Archive for ઓગસ્ટ, 2017

CARTOONIST (‘SONAL AND OTHER STORIES’ : 5)

ઓગસ્ટ 6, 2017
5
CARTOONIST
 
Should one call him a cartoonist or not was not clear, but he was certainly like a cartoon! He used to keep drawing with a pencil or painting with a brush in a dark room on the ground floor of a dilapidated building facing the street. The door of his room usually remained open and while going to the city I invariably stopped near his place to glance at him. I did not understand why I did that but my feet instinctively stopped there. When I looked at him, a thought crossed in my mind that the Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, has blown life in a ‘cartoon’ drawn on paper by some master artist! The entire view of his mouth, his eyes, his nose and the forehead– all looked weird. And his ever-flying hair also confirmed him as a living cartoon!
While returning home on the same street in the evening, I could afford to observe at his desk, dirty room for a while. On the outer wall of that room hung a small signboard. If one stretched the eyes the reader can decipher the letters forming the word CARTOONIST on it. The rain had wiped out the original luster of those letters, even some of them were broken. When the wind blew hard, this hanging board used to get a new life, as if it was trying to attract the occasional passerby.
But that artist remained absorbed in his work. Even though I saw him while going to the office in the morning, and while returning home in the evening, I had no acquaintenance of him. Yes, occasionally he also glanced at me, but I do not think he ever saw me closely. I thought this artist was indeed strange. A thought had even crossed in my mind to introduce myself to him as I was working in the editorial department of one daily newspaper and we were looking  for a good cartoonist.
That artist seemed to have no other interest in life except drawing cartoons. I had seen such crazy people before but today’s brief encounter established him firmly  in my mind. And in a dream that night I saw him, myself and my ‘cartoon.’ And in the dream I felt that I was physically transformed to resemble that ‘cartoon!’ I awoke in the state of shock. Indeed, when one broods over the same thing over and over one dreams about it.
WAKE UP AND WRITE, MAN!
Several years ago, the telephone rang at six o’clock in the morning in my home in Chicago. I was still in the bed half asleep. My wife Hasu picked up the phone and gave the receiver to me.
“Girish,” the caller began. I didn’t recognize the heavy voice. He hesitated for a few seconds, then continued, “Did I wake you up?”
“No, I was about to get up. Let me pick up another phone.” I got out of the bed and went to my study and picked up the phone.
“Go ahead,” I said.
“Gi…ri…sh….  Is that how you pronounce your first name?”
“Yes.”
“I just read the manuscript of your story ‘Cartoonist’ that you gave me yesterday. I was so excited I called you right away!”
Yes, I remembered. I had attended a poetry workshop in our neighborhood library the previous day. The teacher was an American Indian who was a poet and a story writer. He had published a collection of stories. I had given him the manuscripts of my two stories in English. They were based on my published Gujarati (language of the Gujarat state of India)
stories. The titles of the stories were: “Cartoonist,” and “The Stories (and Story Ideas) are Scattered Everywhere!”
“Did you really write the story?” He couldn’t believe that I had written the story “Cartoonist.”
“Yes, I have written it. In fact, it is based on my original Gujarati story which was published.” I assured him. (Let me add that I was even paid for it.)
“Well, Girish. It’s a great story. I’ll be talking about you to my friends.”
Then he suggested me to send the story to an editor of a magazine who was his friend.
“Wake up and write man!” he exclaimed the closing sentence. Indeed, he opened my eyes.  It was a wake up call.

