Social Short Story – Ammi
“I do not believe in charity. But if it becomes inevitable I will pick from your pocket and do it, I am a Telugu man”.
His is a great and versatile voice. In the parlance of stage and movie industry, he is an icon. He is endowed with the talent of singing in a variety of different voices. Once he sang for the character of lord Krishna, but later when the director wanted, he sang as well for Sakuni the evil character in the epic Mahabharat. It did not stop with that.
A little later he lost no time in singing for the heroic character Bheema and immediately thereafter lent his voice to the character Kichaka another evil character in the epic. The divine singer on another occasion, at the director’s behest sang for Lord Rama and also the villain in Ramayana, Ravana, He did not miss any chance to playback sing for Goddess Sita and Surpanakha the demon suitably changing his voice to suit female characters. That is the veteran Gandharva.
Unfortunately, since Gandharva (celestial singer) is dominating in the field by singing for all characters female and male, angels and demons it is obvious that over activity is aimed at amassing as much wealth as possible. So many talented and deserving singers aspiring for a break in the movies are convinced that with Gandharva in the field they will have to wait for eternity to get a debut. Some of the aspirants even went to the extent of committing suicide in this desperate scenario.
Gandharva once ran into an elderly lady who was a peerless singer in yesteryears rendering playback songs for all the then ruling lady stars, but later lost all she could call hers, men and money and was leading a life of utter penury. Gandharva was gracious enough to take her to a ruling minister in the government and explained to him her present predicament with a request to bail her out by offering some monetary help.
In the presence of Gandharva, the minister himself felt a little embarrassed and said he would do what he could. And a week later the old woman singer, icon of masses of yesteryears, received a cheque for a sum of rupees two lakhs.
Gandharva felt extremely happy and satisfied that he was able to give some charity to the lady artiste in distress with out hurting his own pocket.
Two nightingales proverbially known for their melodious singing by name Koki and Ammi having noticed Gandharva darting into minister’s room flew there and parked themselves on the window top in the office of the minister, in the hope of listening to Gandharva’s song. But they didn’t know that was not the time or occasion for any singing. Disappointed they flew back and landed on the on the branch of a big tree, a little far away from the minister’s office.
The two birds started discussing over their disappointment in missing the chance to listen to his singing. Ammi did not appreciate Gandharva’s action in taking the yesteryears singer to a minister for helping her out, while he could himself have done which was after all a pittance for his financial status. How could he waste Governments time for this purpose? Is government a charitable institution for disbursing monies to others however deserving they might be, in this manner?
Koki responded, “My dear that is how things are now in our great country. Such rich people are allergic to the very idea of spending a little of their money for any one in the distress. They are only concerned with their own happiness, creature comforts and luxury living”.
Ammi said; “quite so, I have in my early days, read inspiring stories about your great country. In one story, a hunter shot a pigeon dead and was roasting it in wild fire. The separated female bird was crying out her heart. ‘When my husband is killed and being roasted, what is the meaning of my being alive without him’ moaned the female bird. Then the female bird threw herself into the fire and died to be in company with her mate even in death.
After I have read that story my respect and admiration for your great and ancient country had gone up. In such a great country, how could mean, self centered and selfish people flourish and in be in lime light?
Koki felt embarrassed that her country was being belittled and to change the topic, suggested that they go to a bigger tree and enjoy the coolness and relax.
Ammi said, “No, I would not like to stay here any longer”. But Koki felt very sad, that Ammi has flown all the way from USA, thousands of miles across the sky to see our great country and its tradition. But Gandharva’s incident had saddened her, his attitude, selfishness and self centeredness. I had since not been able to savour the beautiful and tasteful Indian fruits.
Ammi kept on saying that she would go to Pamela in her country immediately. Koki reconciled and agreed and said, “OK. You may go to Pamela, but please tell me about your great country America. Barack Obama, does he a sing? His wife Michelli is very cute. Does she sing? By the way, who is Pamela?”
Ammi explained that all Americans were music lovers and almost all of them would be good at singing or playing some instruments. Even so, I will almost always prefer to stay put in the house of Pamela, a great philanthropic lady who has been nurturing me as her pet bird. I always felt living with her in her house is like living in a paradise.
Koki slightly got annoyed and asked Ammi, “What is this you always talk of only Pamela as if there are no other such good and good looking people? Who is Pamela anyway? Does she look pretty? Please tell me all about her”, Koki continued.
After Ammi witnessed the self centeredness and selfishness among our people in India, she felt some what disturbed. As if in contrast, she continued to enlighten Koki about Pamela approximately.
“Look Koki, you might have heard about Pamela Anderson, one of the prettiest women in our country and a very accomplished artiste and singer. Often when she goes for bath, and she will start humming beautifully and I too would be joining her in her singing. Her smashing figure is a thing which Gods envy, perfect from any angle and without an ounce of extra flesh on any part of her body. Koki, Why I am eulogizing her physical personality so much, is because strangely her beauty is not skin deep and she is even more pretty inside. She is such a nice and kind hearted lady.
Did you hear about one Miss Mohini Bharadwaj? A great sports person is from your own country India, born of a Russian mother and an Indian father settled in USA. She always longed to participate in all International games and Olympics. But she did not have the money for that and her parents too could not afford. So a group of her friends decided and jointly try to collect the necessary money by selling lottery tickets. They did raise some funds but not enough to meet the cost of her participation in the games.
