Saturday, December 31, 2016

Breaking Moulds, Aspiring for More

I recently received this forward:
In 'Three Idiots', Aamir Khan said we must allow children to pursue their dreams.
In 'Taare Zameen Par', he said children need not pursue any dreams.
In 'Dangal' he says, make your children fulfill your dreams.
How confusing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Man(un)kind

The horrible videos of the suffering of children in Aleppo makes one wonder about the perpetrators of such crimes. Whatever be the cause of the fight, is it so much more important than lives? Is it just the piece of land, or the politics or the fragile ego that is more important?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Social Medi-ot

Morning, in the midst of the whirl
A message pops with a tone of twirl
I pause my work and to the phone I rush,
Fearing something exciting I will miss

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thinking and Thinking

That moment between thinking and not thinking.
That moment between thinking and acting on that thinking.
That moment between thinking and acting on something without thinking.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Inching Up Step by Step

"I got A+ in English, and aunty said very good for one of my essays," my son said with a broad smile. My heart jumped with joy. In the previous exam, the first he was writing in his 9 years of schooling as the initial years were in Montessori, he had shocked me when he said, "They asked me to write what I want to be in 20 years. I wrote, cricketer. What ma, they gave 20 lines to write! What am I supposed to write for 20 lines?"

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Pray

Photo courtesy: Srikant Ranganathan
I pray, I pray, I pray

For what?
The mortal body
That will leave us one day?


For health?
That will fail
As we slowly age?

For wealth?
Which we will leave
When our soul flies away?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Tough Match

She swung her racket and then paused in disappointment. She had missed. The silence was deafening, accusing her of failure.
It was coming at her again and she swung again. This time, the crackling sound as the mosquito hit the electric racket brought a smile to her face.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Innocent, Who?

I was taking my customary evening walk a bit late in my apartment complex when a bunch of children came running my way. They were 8 years and younger, boys and girls, prancing around the complex in a carefree manner. My own children were upstairs, their curfew time starting earlier than that of these children.

One of the girls suddenly chimed, "Aunty, your son threw stones at us."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Demon-it-is-e

It has us in its vice grip
Making us spin and trip
Filling all our thoughts
That is all we ever sought

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Green (Un)Cover

When I moved in to my current house 10 years ago, the adjoining campus - the backyard of the veterinary university off Mount Road - looked green. It had a rich fauna and flora. I woke up to the sound of deer clashing in friendly matches, kingfisher declaring its presence, woodpecker pecking away, treepie shouting 'cooollldrinks', snakes slithering around and parakeets protesting against its presence.
Today, it is barren as the trees have been cut to make way for the metro office. Though a PIL put a limit to how many trees can be cut, who is keeping track? Yesterday, a peepal tree was cut. The deer were relocated to another venue a couple of years ago. Birds come, but are less in number. God knows where the snake vanished to.

What price development, I wonder.

I know the land I live in also must have been a forest once upon a time. In the immediate past, though, a slum occupied this space.

It pains to think of the havoc man is creating in this world. Delhi apparently is covered by a thick smog, so much that people have been advised to stay indoors. Is Chennai going to go the same way?

What can we as individuals do to reduce the destruction of our environment? Invest in land less? Worry about the future less? Reduce our consumption of material things?

Time to think is past. It is time to act now.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Free and Flying

That leaf clinging to the tree
Struggles hard to break free
To toss and turn in the breeze
Playing, unmindful of who sees

No burdens, no thoughts
Not even that organ called heart
Just sheer joy and glee
Of feeling totally free

Oh to lose these heavy limbs
Not to be burdened by things
To roll and fly as I please
To play, just be, and to tease

Let the wind lend me wings
To drift with no strings
Go mind take some rest
Put all planning under arrest.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Age of Guilt

I smile, what for I wonder
I look around and shudder

Hate, hurt, angst and anger,
Tempers hanging on egos slender

Looting, rape, bullying, murder
Destruction and burning all to cinders

Amidst aplenty lingers hunger
Cruelty, even in love, lingers

Why so much noise and plunder?
Is humanity deep in slumber?

