Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Chained...

There are some days
When I stare-
At those tall mighty walls
Of the prison
And wonder
About the meanings of the weird images
Painted on them by someone
Even after they escape my eyes
And the gaze of my cab's
Rear view mirror.

I think about those brick walls built by years of persistence-
And the mechanism of seized freedom of movement.

The instincts of parallelism stealthily creep within me-
And cover me with an invisible cloak;
Revealing those pointed knives that encircle everyone around me;
Unveiling the strings of restraint, that bind and blind the perceptions of my brethren.

Bewildered at their intensity;
I startle at the sharp boundaries that shrewdly chain the locomotion-
Of some within giant cemented structures;
And the rest within tangled shackles of resistance.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#30

Chapter 30
"Once upon a time,
The angels in paradise
Sat perplexed,
Baffled at an improper confluence.
As they stood puzzled at the dilemma,
Their Head ordered; "Abandon!"
And before the disciples could erase the blunder-
A mischievous rationalist cheated on the game.
And they abandoned,
Not the sinners
But the outcome.
But then, two divine stars descended on to the Earth,
Brought home the sinful stranger
And immersed him in an incessant rain of love;
Striving together in pursuit of a beautiful metamorphosis;
Of an orphaned soul,
That emerged out of
Quandaries in Heaven."
Sundar and Meena listened, spellbound, their eyes moist with tears of pride.
Amidst the thunderous applause of the crowd, the master of the ceremony announced.
"Now I call upon Mrs. Meena Sundar, to officially unleash the cover page of Prof. Shyam Manohar's book, "Quandaries in Heaven and to officially purchase the first copy."
A nervous Meena proceeded to the dias, and with trembling hands, asked for the mike.
"Congratulations Shyam, on your achievement. Words fall short, as I try to express my happiness. You have made us proud." She continued with a choked voice, as her gasps echoed through the microphone, "I personally feel there's a suitable person who should receive the first copy of Shyam's book and that person is definitely not me."
She gestured with her hands to someone and called out...
"Come..."
A cute little girl trotted on to the stage, with confused steps.
"Shyam's daughter.", Meena introduced the child, her eyes beaming with affection and happiness.
The compere knelt down and asked,
"Dear...What's your name?"
"Swapna..."
"And do you know what it means?"
"Yes...One who dares to dream."
The End.


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#29

Chapter 29
Sundar and Meena.
"IN."
The door plate of their Cochin flat read.
Meena tore off the previous strip from the wall calendar.
It read 14th April, 2030.
Sundar was about to enjoy his retired life this year.
Meena's hair had shades of grey, interspersed in black, with a combination that echoed of the life's wheel philosophy of thick and thin.
On the wall, there hung a portrait of Sundar's mother, who died with her unfulfilled desire of cuddling a grandchild who would bequeath her lineage and ancestral blood. But, towards the evening of her life, she had started slowly coming into terms with their ideals.
"Meena! Did you see my cupboard keys? Where do you keep these ? Oh God...Am fed up..."
"Wait. I'm coming..."
Meena was busy making final touches to the kolam on the portico of the flat, which disguised as a courtyard on auspicious occasions. She perfectly sharpened the edges of the symmetrical patterns with the expertise of a skilled artist. Her yellow silk saree with maroon zari border blended  with the colour of the laburnums that emitted their bright yellow shades from the balcony, marking the onset of Vishu, the season of happiness and prosperity.
Meena went inside. As she passed through the verandah, a looking glass that was adorned with a golden necklace mirrored her reflection. In front of it, was a golden basin, neatly assorted with different kinds of fruits, vegetables, pulses filled in coconut shells, flowers, currency notes and coins, all emitting a sense of freshness.
Meena searched in her drawer, pulled out the keys, and told Sundar.
"See...Here it is..."
Sundar walked towards Meena to get the keys. But now, his footsteps had slowed down and his physique was no more the sturdy one as it used to be. He wore a pure white kurtha, and looked very serene and calm, as always, comfortable with his usual self. His spectacles gave him a more intellectual look.
As Meena stretched out her hands to give him the keys, Sundar looked at her face.
It was shining bright in spite of the imperfections on the skin. The kumkum on her forehead and the jasmine strings on her hair made her look like a goddess, at least for his eyes. Sundar smiled and she smiled back understandingly.
"When are we starting?"
(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#28

Chapter 28
After two days, Sundar was shifted to the ward. Slowly, he started taking little steps with Meena's help and tried hard to restore his stronger self.
Shyam had taken care of the insurance claims and the car repairs work. Ahmed's presence proved to be a real boon. Meena was sewing back the torn pieces of herself with great effort. She had informed her parents and mother in law about the mishap, though in a very diluted way and reassured them that everything is fine.
She was cutting some fruits to give Sundar, when her phone rang.
"Yes. Nita."
"How are you? What did the doctor say?"
"He is waiting for the scan report to come. He does provide hope that things are falling back to place."
"Did you ask him about the idea of shifting him to a hospital here? How long can you manage there alone?"
"Yeah. He suggests waiting for few more days till he could confirm the travel option. Anyway, Shyam and his friends are here. "
"Meena...Please don't hesitate to call me if you require anything. Then, as you suggested I went to PNB today and closed that FD of yours and transferred the amount to your savings account."
"Who was on the counter? Did she ask anything?"
"No..That Subha madam was there. I told her Sundar is hospitalised. She seemed very concerned. She quickly did it for me."
"Mm..."
"Did you have something?"
"Yeah.."
"What did you have?"
"Err...idly and sambhar.."
"Shut up. Go and have something. If you can't make up a perfect lie, why do you even attempt it?"
Meena smiled..
"Okay bye..."
"Bye...Take care...And go and eat something for God's sake!"
Meena looked at Sundar. He was sleeping. His stubbled face looked fatigued.
She kept aside the little bowl of fruits and came out of the room. She lazed around the ward, that smelled of sickness and complaints and wails and medicines.
Shyam and Ahmed were coming back from the hospital office room, located in the opposite block.
"Hi. Meena. The insurance claim process is almost through. A little more paper work to be done." Shyam remarked.
Meena nodded.
"Shyam!I shall get these papers photocopied and come. Do you want anything from the store?" Ahmed asked.
"No..."
Meena was continuing her stroll on the verandah. Shyam peeped into the room, made sure Sundar was comfortable and asleep. He reconfirmed the presence of duty staff in the opposite nurses' station and followed Meena.
"Meena! Meena!"
She turned back.
"Wait. I'm coming."
She waited.
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you. It's something serious."
"Mm...Tell me."
"Meena...Actually...I don't know how to tell you this...I know how much you have done for me. But the thing is..."
Meena raised her eyebrows..."Yes. Tell me.."
"No... Nothing...It's some crazy idea. Okay. Leave it."
"Mm... alright then..." Meena replied and started walking forward.
Shyam expected her to press him further to reveal what he was trying to say. But she seemed to be least interested.
Shyam felt disappointed. He stood there and looked outside the dusty window. There was a pond covered with weeds. He instantly drew a parallel to his crooked mind. He felt worthless and was on the verge of hating himself, when someone touched his shoulder.
"I forgot to tell you one thing, Shyam."
"Yes, Meena."
"I have asked Amma to get someone to clean up your room. We'll remove the unwanted stuff and revamp it a bit. In fact, our Cochin flat's ambience is not that bad right?"
Meena hid a silent smile as Shyam's eyes welled up with happy tears.
(To be continued...)

Monday, 27 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#27

Chapter 27
"Two veg meals.", Shyam extended a hundred rupee note in the canteen counter of the hospital. It was 2 pm and the mess experienced heavy rush, being the peak lunch hour. Worried faces, tired ones, frustrated ones and eyes tired of tears and sleeplessness walked about, finishing off their plates ritualistically, proving the true meaning of eating for pure survival.
Shyam found an empty table that had a ceiling fan just above it for him and Meena. He couldn't bring up a conversation, rather he intentionally avoided it, and strived to finish the meal and get off as soon as possible.
Meena couldn't eat. She uninterestingly mixed the rice with the curry and meddled with it, unable to relish it. Her eyes were fixed on a distant corner and were lost in a sea of thoughts. She looked helpless and utterly disturbed.
Shyam had no option but to start talking to her. She had to eat something. She'll faint.
"Meena."
She looked up. But Shyam found that her eyes didn't speak to him, the way they did in the morning. They were constantly trying to escape; to run away from something.
"Eat something."
"Mm..."
"Sundar spoke to you?"
"No..."
"Please don't go down, Meena. We'll handle this. He'll be shifted to the ward soon."
Meena didn't respond. Shyam understood that there's something else. He hoped against hope that his fears don't get a chance to materialize.
"Meena...Is there anything else? I know you're worried with Sundar's health. But I just wanted to know if..."
Meena couldn't control any longer. Her blood was fuming.
"What do you want to know???" She yelled, least bothered about the surroundings.
She continued..."That am sick of all the drama you are putting me through!!!"
Shyam shook lightly, as if in alarm. He didn't expect Meena to burst out like this.
Her eyes were red.
"Yes Shyam. I'm just a sponsor. A mere sponsor. And I don't dare to ever think of owning you."
"M...Meena..."
"These are your own words... You thought I wouldn't notice it?"
Shyam was devastated.
Meena stood up and started walking away, her anger vibrating in her footsteps.
Shyam couldn't control his emotions. He felt guilty and hated himself for what he did. But could he ever explain her the trauma he went through when she decided almost by herself, to send him to Bangalore!
Meena was back to the visitor's hall when Shyam came and joined her near her seat. He attempted to start speaking, but didn't have the courage to fathom an eye contact with her.
He looked down the floor, and the only words he could make himself to utter were,
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry Meena."
His voice choked.
Meena's heart didn't melt.
She didn't respond.
She couldn't just take it.
She closed her eyes and held her palms over her face and wiped over her temple.
As she closed her eyes, few words flashed on to her mind...The words she heard her teacher recite, during an English class...She felt as though Khalil Gibran wrote this for Meena's like her...
"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. "
(To be continued...)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#26

