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September 15, 2015

The Shores of Freedom


Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named Ilaa. Being cotton farmers, her family was well to do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmers grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak!

But Ilaa was not to be found in the fields. She wasn't working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.
'I am sick of this!' she grunted loudly.

The trees lining the shore, swayed elegantly in the breeze, their fruit laden branches moving musically. They were not startled at the obviously irritated Ilaa, an unforgivable indulgence for a woman. They had seen her thus agitated, many times, before. They may have tried to soothe her with the pretty flowers and fruity treats.

The worms of unrest began wriggling within her about a year ago. Until then, she had hardly any time to reflect on her life. From childhood, she had been taught all the essential skills of a wife. She had no doubt, that the only goal in her life was to toil for the comfort of her husband, his parents and her own children. Life was flowing on, like the Godavari, one day, after the other. The waters of Godavari danced and sparkled while her days grew dimmer.

When those mysterious turbulences hit her, she ran to the banks of Godavari. A space where she could vent. Today, she was anxious about her friend Malini. She was the closest thing to a friend that Ilaa had in the village. She was brought there just about the same time as Ilaa. Initially, Ilaa had resented her, for everyone compared the two of them. Malini was more beautiful and obviously efficient in regular daughter-in-law duties.

Ilaa was made very aware of her defects, every day, by her highly discontent mother-in-law. Her husband also openly admonished her clumsiness, but she was under the delusion that he did love her, for the nights were hardly restful. The reality broke itself into her about two children later, when she realised that she was just another thing of comfort to him. Her happiness or pain mattered none to him. She had functions to perform. She needed no rest, no friends and certainly, no fun. She had no right to feel insulted or humiliated. She had no self-respect to defend, in his eyes.

Malini and Ilaa had become friends slowly, never able to confide in each other initially. During the dry season, when the wells in the village dried up, they made trips to the river, washed clothes and carried water back for the household use. They realized that they enjoyed carrying pitchers of water from the thinning river much more than working in the comfort of their houses. The path was hard, the pitchers heavy, but the they were free. They talked about everything,from heroic tales of Shivaji Maharaj to the little hurtful incidents back home.

Malini had no children. Her husband, Gopal seemed unaffected, but his parents were not. They pestered him day and night, to take another wife. Three years dragged on, Malini became the unwanted burden where once she was glorified. Meanwhile, Ilaa had two children in quick succession. Her first born was a son, who immediately gave her an elevated, advantageous position in the entire village. She had started feeling a bit pompous and self-important when the next one arrived, a daughter. That reminded her with a pinch, where women stood, in the grand scheme. Her daughter wasn't applauded. The sweets were not sent out. The dhols and music were not heard, at all.

On this particular day, Ilaa was getting ready for the cotton fields when she heard Malini's mother-in-law bemoaning the childless garden of their ancestral home. She was perplexed that Gopal refused to marry again. So she planned to send Malini away, back to her mother's home. Ilaa could not contain the fury rising inside. She marched to the courtyard where the ladies were plotting the eviction of her friend.

How can you even think of this? What will she do in her father's home? ”, Ilaa demanded.
Malini's mother-in-law looked at Ilaa with disapproval and cut a sharp glance of discontent to Ilaa's own mother-in-law who was already alarmed at Ilaa's bold manner.
"Go back inside, Ilaa. This is nothing that concerns you," she hissed.
Ilaa stared coldly at her, clearly seeing that the consequences of this rebellion would be very unpleasant. But she could not quietly pretend that all was well with the world.

"It does concern me. I will not allow Malini to be treated unfairly. How can you blame only her, for not producing children? Don't you know that a woman cannot do that by herself? "

Malini's mother-in-law was scandalized. Her eyes grew large, almost as if she was trying to emit fire rays out of them to vaporise Ilaa on the spot.
How dare you talk to me like this!”, she thundered.
A murderous look settled on the face of Ilaa's mother-in-law.
Ilaa! Apologize right now!”, she demanded.

Ilaa wasn't particularly in a frame of mind, today, to be coerced into offering up even fake apologies. She looked calmly at the very disturbed women in front of her. Suddenly, she took off. She ran all the way to the shores of Godavari. She sat there throwing stones into the deep waters, as though her own troubles were being expelled thus.
"Why do others decide what we should do? When we get married, who we marry, what work we do? I am sick of this!"

The stone she flung touched the water at a surprisingly far distance. She stood up, delighted. She heard a clapping and turned around.

There stood Malini, smiling.
"Strong arm !", Malini said.

Why are you not in the fields?”, Ilaa asked
"I heard Mohan's wife went crazy," she replied.
"The news of the rotten daughter-in-law spreads fast."
"You have added the thrill to their day. Must have gotten bored discussing me."
Ilaa said with sadness,"They are sending you back to your parents home. "
"I know. You can't get involved in this. It's my fate," Malini looked away into the deep waters.
"Don't say fate. You have to do something. You do not have anything back in your parents home. They may not even take you in," Ilaa was almost shouting.

Ilaa knew of some women in the village who had been abandoned by their husbands. Their own parents treated them with contempt. Some laboured in the cotton fields for very fewer benefits. Their abject poverty and apparent social isolation had always grieved Ilaa. She couldn't let that happen to her best friend.

