victory

Twinkle Wrinkle

The two cups of hot tea that he makes for us, two weary travelers, on a cold Udaipur morning fills the air. As the chill of the morning seeks renewal with a fresh gust of cold air, every sip of his tea seems to set the system right. 
He speaks, well, succinctly. He doesn’t need to speak a lot more. For his tea does the talking. It is both hot and crisp and with a sting of something like ginger. Keeping us awake. 

As the tea sinks in and the eyes see more of the man, the wrinkles became apparent. First, some. And then, some more. As he adjusts the apology of the woolens that’s on him, even more become visible. 

Ten rupees gets passed on to him. 

He searches for change of which there is none. He searches some more, rummaging through what seems to be a sheaf of yesterdays newspapers. Perhaps he has some cash there.  After another hurried ruffle, looks up and with an apology laced accent, says, “I don’t have change”.

“How much does it cost?  How much do you have to give”, I ask. 

The combination of abundant chill of the winter morning and the travel induced weariness that seamlessly envelop every bone, checking for the price of his tea before drinking it, was missed. Besides, this is a roadside stall. How much could it be!?! 

“Nothing”.  “I have nothing”. He says falteringly. “Actually, I had, but can’t http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/voltaren-generic.html find it”.  

Sheepishness announcing its presence through a substantial drop in the decibel level of his voice at the end of each sentence. 

“Doesn’t matter”. I say.  And move on.  Not bothering to stop and check with him. After all, It was ten rupees. Not a million.  The old man with the wrinkles indeed made a very genuine attempt and seemed sincerely out of change.  

As I get into the cab, the old man shouts out. “Wait”. He says running  as fast as his wobbly feet can bring him. “Now, what did I miss”, I wonder and hurriedly get out of the car. 

He grabs my hand and passes on a pack of biscuits to me. “For the five rupees”. He says. “Your balance”.

“It doesn’t matter”. I repeat. 
“To you”. He completes the sentence. And then adds, “It does matter. To me.” With a firmness that befits a commander at war. 

I smile and accept his biscuits. The wrinkles on his face stretch in sweet surrender to a smile that sprouts from nowhere. Perhaps to announce a quaint victory. Maybe in satisfaction of preserving what is dear to him: his pride. 

I swallow hard. The lesson stays. I say “thank you”. We look at each other for a few seconds.  He smiles. Suddenly, the twinkle in his eye outshines every wrinkle on the face. I smile too.   

Trophies

Those medals. They hang from his chest. A chest that seems swollen from a distance. Medals that were won in the military. Many years of serving the nation. If these medals had a mouth of a TV newscaster, they would narrate battle tales. Perhaps.

Perhaps. Of war cries and hospital walks. Of wins of territory, and loss of limb. Maybe life. Of bravery amidst blood.

Retirement. An able body. A need for family sustenance. And a clutch of medals. These form a neat concoction that provides him employment as a security supervisor at the apartment complex. On special occasions, he wears those medals. And walks with a swollen chest.

Proud as he is. Of his past. For, every time he wears those medals, the second-grade son of the Vice-President who lives in Flat No : 202, insults him lesser.

These medals, awe.




In a distant small town, an array of medals, trophies, certificates, and plaques adorn an entire cupboard. They keep a lonely mother and father company. They were brought home with great joy by sons, long gone.

When these trophies were first brought home, they were brought with tremendous happiness.

Awarded for many reasons. Ranging from elocution to essay writing. From quizzing to tennis. From topping school to writing complex code. And other prolific stuff including ‘attending school without a days leave’ to ‘blood donation’ !

Each trophy was treasured. Polished. Shined. And till date, enjoys the attention of visitors. ‘These were brought by our sons’. They say, to people who care to ask, amongst the few that care to drop in.

Trophies, tell tales.

On another note. Big city living has trophies that are in vogue. From the air conditioner to the amplifier. From branded shirts to premium underwear. From the luxury car to Luxembourg holidays. From the digital thermostat to hand wound watches. From cat salons to the digital mouse !


The excitement of the acquisition always compensating the emptiness on usage. For, material trophies atrophy.

Simple living. Good health. Shared love. And building a collective future.

These perhaps are the trophies that count. These perhaps are the trophies that secretly awe lead runners and podium finishers of the rat race. These are the trophies that will spawn a million memories. Worth more than all the gold with the RBI.

And these perhaps are the only trophies that come, atrophy proof !


Trophies & a Class X lesson!

It was last week that my mother told me that she had rearranged all the medals and cups that me and my brother had won as kids. As kids, the significance of each trophy was immense. We would dream of that medal. That podium finish. That photograph of receiving a prize from the ‘chief guest’.

I recall winning medals and cups for quizzes, debates, tennis tournaments, essay competitions and such other sundry activities. Even for maintaining a perfect attendance record.

Today, these trophies sit in silence at my home in Madurai. Many miles away. Each carrying with it a memory and an emotion. And of course there is my mother, who tends to these, wiping and cleaning them up as though they were her sons themselves. And not just trophies her sons won many years back.

On an abaxial plane, our lives seem to revolve around such trophies ! Trophies that held maximum significance when on the victory podium and the immediate days after. The halo around them fades like the setting sun’s crimson streak. Sinking into oblivion along with a clutch of memories & a warm fuzzy feeling. The trophy by itself becomes a piece of metal that needs care and polish. The memories remain! Perhaps they are the real trophies!

For me, ‘trophies’ have taken have changed over time. From hard metal to Hush Puppies shoes & Van Huesen shirts. To becoming a manager inorder to be ‘eligible’ for a laptop & fly between cities. The car. The house…These are all trophies in a way. Trophies for breasting the tape.

Many years back in Standard X I had ‘Commerce’ as a subject. We learnt about ‘human wants. And I remember some features that we discussed about wants. They went like this.

a. Human wants are unlimited
b. When one want is satisfied, new want comes up
c. Wants are ever present…

As I write this, I look up to find a sheet from todays newspaper. An ad catches my eye. “50 % off. On-first-come-first-served-basis”. My eyes dilate & wander.

Ah ! Trophies. If only we treasure the real ones. Ourselves. Our loved ones. Our ability to impact. Our planet. Ah.