Saturday, July 31, 2010



This is the first story I wrote and published in Ama Odisha e-magazine

Please download 4th edition of this magazine. My story is in pages 76-82.
Looking forward to your comments.


Since morning Bhaga Das looked bit sad as well as confused. His bohu, daughter-in-law Surama has been studying and also worrying about the effect of her father-in-law's mood swing, given his advanced age. Surama's concern about Bhaga Das is not only for her father-in-law but also for her perception of the situation. Her son has been making hell of the house demanding stylish pair of shoes though recently the family had purchased a pair for him. Nobody in the house including her husband found any rationality in purchasing another pair of shoes. Moreover, the cost of the stylish pair of shoes cost was abominable. Surama did not want consumerism getting hold of her son at such young age. Bahaga Das, despite knowing the situation, maintains silence when Rahul tries to get everyone to agree to his whims and fancies. It is as if everyone had made a pact silently. The day she landed in this house, she could make the pact with it for Bhaga Das could own her with affection that are beyond a common house-hold she knew that time. Surama was also a kind of girl with a longing to be loved. She has been like this since her childhood. Wherever she went, she liked others telling nice things of her.. Who does not like that? For Surama, it is only visible. And she is not really secretive of her trait. It's also true that she is nice. Before coming to Maitapur her husband's village, she had been nice daughter, nice student and nice to her childhood friends. Twenty years back, she came to Maitapur along with an affordable marriage procession accompanied by Gopal - the son of Bhaga Das.

Maitapur is a big village in Simulia block of Balasore district in Odisa. The village is now almost a panchayat that includes another tiny village Bangalpur. The villagers of Bangalpur are found always engaged in maintaining their identity being buffered in two big villages Maitapur and Markona; later being a part of another panchayat named Markona. Somehow Bangalpureans are very touchy and emotional of their village. In every aspects pertaining to Maitapur panchayat activity they want to be considered with the highest priority. So also they take pride of bringing something in or doing something new to the panchayat.

Bhaga Das remembers that in Maitapur panchayat, that new thing called ‘Sungadi’ bicycle was bought by Kangali babu of Bangalpur first. Sj. Kangali Charan Mohanty, popularly known as Kangali babu is the fire brand nationalist of Maitapur panchayat. He is no more. But, he is still remembered for his nationalism and later for canny deals for settling peace among villagers. He also had the distinction of leading this area to freedom struggle. But, while leading a procession or addressing a gathering in Maitapur chhak he never forgot to take his village name Bangalpur. Of course, sometimes he was overdoing being excited while delivering his speech unfurling Indian national flag at Maitapur chhak. Besides, he had that privilege being the oldest and respected freedom fighter in this area.

Every year, Bhaga Das used to attend the flag hoisting ceremony at Maitapur chhak. He always took great pride in it. It also reminded him of his sweet old childhood days passed loitering along with a herd of animals including cows, bullocks and goats. Bhaga Das was a cow-herd boy of fun and frolic. One day, out of curiosity he joined a rally led by young Kangali babu. It’s true Bhaga Das didn’t know or understood why that rally was. But to his utter surprise, he landed up in Simulia police station being rounded up by British police and further he was sent to Balasore jail for a year. In the jail he understood what that rally was. Of course, he learnt many more things at Balasore jail from co-nationalists. A simple cow-herd boy turned wise in the process. Since, he has been able to understand social dynamics of his village as well as dramas being enacted in recent past by politicians in Delhi. Somehow, he does not hold much respect for neo-political leaders at Delhi or Bhubaneshwar as he has for Kangali babu. That day, he got attracted to Kangali babu or rather Kangali babu attracted him being adorned with khadi headgear, a khadi chadar wrapping his youthful body and wearing a khadi of short length. That day, he learnt to wear the dhoti differently. Ofcourse, very few people used to wear dhoti at that time. For almost all, a khurdha gamuchha - a brick colour hand woven 4-5 ft. cloth was enough for a man to cover some part down to waist. A well-off man would have another 3-ft long either to tie around head or to hang on his shoulder. Wearing a dhoti was for few that too for rare occasions like marriage. A person was rated based on his style of dhoti wearing. Particularly, Janardan babu – the father of Kangali babu had a distinct style of wearing a dhoti that was unknown to Bhaga Das and people like him. The fringes of his dhoti used to hang at the front while its borders kissed mother earth. Sometimes, Janardan babu used to walk holding the fringes of his dhoti in his left first, swinging his right hand making almost 30 degree inclined to his bodyline and making his head approximately around 5 degree swung back as if he wanted to increase his sight coverage area. But that day, Bhaga Das didn’t find Kanagali babu following his father not even in his style of wearing dhoti. He was not looking as grand as how his father used to be in dhoti. Since then, Kanagali babu had become an icon himself for many in that area.