"I know what you should do. You need a child. Do you like that Murali in the market? Who sells bangles? Why don't you seduce him ?", Ilaa suggested.
Malini looked appalled.”I will never betray Gopal.”
"He doesn't touch you, Malini, and he is not going to stop your mother from throwing you out. He is not worth it. Don't you see that?" Ilaa was shouting.
"He is a very nice man. He is very kind", Malini was on the verge of tears.
Is he a man? What man doesn't touch his wife and sleeps with another man?”
Malini started sobbing.”I told you to never repeat that.”
But Ilaa could not be stopped. “If he cannot produce children with you, then you find someone who can. Look at Kunti Devi. How do you think Arjun was born when Pandu could not touch Kunti ?”
Malini stared at Ilaa in disbelief. “The Gods granted the children to Kunti Devi.”
Then why did she have to abandon Karn? It's not a sin, Malini. You have examples to follow in the Vedas. Everyone did it.”
I am not sleeping with any other man. I cannot do it!” Malini shook her head vigorously.
Do you think Gopal would mind? After you saw him with your own eyes, with another man?”
"Ilaa, you know that I can't do that. I don't want to sleep with someone in secret and have a child of shame. Now stop talking about Gopal", Malini sobbed uncontrollably.

Ilaa realized then that Malini was the perfect victim of the moral laws laid down by the society they lived in. She couldn't deceive. Even when she was hurtling towards a miserable life of loneliness and poverty.
"Promise me that you will come here tonight after everyone goes to sleep," Ilaa said calmly.
Why?”, Malini wiped her tears.
I am not letting you sink in quicksand. Just come and we will find a way to save you. ”, Ilaa replied.
Malini nodded her head and walked away.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
After dinner, Ilaa was quietly folding clothes when Mohan started yelling.
Who do you think you are? You think you are very beautiful? You know everything about the world? You are very clever? How dare you talk to my mother like that!”
Ilaa wasn't paying much attention to his antics. He may have thrown a box or bowl at her, but she dodged it with ease. Skills that she developed over the years. Mohan wound down after some more debasing of her and her parents.

The darkest, deepest hour of the night descended. The village was safely tucked in. Malini had dared to reach the rendezvous point. She had done it few times before when she and Ilaa had helped a poor couple in love, elope. Tonight she didn't find Ilaa, instead there waited, the startling figure of a man.
Malini wanted to turn back and run, but the man called out to her, "Malini, come with me."
She turned stone cold and tried to locate a suitable rock to throw at this thin, strangely familiar man.
"I am here to help you. Come with me to Paithan. I know you can weave beautiful clothes. We can start a small shop there. Also, I need a wife to look after my children.", he continued.
He pointed towards a bullock cart, laden with some bundles of what appeared to be clothes and some household utensils. She also spotted two little sleeping children inside.
Malini was speechless. She just could not believe that Ilaa had fixed a match for her in such a short time. She glanced back and forth, from the cart to the man, from the man to the cart.
Where was Ilaa? She scanned the area near the water, near the trees, near the bushes.
The man spoke up “Ilaa is not coming. I am taking you with me.” He took steps towards her.
Malini reached down for a rock. The man started laughing. He took off his turban and moustache and there appeared Ilaa's face!

The rock dropped from her hand while Malini's jaw almost touched her feet.
"No time to waste, we must travel as far as possible before sunrise and the masters of our fate miss our services," Ilaa said, taking Malini's hand.
But...how??..what??” Malini stammered as she walked along with Ilaa toward the bullock cart. Ilaa's children were sleeping comfortably inside.
"I don't want to live here anymore. We are going to try and find a life where we have respect and happiness. The world requires a husband and children for a woman to be respectable, so now you have it. I can do a man's work any day. Paithan will be a good start. A lot of traders, even those foreigners. We can weave clothes and sell them. This is our only chance Malini, if we do not take it, a lifetime of tears is all we get. "
Malini found herself nodding, a nervous excitement mingled with joy rising up within.
What if they catch us?”
"Do you think they will come as far as Paithan to look for us? You stay indoors the first few days, we will change your look and dressing so that you won't be easily recognised. They won't see through my disguise anyway. May have to cut my hair, that is going to be very sad."

How do you think of all these?” , Malini wondered in admiration.
"The Vedas, dear, there is another Ila who lived as a man for a month and a woman for the next. My grandmother taught me the Vedas. That is why they don't let us learn anything, now. So that we stop thinking. They want to push us around like their cattle."
Malini giggled and the two scampered to the bullock cart.

What if I refused to come, Ilaa? What would you have done?”
Look at my two children sleeping so soundly. I have given them some herbs. I would have tricked you into having the same thing and dragged you into the cart. Sometimes you don't know what is good for you.”, Ilaa replied forcefully.
Malini pretended to be angry and struck on her arm.

That's when they saw another figure by the bullock cart. Gopal!
Malini and Ilaa stopped moving and looked at each other. Had everything had fallen to pieces, even before it began?
Then Gopal spoke up.
"I always follow you, Malini, whenever you get up at night and wander around. Only for your protection. You have protected me, even when I was causing all the problems you face. You deserve a happy life. You should go now, with Ilaa. I will make sure no one finds you there, in Paithan. Here, take these rings. Should fetch a good price."
He handed over his rings to Malini and smiled, then walked away.

