“Mateee..” The gargantuan monkey screeched in agony. The loud wailing shook my lava like a silent piano vibrates when a terrified cat bounces on it. By the universe’s grace, there were no four-legged or two-legged animals here. Only stone-faced, spherical bodies who had no empathy for slender faced beauties like me. Oh yes a meteorite could be beautiful! They were ridiculed for being insensitive to human issues. Infertile, hard hearted masses didn’t encourage any growth.
Yet, today they all were glued to the satellite that was telecasting the Indian epic- Ramayan.
Lockdown had struck earth and her Indian children were busy chanting ‘Jay Shree Ram’ while enjoying chilled beer and some salted peanuts! Here, in the Milky Way, too, with nothing much to do, the celestial bodies were entertaining themselves to this age-old saga. Sita stood with folded hands as the golden embers licked her. How could one be so righteous?
Shree Ram..zzzz…Shree Ramm..zzzz
Damn, was the godly woman snoring? Ahh, that was Venus, who had dozed off. Being the Morning star, he had to wake up early. Zzzzz…I could also join this symphony. Zzzz.. Ouch!! Who the hell kicked me!
“Hey Ali, GET LOST from my orbit!” Mars, the fiery Red Planet, objected to my sleepy endeavours. Hmmm..life was not at all heavenly for me.
“Ali, get me a scotch.” This had to be the Pluto who had immersed himself in the drudgery of life after the sun had distanced him, post he spoke of his choices. None knew what the choices were. He, too, didn’t care to clarify.
“A scotch, Aliiiii..”
“Ali, dim the moonlight. Time to snooze.”
“Ali, get an ounce of solar energy from Dad. My back is cold.”
“Ali, sweep the stardust. The storm is occluding my sight.”
Argh! I’m tired of serving these nine pampered planets. Zillion years old, yet could never do a task. Morons, needed help even to scratch their bulky bump!
“What are you for?” They would all bellow in unison. Had not my mother planet broken down eons ago, I would still be a part of her bosom.
“Ali, what happened to the scotch?”
“Yeh, yeh, coming My Lord.”
How I wish Mr. Ram could come to my rescue too. The way he had transformed a rock into a beautiful girl (in the previous episode) just by his touch, how I wish he could transform me into one of these pompous planets. At the least, I wouldn’t have to scamper around with the tray. Pluto’s hollering shook me and jiggled the scotch, few precious drops falling off the rim.
“Yummy, this is delicious!”
“You stupid Halley, what are you up to?”
“My dear meteorite why comment on a comet’s life? If few of those heavenly drops enchant me, why fume?”
There was no point questioning him, he would answer only after a good 76years!
“Mind your own revolving business! To fume or not to fume is my choice. Keep away or here I come clashing on you.”
This, ‘here I come clashing on you’ worked magic to keep the little pestering bodies away. They would immediately pivot and change their orbits. With the planets, I couldn’t do much. The collision would destroy my identity.
“Ali, what’s obstructing your parabola? Where is my scotch?”
People, somebody had to tell this guy that he was million light years away. Sigh! The cold body was another hundred million light years away from good, old logic, too. Better to leave him at that.
Before my thoughts could stray, they were attracted by his gravity-the one and only Saturn. A majestic globe with three moons doing a zumba around it. Born sixth to the asexual Sun God, Saturn was the epitome of regal beauty and grandeur. Oh, and look at that magnificent ring! The ice peaks blanketing it. The dust shimmering like pixel particles around its circumference. A huge icing cake at the centre of the galaxy’s party. Only he could pull off such larger than life aura and extravaganza! Dreamy eyed, I marvelled him.
“Aaaali..I know what you are dwelling on. Hehaaahehaaaa..”
Gosh! This giant of Jupiter just scared me! Who laughed like that? Like the hydrogen blasts on sun!
“Nothing my lord. Just on my way to serve Master Pluto his scotch.”
“Hmmm..” He bellowed in a sonorous tone. And continued ogling at the romantic scene between Ram and Sita after the agnipariksha.
Bloody hell! Due to his boisterous ‘hmm’ the scotch and me, both would have tripped off and fallen in the black hole. Curse the frozen giant who owned a substantial part of solar nebula!
The stars would tell tales of these two structures- the Jupiter and Saturn. Both born in succession were blessed with prodigious statures and awe. Both received exponential parts of the Sun’s power in hereditary. Yet, the Jupiter turned out to be stormy and blasted on anyone who neared him. His blazing anger lasted for centuries giving him the Great Red Spot that he now proudly sports on his forehead.
On the other hand, Saturn kept it simple and to earth. (Oops! Down to his plate.) Serene, calm swathed him.
