Friday, October 12, 2012

30 Day Challenge# Day10

So, I picked up Hariku Murakami's book "Kafka on the shore". This is a book I have heard about a lot. And this is going to be my first Murakami. The cover (if you can see the picture above) has a black cat with green eyes on it. And on the spine of the book are two fishes.

Miao is Sheetal's best friend - more than just a pet. A 9-year old Sheetal had found the cat mewing from under one of the concrete boulders in Nariman Point. She had stretched out her hand and a black kitten with shining green eyes had come crawling out. It was love at first sight for both of them. Sheetal's parents - Mr and Mrs Bhandari were dog people out and out. But they relented on the promise that the cat would not be allowed to go out for walks and drag back dirt or dead birds in to the house.

When she was 15, her family had moved to the slightly less crowded Madh island area. It wasn't counted as Mumbai according to her - all her friends had been left behind in Worli's Govindam apartments. She had never been able to make friends easily. Her friend circle in school had consisted of the same 6 faces since they were in fourth grade. Outside of that she hardly spoke to anyone, even though she wondered how it would be to hang out at coffee shops, meet friends for a movie or go out on dates. Therefore, Miao soon became her only company at home. They would go for walks in the garden, never venturing out of the back door towards the beach. Sheetal was always scared that the stray dogs would chase Miao. Miao, however, looked ever so fondly at the lines of fish that the Koli women dried on the beach. But he had started to think that maybe the beach was not a place he was supposed to go to, since Sheetal screamed every time he tried creeping out.

Sheetal would be gone soon. She was going to college. For the first time in her life she was travelling to New Delhi and will be living there alone. Khanna aunty has said that she can always come and stay with them in her Greater Kailash flat, but she isn't sure if that would be a good idea. Sheetal is scared that she will be an outside there as well. People would go out and have fun, would probably go shopping while she will be cooped up in the library or will go for walks around campus. She knows Karan is also going for Eco Honours in the same University. But then she had always tried to avoid Karan, ever since he had asked her out on a date. She liked him a lot but was scared, as always, that he will not like her one bit if he started talking to her for more than ten-fifteen minutes. She had finally relented and agreed for a date. One simple chai-coffee date. And yet, here she was wondering if this was a mistake. She hadn't been able to sit still since morning. She had cleaned her room thrice, arranged and rearranged all her books, made lists of things to buy for Delhi and scribbled things on every newspaper she could find. Miao had dutifully followed her around the house. Now, as they walked around the garden again, Sheetal noticed Miao's longing stare at the fresh rows of fishes the fisherwomen had strewn on the sand. The bigger fishes were lined in five neat rows, with alternate fishes facing the water. The smaller prawns and shrimps had been dumped and then flattened and spread by hand. Miao mewed softly, hoping, for once, that a crow would drop its steal in the garden by mistake. He could tackle crows - he had killed pigeons previously, and rats on a few occasions.

Sheetal kept thinking. About how the date would be.  And about clothes to wear.  And how she could completely ruin the first date of her young life. But mostly she thought about how much she worried. She had always worried about things - from examinations, to time, to parents fighting, to what people thought. All that worrying had done her no good. She wanted to have a life. A life with less worrying and more living. One which would let her be all that she wanted to be, or could be. Now was the time. College would be a new beginning. She must be brave. She must learn to take risks. And it would have to start now - with this one date. And with Miao crossing the threshold to steal some fish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

30 Day Challenge # Day 9

Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. The heartbreaking result: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Write a ghost story or a love story in less than 20 words...

Grandma on her verandah seat. Blushes while singing dadu's favourite song. Prays Titli will find someone just like him. She has.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The world above.
With rainbows and a bright sun.
I sing. And hum. And look to my side.

What use are rainbows, then?

Monday, September 17, 2012

30 day challenge. # Day 8

Re-write a classic fairy tale

Once upon a time, in a world which was perfect, lived three round and rotund little pigs. They liked their house to be clean and big, and therefore were looked down upon by their clan. The pigs in the town all lived in small cabins. Some even slept on the road, in spite of having a lot of money. The three little pigs didn't like their neighbours much either.

"All they do is eat and sleep. And then they roll around in mud," they said.

With time, the three pigs became entrepreneurs. They became rich and famous in the country and cats and dogs and crows and bears - all came to them for business. However, the sly fox was known to be the best bargainer in the country. And he saw the three pigs as nothing but rivals who should be taken care of. So off he went to see his cousin, The Wolf, for help.

