The Day The State Split Asunder-7
The Day The State Split Asunder-711 mins 175 11 mins 175
The peremptory sound of the doorbell echoed the entire house.
The sudden buzz of the calling bell startled his mother who is busy in mixing the batter for preparing Karthik's favourite dish Onion bullets. She walked briskly towards the door with her right hand still wet with the batter and peeped through the door viewer to endorse the person beforehand.
It was his father standing outside. His hair and garments are sodden as the sky is raining cats and dogs. His mother gently opened the door by unbolting the tower bolt and let him in.
His father stepped into the drawing hall holding two pellucid carry bags in his hands which contained Karthik's favourite snacks, sweets and savouries. Ensuingly he placed it on the couch, walked into the bedroom, rubbed his hair dry with a towel, took off his wet clothes and put on the lungi and a shirt. After that, he settled himself restfully on the couch. Casually, his hand reached to the remote on the table, powered on the television with the gentle press of a button and started surfing through the channels.
His father is seven years older to his mother. His hair had just begun turning grey, and there were lines around the corner of his mouth and eyes. But still, he looked elegant and handsome. Distinguished. Tall and thin, with black, protruding eyes behind spectacles, thick, dark eye-brows and always with a clean-shaven face.
Karthik is assiduously flipping through the photographs. He happened to see that there is one person present commonly in all of the photographs, dressed in a resplendent mythological costume with a crown, holding a metallic mace with a spherical head mounted on a shaft, with a spike on the top, and that person is none other than his father.
He grabbed the stack of photographs and started walking towards the kitchen. On his way to the heart of the home, he happened to see his father seated on the couch in the hall who is keenly following the updates on the news channel. No sooner did his field of vision intercepted his father, than he instantly changed his course.
Without further ado, he took a U-turn impulsively, parked himself comfortably on the sofa beside his father's couch and placed the photographs on the table straight in front of him.
"Dad! What is this?" he asked pointing his finger at the photographs on the table.
"Photographs!" said his father with a smile.
"Dad… Indeed I know these are called photographs, I precisely want to know about this particular person in the costume." said Karthik, grabbing a photograph randomly from the table, pointing his finger on the face of the person in the photo, "This person is looking exactly like you…"
His father leaned forward and picked up a couple of photographs from the table, "You made me feel nostalgic. It veritably reminds me of my old days. I wish I could go back to those moments… I wish I could rewind to those fleeting old days… and just press the pause button forever…"
His mother walked into the hall at the same time when his father was going through the photographs.
"Karthik! Are you done with packing?" asked his mother."Yesterday I told you a million times."
"Amma, I had put the bag down from the attic. For now, just be seated…" He grabbed her right arm, made her sit beside him, picked up a few remaining photographs on the table and said - "Amma! What are these photos? Dad is not telling me anything. He is telling about memories…fleeting memories…"
"Your father was a theatre artist." said his mother."He played many formidable roles like Duryodhana, Ravana, Satya Harischandra, Sri Krishna Devaraya, Hiranya Kashyap and lot many."
"It's fantabulous!" he exclaimed with his eyes wide open with awe, "It's squarely egregious on both of you for having concealed it for these many years."
"Dad, in this photo," said Karthik, displaying the photo to his father."If the costume is replaced with a military uniform and if the extremes of the moustache are twisted and curled a bit upwards you perfectly look like the Soviet Supremo Joseph Stalin."
"Stupid!" said his father with a beaming smile. "Theatre arts is not just about roles, dramas, costumes and performances, it is a point of intersection between the visible and invisible worlds. It is one of the greatest of all art forms and I learned many lessons from it."
"I truly can't believe you had such colossal nerves to perform high altitude roles like that."
"What's the use of it?" said his father in a bleak tone."Today, theatre arts have become completely obsolete ever since the movie halls started mushrooming."
"You know!" said his mother."Your dad's performance was accoladed by many ministers and other venerable personalities, he was even felicitated by the Theatre Artists Association of India."
"Amma… There's certainly one thing I am skeptical about. You're saying dad performed those eminent roles. When he speaks in the hall, it can't even be heard by a person who is ten feet away. I did many mischievous things in the house and he never admonished me. How did he deliver such high-voltage dialogues?" asked Karthik.
"The proofs are right in front of you and performing those roles is not a walk in the park." said his father. "The course can be gruelling at times, it involved delivering lofty dialogues with varying voice modulations. For your information, I didn't jump forward and played those roles, I was picked up by the director of the theatre group."
"Who is that director dad? And how did you get recruited into it?"
"His name is Parameshwara Rao. We affectionately used to address him as Babji. One day, by chance, while returning to home after the work, I accidentally traipsed into 'The Hari-Hara Kala Bhavan' which is on the way to home. The troop under his direction is performing a drama. It was a scene from Mahabharat. Everything was good, but the performance of Duryodhana is not well-received by the audience."
"What episode are they performing?"
"The game of uncanny dice. After the performance, the curtains were pulled down. I approached the director, and I frankly told him that the Duryodhana character is not copacetic, the dialogue delivery is jejune and devoid of emotions."
"What did he say then?"
"He laughed, a little incredulous, a little nervous and with a little umbrage. He said - 'I will give you one dialogue can you repeat it in one shot without fumbling?' I asked 'Why?' He said tell me whether you will say it or not? I was silent for a minute, I thought maybe he might have felt bad about my review.
"But…I always loved challenges and that is my weakness. I asked him to give me the dialogue. He handed over me a page containing a long dialogue on an A4 sheet spanning around three lines. It was a complicated dialogue. He said - 'I will give you five minutes?' After having said that he fled from the spot."
