The lottery man and the Parrot man
I held his hand tightly. I am not sure whether my dad realized that. He just held it firm, like always. Whenever my dad goes to the shop to buy a packet of cigarettes or a loaf of bread, like an enlightenment , I just sense it . I will run to him and he knows what is that athletic deed meant to.
Holding on my dad’s right hand , waving my left hand up and down and walking along with him ,was absolute royal to me. Because the people who walk across us will either give a respectful nod or will stop for a word or two.
"How are you , you naughty" , pinching my cheeks , sometimes gets me so angry. But I don't know what fun my dad and the other person find in that small mark he or she makes on my cheek
During the monsoon , sometimes, I just walk ahead of my dad , love to splatter the little water reservoir, set on the sides of the road.
"Moneeey.. Careful ".. I know eventhough ,he was actually enjoying the little acrobat from me ,the careful was only for those sharp stones or any glass pieces down the reservoir, which is almost invisible.
The water is always muddy, but the spatter always shines a twinkles on me.
There was this person , who used to sell the lottery tickets. The lottery man. A short man , bald head, grey colored moustache. On his thick hands , the big steel plated watch strap shines , but the glass on the watch was always kind of foggy, specially the centred space . Sometimes I wonder, did it come with the watch, because it was always there!
On the brown board , with different shapes and colors of different paper clippers , I could see the various small strips of paper, the lottery tickets, on different colours .Some had the pictures of the Lion emblem, some had the map of my country, some had some farmers with some bullock carts....
All were very colorful.
On that small sliced papers, there were numbers blotting on every edge.
I could see this so vivid, because whenever he sees my dad , he will leave his hands down and then the board with the painted lottery papers are so close to my eye level and I could see almost everything in it. I just watch 'em astound.
"So, How are things with the selling ?". Everytime their conversation will start with this, starting with my dad, no matter if my dad had seen him the previous day, previous week or the previous month.
" Sir, by god's grace , luckily there will be only a few little tickets left apart from sale. Well as u know I just keep it, to try my luck in it!".
Usually that will be the same response!
" Well I also should try my luck , shouldn't I? , my dad as always.
" Bhutan, Himachal, Kerala, Amaravathi..., anything Sir"
" Give me the one which is for today or tomorrow. I can't wait for my luck till next week", dad said with a wishful thinking.
I knew from their conversation , the Lottery man is also from my dad's native place. So I could hear sometimes some common talks and common names. Some times a dead news makes a still or two between them.
Usually, again a pinch on my cheek have to disrupt that silence.
My Dad used to buy one or two lotteries from him. This was like praying to two different gods at the same time. He can make the lottery man happy and moreoever he can also try his luck.
Most of the times I could hear his murmuring ." This time I could finish off my debts"
The lottery man used to come to our home ,in case if he miss seeing my dad at streets or if the sale is too low or maybe both reasons or maybe not both reasons.
But he was there always. My dad was also happy to see him.. Trying his luck at one side , to some talk and news from his native, the Lottery man was always welcome to our house.. My Mom used to get him a cup of tea. So all together the frame looks like a very big happy family.
It was during this time , The lottery man introduced my dad The Parrot man .
Well he was not looking like a Parrot or wearing always a green attire, it is just because he travels with a cage .Inside it I could see a parrot ,whose beak always make the tap sound from sides and bottom of the cage.
The parrot man was a dark man .His face had scars , a big black mole on his cheek and on his neck there were many chains with many lockets. Some were really scary , some were bright as a red petal , some were dark as a black stone. I always thought he was a magician. Apparently for many reasons. One thing was whenever he opens the cage, the parrot never flies. I always thought about the parrots, one they got loose, they just flew to the farthest. It is one impossible for some one to get it again.
Another magical reason was when the Parrot man spreads some cards on the floor next to the cage and he opens the cage and tells something in some language ,Parrot language, the parrot comes out , look the cards, seek a card and handles to the Parrot man and returning to the cage,willingly. I was like "God, he is so powerful".
Sometimes, my admiration to my dad also grew a lot.Apparently for one special reason!
I'd seen my dad smoking in front of this parrot man. The magician. God man. That is brave for me! True Bravery.
The Parrot man ,then ,looks the card, explains my dad about his future, his problems, his health . He even tells to be careful of some of his friends and my mom will point out a name or two then!
This was getting like a routine. The lottery man and the Parrot man at the courtyard of my house, Dad testing his luck along with astrology . The tea session. Mom asserting the same names! The parrot was like a brother to me. That much attention ,this bird in the cage was getting from all of us.
So, as much as ,I was growing , I could see the friendship between the lottery man and the Parrot man was augmenting.
One day the lottery man asked the Parrot man about his future and he spread the cards, asked the parrot and finally looked the card and he said
" Well you will be rich one day, but then you would wish you were poor like now!"
The parrot man was always into his philosophy. He always tells , Money always brings bad things to life.
" Ha Ha ! I have to . My job is selling lottery and one day I will get a good commission from the ticket I sell which gets the jack pot.”, lottery man said with a hilarious laugh.
"So how about yours" , asked the lottery man.
"Well I tried a couple of times and everytime the parrot takes the same card!"
"And what does this card indicates" ,lotteryman in thrilling tone
"I think I will be killed by a rich man " , explains the Parrotman, that his philosophy against rich people will offend some rich person one day,some day and one or two will try to kill him and one might succeed!
And they both of them will laugh hysterically.
So I wonder, so whether it is a gag they ponder, or it is a fact he recount.
I was growing up. I slowly start understanding the neuro science between the lottery and the Parrot! The debts were growing. And the two new members and the bird were now the new ingredients of our family. Seeking for my higher school studies , my dad send me to my Uncle's house which was in a metro city, a bit far where I live .
Holidays were less, so my visit to my home was also less. For long holidays , ,my parents used to come my Uncle's place and then we will all go and see something, some one have to wonder!
Usually no one !
Five years I was there ,until my high school got over. By that time there was a new College , near my Parent's house , which has just started. My Mom really wanted me to go to that college. She wants me to go from home. She wanted her son to have breakfast from her, lunch from her, tea from her , dinner from her. She was just missing her son and I was missing my home.
So I was back to my old room, old comics, old trees ,the courtyard, the swing, my old friends.
The streets were still old, but better. There were more traffic and more strangers in the streets.
One day as I was walking with my dad to the shop, I asked my dad about the lottery man and the Parrot man.
My dad said , " oh its a sad story"
"The Parrot man killed by the lottery man"
"How" ? I asked, dismayed.
"It just started as an drama act at the local toddy shop and finally ended at the stabbing!.
"The stabbing was not deliberate, though!. “
There was a broken glass piece lying there , The Lotteryman took it and was acting like a Villain , as we see in the movies.”
But he was so drunk, he slipped and the glass piece just pierced the Parrot man’s stomach"
" But they never used to get drunk ", I asked , dumbfounded, because I know they both had too little money to drink a lot.
" You are right. They were celebrating . The lottery man had just won the first prize with one of his left over ticket", my dad said .