The Wolf was the dumb sort. If you have ever heard of the words brawn and brain, the wolf would epitomize the former. So when his cousin said that there were three fat pigs in the country, he thought it would be the easiest thing to get rid of them, and take care of his dinner at the same time.

The three pigs by now were living in separate mansions across the town. The first brother was in the business of straws, which he sold to the cows for a steep price. The towns folk didn't like him so much. The second brother traded in wood. He was responsible for the forests near the town becoming so small. The folks in town hardly had any place to go out, or a place to work. So as the brothers became richer, the townsfolk became poorer. The third brother was the only one who was liked by the townsfolk. He worked hard and made little money. But the money he made was kept nicely in a bank far away. And he lived in a small house with many other pigs in the town. This brother loved his siblings a lot, but could not ignore the way they had cheated their kinsfolk just to make some extra money.

In the evening, the Wolf came to the house of the first pig and said, "I'll smash and I'll thrash, and I'll crush your bones to bits". And he ran inside the house and picked up the pig. He beat him up and killed him. He then went round the house, and broke parts of the wall. Since the pig traded in straw he had built his house with that, and this proved fatal now. The Wolf set the straw on fire and smiled as the smell of bacon came wafting through the night air.

He went off to the second pig's house. He called out to the second pig and told him what he had done. The pig, however, remained foolish and said," You are nothing but a silly wolf. You can't kill me. I'm much smarter".

This was too much for the Wolf and he called out angrily," You just wait and see. I'll smash and I'll thrash, and I'll crush your bones to bits". And up he went through the chimney and punched and kicked and broke the little pig's bones. He then set fire to the house and waited till the pig inside screamed his last.

Feeling proud and undefeatable, the Wolf finally went to the village. He saw the third pig with his friends. He shouted from this side.

"You pigs have no sense left. Didn't you hear that I killed your two brothers and am roasting them for dinner? And yet you are laughing and playing around!!"

The third pig did not panic and replied calmly. "But then, why would you want to kick and punch me? That would only make my meat tough and when you finally eat me, you won't be able to enjoy it. And the broken bones will prove to be difficult to separate from my flesh. So then, you won't be able to enjoy your dinner."

The wolf, which didn't like anyone messing with his food, realised that this was right. So he decided that instead of beating him up, he will straight away set fire to his house. And once the third pig had been roasted, he would sit down to his dinner.

So went and tried to set fire to this pig's house as well. However, the foolish wolf did not realise that the pigs in the town lived in mud. The houses and the gardens and the pools were all full of mud. And no matter how much he tried, the mud would not catch fire. He tried again and again. At last he gave up and went back to the two pigs he had killed before. The fox met him halfway and realised what had happened. The fox, cunning as it was, respected cleverness and felt that the third pig would be a fun rival to have. Thereafter the fox and the pig would meet and compete. And they would huff and they would puff, till the sun would go down.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 7

Your character gets a call asking for David. Instead of hanging up your character keeps talking and decide to meet that evening.


"Hi. Can I talk to David"

"I’m sorry, you have the wrong number."

"Uhm. Isn't this David Patel's number?"

"No. I am sorry"

"But David said it’s his number. And I checked with the number code. He lives in MG Road."

"Well. Actually I live in MG Road. But this isn't David Patel's number. I am sorry"

"Listen, don’t hang up yet. Just find David and ask him to call me?"

"Oh God. I don't know who this David is. Will you just hang up!! 

By now Tanya had lost her temper. Why should she put her life on hold for someone she doesn’t even know. She should have just registered her name in the Do not call List.

"Look man. Today is not the day to drive me crazy. Just hang up. This is not David"

"But I need to talk to David. You don't understand. I need him to stop me"

"Stop you?"

"Yes. I think I might kill myself"

"What!!! You can't just call up and say you will kill yourself. Are you mad? Call up some shrink or something."

"I can't take this anymore. I’m not doing anything in life. It's just passing away in front of me. And I have not been able to achieve anything at all."

"No look, you should call up a professional"

"Please listen to me. Tell me what you think. I'm old. I can't have the patience or energy to go through this all."

"Look sir, I can’t help. How can I help". She was becoming desperate now. Though part of the agony aunt group in her college, Tanya never thought she would be talking to someone who wanted to take his life.

