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Another Evening

D. Venkata Ramayya

 

Was not there.

 

I went thinking he was there. Was not there.

 

Went out somewhere it looks – telling he would be back in an hour.

 

They were playing cards. Only two of them sitting and playing seriously. Mr. Rangarao and him. Who is that? Never saw him. Krishnarao’s friend, relative, whoever? Could be anybody….It was a big choultry….Bachelors den….Whoever wants, keep coming and going.

 

It was half past five. Don’t feel like joining the card game….Don’t even want to see their game.

 

Daily papers on the table…..English and Telugu….weeklies..monthlies..film magazines…papers all over the table…files…calendars…paper weights..pin cushion…

 

Telephone was red. Some how a red phone is not good. Only black one is good…. Otherwise some other color… what if I call somebody on it…somewhere…if talked to  some one…Telephone is locked…where could the key  be…Must have put in the pocket and gone…What is this locking the phone like locking a door, or a box, or an almirah…Silly…What can he do…looks the rates for the phone calls have gone up a lot.

It is getting dark. It is hot inside the room….sultry too. Whether the power is there or not…lights came on..so the power is not gone yet….Daily it’s off by this time…

 

New edition of the old daily….from the city…first issue.. messages from Prime Minister..President..Central Ministers..State Ministers..and many more people...photos..Happy…Good wishes…Happy…Hearty congratulations…Your paper is great…  Very old… Happy… Greetings… Poets… Congratulatory poems…Pages full of advertisements…

 

Not feeling like playing cards.

 

Got up and moved out and in, into that room and this, getting bored. Getting bored absolutely.

In the houses around..in the rooms, up, down…in the corner rooms..lights came up. They are burning.. When went on to the roof top and looked lights in the houses and the rooms…it’s good.. is it good..I think it is good..

 

It’s cold outside. It was dark.

 

Once again in..Film magazine….English magazine that writes about Hindi films…interview with a big star…rubbish…I don’t have anything to do with her. We are friends…That’s all…popular heroine…in swimsuit…in bikini…in sari…She is awful in sari…I don’t act in obscene films…statement…I don’t like nudity and kissing….In pictures…our culture….to a party hosted by a big producer director – The new starlet came in see through dress…news…Many news…photos…color; color photos…new films…it was unbearable to sit in the room.

 

“ what is the stake sir?”

 

“ Five tens. Will you play?”

 

“Ammo…I cant…you play…”

 

"Went saying he will be back in an hour…It is two hours. Yet to come…”

 

Again they immersed themselves in the play.

 

Yes….Krishna rao us yet to come…. Where has he gone…

 

Why do I care…Yet to return…So what…What do I have to do with him…nothing…Just like that, I came here because nothing to do.

 

Telugu weekly…telugu film magazines…photos… news… comments… reviews… atrocious…At least the printing could be beautiful…. What kind of  films…what kind of stories…  atrocious… what kind of magazines…garbage…trash…again outside.

 

Wind got further cold….it was good for the soul…. Was it good… who knows…what is less…what is the void inside…what is empty inside….what vacuum…was it worry…no…was it pain…. No…I think no….What is this mood….who knows… who knows….transistor is small…pocket size… very small…evening transmission started…first song was half through already… Song over…. Use fertlisers… tooth paste…soaps…biscuits… again song; announcement…flashy lady announcer’s voice… allergic to this announcer’s voice…artificiality in the voice. lottery tickets…don’t forget…last date…new film…your favorite actor…again song…song is alright…it’s romantic…sweet words… would it be a good song if it is sweet and romantic; no…perhaps not…soap…ring worm, itching, family planning…saving…save money…put it in bank…interest…

 

In the opposite building on the other side of the road…in the yard …two girls playing shuttle cock…are they sisters…who knows…don’t look so…another lady sitting in a chair beside…a magazine in hand …. White sari… a dog on one side … gate is closed. Congestion… within that congestion games and relaxation… are they all from one portion… who knows… how many portions could be there… cock is falling out again and again. Little girl the dark girl… again and again opens the gate and comes out, takes the cock, goes in, closes the gate… again playing… the dog is not moving… it’s big…looks like an Alsatian…

 

It looks to rear a pet dog is a costly affair. Why do they keep dogs…. When people are dying without food…

 

People on the road here and there… alone…in pairs… in groups… on bicycles… in rickshaws… in auto rickshaws… in taxis… and in own cars…