Chapter 26
"Madam.You may go in now. But please make it fast. He's highly susceptible to infection, so kindly do not prolong it."
Meena rushed to the ICU, her eyes searching in extreme intensity, for her Sundar, amidst the green coloured beds lined up with patients in the intensive care unit.
She saw him slightly wincing with pain and shrinking his tired face with irritation. She went near him and touched his hand gently. Sundar looked at her, his eyes trying relentlessly to communicate a wave of emotions. Meena folded her lips tightly, as if in a resolute attempt to gulp down a squeal. She reciprocated Sundar's deep gaze, and answered him in her own way. When Sundar tried to speak, with great difficulty and tried to lean in his body towards her, Meena gestured in the negative. She nodded her head sideways and touched his mouth, telling him not to strain himself. Sundar knew what this gesture meant. That she didn't need any explanations. That she knew. And her eyes spoke eloquently of hundred things untold.
Though she was the one who was supposed to take care of him at this moment of distress and physical pain, Sundar could easily comprehend the anguish that Meena was going through. As she sat near him, resting her head on his bed, with her hands on his, it was as if she was back to her paradise, in safe hands that assured her of a solution, a solace and a peerless and pure bondage, regardless of how weak the hands felt.
Sundar tenderly rubbed her palms, he couldn't hold her strong enough, for his limbs felt fragile, yet the genuineness made her submerged in a tide of relief. She felt an intimate warmth spreading in her, filling up the vacant spaces and frozen void created by her fear and insecurities over the days.
Neither Sundar nor Meena spoke a word,  but exchanged everything they wanted to converse.
"Madam...Please make it quick."
As the nurse warned, Meena looked at Sundar with the agony of a child having to leave for the school on her first day. It was unbearable. And all the more difficult for Sundar to see her go away. He knew that Meena had, by now, come to know of the reason why he came to Bangalore. He knew her well. And also knew that she'd have shot a hundred questions even in this condition, if it had been otherwise.
Wiping her unceasing tears, as Meena stood up and started to leave, Sundar pulled her hand from behind, stopping her.
"No Meena... It was not your mistake."
(To be continued...)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#25

Chapter 25
"Sundar's vitals are improving and the condition is almost stabilized now. We are only worried about the possibility of internal bleeding, so it is better that he is kept under observation for 2 more days. Barring the fracture in his elbow and ensuing injury, others are shallow wounds that would heal very soon. Don't worry. He'll will be fine."
Meena and Shyam listened with sober faces to the doctor's words. As they left the room, Shyam held Meena's hand tightly. Her expressionless face turned towards Shyam. Shyam looked straight into her eyes and said firmly,
"Meena. We will handle this. Nothing will happen."
This was the first time she was looking into Shyam's eyes after the episode at his college hostel that day. In sharp contrast to his erstwhile non-chalance, his eyes emitted strength now. A contagious courage that passed on to her like an unfathomable spell. Her tears dried out, she bit her lip, widened her eyes and said,
"Yes, Shyam. We won't go down. He'll be alright."
The authenticity in Shyam's words worked admirably in restoring Meena's resilience. Her eyes sparkled with a new hope now, and twinkled with a determination to defy destiny and turn it to her favour, at any cost.
But deep within, she secretly wondered. She wondered about the ease with which her mental state transformed, the swiftness with which her persona changed and the perfection with which her intricate subtleties worked together to reinforce composure.
At the same time, Shyam had consciously tried to get back his mental equilibrium. He knew he could not let emotions take over him. Even when his insecurities started taking a toll on him, he chose to brush them aside. He couldn't let Meena struggle alone in such a difficult situation. Especially when he believed that he himself was indirectly responsible for Sundar's present condition.
"I'll get something for you. You look tired.", Shyam said, taking a flask and gesturing Meena to get seated at the visitor's hall in front of the ICU.
Meena stared at the visiting time displayed in front of that glass door.
There was still an hour left, for her to be given a chance to steal a glance at her Sundar. With sullen eyes and a morose face, she waited.
"Madam, I'll be back by evening. If anything is required, please don't hesitate to call me."
It was Ahmed.
"Thank you so much Ahmed."
"No formalities please madam. It's my duty. "
Meena forced a smile as Ahmed walked by.
"Madam! I'm sorry I forgot. Here. This is Sundar's bag with his belongings. The duty nurse handed over this to me that day."
"Thanks Ahmed."
Meena gently stroked her hands over the surface of the bag. She opened it by impulse, and her eyes fell on an old diary.
She opened it and started reading. With commendable restraint over the outflow of a myriad mixture of feelings that emanated from her mind with the advance of each page, she continued reading. She inferred the essence of the  verses, felt the pulse of the poems and read between the lines of countless little scribblings, randomly scattered through the pages.
As she heard someone's footsteps through the stairs of the hospital, she quickly closed the diary and tucked it into the bag, doubting it to be Shyam. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and started waiting for the visitor's hour. But this time, without a single drop of tear.
(To be continued...)

Friday, 24 November 2017

Black#31

"Don't wear black on special occasions. It brings bad luck."
She had grown up hearing these words.
But, luck rephrased itself on her convocation day.

Quandaries in Heaven#24

Chapter 24
Ahmed couldn't handle Shyam alone. Soon the nursing staff and duty doctor rushed Shyam to the casualty.
"Nothing to worry. It's just a panic attack. He has fainted and will regain his consciousness soon.", assured the doctor.
Ahmed stared helplessly, as they skillfully pierced a needle that carried a bottle of glucose through a sterilized tube onto his veins.
Ahmed was clueless and utterly lost.
If Shyam hesitates to inform Meena, he has a reason for that. But how long can he hold it back, Ahmed introspected sharply, slanting sideways towards his opinion of informing Meena. He felt that it was the apt thing to do at the moment.
He picked up Sundar's bag from the floor and took out his phone. It's battery was critically low. He took this opportunity to give a shot to the chance. Since he is in a dilemma, he would call once. If the call goes through, he would inform Meena. Instead, if it gets switched off, he would let Shyam decide. He felt like slapping himself for his absurd line of baseless and illogical thoughts at this moment of crisis. But still, he felt so distressed and miserable that he just wanted to do something that could at least play a minor part in paving a way to the resolution from this mess.
He dialled. Unfortunately for him and for Meena, it did ring. And Meena did pick up the call.
"H...Helloo..."
"Sundar...??"
"M...Madam...Sorry. I am not Sundar. I'm Ahmed. Shyam's friend."
Meena didn't respond, as if she was trying to figure out what was happening.
"Sundar has met with an accident and is admitted in GH, Hosur."
"What???", Meena's voice already dropped and her throat suddenly went parched and dry...
"There's nothing to worry, madam. Just minor bruises. Since it is an accident case, they have kept him under observation now. Please don't panic. Shyam and myself are here." Ahmed couldn't control making up a false assurance. Meena's voice was weakened, feeble and powerless. Even for Ahmed who had never met her before, it was very hard to listen to. He could perceive the plight of Shyam. But however much he tried to think from Shyam's side, Ahmed's perception fell visibly short. For, the deep bond that Shyam shared with Meena was much beyond the grasp of people who knew him superficially . Meena was not just his intimate guardian angel but a person who taught him the very meaning of belongingness in an otherwise doomed, terrible and lonely world of hard orphancy.
"Madam...Please don't be worried. We are here to take care of him. Anyway, I shall send you the location of this hospital via GPS. I shall also send you my number and keep you updated."
Before Ahmed could wait for Meena's response, Sundar's phone had switched off due to drained battery. He went inside to check Shyam's condition and fetch a Motorola charger from somewhere.
Kilometres away, Meena sat there, her fingers numb and feet cold, unable to take to her senses what was happening around her, and struggling to regain clarity in her frozen mind.
(To be continued...)

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#23

Chapter 23
It was early morning. Meena was feeling much better, partly with the home remedies for fever and partly with the comfort that only one's home can give. She thoroughly enjoyed being back at home, as she somehow felt she got her carefree days back, without the confusions and mess of the kitchen and household chores. She cuddled on her couch, with a steaming cup of coffee that her Amma fondly offered her, and the day's fresh newspaper. This was also a luxury that she enjoyed to the core, as Sundar never used to give up his right of first access to the daily, everyday. And Meena couldn't bother to go through it if its creases are unfolded and it's pages, jumbled up. She felt as if it loses its sheen after its initial reader uses it.
She took her mobile and called Sundar to get his morning kick started. She had already started missing him despite the ease and respite of her home.
The call didn't go through. She dialled again, mechanically. Her eyebrows twisted a bit when she heard the recorded voice message in a language other than Malayalam. Is it Kannada?
The third time she rang up, the call went unanswered.
Shyam and Ahmed were helplessly staring at Sundar's phone, sitting at the visitor's area outside the ICU of the hospital. The nurse had handed over Sundar's belongings to them. Ahmed had, without a second thought, extended his dad's card when she started talking about the bill and payments.
"Should we attend it?", Shyam asked Ahmed.
He didn't have the courage to attend the call. He didn't know what to say. How can he tell poor Meena that her husband is hospitalised and his condition is very critical? How would she take it?
"I can't do this, Ahmed." Shyam said, and opened Sundar's bag to keep it with a hope to atleast get a relief from the blinking of the phone and the insurmountable pain that it emits, each time it flashes, as if with venomous sadism.
Shyam's hands felt the touch of something familiar as he kept the phone in the bag. He knew what it was. But didn't want it to be. He didn't want another shock. He just couldn't take another. He felt it, peeped in to the bag from the corner of his eyes, and once he satisfied himself that it is what he meant, closed the bag frantically, dropped it and kneeled down on to the floor.
It was too much for Shyam.
Sundar had come all the way for him!!!
Because of his mindless scribblings in an old diary that he himself refused to acknowledge as a verse!
Because he never cared to take the trouble to open up to them...To admit that he disliked the course they enrolled him into so ambitiously...And hated the college they chose for him...And most importantly loathed the very idea of moving away from them to a new city...
And because he let himself fall prey to his failing reasons, and shut down to his surroundings intentionally.
And because he chose to ignore all of them and bombard all his hatred on them in whichever way he could...Bunking classes, dipping scores, shifting to hostel, avoiding the calls and being unbelievably indifferent to their unconditional love.
Sundar!!!
Ahmed couldn't understand what was happening. He couldn't control Shyam, who was crying inconsolably like a child, with his face on the wall.
When Ahmed held his hands, Shyam pulled it away, as if in a reflex, and closed his ears. He moved away from Ahmed, to the corner of the hall, and as the crowd gazed in bewilderment, let out a howl of anguish, broke down and collapsed on to the floor.
(To be continued...)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#22

