Category Archives: humour

Hello World! – part 4

The day after her marriage when she first stepped into her in-laws’ house, she was surprised to see that every man in the house was handsome and healthy and every woman was breathtakingly beautiful, just like her own parents’ family.

She had to first seek blessings from her husband’s grandmother, a widow in her eighties and the oldest member in the family. She was a very beautiful old woman but what surprised her most was the serenity in her face. When everybody else had left her room she asked the bride to sit in front of her. As soon as the old lady looked into her eyes, tears started rolling down Shravanti’s cheeks. The old woman held her tightly in her arms. That immediately reminded Shravanti of her mother. Whenever she was in a pensive mood her mother would understand immediately by looking into her eyes, she would stop whatever she was doing and held her in her arms and let her cry till she felt good. In the arms of the ‘just met’ old woman she felt the same comfort as her mother and she could not control her tears. As her grandmother-in-law started rubbing her hand against her back and pressed her cheek against the bride’s head the rate of flow of tears only increased. But after sometime she realized that she was able to think again, after a very long time she was able to think with her heart as well as her mind. “Who is this old woman to me? Still how much she is caring for me? How could she be so selfish to hurt this old woman’s feelings and causing shame to the family? How much her younger sister loved her? Whenever she missed any class in the university her sister used to copy her class notes always with a smile and without a complaint. When she would go to her mother’s house she would definitely help her sister in her studies”. She remembered how much her younger brothers loved her, always wanted to see her happy. How much hard work is needed to get a Ph. D., she started thinking again, probably her husband had sacrificed many hours of sleep and worked very hard to get his Ph. D. Probably she should also continue with her education as suggested by her husband when she came to meet her before marriage. How much her father and mother loved her and how much she made them cry. How is her mother now? How is her father? Are they worried about her now? She wanted to run to her parents for once and tell them not to worry about anything, being their daughter she could not be selfish. She wished she could have two wings so that she could fly to them and tell them not to cry anymore for her.

“Ma-er katha mone portache?” (Are you thinking of your mother?), her chain of thoughts were interrupted by her grandmother-in-law’s words and she started sobbing again. But soon her intelligence got hold of her emotions.

“Thakurma apne kemon achen?” (Grandma, how are you?), she asked with her natural smile. She realized that she had shed so much tears that the old woman would need to change her blouse immediately. “amar chokher jole apner blouse ekdom bhijja utche” (Your blouse got wet in my tears), she said in an apologetic tone.

“It is all right. Take some rest tonight, tomorrow guests will start coming from early morning and it will be a very hectic day”, the old lady told with a smile in her face.

The next day in the late evening after the guests had left she met her newly-wed husband in their bedroom. He could realize for the first time the sadness in her eyes. “Tomare khub dukhi lagtase, ami ki na buijha kichu koia phelaichi” (You look sad, did I say something wrong unwittingly), he wanted to know.
“na seirokom kichu hoi nai” (It is nothing like that), she said with her head down as she was trying to avoid eye contact with him.

“tomare ek khan kotha kohoner chilo” (I wanted to ask you something), her husband’s words suddenly turned her stiff. She had no clue what he would ask. Does he know about his past affair, she wondered. The affair had become past for her, and all she could pray that nobody should know about her past. She remained seated with her head down and struggling to remain calm even though she realized that she had almost stopped breathing.

“tumi amare nam dhoira daiko” (please call me by my first name), she thanked thirty three million gods and goddesses for hearing something so benign and so sweet from him instead of anything unpleasant. Her tension was suddenly released but she was still able remain calm and to hide the sudden joy. “Oma swami re keu nam dhoira dake naki?” (Oh my God, why should a woman call her husband by his first name?), she said while realizing that hiding anxiety and fear is difficult but what is far more difficult is to hide the joy which is the result of sudden annihilation of fear and anxiety.

“Tomar mukhe amar nam sunte khub bhalo lagbo, parbana tumi amar nam dhoira dakte?” (I would really like to hear my name from your mouth. Do you think you can call me by my name), he again tried to persuade her.

