Monday, December 17, 2007

God of Small Things

The small matchbox-like house was dimly lit. The aroma of agarbathi intoxicated the entire house. She was lying on the bed wearing a nightgown and reading a tamil novel. As soon as she heard the door bell, she knew it was him. Carefully, yet swiftly, she got to her heels, peeped through the nearby window to ensure that it was indeed him and then went over to open the door. Gopi smiled at her, enquired about her health and headed straight to the bathroom. By the time he walked out of his shower, she heated idlis for dinner and had them ready in his plate. They quickly had dinner and retired to bed. They narrated to each other about their day’s chores.

When they were in bed, she noticed him holding his head in pain. She silently got up once again, picked up the pain balm and gently massaged his forehead. His reflexes weren’t too quick that night. He was too tired.

He gently held her arms and said, “I’m ok. Don’t stress yourself. Come. Let’s sleep.”

With his hand tenderly clutching hers, she continued to massage his head and said, “I have been sitting at home all day, doing nothing. You are the one who been busy all day. You need to relax.”

He opened his weary eyes, put his hand on her stomach and spoke softly, “That’s nothing compared to what you have been bearing in your stomach for the past 9 months. I can’t wait to see who you have hidden in there.”

She pinched his cheeks naughtily and rested her head on his chest. He was drawn into a slumber feeling the warmth of her blush on his hairy chest.

P.S.: A fresh, cute and tiny new addition in our family! My cousin is a proud father of a girl! And yes! Me the proud aunt! :D

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two for Joy

HIM: Sorry I’m late!

HER: I’m tired of listening to this everyday.

HIM: From next time, I’ll say it with a glass of glucose drink for you. Oki? :D

HER: Thu! The look that the others in the bus give us when we get in. Damn!

HIM: Oh! That is a “made-for-each-other”envy look honey! :D

HER: I so believe you! You know how disgusting it is to ask the bus driver to wait for you?

HIM: It’s because YOU say it that he waits darling. If I tell him the same thing, he won’t give a damn. L

HER: Crap! He’s a nice driver. You better get him some sweets for New Year this time.

HIM: Are you asking me to flirt with him? Anyways, if anything remains in my pocket after your weekend shopping and I manage to watch at least one movie of my preference, I’ll probably think about it. :D

HER: You mean to say, your pocket is developing holes bcoz of me. In that case, I’ll go shopping with Janani.

HIM: Oh! Really? Then take me also with you sweetie. Pleassseeee!

HER: Arggghh! When are you ever going to mend your thoughts? You are no more single. Got it?

HIM: Yeah! No more single, ready to mingle. Only double, getting ready for trouble. :P

HER: Oki enough of your early morning punch lines. Btw, what reason have you cooked up for coming late today?

HIM: Oh! Appa gave me some bank work on the way and amma asked me to pay the electricity bill.

HER: Why don’t you wake up early if you know you have to get these done?

HIM: That’s because I don’t have my beautiful wife to wake me up and give me bed coffee. :D

HER: Oh! Is that some kind of a hint? Don’t you even dream about it. You know what all responsibilities I’ll have after getting married.

HIM: I’ll tell you something. Keep it a secret oki? (whispers) In spite of all that, you still won’t give up that gossip every night with Janani. :P

HER: (angry) Yeah, its just like the Saturday evening cricket match on the streets which you refuse to give up.

HIM: It keeps me fit sweetheart. A smart wife needs a smart husband, doesn’t she?

HER: I know you play in the streets to show off to that pathetic girl in the opposite flat.

HIM: Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you. This morning, I saw her wearing this green salwar. Wow! You should have seen that.

HER: (glares at him) So, that’s the real reason why you were late today huh?

HIM: No no. Listen. I was wondering how gorgeous you would be if you wore the same salwar.

HER: Ohoo! So you noticed her dress and you didn’t bother to comment on the dress I am wearing today.

HIM: Oi Cindrella! You are the most beautiful woman in this world. I can tell this any time of the day.

HER: Well, tell these exact words in front of your mom and I’ll prove to the world how no man can love a woman like you do.

HIM: Nobody can love you the way I do honey. Anyway, that’s a bad game. Don’t pull my mom into this sweetheart.

HER: Poda Mummy boy.

HIM: Oki oki. Why is our conversation always getting into some vicious circle of me vs you.

HER: That’s because you and I fell in love during an inter college debate competition.

HIM: Hehe! Oki oki! Quick, look outside. (points his hand outside the window up into the sky)

HER: (looks out) What’s it?

HIM: See see. You are so hot, the sun itself has hidden behind the clouds.

HER: (knocks him on his head) Nonsense!

HIM:Hehe! One small request honey.

HER :What now?

HIM :Whenever you scold me, can you just do it with a smile so that the others think you are only cajoling me?

HER: (smiles) Get used to it! :P

P.S.: Dedicated to Nandoo and Sat who turn Man and Wife on 13th December, 2007. You guys make such a lovely couple! Can't wait to hear you guys whisper "Finally!" at the wake of tomorrow. God bless you two! :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.


Will you two make it fast? It’s getting late and it’s going to get crowded.” Hariharan shouted from outside the wooden door of his bedroom.

He had been waiting in the hall for almost an hour now, switching channels one after another. From BBC to CNN to Animal Planet to Cartoon Network to Sun TV. Whenever he happened to pause at Sun TV, two female voices would emerge from the adjacent room asking him to pause so that they could at least listen to the dialogues or the song. Damn! Nothing had the power to disinterest him as much as listening to cinema stars giving an interview in their palatial homes, hugging their dog throughout the show. He was a movie freak himself, but his interest in cinema lasted nothing more than those 3 hours at the theatre. He found it funny to explore the personal life of the stars. It’s a celebrity thing; he finally told himself.

He heard giggles from the neighbouring room and went closer, leaning his ears on the door.

Shuuuusshhh! He’l be listening to us through the door.” One voice spoke out.

He knew it was her. She always seemed to know what he was upto. He wondered if his male aura was powerful enough to send waves of information about him to her. She was an expert at guessing everything that went on in his mind, right under his nose. Was it serendipity? No. It was like shoplifting. He had always blamed her for stealing a part of his mind along with his heart.