How do we face each other?
Why doesn't guilt tear us asunder?

My hands rise up in surrender
But is there a saviour, I wonder.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Love, and Love

I hide the marks your love leaves on my person
I bury the scars in my heart of love unreturned

My life brims with joy knowing you are near
I shut the door on emptiness of thoughts dear

My life floats in the fragrance of your presence
A whiff of you threatens to shake my very essence

I write with you the chapters of my life
The few words we shared create an epic strife

The journey together, a story of contentment
A life not lived, fighting resentment

Love unspoken, our bond strengthens
In the noise, the silence deepens.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The White Shirt

"Clumsy!" Kavya heard her mother's voice in her ears as she spilled coffee on her shirt. She looked at it in dismay, wondering when she would learn to be less messy. And why did she have to wear white!

The waiter very helpfully offered her tissues. But though she knew she should try to wash off the stain, getting a white shirt wet in a cafe!!!

She controlled the tears of frustration as she paid up and came out. She checked her watch - 10. Her house was in one direction, and her venue for the appointment in another. "Damn!" she thought. There was no time to go back home and change her shirt. She would have to buy another shirt. White shirt. Which idiot thought of making white the uniform at her workplace, she wondered for the nth time!

She looked across the road, wondering if she should just walk into the meeting with the stained white shirt and pretend it was the latest design!

She sighed, knowing that was not going to work. She was about to hail an auto when she realised there was a mall next door. She headed there, thanking gods for this little mercy on her. She entered her favourite shop. She looked for her size in her preferred brand and was disappointed to see they were out of stock. There was S, M and XL but no L.

Reluctantly, she looked for white shirts in other brands, and even in other shops in the mall, giving herself just 10 minutes to complete the survey. She didn't even need so much time. The stores in teh same floor didn't have white shirts. In the next floor, the only store that had didn't have her fit. Either they were too tight in the chest or too loose around the waist.

She recollected her mother's lamentation, "I can never find ready made clothes for you. Why can't you fit the mould?"

Ever since she turned adolescent, she had to opt for tailor made clothes. While for Indian she didn't mind that, getting a good tailor for western wear was a challenge. Now that at the workplace she had to wear western clothes most of the time, shopping was becoming a nightmare. Was it only she who had a problem, she wondered as she finally opted for an L size in an inferior brand and tried to get it to mould to her shape.

She reached the venue 20 minutes late, and not even feeling good about her purchase...

Who decides what a woman's body should be like - the thought wouldn't leave her. Was she abnormal? Was she misshapen? She started looking at herself closely every time she crossed a mirror. She started assessing the expression in the eyes of the people looking at her during conversations. She didn't see ridicule or even surprise in their eyes. Sometimes she even detected admiration and desire...

Then why couldn't she find a simple shirt? She went back, again and again, to try out different western designs and found the same problem. She spoke to her friends, acquaintances, wives of colleagues. It was heartening to know she was not the only one, but she wondered why no one had thought of all the other women who did not fit into the standard sizes.

Finding a solution became her only obsessive thought in the next few days. She searched the web, and all she came up with were tailor names and addresses abroad. Or high end fashion designers...

Her quest took her to e-commerce sites. Nothing much for women, but it gave her an idea.

It took her two years and much talking to her parents to convince them to back her. When she successfully commissioned western wear to fit her shape, she felt liberated. But when she launched a site for women to buy made-to-order wear, she was the first one to order the kind of clothes she had fantasised about all her life!

"My ugly duckling turns a swan," her mother said fondly, kissing her daughter. "Can I order some for myself too?" asked she, surprising Kavya. She thought her mother preferred the regulation uniform she wore. "I never found what I wanted in the shops," her mother confessed and the two had a hearty laugh.