"But you can. I am ill. I can’t remember what is happening. I can’t remember my wife's name. Or my son's face. He is a software engineer, I think. We used to travel together on my Chetak".

"Oh. My dad had a Chetak too." She mumbled, remembering her dad riding, while she sat huddled in between him and her saree clad mother. She would pretend to be flying. Her mother would hold her with one hand, while the other would be casually flung around her father's shoulder. He father would, from time to time, check on the mirror and smile at Tanya.

"I don't remember how it was. But I remember that I felt happy. That I didn’t think he would grow up so soon. And I wanted to be that close to him for ever. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes," she answered. She had grown away from her mother after her father's death. They never had as much fun without him around. And then, little by little, her mother became just another lady in the house. One she would give her school books to, or the one who would take her shopping when she thought her daughter had outgrown her dress.

"Why does this happen, do you know? That we grow apart so easily and so fast? When at one point of time everything seems like something which won’t change?"

"Im sorry it had to be that way for you sir. I am sure given a chance your son would also want to be with you right now," she said.

"I wish I could see him. I wish I could feel like a nice father again. You must really care for your old man, you know? You never know what will happen."

"Uh hmm."

"I’m sorry, did I say something wrong?"

"My dad passed away 5 years ago"

"I am sorry. Do you want to talk about it"

For some reason, Tanya wanted to talk to this man. This man who could not even remember his son's face. This man who would probably not understand what she is going through. And yet, this man. He would be the only one who would probably know how helpless one feels. Her helplessness. When she feels suffocated, just because she tries to remember how her dad scolded her and she can’t. She can’t remember his voice. And she is afraid, someday she won’t be able to remember his face, or his touch either.

"Yes, thank you"

That is the how their story began. The man who decided to let go, and the girl who wasn't ready to forget yet. The unlikely friendship grew after their first meeting that very night. And ever since then, they have been together. Supporting each other, holding on.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 6

Write a story that includes: twins, a 12-layer cake, a house that seems to be haunted but isn't…

It was the wedding to everyone was waiting for. When Christine would exchange vows with Michael. She with her sun-kissed hair, tied up in a French bun. He waited for her at the end of the aisle, with his best friend Thomas standing by his side, holding the ring. Thomas had been his best friend since they met in third grade. It started on a bad note actually. He had tried to trick Michael during a particularly important track event. Michael had caught the fib, but had made a joke about it. They have been friends ever since. Thomas's twin sister, Teresa had joined them for most of their games when they were younger. And they used to pretend to go off on life-altering adventures.

Christine walked down the aisle, holding on to her father's arm, smiling radiantly. Michael couldn't help but feel a pinch of pride. This girl, the girl everyone wanted to take out for the senior prom, the girl who topped the science class and represented school in all the exchange programmes, the girl who was as cheerful and nice as children on a spring day, this girl is now going to be his better half. Why, even Thomas had secretly harbored a crush on Christine. But being the nice boy he was, he had quickly brushed it aside after Michael said he wished he could take her out to the local burger shop. Together, Christine and Michael would make their new house - a mansion if it may be called so, thanks to the Mathew's good fortune in the leather trade, into a loving home. They plan to have three kids - the first one in two-three years. And maybe a pet dog to complete the family picture.

The ceremony goes by in a whirlwind. Before they know it, it is time for the party to move indoors. The usher announces the newlywed’s first dance together. Slowly, Christine turns in her spot as Michael tries to not grin like a child. The most beautiful memory together that is what they are going to build.

Suddenly, there is a scream from upstairs. Michael rushes, followed by Thomas and a couple of his relatives. They find Teresa in the washroom upstairs, shivering like a child - pointing towards the window. Thomas guides her to the kitchen and gives her something to drink. By this time, the guests are disturbed. They start talking. They talk of how neighbours had said the property was cursed after the Senior Mathews's death. How they could see the light in the attic turning on in some nights, even though they knew Michael was never there.

To stop all the rubbish talks, Michael decides to wrap-up the party soon. He tells the wedding planner to bring out the cake. The cake will cheer up everyone. They had chosen a 12 layer beautiful fresh cream cake for the occassion. He had made sure that the caterers knew how to make it taste soft without making it gooey. And she had chosen the cream toppings for the cake.