Bhaga Das and people like him used to join Kanagali babu in celebrating national days, though now for many these days have become mere holidays only. Bhaga Das gets upset with today’s mood and perception. He remembered how rigorously villagers were celebrating those days. They used to put purna kumbha in from of their homes welcoming school kids coming in a procession. Recital of national song, slogans hailing the motherland accompanied by blowing of conch shells used to draw a rainbow of patriotism on everybody’s eyes. Now, Bhaga Das wonders what those eyes were looking at that time and what today has brought to them. But, those days nobody cared for what would they get; they only cared to rejoice the mood of the motherland – probably the ecstasy of breaking from yesterday had caught them in a frenzy. One by one each was following Kangali babu or joining the procession to assemble around a cement block at Maitapur chhak and hoist the national flag.

Bhaga Das used to do even something more in helping Kangali babu in celebrations. But, he was never satisfied with the choice of Maitapur chhak for flag hoisting. Maitapur chhak is at the periphery of Maitapur though it is at the side of national high way that time popularly called as Jagannath sadak. He even raised this issue with Kangali babu to find the later being adherent to the place, particularly putting the flag on a prism like cement block standing on 10x10 sq.ft slightly high raised cement platform. Now, of course the structure is erased out for widening of national high way. Kangali babu used to assume a kind of pride for putting the flag there on the cement prism, probably thinking it a British relic. Nobody knew with certainty who and why this block was built. But, there was a story on it was in circulation, probably purported by Kangali babu. The story tells - during British Raj one of the then Governor had to travel by road from Soro to Bhadrak due to some problem on railroad. And the collector of Balasore wished to grab the occasion to impress the Governor. For God known reasons he had chosen Maitapur chhak to arrange a civilian reception for Governor and had constructed this cement structure as a remembrance of the visit. Of course, the Governor was kind enough to inaugurate the structure. However, the story has a flaw, as there is no explanation why there is no plaque bearing the name of the Governor. Innocent villagers with no idea of inauguration rituals just took the story as it is. Bhaga Das had also little problem on accepting it knowing well the story was manufactured aptly by Kangali babu. But somehow he was in favour of Melana pada for choosing the place for hoisting the national flag.
Melana pada is a small stretch of high raised open fields, an area equal to that of six football fields. To its west there is an earthly mound of ten feet height and flat top of fifty square feet; by the side, a huge tamarind tree covers the mound with such jealousy that casts a mystic look from a distance, particularly half moon-lit nights. And the trunk of the tree with various patterns due to ageing barks and being painted with vermilion marks add to the spell the tree casts on onlookers. For that probably, quite long back , nobody knows when it was, mangala thakurani was put under the tree and the flat area was used for devotees to perform rituals on the top of the mound. Bhaga Das’s house is to the east of the pada and by the side of a mud road that passes in between his house and the pada. Since childhood, every morning as he comes out of his house, his sight falls on the large vermillion patches that scares Bhaga Das of wrong doings. Probably, it works as Bhaga Das carries a noteworthy record among his villagers. In childhood first he used to gather all the cattle from others houses on Pada and then lead them far off to graze and returning to pada in the evening. An assembly of cattle also resulted assembly of cowherd boys and Bhaga Das used to enjoy the assembly under the green tress playing a variety of games with friendly cowherd boys. They had such limited options for whole day and they were so happy despite the limitations. Now, he does not understand why his grandson is unhappy in spite of so many thngs around him. Understanding that has become out of his reach. Bhaga Das has been moving on though he has never understood the influence of thakurani on villagers and rationality. But he has not bothered to explore as it has cast a conflict neither on his ethics nor on his interests. Looks, life, nature and belief system feed each other and enrich themselves. The three are as if in eternal journey, in which Bhaga Das has a role with a defined time period. At the same time, particularly in old days Bahaga Das has started feeling as if his association to Pada and surroundings has transcended the passage of time. Rather, he ideally loves to think that way to satisfy his emotional attachments.

