Beta, Lifejacket Pehno: The Story Of A Little Boy

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Read this in Hindi:बेटा, लाईफ जैकेट पहनो: एक नन्हे बालक की कहानी

The Little Boy
Once upon a time there was a sweet boy with chubby cheeks, curly hair, and dimples to die for. He had an equally charming sister. Their mother was from a faraway land, where women had more freedom. After marrying into a reigning swimmers’ family of the Grand Lake, she was straitjacketed, but she never complained because she had married for love. For security reasons, both the kids, even after growing up, were allowed to swim only in their personal kiddy pool.

Unfortunately, their dad did not live long. While other mothers told their sons, “Beta, sweater pehno,” the lady from the faraway land told her son, “Beta, lifejacket pehno.” It was because not only his dad but his uncle and grandmother had also died while swimming in the Grand Lake. After his grandmother’s death, his father succeeded her as the leader of the swim team C. But in a short time, the dangerous, chaotic lake swallowed his father as well. The boy was too young to become a leader, and his mother, who was a non-swimmer, was immensely grief-stricken.

In the absence of a strong leader, the members of the team C stopped swimming in unison and began drowning each other. The rival teams found it easy to take control of the lake. The ordinary lake dwellers, expecting better prospects, supported the rivals.

At this point, all the teams of the Grand Lake had forgotten their main obligation, which was to bring prosperity to the lake. Instead, the members of every team had been plundering the lake and stacking the riches in their palatial homes or various banks in the names of their family members.

The disintegrating team C wanted the young boy to lead them, but he was unacquainted with the waters. They persuaded the lady to lead them. She agreed because she was tired of being harassed by the rivals for some water gun deal finalized during her husband’s tenure. She began to swim, albeit only in the shallow waters and acquired the necessary skills. But the rival team objected on her becoming the queen, citing her foreign roots. Now everyone advised the son to learn swimming.

“Mommy, this water is dirty,” cried the boy.

Not only dirty, there were sharks, jellyfish, and all sorts of dangers lurking in the lake. The team provided him with an airtight, watertight wetsuit. Also at his disposal were trained swimmers to support him from left, right, and below, while he perfected the art of simulation on the top.

Even before the boy wetted his suit in the water, the team C projected him as the only hope for cleaning and enriching the Grand Lake. Soon he turned 40, but he was still considered a boy as most of the swimmers were nearing 100.

Making the inexperienced boy and his mom leaders and having a plastic mannequin as a king provided multiple power centers, which was a win-win situation because in case of non-governance, or mishandling a disaster a la gas tragedy, anti-Sikh riots, or nefarious dealings, there wouldn’t be anyone to hold accountable.

The boy began to enjoy his swim, but he was denied the basic necessity of a human being. He could not swim with his girlfriend. The swimmers of the Grand Lake had strange traditions. While rapists, murderers, and corrupt swimmers were hailed, those having loving relationship with women were looked down upon. The young men were not allowed to have girlfriends.

Some critics were disappointed that the boy was not swimming in deep waters, and that he was not instrumental in formulating and implementing policies for the progress of the lake. But why would he, when he was getting all the adulation, adoration, and admiration for mere simulation?

The members of the rival teams teased him for his dimples and his curly hair instead of questioning his swimming techniques or his take on any other drowning issue.

For all the perks that the family was enjoying, the lady from the faraway land and her two children were doing a commendable job of holding the team C together and keeping it in power. The team members did not have to swim deep or work hard to win the hearts of the people, who were easily charmed by the winsome looks of the family. And the swimmers in their team plundered the lake instead of working for its benefit, so that their several generations could live happily ever after.

Update: Recently, the boy performed some of his tricks for the members of CII. He charmed everyone by reciting, "Baa, Baa, Black Bees" and "Girish from Gorakhpur went to Mumbai." in his mellifluous voice.

Another quaint story from past: Deathly Adventures of Little Qaddu


  1. Giribala di'!

    Not since I read the allegorical novella Animal Farm, have I enjoyed a connotative article more than this! Brilliant post.

  2. Brilliant analogy!

  3. Loved reading this one Giri!!!! Brilliant...

  4. The people in the lake could see they were being taken for a ride... err for a swim. But they did not know what to do, there were sharks in the lake who were not happy to just apply chameli ka tel in their hair and orange tika on their foreheads, they started playing with harpoons (they called them trishools) and tried to change the colour of the lake water to an orange-red.

    Frightened lake people were waiting for anybody who doesn't change the colour of the weeds and the lake water. If he happens to be a cherubic dimpled cheek grandson of a man they had once trusted, they might blindly follow him.

    He is unlikely to make the lake prosper and make it golden again, but they will accept anybody who will just let them be.

    They are desperate. Stuck between the dimpled devil and the deep blue sea.

  5. Loved the post Giribala!!


    In their lake there were koop mandooks who wanted a separate swan song for themselves, and elephant sized whales made sea weed garlands for themselves. Nobody seemed to remember the lake people.

  6. hahahaha........great one.

    You cannot do much when there is practically no alternative!

  7. Thanks a lot Abhishek, Sangeeta, Shalini!!
    @IHM and @IP: Agree with you!!

  8. At your creative best again...

    Loved readin it .. The "Parivar" really is ridin only on looks.. evident from the fact how girls swoon over the 'boy' and want him to lead despite no visible proven record of competence..

  9. hmm...i doubt if it's a completely fictitious tale. But then again fiction comes from reality i guess :)

  10. I remember someone having aptly said - " A known Devil is much desirable than an unknown one" !!

  11. Where were you all these years? Such delicious wickedness! I feel gorged to repletion. Atma trupt ho gayi...

    Sharing this...

  12. Amazing amazing amazing...loved it to the core(the actual core of the story :P) ..:)

  13. Super stuff, Giri! Indeed most people are just taken in by looks. Who is looking at results and skills to deliver them anyway. India, indeed, is at its nadir currently.

    1. Thanks Rachna! Even then let's hope for the best :-)


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