But, Mr Bondeux comes rushing back, holding a plastic grin on his face.

"Mr Michael, you must come at once".

Michael doesn't think he can handle another shock today. He follows the man into the dining hall. As he enters he can't believe what he sees. On the floor is in his prized cake. The cream had splattered onto the counter and under the table. And there, standing on the side, were three kids. He moves closer. They step back. He realises they have not had a shower in several months.

"Hello" he says.

"Hi" says one of the kids, sheepishly. Michael can detect some cream stuck to his hair. He smiles.

"So, you are hungry?"

"Ah haan. But we didn’t want to steal. It was just that we saw the cake there, and usually no-one comes to this house. So we thought we could take some. "

"So you are the ones who have been taking stuff from the kitchen all these days?"

"No. We thought we would keep them back. But the week has been difficult. We couldn't find no work"

"Could not find any work".


"Never mind. Where do you stay?"

"Here, this is our house."

"Oh. Hmm. Something has to be done about that"

"What no. Don't throw us out"

"Oh don't you worry. I have the perfect idea for you all", he said, smiling.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 5

Your character has a date and has been stood up. Your character hears out the reasoning but decides to take revenge. Write a story on that....

Rene has been with Timon for three years now. Three extremely long and patient years. Timon. How should one describe him without offending the man himself? Timon was two years older than Rene, her senior in Karate class. As with senior, he came across as a man full of himself. He knew his stuff, sure he did. He also knew how to make a girl for him. And fall she did. Rene stopped going for all her other activities and concentrated only on Karate, just so that she could see Timon some more. They finally started dating in 2009 and have been together ever since.

Timon on the other hand, never seemed to be interested in being with her anywhere. Not for a movie. Not for dances. Not even for a long drive together. But yes. He made up for all that in bed. That six-feet two inches frame had its perks obviously.

And then, last week, Timon decides to not come for dinner. Rene had ordered pork-rice from that take-away around the corner. She had even tried her hand at baking a red velvet cake. But the cake's icing had melted. And the pork-rice had gone cold. Timon had not showed up. Rene felt miserable as she watched the last one hour of Breakfast at Tiffany's alone.

When she ran into him in class the following day, she tried to ignore him. Timon tried to talk to her. And tried some more. Till she gave up. He had an explanation handy. His friends had come over to watch Fifa. And seriously, he asked, you wouldn't expect me to give up football for some girl thing? I mean. Nothing girls do can be as much fun, can it?

Rene kept a straight face and moved away. By evening she had a plan. When Timon came up to her again, she behaved normally. Yes, she would be willing to forgive him. Yes, she would prepare the same cake again and bring it to him next week.

Next week came. Rene's cake was better than last time. She put on her purple t-shirt and shorts. And walked out of the house.

Timon waited. And waited some more. And then some more. Finally, he called her up and prepared to shout!

"Oh but honey! I thought nothing girls do can be as much fun!"

"So whats your idea? Being with girls and being boring? Playing doll-house?"

"Well, I was playing. But then doll house might not be the correct term for it."

"Huh. What do you mean?"

"Oh you know. This and that."

"Where are you, Rene. Stop messing with me". His voice was stern. Rene smiled.

"Did you notice new exchange students have come? Tamara and Simon are in our class".

"Oh cut the crap. Where are you?"

"Well. As it turns out, they also like red-velvet cake"

"What the fuck! Are you with that Simon freak? Listen, if you are with him. Get out of here or I'm never going to speak to you again. Get it? We are over?"

She laughed. "Oh. But Why would I be with him? Just cause he has beated you at the last match? No, baby! I wouldn't do that to you."

"What are you doing Rene! Tell me know. Please"

"I think we are done Timon. Too bad! Had you just come that day you'd still get to be a part of the threesome."

"What threesome. Whatever dude. You are just weird."

"uh..hmm.. Oh and Tamara says hi. She is fun too. And better than you, in the only place you are good at."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 4

Think of two very different people you know. Invent a character who combines characteristics of both of them. Then put this character in a stressful family situation ...

"They say that the world was built for two", sang Tithiya, imitating her current favourite - Lana Del Ray, in the college fest. She could see her friends standing in the first row itself, Joy was flinging his hair wildly - he must be high on weed, she thought. Arundhuti kept looking at Joy with a mix of amusement and disgust. Karan and Nishi were trying to look romantically towards each other - but ended up bursting into laugher every time. Tithiya felt so happy seeing them there. They just made life perfect. Good friends, great parents, a fun college and a guaranteed internship at the media house of her choice. Life was good for Tithiya Sharma.