Melana Pada, for Bhaga Das and the panchayat, was a socio-economic centre despite the religious favour that is loudly visible even now. Every year Gods with consorts from surrounding thirty plus villages assemble with all grandeur. A unique idea – assembly of Gods among commoners and a stay for three nights under the open sky, gets enacted at the Pada every year and people fromm all the surrounding villages pour in. Bhaga Das remembers those days were different. Hardly anyone used to go to Bhadrak, the nearby town, fifteen kilometers away, to buy things. Rather, everyone used to wait for melana to do the annual shopping of necessary things. Of course, there were very few things people thought as essentials unlike today. Many merchants from Bhadrak used to arrive with bullock cart loads of articles for doing business for atleast fifteen days. After all, it was their social duty to carry essentials that local people need for the whole year. Karim – a shoe merchant from Bhadrak also used to come every year.

Bhaga Das knew Karim since his jail days at Balasore. In independent India, llike Bhaga Das he didn’t look for green pasture in politics in spite of several lucrative offer he had. Once, he understood the offer was for his religion then he vehemently refused to accept though his action by some was looked as foolish and he had to trade a difficult journey as a petty shoe merchant in Bhadrak katchery bazaar. Still, he does not repent his action even a bit. He wonders and praises himself for the brave decision he took at that time. He finds answer to himself - the chemistry he developed in Balasore jail among nationalist is in action even now. While everybody looks Karim oddly now, Bhaga Das a Brahmin of Maitapur found a closeness to Karim.

Bhaga Das and Karim have been nurturing a friendship since they knew each other in Balasore jail. The nationalism they took to, had taught them love for the soil at the helm and rationality to question man made constraints. Bhaga Das the poor orphan soon after release from the jail found himself helpless and chose to work in Calcutta like many others– the city those days was the destination for livelihood as Bangalore is today. Bhaga Das went to Calcutta for livelihood, played a long innings there for doing petty jobs mainly as a cook and a priest. But, he returned to his village just before Calcutta turned Kolkatta and then failed to attract job seekers. He got so used to Calcutta, having stayed there for some many years that it had become second home though Melanapada always beckoned him. After a long days toil in Calcutta, when he closed his eyes, the tamarind tree of Melanapada appeared in his dream. But, he was continuing to stay in Calcutta for sheer inertia that many people called the charm of Calcutta. Neither Surama nor Gopal could, but Bablu the baby grandson could prevail upon Bhaga Das to return to Maitapur permanently. The charm of playing with Bablu at Melanapada was the main attraction – a nostalgic impulse was at work.

The relationship between Melanapada and Bhaga Das, of course used to get stronger every year during Holi, inspite of his long stay in Calcutta. The association with Karim was getting stronger because of his Calcutta visit in every three months to pick up merchandise from the tannery there. Bhaga Das used to be Karim’s host in Calcutta. At night they used to talk about many things in changing world and try to judge with rationality the truth they imbibed in British jail. How different is the jail now with jail-mates associated to various crimes that time was never heard! However, they used to wonder of the quantum of changes the independence had brought in and were happy of that. But, they were not able to agree with some changes and used to wonder about them.