ACTION AND REACTION 

ઓગસ્ટ 1, 2017
If Sir Issac Newton had not discovered the Law of ‘Action and Reaction,’ perhaps I would have discovered it … ! So don’t think that I am a scientist. And don’t think that to discover that law I would have studied science and would have become a scientist. But on that day I was convinced that that that law is as much true in worldly life as it is true in science… And if the law had not been discovered my name would have been immortal as the discoverer of that great worldly truth. I have no regrets that it has not happened… because I am indeed fortunate to tell you this story to you.
Let me tell you at which place, when, and how that incident happened:
The construction of the Revati dam was going on with extra ordinary speed. It was an earthen dam. It was to stand across the river and sop the flow of the river, then through canals the water will be distributed to the thirsty plants.
The speed of the construction of the dam was mind boggling! How was the construction going on? Let me tell you how. But come, to know that let us climb on the dam which is about four feet high at this time. Truck after truck keeps coming…. they come so fast that we are unable to keep their count! They seem to be endless! From each truck the earth is emptied. It is spread on the dam. Water is sprinkled on the dam. The measurements are done. And those roaring rollers roll over the dam. Everything is seen. You see everything, and yet your eyes are restless to see something else, isn’t it? Yes, why not? Many hands laboring here are rough and hands of many working here are smooth…! Your eyes catch two delicate hands… And watch from those attractive hands that spade slips. The red sari has become wet with sweat and it sticks with the shapely limbs and your eyes keep visiting that figure but you make sure that nobody is watching you!
And your eyes forget to look any other thing — they remain stealthily  looking at one place! After the earth is completely emptied from the truck and is spread on the dam that truck with the labors start to return to get more earth, and your eyes remain staring at the sari flying in the wind!
I must confess that I also acted as described above when I went to see the dam under construction — the dam that will bring ‘prosperity’ to our country. But instead of looking at the dam I kept looking at that beautiful ‘labor-woman’…!
I don’t know why, but beauty is for beholding. And I observe beauty heartily.
In front of the building near the construction site in which I was staying there is a garden. Flowers bloom in that garden also.
On one side of this dam, in technical term near its “toe,” the planted trees swing in the wind, and looking at them the mind gets delighted.
And on the other side of the dam, the waters of the Revati river shine like silver as the rays of the sun fall on them.
And on that road in the moving truck the live flower of the jungle blooms…!
My eyes were filled with some special kind of intoxication. I looked down and walked for some time, but I barely saved myself from colliding with someone! When I looked up my eyes flashed and then my body was thrilled! — that “someone” with whom I was about to collide was a lady dressed in almost transparent nylon sari. I could clearly see red blouse below the sari and blouse merged with her breasts. And in the red blouse some strange tailor had also made tiny holes. The blouse began few inches above her bare waist and was also few inches below her neck…
Behind her was her husband. Hat was on his head, his face was round and stiff, his eyes were like those of a hunter, he was dressed in pent and coat, and his tie was flying in the wind… He was a big boss!
The couple started waking. I was also walking but I had come only to see the construction of the dam. My relationship with this dam and its builders was only for few days but the relationship with the dam of this boss was for years and possibly for his whole life.
I must confess that I overheard the conversation of the couple! I do not mind writing about the conversations of the couple — if you dislike to read them I understand. And if I have committed a sin by listening to their private talk and writing about it, of course I’m responsible for it!
“It’s a beautiful design, Suresh!”
“Oh very good, very good!” Suresh answered while looking at one beautiful labor-woman working with the spade.
“How beautiful! Do you know? I personally watched and got it designed!”

“In fact, with your inspiration I could create such a great design of this ‘dam’! Look at this… ‘filter,’ those ‘teeth,’ that ‘longitudinal gutter, and on this side ‘hearting,’ and…”

“Oh all nonsense! Suresh, what did you say last! ‘Hearting’ — stop your blathering and talk about heart, Suresh! And I was talking about the design of my blouse!”

“Oh… blouse! Yah, it is beautiful, Sulekha! Can I tell you what ‘percentage’ of Sulekha is seen from it?”

“Oh Suresh! When will you stop talking about ‘percentges?”

“Let me tell you what I’m thinking. If these labor-women had blouses like yours they would not have sweated so much!”

“What nonsense you’re talking, Suresh!”

“No, What I mean is these stupid people do not understand how to save cloth… We have put that virtue in practice in our lives! You see, the money that we save by saving on the cloth of your blouse pays for my cigarettes!”

“So for you my fashion is like smoke?”

“Yes, but that smoke kisses our lips before it comes out, Suleka.”

“Oh, you’re a poet, Suresh!”

“Sulekha, after marrying a woman like you, if her husband does not become a poet, then he is worthless! He has lived in muddy earth!”

“But you live in muddy earth, Suresh! This earthen dam…!”

“But have you seen the jewels in the muddy earth, Sulekha?

And at that time a truck with earth came. It was four or five feet away from the place were it was supposed to stop. The laborers including labor-women removed the nails inserted on the three sides of the truck. Along with The heaps of the earth from the truck falling down the laborers also slipped down and the spades started working.