The ladies he fed in his house were nothing short of a notorious pair of females who gave him all the trouble in the world and tested his patience much more than his manager did. They would tease him whenever he spoke to his mom over the phone, as if he were a cry-baby crying to see his mother. The three of them would physically fight over the tv remote - the two ladies pulling it from one side and he, the solitary fighter at the other end who would always give up.

His life at home seemed like living in some kind of a battlefield, only that he was fighting against the two best ladies of his life and he enjoyed it. As much as he whined about all their pranks, he loved it. He loved the laughter that vibrated all around him, the mischief that stood an epitome of liveliness and the happiness that made the four walls of this house a home.

I’l wait outside. If you two don’t make it in the next 10 minutes, I’m leaving you behind.” He threatened.

He knew those words would hardly get past the door. They giggled once again. Whenever they did this to him, he felt like venting all his anger at them when they got out of the room. But he had never succeeded in that mission till date and he knew very well, that he wouldn’t win it this time as well. Pitying himself, he walked out of the house to dust his car.

One of the chores he never gave up, even after rising up the ladder in his professional and personal front was dusting and washing his car. He seemed to enjoy the whole process of cleaning up his car. It was like taking care of a kid. Driving a neat sparkling car was so much of a relaxation for him.

After what seemed like 15 minutes, while he was bending down to dust the headlights, a tiny finger knocked him on his shoulder. He recognized the touch and forced himself from turning around. He was making a pathetic attempt at feigning anger. He was in fact grinning, looking at the headlights which were now crystal clear and reflected a cute image of the girl behind him. Suddenly the small hands held his and pulled him right towards them. He turned around only to be face-to-face with the angel of his life.

His 5-year old daughter stood in front of him, holding her mother’s hand in one and her long skirt in the other. She was wearing a blue silk skirt and blouse that her grandma had gifted her for diwali. Half a dozen blue bangles jingled in each of her thin hands. A tiny bhindi shone in the middle of her thick black eyebrows. A neat line of kaajal accentuated her big, round beautiful eyes. Tiny gold earrings dropped from her ears and a pearl pendant adorned her neck. What stood out most were the two ponytails that stuck out from the top of her head, each of them held with a blue rubber band. From one of the ponytails hung a string of jasmine flowers that came all the way down to her eyes.

He kissed her on her tender cheeks and lifted her up in his arms. “So, this is what took my two-horned devil so much time to dress up huh?” He said, winking naughtily at the little girl.

His wife stood beside him waiting to be noticed in the new sari.

P.S.: Happy Diwali :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tere Bina

He sat alone in the middle of a crowded dim-lit dhabha – the dhabha to which Rajeev and Sanjana usually sneaked out from home. He felt lonely in spite of the presence of so many people. Sometimes, life seems all about a few people, the absence of whom makes us feel as if the whole world were depopulated.

A waiter placed the menu card on Rajeev’s table and stood by his side. Without much interest, he flipped through the booklet sized menu card. He saw all their favourite dishes listed one after another – the ones she monotonously ordered whenever he took her out to a hotel. He missed her even more.

Finally, he realized that the waiter was becoming impatient. Probably he was thinking that his customer was an illiterate. If Rajeev took another minute to place his order, the waiter might probably start listing out all that’s there in the menu card like a nursery kid enthusiastically singing her newly learnt rhymes as if she were the only one who could recite those lines with such perfection.

“One masala dosai and one filter coffee.” He said at last.

The waiter vanished even before Rajeev opened his mouth to ask for a glass of water. Had she been there, it would have been a Chola poori or Kotthu parota or Kaima idli with Masala tea. The cleaner would have a tough time cleaning up their table that would be laden with atleast half a dozen plates. He didn’t feel like having any of these without the poor girl who was skimming through each of her meals as if it were her duty. She was merely surviving on a diet that most often consisted of a calorie-conscious vegetarian burger and a big mug of fat-free milk. He sighed.

After having had his rather mediocre meal, he stood in the queue to make his payment. There was a small rectangular slate precariously leaning on what seemed like a flower vase. On the slate was written – “Today’s special – Chola Poori”

His lips curled into a sarcastic smile. Rajeev felt happy that he had sacrificed it for his sister. Eating that Chola poori wouldn’t have given him half that happiness.

P.S. 1: Mild ice puttings for my cousins. Dun’t mind oki. :D

P.S. 2: Save some crackers for me boys. :D

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To where I belong

She lay curled on the bed, her eyes half open. She could smell the amritanjan on her forehead still lingering around her. It was quite early in the morning, a time even before dawn itself was awake. The window curtains were drawn apart and the beautiful white crescent shone on the dark black blanket of sky. A few stars twinkled, trying to outshine one another.

Her throat was parched. Looking for the flask of warm water kept by her bedside, she made an attempt to raise herself from bed. Her knees and elbows let out a crackle powerful enough for anyone to expect her entire skeleton to collapse. She pulled her eyelids tight together and twitched her face in pain. Slowly turning to one side, she lifted herself with both hands on the bed – a mighty effort on her part. The nerves running along her neck became more prominent as she gulped down the warm water in thirst.

She took the bead chain that lay beside her pillow and began to run them one-by-one between her index finger and thumb. Mumbling something as she did so, she kept staring at the sky as if expecting one of the stars to drop right beside her. Maybe not the star that was twinkling so far up in the sky, but the star of her life – Sanjeev.

It was now a little more than 2 years since he was gone – flown across oceans to complete a master’s degree that would earn him more reputation than it would if he had done the same course in his home country. He might never come back again she thought, or at least that’s what her neighbour’s gossiped. They said that he would settle there, earn in dollars, get married and raise kids who would speak their own mother tongue with an accent. It was all too hard to digest.

He had called her up a week ago only to whine about her how much he missed her during his graduation ceremony. Not having received any more calls since that one, she was puzzled. She comforted herself to the fact that he was probably busy and began to recollect the lovely moments she had had with him. Bedtime epic stories. Granny’s fast math techniques. Forced mridangam class. A bowl full of curd rice with homemade mango pickle. Chill sweet water from mud pot. Street games with pebbles. Plucking flowers from the garden for everyday puja.

Memory seemed like a funny thing, especially when it reflected a timeline of events in as short as few minutes, giving her the feeling that her 60-year old life had just whizzed past. She opened her eyes and looked out of the window once again. An aeroplane hovering in sight disturbed her silent journey of her own past. Cursing the loud noise, she got back to chanting.

