Tie Up Your Camels.

This is a story of how careless a person could be, which really shocked me.

One day a relative of mine came to visit me. He had brought a bag, which he kept on the table in front of him. “Goodies from our native town,” he told me, pointing to the bag.

He chatted for a while. Even though I tried to concentrate on his conversation, my eyes kept darting to the bag on the table, wondering what sweets or savories he would have got for me.

He left after sometime and I opened the bag, expecting to find Halwa or Boondi. Or my favorite Jilebi.

What I saw there shocked me. Loads of CASH!

I counted the crisp currency notes.  There was three lakhs!

I called him on his mobile immediately and asked , “What did you bring me?”

“Goodies, yummy goodies”, he said.

“Are you expecting me to open a sweet shop?” I was angry and sarcastic.

“What are you saying?”

“There is three lakhs in cash in this bag,” I said.

“Oh my God! I brought the wrong bag, is it?” He almost cried. “Thank you sister. I am coming now, immediately. Thank you so much.”

He hurried back to retrieve the bag.

“How can you be so careless,” I admonished him.

“Sister, protection comes from God,” he smiled sheepishly, feeling foolish and guilty.

But I was still under a shock. Anything could have happened. I might have told my maid to put away the sweets and snacks in containers and given the bag to her.

Or I might have just left the bag lying on the table and gone out.

“Brother, we all believe that protection comes from God. But do you know this famous  Arab proverb about taking care of your belongings?”

“What is that?” he asked

“TRUST  IN GOD…BUT TIE UP YOUR CAMELS!!”

 

Image By: OpenClipart-Vectors By Pixabay

Image By : Clker- Free Vector Image By Pixabay

Image By 200 degrees from Pixabay

Story By Mumtaz. Written by Gulsum Basheer @talkalittledo.

 

 

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Do Parrots Have Feelings Too?

My cousin told me this story.

Her tone, her expression, her concern when she was narrating it  made the tale so poignant for me, that I had to share it on my blog. But I don’t know if I can capture the essence of the story with my words.

My cousin’s friend lived in the tenth floor of an apartment complex. She and her husband were retired and their children lived abroad.

Her husband bought two  green parrots to keep them company.

He did up the whole balcony of their flat into an abode for the birds. The man put up cane trellis against the balcony to keep the birds enclosed inside. Then he hung swings, branches and clay pots from the ceiling for his feathered friends to perch. He also kept a nice big cage for them to rest . The couple took care of the birds lovingly. The entrance to the balcony from their hall was closed with a mesh door.

It was a heavenly abode for the birds. The only thing that scared the woman of the house was that the gap in the cane trellis was a little big, more than one inch in width and she feared that the birds might escape by squeezing out through the gaps.

But nothing like that happened.  As for the couple, they loved to sit at the mess door and watch the birds.

What a lovely sight it used to be.

The birds rubbed beaks and chased each other around the hanging pots.They hung upside down from the branches and played all day long.

In fact they seemed like two newly weds in the first flush of love.

The retired couple would invite people home, just to show off their pets. This went on for a year.

Then one of the birds fell sick. It would not feed, it would not fly. Especially it would not play with its mate.

The healthy parrot did its best to cheer up the sick bird. It nudged, it rubbed its beak, it  made tender sounds against the sick bird’s head. But to no avail.

A few days later, the sick bird died.

The living bird trotted about on the floor near the dead bird for a few hours, still trying to revive the friend.

The  sad man and his wife went to bed that night meaning to clear the corpse the next day.

The next morning they woke up to a silent house. No chattering of parrots welcomed them.

They walked into the balcony. Only the dead parrot lay in a stiff pose on the floor. The other parrot was no where to be found.

What the woman of the house had feared all along had happened.

The bird had squeezed itself out through the gaps in the trellis.

It had flown away!!

My cousin and her friend  would wonder, why the  birds had not attempted to escape before. The gap between the trellis was large enough and the outside tempting enough for at least one of them to have made a bid for freedom.