“Ali, my boy what brings you here?”
I had already reached near my icon. Such hospitality was expected only from the Saturnian words. Words that were crisp like ice yet melted like chocolate on my rubbled, troubled soul. I bowed down to my hero and continued the journey further.
“At last, you arrive. Bless my thirsty soul with that glass.”
“Can’t you just quietly watch that melancholy aired in India?”
“How can I? They won’t let me come close to them. They all are royal kids. An ugly duckling like me deserves this. Boohoooo..”
Jesus! This last unwanted child like born out of contraceptive failure, cried more bitterly than that Sita! I had to get back to the mainland as the show was about to end and then, each one would cry, ‘Ali, Jay Shree Ali’.
Okay, not exactly this but something similar to call out their Friday Meteorite (take reference to Friday man)- Ali! But as the earth often remarked, Ram and Ali couldn’t exchange places. So be it.
Bloop..bloopp..The ice in Pluto’s glass made that obnoxious sound. Tsck..tsck.. now what was that?
“Hey Ali, listen the planets are up to something.”
Actually, there was a storm brewing on the mainland. Smart boy, couldn’t see but had ears as long as Halley’s tail. Pluto was engrossed in eavesdropping. There was some serious discussion happening.
“No, no, no.. I will be Ram. Dare if anyone crosses my ambitions!” Jupiter hollered.
“Shhhiiii..I won’t romance a hairy pumpkin like you!” The earth who had always behaved like the docile Sita voiced her disgust.
“Can you all cut the crap!” The red Mars went crimson.
“Is it morning yet?” Venus stretched lazily in his orbital bed.
“Silence, my dear comrades. It’s the time to dawn on mutual co-operation than arguments. Let’s take our creator’s opinion on this. After all he knows us better.” My good lord, Saturn’s wisdom was one like Ram, all said and done in his father’s eclipse.
So, now I could figure out that the planets wished to enact the epic in the theatre of Milky Way.
“Oh, our mighty creator, we your children stand in your court to seek solution on a brewing worry. We need..”
“We don’t have time for this lengthy tirade. Boss, we want you to decide the characters of Ramayan from amongst us.” Jupiter made a straight forward point without any of them able to see in the eyes of the sun.
The sun shone brightly. His spheroid body radiated crystalline light. The little mercury lay at his feet like a submissive poodle licking her master’s rays.
“Welcome dear children. Welcome to your father’s supreme reign.” Sparks of embers flew off as the king spoke.
“You all are my children yet you can’t be called siblings. Your birth, your life has been born out of separate Big Bangs that shook my interiors. So, I see no harm in you playing this saga of love and separation. But bear in mind we aren’t conventional beings to play conventional roles. So, my appointment of characters, too, won’t be any traditional.”
I shivered behind the cold Pluto. There was some anticipation looming in the atmosphere-less air. But none stirred.
“Coming to the characters. As I have only one daughter, earth will be Sita.” This was some relief as the planets clapped in unison.
“Halley with the long tail will be our Hanuman.” Wow! That was some creative judgement.
Halley made a quick absolution to the creator.
“Venus, as you sleep and snore most of the time, you will be Kumbhakaran.”
“Zzzzz..I mean yes my lord!”
The planets laughed in chorus to Venus’s snoozing reply.
“Mars, you will be Laxman, the angry young man who will nip Surpanakka’s nose.”
“Haan, ok, ok..” The red planet could only fume.
“My dear Jupiter, you will be Ravan.”
This was the most predictable. Jupiter roared and his red spot shone in adjunction with the judgement.
“Lord, so what was so unconventional about this arrangement?” The curious Halley asked.
“Yes, lord you gave us roles all in accordance with our nature and substance. So what’s unusual?” the planets buzzed in one voice.
The most pivotal role of Mr.Ram was yet to be allotted and there was no second thought on who it would be. Saturn stepped ahead to receive the title. His ring smoky and misty with pride.
“Hmmm…now comes the unconventionality my dear children. Pluto, my neglected, hidden in the abyss son will be Ram.”
This judgement erupted volcanoes on earth and quaked Saturn’s blood. He deserved to be Ram, the idealistic child. Never in his span of million years, had he spoken against the sun. Where the other planets whispered and whimpered over the sun’s blaze, he took it all under his ring. Certainly, he didn’t deserve this.
The Saturn whirled in disappointment clear in his axis.
The rehearsals began. Each tried to hone their artistic skills. Pluto was now seen mingling with the other planets. Reluctantly, the planets had accommodated the ninth one. Saturn had not turned up for the rehearsals. I was then commissioned to convince him.