Karim used to make variety of shoes with the leather he got from Calcutta and used to keep the best pieces for display at annual fair at Melanapada. His annual sojourn to Melanapada was important for two reasons: satisfying needs of local people who used to wait for his shoes and secondly, he used to make a major part of his livelihood from the business here. He used to feel satisfied with the thought that the entire people of the locality were waiting for him compared to the age now when youngsters rush for branded shoes. But the difference was, Karim’s shoes were not only cheap but sturdy for rough and tough uses, especially by villagers. Infact, it is not an exaggeration to say that Karim taught wearing of shoes to the people of this locality as before they used to wear a kind of desi shoes made of palmleaf stem. People used to wear that, only when they annually fence their little land holdings with thorns to protect vegetables from goats and cattle. That was the work for a week or two and soon after they used to throw away those shoes for the rest of the year. Once Karim started his shoe business in Melanapada, many started using them while privileged initially frowned at with a feeling of loosing their status as shoe-wearing gentleman. Bhaga Das as well as Kangali babu had to intervene a little to wash out this social stigma. Almost all the men folk used to pick up a rough-&-tough pair of shoes that Usually lasted long given its sturdiness and sparing use. Then, kids and women folks also started wearing shoes and Karim's shoes became a house hold possession known for its trust and usability. Unlike now one was not used to spending so much time in choosing a brand pair of shoes hopping from one shop to another. Of course, now shoes are lucky enough to wait in air-conditioned shops before they get initiated to dust biting.

Each shoe made by Karim carried his personal touch. Later, his son Rahim also extended a helping hand in shoe making during his offtime from school study. Bhaga Das, though staying in Calcutta at the time, still bought Karim's shoes. Karim’s shoes were made not only for rural use but also carried a sense of nationalistic feeling. Karim used to have a different repute among all the shopkeepers who used to gather in Melanapada for his associations with Kangali babu and Bhaga Das. Every year during the fifteen days Holi festivities, the three used to enjoy for an annual reunion. They used to sit late in the evening, discussing the changing aspects of life and society. Surprisingly, the three were very common in accepting changes in age old social norms that were forward looking. But some changes brought by the passage of time was becoming difficult for them to accept. The first, the blow of missing Kangali babu shook the rest two all through. Since then, for the two, a kind of dullness set in. They were not ready to accept the avalanche of changes time started unfolding before them.

Karim’s business started showing a down trend. At the same time his domestic expenditure was rising up. Neither, Bhadrak remained a sleepy town nor Maitapur Melana remained the same for Karim. Machine made fancy shoes started pouring in. Villagers, particularly youngsters started feeling restless about living in sleepy villages. A strange attraction to the metropolis set in for living - might be for perpetual monotony and poverty, youngsters found a synonym to rural life. Bhaga Das could feel it due to his acquaintance to both the lives. But, the attraction that was pulling him to the village was so intense and personal that he was not able to explain the same his friends in Calcutta. And even his son Gopal viewed his father’s decision to return as irrational. Bhaga Das came back; many saw his return as a fool’s decision. So also, viewed Karim’s every year sojourn to Melanapada. But, karim knew he was coming for not for business but for inertia due to the pulling of residual force, eagerness to meet Bhaga Das.