(This story is a creative twist based on an interview I did for a management magazine about a woman who started a portal for customised western wear. It may differ in actual points as I do not know much about the person. The actual article on how her entrepreneurial journey turned out will appear in the next issue of the magazine.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Armed Against Anger

It was like a battery of bullets being discharged, a sten gun in action. Ta-da-da-da-da she went. Anger bubbled. She felt so wronged at her wishes not being given due respect, of being forced to do something she did not want to year.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fighting Fears

My seven-year-old started crying whenever we asked him to take bath. He would want me to sit in the adjoining bedroom. This, after two years of taking bath by himself!

Used to the independence of not having to monitor his bath, I fought against his tears and pleas. Anger, cajoling, indifference, nothing worked.

And then I slowly found the reason. A Tamil movie, 'Kanchana', which I thought was a comedy and allowed him to watch in his friend's place, turned out to be a horror-comedy. The ghost comes in the bathroom, and hence his fear!

I tried to fight it through logic. I showed him the pictures of the actor and also how I found him handsome. I told him other stories to distract him. I even made him say Hanuman Chalisa and other slokas.

But while the lip moved, while the ears heard, while the eyes saw, the mind kept returning to the image that had caused the fear in the first place.

This couldn't go on! Bath sessions were becoming a melt down time - too much water in his eyes!

So then, I sat with him in the puja room. I told him to focus on his breath and slowly painted a scene with greenery and lake and serenity. I don't remember how long it took, but the Drama Before the Bath stopped and calmness returned.

It is never too early to teach children to focus on their breathing to deal with troubles of any kind. Solutions may not present themselves in any miraculous fashion. But they will be less stressed about it and that in itself may resolve half the problems.

Soon to follow: Armed Against Anger.
Also read:  The Child-Like Mind

Friday, September 9, 2016

Not As In...

"How did your day go?" Vivek asked when Sadhana returned from work.

"Mmmm..." she replied noncommittally.

"Is that a yes or a no?" he asked, more from masochistic intentions of needing evidence to lament later on.

"It was good," Sadhana answered, but her tone did not reflect 'good.'

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mars is the Next Earth

Suddenly, my older one burst in on me with this theory - that Mars will be the next earth.
Photo courtesy: Srikant Ranganathan

In her words:
"Kalki avataram is the last of the incarnations after which the earth will be destroyed. Mercury and Venus are going to merge with the Sun, and earth is becoming the next Mercury - hot - as it is getting closer to the sun. Mars will come to Earth's position. Already snow capped mountains, underground water and atmosphere conducive for life have been found on that planet. So that will be the next earth. Then after sometime, that will also move closer to the sun and the next planet will become the earth, and this will go on till all are consumed by the Sun."

I listened with a thoughtful smile, thinking how close she is to the theory of expanding and contracting universes. I quoted:

 पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Meaning:
THAT (BRAHMAN) IS WHOLE, THIS (CREATION) IS ALSO WHOLE 
FROM THAT WHOLE (I.E. BRAHMAN ONLY), THIS WHOLE HAS COME OUT (CREATION)
BUT EVEN THOUGH THIS WHOLE HAS COME OUT OF THAT WHOLE
YET THAT WHOLE REMAINS WHOLE ONLY


In 'Vashishta's Yoga', the idea that the whole cosmos begins from a mustard seed  - a complete circle, that expands in creation and contracts in dissolution - seems to be indicated. What she told me, not based on any scientific fact or even with any understanding of what is given in the scriptures, seemed to reflect this same thought. Though this will mean that the sun will also move and so the relative cosmic distances with other stars, planets and galaxies will change, it is quite possible that in a contracting world, earth will eventually go back to its progenitor - the sun.

We will not live to see this, but I was pleased to see the radiant smile on her face when I explained what little I understood to her. And I was glad of the opportunity to give this self-generated nascent thought a direction.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Child-like Mind

An unexpected statement, and my mind flared up. A root thought went round and round in circles, taking over my mind and emotions. My hands went about their work, but the thoughts - a thought, in fact - split into different hues like light passing through prism, scattering into a million other thoughts.

