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The First Publication: The Halo Dreams
|by T. A. Ramesh|
Continued from "The Journey ... "
That Midnight Star!
It is a lonesome lovely night;
A Star appears in the midnight Sky!
That midnight Star gives light to my face;
Its brightness cheers me up,
Indeed it reminds me of wonderful dreams!
That midnight Star stays alive still in my inner realm too!
Its stay there will give me great pleasure in all my dreams.
Though the Cosmos engulfs all galaxies within itself
The Sun went below the horizon. The darkness appeared everywhere. The Stars came to life one after the other. The Moon came out of the Sea. The time was just five past seven. The Sea side Hotel was bright with light. Around a table in the roof garden, Selvam, Gopal, Balu and Vaithianathan were seen sitting on the chairs. They were exchanging jokes among themselves when the waiter brought bread with butter for them. Then they talked about the facts with a little seriousness.
'Gopal lit a cigarette and said, 'Last Wednesday I received a letter from Kannan containing the first Report for our magazine. From Balu also I received the first Editorial and two Articles for publication. Last Thursday I received the articles from Selvam and Vaithianathan. Last Saturday I typed out all the matters in the Bright Light Publishing House in my spare time. Today being a Sunday, I have finished compiling these materials in the form of a magazine. I am handing it over to Balu, who will release it now. Okay?'
'Thank you very much,' said Balu, 'for your invaluable assistance, Gopal. I am very much pleased to see that the first issue of THE HALO has turned out to be a successful one. I am giving the first publication of THE HALO magazine to Selvam for his perusal. I request him to write his comment and criticism in the back pages of this issue after he has gone through all the articles in it.'
'I am elated with joy to see that the first issue of our Halo resting in my hands,' said Selvam after he received THE HALO; 'I shall do the best I can in the comment and criticism column after I have thoroughly gone through all the articles in this issue.'
At that moment Vaithianathan said, 'Excuse me Balu. Shall I glance a while the magazine before I get the chance to express my comment for the first issue?'
'Sure,' replied Balu, 'you can have a look now. And the next editor will be Selvam and the assistant editor will be you.'
'I accept your suggestions, Balu. I think you will be writing the report for the next issue.'
'Yes, I shall be the reporter for next month. Afterwards Gopal and you have to undertake this work. Kannan will be sending his articles to us.'
Gopal then came forward to change the course of the talk to more personal affairs.
He said, 'I think both Selvam and Vaithianathan have got jobs in Pudu Town itself. I want to know the nature of the jobs they have got. Will you say about that to us, Selvam?'
'What Gopal says is true, Balu. Last Tuesday when I was going by the side of the Head Post Office with Vaithianathan I happened to meet lawyer Jackson. He is a friend to my father. I told him that I am looking for a job and interested in studying in law. He said that it would be better for me to work as a clerk in his office after the college hours. So, I can join the Law College and do this work, which will help me much to understand the nook and corner of this profession. I am going to his office from Friday onwards.'
Regarding his position Vaithianathan next said, 'I have passed in the LDC Exam. I have got an appointment in the Information and Tourism Office. I like this job. In the coming Monday, I have to join the office. I shall think about my studies after some time.'
The waiter brought coffee for them. They took coffee, paid the bill and left the Sea side Hotel.
The Sky was bright with Stars. The dark clouds were floating here and there. The breeze was cool. The dragon flies were seen flying near the Mercury lamp posts erected in a beautiful array by the side of the Beach Road.
They walked up to the Ashram Tourist Guest House and made a turn back to the Gandhi Statue. They decided to sit a while on one of the pavement benches of the Grand Ground. A bench was found vacant near the Nehru Statue in the ground. They sat there and were observing the Light House beams. People from all walks of life were going to the beach and many were returning through the Gandhi Ground to the Park or home.
A short and spectacled person was coming from the Park. He was slowly walking towards the Nehru Statue. He put his hand kerchief near the pedestal and sat on it in a thoughtful mood. He looked a while at the Custom's Office building, loosened his shirt a little bit and regained his mood in the cool breeze of the Sea.
With a great astonishment Gopal said, 'You fellows see there! Who is sitting there? He is Mr. Pandyan. Do you recollect him? He was my History teacher. He was working in the Nehru High School. He was teaching English and Geography also. What is he doing now?'
'I heard that he was good in teaching English,' said Selvam.
Balu and Vaithianathan did not know anything about Mr. Pandyan. They nodded their head in the negative sense.
'Let me go and talk with him a few words,' said Gopal and left them for a few minutes.
He approached Mr. Pandyan in no minute. He said, 'Good evening, sir!'
'Good evening,' said Mr. Pandyan too and looked at him for a while in order to recognize who he was.
Knowing this, Gopal said, 'I am Gopal, Sir. I was your student in the Nehru High School. I was called as Gopu by you Sir!'