Little did she know who was waiting to jump out of that flight and surprise her.

P.S.1: Miss paati, especially during a festive time such as Navrathri. Can't believe this is my third year sans celebrating navrathri, ganesh puja and diwali! Damn! :(

P.S.2: Missing amma's sundal is another :P

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Wait

A few minutes after his phone call, she sat at the corner of her bed fighting the tears in her eyes and the lump in her parched throat. With shivering hands, she began her letter.

That’s the last thing I wanted to hear. That’s the last thing I wanted to imagine happening to us. It wasn’t a very tight rope that I was clinging onto. It took Herculean effort on my part not to have expectations. I feigned that I was merely hoping that it would happen as soon as you promised. I admit.

Wasn’t it you who said that ‘if something has to happen, then the whole world would conspire.’ Now, it’s the same damn world that is conspiring against those small dreams which we secretly dreamt. Why should God who brought two souls together, enjoy the forlorn show of watching them shed tears as they long for each other from two parts of the world?

If this separation is the price I need to pay to be with you, so shall it be. For, sometimes, it’s all about giving up something you really want now for something you want for your entire life.

The last time you left me with your words of assurance that you would be back as soon as possible, I knew how much you meant it. I still know how hard you are struggling to make it. This is just to let you know that I’m with you through this rough patch.

Today, when that little hope we were hanging onto came trashing down, you so casually ask me if I would wait for you, very well knowing the obvious reply you would hear from me. If hearing it from me all over again makes you feel better, here I repeat myself,

“If not for you, the wait wouldn’t be any worth.”

Without wax,


As she was folding the letter, a restless drop of tear inevitably fell upon the white sheet; blotting into a bigger dot and making the word ‘hope’ appear wriggly. She rewrote the word, folded the letter and mechanically scribbled his address on the envelope.

This is just the beginning…” she thought, as she was making her way back from the post office, “The beginning of our struggle to be together, forever.

P.S. 1: Loved the use of the phrase ‘without wax’ in Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. Been waiting to use it in somewhere.

P. S. 2: Btw, it means – Sincerely (derived from the Spanish word – sin cera).

Thursday, September 20, 2007



Today was yet another hot day. Nonetheless, an eventful Friday it has been.

I was waiting outside the school gate, trying to spot my little daughter in the sea of excited kids. During the last 15 minutes of her final period, she would frequently look out of her classroom window to check if I am waiting outside to pick her up. Tears would well up in her eyes, if I fail to make my presence before the last bell rings.

Finally, I saw her waving out as she ran up to me. She was just as neat and fresh as she was when I dressed her up in the morning – a few fringes falling on her forehead and her ponytail dangling behind her back. A white handkerchief with light pink flowers, neatly folded into a quadrant, hung from the right side of her shirt. A white badge bearing her name, class and section was pinned up on her left. She walked with a lot more energy and enthusiasm than any other Friday usually instilled in her.

Handing over her lunch bag to me, she exclaimed, “Amma!!! Know what? Sharadha miss gave me one extra star for the chart we did yesterday.

Wow! That’s good!” I said, holding her tiny palm with my free hand and making my way out through the swarm of parents, grandparents, maids, autowallas and school kids.

So, are we going to the beach today evening?” She asked, looking up at me and meddling with the bangle on my hand. The dark kajal in her eyes were just beginning to show up beneath her lower eyelids. I simply nodded, trying to draw my attention to the busy road and carefully get across.

She completed her weekend homework well ahead of time, in anxious anticipation of going to the beach, only to be spoilt by Rajeev’s late arrival from office. Time was a quarter past seven. My father-in-law insists that we do not go out to return late in the night. The beach plan had to be dropped.

We can be there for just half an hour and get back. We shall go. Pleasssseee!” She pleaded. Her tone and request was too sweet to be ignored or rejected.

We are not going today Roshni. Its late already and the beach gates close at 7pm.” I lied, with no other choice. I knew it was a funny thing to say. Rajeev was laughing behind my back.

Roshni’s face instantly withered. She has been sitting with the new copy of ‘Gokulam’ that Rajeev got for her on his way back. She’ll be fine when I tell her what I’ve made for dinner today.


While having my late night shower after our return from the beach party, I remembered a strange incident that happened when I was in nursery. I wanted to talk to my mom and find out if she remembered it as well.

As she picked up my call, she started off with her usual, “Where are you?” question as against the general “How are you?” As I went on ranting about the day’s highlights, I told her about the beach party and bang came her autoreply, “So late!!

This was my chance! “Apparently, beaches no longer close as early as 7pm like they used to 16 years ago.” I said sarcastically. Bang! I could imagine her hitting me on my head with her knuckle. We both burst out laughing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Shakespeare in love?

There it was, at last! That which she had been expecting for nearly weeks now. Incessantly had she been taking care of them and here they were, bright and beautiful. Just like a new-born, fresh out of a shower.

The first blossom of the season. The first rose in their small garden.

She gently pressed her nose against its gentle features and let the fragrance flow into the depth of her rather old lungs. She ran her fingers through the perfectly knitted petals of the rose. The morning sun rays blazed between them and shone on her wrinkled palms. She could sense the tender, wet surface brush against the tip of her nose. She felt a drop of dew blot the corner of her lips as she kissed one of the petals.

A man in his late 50’s walked from behind her, his shadow throwing a cool shade upon the old lady and her new found attraction. She slowly turned around to look at him. Her twinkling divine eyes and finely curled lips echoed a zillion unspoken words, which only he could decipher.

He looked at her ardently for a while, establishing a lovely connection with her mesmerizing eyes that were hidden behind a pair of thick, foggy spectacles.

Just then, they heard a voice from their neighbour’s television-

“Her eyes – I was born to look into them and know myself.”

His focus slowly moved down to her rosy lips.

The dialog from the neighbour’s television continued -

“Her lips – the morning rose could wither on the branch if it could feel envy.”

Back in the garden, a beautiful voice emerged from within the effortlessly moving lips, as she whispered in his ears – “Happy Anniversary!”

The voice from the neighbour’s house spoke out in the background –

“Her voice – Deep. Soft. From her twittering lungs. I could banish nightingales in the garden before they interrupt her song.”