Was just their love so binding that it kept them imprisoned inside their adopted home and why did the other bird leave immediately after the companion had died?

My cousin relating the story to me asked in a voice  filled with wonder, awe and so much sadness that it moved me.

“Akka, do parrots also have feelings like us? Do they also love as deeply as we humans do?”

While I wondered,

“Was the free bird safe?”

Story by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

PS: Akka in Tamil language means sister.

Image by Gird Altmann at Pixabay

Image by GRELOT71 at Pixabay

 

 

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Paapa in Tamil Means Baby.

This happened a few years ago when we went to get a passport for my baby grand-daughter and renew the existing one of her mother.

We reached well in time. Since my grand-daughter was a baby, they allowed an extra person, meaning me, to accompany them into the office.

My daughter-in-law was tired after having stayed up all night with her restless child. As we waited for our turn, the security at the door, asked:

“Where is Paapa?”

My daughter in law, showed her child and said,

“This is the paapa.” (Paapa in Tamil means Baby)

The man balked.

“No. Where is Paapa?”

“This one here is the paapa. We have come to get her passport.”

The man looked at her like he had a lunatic on his hands.

“No. I mean, where is HER Paapa?”

Now it was my daughter-in-law’s turn to balk.

Then it struck me that the Hindi speaking gentleman from North of India was asking for the baby’s father.

In North India, a father is addressed as Paapa, where as in South India, Paapa means a baby.

So much for our cultural differences!

I intervened and set the man’s doubts at rest and explained that the baby’s father was at work and could not take the day off.

One more thing to remember on that day, was a young man who was sitting next to us, while my daughter in law, had gone in to complete some formalities. The man, almost a boy,  told me that he had just completed his graduation and was trying to get a job abroad and so the  passport application.

My grand-daughter kept trying to pull the bike key from his hands which he was dangling before her and teasing her. I thought there was something unusual about his fingers. They seemed different. I could not figure out what it was.

When we got up to leave, he waved us good bye. Then I noticed it.

He had SIX FINGERS!!

PS: My grandmother, who lived  to be a hundred years old, used to say that having six fingers was considered to be very lucky. Hope his desire to work abroad came true.

Image by Solart  from Pixabay

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Image by Amanda Elizabeth from Pixabay

 

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Twice Married Wife

I was barely out of college when I lost my father and soon afterwards, my mother. My sister had been married by then and lived close by.

I got into the habit of spending time with her, helping her in the house and later with her child. It took my mind off my troubles.

Ashok (name changed) was my brother- in- law’s friend. He would visit my sister’s house often. He was an only child to his widowed mother and often spoke of his mother with  love, fear and awe.

His mother was a school head-mistress and a strict and imposing woman. She was very tall and had aristocratic looks and a voice that could stop any student who was getting into some mischief, right in their tracks.

The more I heard about his mother, the more I began to fear her, even without having met her. But I realized that I was falling slowly in love with Ashok and he seemed to be reciprocating.

But we did not exchange a single word on the subject of marriage. Those were innocent times!

November 4th was Ashok’s birthday. My sister, brother-in-law and I were waiting for him to visit us, as we were eager to wish him in person.My sister’s husband told me, “why don’t you wear a better saree. We might go out for lunch or something.”

He made me change into a silk saree.

When Ashok came, he seemed to be in a hurry. He told us to get into his car and as I wondered what the tamasha was all about, he drove very quickly to a government building a few kilometers away.

It was a Marriage Registrar’s office.

I got out in a daze and a group of men gathered there, clapped loudly welcoming us.

My sister pulled me along to a room, quite a dingy little room, mind you. The man officiating the wedding, made us sign a few papers and the men who had clapped for us, witnessed our signature. They were apparently Ashok’s colleagues.

And we were married!

It took me a good few minutes to realize what had just happened. I trusted my sister implicitly.

