Monday, 30 June 2014

Grandfather Clock
Grandfather clock
grandfather clock
it don’t tick
it don’t tock.
It  is a home
to a little ghost
he calls me,
“My silly host.”
Ghost is naughty
he keeps mocking
when I am busy
he never stops talking.
When days are hot
he sneaks into refrigerator
he quietly sips juices
at his princely leisure.
Mother thinks it’s me
playing a prank
and for missing juices
I get a spank.
Ghost loves it and
has a hearty laugh
he keeps at mischiefs
that put me off.
One day he slipped
into my schoolbag
he cleaned out lunch
from my lunch pack.
One day he messed up
all my school notes
he nibbled my books
like a hungry goat.
I got punished for
no rhyme or reason
and in a wild anger
I teach him a lesson.
I close all windows
and off goes light
I let lose my dogs
who begin to fight.
The room is dark
and dogs bark
ghost scampers
and hides in clock.
He is a real ghost
but is afraid of dark
he trembles in fear
when big dogs bark.
I have my revenge
I enjoy a sound sleep,
ghost in the clock
is scared even to peep.

© i b arora

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Friendly Brats

A tough little kitten
and a big rowdy rat,
they were a pair of
friendly brats.

They would jump
and they would sing,
they would laugh till
their faces turned pink.

They would play
and they had fun,
they were together
as if they were one.

But big mama cat
was somewhat vile,
 and she was full of
 craft and guile.

 She knew rat was
quick and agile,
she had a plan and
a bewitching smile

 One day she invited
the rowdy rat
for some snacks
and silly chit chat.

But it was not
to be simply that,
for she wanted to
trap the silly rat.

Little kitten was
crafty no less.
mama’s scheme
 he could easily guess.

 He quickly alerted
 the rowdy rat,
and out scrammed
 the scared rat.

 Rowdy rat has
learnt his lesson,
he now eyes cats
 with fear and suspicion
 But little kitten
 and the rowdy rat
are still a pair of
friendly brats.
© i b arora

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

मेंढकी का ज़ुकाम

मेंढकी को जब लगा ज़ुकाम
         खूब घबराया मेंढक राम          
               भागा भगा मेंढक आया                
आकर मेंढकी का सिर सहलाया

मेंढकी ग़ुस्से से चिल्लाई
सिर तुम मेरा छोड़ो भाई

दौड़े दौड़े जल्दी जाओ
कोई वैध हकीम लेकर आओ

मेंढक झटपट दौड़ा भागा
देखा न कोई पीछा आगा
इसको पूछा उसको पूछा 
                           जिसको देखा उसको ही पूछा                            

और फिर लाया वैध इक ऐसा
जिसकी लम्बी पूँछ और छोटे कान

वैध देख मेंढकी चिल्लाई
वैध की सूरत उसे न भायी

मेंढकी ने किया होहल्ला
वैध भागा उठा पुच्छला
       © आई बी अरोड़ा

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A Naughty Tale

Spunky was a simple monkey
 but he had crook of a tail.
Tail was long and a bit naughty
and there hangs a funny tale.

 Tail enjoyed to twirl and play
 it loved to swing and sway.
It wouldn’t heed the monkey
and would often go astray.

 Tail liked to twist and turn
when Spunky wanted to sleep.
 On his back it would squirm
and worm like it would creep.

When Spunky sat for lunch
tail would give a nasty punch.
Nothing at all he could do
 even if  he had some hunch.

Spunky tried to mend his tail
but it was to no avail.
Instead tail enjoyed the fray
new tricks it learned to play.

 Spunky is now in real soup
 he feels like a bird in a coop.
He does every biding of his tail
that is how it is a funny tale.
©i b arora

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sad Turtles
A young turtle was
 glum and sad.
 For days together
no meal he had.
He loved to eat
 fresh little crabs.
But there were none
 up for grabs.
Fish was there
 in plentiful.
He could eat
a bucketful.
 Fish was fresh
 and real good.
 But he relished
that was cooked.
 He enjoyed fresh
 leaves of fig.
And he could eat
small or big.
 But there were none
 on nearby twig. 
So for days together
 he went without meal.
 His mother was worried,
she let out a squeal.
 But old granny said,
 “It’s no big deal”.
For weeks together
 no meal she too had.
 But then, dear friends,
 she was no less
glum and sad.
© i b arora