“My lord. I truly believe you were the only suitor for Ram’s role.”
His orbit was gloomy. Wisps of charred smoke emanated from his ring. My nose twitched to this strange odour that was never smelt before.
“My lord..” I considered calling him again. The planet coughed and cleared the smoky air.
“Oh, ha. Oh, you Ali is here..” Saturn’s voice was hoarse and he hem-hawked before he could speak up something logical. The smoke seemed fishy.
“Ali, my friend. What brings you here?” He regained his usual smiling composure. Silly me, doubted the poor fellow.
“Join us for the rehearsal, my lord. Your staying back will malign your image. Come and prove your worth.”
There was a pin drop silence. Venus’s snores ruled the universe. The pensive mood loomed like an about to fall nasal dropping.
“Brother Saturn, please take your rightful position. I don’t wish to be Ram. I’m not fit to be one.” Surprisingly Pluto had moved from his orbit and approached Saturn.
“We cannot deny our creator’s judgement. If the Sun god wishes you to be the maryadam purushottam Ram, then it has to be.” Saturn was right.
“Master, then at least be our audience.”
“As you like it.” His remorse evident yet his generous heart agreed to my pleas.
“Ali, I will come to encourage you all.”
Now that was like my hero-giving and a living legend. The rehearsals would begin the morning with Venus shaking each one of them from their slumbers and after sometime himself going on the zzzzz…mode.
“Hey, hey earth come, I have to rescue you.” The jumpy Halley would begin.
“Dumbo, first let Sita be born, followed by the swayamvar and then the vanvas. You come after a week to the rehearsals.” Mars would fume and the others would crack up at Halley’s stupidity. I was enjoying this period as there very few ‘Ali, bring this and do that’ orders.
The earth would sit for hours together donning cakes of earthy face packs and then try on different ornaments of fleecy clouds and colourful rainbows to enhance her beauty.
“Stupid Venus, you drooled on my rainbow dupatta!” Why was she so haughty? Sita was supposed to be soft spoken and good natured. And here this earth was being self-centred, used to rotating around her desires.
“Mars, you have to rotate around Pluto. Laxman has to be seen around with Ram.” Jupiter took things in his hand. There was no director to shape this play and the chaos kept increasing.
“Why should I? I have my own things to do. Why should I rotate around Pluto? Being a loyal brother doesn’t mean one has to exist in the shadow of the other.” Mars made a point.
“Then why should I, too, kidnap Sita who is half my age and not matching my taste?” Jupiter snapped.
“What do you mean your taste? You are a cursed race. No woman would suit your disgusting taste.” The earth stormed out of her dressing room. The Milky Way theatre experienced celestial wars. Ego was an universal trait.
Finally, the sun intervened. “If this continues, the practise must be stopped now.” The planets hung their heads in shame.
“I think now is the turn to rescue Sita.” The idiot Halley came jumping but fell silent realizing his folly. Venus too had woken up and the zzz had paved way for eternal silence.
“Only on one condition will you all continue is that Ali will be your director!” Again, I was about to fall in that gawky black hole. Was the good lord out of his orbit for he had no mind to control him? Or was the helium raising the heat too much? The planets didn’t answer back. I, too, didn’t reply for I was never asked. Speaking out of turn was not a meteorite’s trait.
“Ali sir, shall we begin the rehearsals?” That was Mars melting to the new judgement.
“Yes sir let us know how to go about.” The earth trying to creep close to me. Wow! Every dog had his day and now this neglected meteorite would have his bone!
I was ambitious with this project. Immediately, I took the reins of the play in my hands. After Valmiki, I would be immortal in history. With much excitement at my arm, I skated to the swayamvar scene.
The theatre looked resplendent in every way. The stars from distant galaxies had offered to cluster and hang low over the Milky Way. The asteroids had stopped playing spoilt sport by stationing themselves as cheerleaders and not banging into any of the planets. The earth was globally warm from artificial embellishments. Everyone seemed in a mood for pomp except the Pluto. In a moment he was there, in the next gone. After much cajoling, the imposed hero made an entry. With reluctant yet consistent efforts, he tried lifting the Indradhanush.
“Arghh…ahaa..” His flabby arms and tucked in tummy couldn’t do any better. Time that artist put themselves through a fitness regime.
“Hushh..” The string of Pluto’s golden dhoti gave away with the fatigued exhalation, exposing his precious treasures. The tense atmosphere relaxed at his expense. Halley rolled and frolicked while earth blushed from under her veil. The bad-tempered, the Mars, too, gave out a giggle while Jupiter roared in laughter quaking the entire theatre.