Ashok left with his colleagues to his office and I came back to my sister’s house, a married woman without a husband. There was no “melam-thalam or aarathi” to welcome this newly wed bride.

My sister filled in all the details of how they had carried off this event, which she had kept a secret all along.

Ashok’s mother was very much against his marrying me. She had selected a bride for him from among her relatives. The idea that her only son was going against her wishes was abominable. Mother and son had been arguing on this subject for many months, both refusing to relent. Then Ashok had come up with this surprise wedding idea and I had not been told anything about it as I would surely be against duping another woman. I would not have agreed to this run away marriage at all.

A few days earlier my sister’s husband had taken my college certificates on the pretext of getting me a job but they had actually been submitted at the marriage registrar office as proof of my age and that I was not a minor child.

I continued to stay in my sister’s house and Ashok visited us as usual and gentleman that he was, he in no way took advantage of our married status.

He wanted his mother to accept this marriage first.

He told me that he had collected our marriage certificates and had  shown it to his mother. All hell had broken loose and his mother was consulting many of her acquaintances as to what to do to annul the marriage.

There was nothing she could, but to accept me as her son’s lawfully wedded wife.

Being the proud woman that she was, she never acknowledged the government wedding and completely turned a blind eye to it. She began to make preparations for us to get married according to religious rites.

It was on December 28th, I was married again, this time in a religious place of worship with many relatives and friends from both our sides blessing us.

My mother in law hated me, all her life.

But my husband’s love more than made up for it. Every year on his birthday, he would take out the Government Marriage Certificate and read it out proudly to our children and address me lovingly as:

“My Twice Married Wife!”

Story by S. Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

All photo credits:  pixabay

 

 

 

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There Is No Crowing About It In Singapore.

It was the top floor of a hotel in Singapore. My friend K was in the swimming pool on the open terrace of that hotel. There was no one else at the pool and that did not deter him from enjoying himself. In fact he liked the solitude.

It was his first visit to the city-state and from the time he had landed at the airport he had been impressed with the efficiency of the people here. He was taken in by the squeaky clean streets lined with trees and flower beds. The hotel room was comfortable  and the service exemplary. Now he was enjoying a quick swim before joining a friend who lived here, for lunch.

K  swam with brisk strokes across the pool, back and forth.

It was then he heard loud shots, obviously the recoil of  guns. K froze for a moment.  More shots rang out, like as if there was a gun battle going on. K did the only thing he could do under the circumstance. He held his breath and went under water, in an effort to escape from the range of fire.

He did not know what was happening. Was it the police after a criminal? Was it a gun battle between rival gangs?

As he stayed underwater, holding his breath, he remembered what he had read about Singapore in travel books. Unlike some other countries, citizens were not allowed to possess guns here. Singapore has one of the toughest gun laws in the world and possession of private weapons is a serious offence.

But now, within hours of his arrival, he seemed to be in the middle of a shooting range.

When he could no longer hold his breath under water and the  noise seemed to have subsided, he slowly surfaced and looked around stealthily. There were some men on the terrace, holding guns.

But they were pointing at the tall trees outside.

Mustering up courage, he looked into the branches. Who was being targeted? No one seemed to have taken refuge in the trees.

Another shot rang out and before K could duck, something fell from the skies.

Plop!!

Right into the terrace which housed the swimming pool.

It was a DEAD CROW!

Much later, K learnt that the  men were from the gun club, one of the few places where you could handle a gun. They had been hired by the government  to shoot and kill the raucous crows that were  detrimental to all the good that Singapore stood for.  But the task of keeping Singapore free from the crow nuisance was proving a difficult one.

K was astonished when his friend explained this to him at lunch that day.

After a good holiday, K was back in his house in India.

His neighbor was an old lady, seeped in tradition and she had this habit of feeding the crows on auspicious days. In her religion, crows were supposed to be a link between her and her dead loved ones.

K watched as the lady kept cooked rice on a plantain leaf outside her house, and loudly called out:

“CAW, CAW, CAW!”

