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November 1, 2007

A Few Nice Words

Filed under: Sojourn — Tags: — Raja @ 8:38 AM

“A few nice words, please, and sign an autograph”, he requested his mother. And momma quoted from Rabindranath, “aamar lekha kaibe katha jakhan aami thakbo na.” (These lines will speak to you when I’ll be no more).
When the kid got the new autograph book from his granny, already containing a few autographs, he was both impatient and frustrated. Impatient, because he felt the urge to get the remaining pages filled up as quickly as possible. Frustrated, because he realized that a celebrity today may no longer be a celebrity tomorrow – thus reducing the value of the hard-earned autographs. Among the persons who had already signed autographs on the colored pages of the book, he could recognize only one person – Subhas C Bose. The others, viz., Fazal Mahmud, N Amarnath Bhardwaj, I A Khan, John Arthur Herbert, …….. were all as unfamiliar to him as any place outside his hometown was!
So there was the dilemma. On one hand, the colored pages of the book didn’t look good when blank. On the other, it didn’t make any sense to him to put an effort and collect autographs from persons who will need an introduction after a few years. There seemed to be an easy solution – take autographs of people he knew. Everyone has a potential to make it big, as his mother says. So, instead of taking the risk of making a lot of effort to take autograph of a fading star, he decided to take autographs from the ‘potential’ ones!
The booklet started getting filled up. Every autograph was accompanied with a few ‘nice’ words, as per his request.
The first opportunity came quite unexpectedly. While playing in the Delhi University guest house compound, and being chased by his elder brother, he bumped into a sardar-ji whom his elder brother recognized as some Jarnail Singh. “He’s one of the best footballers India has produced, that’s what I’m told” said his brother. There came out the autograph book in a flash. One autograph was added with the comment, “Playful kids like you are the future of India. Make Indian sports rich.”
The next in line was a senior colleague of his father.”A few nice words about me, please, and sign an autograph”, was his request to the old professor.
“I’m not a celebrity, kid”
“Well, papa says you’re more than a celebrity. With sixty years of rich experience, you’ve seen what life is”
“How old are you?”
So, there came the second new entry with a longish comment:
“Six, Sixty or six hundred, you’ll always feel the same way and yet never really see the damn thing called life, ‘coz there’s really nothing to see. Every passing year you’ll realize what an idiot you had been, and every following year you’ll remain the same idiot, only older.”
The next autograph was to come six months later, from the Minister of DST during the Indian Science Congress.”Papa says you’re his favorite political leader and you uphold the values of democracy. Please write a few nice words and sign an autograph.” So, a comment came in: “There’s no democracy. There are only sheep and a few clever shepherds. Democracy can be for the aliens who can judge and follow the right idea, not for human beings who worship a person and shelve his ideology.”
The progress of filling up the pages was extremely slow. It was rather frustrating. So he turned to the elders in his family. Who knows who can become a celebrity some day! It’s easy to get an autograph now before they really become ones. This worked like magic. All the uncles and aunts merrily autographed on the colorful pages, leaving just two pages for his parents to sign on. His father wrote, “Make me prouder.” Everything was so good. Only mom’s comment was ………. he didn’t know. It was a kind of confusing, and overwhelming. It was rather too early for him to know that mom’s not going to be there forever caressing his hair as he falls asleep. Only this much of thought was enough for him to feel empty. Overwhelmingly empty. He couldn’t think beyond this. He cried, silently.
I met his parents in Amar Kantak after a good twenty years. The elderly couple were there on a vacation for around two weeks by then when I met them. It was not yet the time for sunset. But their rest house being on the Eastern slope of a hill, the place starts getting dark early. And in the hilly winter, it gets suddenly cold as soon as the sun drops behind the hills. The cuddly hills gradually turn into cold pre-hstoric monsters. As the sun sets, you feel like you’re floating in a vast empty space of cold darkness.
But I had to be there. I had brought for them the supposedly important letters and packets that got accumulated for two weeks. They were literally pouring in. All from the city in USA where their son lives and works. When I saw the insurance claim letter, I had no other option but to rush to Amar Kantak.
At first she looked confused and apprehensive. She didn’t open any of them, perhaps with the hope that the news may never be true if she could leave them unopened. After just holding the letters for a long time, she finally opened a small packet. There was the autograph book in the packet. The tiny booklet with colorful pages. The one that a six year old kid had hidden under his pillow and cried silently over some ‘unfair’ comments. It’s the same booklet, with “a few nice words” on every page, but with fewer pages now. The booklet had only a few pages left, the last of which read the same thing twice – once in her own handwriting, and once in her son’s:
aamar lekha kaibe katha jakhan aami thakbo na.” (These lines will speak to you when I’ll be no more).



