‘Are you a homosexual? No medicine, no shock, H.R.T. Brainwave therapy!! Dr.T (USA) HRT Sexologist Psychologist, Tiruvalla Phone No. 94472 xxxxx.’ I am not going to give free publicity to this quack.
The above is a classified advertisement that had appeared in a Daily. Sometime ago I had written about society and homosexuality;consequent to the Delhi High Court verdict legalizing homosexuality, which was a watershed judgment in the history of this country whose hypocritical morality stinks like the sewers of its cities. We are only too familiar with the instances of molestation of women but what the moralists pretend not to know is the rampant prevalence of homosexuality. Anil has written about this in detail.
However, this post is not about sex; it is about the wonderful mine of information that I call ‘Wrapper Info’. In Kerala –I am sure as elsewhere in India – shopkeepers wrap up your goods in old newspapers. If I have time, I religiously pour through these pieces of paper. Invariably I find tidbits I had missed; the love affairs of a Bollywood heartthrob, part cleavage of another, the arrest of the local hoodlum, tragic road accidents, an obituary of someone I knew – and then the kind of advertisement as above.
In 2004, there was one of a different kind. No, the news is as ordinary as anything else, but it has kind of stuck to me, like a piece of molten steel, stuck to my heart. Every time I think of it, it burns. I have kept a copy of that newspaper dated August 24th, 2004 in my old black steel trunk. K calls it my treasure chest; on the rare occasion that I open it ceremoniously, he too would sit with me eagerly, looking at the innumerable souvenirs and bits and pieces collected over years .
News, old, on paper wraps
Of Parattas, warm, with fried beef on top.
Old news, like leaves, dead, withered,
Scattered away by winds of time.
On August twenty-fourth, I discover,
Between two pieces of beef turned over,
The eyes of a beautiful girl,
Smiling, with warmth, up at me.
Below the picture of Olympic runners,
Above an ad for a condom,
Caught between a train and a ditch,
Sheeba fell – and died.
A photograph is a moment,
Just one-sixtieth second long
Aperture at five point six,
A flash lights up - and dies.
Sheeba would’ve seen the rushing train,
Heard the rails rattling, felt the wind whooshing,
When it hit, a flash would’ve lit-
A shutter clicked - forever, on life.
The oil in the beef
Now spreads o’er her face.
The thick red oil,
Like thick red blood.
The train would’ve passed with a huff and puff.
I chew-chew-chew my leathery beef.
Oil now obliterates her face.
It seeps, it spreads, it doesn’t stop
Over the grass, drips o’er the stones,
An ant now scrambles o’er her eyes.
Balachandran V, Trivandrum 10-06-2011