My Strength

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Monday, August 29, 2011


                                                                             (my SHORT story)

See, it’s about a Brahmin boy who is compelled to leave his village due to some problem in his village and home. He goes to the nearby town by a local train. He finds a job in a restaurant…..”

I read out the synopsis of the script I had prepared for the most awaited meeting with the film director.
He frowned and said,
“I don’t like a Brahmin boy to be the protagonist of the movie. My ideology is against it. Let’s make him a lower caste boy.”
“But sir, my script is not about such issues”
“See, issues are always there, you see it or not” he said firmly.
“Ok, agreed” I continued.
“The boy befriends a stray dog in the town and…………….”
“No…” he interrupted. “This is what I am strictly against. I love human beings more than animals. This pet love business, you know, is disgusting. Change it. Let the boy find another….boy or…. girl……. I detest these animal lovers….crazy people”
“But sir, the story….”
“No…nothing doing…My ideology doesn’t permit it” He repeated and got up to light a cigarette caressing his dense beard.
I paused for a while.

It was about to rain and cool breeze came in through the French windows he had kept open. He stood looking out.
On the tea table the leftover of a non vegetarian meal and a half emptied bottle of vodka and the empty glass. His DELL laptop on the bed getting charged. The screen saver in dark magenta displaying the contours of a naked woman.

This is the third person I am discussing the script with. The first one came home to listen to it and gave me all the support to give the script a fine and finishing touch but never responded since then. Whenever I called up, he would talk about another project he is busy scripting and at times artificial pleasantries as if we had never discussed a script. I stopped calling him up. Another one wanted me to mail him the script but gave no reply when I asked for his contact number. I had seen him quite a number of times on television interviews talking about promoting new talents in the industry! And this one, the third one, was all ears when I sent him the synopsis.
“Ok, agreed” I said.
“Continue then” he said without turning back.
“The boy works in a vegetarian restaurant…”
“Hell with it, man” he shouted turning towards me, “you and your vegetarianism… it sucks”
“Sir, it’s difficult to make a change there as the plot’s turning point comes here...”
NO… no vegetarianism!” he stubbed out the cigarette and poured a glass of vodka, began to sip it lying on the bed leaning against the wall.
I knew that was not all and waited.
“And don’t let the boy go to a nearby town. Let him go to Chennai.”
My “Why?” came out at once. I found no logic and felt like laughing.
“Because I’ve more contacts there. I can make the movie easily there. And, remember, the language won’t be Malayalam. We’ll make it in Tamil”
I was ready to face the brute. Mixed feelings of anger, laughter and pity grew intense in me.
“OK” I said with a nod of dissatisfaction.
“You said the boy has some problem in his village. What is it? Is it something that can’t be solved?” his words slipped.
That is it. I closed the file and put it in my bag.
“Yes sir”, I stood up and said, “I will try to solve that problem. Let me think of it. But I need some time. If I solve the boy’s problem, he needn’t go anywhere…we can also save lot of expense of taking the boy to Chennai and all that, you know…I will get back to you, sir…”

I walked out. The room boy entered and I could hear him shouting at the boy for not getting his shirt ironed.
It was raining when I reached home. I mailed the director another summary of the script, a well edited one:
“No story, No human beings, only ideology. Good bye”_______-Santhosh Kumar kana 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I don’t know how many of us are aware of the significance of the morning assembly in the school. Many of us must have thought about it. But have we ever tried to analyse why we have to do various things in the morning assembly instead of directly entering the class? Unless we know the meaning and significance of what we are doing, it is futile to do it. It is very essential for us to know why we come to school, why we have to study so many subjects, involve in various activities etc.

 Morning assembly is the physical, mental and spiritual preparation before beginning the studies at school. We are entering the temple of learning and therefore we need to make our body and mind pure. If we eat food with impure hands, are we not disrespecting the food? Will it not harm our health? The same is with knowledge. Knowledge is the food for the mind. Kahlil Gibran writes in his famous book, “The Prophet”:

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it, take with you your all”.

Let us now ponder over each thing that we do in the morning assembly.

First of all, the students form a line and stand straight and respond to the roll call. This is the first lesson in discipline. We have to discipline ourself, keep our mind focused before we do anything. Body posture is very important in learning. We have to keep our body straight and erect. It is just like a pitcher filled with water. If we keep shaking the pitcher, the water can’t remain calm. Same with our mind. If our body is not disciplined, the mind can’t concentrate.

Prayer is nothing but a purification of one’s mind. Noble thoughts alone can make a mind pure. We start with the prayer:
“asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya”
Which means “lead me from the Impure to the Pure, from Darkness to Light, from Death to Immortality”.

Then we sing “daya kar daan vidya ka….” Where each line is a plea for noble and greater things to come to us, a prayer to the Almighty to manifest in our words and deeds. It ends with the shanty mantra Om sahana vavatu, sahanau bhunaktu…” which takes us from “us” as an individual to our fellow beings. We pray here for everyone’s welfare, well being and prosperity.