Friday, 20 June 2014

Story of a Little Prince

A little kid was glum and sad
and it was real real bad,
he was a little royal prince
and in a royal robe he was clad.
Little prince loved to fling stones
on poor trees who couldn’t groan,
and on little birds, for that matter
prince would laugh
when birds would scatter.
But today he was glum and sad
and that was real real bad.
Little prince was holding a sling
and he was wanting to fling
a big stone at the moon
but it was only noon.
Little prince rushed to the king
and shouted, I  want to fling
a big stone at big bright moon
and I want to do it soon.
King had no time for prince
he was in thick of a fight,
his dear queen was trapped
by two sombre bishops
and one fearsome knight.
Little prince wasn't amused
no wish was he ever refused,
his wishes were always met
so he won’t fuss and fret.
Little prince was angry and dismayed
he howled and he wailed
king was angry and  outraged
his game plan had totally failed.                                            
Little prince screamed
and shouted
but king would not hear
his army was totally routed.
When king couldn’t bear
little brat’s silly drone
he jumped from his royal throne
in air all chess men were thrown.
King made a dash
for the door
on his little prince
he was very sore.
But little prince
ran after the king
for he still wanted to fling
a big stone at the moon
and he wanted to do it soon.
Little prince chased the king
silly ministers all followed
like puppets on the string.
It was such
a funny spectacle
to see them all,
the king
little prince
and silly ministers,
running in a circle.

