I am busy - Chronicles of a jobless old man







INTRODUCTION

It was a sultry summer afternoon. There was not a soul to be seen on the streets owning to the heat. The trees were all standing still as if they had become a statue in the Sun God’s regime. It seemed as if the nature was dressed in shares of brown and rust with only a red post box adding colour to the otherwise dull background.

From the far stretched other end of the road you could see the silhouette of an old man walking towards the post box furiously. He was sweating profusely and was constantly wiping his sweat with one hand while clutching a bunch of letters with the other. On reaching the post box he collapsed with a thud on the pavement. Wiping sweat beads from his forehead he fished out a bottle of water from his jute handbag to quench his thirst.

After drinking some water he settled down himself on the pavement. His gaze kept on shifting constantly from left to right and right to left as if waiting for someone. Feeling disheartened on not seeing anyone he started fanning himself with the letters he was holding. Slowly as the temporary breeze made him feel better he closed his eyes to catch a short nap.

After what seemed like a quarter of an hour had passed he woke up with a jolt from his nap on hearing a bicycle bell ringing somewhere in distance. He suddenly regained his composure and started looking in the direction from which the sound seemed to be coming. His old and tired eyes shone as he saw a postman coming towards him on a bicycle. As he reached near him, the old man got up to hand over the bundle of letters he was holding till now.

Babu….how many times I have told you before. Just drop the letters in the box and go. I will collect it later. Why do you need to sit here waiting in this heat? What if you catch a heat stroke? It is not good for you at this age.’ said the post man sounding concerned.

Hmmm….’ The old man grunted ‘Take this and go’ He added handing over the bunch of letters to him. ‘How do I confirm whether you have actually collected these letters or now? Why will you think all this…huh?’ As he turned to leave the postman said, ’Wait I will drop you…how much will you walk in this heat?’

‘There is no need…’ gruffly replied the old man. ‘I have other tasks to complete on the way. You won’t understand .Leave it…Go on your way… I am busy!’ he said as he started walking away leaving the post man astonished. 

Mr. Subbiah Iyer
Meet Mr. Subbiah Iyer. 62 years old, retired government official residing at Kandaripattnam with his wife. He stays in the upper middle class locality of Padmanabhnagar in a beautiful house named Kanaka Nilayam after his wife Kanakamahalakshmi. Kanaka is how he likes to address her fondly. Basically Mr. Iyer hails from a remote village named Oodaripetam on the banks of river Saranya where he spent most of his childhood, got married and later on moved to this city in search of greener pastures. For good or bad he had settled in this city for more than 3 decades now and was a known figure at least in his area owing to his nature. 

His Ancestral House
Having retired two years ago from his plush government job he practically has nothing to do these days. But out of habit to keep himself busy he creates work out of thin air making it seem utmost important and life threatening incase ignored. He had a weird sense of urgency when it came to his work being executed and it implied everywhere staring from his office, bank, grocery shop, fruit vendors, vegetables sellers, doctors, electricians and almost anyone who would fit in the criteria of doing ‘work’ for any normal Indian household. ‘Huh’ and ‘I am busy’ were his two favourite words as his each statement would invariably begin with the former and end with the latter.

He detested the idea of postponing work even for the most practical reasons. For him NOW meant the next immediate moment and nothing beyond it. He hated it when his instructions were ignored and expected people to be at his beck and call 24 X 7. Having said all this he was a man who strongly believed in ‘Simple living high thinking’ surviving only 6 pairs of shirts, 3 pairs of pants , 2 lungis and 1 pair of chappals since last 3 years. Being economical was his secret mantra for living.  Till date he has never used any vehicle except his loyal black bicycle which he had been using since past 30 years. Off late due to the development of arthritis he found it difficult to cycle around the town and thus chose to walk anywhere possible. 

Kanaka Nilayam
His wife Kanaka was an epitome of generosity and kindness. She would not even let a beggar go from their home empty handed. She led her life with a single motto ‘Charity begins at home’. Her servants, sweeper, washerwoman, gardener and postman, everyone would have experienced her generosity in some form or other.  They both had been blessed with two children - a beautiful daughter Lalithambika and a handsome son Bhaskaran. Both were happily married and lived in different countries busy in their own family lives.  Almighty had been very kind by blessing them with sufficient money to lead a decent lifestyle but Subbiah thought otherwise. He was stingy by nature and for him every penny was precious.  He detested Kanaka’s generous nature as a result of which they used to have many clashes.