With a little smile, Pandyan then said, 'Yes, I recognize you now. You have a fine moustache, man! You have grown up too. Indeed, all the students are so now. It is a pleasure to meet my old boys! What are you doing now, Gopu?'
'I am working as a Typist in the Bright Light Publishing House with a salary of Rs. 200/-, Sir. How are you and what about you, Sir?'
'I was suffering from nervous ailment. I had treatment in the Central Govt. Hospital. Now I am doing well. I have prepared guide notes for History and Geography useful for 10th, 11th and 12th Standards. These guide books are under print now. I am thinking about publishing guide notes for English every year useful for the 10th Standard students. For the present I am teaching History only in the same school. Everyday I am coming here for a small walk to trim up my health. This is how my days are going on.'
With this note Pandyan stopped his talk, looked at the friends of Gopal.
'Who are those persons sitting there, Gopal?'
'They are my college friends. They are working in the govt. offices here.'
'Well Gopal, have friends, if they are good. Otherwise, don't have any friends and don't waste your time in doing nothing. This is the age for you to do the best you can so that you need not suffer after you retire from your service. Anyway best of luck to you and God's blessings to you! Meet me at home if you have leisure and we can talk more.'
'Thank you, Sir!'
He took leave of his teacher and joined his friends.
'There is a lot of time for us,' said Gopal to his friends, 'I am happy to have met Mr. Pandyan after a long time. He said he was not well for sometime. Now he is recouping himself, it seems. He is strong in History and Geography! Okay, what shall we do next?'
'Let us go to the right hand side of Gandhi Statue, men,' said Vaithianathan in a cynical manner. Not only he said so but also got up as if that atmosphere was not congenial to him. Others also got up to move away from that place.
They were again walking on the beach pavement towards the North. In that side of the beach, they were able to see a lot of motor boats with indicator lights floating with anchors laid firm to the bottom of the Sea. The Ashram people were seen coming in uniforms denoting their respective group or category. The foreigners were also seen going along with them. They were all contributing a sort of exotic appearance to the natives of this small town.
They sat on a bench opposite to the Balaji Park. The moment they sat there a frail old man came and stood at a distance. Recognising who he was, Balu left his friends and started talking with the old man wearing a garland of beads round his neck like the hermits wear. Vaithianathan, Selvam and Gopal knew that the old man was none but Balu's father. It was a surprise and an unusual thing for them.
Then Balu approached them and said, 'Friends, my father has lost the house key, when he left for the library. Not knowing what he has to do further, he has searched for the key everywhere and has finally come here knowing that I shall be with you some where here. I have not another key with me except mine. With this we have to mange here afterwards, it seems, till we fix another door lock! Now I have to go home with him as he is not feeling well. So, see you Gopal and see you all on some other day.'
After he left them, Vaithianathan resumed his talk with them. He said, 'Gopal, I can't understand what is happening to each and every one. Kannan has gone away from us. When we are enjoying a good time here this evening, Balu has to go away from us. It seems everyone is drifting apart from one another.'
'You see, Vaithianathan,' said Gopal, 'life will be full of surprises, disappointments and happiness. We have to learn to adjust ourselves to these natural happenings. See Selvam, he is also like you. But he is not talking in a pessimistic note like you. He also knows this, but how he is keeping himself quiet, see.'
'Okay, stop it, men! Vaithianathan and Gopal let us think something useful or let us go to some movie so that we can forget this unpleasant occurrence. What can we do, if Kannan goes to Madras or Balu goes to settle his problem? We have to take it as such. We cannot always do what we dream!'
'All right Gopal let us go to a movie to night as Selvam suggests. Tell me what good movies are running in our town.'
'Vaithianathan, you go to any movie you like with Selvam. My mother has a small problem with her relatives. I have to be with her to solve it once and for all. I have to go home early to night.'
'Gopal, you go home and help you mother. I shall go to Ajanta theatre to see an old movie, CAPTAIN MARVEL with Vaithi. We have to see this.'
'Okay, see you Vaithianathan and Selvam. One of my neighbours is going there. I shall join him and go home. He is a good chap. So, Good night!'
'Good night!' said Vaithianathan.
'Good night and see you tomorrow,' said Selvam then.
After reaching the terrace he settled himself near a table. It was a roof garden and the air was cool there. He ordered for a light dinner and was observing the star lights of the hotel. The butler brought the soup, bread, water and placing them on the table went away. The soup seemed to be a tasty one for Kannan. After two or three sips he immersed a slice of bread with the butter in the soup and ate it.
'Excuse me Mr. Kannan,' interrupted The Treasure receptionist lady.
'Oh, Sure!' said Kannan, 'Please have your chair.'
She occupied the chair opposite to him. He called for the waiter.
'What do you like to have, Miss? By the by, may I know your good name?'
'Meena is my name. Thank you very much for your kindness. I like to have just a cool drink.'
