Unhurried

4 Jun

Soli the Kamakli lives right below us. Now before all you politically correct people pounce on me for calling someone less abled (kam = less, akl=brains), I must hasten to inform you that I am merely faithfully reproducing matters as they stand. And since you are unlikely to storm the almost 100-year-old Parsi bastion of high ceilings and cool corridors that is our common abode, demanding a change in title for him, you must be content with Soli the Kamakli.

Truth be told, I don’t know his last name. Nor can I hazard a guess about his age. He’s always been around, you see. Loping rapidly and uncoordinatedly to the door as we climbed up the stairs, peering out of the peep hole in silence, and then yodeling our names as we ran past, his long, comical face stretching even further into an eternal oblong.

Soli the Kamakli is a lonely man. He lives with Viru, his man Friday, who makes three additional salaries a month by renting out the extra rooms of the house to newly-arrived job-seekers in Bombay. He is also a rich man, the heir to millions and the owner of a South Bombay Parsi housing colony. It is widely murmured among the old families of the neighborhood that there lies a curse on the Kamakli family: no heir shall be able to enjoy his/her wealth. His mother inherited a fortune, but died crazed and clueless. Madness lurks in their genes, you can see it in the crackling dilation of their irises, but for us, Soli the Kamakli is a much-loved fixture who sing-songs daily as we go past, telling us we’ve forgotten him, of how the world has no time, asking after each member of our home, making us stop a while and smile and shush the twinges of guilt we feel about being such busybodies.

Soli the Kamakli is a young old man, an ageless creature of antiquity, a sane man in an insane world and a clock that cuckoos the slipping of time. It’s been years since school and college, so many of us have moved out, swapped continents, returned and traversed mind-zones, but our time-trained ears are still treated to the sound of shuffling feet, a peep-hole shutter being lifted and the precise hush before our name is warbled.

I don’t know why I told you about Soli the Kamakli. He is not a famous man, or even a clever one. He didn’t discover relativity or father babies that resemble gamboling puppies. He lives his long days in sky blue bush shirts and starched white pyjamas and worn leather slippers that scrape soothingly. It is strange to be aware of one’s mortality at 30, but I realize that life is seeping us by. And I want to cling on, just a little while longer, to a time when my name is yodeled twice daily and a flute-like voice declares I have forgotten its owner. The stairs won’t be the same without Soli the Kamakli. Until then, I’m making sure I get plenty of exercise.

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17 Responses to “Unhurried”

  1. errormsg! June 4, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    There you were, mourning batteries and sibling sweat…suddenly out of the blue (bush shirt?) springs an ode to life, growing up, growing out and holding on. Took me back to my childhood in the lanes of Kolkata… and i am grateful.

    OJ is back, and how 🙂

  2. In love with my life June 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    My office is very close to a Parsi colony…and i see a lot of elderly folk on my way home. I look to make sure all the familiar faces are around, each evening.
    Peek into glimpses on cool corridors and wonder how many stories they hold..

    Good to have you back OJ.

  3. dipali June 4, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    This was lovely, OJ. I guess Soli looks forward to at least one particular set of footsteps everyday:)

  4. M...... June 5, 2009 at 12:36 am #

    Is it time yet to say …Good to have you back??? ..
    am saying it nevertheless 🙂

    Did I mention you were missed?

    And am sorry for being thoughtless 🙂

  5. Meluhhan June 5, 2009 at 4:39 am #

    Another Leonard Nimoy fan! I’ll be back for more orange wisdom. Long live and prosper! 🙂

  6. Kiran Manral June 5, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    Oh Jammies, that was so beautiful. Its so true. Life slips by too fast doesnt it.

  7. Thinking Cramps June 5, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    This was lovely – a very YOU post after lots of update-type posts. (Sorry, but I was missing exactly this on your blog!)

    This was such a perfect capturing of something that may, even from the fringes of our existence, be an intrinsic part of our life. Give Soli a smile from me next time.

  8. Orange Jammies June 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    errormsg!: Don’t you see, hon, this was a grand plan to get you churning. Now c’mon, spill out them words, snap snap!

    In love with my life: Thank you. I have a particular fondness for lives less known. Now celebrities, I could have one balancing off the tip of my nose and wouldn’t notice.

    dipali: Much as I’d like to believe it, I don’t think he discriminates. 🙂

    M: No worries. No one’s the wiser for it. 😉

    Meluhhan: Please to notice my Vulcan salute.

    Kiran Manral: I think it feels ignored, K. And a tad ashamed that we all seem to chase only the brash and blingy.

    Thinking Cramps: Update posts aren’t my favorite either. 🙂 I gave Soli an extra loud “hello” yesterday but he was too busy telling the post lady she is a bad girl to notice.

  9. sukanya June 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    classic OJ…I loved it!

  10. CrazyDiamond June 6, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    I love the cracks in the lifestream where so much hides and a glimpse reveals more than it sees. The fringes are after all what the story hinges on.

    And did I say that was beautifully prose-d… I can’t give compliments…much like Soli, I’m kam-compliment-i.

  11. Aunty G June 6, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    OJ, the weaver of wonderful words
    Lives above blue bush-shirted birds
    She has a kind heart
    And thats why i’ll start
    Linking her from my sites for other nerds.

  12. bhammo June 7, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    hey OJ

    very much liek yourself and i wonder how to make your writings available and decryptise them by people so that they can understand how unthinkingly we run in our daily routine and have forgotten that our daily prayer is for our daily bread and such mundane routine things and thats where all the beayuty of life dwells.. thanks for giving this to our souls.

  13. Orange Jammies June 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    sukanya: Glad. It’s amusing to know there’s a “classic OJ” style that you guys identify. TC above said much the same thing. 🙂

    CrazyDiamond: Oh but you just did. Unless the story you were praising wasn’t mine.

    Aunty G: Oh pray
    Link away
    I may, I might
    Still try to write,
    Before I melt away.

    bhammo: Anytime. Hope you are well.

  14. iz June 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    That took me home to Cusrow Bagh. Impeccably written as always.

  15. Orange Jammies June 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    iz: You sure they didn’t swap you at birth, Izlet? ‘Coz you sure as hell are as bawa as they come.

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