Swami and His Friends
Swami and His Friends7 mins 245 7 mins 245
21-11-2020 - Malgudi Days
Malgudi was a small village located on the banks of the river Sarayu. It was near the Mempi forest, on the border of the states of Mysore and Madras. In Malgudi lived Swami, a precocious nine-year-old with his father, who worked at the courts, his mother, a homemaker, and his grandmother whom he loved a lot. Swami studied at the Albert Mission School, started by the Britishers. His best friends were Mani and Rajam and a few other boys with whom he would spend his time after school. They could be found sitting on the banks of the river Sarayu, eating lime pickle, which Swami provided, and cream biscuits, which the rich Rajam provided.
Though motor cars had made their foray into Malgudi, cell phones and other technological improvements had not yet found their way into this town. Rajam had spoken about some boxes that people held and looked at, when he had been to the city, but it was an alien concept to the other kids. Their lives were simple. Wake up, go to school, play with friends in the evening, do some homework, and go to sleep. This was interspersed with some events that happened with people in the village which were a source of curiosity and amusement to the innocent boys.
One day at school, Mani who had come in late, seemed impatient to share some news with the boys. He waited till recess to blurt out his story. Apparently, in the Mempi forest, a small place had been cleared and a strange metal structure was being erected. People were working on it, but they were a rude bunch who refused to answer the villager’s questions as to what the structure was. Mani had heard this from an Uncle who had heard it from a friend who lived near the forest. The friend had also told his Uncle that the structure was very tall and very big, much taller than the Great Banyan tree situated at the center of Malgudi. Swami and the other boys were fascinated. They wanted to see this humongous structure, but it was a little far away and they would not get permission to go by themselves.Every day the boys planned on how to go and see it, but Rajam’s father refused to take them saying that he was busy and Swami’s father was very strict and so they were afraid to approach him.
This discussion could possibly have continued for months, if not for another funny incident that occurred a few days later in the village. Swami and his friends would gather near a wall every morning, before setting out together to school. That morning, Swami had reached first and was sitting on top of the low wall, waiting for the others to arrive. There was a wide path in front of him, which led to the village, where villagers walked or travelled on Bullock carts, and on rare occasions, cars passed. Swami could see a beautiful young woman walking toward the village. She was dressed in what he could see was a Salwar Kameez and was wearing a white Doctor’s coat. Swami had never seen her before and was watching her curiously. He could see that she was gesturing with her hands, but could not hear her. As she walked closer, Swami realised that she was talking loudly to someone. Swami was surprised as he saw no one around, to whom she could be talking to. He looked beside her, in front of her, behind her and just to be sure, behind himself too, but no, there was no one around. A chill ran up his spine, but the woman looked non-threatening. It was just that she seemed to be talking to herself and moving both her hands rhythmically as she described the village. Soon, she walked around the bend in the road and disappeared from sight.
Swami was perplexed, but soon his friends gathered around him and the incident was forgotten. A few days later, Swami had again reached early and the same lady appeared, doing the exact same thing. This time Swami vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. As soon as his friend’s arrived, he related the strange incident to them and the next day they were all on the wall, nice and early, to witness the strange phenomena. As usual, the young woman walked up the path, talking and laughing loudly and gesturing with her hands. All the other boys watched with their mouths open and Swami smirked seeing their faces. After she had passed, there was an intense discussion among the friends. She was identified by one of them as being the new doctor who had come to their village from the neighbouring city. Still, that was no reason for her strange behaviour. They pondered over it, till one of them hit upon a possible solution. “She is mad !” he declared. “I have seen a person like that near the Sarayu river once. He was singing loudly and dancing, and my mother told me that he was mad and I should not go near him. “ The boys were shocked, but accepted that it was the only possible explanation.
Even then, watching her every morning became a great source of entertainment to the boys. They were on the wall, giggling behind their hands as she walked past them. Slowly the word spread in the village that the new doctor was mad. And as usual, no one questioned the truth of the matter. The word was spread from ear to ear, the village was buzzing with it, but no one informed the good doctor about the same.
The doctor was a bit upset with the recent occurring. She had developed a good rapport with the villagers in the few days that she had been there, and was appalled to see that the number of patients who visited her seemed to be reducing. She tried to enquire about it, but the villagers looked away and went their way as if they did not want to speak with her. A few days later, her friend who had heard a lot from her about the beautiful and peaceful village decided to come by for a visit. The doctor sadly told her about the situation. She also mentioned that she felt that the boys sitting on the village wall were the cause for all the trouble, but she had not approached them. Her friend who was more daring among the two, resolved to get to the bottom of the matter. She asked the doctor to continue as usual and found out about the location of the boys from her.
The next morning, the doctor walked as usual on the path, talking and gesturing and Swami and his friends sat on the wall giggling. Unknown to them, the doctor’s friend had crept up behind them. She caught Swami and another boy’s ears and twisted them, till they let out a little cry. She then demanded to know what they found so funny about the doctor. The kids seemed terrified, but then Swami spoke up in a little voice. He explained about the doctor walking on the road, talking and gesturing, seemingly to herself and what they had concluded from it. Hearing this, the friend burst into loud laughter. She laughed so much that she had almost doubled over.
The doctor, who had missed Swami’s explanation and the boys, watched the friend in shock, with the boys going so far as to think that she must be as mad as her friend, the doctor. Once the friend had got herself under control, she gestured for the doctor to turn her head. She did so, to reveal a small black device which had a tiny blue light glowing on it, fixed to her ear. The friend also made her remove her cell phone from her pocket. The doctor now realised what had happened and together the two explained to the boys about cell phones, wireless technology, and Bluetooth devices. The boys were mesmerised as they had never beheld such things before. The doctor told them that she used to talk to her friends and relatives on the phone while walking the path to the village, but the boys did not understand it, as the phone would be in her pocket, and the Bluetooth device was hidden by her hair. They all had a good laugh as the misunderstanding was cleared. The boys were also told that the huge metal structure that had been erected in the forest, was in fact, a cell phone tower.
As before, this news too spread like wildfire in the village and the villagers flocked to the new doctor, not only to get treated but also to take a peek at the amazing black box she carried. All was right in the village again and life moved on as usual for Swami and his friends.