Be it rain or winter she would begin her day at 4 am without fail. Finishing her morning chores she would spend an hour daily doing various poojas to the deity at home. She would prepare sumptuous meals to be offered as prasad and distribute generous helpings of it to everyone whom she met during the course of the day.

During the day she kept herself busy in doing other menial jobs at home, visiting the temple and inquiring neighbours well being. She would take an afternoon siesta for about two hours before beginning her evening chores which involved cooking dinner and buying vegetables or groceries if required. She would end her day by 9 pm.

Quite opposite to his wife he was a late riser. His day typically began at around 7:30 am. Slowly he would go about his morning chores which involved a 45 minutes newspaper reading session and a half an hour pooja. At around 10 he would leave the house and go to a nearby temple. After offering his prayers there he would walk down to the library which was about 5 kms away. He would spend another 2 hours there reading the same news from various newspapers and chit chatting with other members of the library. At 12 pm sharp he would get up to leave the library and start walking towards his home. 

The Town Library
At 12:30 he would reach his home for lunch. He would take his afternoon nap from 1-3. After freshening up, at 3:30 pm he would sit on his desk at home and begin his calculations. Nobody knew what he did between 3:30-5:30. But there were strict instructions not to disturb him as he sat there in one corner motionless busy calculating something. His wife always pulled his leg by calling him the accountant of Lord Kuber. According to her only His accounts could be endless.

As the clock showed 5: 30 pm he would leave the desk to have his evening cuppa before leaving his house for his evening walk. He would go to a nearby park and spend time there till 8 pm to return for his dinner. His dinner was usually followed by 2-3 hours of television time as he enjoyed watching daily soaps. He ended his day by 11:30 pm.

Be it any season or reason neither Subbiah nor Kanaka would change their timetables. They stuck to it with the precision of a clock. Nothing on this earth could deter them from this schedule. For some unknown reasons they detested talking to each other as it always ended up in clashes and thereby most of the times their conversations were limited only to ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Hitherto their life might seem pretty simple and dull. But make no mistake. Subbiah’s life is full of adventures as everyday there is something happening with him. It is as if trouble chooses him each day resulting into funny situations. His docile attempt to keep himself busy proves to fail each time with a renewed vigour.

Disclaimer:  This story has not been written to show anyone in poor light or to make fun of. It is written with the intention of showing the reality dosed with little bit of humour to be taken with a pinch of salt. 

P.S: I have tried something different this week at Sunday Scribblings. Please let know what you think of it as that will encourage me to continue with more episodes of this story...

Hope you will like reading this one!

Comments

  1. Hmm..this is different... the description of the husband-wife duo is interesting ! plus,the illustrations made it all the more innovative.. read something of this kind after a long time ...liked it :):)

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    1. Thanks Rinku...they surely do make an interesting pair. It is actually based on someone I know :D

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  2. I felt as though I was reading R.K.Narayan's Malgudi days. Simple settings, humour in every day life happenings and a common man who is the main protagonist. Are those drawings yours???
    If yes, they are just superb..very apt!
    I loved the story and wish you do it as a series.
    I feel you have a great flair for such simple yet meaningful stories. I wish you'd publish a book of such stories soon in future. All the best! :-D

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    1. :D

      Wow...that was some compliment Uma. Thank you so much. R K Narayan is my all time favourite writers. And Malgudi Days for me is a master piece.

      Yes the drawings are mine. I am planning it as a series where I would write various incidents that happen in their life.

      Thanks for your lovely comment and prayers too...I do dream of writing a book someday. Lets see where I land up! :)

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  3. I wonder what those adventures are , are you going ot share with us what he will go through..

    but I am sad that the two dont talk much with eahc other ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Oh yes... I am definately going to share them with you. Just wanted to know what you feel about this as a series.

      I know it is sad.But you know Bikram, in such arranged marriages which happened when perhaps they were in their early teens by the time they reach this age they develop a stage where things are more understood and less spoken. It is bad I know for communication is important but for them that understanding is perhaps so strong that they don't see it as a negative trait.