Chapter 22
"Yes. Got his mobile phone."
A guy said, who, along with a handful of brave hearts had volunteered to help Sundar out of mess from the car. The major chunk of the crowd stood motionless and played quite safe. A few others were busy shooting and clicking the proceedings heartlessly with the sole thought of making the accident frivolously "trend" on the social media, even as Sundar's body involuntarily twitched in spasms of pain amidst the pool of blood.
"Check the last call details. Dial the number."
"Ahmed."
"Call him. Urgent. How long can we wait here? This is an accident case bro. Don't invite trouble."
"Okay. ."
The Moto G4 with a broken tempered glass, blinked as if in utter helplessness and displayed..Calling Ahmed...
"Hello. Am I speaking to Mr.Ahmed."
"Yes."
"Hello Ahmed. We are calling from GH, Hosur. We found that your number was the last dialled number from this phone. The owner of this mobile phone has encountered with an accident near Hosur and is admitted here. The condition is a bit critical. Could you please come urgently or inform his relatives if possible?"
"Oh. God! Could you please message me the address of the hospital. I shall be there in some time."
Ahmed was shocked and in a state of perplexity that he didn't know what to do. He ran to Shyam, who was sleeping in his room.
"Shyam..Shyam...Get up."
Ahmed shook him in a state of frenzy.
"We need to go. Your guardian Sundar has met with an accident and is admitted in a hospital in Hosur. I'll go take my bike. You please get ready. We have to leave now."
"B...But....??"
Shyam couldn't answer anything..He was not able to understand what was happening around. For a fraction of a second, he mistook this to be his hallucination.
"Shyam!!! I'll explain everything to you on the way...We need to leave now. Please...Speed up...", Ahmed shouted as he was rushing down the stairs.
Shyam, gathered himself up in the same state of sheer disarray, and hurriedly changed, grabbed his wallet, locked his room and hastily ran down the stairs.
As Ahmed briefed him about Sundar's call yesterday and about how he got his number, Shyam couldn't just take anything within. He was now worried, with a huge black turbulence of guilt, about only one person...Meena...
Should he inform her? Or not?
How will he talk to her.?
Oh God! How is she going to take it?
Or can he keep it with himself till Sundar is alright? But what had happened to Sundar and why is he in Hosur all of a sudden?
Shyam couldn't decide anything. He felt his world blacking out around him as Ahmed fled fast in his worn out RX 100. He felt as if the cold wind was piercing down his flesh like knifes reminding him of his apathetic face that day when Meena visited him. He hated himself for that and cursed his mind that stopped him from going and talking to her...He hopelessly expected, so badly, that all this would end up as a horrible nightmare..
Sadly, it didn't. As they reached the premises of general hospital in Hosur, the place soaked in the suffocation and pungent odours of medications and wails, Shyam choked and uttered a loud cry. The tears that flowed down incessantly like a long held reservoir of grief that finally found its way out.
(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#21

Chapter 21
It was a long drive. A drive that witnessed Sundar recollecting his thoughts, memories and a bunch of intriguing uncertainties posed by the subtle nuances of human nature. He compelled himself into Meena's shoes and wondered why she chose to live Shyam's dream in the first place. Was it her unfulfilled desire or something? No way...She was someone who relentlessly chased her dreams and continues to do so. Or was it because she was desperate to make it happen for Shyam? So unbelievably desperate that she chose a "standard" path to let him "succeed?" And midway, missed to check that Shyam's thoughts coincided with hers'?
For some inexplicable reason, Sundar just couldn't let his wife take the blame, even within the concealed confusions within his psyche. He knew within, that she could have added a deliberate and gradual touch to her impulses but chose to focus on Shyam's introverted nature instead. He knew that we are doing all this for him. They why couldn't he just open up and do away with all these melodrama? And if he didn't want this course, he could have very well told us that...As if we are doing it for ourselves...Does he even know that the personal decisions that Meena and I make, hover around him? That we choose him to be our priority? And with what audacity has the chap flunked the tests and shifted hostels...Sundar couldn't believe how his perceptions have changed from the way he dealt with Shyam and his verses yesterday to the way he is accusing him now...All because he could never let his Meena take the negative shade, even in a slightest fraction, never an instance where she could be wrong.
Sundar's mind was jumbled with thoughts. He closed his eyes to this incessant chatter of his heart, as if trying to put it on a sleep mode.
"Honk honk honk honk......."
The huge, loud, brash and humongous thud stopped the mindlessly inching array of vehicles.
Then it was time for sirens and dialling 100 and chaos and the resultant disorder in the junction.
Sundar lay, unaffected and least bothered about the crowd and the mumbling voices. In a state of oblivion. Covered in blood.
(To be continued...)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#20

Chapter 20
The next morning, Sundar woke up earlier than usual. He went to the bedroom and saw that Meena was still asleep.He touched her forehead to recheck the temperature and whispered,
"Dear, you shouldn't have hurried up."
Even as Sundar passed on to the kitchen to brew the morning coffee, Shyam's verses kept haunting him.
"Why didn't you wake me up?", Meena complained, walking in to the kitchen, mechanically coiling and tying her unkempt hair into a messy knot.
"How are you feeling now?"
"Better." Meena said. "But this headache is not going away."
"Come. Get ready. We shall go to the doctor."
"No...It's okay.. I'll be alright."
"Your eyes look sullen. I suggest you take few days off and get some good rest. You've been working really crazy last week and the travel has made you really weak."
"Mm...", Meena agreed. She needed a break. An escape from her responsibilities to sort things for herself; rather to assimilate the broken pieces of herself back again.
"Shall I ask Ma to come over?"
"No...Not required.", Meena was quick to answer, with a muted shudder within, given the deteriorating levels of sweetness in her bonding with her mother in law. She, like any elderly woman of her age, was keen to coax and cajole her son and daughter-in-law to bestow her with a grandchild to caress and fondle to her heart's content. But Meena and Sundar were quite clear on this. There's no way Shyam was going to be given at least a chance of being re-prioritised. He may or may not adapt to it. But they didn't want him to even have a tiny tinge of insecurity. At least not in the near future.
"But, Meena. I forgot to mention it to you yesterday. The meeting didn't go quite well and as usual, people are reluctant to embrace the change.We have decided to organise an informal catch up today at office, to design a strategy. It's scheduled in the afternoon." Sundar secretly appreciated himself on being able to craft a lie so effortlessly.
"I don't want to leave you alone and go, Meena."
"It's okay...Or else..shall I go home for few days..I shall call Nita and ask her to delegate few of my assignments to someone...I desperately need a break."
"Alright. I shall drop you on my way to office."
After munching a simple and bland breakfast, they drove down to Meena's hometown, which was few kilometres away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Sundar loved the pristine air in everything that marked Meena's sweet home. The banyan trees, the balcony of her room and the French window that overlooked a distant but clearly visible temple pond, everything reminding him of the first time he met her.
Sundar didn't spend much time in her home. After the mandatory coffee, "wellness" reconfirmation and "confidence" restoration sessions, Sundar excused himself, citing inevitable official urgencies.
Sundar drove out from the mystic atmosphere to the buzz of the city and took a left turn towards the highway.
The signboard in green and white, read,
Bangalore 550 km.
(To be continued...)

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#19

Chapter 19
"I strike you off,
Ruthlessly
Forever...
Never come back again.
I bury you
With cruel and merciless eyes
Into the inaccessible corners of my mind
So that you wither and dry
And rot and stink
And die an aversive death.
Dear dream, I can't nurture you,
For-
I am a borrowed soul-
And I am not allowed to own my dreams;
Go away
And never come back...
Let me move ahead to fulfill someone else's dream-
Fearlessly."
Sundar was moved. More by the depth than the words themselves.
Why should Shyam write like this?
What is the dream that he's foregoing with so much grief?
He could have told us at least!
And then Sundar turned the pages.
Sentences, words, annotations, quotes...
Sundar involuntarily got up and walked back to the cornermost room and opened the box again.
Books, notepads, pieces of crushed paper...
A world of lost literature came alive in front of his eyes.
Sundar could draw parallels to many a masterpiece in Shyam's random scribblings. More than the literary value, something else struck him hard. The harsh truth of living a "borrowed life", as Shyam put it.
Was Meena wrong in wanting Shyam to pursue a career that she thought would earn him a decent livelihood?
Or was Shyam wrong in allowing Meena take decisions for him and not opening up?
While trying to drag Shyam from the unfairness of the universe and the shackles of childhood fear, did Meena forget to let him dream for himself? Did she start living her dream through him instead?
Why couldn't have Shyam confessed his passion then? Meena of course gave him generous space for that!
Sundar was lost and couldn't take sides.
He locked the room again and walked back to the couch, grabbing the notepads and diaries with him, close to his chest, as if they were a secret treasure.
As he closed his eyes, a wintry evening flashed before him. A thin boy with spectacles was leaning uncomfortably on the wall, staring hardly at the floor.
"What would the society say if the son of an Income tax commissioner roams about writing stories and poems? You want them to laugh at me?"
"But...Appa..."
"Enough.", a harsh voice continued, "If I know how to bring you up, I know which course to enroll you in. Just shut up and fill the application form."
"Sundar, listen to your dad's words. Do you think we would ever do you wrong? We want you to come up in life, dear.", a woman clad in a cotton saree, reassured him, handing over the customary tumbler of water to cool down her husband's temper.
When Sundar was posting that application form, he was shunning forever, a dream he had carried within, since childhood. Even though the corporate robes and enforced etiquette closed down the minutest of possibilities of even a reminiscence of that dream, Shyam's words had the depth to shake it from its infinite stupor.
(To be continued...)