You are truly the best man I know, Gopal. A complete man in every sense.”, Ilaa called out from behind. Gopal stopped and turned towards them.
Very few would think so, Ilaa but I am happy that you do. I will miss the both of you.”

Malini and Ilaa jumped into the cart and embarked on their adventurous quest of freedom. The shores of Godavari bid them a joyful adieu and sighed, waiting for the next woman of spirit who would pursue liberation and hoping to witness it.








August 21, 2015

Four Power

I have always believed that knowledge is power. In present times, it is information also along with knowledge. A knowledgeable person is still respected, but he has to be in synch with the ever evolving technology. Knowledge, we can obtain by reading and learning. but information, is now just waiting for your touch, inside your pocket. Lost your way or wanting to buy a spectacular gift for your sweetheart? There is help, just fish out your smartphone. The one thing that will make your smartphone, smarter, is lightning speed internet.

Today, it's unimaginable to be not connected. All the cool apps, games and tools are an absolute must on your smartphone. We have a primal need to showcase to the world what we are doing at the moment. Be it Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.  We try hard to capture what we feel, experience at a beautiful sunset or sunrise. We want everyone to marvel at the breathtaking colours of a flower we chanced upon by the roadside. We need even strangers to know our opinions about what is going on in another part of the world. The whole universe is shrinking. We can all touch each other, with our fingertips precisely.

We may not be able to see all those comedy or drama series when it's aired on Television. We can enjoy it at our convenience when we choose to do so. Movies too. So many to catch up on.
But what exactly would I do with lightning speed internet?

The first thing that comes to my mind is, I could see those food making guide videos anytime I have a doubt in the kitchen. Right on my smartphone. Without the irritating streaming pauses.
There are a whole lot of videos showing all the techniques and tips useful in the kitchen. It would be a lifesaver if I could call upon the genie in the video and refresh the steps once more when trying out something new and tricky.

Next would be the online Zumba or dance workshops. We could start once via Skype group chat.
Old friends, college mates, scattered around the globe. Once in a while we do party, in Skype, but the constant disruptions and time lag in the network dampens the jovial air. It reminds us of the oceans and continents between us. Some of us are stay-at-home Mothers and some have flexible work hours. We could agree upon a fixed time slot and do our bit of exercising or meditation or dancing. The 4G network would make us feel, we are in the same room.

Maybe I can host my own YouTube channel. A lot of ideas are popping in my head. Maybe a book club  on YouTube. We can read our reviews of books or films. We could share our poems or stories.
The network is looking more promising than ever.

For someone like me, who loves to write there are so many editing tools. I have found it very time consuming, to upload my entire document, on the online  grammar checking tool. It is very helpful, so I put up with the pain. It would be just heavenly if the tool could process my document and show my grammar abysses before yawns take control over me.

There are so much to learn also in Online courses. I was always skeptical about enrolling for those since classroom sessions require a good network. Now a tutor in the US can explain concepts while I discuss my own theories with the class. Also, Wikiversity has so much to offer.  Just when I get into the zone to do some serious reading and absorbing, the WiFi starts to taper down and flicker off-on.

Reserving travel tickets, train or airplane, is another problem I hope will vanish by the magic of 4G. Booking a Tatkal train ticket online is still a distant dream for me. When sudden long weekend plans germinate, it is the speed of your network which is going to determine the quality of your stay and travel, gift wrapped in a nice discount deal.

Having the 4G network for the entire home makes more sense.  The price of the 4G network is the same as what you pay for the 3G. The Airtel 4G Wi-Fi assures support to 32 different devices including WiFi enabled security cameras and gaming consoles. So the whole family can spend quality time with their own gadgets, once in a while. Families need to spend time talking to each other and helping each other, too. Help can come through a network, most of the time.

The internet has simplified our lives and  brought us closer to experiences that we would never otherwise be fortunate to indulge in. It arms us with the opportunity to research much and take well-balanced decisions. To make bold choices, quickly, we need information at lightning speed. We cannot let ourselves take it slowly when the world is squeezing every second to get maximum profit. Be the speed. Feel the power.

Visit the Airtel page to learn more on the process of acquiring a 4G connection. It is that extra power to push you ahead of the crowd.
http://www.airtel.in/4g/ 



July 15, 2015

Sunrise Scuffle

Like the werewolf in the moonlight,
A creature I morph into at dawn.
The first few minutes, I am still me
The bed feeling more cosy than ever,
The alarm sounding more vile than ever.

Trying to figure which day of the week it is,
Desperately plotting a quick fix breakfast.
I pray hard, Oh dear God Almighty,
Please make this a happy morning!
The Lord recoils at my voice.

Two little sleepy flowers,
Soft, gentle wake up calls
Soon turn into loud threats.
I am not that ray of sun shine.
Flowers begin to swelter, already.

The morning picture I had in mind,
Flushed down, all the way.
And once again, the beast has fangs out
Shoving food down your throat,
Silencing your funny jokes.

Pointing at the clock,
Dragging you to the bathroom,
Dragging you out.
The school bus, like a ticking bomb
Each passing second, it's getting closer.

And then you take off!
The fangs dissolve into air
And sting sharp into my soul
Couldn't we laugh at silly things, move like snails
Maybe brush teeth, skip the bath?

I push for the healthy food,
And leave your heart starving.
Such an incredibly beautiful world,
Do I distort it with maniacal pushing?
Waiting for the evening, a time to mend.