One hue resulted in a debate; another pulled up past offenses; a third imagined a friend to whom I poured out my heart; a fourth thought objectively and judged itself petty for the frenzy it was getting into.

These further splintered into a myriad subthoughts. And, oh, a part was getting bored and sought to distract itself. So wave dipped and peaked, dragging the mind down while another sought to remain neutral and a third tried to boost it up.

The thoughts fueled the morning chores, which got done early due to the anger energy flowing with the blood. A refreshing bath changed the direction of the thoughts. A brief yoga session later, the mind started singing a song and presto! the mood had changed. Like a child that saw a new toy and forgot its tantrum, the mind now easily flowed to other, more pleasant thoughts.

'Dil to bachcha hai ji' - suddenly this line flashed through my mind (the very same, the very same). The mind is indeed a child, pretending to be mature and adult-like, but really a child that sways with whims and fancies. It throws tantrums, becomes stubborn and clings to its views without any rationale sometimes. The ego stands like a guardian - a short-sighted parent - assuring the mind of its perspicacity and encouraging it in its rash and unreasonable behaviour that becomes self-destructive eventually.

A little bit of sugar can distract a crying child. A little focus on our breath can distract our child-like mind. But just like the child enjoys the tantrum, we enjoy our spiraling thoughts.

I bow to our ancestors who identified the gentle guide, the guru - our breath- that calms us, guides us, releases us from the vice grip of our thoughts and emotions without much effort.

The One who gave us problems gives us solutions too, it is said. Most of the times, problems are of our own making. And yet, we have been given a solution in anticipation. Let's at least use that well.

Do problems go away? No, but they cease to become a problem - just a situation that needs to be faced and will pass... A child needs its games. Let it have its fun. Like a mature parent, smile and watch but don't get too involved. The next fancy will change the direction of the thoughts in any case.

Also Read:
Fighting Fears
Armed Against Anger

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Prayer, O Mother

Rising sun, shining forth
Spreading light, and hope
Colouring earth with saffron hue
Riding in the sky ever so blue

White, pure and bright
Filling hearts with divine light
In the middle a blue dot
Representing the Ultimate Truth

The lush, cooling green
And the trees, life-giving
For farmers who toil
Shedding sweat on my soil

The three stand out
And yet are ever together
Fluttering proudly in the wind
Making my heart sing

My eyes well up
When I look at you
Sometimes with pride
Sometimes with regret

May we be worthy of you
May we make you proud
Every day, every year
I offer you this prayer.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pleasure and Pain

From feeling intense anguish
It is no more even a deep wish
Oh! This pain cherished
Has all but vanished.

In this journey through life
Of being someone's mother and wife
Facing day to day strife
Which cuts one like a knife

As old wounds slowly heal
With new ones one has to deal
In layers that don't peel
And yet pleasure in this ordeal

Yes, the pain that gives pleasure
Cherished secretly, like treasure
Not to be revealed even under pressure
And relished with love at leisure

One day that pain too deserts
As better sense reasserts
Living in the present needs efforts
Memories come and go but in spurts

Let go, for past is of no use
To accept pain, heart will refuse
Grab the moment and pain will diffuse
Then in heart will joy suffuse.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Just Another Day

"Ma," 13-year-old Smita called out from inside. "Can you please get me my uniform?"

Ganga looked at the clock and shouted back, "Wrap a towel around you and pick it up yourself."

Jay was in the dining room, reading the paper. "Poor kid, why don't you get her the dress?"

"You are most welcome to," Ganga said as she kneaded the dough indifferently. Jay just shook his head as he continued reading. Ganga felt a pang of guilt but didn't budge - she couldn't. She had a meeting at 10, and if she got delayed, then traffic would delay her.

Smita came out grumbling. "It would have taken you a second."

"Right, and if you had taken it with you in the first place, it wouldn't even need that second," Ganga said and returned to the kitchen.

Smita made a face as she dressed up and tied her hair. She filled up the water bottle, packed her snack and sat down for breakfast. Ganga served her hot chapatis with paneer butter masala. "Yummy! Keep extra," Smita said.