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#18

Chapter 18
Sundar took and placed the box on the floor and sat near it.He dusted it off roughly and opened it. It made a strange noise, the noise that all machines made of iron make, if left ungreased and unoiled for a long time. He started coughing.
It was a pile of random things; chart papers, a rusted geometry box, paper cuttings, sketch pens and pencils and little reminisces of a nostalgic school life.
Carefully placed beneath this heap of miscellaneous items was an old, grand navy blue diary, with faded golden letters mentioning a not so farther year and the obscure name of some unknown social organisation, that had printed and circulated this diary partly for fame and partly for social cause.
He opened it.
The first page had their class photograph, with a little Shyam standing in the extreme right of the last row.
As Sundar moved the book closer to his eyes, some other papers fell down from the book. He saw many more old photographs, and some had Meena too. She was smiling, with her eyes beaming with joy, sitting in the midst of a bunch of kids. The same twinkle her eyes radiated, when he had first met her.
Sundar's phone blinked. It was Joseph.
He had sent the number. He opened the message and read the boy's name;
"Ahmed."
Sundar checked the time. It was 9.30 pm. He dialled the boy's number, and by the time the call rang on the other side, he gathered the diary and hurriedly placed back the other items into the box. He closed the door, with a diary in one hand, and mobile phone balanced between his ears and shoulders. As he heard a voice through the phone, he stopped.
"Hello."
"Hello...Am I speaking to Mr. Ahmed  ?"
"Yeah. May I know who is speaking?"
"Hello Ahmed. I'm Sundar. I'm Shyam Manohar's guardian. You know Shyam, right,?", Sundar asked, in a tone both authoritative and sarcastic.
"Yeah. I know Shyam. In fact, he is my roommate now. He recently shifted to the hostel."
Ahmed's straightforward answer confused Sundar a bit, he expected the boy to be either stammer or be excessively stubborn and rough. But Ahmed was quite calm and composed.
Sundar continued, "Actually, I would like to talk to you about certain things. Will you be able to spare a few minutes now? Or else, I'll call later.", Sundar softened.
"No problem. I'm free now. Please tell me."
"Ahmed. Let me come to the point directly without beating about the bush. Shyam's grades have been notably dropping and I could see he has flunked two papers last semester. I want to know if you are aware of any specific reason for this sudden change. We have known him to be a very brilliant student."
"Sir...To be frank, I don't know much about his studies and all. I'm in Computer science batch and he is in Triple E. In fact, we both are never interested in discussing subjects and scores. I found him sitting alone in his classroom one day when all students had left for the University Science Expo. When I approached him, he seemed to be quite low and depressed. He was scribbling down something. I never asked why he was sad or what he was writing just then. I simply called him for a walk and he came. May be because we both were comfortable with each other, we started hanging around together, and then he shifted with me to the hostel."
"Mm.." Sundar listened.
"Sir, it is like an unwritten understanding between both of us that we don't delve much into each other's personal space or compel ourselves to talk about things we don't want to. But personally, I feel something is troubling him from within. But I'm not sure what it is, neither do I want to know that until he himself voluntarily shares it with me."
"Thank you so much Ahmed. Thanks for your time. I shall get in touch with you for anything. Please save my number."
"Sure, sir. It's my pleasure. Good night."
"Good night."
Sundar walked  to the sofa and lay down. He opened the diary that was still tightly held on his left hand, and started skimming through the pages.
He stopped at a page that was written somewhere in the middle of the diary slot earmarked for the September month. With misty eyes, he gently rubbed his fingers over the words written in neat cursive hand, slanting to the right. He read on.
(To be continued...)

Friday, 17 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#17

Chapter 17
It was already dark by the time the flight landed in Cochin. Meena couldn't wait to run to Sundar's arms and cry her heart out.
She wept inconsolably as Sundar drove her back home, and kept blabbering, "He has shifted to college hostel. Without even telling a word to me..That unhygienic place...And do you know how he looks now? He didn't even care to even come and talk to me.."
"Mm..." Sundar said, trying his best to conceal the fact that he knew this already and had sent her only to reconfirm what he had heard.
"Sundar...I can't take this...I am just not able to accept it...What wrong did I do to him that he's behaving like this?"
Sundar parked the vehicle in the space earmarked for them in the block.
"Come." He said, and took her handbag and his own laptop bag and started walking towards the lift.
Meena followed.
She didn't speak a word.
She went to the bedroom, and lay down, her hands cupping her face. She didn't have the energy to get up.
Sundar came in, and asked,
"Meena...Get up. See, if you go down like this, how can we ever find a solution?"
She was wiping her tears.
"I'm coming.", she said.
Sundar went to have a quick shower and switched on the TV for evening news.
He didn't see Meena in the kitchen.
As he went into the bedroom, he saw Meena sleeping, exhausted with the day's happenings.
He touched her forehead. It was burning.
He went into the kitchen and returned with a glass of milk and a paracetamol tablet.
"Meena.. Meena..get up.."
She stirred.
"You have temperature. Come, have this. Then you can sleep."
Meena half-opened her fatigued eyes and half heartedly took the medicine, as if in a ritual to appease Sundar.
"Take rest. Sleep well. We'll talk in the morning."
Sundar came back to his study, his mind lost in thoughts.
He took his phone and called Joseph.
Joseph was his colleague whose son Roy was studying in the same college as Shyam's, though in a different stream. He had given hints of Shyam's sudden change in behaviour and disinterest in studies. But Sundar didn't want Meena to get upset on this, without confirming that it was indeed an authentic information.
"Hello Joseph."
"Yes, Sundar."
"What we doubted is right. Meena visited him today. And he is staying in the college hostel now."
"Mm...Roy had mentioned Shyam is pretty close to some hostel guy nowadays and is hanging around with him..."
"What's that guy's name? Can I get his contact?"
"I'm not sure about his name. I'll get it from Roy and WhatsApp his number to you in sometime."
"Thanks a lot, Joseph. Good night."
"No issues. Good night, Sundar."
Sundar went to the bedroom and made sure that Meena was asleep. He covered her with the blanket and made sure her limbs are warm, as if trying to protect a lamb within thick sheets of wool; switched on the night lamp and gently closed the door.
He walked towards the cornermost room, that had a pile of unused things and old articles. He opened the dusty door, entered and reached out to the trunk box securedly preserved in the loft.
The dark green, iron box in the attic that belonged to Shyam.
(To be continued...)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#16

Chapter 16
Meena wanted to call Shyam and shout, and pour out her fury. But Shyam's indifferent face and cold expression immersed her fury and impulse in helpless tears. She took out her phone and called Sundar.
Sundar picked up in the second ring, as if expecting the call.
"Hello. Sundar."
"Meena."
"Mm.."
" What happened? Why is your voice like this?"
Meena couldn't respond. It wasn't difficult for Sundar to comprehend that something had gone wrong, from Meena's choked voice.
"Listen, Meena. Did you eat something?"
"Meena. Whatever it is, we will sort it out. First go to a nearby restaurant and have something. And come back."
"Mm..." Meena responded.
"Meena. Are you in the college now?"
"Yea. Near the college."
"There's a canteen just opposite to the college. Go there, order something and call me. Go. I'm waiting."
Sundar waited for ten minutes and called her back. He knew she was not going to call.
"Meena. Everything has a solution. Believe. I'm there with you. We will find a resolution to the problem together. Okay?"
"Mm..okay."
Sundar knew there was no use trying to console her. The first thing he wanted was to get her back home safely.
"Where are you now, Meena?"
Sundar kept calling her and reassuring himself that she is fine, till he was convinced that she had reached the airport lounge. He calculated the arrival time of the flight, and then moved on to take care of his official responsibilities.
Meena was totally lost. Her face was pale and her head was pounding with pain. She couldn't understand what had just happened. What happened to Shyam?? Why is he behaving like this? He could have told me if he wanted to shift to the hostel with friends. Would I have said No? Why didn't he come running with excitement to meet me?
Did I do anything wrong? I have always prioritised him and his future while taking each and every decision. Then why??
The unanswered questions were too much for her to handle. She felt weak and numb.
She opened her handbag and took out the box of laddus she had carried all the way down, fondly for Shyam.
She struggled to battle her tears as she saw the unopened and neatly packed box. The sweetness wrapped in affection that went utterly unnoticed.
As she heard a sweet voice announce the boarding call, she tossed the box to the dustbin and moved ahead.
(To be continued...)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#15

Chapter 15
The coffee and pastries they offered tasted very bitter for Meena. She excused herself, promising to come back soon, with Sundar and a generous timeslot exclusively for them.
When she walked towards the college hostel, her erstwhile zealous footsteps had turned to slow, apathetic ones. She reached that shabby office room, which she hated from the day she had first visited the college. The warden was away. She spotted a little one who appeared like the ones who roam about boys hostels supplying their necessities with a petty commission that served as their pocket money. Anything on short notice-cigarettes, liquor bottles, random oily parcels wrapped in evening newspapers from the "mobile" snacks vendor, with varying levels of staleness and every other ridiculous thing that youth over the "transition" stage from adoloscence to adulthood, preferred, over anything else.
"Warden kab aayega?"
"Patha naheen madam..."
"Visiting time kab hein?"
The boy laughed off at the irrelevant question, with the same expression that we give when someone asks,
" Accha din kab aayega?"
She followed him as he was treading up the stairs. Though she never preferred breaking the rules, she felt as if the worn out notice board with faded rules smirked with sarcasm at her inappropriate urge for compliance.
She walked through the corridor, feeling uncomfortable, reminding herself that she's not supposed to be in this place. This is a men's hostel. She assured herself she would rush out of this place with Shyam as soon as she met him. She felt nauseated at the stinking odour of cigarettes, damp clothes-carelessly hung on the railings, dusty balcony windows and rarely on the coir wires tied years ago.
As she stepped on to the second set of stairway, she heard a laughter. Very loud. And the voice hoarse and manly.
She turned,  walked back and peeped in to the cornermost room with the door half opened,  from which she felt the laughter had emanated.
And she saw, her Shyam lying down on the bed, with an untidy shirt, a shaggy beard and clumsy, uncut hair.
She heard the laughter again. She recognised the hoarse voice as that of the person sitting on a chair next to Shyam. Shyam was listening, and smiling at him, nodding at some anonymous joke.
Meena knocked the door.
Shyam abruptly shifted his gaze towards Meena and the other man turned back to find out who was the unexpected visitor at this time.
Meena looked at Shyam, her eyes fuming with anger and eyebrows raised upwards like sharp question marks.
She walked out from the place. She didn't know why she expected Shyam to follow her, running behind her, calling "Meena...stop...Listen to me...", the way they used to sort out their usual silly fights when Shyam played pranks on her.
But she couldn't hear any footsteps following her. Nor did she have the courage to look back or sharpen her earlobes to receive a familiar voice. She knew, she was in for disappointment.
(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#14

