It was a large enclosure carved out in front of the main door of the Big Bungalow, where my landlord Hardeep resides. The main door, a masterpiece of elaborate wooden carvings, opens up widely to reveal the extravagant furniture and lavish present-day fittings; details out without any ambiguity the kinda luxurious lifestyle Hardeep & his family are enjoying.
Out we settle in the enclosure, me and my wife, with me holding a beer mug filled-up to the rim with a frothy fresh beer, and I am trying to make the best of the leisure time by staying together. After all, the busy days are keeping us separated for long hours and whatever little escapade we get, it gets utilised like this to the fullest extent.
Hardeep walks out through the ornate door to acknowledge our presence by fixing a drink for himself, and engages us into a cheerful conversation. He also offers the packet of savories, which he carried along after seeing me holding only a beer mug without any side accompaniments.
Out of nowhere he reaches out to grab me in his arms and lifts me up to his hip, to take me a detour of his house & show me around the magnificent interior, before he puts me back into the outdoor enclosure. While I pass through various sections of his house, a weird thought takes over – “how he could probably carry me around, when I am no less than 80 Kgs of weight?”, and more importantly worried about not to spill the beer, the most precious of all things in my grabs at that moment! None of his ornate objects could stand up to this thought of mine!
After that quick detour, he rushes back into his home & shortly thereafter, reemerges with the keys to his car. He pulls out the vehicle in reverse from the parking, for his wife to onboard. He looks over his shoulder & says “I am gonna take my wife for a doctor appointment but you guys can continue with your conversation”.
We soon follow suit and get walking towards the popular market, which is right across the deadly ridge. It’s a barren land, dug up only to be ignored for no reason whatsoever. We walk through the narrow side path, trying real hard to avoid slipping into the deep down valley and soon out we come to the market’s entrance, unscathed.
Whatever foot garment (I don’t know what that means but get to notice that it was lying in her shopping list for a while now) that my wife wanted was available at the very first of the shops in that line, so a sense of relief engulfs us for having accomplished the shopping objective at lightning speed and a great degree of luck!
The reason to feel lucky was, my wife’s notorious track record of not being able to get anything that she asks for from a shop or restaurant – e.g., even the Kathirikai Kaara Khuzambu is never available when she visits an authentic Chettinadu restaurant!
It was the peak hour of the day and as we get going after having packed our stuff in a neat wrap, we had little knowledge what bizarre moment is awaiting us.
As we set walking through the buzzling market street, with people packed shoulder-to-shoulder, there emerges an old fashioned scooter with a family of a man & his lady. The scooter resembles the erstwhile heavy duty models of the 80s that were once popular among middle class households – Vespa, Lambi of sorts.
There are two other passengers in the scooter as well – but not large enough to topple the scooter.
One in the front and other in the rear seat, we find two ugly and grumpy leprechauns, of the size of a water bottle. Or may be slightly taller than a water bottle!
Round faced, bald, greenish yellow complexioned, face studded with black dots and eyes that are disproportionately larger to their body size. And with no eyebrows, the two little things were a complete package of disgust & hideous to watch, with their parents being the only exception.
In the next couple of minutes, the scooter screeches to a halt as it approaches the ring side of the wall covering the canal, which is located adjacent to the market.
The fellow at the rear seat suddenly leans towards his left and pukes out a ugly smelly green vomit on the wall. The noise of his puking brings out the grumpiness of his natural voice chords.
We just cross the road in a jiffy, unable to tolerate the stench & wanting to avoid any proximity with those two ugly creatures. In a sudden explosion of drama, the twins of them resort to their ingenious mischief that was being curtailed by the scooter ride all this while.
They start leap frogging around the buildings & vehicles, scaring off people all around, who now start dispersing into all direction to avoid being accidentally touched by the twins. Are they really cursed beings, that everyone is bolting away like holding their life in the palm of their hands?
As they jump zealously from one stand to another, I usher my wife to rush quickly to our way back home as I really didn’t want any encounter with the twins.
In the sudden turn of the events, their focus shifts towards us, as if they could mind read into our escape plan. As we slid ourselves through the series of giant pillars housed by the only big building in the marketplace, the chase gets more ferocious.
Between every appearance they make while chasing us, they quickly duck to vanish from the sight and this very act was sending chill down our spines!
We had to increased our pace in order to lose them completely and reach the open clearing that is sandwiched between the building’s rear entrance and the market – where we found our purchase at the first of the shops.