"Yohoo, Sharma! You were fabulous," Arundhuti came bouncing up the stairs even before Tithi had the chance to come off the stage. She smiled.

"Are you sure it wasn't bad? I went off key in some places".

"Bleh. You always feel that way about yourself, don't you? Under-sell to the world!" chided Arundhuti.

Tithi wanted to go back home. Rest for a while and tell her parents about the show. They would be proud. She has the most awesome parents ever. They have always supported her through whatever she has fancied at any point in her life. Like when she wanted to take up art in class two, her dad had brought her most of the crayons in the market. In class six she decided she wanted to be a dancer. And her mother went to each of her shows after that. By ninth she thought she had it made as a basketball champ. The only time her parents had become a bit strict with her was when she discussed her brilliant idea of leaving studies and going pro with the sport. They have been there through her life. To them, she was the perfect child. And to her, her parents were the ones whose words were the ultimate thing.

As she entered her house in CR Park, she could not smell her mother's incense sticks which she offered the Gods every evening at sundown. Her father's car was parked in the garage. And the light in the living room seemed to be on. She caught sight of Vohra aunty, her neighbour. Did she imagine it or did Vohra aunty just shake her head and clicked her tongue?

"Mumma! Papa", she called out as she entered the house. Her parents sat in the living room. Something told her it was not right. She went and sat next to her dad and looked from one parent to the other.

Her father broke the news to her," Your mother is leaving us."

"What???" Tithi was shocked.

"Yes, she wants to get married to Arjun uncle." Her father could hardly disguise the sarcasm in his voice.

"No. What! Is this a joke?" This had to be a joke. Her mom would never do something like this. It wasn't proper. It just wasn't. She loved papa. She loved Tithi. "Mumma, say something."

"Look beta, I wanted to tell you this myself. But the time was such. And.. and I was never sure how you'd take it."

"I met Arjun in college. We have been friends ever since. I must confess we have always felt strongly towards each other. But we decided to not take anything forward because I was about to be married to your father. I have had the best moments of my life in this family. Your father is a good man. He has been there for me. And you have given me so many reasons to feel happy and to be proud." Her mother looked down," And you are also one of the reasons why I have the courage to do this today."

"Did you just blame me for this mess? What is happening?"

"No beta. I am not blaming you. I am saying I am thankful. You have always been the girl who showed maturity beyond her years. And you feel that love is the biggest thing in the world. You were always falling in love with different things - sometimes dance, sometimes pets, sometimes algebra. And yet you gave them your best shot - your whole time. I know now that if I give my time, I can be happy too. And it’s not like I won’t be around. I will be next to you... through out your life - whenever you need me".

No. Stop it. Don’t make me a part of it. This is horrible. You are horrible" she screamed. With tears streaming down her face, she ran up to her room and slammed the door.

As she lay there thinking. She remembered all the days she had spent with her mumma and papa together. How perfectly in love they had looked. Had mumma ever been unhappy? Had mumma always been unhappy? Was it ok for her to do this? It couldn't be, could it?

But... but then. If she did love someone how can she, her mumma's little daughter, not be there to encourage her. Ok. She didn't love papa. But they were still not fighting. Then maybe it is ok to fall in love after an age. Maybe it is ok to let go of the things she had just take one more step towards an unknown future.

Her mother had waited all these years till Tithi was in the final year of college, therefore old enough to take care of herself. She didn't need her mother to be around her all the time. In all probability she would be studying in Mumbai for her masters. Why then should she leave behind her mother, unhappy and never being able to talk about what she wanted to anyone? It would hurt her. It would also be embarrassing to admit that she came from a broken home. But she had to do what was expected of her. She had to be the perfect daughter once more.

Monday, September 3, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 3

Imagine you're looking through a collection of short stories. One of the titles catches your interest. That's the story you want to read first. What might the title be? Invent a title that would make you want to read the story. Now, write a story to go with that title...

And then the music stopped forever

When one of the girls in the school building had her birthday, Glen always was the one to decorate the cake. Venesia decked up the hall with streamers and photo cut-outs, while Pallavi painted a huge birthday card. Cicilia was the singer and Roberta the crazy little dancer. Together these teenagers made sure that each girl felt special on her birthday in the hostel.