So, her friends in their efforts to sell tickets landed in Pamela’s house. They made bold to knock on the door of Pamela. Pamela opened the door. Her friends explained the purpose of their visit and sought her help by buying a couple of lottery tickets, assuring her that Mohini has real bright chances of winning. Further there is also a lucky draw offering chances of winning a handsome prize.
Pamela got upset and asked them to get lost; she shouted to them “I do not want that kind of money”. But they were not of the type that could be dismissed so easily. They continued their sales talk assuring her she would surely get the first prize in the lottery. They even started singing and dancing. Then Pamela got even more irritated and yelled at them. “What is all this nonsense going on? Is this an occasion for singing and dancing? Please get out of here.”
Crest fallen they started retracting. But even before they reached the gates, Pamela went out and called them back to her lounge. They got back in. To their utter surprise Pamela entertained them with drinks and refreshments. The friends were shocked at this mysterious turn.
Koki was eager to know how Pamela’s mood of infuriation suddenly morphed into benign smiles on her face. Koki rated Ammi a very good and lovely conversationalist besides her prowess in singing.
Noticing the tension in Koki’s face, Ammi went on describing the incident. She said, “Once when they were refreshed the girls explained in all humility that they were collecting moneys to help a poor and deserving girl to participate in the Olympics”.
Pamela then appreciated their genuine desire to be of service to a deserving candidate. After the pleasant bash of drinks and snacks every one is relaxed. Pamela went inside collecting and taking all the glasses and jugs. She cleaned the entire cutlery and came back to the lounge. She seated herself in the sofa amidst them, now a happy and friendly woman.
Ammi said to Koki, “that however mellifluent we may, we cannot match the melody of Pamela. Added to the gaiety of this scenario Pamela hummed a small song to the thrill of the crowd of the girls.
As Ammi was narrating this episode Koki got a little impatient and firmly said “stop your running commentary and tell me what it is all about. Don’t torture me by prolonging the suspense.”
Ammi smilingly exhorted her to be patient, pecking on her neck affectionately.
Ammi pondered for a moment and thought within herself how nice an experience to listen to something so humanitarian and ennobling.
Said Ammi, “Ok Koki, I will not keep you waiting any more. This is what happened. Pamela told the delegation, that she was very appreciative of their efforts. Then after a little pause, she went inside and came back with her cheque book. She wrote out a cheque and handed it to them with a kind remark, “how many more doors would you want to knock on to collect the money required, take this money and organize the event you want to”.
They were all overwhelmed with her great gesture. I craned out my neck to see what amount she donated them. I was pleasantly shocked to see, ‘it was $20,000’ Pamela then asked them “where Mohini would be at that point of time? Pamela then took out her car from the garage and the girls hopped in. After a short drive to a gym Pamela met Mohini personally placing the cheque in her hand and wishing her success and the best of luck.
I was lucky to be in their midst to notice how thrilled Mohini was to be offered such a spontaneous help. She became speechless for a moment like a statue, with tears of joy and gratitude flowing down through her eyes. The grateful athlete firmly embraced Pamela with all her warmth and strength.
Ammi said, ‘You know what happened later? Mohini did win and earn a silver medal and also became popular in all countries, thus living up to the gesture of Pamela. If only there were more Pamelas’ in the community epitomes of compassion and benevolence, there would be no poverty, disease and ignorance in the world. ”
Koki in all humility and gratitude responded. “You have told me about a great event. From now on, I wish keep singing praise about it. You have really inspired me and reminded me of our country’s icon Mahatma Gandhi and his well known saying ‘see no evil, hear no evil and do no evil’.
Ammi said “it is good you brought the topic of Mahatma Gandhi, the great soul that fought the British with the single weapon of non-violence and won freedom for your country. In fact he is also adored by our people in USA. Even our President Obama will be constantly referring to him in all his speeches and miss no opportunity to say Gandhi is his idol. And it is my privilege to roam about in such a great country”.
With this comment of Ammi, Koki is damn happy and proud of her country. Ammi then bade farewell to Koki and started her return flight to her country, not before their indulging in gesture of love and intimate relationship with each other. That was how two nightingales Koki and Ammi of two great countries departed after spending many moments of ecstacy.
The hunter was just waiting for that moment of their togetherness on the tree. He spread out his large net to entrench both the birds. But Koki having got scent of the hunter’s evil design earlier flew off, out of sight for the hunter, but unfortunately Ammi got stuck in the net. The hunter took her out broke the legs twisted her neck violently and shoved into his sack.
Koki reached Gandharva’s house from which melody waves were flowing out. Koki wished with all her heart for Ammi’s freedom from the hunters hold. Strangely the power and energy and vibrations in both their hearts, enabled Ammi to mysteriously wriggle out of the hunter’s net and with broken legs and clipped wings, limpingly managed to reach Koki’s side.
Koki was simply excited to see Ammi and as she was about to express her hope that both of them could enjoy life together for some more time. Ammi dropped dead on the ground.
Koki’s joy suddenly vanished into sorrow and despair with tears in her eyes; she had a last glimpse at her friend and decided that she could no longer remain in this state of separation. In a mood of despondency, and tears continuing to roll out of her eyes, unable to cope with the prospect of living without her friend she flew off higher, higher and higher into the clouds till she is out of sight.