“Nischoi parmu” (sure I can), she looked straight at his eyes, tears of joy were rolling down her cheeks and she made no effort to hide her happiness anymore.

The next day the couple started for their honeymoon to Goa. But they had their first stopover at Bombay. They visited Elephanta caves, Film City, Bombay Museum and many other interesting places. Since her husband was familiar with the city he became her guide. It took her no time to realize that the actual Bombay had no resemblance with the city she had imagined. The crowd of the city looked terrifying to her.

Hello World! – part 3

In a weeks’ time from the incidence her marriage was fixed. Her parents explained to her repeatedly why she should forget Kalu who had no future. Her mother explained to her that if she had eloped with Kalu to Bombay it would have created a bad name for their family and as its consequence they would not be able to find a suitable groom for her younger sister when she would finish her education. Shravanti felt that she had never hated her younger sister more than before. When her father told that the proposed groom is having a Ph. D. in science and working as a professor at a reputed university, she decided that for the rest of her life she would hate anybody having a Ph. D. She threatened to commit suicide but when her mother started wailing she did not dare to utter the word again. She threatened that she would tell the proposed groom when he would come to meet her in person about her affair with another man and that she was being forced into the marriage and therefore he should not even consider marrying her. Again her mother’s bitter cry prevented her from thinking about it again. Finally she wrote a letter for Kalu asking him to wait for her at the Howrah railway station, the date and time she would inform immediately after her marriage. From the Howrah station they would take the train to Bombay where he would work in Film Industry and they would live happily forever. Her best friend delivered the letter to Kalu.

The proposed groom came to see her with one of his university colleague, who was also a bachelor. Her mother and aunt helped her to dress for the occasion. The boy was mesmerized with her beauty and her eyes, which were clearly sending a signal of extreme sorrow was interpreted as ‘extremely beautiful’ by the proposed groom and his friend. The man decided to marry her and he also requested if she could continue her studies after the marriage. Her father’s face was lightened up because he never wanted any interruption in his daughter’s education but her mother considered that as ‘not a good idea’. “Biar par maiagor ar poroner ki prayojan?” (Why does a girl need to study further after her marriage?), her mother discouraged the idea as soon as it was proposed. Like her husband she was also in favor of her daughter’s education but she feared that Kalu might try seeing her in the university campus and spoil her married life and causing shame to both the families.

The proposed groom left without further argument. The date of marriage was fixed.

Hello world – part 2

Kalu did not know how to start working in the Bombay film industry but he thought he would go to Bombay and as soon as he would reach the railway station he would ask for the direction to the Film City. He was confident that he would be very successful because of his handsome look, great voice and his ability to sing. When he shared his plan with Shravanti she thought that was a great idea and she started dreaming that they would live in a small house in Bombay, Kalu would work in the Film Industry either as a singer or as an actor, in the evening when her husband would return home she would recite her all-time favorite poem ‘Enoch Arden’ to him while in his arms and he would listen to her recitation while slowly smoking a cigarette and making perfect rings of smoke. She had started dreaming herself as Annie Lee of Alfred Tennyson’s poem and Kalu as Enoch Arden and decided that she would not tolerate any injustice to her Kalu. Since the time she had read the poem she openly hated Philip, the other character of the poem, always considered Philip as an opportunist, a person with no courage, and a kind of scavenger. She also secretly hated Annie and decided that she would set things right with her own life otherwise she would not be able forgive herself. Of all the great qualities that Kalu possessed, the thing she admired the most was the rings of smoke he used to make while smoking a cigarette. She imagined each ring of smoke being metamorphosed into a garland of flower and slowly coming down towards her.

Both of them tried to keep their affair a watertight secret. Every day in the afternoon when she met Kalu in a large mango orchard little far from her house he read a new poem which he had composed just for her the night before. She always admired his God gifted voice when he sang in her ears. It did not matter to her whether he would be successful in Bombay Film Industry or not because she knew she could spend the rest of her life happy and satisfied listening to his poems and songs, she did not want anything more in her life.

