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!