Ganga smiled, "Already packed 5. Is that enough?"

Smita nodded with her mouth full and then hugged her mother from the side.

The house was empty by 9 as each went their way. Smita returned first, at 4.30. She was tired and looked at the dining table expectantly. She felt like having hot dosas, but all she could find was bun and jam. She sighed and ate the snack. She called her mother, "Can you make dosa at night for dinner?"

Ganga was silent for a minute. "Not tonight. I have a dinner meeting. Tomorrow breakfast, I promise."

Disappointed, Smita was about to put the phone down when Ganga said, "I will ask daddy to order something... or the two of you can go out. But..." she paused to let Smita scream joyfully. "You have to finish your homework before that. Do you have any classes?"

"Only maths tuition."

Jay, however, was also tied up at work. Ganga wondered what to do. "Why don't you order something?"

"Come on, Ganga. It maybe 8 by the time I reach home and it will be too late for her. Why don't you go home, make something before leaving for dinner?"

"Won't have time," she replied thoughtfully. "Will order pizza."

"No! I hate pizza."

"Then tell me what? I know the pizza guy will deliver in 30 minutes, but not anyone else. She will be alone at home. I don't want her to open the door for delivery boys..."

"But what if he does not come before you leave?"

"Jay," she said sternly, "If you can give me solutions, do. Don't just tell me about the problems."

"Skip the dinner," he said suavely.

"Return home early," she snapped back and cut the call before it erupted into a fight. She sat back with her eyes closed. She felt she was snapping all the time. She called Jay again. "I will pick up something on the way," she said.

"No, it's okay. I just  rescheduled my meeting to tomorrow. Don't plug in something then..." he warned her, but she smiled feeling the warm rush of love.

"Don't be hard on her," she said softly. "She likes to keep the door closed, just let her be."

She called Smita up to inform her. "Yaay!" her daughter exclaimed. She knew it would be a night of indulgence, but, well, why not. "Just make sure you complete your work and don't aggravate father," she cautioned her daughter.

When she returned after the dinner, she felt tired. Jay was awake but Smita was asleep. "How was the dinner?"

She nodded, but rushed to the bathroom and threw up. "I told you to miss it," Jay said and earned a glare. He got her some cumin seeds and made buttermilk, and though it calmed her churning stomach somewhat, she had a restless sleep.

Next morning, when Smita woke up, she was startled to see her father pottering about in the kitchen and her mother in bed. "Sandwich for breakfast?" she asked with a weak smile.

Jay smiled, "Yes! How did you guess?"

Smita rolled her eyes. "Guess..."

He chuckled. "Oh come, half the world lives on it."

"I belong to the other half," she said over her shoulder as she went about her morning chores. "What's happened to mom?"

"Stomach bug. So please help around if you can," he cautioned her.

Ganga opened her eyes and panicked, seeing it was already 8! She rushed to the kitchen to see Jay clearing up the kitchen and Smita packing her lunch - curd rice with pickle.

"Go to the doc today," father and daughter said in unison. "We can't have you packing up like this," Smita added and hugged her mother. Jay's and Ganga's eyes met over their daughter's head and they smiled.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Cycle of Tragedy

It rocks and steadies, rocks and steadies
Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, catastrophes
Murders, rapes, arson and robberies
Blasts, butchery, terrorism, even slavery

Friday, June 24, 2016

Turning 180 degrees

I am not a sentimental person. I don't have a collection of memories of my children's childhood; nor do I run through their photos often.

And yet, this one moment made me smile and wonder.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Valuables

Sofiya locked the locker in the bureau securely. All that she valued was kept here. She would have to keep it in the bank locker, but she wouldn't be able to go till the weekend.

She put the key in her wardrobe and locked that too. She took the key and put that in the inside zip of her handbag and closed it, as well as the top zip. She clutched it close to her side and stepped out. She locked the house, put the key safely inside her bag and walked to the bus stop.