  1. This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Comment by Kanupriya — November 2, 2007 @ 12:29 AM

  2. arey, actually mein isse bhi sad hai. I lost the autograph book when I was 9. Other than Subhas Bose etc, it had autograph of Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray (both collected by a friend of my father, not through my typical “Could you please write something for me and sign your autograph?” :-((

    Comment by . R.A.J.A . — November 2, 2007 @ 7:39 AM

  3. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by The Anonymous — November 3, 2007 @ 11:42 AM

  4. Everyone should see this.. < HREF="http://www.project71.com/readme" REL="nofollow">http://www.project71.com/readme<> Enjoyy!

    Comment by The Anonymous — November 3, 2007 @ 11:52 AM

  5. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by The Anonymous — November 3, 2007 @ 11:52 AM

  6. I like.

    Comment by Ace — November 6, 2007 @ 11:23 PM

  7. <>Every passing year you’ll realize what an idiot you had been, and every following year you’ll remain the same idiot, only older.<>how true! well written. You write differently.

    Comment by Mohan Kodali — November 8, 2007 @ 8:39 AM

  8. Thanks Ace and Bro

    Comment by . R.A.J.A . — November 8, 2007 @ 11:01 PM

  9. This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Comment by Kanupriya — November 13, 2007 @ 11:38 PM

  10. Wow..that was a deep post !I loved the quotes you put up…so very nostalgic and profound.As kids we all have such massive addiction to autograph books, no ?Just around the teens I guess…if only we knew that…….most of the ones who have scribbled there would be gone by the time we are 25…Anyway…thnx for dropping by.

    Comment by Cinderella — December 6, 2007 @ 2:45 PM

  11. wow this one is good one.. initially i thought wat a long post, i shud skip this one… but while reading it did not feel, long. i think i will put this link in my blog 🙂

    Comment by Voice — December 7, 2007 @ 4:22 AM

  12. @Kanupriya:Thanks. I will, if I can.@Cinderella:Thnaks@Bhav:Thanku 🙂This wasn’t meant to be a revenge-post, but it proved to be one :-p

    Comment by . R.A.J.A . — December 7, 2007 @ 9:25 AM

  13. revenge post?

    Comment by Voice — December 9, 2007 @ 8:06 AM

  14. 🙂 why u write small things with fantastic details 🙂lovely post 🙂Weldone Raja ji 🙂n yes thise lines speak to u when i will not be on blogger :))

    Comment by Chitrangada — December 11, 2007 @ 7:01 AM

  15. <><>why<><> do I write small things with fantastic details (:-p) ? 😮

    Comment by . R.A.J.A . — December 14, 2007 @ 7:52 AM

  16. wat are u … a writer or smthing 😐

    Comment by phoebz — December 14, 2007 @ 5:19 PM

  17. if having occasional writers’ pain make someone a writer, yes I am 😀

    Comment by . R.A.J.A . — December 15, 2007 @ 9:51 AM

  18. nice one there. a li’l cliched though, but nice.

    Comment by arpana — December 19, 2007 @ 8:46 AM

  19. There is a quote linked to Tagore about faith. Anyone recall this? If you do, please send it over. Thanks.

    Comment by Cleveland Desi — February 2, 2008 @ 8:38 AM

  20. Beautiful!

    Comment by Prakhar — April 15, 2008 @ 6:05 AM

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