Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kuchelan and Venugopalan

Heights of Plagiarism :)

Kuchelan got down from the bus. He is coming to Ayanavaram after nearly twelve years.

Before twelve years, he belonged there. The place where he was born, brought up, schooled and then unschooled. His family met a financial fluctuation, and couldnt educate him. Not just that. The family demanded him to abandon studies and take up work. Hotels and Mechanic shops. He was not meant for that. But fate forced him. He then went out of town. No one in Ayanavaram knew about him, after that.

Now, Kuchelan runs his own Hotel. Well, its just another Road-side tea shop, which also serves lunch and dinner. In the village that he runs, his business was not going to flourish, but it will not die. Kuchelan felt comfortable with the constant money he gets to run his family.

Did I tell you about Venugopalan. He was Kuchelan's best pal. Till their 9th standard, Kuchelan and Venugopalan were neck-to-neck for the second rank. They were together studying at Kuchelans home and playing at Venu's home. Venu's family was poorer than Kuchelan's. However Venu's father Vasudevan was adomant in educating Venugopalan. So they separated after Kuchelan left the school.

Now, Kuchelan had come to his home town to visit Venugopalan. He had learnt that Venu had recently given birth to a son. It felt good to hear the news. The aroma of the memories of his school days were still afresh in his mind. Only the memories of the address and topology of his ex-streets were sloppy. He hunted and found the places where his home used to be. It had become a slum, and his hut had been replaced by two huts.

He enquired about Venugopalan to many people. Bits and pieces of information were driving him crazy. He derived that Venu should either be two streets away from the slum. He didnt want to give up. He walked further.

Thats when it struck him. He had to buy something to Venu while visiting him. But why ? He was just his friend. There were no formalities between them, when they were young. What could change in twelve years ? Still, he couldnt convince his mind. He walked by a few road-side shops. What could he buy ? How much would it cost ? He had Rs. 45 in his hand. He would need Rs. 30 to go to his village. He immediately knew he wouldnt be able to buy any sweets. His mind was now beiginning to get convinced. No formalities among friends.

He couldnt just bear the struggle. He didnt want to show his poor hands to Venu. He wanted something in it, before shaking hands. BANANA !!! Venu's favourite. Kuchelan's dad used to work in marriage contracts. He brought home a lot of bananas, and Venu would empty them in a few hours. He used to be crazy about bananas.

He managesd to bargain one dozen Rasthali's for Rs. 13 and with an eased heart he began walking towards Vaikuntam Street.

He spotted a house with the name Venugopalan engraved outside. "Sri Illam" was the name of the house. It looked huge from the outside. Twelve years can certainly change things. He felt very very happy for Venugopalan. And a stinking feeling of shame crept in his mind. Im Poor, it thought.

The door opened after Kuchelan understood the usage of the calling-bell.

"Yes..", said the woman inside with a wierd look in the face.. who's this guy, it thought.

"Venugopalan ?"

"Come Inside..."... who's this person ?

The hall was twenty times the size of his hotel. He has never seen such richness. His school prayer hall was smaller than this.

"Please..sit down. Venu will come in a few minutes.. You are .....?"

He thought she could be Venu's wife. But when she said "Venu will come in a few minutes".. he decided she wasnt. Wife cant call names.

"Iam Kuchelan.... iam an old..."

"aha !! Namaskaram.. I know you. Venu has told a lot about you. How are you ?"


"Iam Radha. Venu's wife."

Wife ?

"Yes.. I learnt that you gave birth to a baby-boy. How is the baby ?"

"oh ! he is fine.. cute... he is sleeping."

"One second. Let me go and tell him you are here. He would be so happy.. infact he wouldnt believe..."

Kuchelan smiled and watched her go upstairs. Wife ?

His eyes ate everything in the room with a surprise-flavour. So much of richness engraved. Venu has grown up in life. Real growth. They both were struggling for the Physics problems in Ninth standard. Now Kuchelana alone was struggling. He thought Venu would have become a manager by now. The leather sofa was very comfortable.