She walked casually enough, but her hand held the bag tightly. The bus stop had several pickpockets and she did not want to lose the keys.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I Flow Like the River

I flow like the river
Slipping through rocks and stones
Frothing and fuming on the surface
Hiding within depths my true self.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The River of Soul

From one source
We are but tributaries
Hidden by ignorance
Flowing where life takes us

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Five Things That Made It Work

This year, my parents and my in-laws celebrated 55 years of togetherness. Well, 50 went by five years ago, I could have written this then. Or 60 is coming in five years and I can write it then. But I choose to write today so don't ask why now...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Better Quality of Life - And the Price

The tiger walked at a leisurely pace, unmindful of a jeep right behind it, dogging its steps. The people inside were enthralled to catch a glimpse of this majestic creature, truly the king of this jungle. The king couldn't care less. He was busy marking his territory as the rains on the previous days must have washed off his scent sprayed earlier.

But this made me wonder - how much territory did the tigers really have to divide amongst themselves? All they need - any animal needs - is forest land and trees. Food and shelter... That's all.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

One Earth: No Clean Slate: A Short Story

One Earth: No Clean Slate: A Short Story: Gods pondered, looking at the earth. They were dismayed at the non-destructible debris that could be seen everywhere. Their calculations w...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Me

"Oh, eyes so lovely!"
Exclaim even strangers friendly
Thanking them, I smile shyly,
O father, I got it from you really.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Different Plane



We waited for all eight of us to assemble for practice. The youngest two of the dancers called in sick. The rest of us looked at each other in dismay as the program was just a week away, and we had learnt this item just two days back. But, well, we assured ourselves, there was at least a week. So we had hope.

As we finished the rehearsal for the day and chatted up, the topic of the girls being unwell came up. We wondered if they would get better by the program date, and someone suddenly said, “Oh come! You have done it. I am sure they can too!”

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 20


My head reeled. He pulled me up and took me in his arms. “She thinks that you will never take this…relationship forward.”

I pushed him away. “Are we to marry to prove her wrong?” I asked, feeling a stirring of a slow rage within me.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 19

For the previous chapter, click here

I sat puzzling over his last words. Had he said Shivani? Had he meant Vandana?

I took my car out and drove to his house. I couldn’t stand the suspense.

He was surprised to see me there but let me in. I quickly glanced around to see her presence, or the evidence of her presence. It looked every inch a male bastion. It should have been reassuring, but it was not. I turned to look at him. “What did you say?”

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 18

For the previous chapter, click here

Gautam was as if he had been released from prison. There was no holding him back.

Enjoying his new found freedom and making up for lost time, he started travelling often. I saw less and less of him. He had plans for every weekend, and he was busy reviving contact with his friends. He asked me to join him sometimes, but not always, and never hard enough for me to accept. I was relieved, in a way. Dobie was a big reason, but, I could have done something about it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Bucket List

A fancy house.
A luxury car.
Expensive jewellery. Well, make that just jewellery.
Fancy holidays to exotic destinations.
Best education for children.
Latest fashion.
Fun all life.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 17

 Read Chapter 16 here 
What stopped me from contacting him? Pride, of course! Every time my fingers lingered over his number, I withdrew them quickly. I did not want to sound desperate, all the more because I was desperate.

And, then the glance they exchanged, the emotions they revealed! That moment, those two faces… I shook my head to dislodge the memory. But it wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t forget the way the two had looked at each other – her eyes… That expression! That eagerness!

I swallowed, my heart fluttering.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who Is She?

He loves her, for in her womb was he carried
He seeks her, so he may bestow on her his seed
He ravages her, when threatened by her mind free
He disdains her when there is no more life to be seen

From birth to death so is she seen
As the mother or the mother-to-be
Her boon and bane it shall be
For her womb defines her identity. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 16

Click here for the previous chapter

Gautam left at around 10. We were chatting on Whatsapp, reviewing the dinner, when he suddenly vanished for a long while. Just as I went to bed at 11.30, he messaged, “Mother unwell. Taking her to hospital.”

