Punishment

The leaves are dry and the grass is parched;
Dreams killed by mankind;
Strangling mother Earth for petty profits.
The burning sun and rising mercury;
Punishing mankind for acts of cruelty.
What goes around comes around;
Nature wants to be loved, not killed!

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#AtoZChallenge – Letter T – Tintin

T

As a boy, I was not really fond of comic books or comic strips. I used to make a passing glance at the strips that appeared in newspapers or magazines. When I was 9 or 10 years old, I happened to see a book at a local bookstore, which was totally different from my concept of a book. This one was, length wise, a gargantuan. As I browsed through it, I was quite stunned by the clarity of the pictures. I fell instantly in love with a short, young man with the front of his hair curled upwards. That was the introduction of Tintin to me.

Before my teens ended, I had almost completed reading most of his adventures. He appeared to me as a sensible reporter but never saw him in a newspaper office or anything like that in the series. Perhaps he was a freelancer who used to mail his stories to the newspapers. The world in which Tintin lives is mostly real. His adventures focus on solving mysteries or being involved in a science fiction adventure or fantasy. He is ably assisted by that cool, white dog of his – Snowy. I don’t think there has ever been a much talked about man-animal combination in literature. Snowy was temperamental, feared spiders and had an uncanny knack of getting drunk. But his loyalty and love for Tintin remains unflinching.

Tintin’s friends are also a source of great reading. There is Captain Haddock, the retired sea captain who becomes Tintin’s strongest human ally. Then there is the eccentric Professor Cuthbert Calculus, very absent-minded and half-deaf. His USP is the pendulum which he carries with him. There are the Thompson and Thomson twins, largely ineffective detectives. Between these characters, there is so much humor, many a source of dry wit and some long-lasting friendship.

My favorite Tintin adventures are ‘The Seven Crystal Balls’, ‘Destination Moon’, ‘Explorers on the Moon’ and ‘The Castafiore Emerald’. Though I like him in all his adventures, I feel he is at his best in these four. To this date, Tintin remains my favorite comic series. I’m glad that gargantuan book at that bookstore helped me discover Tintin. Goes to show that a visit to a bookstore can sometimes be magical.

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

#AtoZChallenge – Letter S – Samiksha

S

Just over a year old, Samiksha sat up on the floor. She then supported her hand on the floor and stood straight, balancing herself ever so delicately. Looking around sheepishly, she did not see anyone. As she licked the fingers of her hand, apparently thinking what to do next, she saw her favorite doll a few feet away. Immediately, she stopped what she was doing. And then, just like that, she began walking – her target was the doll.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” Samiksha’s mother Sumitra said excitedly. Sumitra had been afflicted with polio since childhood and had since walked with a limp. In spite of all the assurances from doctors that her baby would walk normally like others, Sumitra was apprehensive. But seeing Samiksha take her first steps, she was delighted.

Sumitra said a silent prayer and watched as her daughter grabbed the doll and displayed an expression of sheer pride and contentment.

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

#AtoZChallenge – Letter R – The two Rooneys

R

A football legend and an extremely talented movie star are the topics for today’s post on the letter R. Wayne Rooney and Rooney Mara have a special place in my mind. I was initially confused whether to do a post on just one of them or both. Ultimately, I decided to cover both of them – leaving one out would have been harsh.

I first saw Wayne Rooney when he came off the bench as a 16-year-old and scored a stunning winner for Everton against Arsenal in the English Premier League. From then, I have been attracted to his style of play. The way he scored goals, I secretly wished he would join Manchester United, my favorite club. That did happen, much to my elation, in 2004. The rest, as they say, is history. He has been extremely successful with the club, helping them win five Premiership titles and a UEFA Champions League title. He is quick, dribbles with phenomenal accuracy and finishes clinically. He has a shrewd footballing mind, developed by a combination of being under the tutelage of one of the most successful football managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and his own precocious talent. Of late, his wares have weaned, but he is still a force to reckon with for United as well as England. Wazza as he is popularly called, is a true Manchester United legend.