As we cross over the clearing, I turn back to spot the twins and feel completely relieved on having outrun & losing them to obscurity. I turn my head back towards the path leading to the market’s exit, and halfway into turning around my gaze I spot a all new bigger danger with drooling jaws!
The Royal Bengal tiger was sitting on the grassland overlooking the market, a gigantic adult cat with a clear exuberance of power and hunger. The stripes on the body shine through the evening sun set and a burning intensity is visible in its eyes, when it is evaluating the crowd for its supper!
My intuition kicks to life and says I got to run, 10 X faster now, as any moment the tiger could get back on its feet and makes the inevitable move. I let out a deafening cry to my wife and my daughter (who has now joined us from nowhere!) to get back on their toes and rush towards the market’s two wheeler parking.
And there goes the validation of my intuition! He gets up on his four legs and makes his move! As I watch him gradually gaining pace, we lock our eyes at each other and at that moment I could feel my heart thumping at it’s peak rate.
The open clearing is the only distance separating us and the tiger, and we really have to run at our top notch speed to reach the spot where I had parked my Royal Enfield bullet, if at all we need to make it back home alive.
As I keep pushing my wife and daughter (who is still trailing behind me while to my satisfaction the wife is moving really fast now) I notice the Tiger changes his direction of pursuit towards a herd of buffaloes coming from another gully that joins the main market road.
In the next couple of minutes, I am keenly tracking down the tiger and its pursuit, and soon find him closing down on one of the poor buffaloes, to grab it by the neck with the help of razor sharp claws.
The other buffaloes get unnerved by the unexpected attack on one of their clans, and scatter themselves in all possible direction. An absolute chaos unfolds right in front of me when the poor buffaloe, which is trapped in the grip of the tiger, falls on the ground with a heavy thud.
I am relieved for the second time now, as a tiger that is busy in devouring its supper won’t pose any immediate threat to us anymore and we can safely escape from that spot.
When all these thoughts are racing through my mind, we finally reach the spot to see our bike majestically parked. It happens to be the only vehicle in the spot.
I transfer all the things I have been holding to my wife, who is already struggling with a dozen items stuffed in her hand. As the items overflow, she drops a couple of them to the ground. In the meantime, I hurriedly kick start my bike while my daughter and wife reach out to the fallen objects from the ground.
I so wish I had brought my car for the shopping, as even if the leprechaun twins are still in pursuit, they can cause little harm when we are seated inside safe enclosure of our four wheeler.
The faint noise of the alarm bell gets louder by each sequence and I jerk up on the bed to put it off. What a crazy dream it was! I lie down on the bed and stare at the window drapes randomly swaying with the early morning breeze and the first glimpse of the sun rise makes its way through the gaps, into the bedroom.
I now turn to lie on my back and look at the ceiling, submerged in a deep thought of what madness lie ahead at work in next few hours, as a sheer extension of all the madness happening in my personal and professional life for the last week or so.
It’s been two weeks since all the nuisances started at work, with some ex-employees ganging up under the malicious influence of one of our employees, wanting to cause a stir for fun sake.
People in the frontline of my company have started coming up in batches, demanding for an increment with an intimidation of quitting if not given one. The business operations slowing down almost by half because of breakdown of key delivery parameters is just another dimension to the troubles I am fighting out every day.
While these nuisances are building up on one side, the startup that I am part of is totally reeling under existential crisis for lack of funds to expand the operations. With all the conversations with different investors leading to a dead end, we are in a kind of a race where there’s no 2nd place but only death!
With all these numerous small and one big problem demanding my undivided attention, I can vividly remember that it’s been 2 full weeks that I couldn’t spare quality time to my family even on the Sundays!
Hold on!!!! I see a flash in front of me, the dream I just completed and the reality of things happening in my life recently.
Are the Leprechauns the representation of various nuisances at the front line?, is the Royal Bengal Tiger the mirror image of the funding drought we are facing as an organization?, is the Part I of the dream of settling for a relaxed conversation with the wife a manifestation of angst that is running deep down me?
Then what denotes the final escape that we manage to achieve? Is it signifying the fact that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”? That we are going to eventually emerge unscathed out of all these life’s hurdles?
It is one crazy dream, that is totally ridiculous and illogical but at the same time perfectly matching up to the personal and professional experiences that I am going through in the recent times!
It’s time to jump off the bed and get ready for the battle ahead! By end of it all, there’s no Leprechauns or Royal bengal tiger whatsoever, the wake world comprises much real problems & challenges to tackle!