July 08, 2015

Cars

My elder son seems to be having a lot of free classes these days. So I suggested ( ok, he didn't have the option to bail) that he writes something.
This is what he came up with

________________________________________________________________


First of all let me get something straight, you have to know a lot about cars or be a car freak to understand this book. So do you know the name of the fastest car in the world. It is the BUGATI VEYRON .Keep reading to get to know how to make a faster car than the BGATI VEYRON.


Chapter 1


Toby and Ron were working in a car company called LAMBORGHINI .

They made the chassis of the LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR

July 06, 2015

Raising Mom


Am I an authoritative figure? I have no doubts that I am not. I don't push people. But at home, I have to be. I try to be, rather. My two sons do not particularly have any interest in doing things in an orderly manner. Every ten minutes there is a war cry or a long loud wail. Unfailingly, one will take away something valuable belonging to the other. I believe that amidst the strife there is immense fun for them. They thrive on this conflict. They are laying down the bricks for the memory wall. One day, they are going to sit, arms around each other and laugh at each silly fight.

They teach me so many things. I never really referred to any parenting guide, so I do not know if I fall into the buddy parenting bracket. But this I know, our relationship is based on give and take. I take a lot more than I give. They exposed the many gaping holes in my character. I wanted to be a better person for them. I have successfully earned the good cook title, in the extended family circle. I wouldn't have cooked but for them. Them alone. They taught me time management, which my boss was getting tired of, putting on my appraisal comments.

What do I teach them? I wonder, anything of value? I help them with the text books and the writing.
I constantly push them, to learn from what they around them, to improvise. I like to imagine I taught them to channel their energies to creative ends. We have spent many happy mornings in the terrace of our home, painting on the wall. Any picture we imagined. I have seen volcanoes, dragons, cool cars and enchanted trees, appearing on that unglamorous half wall.
They have taught me all about cars. From the ones in the racing games to the one listed in Top Gear magazines. I have been lectured on the different engine types of European cars, customised for speed. We have laughed at the Greg Heffely's misfortunes. (That's the Wimpy Kid series)

Mornings are the worst. They don't want to wake up. After they are up, they go about in the slowest motion possible. That's when Chocos cheer them up. I even pack it in their snack box at times. On holidays, we bake together. My elder one believes I can't bake a good cake without him.

Of all the moments we have nurtured each other, my fondest is the time my elder one decided it was time for us to cycle together. I hadn't touched a cycle in ten thousand years, I was afraid of looking like a total idiot. Something that I didn't want particularly. Especially in front of him. We set out, I was wobbly, obviously. He rode slow but helped me with encouraging words. He laughed when I braked hard and put my feet down, to stop the cycle, but he didn't make fun of my fear. I was ready to wind up, but he prodded me on. He kept saying that the more you practice, the easier it gets.
My own words, coming right back at me. So I had to persevere. After some time, I started to relax and enjoy the two wheeled wonder.


It felt good. The cutting through cool air. The sense of adventure. I felt free, like a child, with no worries about the day's menu or mounting work. I am grateful that he likes to share his happy times and favourite activities with me. There is still a lot of growing for me to do.



Please do visit the FB Page for more stories on growing up .https://www.facebook.com/mychocos



July 01, 2015

Inheritance - 3


Shikha was standing by the window, watching the rain when her aunt walked in. She rarely smiled and never minced her words but today she had a new form. She was quite distressed from within.
“How are you, dear?”, She asked Shikha, placing a hand of concern on her shoulder.

“Don't worry Tara Pishi, I am not completely shattered.” Shikha replied softly, not daring to look into her eyes.

“Can I ask you something? Do you really believe Rohan is innocent?”. Tara Pishi asked as gently as she could.

Surprised at the question, Shikha turned around and looked into her Aunt's eyes.
“I don't think he is capable of doing it. “

“But he could have been in a blind rage.”

“They were stabbed in their sleep, Tara Pishi. That is not blind rage.” ,Shikha reasoned.

“Do you suspect anyone ?”

“No, Tara Pishi.”, Shikha shook her head.

“I don't think they were exactly without any enemies. I am sure many would have imagined doing it.”

Shikha was about to smile when he bit her lip. Tara Pishi was correct, though. Rohan's parents were indeed irritating at times.

Her Aunt went on.” Shikha, I do not want you to throw your life over Rohan. You are committed to him. But right now, you have to think about yourself more than any other person. I cannot talk about this to my brother. You have to understand, getting married isn't exactly all roses. There are more thorns, especially with him. Please do not be in a rush. You don't need a husband to be happy in life.”

Shikha looked intently at her and shook her head.”I know, Tara Pishi, I know”

****** ****** ****

Meanwhile, elsewhere, officer Alan Samuel had a new challenge. Mr.Sengupta had pulled few strings and got a forensic specialist to get involved in the investigation. The new arrival shared his surname and had a rather flamboyant persona. Dr. Ruth Samuel was known for her vivid hair colouring and stylised clothes. She was arrogant, as happens with most hugely successful people.
She had started off on the examination of the bodies and had some startlingly different results.
When Alan got the reports, he wanted to speak to the Doctor himself. Even though he had been warned by friends in the department that Dr.Samuel was not very amiable with the police. There were many instances, in which she had exposed lapses and pitfalls in the police investigations.