Far away, stood a young man, with a video camera, shooting the lovely scene of his grandparents falling in love, all over again! Kodak moment!

P.S.: Inspired by the movie – Shakespeare in Love. Damn good!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who am I?

I gently rubbed the cotton damped with alcohol on his wrinkled upper arm. Straining my weary eyes, I looked for a vein in the already pale arms. Finally managing to locate one vein camouflaged between the distinct lines of wrinkles, I pierced a sterile needle into his skin. Assured that I had got in deep enough, I began to suck blood into the syringe. Together, the old man and I watched the dark, thick blood rise up the syringe. His glucose level figures for the previous week were fresh in my memory – 150 for fasting and a whopping 310 after a meal. His blood viscosity was thickening as well. I silently prayed for better results this time. Nurses have a soft side that is often overwhelmed by their show of resilience.

Giving him a warm assuring smile, I gently drew the needle out, emptied the contents of the syringe into a labeled test tube. I passed it over to the lab on my way to the maternity section in our hospital. A 4-day infant suffering from jaundice lay half-naked in the phototherapy incubator, the UV light making its yellow skin even brighter. The kid’s forlorn mother tiptoed behind me into the room, waiting for my approval. Medical rules are ones that even an illiterate would seldom fear breaking. She was more than eager to catch a glimpse of the result of her 10-month-long ordeal and breastfeed her kid. I could write stories of the mother’s agony, just by taking a glance at her eyes. They portrayed a desperate craving and anguish of a kind that no egoistic woman would curse another of her breed to suffer.

This wasn’t unusual to me. I waited outside. Once she was done, I guaranteed that her child would be fine and smiled. I had to move on. There was a patient in ward 235 ‘waiting’ to undergo dialysis in the next few minutes. This was going to be her fifth sitting. Another compulsory 3-hour nightmare she was forced to go through by her beloved family. I bet she would have rather wished she had prayed to die a peaceful, painless death instead of praying for her son’s promotion or for an ‘obedient’ daughter-in-law. Just when I completed setting up her dialysis, my senior nurse called for me to report for an emergency labour case.

This has always been one of the most exciting, painful and suspense-filled part of my career. It’s amazing how just a period of few minutes enlightens one to the inevitable truth of nature that life is the most precious gift on earth. I consider it a supreme power - a creation, surpassed only by creation itself. As my heart skipped a beat at the prospect of attending to my 10th labour case of the month, I was stopped by this 12-year old kid who was getting back home after a week-long stay for his acute knee fracture. I stopped in my tracks and gave him a hasty I-have-got-to-rush look.

“I loved the story u told me while plastering my leg yesterday.” He said, giving me a wide naughty grin. I shamelessly reciprocated with a quick smile.

“What do I call u?” He asked me, out-of-the-blue. “Uncle?”

The last glance that I had of his pearly eyes posed the same question that each of one my patients were tempted to ask – whether to call me brother, similar to addressing my female counterparts – sisters.

“Foster Father!” I replied, pecking him on his overgrown hair and sped towards the labour ward.

P.S.: Again, I is not me :D

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Crown

She brushed her jet black hair behind her ears, pulled the longer strands into a tight, high raised pony and stood staring at herself in the mirror. A tiny pimple had erupted just below her lips. She twitched. Splashing cold water onto her face, she looked at her reflection more closely, hoping against hope that the pimple would have disappeared merely by the touch of water. But it sparkled right there, like dew upon a blossomed flower. It could do nothing but further accentuate her fresh morning glow. Innocent of this fact, she silently cursed herself for having eaten that extra bar of chocolate. Wrapped in a light blue towel, she stepped on the weighing machine. The needle pointing at 55.5 refused to come just a few millimeters down to 55. She cursed again, but this time the Cadbury's company. Damn! They make such amazing chocolates.

Heaving a huge sigh of disgust, she leaned on a chair - her face neatly plastered with a pure white scrub that outlined her eyes and thin rosy lips. Each of her sparkling blue eyes was hidden beneath a slice of fresh cucumber. Her perfectly chiseled feet were immersed in a bucket of warm water. As she relaxed herself in the lingering smell of jasmine scented olive oil, her mind brought in front her, pictures from the news last night – beautiful ladies walking elegantly on stage, one amongst whom was crowned Miss World. It was impossible to refute the fact that she craved to catwalk on that stage, representing her country. Bold and beautiful. Sadly though, it wasn't to happen anytime in this lifetime.

Having to bring up a family of two sisters and a widowed mother, she had greater responsibilities to shoulder. Shattering her childhood dreams of becoming a beauty pageant, she went on to study engineering in a government college, amidst half a dozen proposals, each one of which she turned down, followed by campus placement with a leading software company. Sometimes, she felt God was just playing pranks with each one of his creations. His generosities indeed were very thoughtful, but at times, totally unnecessary. Or so she thought. She had everything it took to become what she desired for, yet such a mishap kept her far from her naïve dreams. Choice was a tough thing, especially because each one came with a unique and sometimes even a surprising consequence.

Thinking of dreams, of home, of her mother and her long-gone father, a drop of tear rolled down, leaving a trail on the dry remains of the facial scrub on her cheek. Her skin had become stiff. She removed the cucumber from her eyes and looked at the wall clock. She was late. She had to attend to an on-site call in the next thirty minutes. With no other choice left, she cat walked for her morning shower.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


6th December, 1995

I woke up quite early today. I think I had a dream, but I can't remember it now. Amma was surprised to see me wake up so early. She saw my eyes and said I was tense. Mummies are female magicians I think. Amma made bournvita for me and coffee for herself. I checked my bag once again if I had all that I needed for the evening's show. Appa woke up just then and asked me what I was 'rummaging' in my bag. I didn't understand the word he said. I think it means 'to mess up'. I didn't have time to look for its meaning in the new Oxford dictionary he bought for me. That can wait.

I called up my friend Sita and asked her for the 5th time if she is coming for the show. She promised she will come. But still, I keep asking her again and again. I hope she is not angry with me. I don't think she will be angry. She is a very patient and good girl. Lalitha maam always says this when she meets Sita's mom in the Parents-Teachers meeting. I am very lucky to have Sita as my best friend. Our class Seema is jealous of our friendship I think. I don't like Seema. I didn't invite her for the show tonight.