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    2. hmmm I did not think it that way , my bad..
      yes you are right we reach that comfortable position in life where the look does it all, one need not say a word but the other understands.. That is how close they have got and know each other ..

      looking forward to more of the series

      Open letter to all Indians-Bikram's

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    3. Oh na re Bikram, nothing like that. You know I am very talkative by nature and after observing them for sometime I actually asked that lady how do they manage not talking. And she explained this to Me :)

      Will be back with more adventures soon... Thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. Okay, this is so chimerical! Just in my last comment, I actually thought that you might write a novel someday, and here it is! A story from you! :D

    Apart from the strong plot, I liked the names you have chosen and how you have embedded them in the story. They look just so fine! And those very bright pictures you made are like, wow! Simple, yet elegant. I strongly recommend you to continue writing these kind of stories. You write really good Me! :D

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    1. :D

      Leo, yours is one comment which never fails to bring a smile on my face!

      Thank you so much for-

      That faith in Me that I could someday write a novel.
      For loving all my experiments that I keep doing in my writing.
      For your motivation and encouragement on this story.

      Its truly appreciated.... BTW When I am ready with my manuscript will send it to you first for proof reading ;)

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  5. Me !

    This is so so so so beautiful ! Hugs :) I know I don't tell you often enough but I love your writing :) i really really do. Just look at those illustrations. Reminded me of RKN and Malgudi Days :)
    Pls pls do make this a series. I am itching to read. It looks and feels real. If you don't mind, is it based on a true story?

    I love the way you handle your blog with respect Privy ! :) Your effort shows in these impeccable posts. I want to know what happens to them. I do hope someday their time tables will match :)I am a stickler for happy endings :)

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    1. Thanks a ton Toffee :D

      Oh yes it is based on a true story. I know this couple very closely and they inspired me to write this series. I have just changed names of people and places.

      I am really touched to hear that dear.. I seriously love my blog and yes make a special attempt to make it also special. Glad you noticed that....

      Your encouragement means a lot..will be back soon with more episodes on them!

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  6. Loved it,Loved the picturesqueness ,Liked the Narration .

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  7. Hi

    Why on earth did you get a doubt whether you should continue? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! Its awesome and as someone else mentioned, I too got reminded of Malgudi Days.

    Pls do continue and Good Luck with it :)

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    1. Hello,

      Well, the reason for doubt is that I was not sure whether such stories are still liked or not. These days we all like short stories and have so many fascinating ideas for them that I thought maybe this would be lost amongst all of them.

      Thank you so much for all your kind words of encouragement :)

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  8. Towards the end I felt why did it end? Keep writing:)

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    1. Awww... that was really sweet of you to say that.

      Thanks a ton!

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  9. Lovely...as absorbing as R K Narayanan's chronicles..:)Will there be a sequel...??

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    1. OMG... thank you so much. I am really honoured to hear that. Oh yes! I will share more such incidents that happen in this couple's lives soon.

      Delete
  10. Hello.
    Welcome to Blog Hop Saturday! I'm catching up on visiting.

    You held my attention all the way through. I do find it sad that they barely talk to each other. My wife is British and I can never get enough of hearing her soft, dulcet voice. As for me, I'm a talker, always have been, always will be. I wonder how they communicate what's been happening in their respective lives. Surely, a lack of communication must lead to some resentment on both their parts. In my humble opinion, it's like they are married in name only but lead completely separate lives. Hmm...this is an intriguing story and you've left us hungry for more. Very impressive illustrations too. Thanks for sharing. Thanks also for linking up to Blog Hop Saturday! I hope you'll return again sometime.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn...

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    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you so much for being here today!

      I am feeling really great to read your comment. The love that you share with your wife is sheer magic. Touchwood.

      But you know sometimes after spending some 50-60 years of life together, being married when you are 10-12 years old you reach a stage where the silence is more understood. For them love does cease to exist but what remains is a deep understanding and respect for each other.

      I am really glad you liked it. Will be writing more episodes on the same soon. And yes I loved being a part of Blog Hop and will be back everytime :)

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  11. Interesting and very well crafted Me! (Nice observation:D)!
    And I really liked your drawings:)

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    1. Thanks soo much Tarang.. Oh yes you need to beleive me when I say I have toying with this idea since the beginning of this year :)

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  12. you know I love this kind of backdrop in this busy 2012. Beautiful story. I need to know more, so I will keep hanging up around here a lot of times.

    I remembered my grandfather. He too loved keeping himself busy. Lady you have some nerves for writing. Keep surprising me. If ever you decide to write a book, I need this story on it please!

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    1. That was really very sweet of you to say all those nice words Sridevi... thank you so much!

      I know how attached you are to your grandfather and it means a lot to me to know that this reminded you of him. Oh yes...I will definately keep this story if I ever decide to write a book :)

      Thank you very much dear.