A bunch of crows swooped down and pecked on the rice, keeping a wary eye for predators.

K laughed as he thought to himself:

“Boy, are you glad, you are a revered crow in India.”

“In Singapore, you would be DEAD by now.”

 

Story by Bina. Written by Gulsum Basheer on Talkalittledo.

Flag- Image courtesy of mapichai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net  , Hand with gun – Image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net ,  Crows – Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Ice Cream Seller Who Was Paid Forty Years Late.

Long ago, a little boy in school was distraught because his best friend Hameed (name changed) had been warned by his mother to keep away from him.

Hameed’s mother had come to school and complained to the principal that she did not approve of the friendship between N and her son and many of the misdemeanor on Hameed’s part had been instigated by N.

At lunch break that day, N stood under a tree feeling unhappy. He watched Hameed  go off with other boys, shunning his company, as per his mother’s orders.

A kind of wildness seized him. He was hurting badly inside, yet he decided to put on a show of bravado and nonchalance. He wanted to do something to prove that he did not care if Hameed  was his friend or not.

An ice cream seller was at the gate peddling  colourful ice lollies. The man was not allowed to come near the school premises, but he came anyway, against orders.  N ran up to him and bought an ice lolly. It was nothing but coloured sugar water, frozen on a lollipop stick.  Those days it hardly cost much. Probably thirty paise. It was called stick ice or kuchi-ice in our vernacular.

N licked his ice lolly and then not to be found wanting, he bought ice lollies for his other class mates hanging around the ice cream seller, even as Hameed watched longingly from afar. It was N’s childish way of proving to Hameed that he was not his only friend. He had so many friends.

Suddenly N realized one terrible predicament.  He had no money to pay the ice-cream man.

He had forgotten to take his daily quota of money from his dad that day and  his pockets were empty. He was terrified. He did not want to be shaken by his collar and shamed in front of his school mates. He hesitantly told the ice cream seller, that he could pay him the next day only.

The ice cream seller was a good soul and was used to kids eating his ice cream on credit, promising to pay later.  “Not a problem, son. You can always pay me tomorrow.” He said.

But how was the poor man to know that his ‘tomorrow’ would come many years late.

The next day and for days after that the ice cream seller never materialized at the school gates, even though N was careful to take the required amount to pay him back. The school authorities had taken a vigilant stand against vendors selling snacks or ice cream to their school boys and no one was allowed to peddle their wares, anywhere near the school gates.

A year later, N was shifted to a boarding school in  Ooty and he did not see the ice cream vendor at all. The incident became just a memory.

Years passed by. N grew up to be a successful businessman. He  was also a well-known philanthropist who was revered by everyone in his hometown.

The now middle-aged N, loved the outdoors and would often drive down to the river that ran through his town, park his car near the bank and sit quietly contemplating. This solitude helped him admire nature, ponder over his day and reflect on his business and other social activities.

That particular day, the river was in spate and was overflowing its banks. N had to park his car near the road, along the river. As he stood leaning on his vehicle, looking at the swelling river, he heard the tinkling of cycle bells. It was a very old man,  pushing a derelict cycle, which had an old tin box tied to its rear carrier. On the box was painted the picture of a stick of ice and the name of the ice company. Obviously the box was a freezer box containing ice sticks.

N was excited on seeing the man’s face.

The man was none other than the ice cream seller of N’s school days! The vendor was almost in his nineties and he was still continuing his old trade.

Without divulging his identity to the man, N picked up a conversation with him. The man told him that his family had made these ice lollies at home, like a cottage industry for many years. He was both the manufacturer and the vendor. He would target schools during morning recess and lunch break and would come in his  bicycle with the freezer box to sell his wares. He said that though he did not make much money, the work had kept him busy and happy.

The old man also said that he did not want to be a burden on his family at this advanced age and was trying to be active and helpful. Also, he wanted to make some money for his grand-daughter’s wedding.