Alan had arrived at the lab and felt some how apprehensive about the meeting. He had never considered himself as shy or incompetent and the nervousness baffled him.
She appeared suddenly, talking to two other doctors who looked much younger. She was beautiful, Alan realized. Her hair had streaks of purple. She looked like a rock star. The hair itself was styled that way. She wore a very bright yellow kurti with a low neck and indigo jeans. The white coat over all that did not reduce her glamour one bit. Alan felt his nervousness disintegrating. He felt warm inside and rose up slowly, almost in awe.

Dr. Samuel halted in her tracks when she spotted Alan standing there. She had a strange expression on her face. The doctor on her left introduced Alan. They shook hands. Alan felt reluctant to let go of her hand while she was in a hurry to.
She was very business like and explained to him that while Mr. Ghosh had bled to death, his wife was already dead before the stabbing. Alan noticed that she was very cordial.
She stated that she would like to examine the crime scene. Usually, Alan would have a problem with that but he delightedly agreed to take her there.
“That won't be necessary. You can just make the arrangements. I am sure you have other important things to do.”,Dr.Samuel was not too pleased.

Alan insisted and escorted her to his Jeep. He felt good to be with her. He tried to make pleasant conversation but she was a reluctant participant. He waited for her infamous rudeness to peek out but it never did.



June 17, 2015

Inheritance -2

The Sengupta house was a landmark of sorts for those living in the vicinity. The sprawling grounds with lovely trees generated a long sigh in those passing by on Volvo buses, the only vehicles which could peep across the high walls. People wondered about the colourful and musical parties held on those grounds. Most of them imagined how it would be like to live in such a palatial home. If they imagined Mr.Sengupta to be rude and arrogant, they were far from reality. He was a very humble and helpful man. He never turned away anyone who came to him in need. He had a good business brain along with a compassionate heart. His daughter was however a more analytical soul, searching for justice and balance. Her mother had died when she was young and her father's unmarried,intellectual sister, lived with them. She raised the little girl into a fine woman, quite capable to hold her ground at all times. They had the usual support staff which included the cook, the gardener, the driver etc. But Tara Pishi maintained a strict vigil over all what transpired within the high walls. Her sharp eyes burned into everyone. Nothing could be hid from her.

The tired Mr.Sengupta sat in deep thought, on the elegant white chair, in the front lawn. Tara Pishi was making the tea while Shikha munched on a biscuit.

This evening, anyone who peaked would not fantasize about the grandness of their lives. They had a cloud of grief hanging above. Their movements mechanical, weary. All the wealth that they had could not erase the troubles they now faced. Their dear family friends Ajay Ghosh and his wife were brutally murdered, the night before, while asleep in their own bed. Stabbed, multiple times. Everything pointed to their only son, Rohan, who was engaged to Shikha.
While the violence and savagery left the whole town shocked and saddened, Mr.Sengupta was convinced that Rohan was innocent He had known him from childhood and loved him as a son. He was determined to ensure that Rohan is freed.

He was sipping his tea when he suddenly needed to vent some more.
“What I don't understand is why would they consider Rohan as a suspect ?
He has no motive. They haven't written a single paise to his name. He doesn't inherit the business. What will he gain ?I told them so many times. They don't care. Just keep repeating that the knife had his prints and their blood and he was in the house”.

Shikha : “Daddy calm down. Kishore uncle is getting a forensic specialist, so now we can be sure we have tried every possible door to help him.”

Mr.Sengupta : “How can I ? I think of him as my own son .”

Shikha : “I know daddy.. But now we have to be clam and take care of our health and make sure we do not miss out anything significant. No point in being emotional. So cool down”

Mr.Sengupta : “I don't know how you can be so cool. The greatest disaster has occurred and you are asking me to say calm ?”

Shikha shook her head and stood up. “I am going to my room, daddy.”
As she walked, the night before played out in front of her eyes, scene by scene. They had been to a party. Rohan was dancing with some guys and girls.

She had tried to get them to exit “Let's make a move now, its getting late.”

But Rohan shook his head, disagreeing: “No, I am enjoying.”

Shikha : “OK, I am going to sit down for some time. You want to eat something ?

Rohan: “Not hungry. You eat.”

He continues to make funny dance moves .
She was sitting at a corner table with a tray of some food with another friend when her phone rang.

Shikha : “Yes, Aunty, we are having food now. Yes, he is here. He is dancing aunty but I can see him. Yes Aunty, we will leave now.”

She gently disturbed the dancing Rohan again. I think we should go. Your mother had called.”
Rohan looked irritated.
Rohan: Now this has to stop! They have turned you into an additional spy. Tracking my moves and
coordinates.”

Shikha : “Rohan, it's late,so she just called that's all. She never said anything. I think it would be good for us to leave.”

Rohan: “ I don't think want to go yet.”

He moves to the bar and downs another drink..

Shikha sits down near him. “Are you okay Rohan ?”

Rohan : “Yeah, I am having fun. I just don't want to go back home and back into the whole serious world . People just bothering you with business, land deals,...aargh”

His face wore the look of disgust.

Shikha : “OK, then what makes you happy? You cannot party all your day and night. You have to deal with people and business.”

Rohan: “Yeah,I will deal with people and business but not my family pushing me. Not people who want to hang on my neck claiming to know me better and suffocate me.”