Chapter 14
"Madam ji. Could you please call them and ask which direction to take? Tell them we are in the second stage."
Meena startled from her slumber.
"Bhaiya take the first right. Then left.You can take the hospital route. The blue coloured building will be visible from the turning itself."
She quickly reckoned the points to be mentioned to the Principal and silently rehearsed the readymade answers. As Sundar had pointed out correctly, this meeting with Principal was just an excuse for her. She couldn't wait to wrap up the conversation with thr Principal and rush to meet Shyam.
"Please stop here."
She handed over the change to the driver and went inside the building. The last time she visited Shyam was for his College's Foundation Day celebrations few months back. Sundar had also accompanied her then. And she vividly remembered the pride in their eyes as Shyam went over the dias to receive the honour for his accomplishment in the Mathematics Olympiad.
"Principal madam?" Meena asked the security.
"Please wait in the visitor's room madam. What message shall I carry?"
"I'm Shyam's guardian. Shyam Manohar of Triple E II Batch. I received a letter from the college few days back asking me to visit."
"Okay madam. Please wait."
Meena stared at the portraits of great men and women, the inspiring quotes from the Holy Bible displayed in the arches of corridor, and the aura of quietness and serenity typical of a convent college.
"Madam, you may go in now."
"Thanks", said Meena and continued to the Principal's cabin. The cabin that carried an air of terror right from her school days, though today, for a different reason.
The Principal was a hefty lady with silver spectacles on her nose and eyes that emitted superiority, in contrast to the nun's attire that clothed her.
She offered Meena a seat and started explaining the decreasing trend in Shyam's scores.
Meena stayed silent, and superficially perused the progress card. She felt uncomfortable at the condescending tone of the Principal and hurriedly signed them, preparing to make a move. Sensing this, the lady commented in her baritone, patronising voice,
" How much ever we try, how could anyone take the place of his parents?"
Meena's blood boiled with anger. She felt like slapping the woman's fat, fair face with her hands that it turns red and her jaws drop with shock.
She swiftly walked out of the room, giving the woman a smile cloaked with a piece of her mind.
She walked through the pathway and turned right and reached the place where Shyam stayed. The upstairs of a home, where an elderly couple stayed. They were happy to accommodate Shyam as their paying guest. Meena had contemplated a lot before choosing his lodging. She didn't want Shyam to be devoid of any facilities or bear any distractions to his studies. She opened the gate and entered the porch. The old man was sitting on his armchair, reading a crumpled newspaper.
"Hello sir..."
He looked up through this reading glass and said,
"Hello madam. How are you? Come in, come in. Lakshmi!! See who has come."
As Meena entered the hall, he continued,
"We expected at least a call from you to inform us about your decision to shift Shyam to the college hostel. We were taken aback to see him packing his luggage one fine morning."
"What do you mean? Shyam doesn't stay here now?", Meena wanted to shout, but controlled her impulse and proceeded to exchange pleasantries.
(To be continued...)




Monday, 13 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#13

Chapter 13
“I’ll call Salim and ask him to get the tickets ready”, said Sundar. Salim was their point of contact, for all travel related exigencies and impulsive decisions, thanks to the comparatively reasonable commission and the corporate rates he offered.
“Okay.”, Meena said.
Sundar understood that she was far from okay.
He said, “I would have accompanied you. But this meeting is critical, and difficult to call off at short notice. We could even postpone our travel to Bangalore to next week.”
Meena gazed expressionlessly.
Sundar held her hand and continued, “I know you want to meet him at any cost and how much it matters to you at this moment. If not for the grades, more importantly I know you want to get the reassurance that he is fine. Even if I keep explaining, it is not going to make sense to you. Go tomorrow. I’m just a call away.”
“Mm..”, Meena responded.
Both of them finished off their dinner without much interest and with minimum conversations.
As they drove back home, Meena was making up her mind as to what to ask Shyam, how to resolve his undisclosed problem and which of his favourite sweets to take.
She could get an answer only for the third question and so, as soon as she got back and freshened up, she started getting the ingredients ready to roll out laddus. She mixed the batter, poured milk, sprinkled ghee and garnished it with roasted cashews and raisins. The perfect, round balls didn’t emerge effortlessly. They broke. They were as brittle and inconsistent as her mind, confused at the sudden unknown change that has taken over someone so close to her, closer than an imaginary sibling could ever be.
The next morning, Sundar dropped her at the airport. As Meena boarded the flight, after the tiring and seemingly meaningless delays in the formalities for a domestic trip, she closed her eyes and recreated deliberately, the entire chronological graph of significant events concerning Shyam, in that one hour and thirty minutes. Even after the Captain announced the alighting call, Meena couldn’t find one incident that paints her Shyam in the lightest of grey, leave alone the apparently imminent black shade.
She hired a local cab, and told him the address of the college. She knew anyway she would have to guide him through the lanes and stages once they are nearer to the destination, given the interspersed and crowded nature of the polluted roads in Bangalore. She seized the liberty of dozing off for at least an hour, since they had just started from Kempegowda International Airport, that’s a bit too far away from the vitality of the city that Bangalore is.
(To be continued...)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#12

Chapter 12
"Yes, Meena. The previous semester results are out, and it seems Shyam's performance is not satisfactory. He has to take two papers again in the upcoming supplementary examination."
Meena just couldn't believe. A minor dip in scores is understandable, but failing two papers, that was far from usual.
"But he had discussed about his exams with me when he had come down for his vacations. And when I asked him, he was quite confident about it, as always. Is there any other... I mean, could we apply for revaluation or something?"
Meena was pretty sure about Shyam's capabilities. He was not a sort of person who crams the syllabus; he was someone who could grasp things with incredible ease and apply them into situations provided effortlessly, right from his school days.This was also one of the reasons why Meena was particular that this boy should come up in life, no matter what and lack of financial and moral support should never be the hindering factor here.
"Meena...Can you please come out of your notions and focus on what's actually happening?"
"No Sundar. I know him. I know the way he thinks. There should have been some problem. Else, this won't happen."
"Yes. I understand Meena. We know there is a problem. The thing is now we need to find out what it is. We can't conclusively decide that it is an error in valuation."
Failing in exams as such was not a big issue for Meena. She has handled her set of failures with peerless resilience. But since it was relating to Shyam, she was pretty sure that there was something else. There was another strong reason that has resulted in such a report. She felt guilty of not having understood Shyam and enquired enough of his problems.
Sundar broke her stream of thoughts halfway.
"The principal has asked us to pay a visit on Saturday."
"Tomorrow is Saturday."
"I have a client meeting tomorrow. It is an off day for you, right."
"Yeah," said Meena, sighing at the truth that she had to travel alone to Bangalore the next day.
(To be continued...)

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#11

Chapter 11
Meena dumped her belongings into her bag, ensured her drawer is locked, and walked towards the elevator. She was nervous to face Sundar after the conflict in the morning. As the lift slid downwards, packing in its descent, the entire day’s happenings, Meena was trying to rush to a conclusion, whether to stick to her anger or Ernest Hemingway’s words. By the time she could form an opinion, she had already reached the ground floor. She stepped down the portico and came near the Etios that was waiting for her. As she got in and placed her bag on to the back seat, she saw Sundar’s face. He was smiling. With the same understanding smile that had worked wonders with the conflicts in their relationship over these years. She often felt Sundar resorted to this faculty of his, most of the times, quite knowingly, whenever he felt the argument is getting a bit too serious. And Meena couldn't help but reciprocate the smile, which hid within, for both of them, countless words unuttered and million meanings unspoken.
" Brindavan?"
She nodded. It was their favourite getaway during weekends. They loved the food served there, and also the ambience. It was also the restaurant where they had their own considerable stock of sweet memories, one among the many lovely places they had carefully marked their footprints on. They always tried to create a bunch of authentic moments wherever they visited, as if enduring to consciously build a beautiful vintage collection, together.
They chose the cornermost table available and got seated. As Sundar ordered their regular veg clear soup, he noticed Meena looking perplexed. He didn't want to drag the opening of the conversation further.
"So, Meena. This time we need to talk about Shyam."
"Mm..", Meena responded, trying her best to practically apply the new meaningful quote she had recently learnt.
"I received a letter from his college, yesterday. It was from the Principal."
Meena leaned forward, at the same time, trying to reinforce to herself, that she has not made any fee default.
"They are concerned about his performance."
"What???" Meena retorted almost in a reflex, unable to contain the first allegation towards Shyam, whose brilliance she could never praise enough.
(To be continued...)

Friday, 10 November 2017

Ray of light...

Sometimes it's like that.
All of a sudden, you think you saw a ray of light at the end of the tunnel
As you crawl blindfolded; clueless of the path ahead...
But when you brace yourself up and gear up to open your eyes to the light
You see for yourself
The illusion of nothingness that's as deceitful as the mirage.