Once again to the interior…they are playing still. Heat in the room is unbearable. Power is still not gone…

 

“ you can come out happily, put couple of chairs and play, isn’t it…?” I suggested…gave a good suggestion…on the verandah in the glass box, in the glass case…fishes… fishes…, some of color are moving about… up and down.. this way and that way…swimming restlessly…are they happy… who knows…

 

do they really have happiness and sadness and things like that… no…I think no…next to the case in a glass plate perhaps worms…are they worms… small… thin… like strings… in a pile… like a lump… food for the fish… some are moving… other like a lump look dead… stench… earth worms are farmers friends… science book in the childhood… earth worm in the college… dissection… the food tube in the earth worm… does the earth worm feel hunger… once aging to the outside… songs on the radio are over… news… boring …boring…

 

in the house on the back side… little girl sleeping on the cot.. on her belly… is making noise…out in the yard…. Little children playing… what is there in the hearts of the little children… like fish do they also not have happiness and sadness…why then they cry… they laugh… fish and children are not the same… never…

 

on the back side … still further… in the high rise building light in the upper room… a little girl or a little boy in hands… one lady… in white sari… another woman… a boy… another man… a girl… servant maid…. Coffee… window… big window… bed… are sitting… getting up… moving about… room is good… how many rooms… what is the rent…

 

could I build a good house in this life… can at least build a own house… who knows… rented house… miserable… old house… old walls… is that a house…is there a beauty or style… inevitable…inevitable… time pass… miserliness…salary not adequate…. Can not afford a good house… it looks he built a house… eighty thousand they sat… oh mother…where can I bring such money from… where from he brought it… who knows… I can not do that…

 

opposite side on the other edge of the road a little away girls college hostel…   college girls hostel…. Not to be seen… only the trees before the building are seen… how good if we can see that…

 

they in their own rooms… behind the windows… looking at the road… looking at the people on the road…studying…making themselves up… gossiping… giggling…how many of them , how many kinds… discussions about favorite stars… jokes on the lecturers… secrets about boys… sex magazines… colorful dreams… fears…if got pregnant… MO from home not yet reached… where is maternal cousin…this subject is taking my life out… why is she so jealous of me…it would be better if sleeping pills are available… father would never arrange my marriage in this life… what is this hair on the legs… ugly… how to get rid of them…

 

Some four or five girls are walking fast on the road. May be from the hostel…may not be… where are they going… to the pictures…at this time … they are good looking…good… are they…who knows…not clearly visible in the darkness… it is not all that dark… lights are there.

 

At a distance in front behind the big flower tree… what is that… moon…who is that… moon…oh… today is the full moon day perhaps…yes yes full moon day…what a beautiful sight… sky… and the tree… moon behind the tree… how long since I have seen the full moon…in fact after coming to this city are is it known when it is full moon and when it is no moon…no… we don’t know… do we see moon light… no… how long since a sunrise is seen…who knows…

 

Missed a lot after coming to this city…many beauties…many experiences… I am missing…in such a time in a village how nice it would be to sit on the farm bund, on a way side culvert…on a brook side...?  just like now moon coming out from behind the trees… cool breeze… air hundred times purer than here… the sound of the jingling cattle bells… the semi darkness… the person walking with a bundle of grass on the head… cranes sitting on the toddy tree and settling down there…unclear sounds from the village…the lights…the mooing of the cattle… small little sounds that do not mar the tranquility…how nice and how nice it would be…

 

They also…  came out. Brought their chairs. Brought the tea poy…. Spread the cards on that and started playing.

 

“ What Sir! Do you also play?”

 

“ No…No! You play..

 

two dogs on the road…stray dogs…stray thoughts full in the brain… they catch the stray dogs…kill them… how to catch stray thoughts…how to kill them… at least how to control them…

 

To control mosquitoes …use this… use that… buy this… … drink that…eat this… songs again on the radio……this time Hindi songs…roti… kapda aur makan….

 

Would this country ever be better? Would all the people get food clothing and shelter? “ would all the universe bear the fullest happiness In fact” Sri Sri is really a good poet. Would socialism ever come… is socialism possible without communism…the government would not do… this system would not do… this society would not do… to change all this all those coming in the way of change must be slain… is that all… is that the only way out…. Who knows…. Revolution… naxalites… is Jayaprakash narayan’s way right… what is all this… what happens at the end… politics…. Apolitics…

 

Came. Krishna Rao came. Another man came. One more person came.