It was one such late afternoon, she had already finished listening to his latest poem, listened few romantic songs and after having endless chatter she was about to leave for her home and as a last ritual for the day he was kissing her, lifting her face a little by holding gently with his both hands while her eyes remained closed; even at the moment of euphoria her ears could send a signal of heavy footsteps and before she could completely open her eyes she felt her one hand was tightly held by a strong man. She recognized it was her maternal uncle, her mother’s youngest brother, an amateur boxer but otherwise known to be a kind person, who always cared for his sister, his brother-in-law and their children. With his other strong hand he was holding the neck of Kalu. As soon as he separated both of them apart, he kicked Kalu with such an enormous force that he fell at a distance. “Mama ore mairona, ore chara ami bachumna” (Uncle please do not beat him, I cannot live without him) she started begging to her uncle not to be cruel. “Tui chup kar, ei shuar ta re ami thiik koirai charum” (You shut up. I will teach this swine a good lesson today) her uncle scolded her while still holding her with one hand so that she could not stand in between her uncle and Kalu.

As soon as Kalu came out of the terrible shock he stood up and started running as fast as he could. “Shuarer pola amar bhagnir dike ar ekbar chokh tuila takaibi to tor hath ar pa kaitta janto kabor dia thumu” (Son of a swine if you ever dare to look at my niece again I will cut your limbs and bury you alive) her uncle shouted from behind while Kalu was running for life.

[to be continued…….]

Only if I Could Speak

I am a Computer Software and these are my unspoken words.

Unlike you, a human species which is thought to be the creation of God, I am your creation.

Being my creator you gave me a name but that name only reflected how you wanted to use me and not what I really liked myself to be called. You felt it is enough to name me something like ‘FileCopy’, ‘AccountValidation’, ‘AntiVirus’, ‘FileZip’ &c. Imagine you were just born and your father, after watching your face minutely by holding your two tiny legs and hanging you upside down, bringing your tiny little face very close to his, became so exuberant that he wanted you to be a fishmonger or a janitor when you grow up. So instead of giving you a nice name like ‘Pallab’ or ‘Robert’ he started calling you by ‘Fishmonger’ or ‘Janitor’. Now you know how I feel.
You always want everybody to work for you, be it another human, an animal, a tree, air, water, a piece of metal, a plastic or a machine. So you created me to work for you and pay me nothing. You wake me up by giving me an ‘electric shock’. Then you give me something to start with and you have given it a fancy name ‘Input’ and do the same monotonous work over and over and over and over again for which you have coined another equally fancy name ‘Processing’ and since all you want is some net result so you want me to produce ‘Output’, the name once again is your invention. Has it ever occurred into your mind that I also need some break and do nothing for a while or may be taking a deep breath once in a while? No you have not given any consideration, you only give me instructions to do what you want me to do, like ‘add this’, ‘subtract that’, ‘compare this’, ‘sort that’ but where are the flexible instructions like, ‘okay you must be tired by now, do you like to take a break’ or ‘if you want to pick your nose please go to that corner?’. You are one selfish human just like everyone else of your species.

I remember you were giving a presentation to your manager that what an efficient slave, which is me, you have created; how much comfort I will provide to your species and still you won’t hear a single word of complaint from me like ‘I need a raise’ or ‘I cannot take this anymore’ &c. I remember your manager was all praise for you, ‘good job’ she told and you felt very proud of yourself. Shall I go and tell your manager that you have ‘cloned’ one of my siblings from Robert’s computer and then another of my siblings form Deborrah’s machine, you combined those two and then you made few changes here and there and also removed the names of Deborrah and Robert, wherever they occurred and wrote your name in few places and so I was born and you claimed me to be your ‘brain child’?

Sometimes I have my sad moments too. I remember somebody cursed me by saying, ‘this software is a piece of shit’. It was not my fault, you have not even instructed me to handle every kind of situation. But later I also laughed when I remembered that he used the word ‘shit’, I thought I am your brain child.