Shikha : Rohan, Who is hanging on your neck ? Am I suffocating you ?

Rohan laughs. “You are my buddy Shikha. Are you sure you want to marry me ? I am crazy, Shikha. I wont be a good husband.”

Shikha looks at him strangely,confused.

Rohan looks at her seriously: “Run for your life while you can.”

Shikha pales a bit and suddenly Rohan bursts out laughing.

Rohan : “OK now don't freak out but Shikha, you should explore the world before you get hitched with a no good dude me.”

He goes back dancing while she stares at the empty bar stool.





June 10, 2015

The inheritance - 1

A bronze Duster is maniacally racing on the road. Cutting lanes, giving new drivers a near cardiac arrest. Swiftly turning into side lanes and cutting back into main road. A pretty young thing is at the wheel. Long hair in a pony tail and bejewelled goggles adorning an emotionless poker face. The vehicle rolls into a police station.

Inside the police station, the scene is quite calm. A young officer is alertly going through a file. An older man is sitting in front of him. Worn with worry face. Sorrowful eyes. Shakes head in between. He says “I do not know how such a thing can happen. I don't know. “

The officer:“Yes , I can understand . No One can know when such things happen but I need you to remain calm and help us in piecing together the events ”

Older man : “I got a call in the morning from the driver. He told me to come over as there was something wrong . He didn't tell me anything specific. Maybe thought best not to alarm me. When I reached I heard the servants crying and the driver took me to the bedroom where I found them. ”
He shudders and then looks blankly into a distant wall.
The officer : “Do you remember the exact scene..the nature in which you found the bodies”

The old man : “ Yes I remember very clearly though wish I could forget it. I have explained it. Described everything I remember to the other police man. How many times will I have to do this !”
shakes his head

The officer : “OK then I will call you again when the report is ready and you will have to just read through it and sign it if its accurate as per your memory. You may wait here till some more formalities are completed“

The old man slowly rises from the chair. At this instance the girl who was driving the Duster appears at the door. She calls out : “Daddy”

The old man looks at her with renewed grief.
He says : “Shikha, why did u come here now ?”

Shikha : “Why can't I be here ? Why didn't you call me ? ”

The officer whose name was Alan looks up from his file.
The old man : “My daughter Shikha. She was going to be marry Rohan. ”

At this Alan nods his head and remarks “Good that you have come down . We may need to ask you few questions.”

Shikha : “OK. ”

Alan :“ I will get the women constables , they will take your statements. You may wait outside with your father”

Shikha :“Sure”

Alan looks at her, trying to gauge her character. She looks back almost smiling and then as if remembering something she suddenly makes her look a bit gloomy worried

Alan was turning his attention back to the file when the desk phone rings.

Alan “Yes sir. We are taking every care. Nothing will be neglected.
Sure sir.I understand sir. Thank you sir”

He keeps the phone down with a hint of dread. Looks around and calls a constable on the phone
What is the status on the bodies? I need updates on the bodies. The time of death, cause etc as soon as the doctors confirm it..”
Alan mutters to himself “ This is the first case I get ! So much pressure already. I Should have listened to papa and tapped rubber. I could at least get fish fry every night ! ”

He picks up the phone again “Indu, please get Maya and come here. We have a possible witness , a lady ”

Two lady constables arrive in his room and they call Shikha along. Shikha looks sorrowful.

She is seated across Alan. The women constables on chairs facing her.

Alan : “Indu you may lead the investigation ”

Indu nodding “Yes sir”

“Madame , please state your full name for record”
Shikha “Shikha Sengupta”

Indu ”Please tell us where you were yesterday night “

Shikha “I was at a party in Sheesha with Rohan”

Indu : The whole night ?

Shikha : Yes almost. Me and Rohan headed back home by 2. He had a bit of drinks so I dropped him home and went home.

Indu : So you went to Rohan's house ?

Shikha : I did not step in . I only dropped him at the gate.

Indu : Weren't you worried about him ? Since he was drunk ? Didn't you want to make sure he reached his room safely ?

Shikha : I wasn't really. This is not the first time that I have dropped him by the gate after he had a round of drinks..he always managed to reach his room safely..

Alan: This is the first time he is being suspected of murder, is that right ?


Shikha a little taken aback : nods in agreement " yes"

Alan : Then how come you are not hysterical about it ?

Shikha looks a bit annoyed : You want to know why I am not screaming and crying and banging my head to the wall that my fiancé is suspected of murdering his parents ?

Alan:\: Girls are usually hysterical for lesser disasters

Shikha : That's very typical. Some girls are weak. Easily excited. .Some are not.I am not.
I believe that Rohan is innocent.

Alan: Impressive but aren't you disturbed about all the mess happening around you. When was your wedding planned for ?

Shikha: Wedding can happen any time..I wasn't keen on a big glamorous wedding anyway My mother was into the arrangements. The date was slated for two months from now.

Alan: Two months later is your wedding and here is ur groom almost arrested for murder. You are a strong girl. Miss Sengupta.

Shikha: I guess you have only met those women you could easily manipulate.

Alan : Do I appear to be that kind of a man ?

Shikha: All men have those basic instincts.

Alan smiles .There are all sorts of men Miss. SenGupta. Now you are generalizing.

Shikha smiles sarcastically : Any more questions for me ?

