Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Ginger Candy (Concluding Part)

(Read Part 1 here)

The creaking pulley of the old well was the recipient of all the pent up anger Raman carried in his heart. He pulled the rope so fast that the protesting pulley almost threatened to give up. Thankfully, in two rounds, the bucket had filled to the brim.

Back in the house, Raman's mother continued her sparrow-like ministrations around the man coughing into the blanket. Raman placed the filled bucket close to his mother and went into the kitchen looking for food. Raman picked up a plate and a ladle to scoop out some rice from the watery rice gruel.

 "Don't finish the rice gruel. Father hasn't eaten yet." As soon as she said that, his mother was stunned by the sound of shattering plates from the kitchen. The next thing she saw was Raman rushing out of the room, looking away from her. She called out to him, but the boy was just too angry to even look at her. The temporary lines of worry that fell on her brow on account of her son was soon replaced by a sense of purpose when her husband started coughing again.

*                        *                       *

It was three days later that Raman finally saw the man's face again. For the last few days he had left home at dawn and reached back only after he was sure the man had slept. But today morning, the man was sitting up on the bed when Raman tried to make his exit from the hut. "Raman my son," the croaking voice brought forth angry tears from Raman's eyes. He walked up to his father, and stood looking at the floor. Then he heard a choking sound, as if words were being strangled in the throat. He looked up to see his father sobbing. The sound moved from low hiccups to almost a wail.

His mother came running in to see his father sobbing. "What happened Raman? What did you do? Don't you know how ill father is?". Raman stood as still as a statue, his heaving chest and the hissing sound of his breath the only indication of him being alive. His mother put her hand into the tattered blouse she was wearing, and pulled out a coin from her bosom.

She pushed Raman aside and stood in front of the sobbing man. She then proceeded to circle the hand holding the coin over the man's head, all the way to his feet and back to his head again. She repeated this three times, and handed the coin over to a bewildered Raman. "You go to the Devi's temple right now and put this into the Navagraha kaavu (the shrine of the nine planets). His stars have to be appeased.... "

Raman took the coin, still warm from his mother's clasp, and ran towards the door, only faintly hearing his mother repeat her plea to go to the temple to appease the Gods. He kept running, past the fields, and the brook and the tea stall. Early village risers who saw him tried to stop him to ask him about his father; more pity. He did not stop till he reached the temple. He stood in front of the revered Devi, and opened his fist; the coin had dug an angry, red design on his palm. He thrust his palm forward as if offering the precious coin to the Devi.

The pujari (priest) of the temple came out with a thali (plate) to collect the coin, but he still did not release the coin. "Why do you hesitate, Raman? What was offered to the Devi must be given to Her, else you will bear the consequences. Don't you want your father to get better?" he asked slyly, pushing the plate closer to Raman.

Raman closed his fist tightly around the coin, turned around and ran, the pujari calling after him. He ran along the muddy walkway through the fields, and into the tea shop. Pradeep was sweeping the floor readying the stall for businees, and was surprised to see Raman sitting on the bench meant for his customers, panting while looking at the floor. Raman had never, in the last so many years sat on the bench for customers. "What happened, Raman? Are you alright? Is your father fine?"

Raman looked up, his eyes glistening with the tears that would not flow. "My father would be dead in a little while," he said calmly. "And I want the ginger candy from that jar. As many as you can give me for this coin." He handed the warm coin to Pradeep.

18 comments:

  1. You never disappoint...your stories and blogs never fail to touch the heart...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Chitra ..... Your encouragement means a lot!!

      Delete
  2. Such a pleasure reading a plot that turns on its head.

    Fabulous read.

    Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks AS...... Glad you liked the twist... When i was writing it i wondered whether it was too twisted that a son could do that!

      Delete
  3. nice.. was waiting for the conclusion before commenting. Well written.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. Thank you GBTP .... can't tell you how glad i am that you didn't think it was too twisted!

      Delete
  5. Wow!!

    And I kept wondering why it was called 'Ginger Candy'.

    Beautiful portrayal of emotions Nirvana. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Unexpected.. A lot of emotions in there. Looking back, I feel its just how a teenage boy who faced a lot of hardships would react.. Touching indeed..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maithili .... you really think so? I was doubtful if a son could actually have so much hatred..... but yeah a teenager would be angry.

      Delete
  7. Hi, coming over from Jas' blog. The was a superb tale...have you thought of getting it published?
    Do visit me when you get a chance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Mom(Aa).... I have been to your blog before too - and we do share similar viewpoints in many things, don't we?

      I've been trying various avenues for printing stuff, and have been slightly successful with two of them - do let me know if you see any more avenues of print.

      Delete
  8. Nice short story. I loved reading it. Extremely well written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Navjot .... welcome to LaFemme .... !

      Delete
  9. Great story, Meena. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for putting up the link at the competition site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much KayEm ... so gald you came by! Thanks to the competition, I read this story again!

      Delete