© i b arora

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Old Shepherd
(Please see my post of 17th June for second part of the story)
We started our trek and what an experience it was. We walked through meadows, waded through streams of ice cold water and crossed snowfields at a few places. Trek ended with a steep and strenuous climb to the lake. But a mere glimpse of the lake was enough to wipe out our weariness.
Konsar Nag is a glorious lake. Its beauty is unmatched. Majestic mountains, with snow-capped peaks, surrounding the lake just overwhelm you. Vastness of the lake makes you feel small and insignificant. Charm of that place cannot be described in words. Even now, after so many years, I feel enchanted by just remembering that experience.
Two of our friends took a quick bath in ice cold water of the lake; large and small pieces of frozen snow were floating in the lake even at that time of summer. Rest of us could not dare to do so. We sprinkled few drops of icy water on our faces and thought it was enough for us. We stayed there for about two hours.
None of us wanted to leave that place but we had to. Clouds had appeared from nowhere and soon we had light showers. We had to reach forest hut before sunset.  We started climbing down at a leisurely pace. Descent was a pleasant experience. Rain had stopped. We hardly met anyone on the way, for there was little habitation in that area and few visitors came to the lake.
We had almost forgotten our encounter with old shepherd. But when we were near the meadow, Timmy suggested that we should go to old man’s hut instead.
‘I liked that mysterious old man; a poor man owning a luxurious hut in a beautiful meadow. And food that he had arranged was delicious.’
‘I think we should stay in forest hut,’ I said
‘The forest guard may not have come back.’  
‘We will see when we reach there.’
Forest guard had come back and we decided to stay in forest hut. Guard was willing to arrange food for us, of course on payment. And payment had to be made in advance.
When food was being served Timmy invited the guard to share food with us. Unlike old shepherd he readily agreed. Timmy engaged him in small talk; he was only one amongst us who enjoyed such small talk with all and one.
‘Do you happen to know the old man who lives in his hut over there?’ Timmy asked pointing towards west.
‘Which hut?’
‘Hut behind a grove on west side? I think that is the only grove over there.’
‘You must be mistaken; there is no hut anywhere nearby.’
All of us had stopped eating. All of us were uncertain and edgy. 
I narrated our last night’s encounter with an old shepherd.
‘We stayed in his hut. He arranged food for us. We gave him two hundred rupees for his services. In fact we were planning to stay there tonight if you had not come back.’  
Guard looked stunned. He got up and started looking for something in a small, dirty wooden box lying in one corner. He took out something from that box and thrust it in front of my face.  It was a faded black and white Polaroid photograph. It was a photograph of old shepherd we had met yesterday.
‘You met this man?’ His voice was trembling voice.
‘Yes,’ I said. There was a slight tremor in my voice also.
‘That can’t be?’ It was more of question than a statement.
‘Why?’ This was Timmy. Others appeared to be dumbstruck.
‘He was my grandfather. He died many years ago.’
 No one spoke for some time.
‘It must be his ghost; you must have seen his ghost.’  Guard was looking pale, almost as pale as a ghost.
We just did not know what to say. It was unbelievable. We had seen the old shepherd in flesh and blood. We had stayed in his hut. He had served us food. But the guard was saying that he had died many years ago. Was the guard making a fool of us? I thought for a moment, but he appeared to be dead serious.
 The guard left us saying that he would sleep in kitchen, ‘I always sleep in the kitchen.’
Timmy looked at me with a raised eye brow, ‘Old man had also said same thing!’
We finished our dinner in total silence. Food appeared to have lost its taste.
 Next morning when we were ready to leave, forest guard was nowhere around.
‘Do we wait for him?’ I asked.
‘No, we have already paid him. Let us leave this place, sooner the better,’ Rihan said.
‘Why don’t we first go to that grove and see for ourselves whether old shepherd’s hut is there or not?’ Haroon suggested.
Timmy liked the idea, but Rihan and Jogi were not keen to go there. Timmy and Haroon insisted and we decided to go and look for old shepherd’s hut.  But when we started for the grove we observed that there were actually a couple of groves on west side of forest hut.
“I thought there was only one grove in that area? We didn’t notice other groves that evening,” I said.
‘I think hut was behind the nearest grove,’ Timmy said pointing to one grove which appeared to be nearest.
We went to that grove but we found no hut behind it. Every one of us was bewildered.
‘May be we have come to the wrong grove, let us go over there,’ Timmy said and he pointed towards another grove.
‘We should go back now, we are only wasting time,’ Rihan almost shouted.
 There was some muted discussion and we left the meadow. But we left with uncertain feelings. Trek back to Aharbal was pleasant and uneventful. But I knew that all of us our bothered with something that was inexplicable. None of us was loudly talking and loudly laughing as we normally did.
 At Aharbal, as we were waiting for a local bus, Timmy saw someone at the bus stop. 
‘Who is there under that tree?’ he mumbled in my ear. His voice was trembling and was full of fear.
I was shocked to see the old shepherd. He was standing under a tree like a statue. He was staring at us. Slowly he walked towards us. We were a bit nervous. He smiled and asked, ‘What happened yesterday? You didn’t come to my hut last night?’
‘We stayed in forest hut.’
‘You broke open the lock?’
‘No, the forest guard himself opened it. He had come back. He made all arrangements and did not cheat us. He charged only one hundred rupees for everything.’
Old shepherd stared at us; his face had turned pale as a ghost. He muttered some unintelligible words.
‘I hope you are in your senses.’
‘Why do you say that?’ I asked.
‘Forest guard died three days back. I got the news yesterday after you had left for the lake. How could he be there unless it was his ghost?’
Before we could say anything, bus arrived. We had to quickly board it, for a fairly large crowd was waiting to get into the bus. Moment all passengers had boarded the bus, it left Aharbal. While travelling in the bus every one of us was brooding over the events of last two nights.
When we reached Srinagar, Timmy was in his usual boisterous mood. ‘Well, what do you make of those two odd fellows, our strange hosts in the most beautiful meadow of the valley?’
‘I think both of them made fool of us,’ said Haroon.
‘One of them was a real ghost,’ that was Rihan.
‘What of old shepherd’s hut? We could find no hut in that place. Where did we actually stay?’ Jogi asked.
‘Answer perhaps lies trapped in my camera,’ Timmy said pompously, ‘remember, I took photographs of old shepherd, his hut and the forest guard. My photographs will unravel this mystery. May be one of them, if not both, will turn out to be a real ghost.’
When the photographs were ready, we all went together to collect them. Every one of us was edgy and eager to know the truth.
“So how does the story end? So far your story is neither funny nor scary,” asked my friend who was becoming impatient with my long narration.
“Well, you would be as surprised to know the end as we were on that pleasant evening in 1970.”
“Let me hear it.”         
“Old shepherd was there in all photographs but forest guard was missing from every photograph. He was not seen even in the photograph which Timmy took when he was sharing food with us. His plate with food on it was there, but guard was missing.”
“You think guard was a real ghost and old shepherd was a real man.”
“It is not that simple. Old shepherd’s hut which was furnished like a rich man’s cottage could not be seen in any photograph. Timmy had taken at least three or four photographs of the hut alone.  But in none of those photographs we could see the hut.”
“Old shepherd was also a ghost? And his hut was a ghost hut? That is what you are implying?”
“I would let you decide for yourself. As for me even after so many years I am not sure of what happened there during those two nights and who they were, our two strange hosts in that beautiful meadow.”  
My friend looked quizzically at me. He was surely wondering that what I had narrated was just a flight of my imagination and not a true story. I did not know what I could do or say to dispel his doubt, so I left it at that. 