Rooney Mara rose to prominence portraying Lisbeth Salander in the movie version of Stieg Larsson’s critically acclaimed novel ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. Her performance was brilliant in the movie – in terms of the intimate scenes she was involved in, dialogue delivery and acting prowess. She lent her own color to the character, subtly different from the one portrayed in the book. Rooney Mara is extremely passionate in the work that she does, evidenced by the lengths she went to make her own interpretation of Lisbeth in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and Therese Belivet in ‘Carol’. Interestingly, both the roles fetched her Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. There are some exciting roles in future for her, and I’m looking forward to see her in ‘The Secret Scripture’, ‘Weightless’ and ‘Una’ which release this year. There is no doubt she has the talent to go many miles in Hollywood and be a legend.

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

#AtoZChallenge – Letter Q – Quid Pro Quo

Q

Gulab was stunned to see a fixed deposit receipt for a large sum of money. There was no return address on the envelope. This was strange, she thought. As she flipped the receipt, a piece of paper fell down. She picked it up and opened it. A letter? The day was certainly getting mysterious by the hour.

She began reading the letter:

Dearest Gulab,

Do you remember the summer of 2005? I was in the doldrums desperate for a job. You had helped me find one in the local bookstore. You don’t know how happy and elated I was. Not just at the job, but by your kindest gesture as well. We didn’t meet much after that, did we? You might have wondered where I had disappeared to. The bookstore job helped me find my feet, Gulab. I worked there for two years before jumping ship. I didn’t tell you because it would have pained both of us to be in different places. Besides, I wanted to start my own bookstore and make you proud. I had developed a few contacts while working the bookstore and it helped me.

Today, I’m proud to say that I’m the owner of a bookstore that is increasingly popular. You may have heard of the bookaddictilitious chain. That’s what I started, Gulab. It’s yours too. I don’t know how to repay the faith you had in me.

You will find a fixed deposit receipt along with this letter. It’s in no way a measure of the help you provided. That’s infinite, immeasurable by money! I heard that you are having some struggles of your own. Hope with this you will be able to provide the injection to cure your husband’s cancer. Consider this quid pro quo for what you did to me that summer of 2005.

You will find an email from me containing all the details you want to contact me. The day is full of surprises, eh?

Look forward to receive your phone call. We have lots to share.

With gratitude unlimited,
Your dearest friend and well-wisher

Nihar

Gulab was moved to tears. She had missed Nihar all these years and had tried to contact him with no success. Yet, he knew exactly where she was and her situation. She was extremely proud of Nihar.

With a spring in her heart, she attempted to check her email.

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

#AtoZChallenge – Letter P – Poetic hope

P

One of the best lines on poetic hope I like is this one by Malayalam poet Kuttipurathu Kesavan Nair:

പ്രദോഷദീപാവലി കണ്ടുകൊണ്ടു
പാശ്ചാത്യഭൂഭാഗമണഞ്ഞ സൂര്യൻ
പ്രഭാതദീപാവലി കണ്ടുകൊണ്ടു
പൗരസ്ത്യ ദേശത്തെയണഞ്ഞു വീണ്ടും!

It roughly translates to:

The brightness of the dusk the sun saw as it set in the west;
Only to smile and rise in the east to illuminate the morning!

You may wonder what hope has to do in those lines. There is nothing like seeing a bright morning after a particularly dark night! Day and night are just metaphors here. I think the poet wanted to convey the message that there is brightness at the end of every dark road; hope at the end of despair; light at the end of every tunnel. The fact that dawn is mentioned after dusk is significant here. It clearly shows that the poet wanted to illustrate the beauty of hope through those lines!

The first time I read those lines, I was instantly attracted and over time, have come to appreciate the meaning. I always chant this whenever I feel down. On some days, it gives me an instant upliftment. On others, it takes a while for the lines to have the desired effect on me. But it has always been with me and has never failed to inspire me.

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

#AtoZChallenge – Letter O – Omanathinkalkidavo

O

One of the most popular lullabies ever, not just in Malayalam but all over the world, happens to be the topic for my post today. ‘Omanathinkalkidavo’ was composed by Irayimman Thampi at the request of Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bai, the then ruler of Travancore. She wanted a beautiful song to put her son – Maharaja Swati Tirunal, to sleep.

The prince was born in the backdrop of the kingdom facing the very real prospect of being annexed to British India because there was no male heir in the royal family. The birth apparently was a source of joy to the family who wanted to do everything that they could to make the prince happy right from his infancy. The Maharani wanted a lullaby which would make him sleep peacefully.

It’s such a majestically composed song and I particularly like this version sung by K S Chitra:

https://youtu.be/7XciqrFsPnc

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/