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  13. Crap,completely trash.... You think you can come with different styles of story writing and at the same time people will like it too ? strange :-o

    LOL :D :D

    Wait wait.. YES, you are thinking right, people will love it. As I started mentioning from last posts that you are becoming now.. You are. It seems your move to new city has some effect on blogging world as well. :P . May be you are getting close to your first book. But it's quite different then blogging world I would say.Never underestimate you. And you should stop doubting and asking people about your stories. It is good.

    Please tell me to whom he is sending letters otherwise,you are gone. ;)

    Don't tell me this city and town doesn't exist. How can you choose such a typical city name ? It's terrific to see the amount of efforts you are putting into your posts.It shows your homework before posting.
    From which day you started making cartoons as well ? It gives such a nice appeal to the post.
    Like always I will criticise you for one small thing. the ending of the first part of story doesn't have that much crisp in comparison to start. It's good but I am comparing with start. And yeah disclaimer you should put at last not at top. Anyways it's my opinion may be other people would have liked it this way. My chaotic mind cannot stop it from writing it.

    I want to open letters soon and read inside.:)

    P.S: Apologies for using bad words in this comment and criticizing you as well when everybody seem to be appreciating you.

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    1. Well yes... I do exist in a hopeful planet :)

      Ha ha ha ... for the first time maybe I am seeing the advantages my moving as till now I was only cribbing about it. This was a first step as you guessed, so maybe I was doubtful and wanted to feel how it goes. BTW Had I been completely doubtful this idea would not have taken so much of shape.

      Sadly yes these towns and people donot exist at all. They are all ficticious names that I have taken. Appreciate that you noticed my homework was done :D

      Well you know I told you before there are lot of things which I know but most of them are kind of hidden under the work pressure. This idea brought out the cartoonist in me. You never know what the next story could bring out!

      Your appreciation alongwith criticism is always more than welcome as it gives me scope for improvement and move towards perfection. Point noted Sir...will keep in mind henceforth.

      And as for letters, you need to wait to meet Mr.Subbiah once again to know about them.

      Lastly , you don't need to apologize. Its a free world and each one of us is entitled to our own individual opinion. It need not match with what everyone else things.

      Delete
  14. @ Rajrupa Gupta

    beautiful! u got a follower here!

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    1. Sorry Rajrupa Gupta I deleted your comment before publishing by mistake. :(

      Thank you so much...I am really touched with this comment of yours!

      Delete
  15. I had filed this post for later reading and I am mad at myself for doing it! It is great the way you have built up the characters and laid the foundation of a great narration. Often it is the mundane that make a narration interesting. Going by that premise this one promises to be great. The illustrations add to the interest.

    While it might be true that speech is unnecessary after a particular age, the opposite is also true. Says who? I do. You will know if you read my latest post :)

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    1. :D

      Thats a real sweet comment from you!

      Yes you are right. It is mundane which is interesting as it more often than not goes unnoticed. Your feedback is truly encouraging. I am trying to work on this series.

      Rushing to read your latest post.!!

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  16. I find words none to explain greatness of the entire fiction.Splendid.

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    1. Thanks for such a splendid comment dear... I am truly touched after reading this. This story means a lot to me for more than on reasons and this comment is like an icing on the cake..thanks a ton once again dear..<3

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  17. i was looming over posts of September...where i saw part2...i had to read the previous part and after reading such a neat composed introduction,i know what i am going to read next...!!!

    am impressed with the drawing you did to depict the story...it clearly suggests how much importance you give to your posts...!!!

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    1. Thanks a ton! :)

      This story is very very special to me and I am really beaming right now after reading your comment. I love my blogs a lot and yes they are very very very important for me as they hold a part of Me in them!

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  18. Beautiful story. loved it for the simple and easy narration. This writing of yours reminds me of Malgudi days. The drawings / sketchings add a different hue to your narration. When u publish a book I will be the first to buy it. Till then keep writing and drawing.

    One point : what did the old man do 3.30 to 5.30 pm?. I am dying to know.

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    1. :D

      Ha ha ha that is something which perhaps only Subbiah can tell you!!

      Thanks so much, it reminding you of Malgudi Days is the biggest thing for me. I am working on its next chapter..will post it soon.

      Loved your comment, truly encouraging :)

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    2. We are eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

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    3. :)

      Will post soon. Just giving the final touches.

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  19. I liked the way of writing privy and your control over the story .Waiting for next part.TC.

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