Alan looks at Indu: Anything more ?

Indu : I will need the address of the party location and also tell me the route you took from there to Rohan's house and from there to your house.

Shikha: Sure.


April 04, 2015

Darth Vader

Darth Vader is addictive. I distinctively remember how I first met him. Angry Birds Star Wars game on the I-Pad. He suddenly appeared on my son's favorite T-Shirt also. Until then I had no clue what all those pictures of robots were. Then one day my son had to speak a few words about his favorite super hero and he chose Lord Vader. To help his frame those words, I had to do a massive research on Darth Vader and discovered that he wasn't really a hero! But my son was so in love with Darth Vader and I suspected the teachers wouldn't really go into specifics. So I drafted some lines on his qualities and his life support suit and how he was brave and the usual laurels. It drew me in nevertheless.

The only solution was to now binge on all the Star Wars Trilogy
movies. Due to some divine intervention all those movies were being shown on some channel. Catch was the unearthly hour at which it was being televised. Another divine intervention. Lord of the house was away on business. I packed kids off early to sleep. Caught a few hours of sleep. Then enjoyed my movie. I was entirely hooked. I also watched them on YouTube during the day.

Darth Vader was indeed an enigma. The bad guy you absolutely loved. His evil had the most charismatic attitude to it. The music accompanying his entry was perfectly imperial. His peculiar breathing noise. The life support suit. His unmatched telekinetic powers. He could strangle you over the video, over Skype! And yet his emotional side. His realization that he is not the Jedi he is meant to be and wants more. His fear of losing his love. His trauma over the death of his mother.

Star Wars does indeed draw you into the inter amazingly galactic picturesque universe. Me and my son tried to talk in the Yoda style for a while. Go, you must. Dinner, you should eat. Milk, I don't like. Sleep, I want to. Write, a story I must.

Darth Vader is remembered every day. Playing with light Saber or I-Pad. He is part of our lives.
Here is a video I found on YouTube Anakin's tranformation to Darth Vader.





April 03, 2015

Dried up words

There are some words that I have lost
Some stories faded
Music just stopped
What I had wanted to say
I cannot remember
All that is filling my thoughts
Are all bitter darts of accusations
I am different
I have my own wit
You can't trample me down
Just because you do not agree
What's my crime?
That I think or that I aspire ?
Don't stifle my voice
Don't push me into the corner of silence
I grow numb, mute
What is left, is not me
It's who you created
It may be good for you
As you grow stronger
All these things you shower on me?
Does not bring me back to life
These are things you want
I only want my voice, my dreams


National Poem Writing Month 

Cold


It's summer here. The sun is unbearable. The brightness and the heat. Mornings are pleasant. Cool breeze too. But by 9.30 the sun begins to glare with vengeance. I imagine him standing there and just fuming. At all the destruction the puny humans wreak upon his favorite child Earth.
All the heat slowly vaporizing me and my home. I am sure of it. All those things I am unable to find have vaporized. Gone up in smoke. Poof! But all this heat has not thawed the hearts so icy cold.

I see them everywhere. Cold people. I wonder what drives them on. I do not see joy of life in their eyes. I do not feel warmth of love when I sit with them. Their words do not glow my heart with hope. They go full throttle right head. With such fierceness they strive for every good thing they can accumulate. They don't waste any time. Always on the move. Always getting ahead. Sometimes their words wound. Their cold gestures make me cringe. Why do I let them have that much power over me? I could never fathom. Do I want them to like me or be nice to me? Do I consider them superior and powerful ?

You can see me shaking myself like a wet dog at times. When I encounter a cold one I do that to purge the inferiority sinking into me. It sort of gets me out the hypnotic trance. I go into a mode of regret for the job I willingly quit. I start doubting if wrestling with my two boys the whole day is the dream scenario I had in mind. They throw bricks on you and use you as stepping stones to hoist them to greater conquests. The realization of that drops my temperature. It turns me cold to the beauty of the simple haphazard unplanned adventure. I enjoy the warmth I have inside me. The wonder and magic of life is my fuel. Not the mad desire to accumulate expensive merchandise and acquaintances. May the cold never seep in.  

March 10, 2015

Climb Every Mountain

Does the place where you live really affect the kind of life that you lead ? If you mean the location, the city or the village, then it is obviously true. It does affect your quality of life, in terms of the facilities and infrastructure available to you. Also every city or village has its own unique energy that gets infused into the blood of those living there. Growing up in a very academic place like Thiruvananthapuram (phew..it was easier to type Trivandrum but wary of the big brother) was surprisingly fun. I had my own shares of adventures, secret picnics, badminton tourneys, hazardous rock climbing etc. But after engineering where I didn't qualify to even appear for the very few campus interviews, I knew I had to leave for another city where opportunities existed for not so studious yet obviously bright students like me.

Convincing my parents was the hard task. They were very adamant that I keep trying for some little job somewhere in strike infested, communist thriving capital of Kerala. Their friends had somehow convinced them that it's better off getting me married and living somewhere closer to them. It was a task which had no good handling handbook. I reasoned with them. My friend's elder sister had gone to Bangalore and found a good job. My friend was planning to join her and invited me along. We could tackle the new place together. My friend grew tired waiting for me and went on ahead. I started kicking up hell at home. For some reason, my parents tend to not understand my reasoning until I scream and yell and make life a little miserable for them. My neighbours and other uncles and aunts seem to rule their hearts and brains. It was very tough battling out for a chance to go and live in a city like Bangalore. But they laid down weapons finally. And I landed in the garden city.