 

“ You told you would come in an hour and what is it coming after three hours..”

 

“Hello Sir! When did you come?”

 

They also started playing cards.  Cut for seats…. You there… you here… jack pot… ten twenties… it is you to shuffle..

 

“ What Sir! Why don’t you play”?

 

“ I can not play with such a stake. … You play…”

 

They Rae playing.

 

Feeling very blank. Feeling somehow…. It is gloomy. It is all mad. Discontent… pain… desire… despair…. Sadness… all of them are there. Nothing is there. Don’t know what… it is also somehow…  in the vast jungle called mind… masquerading of the wild animals called thoughts…. Turmoil…

 

Hunger… feeling a little hungry… did not eat Tiffin in the afternoon… moon has crept above the flower tree. Moon light is good. Breeze is cold…. Even then not feeling happy…

 

Would perhaps be better if gone home. Would be better if ate rice… home… wife… what is Janaki doing… must be giving food to the children… poor thing not a moments rest…no comfort..

 

She is not comfortable because of me… am I making her comfortable…no… no…

 

“ What Sir! Feeling bored perhaps…”

 

No. No! I’ll go. Go home.”

 

“ Shall we get a Beer…”

 

“No.. No.. I’ll go.”

 

“ leaving all of us if you say you will get beer for him alone what would he say except no…”

 

laughter… teasing… jokes… card game…

 

I’ll go… I am going sir…. So long…. Good night…”

 

I came off.

 

Walked down the stairs nod hit the road. Caught the way home. It is a holiday today. No shops are open. Pan shops are open. Wine shops are there. Hotels are there. Bars are there. Cinema halls are there.

 

People on the roads are not thick like everyday.

 

A grown up boy and a young boy on the foot path… the older one is drunk… is swaying.

 

Bragging.

 

A little further…one girl… one boy… the bottles in the wine shop are very beautiful… they are better that the bottles in the medical shop.

 

I know that girl. Works in the super bazaar… used to be lean earlier…has put on weight now … looking beautiful now… looking sexy also. Used to be horrible then. Is flab beauty… are muscles beauty… are they the attraction… what after all is beauty… why all the trouble for those lumps of flesh. What an importance for them.

 

Reached home. Knocked on the door. .. it opened… again home…children… wife… food… beds… bickering… pains… fights… irritations… again home…

 

“Am hungry. Give me rice. …”

 

“Children are eating… let them eat… I’ll give…”

 

Rice… meal… curry not good… prices are burning… where from good vegetables come everyday… butter milk… water…. Watery butter milk…when number of people increases butter milk gets thinner. Water at least is cool. Let it be. It is reason enough to be happy their being cool…. Eating is over… hunger satiated…

 

“ fan went out of order. Can’t you get it fixed?”

 

“we’ll do that…”

 

“At least tomorrow we should pay him back… came in the evening and made a big fuss and left…”

 

“ I’ll try for a loan tomorrow once again…”

 

“ The power bill…water bill also have to be paid tomorrow…”

 

“ Umm…”

 

“ The elder one says he will go to cinema…. Will you give money…”

 

“ Not now…. Ask him to wait for four days….”

 

“ My daily use saris are all torn. Have to buy …”

 

complaints… complaints… these are not there… those are not there… nothing is there… scarcity… scarcity… famine… weeping… mockery… miseries… problems… a lakh and a quarter problems… tears… money - no money – no

 

“ have all the children slept?”

 

who knows… the younger one is still shuffling…”

 

why don’t you come this way for a while…?”

 

“ I am not well. Don’t bother me…”

 

lust…. Dissatisfaction… routine… bore…. All the same… it is all the same… no thrill in life… no event… no happiness… flat… routine… just like that… just like that… no novelty… no comfort…. Just like that… just like that…

 

nothing… I need nothing… can’t some moon light shine on me? Can’t a cool breeze pass across me? To sleep flat upwards and watch, can’t there be four yards of sky visible to me?

 

I have to go to sleep…. But the sleep evades me… I have to sleep… once I get up, once again office… a lakh and a quarter jobs to do… a hundred crore problems… I have to sleep… why the sleep evades me… I have to sleep..

 

Sri D. Venkatramayya, a leading writer in telugu, is also well known as a newscaster of AIR.