© i b arora

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Old Shepherd
(Please see my post of 16th June for first part of the story)
As we entered we were amazed to see that not only the hut was spacious and beautiful but it was well furnished also. And it was well lit. But curiously it didn’t look like a poor man’s hut and old shepherd was surely a poor man. Or was he?
Timmy, the only person in the group who was proud owner of a camera, whistled out of sheer joy. He promptly took out his camera and took a few photographs of the hut and old shepherd. Old man did not like that. He glared at Timmy.
‘You should not have done this.’ He said sharply and left in anger.
We were bewildered by his reaction.
‘What do you say, what happened to him?’ Timmy asked and left the hut saying, ‘Let me see where he has gone?’
‘Don’t you think that he is an odd creature?’ asked Haroon.
‘And this hut too? When I saw it I thought it was a ruin rather than a hut. But look, it is furnished like a rich man’s cottage,’ Rihan commented. 
‘How does that concern us? We are here only for a night. We will get good food and place to sleep. Now don’t get bothered and just relax,’ I said.
‘He could be a mountain brigand?’Jogi suggested.
‘Or he could be a ghost and this could be ghost hut,’ I said jokingly, ‘don’t harbour any vile notions about the old man. He has come to our help us in this unmanned territory.’
At that moment Timmy came back and he looked totally flustered, ‘There is no one here, not even a goat.’
‘What happened to the old man? He must be around?’ I asked
‘No, I could not find him,’ Timmy replied.
‘May be he has gone to arrange food for us,’ I insisted but I was getting edgy.
We were a bit nervous, but we could do nothing but wait for him. Timmy took few photographs of the hut. Old man came back after an hour or so.
‘Food is ready. May I serve it?’ he was quite terse in his manner.
‘Of course, we are all very hungry.’
Old shepherd served the food. It was what we wanted, rice with mutton curry, steaming hot and delicious.
‘Why don’t you join us?’ Timmy suggested.
‘No, I can’t eat this food.’
‘Why?’ all of us blurted in one voice. All of us had stopped eating.
‘There is nothing wrong with the food,’ he said without even a hint of smile, ‘but I don’t eat meat.’
‘That is unusual, everyone here eats meat,’ I said. I was getting suspicious of him.
He didn’t utter a word and just shrugged.
‘Did you not cook it?’ Timmy asked.
‘Oh no, it’s my wife who is such an excellent cook.’
‘But there is no one around here, I didn’t see anyone?’ Timmy was staring at old shepherd.
‘Everyone is here. Now I have to go. You may leave used plates outside,’ old man said and left in a huff.
‘Where will you sleep?’ I asked him as he was crossing the door.
‘In the kitchen, I always sleep in the kitchen,’ I could hear his reply but not see him.
We finished our dinner and went to sleep. We were nervous and alert, waiting for some unforeseen calamity. But soon we were asleep and woke up only on hearing a loud knock. I opened the door. It was old shepherd.
‘Why are you so late? I had told you that you have to come back from the lake before sunset. You must immediately leave. The climb is rather long and difficult. Get ready and leave,’ old man almost ordered us.
Sun had already risen and it was a bright and perfect day for our trek to the lake.   I thanked the old man. I noticed that he was very old, almost an ancient person. But his eyes were strange, as if they were eyes of a dead man.
‘Can we stay in your hut tonight if the forest guard does not come back?’ I asked even though I was a little unsure of whether we would like to stay in that hut again.
‘We shall see.’
We were ready to leave when old man asked for the money. I gave him two hundred rupees. He took the notes and looked at them very carefully, examined both sides of the notes and stared at me.
‘You think that I am fool, a village bumpkin?’ his tone was very menacing and eyes were hard like a stone.
‘What is the matter with you? You asked for two hundred rupees and that is what we are giving you,’ Timmy said a bit harshly.
‘But why are you giving me fake notes?’ he shouted and returned the notes to me.
‘You are mistaken, this are genuine notes.’ I gave the notes back to him.
‘But they do not have photograph of King George?’
‘Old man we are not in 1947. King George does not rule India and notes don’t carry his photograph,’ Timmy said and loudly laughed. Old man pocketed the money but looked uncertain.
(to be continued)
© i b arora