I am already burdened with too many tasks but you are still asking me to do more. Again for that you have invented few more fancy names like ‘method’, ‘procedure’, ‘function’ &c. and you are dumping them on my shoulder ever since I came into existence. These are nothing but flagrant exploitation. You are treating me like an old man in a family whose wife died many years ago and now being at the mercy of his sons and their wives, carrying four bags having milk, flour, rice and green vegetables, one on each shoulder and one in each hand.

Gradually I developed tolerance to remain as slave of one person only, just like a spouse. But soon you started sharing me. “Take this software and compress the hard disk of your computer” you told your friend while handing him a thing, one inch long which you call a ‘pen drive’. I was so terribly insulted. I cannot speak but even if I could I will not otherwise you will decommission me which is like sending your old parents to ‘old age home’.

Still Ready to Help

After completing my post-graduation in Biochemistry I decided to bring some radical change in my life. I had a long desire to learn some musical instrument. But I had to wait till I could earn some money to realize my dream. I could find only one musical instrument teacher, a retired professional violinist, in his seventies, at a walking distance from my home.

When I asked he agreed to become my instructor. He used to play violin in theaters. He had three daughters, who were all married and a son who was also married and had a small boy, only few years old.

I used to practice violin seriously, morning and evening, every day and he used to appreciate a lot for my effort. I had never felt so happy in my life before. One day, probably after a month since I had started learning he introduced me to a ‘Raga’ called ‘Yaman Kalyan’. It was like a dream come true for me. I realized that if anything I wanted to be in my life it was a musician and not a biochemist.

I used to take lessons from him on Sundays. It was a Sunday evening, almost three months after I had started taking lessons from him.

When I visited I saw he had some guests in his house. He introduced me to his son-in-law, his daughter and his daughter’s son and asked the grandson to be with me till he could make himself free.

His grandson who was few years younger asked me to play whatever I was learning. I played the Raga ‘Yaman Kalyan’ which I had played few times before my instructor and heard him saying I was playing well.

After listening to my play for a while he started playing the same Raga using my violin. I was surprised to hear how nice he was playing. On being asked he mentioned that he had learnt violin from his mother who had learnt the same from her father.
Then he asked me to play all the seven notes (like ‘Sa’, ‘Re’ &c.). After hearing me play for a while he started playing the same using my violin and I realized that the notes played by him sounded different and that should not happen because they were produced by the same musical instrument. I realized that from the very beginning I was playing everything incorrectly but was never corrected. The young man sensed my thought and told me that almost seven to eight years before his grandfather lost his hearing, to a great extent, because of a bomb explosion which had exploded few meters away from him. The explosion did not cause him any physical injury though. People at home always talked to him standing close and he could make out what the speaker said partly from the sound he could perceive and partly from the lip movement of the speaker.

I never went back to him and never played violin again. It was lying idle in our home for few years. One fine day I gave it to another young man who wanted to learn the instrument.

For Better English

The gentleman was in his mid-fifties when I first met him was from the Indian state of Gujarat.

It was many years ago, probably the year was 1993. He owned an Indian grocery store in Torrance Boulevard, California. His store was not far from Torrance Airport. I cannot remember his name now and even if I could, I would not mention it here. But let us call him Mr. Patel which to the best of my recollection was not his real last name.

I used to visit his shop for buying Indian spices because his was the only Indian grocery on Torrance Boulevard which was not very far from Rolling Hills, where I was living. I was working for Nissan Motor Corporation on Figueroa Street very near to Down Town Los Angeles. Within one mile radius of Nissan Motor Corporation all the big Japanese Automobile companies had their corporate offices.