I called up my paati to check if she left. She was packing. My cousin told me she will leave soon. After this, I practiced once more. My teacher told me to practice in front of the mirror so that I will not be shy. I like my teacher a lot. She gives me homemade chocolates if I do well. I told my teacher to sit next to my mother in the front row. But she said she will be backstage. Even amma will be backstage and help me change my dress. I am feeling nervous. Something is happening in my stomach. My English teacher told me butterflies come in our tummy before we go on stage. The butterflies in my stomach have come very early.

20th April, 2004

It's been a roller coaster ride for the past one week. Adding to the rehearsals for my performance tomorrow, I have been submerged in neck-deep work at my workplace. I am yet to start packing. I guess I have become overconfident over these years. Everytime I pack for my performance, it reminds me of amma. She used to maintain a list of all that I needed for the show. I still have that piece of paper. It's torn off at the ends and looks so brown that I could complete packing by the time I decipher what's written on it. My mom has been insisting that I print out a copy, but I am either too proficient with the list or too lazy to do it. I guess it's more the latter than the former.

Over these years I have learnt to cover up for whatever I miss out on packing. When I had forgotten to pack my lipstick for the show last month, I sat chewing strawberry lollipop as I combed my hair. Infact I liked the naturally pink lips rather than the artificially painted glossy ones. Amma doesn't know this. This is one of those delicate secrets that precariously dangles by the tip of my tongue like a small chip of rock on a cliff. She would say I was much more responsible when I did my first arangetram 9 years ago. Now, every performance feels like a completely new experience. As the applause reverberates through the entire auditorium, a tickle runs through my exposed hands and sides of my sweaty hips.

I smile to myself. While one part of my mind appreciates the level of perfection I have attained over these years of dancing, another half goes on a flashback spree pointing out the minute mistakes that I committed during that show and wonders if anyone would have noticed them. It has not been so easy to be someone else and imitate their emotions with accuracy. Sometimes I feel I don't do justice to the role. But, I guess I should get soaked in that character to completely absorb the emotions.

One thing that has remained unchanged for the past 9 years is the fact that I still get butterflies in my tummy, hours before I step onto the stage.

P.S.: The I is not me :D

Friday, July 27, 2007


Among the few places that Sara hated to visit was the hospital. The smell of a clinic's ambience was one of the reasons she decided not to take up medicine. The choices, the risks, the anxiety, the tears and the pain were all too much to take in for a sensitive girl like her. She didn't quite like the idea of working in a place where there always existed a battle between life and death. The worst experience she had had at a hospital was still plain and lucid in her mind.

She was 18 years old then. She was sitting by her grandmother's bedside one evening, when her grandma was struck with cardiac relapse. As doctors and nurses rushed to the old lady's rescue, Sara stood weeping in one corner of the room. Reality struck hard. She felt helpless. While her grandmother's heart beat began to lose velocity, Sara's heart began to throb faster. The irony sucked. Not only did she lose her grandmother that day, but she felt robbed of all her powers. She swore not to enter that hell again.

Today, 5 years later, she was back to the same place. Images of the past came spiraling in front of her eyes. The drug store, the ambulance, the patient ward, the bed, the ICU, the bedpan, the syringe, the face mask – everything reminded her of her grandmother. It felt like torture. Like a silent killer. She was sure she wouldn't have the strength to take it this time. A tiny bead of tear gracefully found its way out of her beautiful eyes. She held the hand of the man lying in bed in front of her and clutched it harder. He slowly took his other hand on to her gentle cheeks. He could feel them hot and moist. He wiped the tears off Sara's cheeks, gently ran his fingers down her face and pulled her towards himself.

Just then, a nurse opened the door and said, "The operation theatre is ready maam. We need to take him in." Lying down in bed, Sanjay said, "Give us a minute." The nurse closed the door behind her and left them alone once again. Sara rested her face on Sanjay's chest and began to weep harder. He kissed her on her forehead and melted his fingers into her long silky hair. As he stroked her hair, Sara asked him, "What is the first thing you want to see when you open your eyes?"

Sanjay said, "Sweetheart! The only colour I have been seeing in these years of darkness is you. Once I see you, I am going to be ashamed of how less beautiful I imagined you to be. You are the most beautiful woman in the world I could see till now. And I am sure you are the most gorgeous woman in the world I am going to see in a few hours. Hold your breath honey. I will be back soon and we can look into each other's eyes."

He paused.

This time a drop of water squeezed its way down his eyes, like a butterfly struggling to find its way out of its cocoon. And then, he continued,"You are the first thing I want to see when I open my eyes darling. Its only you that I want to see." He kissed her once again.

In the next few minutes, Sanjay was pulled into the Laser Eye Operation Theatre and Sara sat in a bench outside, fingers crossed and eyes closed. She was going to be in Sanjay's dark world for a while and was determined to open her eyes, only when Sanjay was ready to see this world for the first time in his life.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I glanced at the clock for the 6th time in the past 5 minutes. Today was one of those unfortunate days of the year when the clock seemed to tick slower than time itself. It seemed to be cheating me. Teasing me painfully. It held me back from forgetting the past, desensitizing my present and escaping my future. I felt frozen in time – flooded with the same spectrum of emotions. Finally, the small needle in the wall clock pointed at 8 and the long needle sluggishly shifted to 6. It was time for his call.

The 8 o' clock news ended and commercials began. My mind had hardly focused on the news today. I shifted uneasily in my seat. I knew I was nervous. I felt ashamed of calling myself a mother of two kids. However hard I tried to constrain my emotions, they seemed to envelop me even more powerfully. I felt clumsy. I hate it when such unpleasant emotions cajole me into their possession. The events of the day had been tormenting me like an innocent kid caught in a room full of smoke. It chocked. It hurt.

I had barely managed to prepare 5 ways of breaking the news, none of which satisfied me. How could I? Whom could I turn to for help? Nicholas Sparks? Rowling? But then again, they might just be capable of synchronizing the right words so that I could spill the truth in the most polished fashion. It was going to hurt anyway. I sat next to the telephone table, nervous. Just then a thought struck me. Maybe I could lie to him, just once.