"Kuchelaaaaaa !! "

He turned back. He didnt realize that he stood up automatically on the voice. Venugopalan. His best pal. He had thought of this meeting before, and in that thought they both should be hugging now. But Kuchelan resisted. The richness around and poorness within put a barrier. He just smiled at Venu. The smile was real.

But Venu was breaking the barrier. He rushed and embraced Kuchelan. Huge hug. Warmth.

"Kuchelaaaa !! how are you.. how many many years.. ? how are you ?"

"How are you ? How happy am i to see you, venu."

"Sit.. sit... Radha, remember Kuchelan.. ?"

"Yes.. " Radha said serving Ice water in a glass-glass. She left them both and went to attend her son. She knew they had so much to talk.

They were speaking for a long time. Close to an hour. By now, Kuchelan had forgone all his feelings.. They both were that 9th standard kids. They had talked about everyone they knew in common.

BANANA !! They very thought brought back the inferiority complex. He had almost forgotten what he had brought for his dearest friend. But all the richness around him pushed him from the top of a cliff. Im so poor..

With so much dielemma, he placed his hands on the cover.

"whats that ?"

"Illaa... i just brought you some bananas...."

"AAAAHA !! Kodu Kodu !! Banana is something I have missed for years.."

Venugopalan forced the banana cover out of Kuchelan's hands and started executing the Rasthali, exactly the way he used to. Kuchelan had a lump in his throat.

"Radha is a health concious woman. No carbohydrates. No fat... I hate it.. but what to do.. Superaa irukku.. engeda vaangine... where did you buy ?"

Kuchelan did not answer, and Venu was not expecting a reply.. He was pealing off the next skin.

"Kuchela... be here with me da. I can give you a position in my company. We can bring back those old days..."

Kuchelan knew Venu would say that. Still he melted. He did not reply. He was just smiling.. Then they began talking again, about a lot of things that we did not know about.

Kuchelan began showing signs of leaving. Venu understood that.

"Kuchela ! I know you wouldnt accept anything from me. But I just want to say you something. Please do not hesitate to ask me. We both studied together. You could easily have been in my position. Fate had played. But my richness, my car and anything will not change me. Iam still your Venu. Please understand there are no formalities between us."

Kuchelan smiled, as he was wearing his Hawaai slippers outside the door. "Venu. Onnum Vendaamda. Nee ippadi oruththan enakkaaga irukkaradhe porum."

Kuchelan went forward and hugged Venugopalan.

He walked back with a happy heart.

The bus stopped and Kuchelan got out of it. It was a fast bus, with extra fare. He did not have Rs. 50. He began waiting for the normal bus. Twelve years has not changed much things.

Friendship has not changed in its essence.. be it Dwapara Yugam or Kali Yugam. We have been telling, friendship has gone materialistic. Not true. We have only started calling out ad-hoc relationships as friendships. The true-friendship is still rooten on this earth. Atleast, thats what Kuchelan was thinking.


Adaengappa !! said...

Good one :-)

Rajesh said...

Ha. Very nice. Felt like reading Anantha vikatan short stories...

Srini said...

Amazing. I started without giving much importance to the title and the yellow text, so found the Plagiarism only mid-way. From the point I found, I was taken back to Dwapara Yugam :) Super pa...


Well written Keerthivasan! When is the next kadhai? romba nalla irukku

Prabu Karthik said...

ingey naan oru unmayai solli aganum enakky kuchelan kadhai theriyadhu:(

i liked the emotion in the story...

nalla eludhirukkey, yr writing style is improving with each story

but the keerthi stamp in a short story is missing especially the final bit. i expected a twist or irony which i'd come to expect from u...

ennamo naan eludina madhiri koncham bland a irukku...

sorry i can be politically incorrect at times...