Embarrassed, Pluto left in a flurry of dust. Saturn immediately stepped in and picked up the dhanush with the ease of plucking a rose petal. The artists’ cheered in unison. I marvelled at my hero. He had to be the hero of this play. Break was announced. I went to congratulate Saturn. But what was this? Again, that similar smoky welcome. This time the smoke was very dense and coming from Saturn’s ring. I didn’t want to go further. The thought that something was grossly wrong nauseated me. I regressed back to the theatre. The day ended on ambiguity.
Next day, I pulled back Pluto for the marriage scene. “Try to be coy man. You are getting married to the most beautiful woman that is earth!” I just couldn’t say on earth. Hehehe..
“Look into her shy eyes. Get that blush to your cheeks.” None of the instructions seemed to have any effect in making Pluto the desirable groom.
“Leave it at that. I shall anyways rescue Sita.” Halley was back with his repertoire.
“Only after 76years shall you show your face!” A meteorite had managed to shoo away a comet. I had to concentrate on Pluto.
“Here, I will show you how.” My lord Saturn came to our rescue. He had the twinkle of a new groom in his eyes. The red rogue on his cheeks shone in anticipation of the event. Subtly, he parted his lips to address to her, “Siteee”
“PERFECT SHOT!” I danced in exuberance. Every one rejoiced except one. Pluto again left for his deserted territories. I cared least. I hugged my hero to cause a rumble in him. For the first time, I was this close to my inspiration. But he didn’t smell great. He smelled of some extra-terrestial vapours, of something apart from hydrogen and helium. He smelled of OXYGEN! It was a luxury only bestowed upon earth. How had this planet gained asses to this? I decided to find out.
When Venus’s snores grew louder and the galaxy swung in a sleepy rhythm, I tiptoed to Saturn’s orbit. Yucks, yucks, the Jupiter had wetted his bed and trails of limpy fluid stained his orbit. Such huge giant and bed wetting, my good lord where was the universe heeding to? Forget it. Back to your mission, Mr. Vyas turned Mr. Sherlock Holmes!
The Saturn’s orbit was all quiet and smoky. An eerie spread over his kingdom. There he was seen slowly moving towards the earth and doing what. OMG!! Smuggling oxygen from the earth and filing his smoke pipe!
GOSH! The idealistic son was into weeds!
My hero, my inspiration was an addict! My whole world fell apart. I was only to blame. Assumptions had made an ass out of me! Next day, I had to direct the initiation of vanvas. I got back to my wandering orbit.
“Pluto, my lord, please hold the earth in your arms. You are trying to explain her there will be separation.” Pluto’s cold hands trembled as he tried to hold the earth.
“Shhhiii, he is so flaccid. Hey, you half man hold me tight. I want to feel crushed in your arms.” The earth was setting the temperatures soaring. Last night’s shock and this unconventional Sita were churning my bile.
“Let me try.” The not so idealistic Saturn tried to intervene. He pushed Pluto aside,
“YES, PLEASE DO THIS. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!” Pluto broke down. Burying his face in his cold palms, he cried bitterly.
“I can never do this. I will never do this. I was never meant to do this.” He spoke from amidst the sobs.
“I’m happy and GAY.” His statement quaked my already unsteady structure. Such revelations in the space and then they blame the meteorites for these explosions.
“I just knew this was to come.” The earth smirked adjusting her rainbow dupatta. Sarcasm heavy in her tone, the coloured rainbow appeared dull.
“That’s why our creator has placed him so far.” Mars mumbled.
“He deserves to be that far lest he infects us.” Saturn remarked. I wanted to spill the beans on who was infective. But would that make a difference to these self-centred beings? Pluto’s sobs turned into wails.
“Oh, now is the time to rescue Sita. I can hear her wails.” You know who was back.
“Donkey, its not me! It’s this stupid Pluto crying like a girl.” The earth retorted. Today was a day of learning- one gays are infectious, two- only girls cry!
“My dear children so how is the unconventional Ramayan going?” Alas! The creator had arrived.
“Ali, tell these people that they are celestial beings and not idealistic creatures. They are mere artists, characters in someone else’s skin. Staying in space teaches you to give space to each other. That was the sole reason I had placed Pluto far away so that he could discover himself. That was also the reason why I made him the Ram so that you all could rediscover yourself in new light. Ali, do you see any halo of awakening around them?”
I could only recollect the smoky halo around Saturn whom I had considered supreme. I could only see my own fog getting cleared where there was no good or bad. No black and white. It was all grey. These artists’ could take eons to dwell and come to terms with this reality. Till then, they all fell silent. Only zzzz..ruled the expanse.
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!