Quandaries in Heaven#10

Chapter 10
The training resumed. James Mathew briefed the class. Different table groups presented their ideas one by one. But Meena had just one name in her mind. Shyam.
The orphan boy who feared to dream. The boy who moved on to become more than a sibling to her. The boy whom she taught passionately, resolutely and showed how to dream. The boy whose education she still continues to fund.
She relived the amazing transformation Shyam had undergone over the span of the years that passed. From a silent, shy boy who preferred the cornered benches of the classroom, Shyam has grown up to become a smart young boy. Meena herself had sent him for engineering entrance coaching classes. And when he cleared it with flying colours, she suggested him to join a reputed college in Bangalore. The city where dreams come true.  She took care of all the admission formalities with utmost care, she even chose accomodation, rechecking for all the facilities. He visited her during his vacations and she made it a point that everything relating to him is taken care of, financially and otherwise too.
"Okay friends...So this is it from my side... Before we wrap up the session, let's have a look at the key take aways.. ", James Mathew said. It seemed the trainer himself was in a hurry to wind up, as much as the listeners.
As the snippets flashed on the projector one by one, Meena stared at them, waiting for the last slide so that she could get out of the room. As the trainer summed up the session, Meena looked at the last slide. It was as if it was meant only for her. The words snapped on her face.
"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." -Ernest Hemingway.
Meena walked out of the room, repeating the words to herself. She wondered if she should have listened to Sundar. She reached her desk and opened her mailbox, sighing at the fresh to do list that lay unaltered from morning. She wanted to strike off at least a few of them. Soon she got immersed into that electronic screen, forgetting everything around her.
Suddenly she heard a beep sound. It was a missed call. She looked at the bottom right corner of her screen. It was 6 pm. Sundar had come to pick her up.
(To be continued.. )

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Parents

When I excitedly implement my half baked plans,
And build brittle sand castles
And soak them in heaps of desire,
And trip down and fall
And sob helplessly;
As the waves sadistically knock down my dreams,
I look back
And you mischievously smile
The same way you did when I fell from the swing that day
And broke my knees
Years back.

Quandaries in Heaven#9

Chapter 9
"Meena...why are you behaving like this?"
"I told you I'm in a training..."
"I'll be there at 6."
"But..I am not sure if it'll..."
Sundar interrupted, "I'm telling you I'll be there at 6. Bye."
Meena clenched her teeth. The melodramatic scene in the  morning came live in front of her eyes. The way Sundar had banged the door at her and abruptly left the room made her furious. The fact that he talked to her now as if nothing had happened shot up her anger all the more.
She walked back to the canteen and disinterestedly tried to continue her lunch. She couldn't eat.
"I'm pushing off. You guys continue. I'll be there in the training room."
"What happened?" Keshav asked.
"Nothing."
Meena faked a smile and walked on.
There was no one in the training room. All were off for lunch. She slid back to her seat and switched on the WiFi again. Sundar had messaged that he'll be picking her up from the office at 6. Probably he called her when he knew she hadn't read the message.
She typed "I don't want to talk.." and backspaced it. She typed instead, "I'll be late. I'll come by office cab."
She didn't expect an instant reply and had thought of escaping in that pretext as the training would have started by the time he replied. But she was taken aback to see him typing...
"Meena, I told you. This time I'm serious."
"What are you serious about? You remember how harshly you behaved to me this morning?"
"See. I'm sorry. I didn't know how to react when you kept consciously avoiding this conversation."
"I don't want to hear anything."
"Listen. It's important for you. And important for us."
"What are you going to say? You want to know the particulars of the outflow from my bank statement right? " Meena continued, "I knew you logged in from my system yesterday. As if I don't know. You could have atleast asked me.."
"It is not like that..."
"It is not like what? Can you stop arguing? My training will start now."
"Meena...Can you please listen?"
"I don't want to listen to someone who doesn't trust me."
"You have to. It's about Shyam."
(To be continued...)

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#8

Chapter 8
"What's for lunch today?", Keshav asked, eagerly peeping in, as Meena opened her lunchbox.
"Potatoes!! I love them...", he remarked and grabbed the lunchbox to relish a mouthful.
Meena smiled. She knew he would like it and had thought about it in the morning as she sliced them into fine, thin slices. She had taken a few more potatoes from the basket, in case the quantity falls short.
Nita too joined, saying..."Mmm...yummy...Meena I should say...You weave a kind of magic in your dishes...Even I tried the recipe the way you said, but it was far from a tasty potato fry...", She sighed.
"That's nothing unusual. Whatever you make will be far from tasty, I agree Nita." Keshav scored a point.
Nita ignored. She never liked it when her subordinates crossed their limits in sharp contrast to Meena who never set a criteria of rank to people. Nita continued, "Meena, may be because you also add a dash of goodness to what you make..."
Meena smiled again. She always tried to recreate the taste of aloo fry her mother made. Fried to perfection, but never too deeply fried, with a generous dose of curry leaves that gave the dish a combination of dark green and golden yellow. Even Sundar liked it a lot, in spite of his general dislike towards foods high in starch and carbohydrates. Once he had said with a smile"It's divine. I don't mind gaining a few pounds if it's for this." But personally, she felt she could never match the benchmarks her mother set. The feeling of opening that steel lunchbox with curd rice on one side, neatly partitioned with a little, rectangular compartment that had an ample volume of potato fry, with consideration for Meena's friends, packed with an unmatched affection, that multiplied each day.
"Beep beep"
Her phone vibrated and shook with fear.
The call was from Sundar.
Meena's face suddenly changed in her confusion as to attend the call or not. Obviously she couldn't cut the call in front of her colleagues.
She excused herself and came to the break out area.
"Hello."
(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#7

Chapter 7
"Okay...It's 1.15...Can we have the briefing after the lunch break?" , James Mathew asked.
The class nodded.
"Alright. We'll meet at 2.15 sharp."
The moment trainer left the room, Meena couldn't contain her curiosity to unlock her phone and switch on the WiFi. There were many WhatsApp messages coming in, usual forwarded messages, message chains and videos from muted WhatsApp groups she was too reluctant to exit; that get auto downloaded thanks to the WiFi. She didn't even give them a hit even as the WhatsApp logo kept inviting her to tap it from the top left corner of her mobile screen. She just wanted to search for one person. Sundar. She anticipated herself to be bombarded with a lot of questions for her avoidance even after the messages delivered the blue stained ticks to the sender. There was just a single question mark.
"?"
She wanted to type her heart out. But she typed, "In a full day training." and immediately switched off the Wifi in her phone. She didn't have the courage nor the energy to answer the impending questions.
"Not coming?" Nita asked, gesturing towards the canteen.
"Yeah. I'm coming. You people carry on. You have got to buy the food right? I have brought mine. I'll join you."
Meena  took her mobile phone and walked towards her desk.
As she walked, a little Meena flashed to her mind. Someone whom teachers picked up and questioned, when she sat alone on the cemented benches of the playground, talking to the trees and flowers, as all her other friends shouted and played merrily. Games were not for her. Some thought it was not right that a child is so indifferent to something like playing. But she was content with that. She even looked forward to those sessions when everyone was busy on the playground and she could have some time for herself. These moments were sort of grabbed interstices for her, where she observed, analysed and learnt a lot about things unsaid.
(To be continued...)

Monday, 6 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#6

Chapter 6
During her college days, Meena had chosen to volunteer to teach children as part of MAD initiative. It required a year long commitment, and being her first year of college, it was easy for her to balance her studies and MAD activities. She looked forward to the sessions on weekends and unlike many, who chose social "ambitions" as a mode to showcase their social "responsibilities", Meena never wanted to proclaim to the world that she's doing something remarkable. She did it because her heart said so. And heart didnt ask her to do it on impulse, she felt an innate responsibility within, to do something  meaningful. And this, she had felt, right from childhood.
"Meena, why are you so lost?" Keshav asked.
As she looked at him, he continued, "We have been given a topic to discuss. Shall I brief you on it so that you can join us in the discussion?"
Meena nodded.
"Okay, Meena.  We are given a set of five questions. We  have to explain our responses to them. The first one is  regarding our approach towards  our greatest fear in life."
The word "fear" strung hard on her head. That second, though Meena was sitting in the training room of her office, mentally, a very powerful force transported her to another classroom.
An old classroom, with a young Meena and a bunch of children. She reminisced her voice saying, "All of you...Take a sheet of paper and write down your greatest fear in life..."
She got many sheets with answers scribbled in different handwritings. Some slanting, some rounded, some cursive and most of them, unstructured and patternless. She clearly remembered one sheet and the handwriting too. And she vividly recollected those words with an air of nostalgia and fondness.
The sheet that changed her very perspective to service to society.
It read,
"Fear to dream..."
She knew the child was not afraid of nightmares, he was afraid of having a dream. In the very country that had a leader who told that dreaming small is a sin.
She read out the name from the top right corner of the sheet, carelessly and hastily written,
"Shyam..."
(To be continued...)

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#5

Chapter 5
"Alright. Before we get into the session, I would like to divide the class into groups of four'" , the trainer said.
Looking at Nita, who was seated on the first row, he continued, "Could you please start counting..."
Meena listened...1,2,3 and 4. Again, 1,2,3 and 4. By the time the counting reached the last row, and she uttered 4, she had already time-travelled. The words MAD, difference, change, commitment, children kept ringing on her ears. As she moved expressionlessly to the next table where the "4" numbered people had to be seated, a voice asked, "Are you alright?"
It was Kesav. Though he was a new joinee, it didn't take much time for him to get as close to Meena that he didn't have to think twice before shooting the question. The same was the case with others in office, too. They knew she was approachable, and easily comprehendible too. Though she never spoke her mind, people could easily decipher her mental state through her face. Most importantly, her wide, brown eyes, adorned by thickly framed spectacles.
"No. I'm alright." Meena lied, pulling her chair closer to the table and consciously avoiding eye contact with everyone. She tried to scribble something on her note pad, in the pretense of noting down the directions from the trainer, but all she could write was:
1 2 3 4
And MAD.
She circled the word MAD many times, as if trying to manually push the wheel of time anti clockwise.
As the class started getting into the first activity of the session, she had already gone back in time.
To her college days. Days that saw a vibrant and brilliant Meena, a younger self, who now looked far superior to the present day Meena.
She sat, with eyes on her notepad,  drawing weird pictures and bizarre patterns, regardless of the class that had already embarked upon a group discussion on possible responses to the list of stressful situations provided in the trainee hand out.
(To be continued)