Bangalore was full of a positive energy back then. Lots of young people. Studying or working. I loved there. I stayed in a hostel with my friend and made new friends. I joined up for a programming class and spent a lot of time hunting jobs and giving job interviews. It was a total learning experience. I had to take bus to entirely unknown areas and find locations all on my own. I survived all that even though my parents worried like hell. My new made friends and I had great adventures together. Exploring the city. We used to sieve through the different markets for fashionable dresses, shoes and bags. It was a life changing experience for me. Meeting so many people from different parts of the country. Sharing ideas. Listening to different concepts of success.It increased my self confidence and wisdom in general.

I must admit I wasn't successful on the job front but I am going to blame the economic slowdown and the bursting of the dot.com bubble. Not me. I was hugely talented and extremely intelligent. In the end I had to settle for a job at my home town and move back in with my family. But I had already learnt to be unafraid of change or failure. You can only fail if you do not take a chance with yourself.

When we have a dream every step we take towards it will only make us stronger. My favorite song from the movie The Sound of Music has the most gorgeously inspiring verses. Goes like this.....

Climb every mountain,

Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
'Till you find your dream.



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Watch the video below to see how housing dreams are looking up.

March 06, 2015

Ray of Light



Most of my days are spent rushing into all sorts of chores and pushing my kids through all their activities. Right from brushing in the morning...all the way to sleep me. It's a task for a parent to actually sit down and admire the children and their sweet innocence in the midst of all the ferrying and rushing. I am beginning to see that as a big mistake. While we do have to ensure that children eat well, learn their lessons and behave with good manners, we also need to listen to their version of events. It may often seem catastrophic to the adult eyes and yet it may have been an earnest sincere effort at something from the child.

It was a particularly trying day for me. I had been going back and forth couple of times. Some chores I was hoping to get done didn't happen. Plans crashed and burned. And there as I walked in, all the magma of the day's frustrations were ready to blow out. The floor was flooded with Lego blocks, sprinkled with snacks and the children were sprawled in front of the telly. My elder one showed me his test results and all I could see were the lost marks. He did pretty well but for a Mom , its never enough. You know your child can do better. But does he need to be so perfect? Isn't that a burden I force on him? I said a few harsh words and yelled at the mess the house was in. I said stuff like just sit in front of cartoon network and eat junk and be happy. I stormed off and jumped into the bed. After a while I got alarmed that there wasn't any noise.

I ran to the living room which had magically transformed !! The Lego s were tucked away and my elder son was sweeping the floor. My younger one was carrying all the footwear deserted at the door to the shoe rack (mine included).My elder one spoke up “Sorry Momma. Please don't be angry. When you are angry we feel very sad. I feel all alone. Without you there is no fun. I will study harder. I will not make any spelling mistakes. I will make sure we both eat food properly.”

His extremely heart rending apology speech felt like a punch in the stomach. It wasn't his responsibility yet he shouldered it. His duty is to be a child. To make a mess and mistakes. That was his right.
Yet it filled me with a light. He did care for my happiness. He didn't hold it against me that I ranted about losing a single mark. He accepted my high expectations.

I hugged him tight. He was a treasure more important than anything. What your child becomes, is your future but who your child is, will always be your utmost happiness. That is what makes your home a little piece of heaven. A safe zone for everyone to do stupid mistakes and learn from them and grow stronger. The world pushes you into a corner, your home is where you recover. 
When children care about happiness other than their own, the world has hope of transformation into a beautiful flower garden. We have to admire what we have and innovate and inspire, rather than the catch up with a maddening zombie crowd.

When I sense a meltdown moment inching towards me, I fish out this ray of light. My children care for my happiness. And I must value their happiness more that any notion of success the world may be blinded in. This is my hope, that I can start with my home to fill the world with a little bit of optimism and love.

Visit https://housing.com/lookup to read more on the mantra of bringing more positivism to the world.

March 05, 2015

Forsaken

There is a new prompt at Word Castle about the roads untraveled.
A poem with upper limit of 50 words about a secret regret. Here is my take on it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prologue
~~~~~~~
My one regret as I look back is when I allowed my parents to throw out a cat and her kittens from our home.
The mother cat had come in to our home as a stray kitten. She was very cute as all kittens are. We developed a bond instantly. We could understand each other. I was around 10 years old. She was my best friend. Then her own kittens arrived. My parents panicked. Pictured an outbreak of kittens. Kittens pouring out of every nook and corner and every wardrobe and cupboard. They elaborately discussed with me the various horrors of cats over running your home. I finally caved in in a weak moment and then they were just dropped off somewhere near a fish market where they would always find food.
I cried every evening after school for the longest time. The tiny fur balls of pure cuteness. I felt guilty as hell. I was haunted by their faces. I had let them down. I never had a pet cat again even though I nursed an injured kitten back to health and fed some strays.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Forsaken

You taught me to nurture ,
Watched me as I painted
Colours that made no sense to anyone
But love was the colour of your eyes.

I wasn't strong, thought they knew better
I remember your soft paws on my face.
Love can never destroy,
But can love forgive desertion ?