Then the time came with a bitter slap for Bhaga Das, when Karim appeared at Melanapada with a bag full of shoes only. He came on a bicycle instead of his caravan of two bullock carts loaded with shoes. His business had taken a slump to a bag ful of shoes. His wife Farida and son Rahim advised him to abandon this annual sojourn for sheer economic reasons. But, for Karim economics was not the only thing that mattered. He felt himself to be a part of Maitapur Melana festival as if it was his responsibility to provide shoes for all there – a self assumed responsibility. For him, his business was not only defined on a balance sheet but associated with social responsibility and love. Rahim had tried hard to convince his babajaan, terming his journey to Melanapada as sheer foolishness. For Karim, the balance sheet is a strange piece paper and wondered how such an innate element could guide him to do or not to. In his life time, he had not come across a moment where there was no human touch in making a decision that has a bearing on lives.
Karim's understanding of his livelihood and related economics are based on simple theory that is reasoned out by himself, devised by his own surroundings, people and his way of life. His theory stands on three principles: earning is only for simple living, self esteem and prudent expenditure; which he learnt during his time at the Balasore jail. Many termed him a miser for not giving a grand party for his son's marriage though he had a great business that time. Instead, he spent money to build a school in Kuansh his pada in Bhadrak.
Now Karim's theory is facing a serious question. It's crumbling down. Rahim wanted to know rationality of this theory when time is casting a serious question on it. Corporate houses and multi-nationals have stepped in and as if it is not enough, Chinese cheap shoes have come in. Who does need Karim's shoes? Silence in his workshop has started threatening him and his theory. Rahim has turned to himself, thinking his father's obstinacy is pulling him down. He needs better life and money for that. Now, Rahim has raised question on the minimalist theory of his father – 'earn for only living and live with minimal requirements.' Though Rahim has seen the ease of this theory with his father; but the same has been a constant itch for him – there is nothing called minimal in current style of living he analyzes and finds an answer on current backwardness of the country and particularly his village. ‘Grandeur in living’ only brings excellence he quips; and that is how excellence is tangible unlike making it mythical as elders say of saints and sadhus. He wants to be a rationalist and that requires that he be out of his father’s spell. Rahim has decided to be firm though he has known difficulty in it as it hurts his father most. But the call of the day is becoming enchanting and intoxicating to ignore. Finally, when the day came, he took a train to Kanpur to work in a tannery there.
As soon as the train left Bhadrak railway station, it picked up speed and Rahim’s memory rushed through his childhood days, the call of the river Salandi that has taken a small bend towards the right, a furlong away from his house. He felt his feet wet and sticky with alluvial muddy soil passing through his toes. The wet feeling crept up and with a jerk he sat up rubbing his eyes. The trees he knew so well were rushing back as if they were tired of convincing him and returning to their places being hurt. After few minutes, obscure Ranital railway station came and went away; but it’s not obscure to him as he used to get down during his trip to Maitapur Melan jatra. He saw the drinking water tap at the railway station and felt like sneezing remembering the water pushing up his nostrils when drinking water from cup-shaped folded hands.But, quickly he hardened himself remembering the hazard of emotion – emotion binds but later makes relation stale. ‘A bondage that drags is costly’, he passed a verdict. Leaving the soil of birth is a social stigma; but that is man made – thought Rahim. He didn’t care about those accusing fingers. He remembered how Ashok babu of his village long back left for USA and never came back, not even when near and dear ones withered away. He, of course, sent money to his younger brother who used to like it that way’ for ritual expenses. Some prophesized, that one day or other, Ashok would hear the call of the soil that would pull him back. But, they were now proved wrong. Even youngsters now have started questioning the rationality of such belief sighting the scantiness of life being at a sleepy town like Bhadrak. How long could they loiter at the bank of the Salanadi wearing printed lungi and gamuchha while Salalandi itself is drying up and squeezing itself to a nala. Rahim philosophized and said, ‘change is the call of time and fools don’t hear it.’ Of course, he didn’t like Ashok babu and wanted to carve a new example whatever it could be. ‘Does it mean, I want a compromise while letting the change takes place,’ he asked to himself. He was torn apart thinking of these things. Night fell, he took out the tiffin box his mother gave him for the journey. His mother knew the turmoil that was ahead of Rahim. She also knew the storm taking shape within Karim – a feeling of defeat. She had a strange feeling of a log floating along the swollen Salandi current. She had never been afraid of the swollen Salandi since her childhood. Though the swollen Salandi was furious to look at, still she used to came every morning and evening in the rainy season to watch her with golden scattered sun rays. She knew that Salandi would get back its calm and serenity one day. She has learnt, ‘every rage is followed by love – that can happen with mothers.’ Now, time has come for her to wait for serenity to take over after this upheaval,’ thought Farida. When the train started rolling, Farida’s right hand had passed through Rahim’s head to his face and stopped holding his hand till both the hands got separated. Rahim felt a kind of sadness and then heard his soul telling him,’you can’t be like Ashok babu.’ All these were rushing through his head while he was lying on his upper berth. At some point of time, he had gone to sleep and woke up with the noise of chaawalas. He was feeling fresh as if he had found out where the sadness was exactly sitting on his heart. And that spirit guided him all through his stay at Kanpur. He felt, at the end his father would be happy seeing him unlike Ashok babu.

Karim learnt shoe making; the automation pat . Now, he could make use of machines to automate the shoe making process. He also learnt the trick of trade i.e make the latest shoe designs from latest Hindi movies as youngsters ape those very ardently. Also, he learnt to copy designs of branded shoes as there were always some people who couldn’t afford the price of branded shoes but still were after those, like the so called blind lovers destined for disasters. Now he felt as if he could make it a success as a shoe entrepreneur.