The silent prayer or meditation for two minutes after the shanti mantra is the most fruitful and the most important activity in our morning assembly. It has immense value. Meditation is not concentration though concentration can be its byproduct. It is relaxation of the mind. In meditation, the mind becomes calm. How can the mind be calm?
It can be calm when the frequent waves of thoughts die down and the mind is placid like a lake. Only a calm and meditative mind can be sensitive. A sensitive mind alone can be creative. Thus meditation refreshes our mind completely. A mind that is not receptive cannot learn or explore its own potentials. The whole learning process is in vain without meditation.

An extension of the spirit of the shanti mantra is followed in the pledge that the students take after this. The pledge is to remind us of our duties as a student, a social being and as a citizen of the country. Our whole education is worthless if it doesn’t contribute to the welfare of the society.

News, thought for the day, special item etc. are to let one know what happens in the world outside before we start the day. Classroom is only a cross section of the world outside and we need to integrate our knowledge with the life outside. Remember, the school is a small world and the world is a very big school.

National anthem needs no analysis and nothing needs to be said of its significance. As a citizen of the nation, it is our very breath and life.

The culmination of this whole preparation is the marching song of dispersal. The students literally marching towards the class like soldiers-well equipped, well aware of their duties and ready to learn new things and also to put them all into practice.

We should remember that we are manifestations of the Divine. Let us realize it and make our life meaningful.

-Santhosh Kumar Kana

    (Published in KVS QUARTERLY JOURNAL, ZIET, MYSORE, Vol. II, Issue 3, April, 2007)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


A teacher’s day in the garden city

Long before it's bright, you see them rigorously burning their fat out around the railway meadows. A quick bath in hot water, a bowl of oats, a kiss on the cheeks of the baby asleep, and a bye to the better half....a waving from the balcony..

The steep ascent of the railway overbridge,  sneaking through the spilling crowd, pointing finger at the id card round my neck to the ticket checker, the dirty subways, the newspaper seller at the entrance, the jacket sellers surrounded by a bargaining crowd, the differently abled with things from safety pins to socks and then the BMTC platforms..

Wait for 280 series, again a flash of the BMTC pass to a dutiful/doubtful conductor, out of the Montreal-metro like doors, wait for the rushing airport-bound cabs to leave a gap to cross over to Defence gates, the gun-wielding frustrated security guards at the gate and then the school..

An impatient and panting crowd at the attendance register, "good morning"s, "namastey"s tossed around in the corridors and the staff room...then the morning assembly.

A restless lot addressed by the principal, a group of threes and twos here and there at the back updating the latest news, voicing grouses, few loners, the stock career-guidance from a few,

"you r so talented, yaar..y don't you try for better jobs? u shouldn't end up in a job like this....see, our case is different, we r trapped"

To the classrooms..... from the hyperactive to the lethargic.....the reservoir of a nation's future! ya, the heterogenous group.....nobody empathises with their they cope with the dynamic and the bore....each waiting out for the one inside to come out like at a public toilet.

The lunch break...a quick bite/gulp/gorge....each cheek swelling out, the uniform movement of the jaws (note: we r the ones who use mouth the most).

A quick sign on circulars without even reading the content...lots of signature here and there...a call from the boss, a clarification from a parent, a file of data for the office, a brief meeting, a few tips to some participants and the most tedious task of checking and count-down of the pile of copies....the long bell..and a peal of "bye-sir" in various pitch on the corridors...

Again, the same crowd in hurry at the attendance register, A bye-handshake from a few helmet-covered heads, some remaining for an extra 5 to 10 mts for the above said tedious task.

the wait for a less crowded 280 series, a colleague, like a granny, with a rich vocabulary of family line, unhappy with the changing values, yes the journey back..

the busy traffic, and the wait for the favourite colour of all motorists/passengers.. GREEN, the BMTC platforms, the dirty subway with new set of vendors, ladies(and the ladylike too) with thick lipstick and partly covered parts making their intention crystal clear(note: i feel they are the best communicators in the world), the fruit vendors, the space of the newspaper seller now replaced by a ground-net seller and a BANGALORE CITY MAP seller....entry to the over bridge through the metal and women running frantically searching for the platforms, a few fined for no ticket, a board reads...PISSING HERE IS FINE! and then the steep descent,  on the steps the food for the pantry car in boxes, uniform-clad caterers counting them.....

walk along the railway colony, now not-so busy roads, the half-drowsy late afternoon, dogs enjoying a nap under the trees, RPF men on a drill in the railway meadows, knock on the door of A-3, kiss for the baby and the id card to play with, a quick gorge and then the day's recap with the better half...and then a sound!(yes, literally a disturbing snore)sleep, poor thing my better half hardly enjoys a sound and deep sleep, the hectic schedule is obvious on her face.

a refreshing tea, daughter clad in sweater and with a cap on for the chill, gloomy evenings impatiently waiting for a walk in the railway meadows...the time for the better half to set the house right, the cartoons on POGO and a long browse through the same old sites...a light supper and then the alarm for the next morning....LIGHTS OFF.
-Santhosh Kana