"So did you deliver it perfectly." asked Karthik."You gave the feedback and he gave you the dialogue. Look's like the director is fond of the concept of something for something."
"Will you keep quiet…" said his father, reprimanding him."Don't make fun of anyone else as you wish."
"Sorry Dad!" said Karthik."Please continue…"
"So… Where did I stop?"
"You said he gave you a dialogue."
"Right! When I first glanced at it my feet started trembling. But somehow I gained composure, I started reading every word and line carefully. After five minutes, he came and stood straight in front of me. He took away the paper from me and asked me to deliver the dialogue.
"Everyone around stood in silence and lent their ears to listen to my dialogues. In my mind, I took blessings of the God and miraculously, like a stroke of magic, I was able to deliver it fearlessly and authentically that too with varying vocal variations and emotions."
"How much time did you take to complete the dialogue?"
"It took around two minutes."
"What did the director say?"
"The whole scenario at that place was unnerving, Babji sir stood silent and motionless. His face was dressed in a bamboozled expression for a minute. Moments later, he called his assistant Krishna and said - 'Krishna, our hunt for Duryadhana had, at last, come to an end.' He was immensely impressed with my dialogues and from then on he included me as a lead role in almost all of the plays."
"That's incredible! In ten minutes he completely performed the psychometrics and offered you a role. But, I had not witnessed your performance anytime dad?"
"After I got married, I decided to focus on taking care of the family. Moreover, Ravishankar and I started a company at that time. Concretely, I got busy in personal and professional obligations. Babji sir requested me many times to come back. But, I couldn't fulfil his request."
"Do you know…" said his mother."One day a serial producer was so fascinated by your dad's performance that he even offered a role to your father. But, your father did not accept it."
"What is this dad? Had you accepted the offer you would have been in the movie industry by now. Our lives would have been completely different today."
"The serial actors were not paid good enough in those days." said his father."The art of being happy is to be satisfied with what you have. As long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering. I never want to be a victim of an out-of-balance lifestyle."
"Mr.Duryodhana!" said Karthik in a facetious tone. "Tell me what you achieved by being generous. Forgot what Ravi Shankar uncle did? How he insulted you? If it had been someone else in place of you, they would have filed a case against him."
"Always remember one thing, what goes around comes around. Do good for others, it will come back getting multiplied. By the same token, Do bad, you will suffer ten times more. Babji sir once said - 'People who create their own drama, deserve their own karma.' Karma will teach a lesson to everyone."
"That's ridiculously ludicrous. Your so-called friend constructed a big bungalow and purchased a luxury car. And you say Karma will take care of him."
"Karthik! yesterday's good things remain good even if today's bad ones occlude them. Don't think too much about it." his father looked at the wall-clock above the television. "Let's have lunch together."
After a quiet lunch, the three sat together in his room. His mother packed his luggage, while his father started giving him lectures about adjusting in a new place. There was a good deal of bonhomie and pleasantry in his conversation. He listened to all the instructions and nodded in agreement.
Slowly, the dusk began to fall, and the time of parting had arrived. He put on the casual comfort fit and dragged the trolley bag into the hall.
His mother hugged him hard and kissed on his forehead, saying nothing, concentrating on holding back the tears that wanted to come. He pulled her wrinkled cheeks, making her smile forcibly.
The rains battered the roads and it is nearly impossible to reach the bus stop by walk. His father dropped him at the bus stop on his Scooty.
Several roadside shops served ready-to-eat and mouth-watering snacks like Punugulu, Mirchi, Gunta Pongadalu and Masala Vadas prepared from unhealthiest ingredients and oils. Consuming food in such places is not less than a suicidal mission, inviting cholesterol and diabetes.
Karthik and his father have been waiting at the bus stop for about half-an-hour.
"At what time, the bus is supposed to come?" asked his father.
"It should have come by now dad. It looks like it got delayed because of this traffic."
The obstreperous traffic congested the roads at all times of the day. The air is filled with dust and smoke. There are dozens of other passengers along with their families waiting for the bus.
"You know Karthik!" said his father."The modern times have revolutionised the transport system, but it is nothing like the past."
"In what way?"
"Wide roads, fewer vehicles and more open space to explore, this is how Hyderabad used to be once upon a time. Nothing can match up to the feeling of passing by Tank Bund in the evening on the top floor of the double-decker buses."
Meandering through the wild dense traffic, the dexterous APSRTC bus driver activated the left indicator blinker and cut gently towards the left making his way into the bus stop and stopped at the designated point. The number 8786 printed on a white paper with a black bold font is stuck at the left-end corner of the windshield.
An APSRTC personnel announcing on the mike the service number of the bus.
"Karthik! What is the service number of the bus?" asked his father.
"It is 8786. This is the bus."
Karthik along with his father approached the entrance of the bus. The conductor of the bus was standing at the doorway holding a paper in his hand. Karthik handed him over the print out of the ticket. The conductor scanned for his name in the list and simply put a tick mark beside and allowed him in.
He placed his luggage in the cabinet space above his seat and slipped to the seat beside the window.
Two minutes later the bus started making a move. He weakly waved the hand to his father and bid him goodbye. In a dreary mood, he was observing the passing vehicles, roads and buildings through the window.
He didn't show any interest in watching the movie being played on the television. Even though his body is present inside of the bus, his mind is still at his home.
Two hours later the bus entered the national highway-44, the driver turned off the cabin lights, but the movie is still being played on the television. The movie turned out to be boring and Karthik soon slipped into slumber.
To be continued…