Infact, that was not the solution he found on that first night of this onward journey. He decided to come back to Bhadrak and to set up a shoe industry. That was almost like an enlightenment that came to him after five years of his stay in Kanpur. It was not due to random descent of hallow light on him but for a good reasoning that came on observing workers migrated from Odisha. They were the first generation migrants of Odisha who mostly came searching for livelihood and some for good life that the television had shown them through mega serials and Hindi movies. It’s hard to believe how entertainment has changed to sensation being offered on the platter of commercial advertisements. Has ‘Creativity been mortgaged to sensationalism or sensationalism has encouraged creativity’ thought Rahim. ‘But the truth is that both are intertwined,’ Rahim had understood. Though all these didn’t make an impression on him for he had learnt the basics of virtuous life from his parents. He also learnt that ‘continuity is life’. And he had taken that as a cue for his new business on trendy shoes.
Of course, he would use machines for better productivity. But, it would reduce count of labourers which his father would not like. But, his decision got a fillip from Salandi – On its upper stream at Hadgarh, The anicut built had reduced full bodied Salandi to a nala whereas neighbouring areas became fertile from irrigation through Salandi canal. So, he would give better footwear though he would not be able to employ as many as his father used to. He reasoned and became convinced of his decision and started the factory on the bank of Asura pokhai .

Asura pokhari is a large water body comprised of one hundred acres of land with four sides surrounded by high and wide banks, which are elevated wide earthen platforms. The location was of course a suitable site for setting up an industry and was just 4 to 5 kilometers away from his home being at the periphery of Bhadrak. ‘Why it is name is Asura?’ , the question came to his mind. The size and serenity of the pond were intriguing. It happened to Rahim too, as with many others in the past. All ended with a hypothesis – may be demons had dug the pond. Some said, Arjun the middle Pandav had dug it by aiming arrows for drinking water during their wanderings in the forest after being cheated by Duryodhana. With all these stories Asura has been interesting since long providing abode to Asura Mangala – the goddess of well-being. An annual festival with native form of entertainments was the highlights of the festival. Rahim had come to watch it several times before. Moreover, the pond is important, being the lifeline for nearby villages for water uses. He had though of it a bit; and thought his use of this huge pond will not bother any other users. His shoe factory had been inaugurated by local minister and parents ofcourse blessed the occasion. Karim thought that all the artisans he had employed in past now would be employed at his son’s factory. That made him very happy indeed.
But, it was not to happen. He was convinced about the compulsion, ' business is meant for profit'. He was told the truth that ‘money is to be made first and then to think of philanthropy.’ The argument was very convincing particularly, at Rahim’s oratory - a businessman's essential trait that he had acquired during his training away from the village. Karim wondered how argumentative his son had become with a sharp tongue of precision and timeliness; he heard many of his friends telling about his son, ‘very smart’. He was trying to understand what this smartness meant. But, at times he felt, the argument was not convincingly smart for him. He was worrying of the operational part of the argument – that it doesn’t specify what could be the means of earning and how long one should earn before thinking of the surroundings and society. He had no listener like Bhaga Das who could not only give a patient hearing but would advise on also. The time passed on, bringing roaring business for Rahim.

Rahim’s shoe had become a craze for locals atleast in Bhadrak and Balsore districts. Due to its style and low cost, rural kids got attracted. They had been infected with the styles worn by senior kids working away in Delhi, Bangalore and Surat. Infact, those kids buy now shoes from Rahim’s stall during their annual visits to their native places. Infact, Ashok babu the resident of USA used to do the same during his visit to Bhadrak as shoes, spices and some essentials were cheaper here in India. In the mean time Rahim had to increase his production several folds by expanding his shoe factory. Huge residuals of shoe factory are now being flushed into Asura pokhari making its pristine water unbearably pungent. Its blue water has turned reddish. Unlike before, now the evening breeze carried a strong stench into Bhadrak town reminding people as if shoes are eating off pair of legs. All sorts of probable pictures of pollution were being published in local pages of newspapers.
Karim and Fatima were now aware of this issue of pollution and felt awfully sorry as their son was involved in it. One day they asked, ’Rahim! What is that we are hearing of your factory? We are not very happy of it. We don’t want money to be earned at the cost of others, that too of nature.’ As if Rahim was prepared in advance, he put a counter question with his usual smartness to his rural bred parents. Rahim asked, ’Babajan, why do not people talk about those stone crushers at Asura? Are they not polluting? Ammajan several times closed windows and doors for not allowing that stone dust to settle on our beds and table tops. Isn’t it true a big haze of stone dust hangs every evening on the horizon of Bhadrak? Then why do people raise finger only at my factory?’ Karim and Fatima kept quiet hearing this argument though they knew very much one wrong did not legitimate another wrong. But the point is they were not used to such argument before and kept quiet for sometime before deciding what they would say. But, Rahim took the advantage of this moment of pause by his parents and said,’Babajaan, you don’t worry about newspapers’ reports. My business has picked up. Probably, that’s the reason for these negative propaganda. I will take care of it. You will not find anymore of such reports.’ It was difficult for Karim to understand the reality of Rahim. But, he kept wondering what would happen if each showed fingers at others. Farida understood Karim’s torment. Both exchanged looks. There was a gloom in front of their eyes. Eyelids were getting tired and drooping down, so also drops of tears were taking shapes at the fear of loosing something that was making them so content with.