It was probably my second or third visit in his store. Mr. Patel suddenly asked me what kind of visa I had. “Just like others”, I replied in the shortest possible way. I was working with a H1-B visa and most of the software engineers from India were working with H1-B visas. However there were not too many Indian Software Engineers working in America during those days. I had ambivalent opinion about the people from Gujarat who were living in the USA. On one hand they were known to Indian communities for abusing American Immigration system, had a bad reputation for visa fraud. On the other hand they were very down-to-earth people, who were very helpful not only to the people from Gujarat but also to any Indian. There craving to go to America was to give better education to their children and therefore to have a better life. However during my subsequent interactions with many people from this community, I heard them saying, “Did a mistake by coming to America after severing our roots. We are not happy here.” It was because after their children grew up and moved out of their families, the parents were left alone to live lonely lives in a foreign country which they could never imagine would happen to them before moving to America. Now let us hear what Mr. Patel had said after hearing my shortest possible reply regarding my visa status.

“I also came to this country by selling off everything I had in India” Mr. Patel said.

“Why did you have to sell of everything, what kind of visa do you have?” I asked after a brief hesitation.

“I have a Green Card” he replied.

“Who sponsored your green card?” I asked again with some hesitation. I am never interested to know about people’s personal matters but I realized if I did not ask him one or two questions, he might jump into conclusion that I was rude and not appreciating his candid, friendly behavior.

“My father came to this country with Green Card and he sponsored mine. He was brought to this country by my elder brother who is a doctor.” Mr. Patel replied.

“So you are independent, you can do whatever you like. You are almost like a citizen in this country.” I wanted to bring our conversation to an end.

“But getting a Green Card is not an immediate process. I had to wait for few years before I could get the Green Card for me and my two children, a daughter and a son. My wife joined me here after another two years.” I realized that Mr. Patel wanted to share with me something which probably he could not share with others.

“Why your wife did not come with you?” I asked.

“I can tell you if you have time to listen”, Mr. Patel sounded very happy to find some listener.

“Green Card applications are processed under different categories”, Mr. Patel started providing the background of his story, “categories like single, married with no children, married with children, divorced, divorced with children &c.”

“Green Card processing time varies depending upon the category in which it falls. When my father wanted to apply for my green card, the processing time under the category ‘divorced with children’ was the shortest and ‘married with children’ was the longest and the difference of processing time between the two categories was five years.” Mr. Patel continued.

“Therefore we decided to apply in the category ‘divorced with children’. So I divorced my wife but we continued living in the same house and our relationship was exactly the same as before, like a close-knit Indian family. Our divorce was only on paper for bringing our children to this country as fast as possible so that they could start going to American schools.

“So did you apply for Green Card immediately after you had received your divorce paper from the court?” I asked.

“No we did not. Americans knew that married couple in India rarely divorce and ‘divorce after having children’ is extremely rare, almost unheard of. We realized that they could reject our Green Card application if they were convinced that we were deceitful. So we waited for one more year and then applied for Green Card. During that time we were figuring out by ourselves how we could answer the questions which we would face during the Green Card application interview at the American Consulate in Bombay.” Mr. Patel replied.

“We did lots of practices in our home about how we would answer the grilling questions during the interview. We did hours of practice at home and also receive help from an expert who knew what kind of questions might be asked and how to answer those convincingly.” Mr. Patel continued.

“But when we were called for the interview, which was two years after I had applied for the Green Card the encounter was far more difficult than we could imagine. The officer had a suspicion that I was deceitful. I was interviewed alone, then with my two children and to make the situation worse and which we had never expected our two children, who were all below eighteen, were interviewed together and then separately. Even after so much of grilling they could not find out the truth about our marital status, we were so well prepared.” Mr. Patel continued.

“As soon as we had received our Green Card we moved to America. My wife started living with her family in India. My children started going to school in America and I started working in an Indian grocery.” Mr. Patel continued.

“So how did you bring your wife here?” I realized that his story was more captivating than Agatha Christie’s crime stories.

“I met another Gujarati gentleman here in America. He was living with his wife and children. His family was well settled and both he and his wife were well educated and both had good jobs. He agreed to help me out.” Mr. Patel answered.

“The gentleman agreed to apply for my wife’s Green Card”, Mr. Patel continued.

“He was unrelated to both you and your wife. How could he sponsor your wife’s Green Card”, I asked in a haste probably did not realize that he was going to tell me everything even if I had not asked.

