnifificient piece of art and craftmanship! I kept on gazing! Jesus and his twelve disciples were carved in solid form and they were seated in the most natural form. The upper room looked real with space behind them.
          " You like this " Jaya asked.
          " Of course! Thank you very much ! " I exclaimed.
          " God is blessing you ", he said.
          " This is wonderful ", I replied.
          He drove me back to the Queen Street express bus stand.
          I had some difficulty in placing my package between the seats.
          Carrying it at the Singapore and Johore immigration was a task as it was heavy.
          After the clearance at the Johore immigration it was a long walk to the City Square where I have to take the taxi.
          I changed hands to carry it to manage the back pain. It weighed about five kilos.
          While enduring the pain I thought of Jesus carrying the heavy cross on the way to cavalry. I felt there is a message for me from this episode. Strangely when I alighted the cab the pain was no more there!
          My wife was surprised to see me entering the hall with a huge parcel.
          " What is it?, she asked.
          " The Last Supper ", I replied.
          " You bought it? "
          " No. Jaya gave it. "
          I opened the wrappers and removed the portrait from the cardboard box and placed it on the table.
          " Is'nt it nice? This is from China. He has kept it for two years. "
           I related the strange situation of our visit to the handicraft centre where I searched for the Last Supper.
          The Last Supper is now an attraction on the wall!
          ( Antony Jaya is my childhood friend for more than half a century. He is now a very succesful businessman. )

Friday, 26 August 2011

The controversy of the Tamil New Year

          Changing the Tamil New Year from Chitirai to Thai was done in good faith.
          Anna too would have done if he were alive.
          It is a shame for a party using Anna's name indulging in an act contrary to his ideals!
          Chitirai New Year is more on the religious background. It may be called Hindu New Year.
          Not all Tamils are Hindus.
          Thai 1st day namely Pongal is being celebrated as Tamils Festival by all Tamils irrespective of their religious background.Hence it has been an unifying force for all Tamils throught the world.
          This was the original idea of Periyar and Anna. This has also been endorsed by 500 prominent Tamil scholars under the leadership of Maraimalai Adigal in the year 1921.
          It should be kept in mind that Tamils comprise of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and even Atheists.
          Celebrating a new year on Hindu ceremonial ways amounts to calling the non-Hindu Tamils as not Tamils. This is absurd!
          In Malaysia and Singapore Thai 1st is being celebrated as Tamils Festival. The late Thamizhavel Ko. Sarangapani was responsible for propagating this change. People here rejoiced when that day was declared as the Tamil New Year by the former Chief Minister Kalaignar. But alas! The joy was short-lived with the new announcement by the present CM.
          Let us not forget one thing. Tamil is older than any religion! Tamils have lived before the origin of any religion! This is the fact!
          Hence the Tamil New Year should have no religious tags attached to it. Hence it is only proper to celebrate the Tamil New Year on Thai 1st.
          ( My letter in Deccan Chronicle on 25.8.2011 )

Friday, 22 July 2011


          One fine evening there was a tap on the door of a famous writer in South India. On opening the door he was surprised to see a young rabbit.
          " Good evening. " wished the rabbit respectfully.
          " Good shall I address you Mr..? "
          " You can call me Bunny, Sir. "
          " Please come in and feel yourself comfortable Mr. Bunny.
          " Thank you Sir. "
          Bunny hopped and sat on the sofa facing the writer.
          Of course it was a strange situation for the writer of fiction. Yet he was not baffled at the thought
 of a rabbit speaking perfect English.
          There was a moment of silence. Meanwhile the cute little white furred visitor cast his eyes on the  rows of books in the shelves.
          " Yes Mr.Bunny...Anything I can do for you? You seem to be interested in my books. "
          " You are perfectly right sir...I came to you for your opinion on a story written long ago..."
          " A story? Written long ago? Who is that writer? "
          " Aesoff. That story is known all over the world. Infact it is being told to children of all nations."
          " He is known for his fables with moral teachings. But he has told many stories. You are interested in which of those? "
          " The story of the race between the rabbit and tortoise. "
          " Ah! Yes! Such a popular story! But what about it? "
          " Yes! Popular to the literary world at the expense of us our race" ," Why? What's wrong with the story? "
          " Our race of rabbits is depicted as a foolish and lazy race. We strongly condemn that story of a rabbit losing to a stupid tortoise! The story should be banned in all countries! If not it should be rewritten! We cannot remain silent any further on this Issue! "
          " It is just a fictious story to teach a moral and it is not meant to insult your race of rabbits."
           " But do you know that we have become a laughing stock among the other animals? Even the monkeys are making fun of us, calling us lazy losers to the crawling tortoise. We are humiliated in this way. Our youth are infused about this and are in a revolutionary mood. Messages are being sent to the rabbit communities to all the forests. We are planning for demonstrations and protests ".
          " I am extremely sorry to hear about this. But what could be done now? It was written many years ago and the story of the race has spread out to all parts of the world."
          " But there is misrepresentation of facts and it has been done deliberately..and the damage done should be rectified."
          " If you don't mind let us review the story. The rabbit who participated in that race was so over confident of winning that he took a short nap. The tortoise made use of that opportunity and won the race though he was actually crawling all the way! So who is to blame? And where is the damage? "
           " No it is pure fabrication . My ancestor would not have slept like that in a race. It was written with the sole purpose of insulting our community of rabbits. We are a swift race . It is absurd to say that we lost to a tortoise in a prestigious race like that."
          The writer was helpless to argue any further on the subject. He thought for a moment.
          " So what is your request and proposal Mr.Bunny? " he asked.
          " The story should be re- written with the correct facts. The controversial parts should be removed altogether."
          The writer was actually shocked to hear this.
          " This is a serious matter. Only the writer of the story has the right to re- write it. I am completely helpless in this matter. And I don't know how far you are going to succeed in this attempt..."
          " Sir, you agreed that it was a fictious story. Now we want a real story! "
          " But how is this possible? " the writer was confused.
          " Very simple. We will arrange for another race now and let the world see who wins! "
          " What? Another race? Are you joking Mr. Bunny? But who will participte in it? The two of them are dead and gone long ago! "
          " No Sir! This is purely a race between two races. Their grand children are living now. Let the tortoise community choose one among them and we would do likewise. Let us see who wins! We can invite the literary experts to witness the race. Of course representatives of all the forest dwellers would be invited to witness the event! "
          " But Mr.Bunny. Even if the  race is held now, and even if your competitor wins, the story can be only re- written by its original author, and that is Aesop himself ".  
          Mr. Bunny was not a bit shaken by this reply.
          " If that is so, we would immediately send a delegation to meet that legendry Aesop to put forward our demands ".
          " Yes. That's better. Wish you success Mr.Bunny ".
          The rabbit hopped from the sofa and took leave.
          A few days later.......... to be continued.