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#4


Chapter 4

Meena was not an exception.The whole lot of professionals present there, gazed for a minute longer, as the trainer entered the classroom, wearing an orange T-shirt and blue jeans. Amidst serious looks and enforced etiquette, in the classroom overshadowed by branded sober colours, a dash of orange was least expected. But for Meena, the bright colour came with an air of freshness. She somehow smelt a dormant inexplicable vent from the suppressed suffocation and boredom.
The trainer had a calm face and a generous smile. He would easily have crossed his late forties, thought Meena, reading the cue from his salt and pepper hair. Disturbing her silent analysis, the trainer spoke, as the whole class listened with curiosity.
"Hello everyone. I'm James Mathew and I'll be handling today's session on "Emotional intelligence". First of all, let me apologize for my deviation from the dress code. I could see many of you throwing surprised glances at me. I'm actually on my way back from an event organized by a non profit organization. Obviously, you don't want to walk around in your blazers and tie, during such a function, especially when it involves children.Now, let me introduce myself and provide a brief overview about today's course."
The erstwhile curious classroom slowly started giving away to distractions, as the trainer continued the monotonous self introduction, which was already familiar to the class, through the sweep of trainers who were invited every now and then- who were programmed to list down their degrees, academic achievements, social associations, topics of specialisation and every other detail irrelevant to the training objective.
Meena stared at the projector and started examining the colours and design of the first slide of the PowerPoint presentation. It carried the name of the course planned for the day, and few images of "emotionally intelligent" men and women. Meena stared at their faces, that looked far from being authentically mature and wondered whether the trainer googled up these images or had some of his colleagues pose for this reputed presentation. As she allowed her thoughts to roam haywire, least bothered about the contents of the trainer's polished brags, something caught her attention. The trainer had turned to adjust the projector screen and reconfirm it's brightness when she caught a glimpse of the back of his T shirt. And is there something written on it? Why does that font seem familiar to her? And the words...why do they hurl an intimate connect?
With a fleet of thoughts racing with each other to explode in her mind, she read...
MAD.
Make a Difference.
(To be continued)

Friday, 3 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#3

Chapter 3
"You said you won't be coming for the training..."
"Never mind..." Meena retorted.
Nita raised her eyebrows at the irrelevant reply and carried on with the arrangement of paraphernalia in the training room.
"Where are these markers disappearing each time? Keshav!!!"
"Yes Nita..."
"Blue, green and black...Get them...Fast fast! And please...not the permanent markers like you brought last week!"
"I'm fed up of cutting sorry faces in front of the trainers..." Nita murmured.
She was the coordinator for all the learning and development activities for the department.
"Here you go..." Keshav came running with the markers. He recently joined last month as an intern and Nita was making sure she utilized him fully for her activities before he grew his wings and started donning the corporate hat.
"Meena! Why don't you come to the front row?"
Meena didn't even seem to care. She was lost. In her world, of question marks and intertwining confusions. Even the fact that she chose to attend this monotonous non-technical training was just to postpone her agony for a while. But that attempt was not working out.
Soon the classroom was filled with people with formals, serious looks and plastic faces.
"Please keep your laptops closed and set an automatic reply please..." Nita announced, "This is a soft skills training and you don't need your machines here."
"The trainer is here..." Nita said, and rushed back to her seat.
Meena looked up. And her gaze lasted a little longer than usual.
(To be continued...)

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven#2

Chapter 2
The steaming hot cup of coffee at her desk was something she looked forward to everyday. Meena loved to pour the decoction with an extra dose of thickness to her milk. As she tossed her sugar cubes with expertise, it was a coffee addict's delight that was being made. One among the handful of delights she has the freedom to savour, of late.
"Are you not coming for the training?"Asked Nita, her colleague and canteen-mate.
"Oh. That crap is scheduled for today?I'm not sure if I would turn up."
"Are you serious? Do you know who the trainer is?"
"Who is it now..."
Meena was least interested in anything on this messy day, leave alone the chilliness of the training room. She felt like a schoolchild punished within four walls of a silent classroom.
She walked on to her desk and had a quick look on her mails. She briskly scribbled down the to-do list for the day and geared up to start her day.
Beep. Beep.
2 new whatsapp messages. Contents hidden.
She unlocked her phone with the innocence of a child opening a chocolate box.
"I think we need to talk.
It's high time."
The message was from Sundar.
She felt her world breaking down and could see her future painted clear in black. She couldn't respond. Her hands trembled with a mix of anger and pain.
A cold shiver went down her spine when she heard the third beep sound.
Hesitantly, she peeped to the screen from the corner of her eyes.
"This time, I'm serious."
(To be continued)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Quandaries in Heaven #1

Chapter 1
"I'm sorry."
Meena said, swallowing her anger, with an expression that was far from sorry.
He gave a scoff and left the room.
"Sundar!!! Stop. I'm coming".
Before she could run down the stairs, the hall doorway had closed. With a thud that smashed on her face.
She grabbed her lunchbox and ID card and hurried down, checking her bag on the way, for her room keys and wallet.
She saw the parking lot allotted for their dear Etios empty. The Etios that had already eaten up half of her salary with the EMI.
She walked down the road, towards the auto-rickshaw stand.
"Infopark"
The morning had already started in Cochin. For her, it started much earlier. With the call from her mother in law in the morning. Sundar's mom was a caring mother. A bit more caring that she wants her "bahu" to be a perfect one. A perfect daughter (in law). A perfect wife. And a much perfect all-rounder. Surprisingly, she wanted her to multitask these roles, showcasing the image of a new generation working woman- an image much necessary for her to take the social gatherings with a tinge of icing.
"Etta. Please take the Expressway route. The traffic on this road is more."
Meena loved watching the streets bustle and the city run to action everyday. It was as if a mechanical engine woke up, did its job, wound up and left for the day. The buzz that was conspicuous now would have subsided to nothingness by the time she was on her way back home. And city started to sleep much earlier nowadays, with the November clouds coming in.
"Etta. Stop here. They won't let auto-rickshaws inside."
She handed over the change and walked towards her office, her desperate escapade from morning's emotional drama.
(To be continued)

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Not Anymore...

It's raining.
Yes it's raining cats and dogs
But am not here to enjoy the rain
Nor frenetically dance in the cold shower of my suppressed ire-
The anger that's trapped in the black clouds that I draw in my sketches everyday
And ruthlessly shred;
Fruitlessly hoping for a better day.

This rain will hurt me-
And water drops will pierce me like sharp nails feeding onto flush
With the beastly hunger of a lion king on its prey;

This time, I'll not fear nor disappear;
Nor run and run and gasp for breath;
Nor gulp my ego
And die a dozen deaths inside.

Not again.
Not this time.
Not anymore.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Forbidden#30

He proudly winked as he surpassed the firewall again.
From apple in the garden of Eden to sophisticated networks,
"Forbidden" has silently echoed violation.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Faces

They came and left-
Those faces
Some vibrant and some dull
A few genuine, a few blistered
And a handful skilled on swift yet incredible transformations-
The most improbable revamp and
Inconceivable make overs.
And then some messy
Creepy, and overtly sophisticated:
And some rarely visible.
At times some faces splash
In the middle of my dreams
And some visit me
In the unlikeliest of hours-
In irrelevant combinations.
But today,
I don't look for faces anymore.
Of late, those faces taught me
That they never matter.
I stare at their soul instead;
That's veiled by random sundry faces.

Smoke #29

As she looked on with tearless eyes, million memories broke down to ashes, emitting a suffocating smoke that said "Never again".

Friday, 27 October 2017

#Homeless (Homeletters Part II)

That night, my cozy pillows refused to put me to sleep
And my comfort suddenly looked out of place and my complacence meaningless-
As I twisted and turned, unable to escape to oblivion,
That forbidden face kept haunting me;
Yes, that nameless face I glimpsed from the corner of my eyes and
Pretended that I didn't,
Like we all always do,
Lest it disturbs our grabbed slices of pseudo happiness-
And moved on-
Rather, I thinked I moved on
And away from that scary strange face like I was programmed to;
From childhood.

But that picture kept flashing,
Regardless of my resistance,
Of the stranger sleeping on the platform
With disheveled hair and tattered clothes;
Skinny elbows tightly folded as a pillow,
And mouth awkwardly inhaling the dusty air, exposing teeth, which seemed to me, as dormant pointed objects of cruelty-
And yellowed nails, ready to camouflage as hungry claws, sick of unfairness.

I imagine the ingredients of his dream, or if he does dream at all-
And to what he wakes up everyday,
And soon countless such faces stare at me- dark, scarred and torn-
With anger, contempt and agony-
Taking me on a guilt trip, trying to teach me things I never bothered to learn.

Next day, I wake up with all the thoughts evaporated and blended into inaccessible corners of my mind-
But still a piercing touch of sadness lingered with the bitterness of my morning coffee.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

#Homeletters

And, I come back again,
Eagerly peeping through the discoloured dirty windows of the train-
Letting my fingers carelessly hold on those iron bars
As smudged images whiz past me like a sturdy athlete on his final lap;
And wait for that familiar recorded voice that welcomes me on the platform-
Again and again and again-unbiased and unaffected by monotony.

And once the rail stops with a thud,
I rush back, with the excitement of a kid,
To that same place-
With those same pictures on the wall staring at me with unchanged emotion-
For years now;
And that dangling cobweb on the portrait closest to the ceiling that we never cared to clean;
And those cushions that greet me with the same bonhomie, inviting me to recline without a second thought;
And to that favourite swing that never changed its modus operandi- swaying and rocking nonchalantly like  an eternal pendulum.

As I end up near those dusty bookshelves and the familiar pillows that lulled me to sleep through my thick and thin;
I know I am back to where I belong-
A homesick heart's paradise.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Dear Winter...

Dear Winter,
As you come and shade my world in black evenings and paint my skin white with pallor-
You make me think of those frozen days
Ànd moments buried under a forgotten snow...
You show me obscured images of faces I saw and lost-
And surreptitiously splash cold flakes of yesterday on me...
Then you impose that deafening silence;
Forcing me to retrieve the ambiguous echoes of familiar voices...
But still, I wait for you...
And wait for the warmth within me as I merge into the chilly wintry evening of my life.

Words#28

The book had everything in it for a sumptuous feast. The words were a slice of life, with a dash of pepper and a generous dressing, to be savoured with a pinch of salt...

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Colours

This time, when I choose the colour of my note,
The note I love to scribble down-
The note that escapes getting damp all the time I pour down my thoughts on it-
I prefer to choose grey.
The mix of black and white
The colours of yesterday
Where things were either good or bad
And you did either right or wrong
And you either laughed or cried.
Today,
I have gone allergic to colours-
The hues that combine complex shades
And deceive your vision
And confuse you with half comprehension-
That you stand perplexed
Lost within the choice
Amidst too many colours...
I hope we moved back
To black and white.