And I loved those live jewels of the earth so much that finding some excuse I extended my stay there. And of course every day I visited the dam.

It was one such day — that is, the day was like those that were passing. In my wrist watch the small arm was on twelve and the longer arm had reached on eleven. That boss had arrived there… And Sulekha was in new outfit. She was boasting to Suresh that that outfit was the latest design! But that boss was laughing loudly… I don’t know if he was paying attention to the words of Sulekha or not but his eyes were looking at those trucks.

“Suresh… Why are you not looking  at me…? Tell me how do I look?

“Oh! Your mirror will tell you!”

“The mirror of a woman is her man! Today I’m wearing the dress of the latest fashion but you don’t care to even look at me!”

At that moment a truck came. In its loud noise their talk couldn’t be heard much but Sulekha started cleaning with her hand her body which was covered with the earth from the truck. But the earth loved to stick on her limbs and refused to depart! It was good that her eyes were looking down… otherwise she would have felt embarrassed as so many eyes were riveted on her!

And wind is such an expert in teasing. It was about 12 o’clock in the afternoon. The blowing hot air lifted earth and it started playing with the flying clothes of Sulekha.

I felt that the one standing on the dam was not ‘Sulekha,’ it was an half-naked woman exposing her body and showing her pride for her beauty!

At that moment came the truck making loud noise. From the spot where the earth from the truck was to be dumped it came about four or five feet close. On the truck on the right side were women and on the left side were men. From the left side the nails were removed and the side-board made the sound “fut” as it fell on the lower side.

But on the right side while removing one nail the skirt of one beautiful labor-woman was caught up and she fell all the way down… She was not hurt as she fell on earth, but her beautiful naked body was seen by about one hundred eyes of about fifty workers working there! Not only the eyes saw but they were riveted on her!

And then Suresh roared with laughter… And after the boss the workers laughed loudly and their echos were heard far away…!

That poor woman was so much embarrassed that she desperately tried to hide under the heap of the earth! How can she show even her face? She may be thinking to bury herself like Mother Sita in the land if it gave a passage!

And yet those men were laughing!

And the face of Sulekha featured several thoughts.

And Suresh continued laughing loudly.

And those fifty workers were laughing.

And Sulekha was ashamed.

I kept staring at only Sulekha.

The waters of the Revati river tossed. And that naked woman’s sweated limbs that were not covered with the earth were shining with rays of the 12 o’clock sun. They looked like ornaments buried in the earth!

And the breast of Sulekha in her almost transparent brassiere was trembling — it was shivering!

With my heart beating fast I came to my residence.

And then the day passed and the night also passed with sweet dreams!

And the next day was my last day there.

When I went to the dam the next day morning, I saw the same boss there. He seemed to be smiling remembering the previous day’s incident.

And behind him was a woman completely wrapped in a white sari. Her beautiful face looked like a blooming lotus and the delicate fingers below the wrist reminded me of the fingers of the Devi Saraswati playing the Vina.

In her neck was only Mangalsutra. On her forehead was kumkum mark. In her hair was Senthi and a jasmine (mogara) flower.

I must confess that it took me a while to recognize her… Yes, indeed she was Sulekha!

The river Revati coming from far was flowing quietly. On the leaves of the trees planted on the side of the dam dew drops were shining… and the face of Sulekha under the veil of her sari looked so beautiful. In the East as if new sun was rising and its golden rays were painting the face of Sulekha.

I felt like running to her and prostrate before her feet.

And with that desire I remembered the Law of Sir Issac Newton that I had learned years ago in science and had almost forgotten: The Law of ‘Action and Reaction.’