She passed away later that night. The funeral was to be the next day, by afternoon after his uncles reached from different cities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The 'Un-Holi' Crime


The concrete jungle in the desert city of Abu Dhabi sprang to life as the lights came on. Sabina, nearly at the end of her shift, reached Room No. 724 in the hotel she worked, pushing her trolley ahead of her. She quickly and efficiently pulled out the cleaning liquid, new set of bedsheets and pillow covers and opened the door. The room was dark and stuffy. She smelled something, but could not say what it was. It made her uncomfortable. She inserted the key in the slot and entered the bathroom. She saw red spots on the floor and paused, feeling tensed.

She stepped back and noticed the floor. The stains led up to the bed. She saw the prone figure, swathed in blood. She let out a scream and ran out, not stopping till she was in the manager’s cabin. She was inconsolable, and the effort of keeping herself together seemed to have exerted her beyond her capacity at that moment. She fainted.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 15

Click here to begin at the beginning
Click here for previous chapter


Shiv was out before I woke up the next morning and returned late in the night. Before I could ask him if he had had dinner, he banged his room door shut. Amit followed soon after and was gentler. He even sat with me and told me about his day. Taking Gautam’s advice, I tried hard not to think of this difficult matter and maintain a calm front. Dobie seemed to sense the anger in the air and was sulking, not responding to Amit’s invitation to sit by him.

“What’s with him?” Amit asked edgily.

“Dobie,” I called out softly. He turned his face to the wall. “He is behaving like the two of you,” I couldn’t help commenting.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 14

For those who came in late, the short serial Dobie and Me begins here

Click here For Chapter 13

“How did it go?” Gautam asked me on the phone later in the evening.

I started crying. “Bad,” I whispered.

“Do you want me to come over?” he asked softly. But I knew his mother was not doing well and he had to be home. Also, I didn’t want my sons to see him right now. They were out, but I expected them back anytime.

“No,” I said hoarsely.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 13

Read Chapter 12 here, if you missed it 

Telling my sons was not easy. Shiva looked dazed and Amit… Oh my poor boy! He couldn’t speak. I felt miserable as I watched them struggle with the news. “How, what? What are you saying?” Amit asked.

“I know it is not easy for you, Amit, Shiv…”

“It is our age to have girlfriends, not yours to have a boyfriend!” Shiv burst out, leaving me baffled. “You have us! Aren’t we enough?” he asked and started crying.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 12

Read Chapter 11, if you haven't yet

Dobie was snoozing. He barely opened his eyes when we entered, and went back to his beauty nap.

I cleaned his dish and put some fresh food in it. Gautam joined me in the kitchen and I started making coffee without asking. He placed the cups on the counter and added sugar. I brewed coffee. The silence hung between us. I was immensely disappointed at this transformed man, and uncomfortable when I caught him staring at me.

Finally, I turned to face him, though uncertainly.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 11

(Click here for Chapter 10)

“Who is he, ma?” Amit asked when Shiv, he and I sat down for dinner that night.

I knew who he meant, of course, but I stalled. “Who?”

“Gautam, the man who was here this morning…”

“Who was here this morning?” Shiv asked, not taking his eyes off his phone.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dobie and Me - Chapter 10

Read Chapter 9 here

The house seemed fuller, and emptier, when my sons visited me. There was much noise when they were around, much laughter, teasing and fights. Much love.

And then, when they went off to meet their friends, I felt the silence pressing against me.

Their timings were uncertain, as usual, putting me in a bind. I had to accept that they were adults and had to have a life of their own. I tried to resume mine, but a sort of lethargy set in and I stayed in the limbo – neither able to work nor meet friends, nor enjoy the holidays completely.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 9

Read Chapter 8

When I met him a month later, he laughed on hearing of my exploits. “Is that your idea of life?” he asked snidely. “Ok, for the first month it is okay… Let’s see how you fare the coming month…”

“What do you want from me!” I asked exasperated. “You mocked me for not going to a movie or shopping! And now that I tell you I did, you still mock me!”