Rahim had not forgotten Maitapur melan. His childhood memory kept coming now-and-then and more his parents made him feel low. He felt torn apart between past and present and found both are true and real! Now Maitapur melan has grown big and has shaded off old entertainments adding new forms. More people have accepted the change. That encouraged him to set up stall to showcase his stylish shoes. Karim has got the wind of it and felt happy of it but has restrained himself by an untold drag that the new found truths have brought in. Despite having a desire to meet his friend Bhaga Das, he decided against it. Farida also has not forced Karim to travel. Rahim has camped with big billboard advertising with stylish youths wearing his shoes. Leave aside shoes but the billboard itself has been drawing large number of rural youths’ for its visual strange extravaganza. Bhaga Das has heard of it from his grandson Rahul who has been throwing tantrums since few days to get hold of a pair of Rahim’s shoes. But his parents are opposing it for the unnecessary expense as he has already a pair of shoes. Bhaga Das is aware of Rahul’s unjustified strength that brings sometimes blames for him from his son and daughter-in-law, ‘Baba, your affection has been spoiling him.’ Somehow, Bhaga Das wriggles out at that moment from arguments and accusations fully knowing Rahul en cashes on his weakness. Probably, that is what grandparents are towards grandchildren. Bhaga Das excuses himself every time. This time he has been holding himself tight not to give in to Rahul’s consumerism. But, as the last day draws in for the melan, Rahul has become restless seeing his wish list has still the most wanted item ‘the Rahim’s shoe’ unpicked. Rahul also does not want to give up. He wishes to play the last trick invoking memory of his grandmother and her affection. He woke up in the morning and started sobbing, uttering to himself with pangs, ‘had my granny been there, it would not have been this much pain for me for a pair of shoes.’ As if this statement was endowed with celestial power to pull up Bhaga Das and just pushed him up to Melanapada. Rahim felt himself winning while picking up the choicest pair of shoes for Rahul at the request uncle Bhaga Das. But, his heart sank while accepting cost of the shoes and a shadow of the conflict was spreading over his face!
Hrushikesha Mohanty
Professor, Computer Science, University of Hyderabad

Introducing 'Ama Odisha'

Dear All

It is my privilege to introduce you a group of
youngsters struggling hard in todays upward
lively busy professional life,
still find time for literature and culture.
Being nostalgic of the fragrance of nativity, they
admire, eulogize it on Orkut like social networking. There
meeting on cyber world has resulted in a unique
gift for all of us that's 'Ama Odisha' – a bilingual
e-magazine with a high expectation to propagate
the Culture and Literature of Odissa – the Lord's Land!

I would like to invite all my esteemed guests on my blog
to meet this wonderful creation of our dear youngsters at

I solicit your encouragements, pats and blessings for AmaOdisha
and its creators.

31st July 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ShantA GodhuliRe

This poem is published in Saptarshi -
the Odia magazine published by Sambalpur
University, Odissa.

Please click on poem image for better view.

Looking forward to your comments.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Aau Jane Yasoda

This Odia story has appeared in Digbalaya, July 2010
written by Anjali.