SONAL

ઓગસ્ટ 1, 2017
1
SONAL
Today I wouldn’t like the fragrance of the ratarani flowers that bloom in the municipal garden. Today I wouldn’t like the twinkling stars in the sky. Today my heart that rejoices and opens up daily will wither and feel shy and will shed some tears like dew drops on a flower.
You will ask, Why? Because today one incident has happened that has not depressed my heart, it has not shaken it … only it has experienced light quiver remembering which I get thrilled — one moment it pleases my mind and another moment I dislike it.
Amar is a close friend of mine and of Sonal. But he is more intimate with Sonal. And it is also true that Sonal will always open her heart and tell me everything! Frankly, I did not understand the affection between me and Amar. And I didn’t care about it. But I always felt that I was drawn to him due to some extraordinary feelings that existed in him. And I could’t stop listening the on going talks from his mouth and wished that they will never stop! And if Sonal happened to come there Amar’s felt so happy.
“Well, ask her what we were talking about,” pointing to me Amar would say to Sonal so that she could take part in the conversations.
Some times Sonal came to Amar first and some times I did. Amar and I were friends. Sonal and Amar were also friends. We all were one another’s friends. As of on the beach of the ocean of friendship were lying three shells and from them came out Amar, Sonal, and I … !
I was beautiful. Amar was handome. Sonal was lovely.
On one morning …
I was late. My heart eager to meet Amar and wanted  to fly to reach him! And at that moment from far I saw Amar andSonal. Amar was slowly slipping his hand on the long lose hair of Sonal. And on Sonal‘s face was delicate, shy smile. How wonderful was this couple! My heart also overflowed with indescribable joy … but the next moment I had such feelings that my eyes became red, my lips tightened, and my walking became unsteady … then I saw another young man looking just like Amar. He must be the handsome brother of Amar. My eyes kept looking at him and my heart danced with joy!
My feet then took me to Sonal and Amar.
“Oh Prema … You are late today?”
“Amar… tomorrow you come late, day after tomorrow Sonal you come late, , and the next day I will come late. How about our being late one by one daily?”
“What is wrong with you, Prema? There is no fun in being late!”
“There is fun only in coming early, right Sonal?
The innocent eyes of Sonal were revealing something but I didn’t understand!
Sonal, Why are you not speaking?” I asked.
But Sonal remained silent.
“Prema… Sonal will not talk. Her heart is of gold, Prema.”
“And my heart is of clay!”
“The bodies of all are of earth, Prema… but God has given to human beings heart, it will be great if it is loving.”
“Amar… your body is handsome but …”
“But Prema, Why are you forgetting that if you would have come earlier I would have opened my heart to you. If you would have come earlier I would have petted your delicate chicks with my fingers. If you would have come earlier I would have lovingly teased you.”
Then Amar struggled to explain to me but I did not understand anything! My affection for Sonal was gone… And I deeply desired to meet Amar’s brother and I left them alone and ran away!
And then I did meet Vimal. He was the younger brother of Amar. He was handsome like Amar. And was funny like Amar — he was just like him. In the company of Vimal I forgot Amar and Sonal!
One morning when I was alone Sonal came to me.
“Prema…”
Sonal‘s eyes were glowing. They were brimming with innocence.
“Prema, would you do one thing?”
“What?”
“I’m busy whole day today.Can you give one message to Amar?
“What?”
“I will meet him in the evening in the garden.”
But I was going to meet Vimal in the evening in the garden. Then what,,, and the flame of my  burning heart grew stronger! I wanted to take revenge. This Sonal grabbed Amar from me. She planted chinagari in my love. She made the garden of my heart barren! I cunningly said,”Sonal… I will certainly give your message to Amar!”
And then on that morning I immediately went to see Amar. Before I, Amar, and Sonal used to meet one another at this time daily… Then Sonal and Amar used to meet each other and today this will change! I and Amar were going to meet today. Will there be my place in the heart of Amar? He was a faithful lover of Sonal — I could have made him my lover … but Sonal is lucky … but today I would take revenge. I will set fire between their love … today I will tell Amar, “Sonal has sent the message that her father has done her engagement and has requested you to be present in her marriage! And then Amar’s heart will break, it will broke in so many pieces! And he will embrace me. He is like a child — I will console him. I would caress his back gently… and then I and he will meet daily. And Vimal is mine … I will find peace of mind only after seeing Sonal miserable!
Thinking thus I came to Amar’s home. Amar was lying on the floor leisurely, he was in the same form. He was resting his head on one hand and had stretched his legs.
“Amar…”
“Prema!?” he was startled and regained his form little while later.
“Amar… I have come to give you the message of Sonal.”
“Prema, tell me the truth. You have not come merely to give the message of Sonal but … I was sure that you will come.”
“Should I give you the message?”
“Oh!” and he arose, and folded his legs and began talking leisurely, “Did you say you have brought the message ofSonal?”
“Yes, message of Sonal!”
“Come near me.”
I slipped near him.
“Come closer.”
I slipped closer to him.
“Tell me the message of my Sonal in my ear.”
At that time I saw that the lobes of his ears had turned red. I tried to tell something in his ear. His shoulder touched me. I began shaking gently… but then he suddenly wrapped his both hands around me and kissed my lips gently. “My Sonal,” his lips murmered. His eyes were full of untold tales that he didn’t tell till today! The ocean of emotions were residing in his lips.
“Amar, Sonal will meet you in the evening in the garden!” while coming much closer to him the words slipped from my mouth, and experiencing shock I immediately moved away from him and ran away!
The whole day I brooded over that incident. His heart was full of love for me… of what form was it I did not understand even this time.
And when I left home in the evening to come to the garden my heart was saddened. I had rejected my lover — in whose heart had still the same love, and to meet his own brother I was coming to the garden! I was jealous of Sonal‘s luck. By the way I was not unfortunate. Vimal must be waiting there eagerly for me, but when I see Amar and Sonal walking together holding each others’ hands, I would not like the flowers of ratarani in the garden, I would not like the open sky, I wouldn’t like even my life!
Saluting Amar mentally and hating Sonal for taking away my lover I reached the garden.
And there I saw a wonderful scene:
Vimal was pointing his finger to the sky and talking about stars to Sonal. Sonal was resting her head on the broad shoulder of Vimal and following his finger was learning about stars. The pleasant light of the moon had turned her face golden.
And at that moment Amar entered the gate of the garden. Sonal slipped to meet Amar… bowing my head with shame I came near Vimal.
“Prema…. how innocent is your sister. I saw all the innocence  of the sky on her face.
“She is not my sister.”
“What do you mean? I thought that you two were sisters.”
“But now we will be sisters.” As Amar and you are brothers we will be two sisters.”
And I ran to Sonal and touched her feet.
Amar’s eyes were glowing.
From my eyes the tears flowed.
And Sonal‘s eyes were cleansing me with her innocence.