“Me? It is not what I want from you! It is what you want from you, from your life!” He leaned forward. “Tell me, did you enjoy yourself?”

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 8


The carefree college days, where all that mattered was bunking classes, the hours spent in canteen, going to movies, shopping… Shankar and I drifted close. Soon we drifted away from others, I a shadow of him, he leading me to new worlds.

One world he led me into was that of college elections. He campaigned for Pratyush, our senior. We were sophomores and Pratyush was doing his first year post graduation. Pratyush and I rarely spoke to each other, except when he wanted to give me some instruction. But he never failed to greet me, even after he won the elections and became the president. Shankar, though, became Pratyush’s understudy and spent much time with the ‘men in power’. I complained, but it fell on deaf ears.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Joyous Journey

Life is not a bed of roses
Thorns often poke their noses
Petals wither, thorns dry up
Fragrance dissipates, but we never give up
Some laughter, some tears
A bit of anger, sometimes fears
Holding hands, walking our separate ways
We have moved forward despite the sways
Is this the first or maybe the second?
Fifth, could even be the seventh.
How many births, we know not for sureBut let the love flow forever pure.
In this one life with each other
Let’s live with wisdom together
Let’s share wonderful hours
Let there be joy around us.

On our 16th Wedding Anniversary, Jan 27, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 7

Read Chapter 6 here

A heavy silence hung between us. He caressed Dobie, who rubbed himself against Gautam’s leg. Realising how affected he was despite the years that had lapsed, I got up on the pretext of making some more coffee, giving him time to recover his composure.

When I returned with two cups, he still seemed to be lost in his past.

“How is your mother now?”

“Well, she has her days. Is under treatment… but it will worsen…” he shrugged. After a brief pause, he looked up at me and said, “Never hurt your parents, Mahek. You can never live in peace after that. I wish I had been more sensitive and paid more attention. But I made the mistake of thinking it was the usual mother-in-law daughter-in-law problem. I was ashamed of my mother!” He lowered his and covered his eyes with his hand.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dobie and Me - Chapter 6

Click here for Chapter 5


The service guys took a couple of days to get the car cleaned, and at a hefty cost. I offered to share a part of the payment at least, but Gautam wouldn’t hear of it, thankfully. With Dobie’s treatment and two sons in college, it wasn’t easy though I was not hard up.

Gautam dropped in once in a while to see Dobie, and normally stayed back for breakfast – if he came before leaving for work - or had dinner if he came after work. We mostly discussed books – I had a big shelf with books - and travel. But I also gathered that he was divorced, he was in his early forties, he liked to travel but couldn’t because his mother was unwell.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 5

Read Chapter 4 here 

The day saw me busy cancelling all my plans for the next few days. I didn’t think I could enjoy when Dobie looked so miserable. A few friends who also loved Dobie dropped in and cheered him immensely. And me, of course. It hurt, I could see that. And he moaned a bit. It was with great difficulty he had even liquids. His face between his paws, he was a picture of misery. Oh my poor baby!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Some Old and New Memories


It was with great apprehension we planned a trip to Delhi and neighbouring cities. Having got used to the hot, hotter and hottest weather of Chennai, having not enough warm clothes even to face the colder temperature, we debated hotly on the need to make the trip. But two school reunions seemed compelling enough to take the risk.

Reunions
Had I continued to live in Delhi, studied in the same school till the end, would I have felt the same way as I did now, about meeting my friends from '86?

I don't know and this line of thought has to be abandoned as speculation that cannot be proved
conclusively. I did leave the first school I studied in half way, and I was immensely thrilled to be reconnecting with my old friends - and even those I had never met in school for they joined later, or our paths seldom crossed even when they were there.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Dobie and Me: Chapter 4

(Read Chapter 3 here)

I was ready and waiting by nine. I didn’t have Gautam’s number or else I would have told him to meet me at the clinic, or not bother to come at all.

I was glad I did not have his number for that very reason.  
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