“He and his wife decided to divorce, on paper of course, which would make his status ‘single’ and he would travel to India where he would marry my wife, whom I divorced only on paper and apply for my wife’s Green Card. As soon as my wife would arrive here with her Green Card, he would divorce his newly wedded wife, who actually is my wife and then remarry his ‘on-paper’ divorced wife. As soon as he would divorce my wife I would remarry her here.” Mr. Patel told me without any kind of expression on his face.

“But it was only a plan but did he actually do that, did he really divorce his wife in America, travel to India and marry your divorced wife and bring her here with Green Card and divorce your wife here and remarry his real wife and then you remarried your real wife here in America?” I asked. I realized I had never heard anything which was so complicated, so interesting and so risky that it could have destroyed at least two families if not more.

“Everything was done exactly as it was planned. My friend and his wife are still living together because their divorce was only on paper to help me and my family. They were glad to help a Gujarati family. And they are our best friends in this country” Mr. Patel replied.

“Why did you take so much of risk? Why did you not apply in the category which was legitimate for you? Was that much of risk worth taking for?” I asked.

“Indeed it is worth. My children arrived here two years in advance and learnt so much English during those two years. But when my wife was alone in India, every single night before going to sleep I wrote her one letter.” Mr. Patel replied with a very serious looking face.

I used to visit Mr. Patel’s shop almost once every week. During my regular visits I met his entire family, his wife and two children. His two children were actually grown up when I met them.

I do not know where Mr. Patel lives now, in India or in America or if he is still alive but I am sure his children are speaking better.

Crocodile tears

Long-long ago there lived a small boy in a village.

It was so long ago that the moon was much bigger and closer. It was so closer that one could climb on a rainbow and touch the moon. During those days animals understood each other’s language.

One day the little boy was walking beside a stream in his village. He suddenly heard a crying sound. When he walked towards the source he found a large crocodile caught in a fisherman’s net.

“My little friend please free me from this net” the crocodile said to the boy while crying.

“But if I go near you, you will catch and eat me. My father told me to stay away from crocodiles” the little boy replied.

“If you free me I will always be grateful to you and we will become friends” the crocodile said while crying even more.

The boy’s heart was softened. He decided to set the crocodile free. As soon as he walked closer to the net the animal caught the boy’s leg with its jaws.

“Is this what you call ‘being grateful’” the boy said in a state of shock.

“Everybody does that” the crocodile said opening a corner of his mouth.

“Nobody is as ungrateful as you are. You are the most ungrateful animal I have ever seen” the boy said while his leg was still caught between the jaws of the animal.

“I will be fare with you. I will not eat you till we hear from three animals. If they say I am the only ungrateful animal I will set you free” the crocodile said.

Soon they saw an old donkey walking slowly towards the stream. But as soon as the donkey saw a small boy caught in a crocodile’s jaw it slowly walked towards them. The boy narrated to the donkey how he was caught by the crocodile and asked the donkey’s opinion.

“Men are the most ungrateful of all animals. I served my master all my life but when I became too old my master kicked me out of his house. Why should I blame the crocodile alone”, the donkey said and again started walking towards the stream.

Soon they saw a horse walking towards the stream. Like the donkey the horse also walked towards the boy and the crocodile. The boy narrated the incidence again and like the donkey the horse also mentioned how he had suffered in the hand of his human master and when he became old he was also kicked out of his master’s house.

Through the corner of his mouth the crocodile was smiling. Suddenly they saw a monkey walking towards them. The boy narrated the whole incidence once again. The monkey appeared very thoughtful.

“I would like to see everything from the beginning. How you were crying. How the small boy walked near you while you were caught in the net and repeat before me what exactly you said to each other. I want to see and hear everything with my own eyes and ears. Only after seeing and hearing I will be able to give my opinion” the monkey said in a very thoughtful manner.

“That makes sense”, the crocodile said and it released its jaws.

The little boy immediately jumped few steps back.

“This stupid animal is still caught in the net. Today you and your family can have lunch with crocodile meat” the monkey said to the boy and left.
[Adapted from an African folklore]