Monday, 16 June 2014

Old Shepherd
“No, I don’t agree. There is no such thing as a ghost.”
“But ghosts are for real, they exist.”
“You make it sound as if you have met one.”         
“Well, let me tell you a story. When…”
“I am not interested in your stories; they are more funny than scary. Just tell me, did you ever see a ghost? Have you ever met a ghost?”
“You will have to listen to my story and then decide for yourself.”
“If that is what you want, go ahead,” he said and nodded with his eyes. I began my story.
When I was in first year of my college, our Principal was known for his love for discipline. He would not hesitate even to thrash a student who bunked his classes. Professors and lecturers were as scared of him as the students. My first year in college was worse than my last year in school; it was all work and no play.
But second year was the best year of my student life. Our dreaded Principal had left the college. New Principal was eagerly looking forward to a peaceful retired life in his native village. There were to be no university regulated examinations. It was free for all, more so for the second year students.
That year we had all the fun; we took part in games and extracurricular activities, went out for picnics and hiking trips.  And one of our trips was to a beautiful lake in Pir Panjal range; it was unforgettable experience and for many reasons.
We were a group of five friends. We reached Aharbal by bus and stayed in a guest house facing the famous falls. Actually when we reached Aharbal it was already dark. We could not see the falls; we could only hear and feel them. But when we came out of our rooms early next morning we were overawed by the beauty of the falls. Falls were just magnificent.
But to cut a long story short, we started our climb early in the morning. We knew that in six to seven hours we would reach a beautiful meadow where we could stay overnight in a forest hut.
“When will your ghost make an entry?” he asked. I admonished him and instructed him not to interrupt and continued with my story.
The trek proved rather difficult for us, more so because weather suddenly changed for worse. We were not even half way through when light showers welcomed us. What followed was a bit terrifying. Showers became heavy and sky was covered by thick and dark clouds.
 When we reached the meadow it was four in the afternoon. Rain had stopped. But sun was already behind the peaks. Forest hut was the only structure visible in the fading light. But to our dismay it was locked. There was no one around who could help us in that uninhabited meadow.
We were tired and dispirited and did not know what we could do. We laid ourselves in the open veranda of forest hut and, before long, all of us were dozing.
We may not have dozed for more than ten minutes when a strange noise woke us up. We saw an old man near the hut. He was making some strange sounds. There was something eerie about him and in the dim evening light he seemed more of a ghost than a man. The meadow was totally silent and appeared frightening rather than beautiful.
The old man turned and looked at us for few moments. Slowly he walked towards us and smiled sheepishly.
‘My goat has gone missing. I am calling her,’ old man said.
‘Would you know where the forest guard has gone? We intend to stay overnight in this hut, but the hut is locked and no one is around,’ I said
‘Are you planning to go to Konsar Nag Lake? You will have to start early so that you are back before sunset.’    
‘Yes, that is what we intend to do, but where is the guard?’
‘I think he is sick. Yes, he is sick. He left for his village a few days back. He was not expecting any guests.’
‘What should we do? We can’t stay and sleep in the open?’
‘Break open the door.’
‘No, that would be criminal,’ Haroon said. He was stickler for rules.
‘You can come and stay with me in my hut, but you will have to pay.’
‘How much?’ asked Timmy. He was the brash one in our group
‘Just give me one hundred rupees. But if you want food it would be two hundreds. ’
‘This is thieving. We won’t pay more than fifty for everything,’ Timmy almost shouted.
‘And we want rice with mutton curry,’ Haroon said but politely.
‘Two hundred and not even a rupee less.’
‘But where is your hut?’ I asked for I could not see any hut nearby.
‘It is over there, behind that grove.’ He pointed towards a grove which was on the west side of forest hut. I looked carefully but could see no hut behind that grove.
‘I can’t see any hut over there,’ I meekly said.
‘If you don’t want to come it is your choice,’ Old man said and moved away.
 Old man was going towards the grove. All of us were eager to have rice and mutton curry and to go to bed. We looked at one other and every one indicated with his eyes that there was no option but to accept old shepherd’s offer. We all followed him. Old shepherd looked back at us and beckoned us to follow him.
The grove appeared to be close by but it was actually quite far off. We were tired when we reached the grove. It was fairly dark. And what we saw disappointed us. There was a ramshackle hut hidden by the grove.
‘Please wait here, let me light the lamp,’ said the old man. He entered the hut and in a few moments the light streamed through the door and windows of the hut.
‘Please come in.’
As we entered we were amazed to see that not only the hut was spacious and beautiful but it was well furnished also. And it was well lit. But curiously it didn’t look like a poor man’s hut and old shepherd was surely a poor man. Or was he?
(to be continued)
© i b arora