However, the very thought of deception made me feel guilty. Even before I could prepare myself to bluff, my conscience began to itch. It engulfed me into some kind of an invisible gravity that pulled me from falsehood. I wasn't going to be able to do this, unless my son makes a birthday wish that his mother could tell lies for one whole day. Jim Carrey's Liar Liar was having its due impact on me. As if transporting me back to reality, the phone rang. I identified his number in the caller ID. I picked up the phone after 4 rings.

"Hellooo!!! Hi ma! Dinner over?" He enquired. He sounded happy.

"Yes dear. How about you? How was your day?" I asked, struggling to keep my voice from shaking. I knew I was being pathetic at the attempt.

"Yes ma. Done. Grandma made rotis for dinner." He said cheerfully.

As our conversation began to build up, I seemed to get even worse with my tone. My voice began to drown within the lump that was building up in my throat. Finally, he shot me with the inevitable question.

"So, how is Rocky? Did you take him for his evening stroll?" He asked. Today, these words sounded like gunshot right into my ears. Every time he asks me this question, I know how much he misses our pet. Rocky misses him too.

Rocky has been with us since Ajay was in his 2nd class. Ajay has always loved dogs and wanted a German Shepherd. When given the choice of a cycle or pet, he picked Rocky. Ajay didn't mind walking to school or for his piano lessons. For the past 3 years, Ajay has been taking excellent care of Rocky - taking him out for walks after dinner, playing with him, talking to him first thing when he got back from school, bathing him with the car washing hose pipe every Sunday morning, disciplining him to be a good friendly dog, buying him the best dog biscuits and treating him more like another member of our family. He saved all the money that he got for his birthday and Diwali, borrowed a little from his sister and built a kennel for Rocky. He used to tease his elder sister saying that Rocky barked better than her. It used to turn her wild. One of Rocky's first angry paw mark on Ajay's chest still remains. He says it's the symbol of their togetherness.

Last night, Rocky died of an electric shock from a live wire that had fallen outside his kennel due to the shattering rains. The unusual silence in the morning when the milkman knocked the gate told me something was not quite right. The thundering rains had muted Rocky's squeals of pain. Rocky was gone. The kennel is now empty. Our home is empty. Ajay is going to miss him forever.

After a lengthy, uncomfortable moment of speechlessness, my voice broke. "Oh! Yes, I did. He is good." I lied. I was bad. I knew it.

"I don't hear him barking. Has he gotten back to his kennel already? Its too early for him, isnt't it?" He questioned, like a topnotch lawyer utterly sure that he was going to bag this case in his favour.

I remained quiet. I was fighting a cold war with myself holding myself from spurting out the disastrous news. It would have to be unveiled soon enough. I wanted to postpone it. Maybe I could just hold on and tell Ajay about Rocky once he gets back home for the weekend. But, it was going to hurt as much then, as it would now.

"Amma! What happened? Are u there? Is everything ok?" He shot back. He sounded suspicious.

I bit my lips so hard with my teeth that I was beginning to taste my own salty blood ooze out of the corner of my lips. My tongue refused to come to terms with my mind. I was losing my own battle. My voice ultimately sought refuge in confession. Even before I knew what was happening, I realized that I had blurted out to Ajay about Rocky's ill-fate. Like a pack of cards falling down one after another, emotions came crashing down. I cursed myself. The truth remained that I could not lie to him.

My words were replied with sore silence. I could hear him whimper. I could imagine his warm shiny pearl of tear. I could feel his numbness and then, finally, I heard him scream Rocky's name aloud.

'Rocky cant hear anymore.' I thought.

I wish I were wrong. Rocky could perhaps be barking in angry retreat and maybe only Ajay could hear his friend. Maybe...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The first kiss

The image refused to come into view. His eyes strained themselves to catch sight of what lay beyond the hazy figure.

This was the Kodak moment he had dreamt about all these days. He had got a digicam specially to shoot this very moment. As months turned into days and days into hours and hours into minutes, his anxiety grew by leaps and bounds. Pity he was not there to enjoy it. Probably it was God's way of not letting him witness the terrible pain and suffering that one goes through before this very moment. Suddenly, he felt so incapable of balancing his personal and professional life.

Finally, as the blur image came into perfect focus, he saw it - a half-naked tiny version of himself, draped in a small white piece of cloth. It was a part of him. It was a part of her. It was a part of them. The pink skin, round cheeks flushed with blood, sharp nose like him, brown magical eyes like her, tiny fingers and toes – everything about the baby seemed perfect. Big things did come in small packages. His eyes slowly shifted to his wife. He saw her weary yet cheerful eyes as she held her boy close to her chest. She was now a complete woman. A proud mother of their son.

His baby looked so inviting to be kissed. He could clearly see the veins run through its soft cheeks. He gently touched them and ran his fingers along the outline of its tender cheeks and gently pinched its chin. Just then he realized that he could only touch them. It was impossible to feel them. A few months back, he had felt this naughty kid kick his mom's tummy. But today, he was oceans apart from his kid, staring at a dynamic image of his baby projected from a webcam. As he sat admiring his baby on his computer screen, his mind wondered if he had to thank technology for this innovation or curse it for making him feel so helpless and distant.

Just then, the radio in his room blared with the song, "It's a small world afterall." He felt like slamming a pair of nasty shoes into the singer's mouth and breaking the radio. But right now, he was more desperate to steal a kiss from the sleeping junior.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Start, Camera, Action!

This was not the first time in his life that he felt so nervous. An electric pulse seemed to radiate through his entire body, exactly from his heart. So clear was the epicenter of this excitement, that he could pinpoint its location, take his heart out and show the world how rapidly it was working, trying to cope up with all the tension around. This was the moment he had been waiting for so patiently for the past few months and this was also that very moment that made him tense. He wasn't half as cool today as he was when he was called for a disciplinary meeting with his college principal. The irony remained that, today he was guilty of nothing, yet, it seemed impossible, not to wriggle as he stood in the stage. He had for long wished to direct a movie and authoritatively say, 'Lights! Camera! Action!' Now it was his turn to be on the other side of the lens and under focus. The limelight. Every dog has its day huh?!

"Don't do that. The camera is on us. Don't you realize it?" snapped the girl next to him with a say-cheers-for-the-camera-smile. He looked at her with a tense grin. She was gorgeous. He failed to resist his temptation of taking his eyes off her. Her authentic dress, neat make-up and dazzling jewels seemed to accentuate her beauty. Damn! His eyes had to look elsewhere. Suddenly, he felt a light pinch in his hand. It was his sister. She gave him a sheepish smile and gestured him to look at the camera. He turned back to the camera and forced to show off his trademark smile.