Sonal and Other Stories

ઓગસ્ટ 1, 2017
હાલ પ્રકાશન માટે મારી ગુજરાતી વાર્તાઓનો સંગ્રહ સોનલ અને બીજી વાર્તાઓ તૈયાર કરી રહ્યો છું. વાર્તાસંગ્રહ અંગ્રેજીમાં પણ પ્રગટ કરવો છે. વાર્તાઓના અંગ્રેજીમાં અવતારો www.GirishParikh.wordpress.com બ્લોગ પર ‘Sonal and Other Stories’ કેટેગોરીમાં પોસ્ટ કરતો રહીશ.
સોનલ
અને બીજી વાર્તાઓ
અનુક્રમ
અર્પણઃ જનક નાયકને.
આવકારઃ ૧ નાનુભાઈ નાયકને આવકાર લખવા વિનંતી કરીશ.
આવકારઃ ૨ મોહનલાલ પટેલનો આવકાર મેળવવા પ્રયત્ન કરીશ.
આવકાર ૩ઃ રજનીકુમાર પંડ્યાએ આવકાર લખવાનું સ્વીકાર્યું છે.
સોનલ (‘કંકાવટી’માં પ્રગટ)  Translated in English.
સોનાનો કળશ (‘વિશ્વવિજ્ઞાન’માં પ્રગટ) Translated in English.
રીઝલ્ટ (‘ચેતના’માં પ્રગટ) Translated in English.
ઈન્ટરવ્યૂ (‘નવચેતન’માં પ્રગટ)
કટાક્ષકલાકાર (‘નવચેતન’માં પ્રગટ)  Translated in English..
આ રહી વાર્તા સામગ્રી (‘નવચેતન’માં પ્રગટ)  Translated in English.
આ વાર્તા નથી! (‘ચાંદની’માં પ્રગટ)
ઘૂંઘટકા પટ ખોલ રે…  આરતી અને અસ્મિતા (‘ગુજરાત સમાચાર’માં પ્રગટ)
કાર્ય અને પ્રતિકાર્ય Translated in English.
માયાપટ
વાર્તાઓ વિશે
વાર્તાકાર વિશે.
વાર્તાકારનાં અન્ય પુસ્તકો  Prepared.