Sunshine#27

Sneeking through curtains, laughing loud, the sunshine of her life.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Cul-de-sac #26

Rohan's study room.
10 pm.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as his parents took turns to chisel down his math paper.
His wet pillow lulled him deep into a cul-de-sac, wondering why undiagnosed dyslexia never deserved sympathy.

End#24

Months soaked in persistence
And days drenched in isolation-
To end in three hours of sheer excellence.
This time, sweat looked beautiful.

Spark#23

The spark that ignited; turned damp on boundaries.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Diwali Eve..

As we celebrate the victory-
Yes the victory of good over evil;
Bursting crackers on the eve of Diwali...
Spreading sparkling colours of joy on the dark night sky
And shouting aloud with frenzy...
Somewhere...
Far away...
Do we hear that silenced voice?
The sobs that were too afraid to emerge?
Those shrieks that only this night sky heard-
And those million unheard clamors within each girl that she hushes away-
Again and again-
At the bus stand, train, park, pathway
Roadside, market, mall and what more-
The confines of her so called home?
Yet, we celebrate the obsolete triumph of women power...
But,
The day these muted cries gain their echos';
Mind you,
No Diwali would look beautiful.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spoon #22

I saw them on the table-
Those round doses of happiness;
Glitzening white with wickedness-
Dripping the sugar syrup that
Oozed with sweet mischief.

I dropped my spoons-
Grabbing a mouthful; saying
Rasgullas are supposed to gulped;
Not to be savoured with cutlery.

Breathe...

When your last try fails and the final efforts flop
And your favourite castle falls down; like an enchanting pack of cards,
And you mock your ideals and the age-long doctrines
And view everything with an unmatched cynicism
Smiling off with sarcasm all those lectures on fairness-
And run relentlessly to your last resort-
An overdose of solitude and the respite within those four walls-
Wait a second, breathe and remind yourself-
This was not what you were born for…

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Shoot#21

"His condition is very critical. Let's hope for the best."
The doctor said, with an expression least expressive of hope.
"Mom. Look. Isn't that a shooting star?"
She gazed outside the window, clinging hard on the last thing that indicated hope.

Govardhan

Ask me a wishlist
And I would say
Without batting an eyelid
To snatch that time turner from Hermione,
And no, not to go back to Hogwarts
I'll go further back
To an era
Of magic, maya and maiya.
A time when someone
Came to our rescue
On that rainy day,
As a thunder-
Lifting our faith and spirits
Along with that mountain,
An umbrella shielding us not just from nature,
But our uncertainties as well.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Drive #20

When a million flattering voices make your heart swell and your cheeks blush pink with pride,
Listen to that one voice that drives you crazy with truth, that one genuine voice worth dying for.

Rice #19

It was a perfect combination.
Rainy day, open window and a six piece pizza all for himself.
As he closed his eyes to relish a bite, he saw a mother feeding a handful of rice with a dollop of ghee
to a tiny kid that refused to eat.
Somewhere, something splashed a dash of incompleteness to his favourite day.

Slake+window (8 word story)

No window shopping could slake her hoarding impulse.

Burn #fiction #imagination running wild

I burn within,
As you walk away with sheer nonchalance,
Stamping ruthlessly on my shattered pack of cards...
Those fragments of red and black
And diamonds and hearts
Pitifully stare at me-
As king and queen and ace and spade-
Heave a sober sigh of helplessness...
As you cross the final bend,
Spreading a blurred image
Smudged and dim-
I close my eyes and
Exhale a million smashed dreams
For one last time.

Only thing#18

Only thing that is more fulfilling than writing for me is to witness my thoughts gain wings to fly...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Homesick...

Amidst a bunch of wanderlust minds-
And the glitz and glisten of sparkling lights-
In the happening city of sleepless nights-
A lazy room with a cosy bed had a heart that pined for one more snooze...

Friday, 6 October 2017

Dustbin#17

I see them everyday, those dustbins-
Cornered by life-
Accepting everything
With the same indifference.
Unspoken words, crushed flowers, withered clothes, rotten sweets
And remnants of yesterday's dinner-
Sans complaints sans that ubiquitous urge-
To rush to the limelight.
Only to empty to nothingness
And start afresh the next day.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Truth #16

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty."
The teacher wrote on the blackboard.
"Ma'am what's that scar on your hand?"
"Ah. That's nothing dear." She said, stretching down her sleeves, masking her bruise as Kumkum.
Perhaps Keats was unaware of the art of crafting beautiful lies.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Shop #15

After the tiring shopping spree, she finally managed to stealthily place the basket of goodies at her maid's doorstep. Executing a meaningful surprise was her version of Dussehra.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Heart#14

Battling his tears, he signed the papers with trembling hands.
His heart skipped a beat, as the vehicle moved ahead, killing his dream forever.
Kilometers away, in the laughter of a school kid, his sweet heart sprang to life again.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Wear#13


"For the Himalayan trip? All alone?"
She smiled at those raised eyebrows and nodded.
And she set off with her backpack, joining the rally with those who refused to wear gender on the sleeves.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hold#12

"No...I think we can see it this way..." She started.
"Hold on...I have a better idea." He interrupted.
And she waited for her turn, swallowing her words and a part of herself.

Shake#11

"Come on, shake a leg"
The crowd roared in frenzy.
18 missed calls.
Drowned in the loud beats, a call from home was the last thing he wanted.

Back#10

That day, I ran back home.
Not to the aroma of coffee or the warmth of cuddling hands.
But to a sea of visitors gathered near my grandma.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Come back!!!

Millennia ago,
Yasoda warned...
"You're not going now!!!"
Pointing to Yamuna,
"It's dangerous, child!
You'll dread at the wild!
Thieves will threaten you
And night may frighten you..."

Beaming with a playful smile,
Kanha said, "They'll run for their life, Ma"
"And dusk would bow at my darkness."
As Kanha hopped away,
Yasoda sat at the doorstep,
Fingers crossed with an unknown fear.

2017. 6.00 pm.
"You're not going out to play"
An angry Rahul gave a scoff
And hopped on to his couch potato mode.
Nita sighed, disturbed at her son's obedience, worried with her own words.

Beasts reincarnated as social evil
And danger as fellow men...
As wolves of prey bounce with those hungry claws...
Pepper sprays and knives
Replace crayons and colour pencils...
Hope Kanha comes back
As fierce eyes glowing with fire
Making deadliest of beasts,
Shudder with fear.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Octopus Diaries

From the page that accidentally fell off from the golden book...

Dear Coward,

I'm sorry you fail...
You miserably fail to realise
That you actually lost...
And that ugly scorn on your face
That emits dominance
Is but futile...
I pity the instinct in you that preaches cruelty...
Dear inhabitant,
Do you realize that the fear in you is breeding your cruelty?
Ah! Now that wry smirk on the mention of fear!!
Pathetic that you fail to realise that you killed because you feared...
You feared the voice-
And the dormant surge within.
The wave that you thought would drown you.
But do you hear the sirens of silence?
Yes.
The silence that you seek to create
The silence that your comrades say, is your mission...
The mighty silence that's  prepared to echo louder!
And I doubt your preparedness for its intensity.
Fellow dweller,
Be prepared
The trumpets of tomorrow blow high-
You may remain and all of us may have left,
But the silence that you run for
Will haunt you...
And I'm sorry
Will kill you.

From the Octopus that has outlived the earth.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Lost Monsoon

The "new" sheds its charm
Amateurish and incomplete
And stoops down-
As if in defeat-
To the peerless grace and completeness
Of what was-
Of the beauty in cracked walls and leaking roofs
And wrinkled hands and damp floors-
Of an old rain that was a unique contrast;
Days when the droplets poured into our hearts
And a warmth spread in our souls-
As if proving to be a visual oxymoron-

Today, the rain sends chills down the spine;
Forming a frozen void within,
Searching in vain,
For that lost solace,
The cuddling hands
And that serene face
That are now stiff and pale
And numb and cold-
Indifferent and invisible
Somewhere,
With tears burnt
And emotions buried-
Dissolved in the monsoon.
Forever.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Morning rains

These morning rains
Remind me
Of musings
I once thought and forgot;

The moist earth
Hits the Rewind
And replays the things
I once smelt and felt...

Tiny water droplets
Give away to the breeze
Transforming their state
With cold and absolute ease...

Courtyards that flaunted intricate patterns yesterday
Now hold obscured kolams-
Struggling to retain their skeletal forms-
As they reluctantly disassociate
From their connecting dots.

As little canvas shoes trot on
The wet roads
Swept clean by the overnight downpour;
I see myself in the tiny kid
That whines at the school bus
And sighs at his heavy bag.

The shoulders didn't know.
The baggage has just started.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Women's Day

The alarm that never snoozes
Alarms at the hullabaloo
On the day
Earmarked for its mistress.

The newspaper winks
And flaunts the glossy cover page
Even as it gulps down the fearful bulletins
Within its innermost columns.

Hashtags preaching boldness and change
Flood the virtual world
Drowning the million disturbing voices
Beneath its surge.

And finally, as “she” braves the stares
And defies the norms
And knocks down the hundred question marks
A raised eyebrow wishes her;
“Happy Women’s Day”.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The adaptation anomaly

Sometimes it just creeps in

The adaptation anomaly-
Those “literally-fed-up-with-all-this” moments
When we simply cannot sync with the ambience-
And grow sick of all the complications in the air-
And wonder if the nomenclature of those around
Be reworked as “sophisticated machinery”…
When we forgot the last time we interacted with people-
Real, simple ones sans adjectives-
And that’s when we involuntarily move the curtains of our dusty window
To catch a glimpse of a view that we already knew by heart-
But this day, that view has got a different shade-
As if each thing outside the window-
Is finally letting out a story that it held back for so long-
Stories told in a language comprehensible at these exceptional moments alone…
And then when we come back to our (in) sanity-
The bustle looks meaningful for the first time
And it suddenly dawns upon us-
That each of these machinery has a unique story for itself-
That makes them apparently so dense-so complex-
Humans, at last.
Certain exceptions are beautiful in a way that they deviate us to new spheres altogether...
Things that we would never have explored but for this strange incompatibility…


 


A Simple Message...

A Simple Message...