When he was given a very generous break by the camera men to relax for a while, he sat on what seemed like a sofa-morphed-into-throne kind of seat. The girl sat down and gave him that heart-warming smile which had the undeniable power to melt his throbbing heart, any day of the year, and any time of the day. Man! This was dangerous! As he tried hard to wander his gaze through the pool of happy faces, his eyes caught a few friends, his cousins, his nephew, some relatives whom he had probably met when he was in primary class, his neighbours, his colleagues.

Finally, his eyes fixed on a big white board that stood just outside the hall's door. The golden words engraved on it were clearly visible from where he was sitting. It read, "Karthik weds Kavitha". Until this day, he had thought that these boards were just a safety precaution to ensure that you enter the right wedding hall. But now, the very same board seemed to carry so many other deep rooted meanings. A fresh journey. A new zest to live. A reason. Hope. Desire. Togetherness. Love. Eternity. He felt the spearheading gush of exhilaration proliferate through his body once again.

Time was up. He had to stand up to face the camera once again. But this time, he felt much more confident. He gradually seemed to get over his cold feet. He smiled naturally this time. Afterall, this was the day he had been looking forward to and this would be a unique moment of his life which he would cherish forever with the lady who stood by his side. He was the hero of the day. He had to pose like a gentleman; else his kids would make a mockery out of him, if they managed to get hold of his wedding CD.

P.S.1: Dedication to a special person, KK who enters into marital bliss with a beautiful and wonderful woman of his life. Wish you guys a happy, romantic, exciting and everlasting married life.

P.S.2: I missed the wedding fun. Till I hear from the devil's mouth about his wedding stories, I thought I would take my imagination for a ride - at our hero's cost of course! :D

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Morkozhambu to Mozarella - a Voyage

The entire place was dimly lit with a crystal chandelier artistically decorating the ceiling. As he looked around for a place for himself, he saw happy families enjoying a grand dinner, babies seated in high raised chairs, mouth dripping with their soup, a group of businessmen whom he guessed were here directly from office, a gang of good old friends chatting about their college life and young couples occupying the corner seats each of whose faces was neatly outlined by the candle light on their table. A waitress guided him to a table-for-two, offered a menu card and poured water into his glass.

The menu was not so promising for vegetarians like him. The same old words ran through his mind – "Not again." This vacation, he was determined to learn cooking from his mother. With not much choice left, he placed an order for a mozzarella pizza with veggie toppings. As he sat there enjoying the serene landscape outside the window, his mind began to wander beyond the seas.

His memory began to flood him with mind pictures of the roadside dhaba where his friends used to join him for aloo paratha. Pictures of the beachside, boys selling raw mango slices seasoned with chilli powder raced through his mind. The tea shop guy came next. He used to give 2 extra biscuits with the hot masala tea if one paid him 50 paisa extra.

The most interesting of them all was the lip smacking Sunday lunch at home. His mom used to make a sumptuous whole meal from starter to a sweet for dessert. It was one of those rare days in the week when each member of the family got to enjoy their meal chit-chatting with one another. He imagined how he would let the rasam flow through his fingers and lick them. He would fight with his brother over the last piece of spicy cauliflower Manchurian. The thick curd rice topped up with hot mango pickle would be so inviting to the tongue, but the stomach would refuse to take in any more.

His thought flow was interrupted by the waitress who stood with a plate of pizza. She placed the spoon, fork and knife in places-they-ought-to-be, smiled at him and said, "Enjoy your dinner sir!" He smiled back at her in acknowledgment. After a few minutes of struggling, he managed to cut a slice of the pizza with the knife and took it in his mouth with the fork. As he let the cheese melt in his mouth, he looked around at the pool of happy faces. Each one of them had something to enjoy and feel good about.

He put back the fork and knife on the table and pulled the next slice with his naked hands. Now, it tasted a little better.

P.S.: Sorry for being so irregular. My intern project is keeping me really busy. On top of all this, my zebrafish are refusing to give me enough embryos for my experiment. Guess i will have to take flowers for them or play romantic songs! Sigh!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Paandi vs Play Station

Raj pulled a tissue from his bag and wiped away his sweat. He adjusted the airconditioner to its maximum. Though he had managed to leave his office earlier than usual, he had had a tiring day nonetheless. It was such a relief to step into the cool ambience of his car from the scorching heat outside. As his driver maneuvered the car through the thick traffic, Raj opened his office file and began to go through some papers. As the car turned into a signal free street, Raj put back his file into the bag and looked out of the window. Déjà vu.

Dirty knees. No shoes. Brown torn shorts. Matted hair. Parched throats. Red sweaty faces. Fresh air. Mayhem. Excitement.

Some boys were playing on the mud piled in front of a construction site. One guy stood by the corner of the road winding thread around his top and then let it go in a swift snapping fashion. The others around him exclaimed ooh's and aah's. Another young fellow was rolling his cycle tyre with a long stick and seemed to race with the car. Few girls, threw stones and were hopping on some sort of a matrix* neatly drawn with a piece of brick. They quickly ushered one another to the side of the road as they saw the car coming.

Suddenly, Raj jolted in his seat as his driver honked the car loud. His driver was desperately trying to overtake an overloaded autorickshaw carrying school children. The automan literally stood on the pedal trying to move his rickshaw forward. Raj was stung with anger at his driver, but simply gestured him to stop honking and wait until he got enough space to get past the slow vehicle. When he finally reached home, Raj for a moment thought he had either entered a battlefield or an INOX theatre playing a war movie. He was wrong. It was his 10 year old son, seated by the edge of the chair and ever so sincerely engrossed in his Play Station. His son was too absorbed in the game to even notice his father. Raj felt a lump in his throat and a surge of guilt. Raj slid his hand onto a game CD in his bag, a gift from one of his colleagues for his son's 10th birthday. He wished it had been a top. Raj pushed the CD back into the bag. No. Not this time.

He told himself, 'Never underestimate the power of denial.'