'What fresh cool drinks you have here, waiter?' asked Kannan to the pleasantly dressed waiter.
'We have lemon, grape and orange juices, Sir,' said the waiter.
'Which one do you prefer, Miss Meena?' asked Kannan.
'I like orange juice, Mr. Kannan.'
'Waiter, please bring a glass of fresh orange juice!'
'Sir, I shall bring it soon,' said the waiter and went away.
'Mr. Janakan told me that he would be meeting me here, Miss. Meena. Is he coming?'
'Our company auditor suddenly came to our office to meet our proprietor. So, he instructed me to hand over The Treasure magazine of next month, just now came out of the print and a letter to you. I used to leave the office by 5 p.m. There was a little bit of work today. Probably he wanted your article to be added in this issue itself. That is way there is a little bit of delay. Anyway, it is over.'
'Thank you very much for your stay a little longer. My double sorry to you for staying long and delivering these materials to me in person.'
'Our proprietor is a good man. I am only too glad to do this personal service for his sake. Anyway, it is a new change for me today from my usual work.'
'So, you are with me. I have a good company for tonight's dinner. Thank you very much' and may I know about you, Miss Meena if you don't mind.'
'Sure, Mr. Kannan. I am the only daughter to my parents. Next to me there is only one brother. My brother is a spend thrift. He cannot settle himself in any work and support my parents. He is like that. I am the only earning member in our family. My parents once very rich have lost all their wealth, properties and connections with friends and relatives. They are very much gone down. We have a small house left with us. With my earnings, days are passing for us. Three or four times my marriage alliance came almost to fulfillment and broke away. I am minding my works and living a contented life with my humble parents'.
'Life is neither too good nor too bad for you, it seems. Miss. Meena my story is this one. I am a widower. My parents and wife were dead in a car accident some time back. My relatives are just relatives. That is all. I like friends. But my friends are having their own problems. I am having properties more than sufficient for me. To forget my early tragedy, I have entered into the writing profession to forget my unhappy past. I was a business man. Now I am a writer. I am getting income from house rents too. Good friends, peace of mind and simple life are the things I long for. My life is okay outside my home town. Today I am here. Tomorrow I shall be some where else! A change in life is the thing I seek for.'
'Mr. Kannan, you are an independent person. You are well aware of the way to manage yourself. It is a quality to be cultivated by everyone. It is perhaps the result of other virtues you have. It will be difficult for others to be like you.'
'Enough Miss Meena! This is too much for me. I am also a human being. Neither a God nor a devil! It is all dependent upon the knowledge we possess. It is a question of mind only. What I am doing is not a great thing. What is possible within my range, I am trying to do as perfectly as I can. That is what I have learned. I am just trying to put it in practice'.
The waiter appeared before them. He took orders for two meals. The sound of light music started coming through various loud speakers fixed around the place. Every mind was captured by music. Time went fast without the knowledge pf everyone there. It was 9.05 p.m. the dinner was over. Soon they left the hotel and were walking on the pavement. An auto-rickshaw appeared before them. They waved their hands. The auto stopped before them. They got into it and left the place.
The auto stopped before a small house. Miss Meena got down from the auto. She thanked Kannan and went into the house. Then the auto speeded off from that place and stopped before the Ajanta Hotel. Kannan opened the door of room No. 203, switched on the lights, closed the door and locked it.
After changing his dress he lay on his bed. He opened the letter received from the proprietor of THE TREASURE and started reading it as carefully as he could. Then he folded the letter, thought a while, took up the telephone receiver and dialled No. 365091.
'Hello, I am Kannan speaking. Mr. Janakan, I think you have changed the programme. In stead of going to THE TREASURE office I have to meet Mr. Sekariah in the Majestic Circle. Is it so?.....It is all right, Sir'I prefer a change. I like journey rather than the office work immediately on reaching Bangalore'. Thank you, Sir. I shall contact you over phone after reaching Bangalore.'
Again Kannan opened the letter, took out the new programme chart and placed it near the phone with a paper weight on it. He opened a letter pad and wrote a statement with a little thought. Then he took the phone receiver and called for the Ajanta Hotel receptionist.
'Hello, I am Kannan of room No. 203. I would like to send a Telegram to Pudhu Town. I shall give you the message. Please take down. Yes, Gopal, South Boulevard, 1st Cross Street, Pudhu Town - Coming There Ten O Clock Morrow Bus - Kanan Madras. That is the message. Please send it immediately. That is all.'
He placed the phone receiver on the holder, closed his pen with its cap and lit a cigarette. He thought about something for a while, took the phone receiver again and called for the Hotel Manager.
'Hello, gentleman' Room No. 203. I am vacating the room at five tomorrow morning. Prepare the Bill and make it for settlement. Yes,'Okay.'
He packed all of his materials and neatly placed them on a bench. Then he switched off the lights and lay on his bed for a good sleep.
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