N admired the man’s good spirits as he had admired his magnanimity on that hateful day, long ago. He pulled out his wallet, took out a sheaf of currency notes and without even counting how much it amounted to, he put it all into the old man’s hands.

The man stood stunned. His hands had not held so much money ever in his life.

As he stared amazed,  with a wondering, questioning look in his eyes, N got into his car and drove away, happy that he had settled his childhood debt.

It took the man many minutes to come back to reality. He wondered if his benefactor was human or angel and why he had been gifted so much money.

Poor man, he would never know that it was not a gift. The money was payment (with interest many times over) for the ice lollies, that he had given a dejected school boy on credit, all those years ago.

Only, he had received his payment very, very late.

Almost forty years late!!

 

Retro Flat Ice cream  : Image courtesy of zirconicusso at   

http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sketch of a man and bicycle:  Image courtesy : Arnontphoto at http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stack of 100 dollars Image courtesy:  Yodiyim at   

http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Story By Mr.N-Written by Gulsum Basheer on talkalittledo.

 

 

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The Left Hand Does Not Know About The Right Hand.

Mr.N was born with the proverbial “silver spoon in his mouth.” But that was not what endeared him to many, especially the weaker sections of society.

His heart was bigger than all his industries put together.

For he was a do-gooder!

He went out of his way to help the needy and his philosophy life was that “his left hand should not know what his right hand was doing.”

He went about strewing goodness and never letting the person who had benefited, know who his saviour was.

There were many stories told about his magnanimity. I will share one here, which I heard recently.

Mr.N was in the habit of getting his hair cut by a particular stylist (we called them barbers then) at a salon near his house. As he lived in a small town in the deep south of India, there were not many expert hair stylists around and his regular man was better than most.

This hair stylist used to talk to Mr.N about some of the people in their town. One person he often dwelt upon was a physically challenged man named Chudalai.(Name changed)

Chuadalai had lost one of his legs in a road accident. What made his life a living hell was that he was also partially blind.

But his blindness was not something that a good surgeon could not rectify. Since Chudalai did not have the money nor the means to go to an Ophthalmologist, he wasted away.

He would often sit close to the Public Telephone Booth in the town and talk to people who came there. This was before the spurt of mobiles in every hand.

He came to hear of properties that had come up for sale or for rent and would help people in the capacity of a real estate agent.

He came of a proud stock and never ever took alms from people. He was NOT a beggar, you see. He wanted to EARN his living.

When Mr.N heard about him from his hair stylist, his heart went out to this man.

Without telling anyone, as was his wont, he arranged with his manager to book an appointment for Chudalai at an eye hospital in the big city close to their town. He  paid for the poor man’s transport, stay, check-up and surgery in the hospital and with in a few weeks, Chudalai’s eyes were good as new.

As Chudalai hobbled out of the hospital, all that he knew about the man who had given him a new lease of life was his name : Mr.N of  —- Industries!!

It was many months later, Mr.N was called to speak at a conference about  physically challenged people and how they survive in society. His speech was met with a big round of applause.

The person who spoke after him was a man who had lost one of his legs in an accident.

As he began his speech, he said, “I am lame now. Once I was even blind.”

He continued, “But heaven took pity on me and sent a divine being to my aid. A veritable angel, who paid for my surgery and helped me regain my sight.”

As he wiped the tears that flowed down his eyes, he continued,

“I never got a chance to thank him. It is because of him that I am able to see you all today. I have never seen my benefactor before. But today I see him!!”

“There! There!”

Chudalai shouted with joy, pointing to MR.N, who was trying to escape everyone’s notice by slinking out of the venue.

“My swami, my saviour, the kadavul who restored my eye sight!!”

“I CAN see him now!”

 

PS: Chudalai became Mr.N’s ardent admirer and every Diwali, he would appear  at Mr.N’s house with a box of sweets which the later would shyly accept.

 

Story By : Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Kadavul means God in Tamil Language.

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