* That's the best I could describe the street game 'Paandi'. I loved playing it! :D

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Love Actually

The morning sun shone as bright as it ever did in the city of Chennai, especially considering it was the month of May. The rays pierced through the window like bright needles from the blue. It was not just another day, definitely not. This day, 22 memorable years ago, she entered into marital bliss with a person she had not spoken a word to and had looked at for an embarrassing 3 seconds. Strange was the way how certain life-changing decisions took shape - paying little importance and consideration to the opinion of the person concerned. But trust and hope was all that was needed then.

Twenty two years had now passed. She lay on the bed beside the man of her life and asked herself, “Has anything that you have done made your life better?” She looked at the person beside her and simply smiled - the answer was right here. In fact, she corrected herself, “He is the best thing that has ever happened in my life.” She recollected some of their best and worst times together. She realized how ultimately, they had managed to pass the test of a true relationship – to disagree but to hold hands, always.

Feeling wonderful and special, she finally pulled herself out of bed, careful enough not to disturb him from his deep slumber. She enjoyed her warm shower to its very last drop. Draped in a light green sari, her wet hair tied up inside a towel, she began her usual chores of the day. She lit the lamp in the puja room and placed the kumkum in the middle of her forehead. Among the many things that she could do perfectly, this was one. Every time and anytime of the day, she could keep kumkum in the middle of her forehead in a prefect circle - and most importantly, without looking at the mirror.

She walked into the kitchen, chanting slokas and began making coffee. Within a few minutes, she heard sounds from her bedroom and knew that her man was up. The irony remained that in all these years, he most often awoke to the intoxicating smell of filter coffee, rather than the annoying whistle of the cooker! She grinned to herself and began cutting vegetables for the day’s lunch. As she was on with her work, she realized how beautifully and interestingly their lives had intertwined into one another. This reminded her of a quote, “An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” She badly wished the author of this quote would walk down to their home so that she could prove his words wrong.

Continuing with her work, she acted as though she hadn’t noticed her husband behind her back He came up from behind and whispered something that she had least expected him to say that morning. He breathed into her ears, “En coffee enga di?” (Where is my coffee?) Fighting her emotions for having to face such a dramatic beginning to the eventful day, she pointed to the dining table. Just then, something managed to catch her eye and she looked back towards the dining table. Standing there was their daughter. In her hand was a bouquet of red roses and a bunch of balloons. Handing over these to her mother, the girl wished them a Happy Wedding Anniversary.

The beautiful woman looked up at her husband and blushed. Spontaneously, he embraced her into a warm hug and winked at his daughter from behind. His daughter smiled back at him and gestured a thumbs up. She left them to themselves in the kitchen and walked back into her room. For the first time in her life, she realized ‘What an amazing feeling it is to discover that you know another person as good as you know yourself… and sometimes even better.’ Her parents proved the best example.

P.S.1: My parents celebrate their Wedding Anniversary on 22nd May. Just thought of dedicating this post for them.

P.S.2: It was quite ironic that everyone (except me!) seemed to celebrate the fact of me turning a year older! My heartiest thanks to all those who dedicated posts for my birthday and wished me. Special thanks to those awesome gifts that surprised me. Thanks a ton guys! It means a lot to me. Huuugggzzz!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Of Chocolates and Cocktails

Siddharth finally got through security, called up his parents from the free phone and bid them a final goodbye, assuring them that he would give them a ring once he landed in his destination. As he cut the call, he felt a heavy lump build up in his throat. However hard he tried, he couldn't erase the image of the tear beaded eyes of his mother. But now, there was no turning back. It was the first time in his life that he felt sick about doing what he had so badly hoped and wished for.

At last, the boarding call was announced. He took a deep breath as if this were his last chance to breathe the air of his homeland. Nervously, settling in his aisle seat, he fastened his seat belt. He finally realized what it felt like to have butterflies in one's stomach. He remembered mocking at his class girls when they told him about how they felt butterflies in their tummy before an exam. Well, till now he had believed that for all the junk food that he ate; his stomach was only home to a family of diverse microbes. But now, he was happy to find out that there was also a mini garden deep within him that attracted butterflies! Gosh! He felt funny that his mind was capable of coming up with such strange ideas even during the most nervous of situations!

A few minutes before the flight was ready for take off, an airhostess came to him with a tray of chocolates and with her usual i-love-an-overdose-of-lipstick-smile asked, "Toffees for you sir?". He smiled at her, picked up one toffee and said thanks. While he was unwrapping the chocolate, his mind flashed scenes of his first flying experience. It was one of the most adventurous incidents in his life. He was traveling all alone with his younger brother. Siddharth had always been proud to give the "big-brother" image and this first aeroplane travel opportunity, all alone with his younger brother, seemed to rest upon him lots more responsibility and pride.

Naughty boys as they were when young, Siddharth's parents made sure that their mischief be kept within the four walls of their home, which most often went in vain. When outside home, their parents would adopt sign language to warn or instruct the guys. One particularly interesting sign language was how their mom would look at them and speak with her eyes whenever they went to a friend's house. If the aunty in that house offered them anything to eat, the first thing that the guys would do would be to look at their mom and wait for her signal to take the offerings. That apart, their hands would already be digging into the plate of snacks. It made no big difference actually.

When that day they were all by themselves on their first flight, the airhostess came up to them with a tray full of chocolates. Having gotten too used to looking for their mother's approval before accepting any offer of food, the younger one looked puzzled and stared at Siddharth. It was not the first time that Siddharth felt a burden of responsibility to guide his brother, but it was definitely the first time he realized the depth of regard that the young one had for him. That innocent sparkle in his brother's eyes was the most beautiful thing he had seen for years. Smiling at the young one, Siddharth gave his consent and they each took one. The airhostess gave out a short laugh and said, "Is that all boys? You can take as much as you want!" All excited about the new found liberty, the two guys grabbed as many toffees as their two little palms could hold.

Spinning back to the present, Siddharth realized that the plane had already taken off and they were now flying at a decent altitude. The airhostess walked to his seat with her drinks cart and asked him to choose his drink. He simply said, “Bloody Mary” and smiled at himself.

P.S.: Sorry for posting at really bad intervals. Have been held up with exams and my intern. And yeah, been wanting to tell u guys one great news! My blog won the "Best Blog of the Day Award" on 29th of April. A BIG thanks to all of you who have been patiently reading my random ramblings! Huuugggzzzz!