The girls had all come to stay in the hostel when they were young. They were orphaned in different circumstances. Glen's parents died in the cold. Venesia was found in the homeless shelter and since she was just a baby they didn't know what to do with her. Mrs Hannigan had received the call from the shelter late into the night. She had gone first thing in the morning and picked up little Venny and brought her to the shelter. Her daughter, Cici, was approximately the same age. Pallavi's father had died while driving home from work. And her extremely young mother did not want to have any memory left of her previous life when she remarried a US citizen a year later. Roberta, or Bobbie, just walked up to the shelter when she was seven - confident and knowing exactly what she wanted. The younger girls knew that the five friends would be the best to turn to in case anyone needed any help, and also the worse kinds to have as an enemy. To Mrs Hannigan, the girls were her world. They brought about every joy she wanted. If Cici made her smile, the whole group together would make sure that the smile stayed put for the whole night.

Little Randy has her birthday tomorrow. She has been praying since morning for a new doll. Hand me down ones are the only dolls she has ever played with in the shelter. Cici tries to explain the financial problems on how they could all share, and how an old doll is much better because it also needs a new friend. Pallavi has been trying to make a new rag doll for her from her old polka dotted skirt which doesn't fit her anymore. She has always been good at sewing and crafts, though for difficult embroideries she has to run to the cook - plump Mrs Zafon - for help.

Parties are simple in the hostel. There is a cake, baked by Mrs Zafon and then decorated with whatever candies or toppings the girls are in love with at the moment. Venesia and Pallavi worked together in decorating and painting. Often they ran into Cicilia who would try to belt out new versions of Happy Birthday to you and YMCA and Shiny Disco Balls. Bobbie giggled every time she heard it, but then she never let anyone down. She would dance. And make everyone dance along with her. Even Mrs Hannigan had to come up and 'shake a leg'.

This time too everyone is busy making the preparations. Everyone is busy enough to not notice Randy when she goes to taste her stolen handful of candies. Busy enough to not remember about Mrs Hannigans blood pressure medicines. And then it happened. While they danced, with Randy in the middle of the circle, Mrs Hannigan fell on the couch. The girl's excitement had taken the best of her. She was old now. In her 50's. As she breathed her last, she thought of those five girls. She knew they would take care of the younger ones. They knew of her savings, they would be able to handle it for some time. But then, would they ever laugh again, with this sudden responsibility? Would they be able to sing and dance like they are doing now? The music for them would stop as soon as she stopped breathing. And yet, she couldn't hold on any longer...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 2

Write a story that includes: a tombstone, a first kiss, and a butterfly collection…

Mili was seven when Uno came to the house. The doctor had said its better to keep her happy in her last days. Her parents had cried the whole night. Doctor Roy, from Hazra Medical College had tried to console them. As a family friend and the consulting oncologist. Mili hadn't understood the fuss. All she wanted was her mother to come and sit next to her and massage her belly. That usually worked to ease the pain. She could hardly even hear the words being spoken.

Once she got a bit better, after a particularly nasty session of chemo, her daddy brought home a little Labrador puppy. Almost golden in colour and extremely energetic, Uno - as he was named by Mili on the very first day - became her best friend. She stopped missing her friends from school, whom she anyway met less and less with all her treatments. Uno and Mili became inseparable. Food would have to be served for both at the same time. Uno would not eat till Mili had her food in the mickey bowl. The only person who could give Uno a bath was Mili. And while taking that shower Uno would screech and Mili would sing a tune and together would make an unholy chorus, loud enough to make the neighbours come out of their houses.

Evenings, Mili would go into their backyard, carefully trying to avoid her mother kitchen garden. Uno would follow, sniffing the cauliflower leaves as he passed. Mili collected colourful butterflies in a big glass jars. Her mother kept a net instead of the lid, so that the butterflies wouldn't die. Next morning she would let them go from the terrace. Uno never really understood why she had to let them go. They looked perfectly edible to him. Mili must not be hungry in the mornings, Uno thought.

Everyone knew Mili would not live for long. The disease had spread pretty fast. And even though there were days when she couldn't walk from one side of the room to the other, her parents always hoped for a miracle. She was their little princess. The relatives had been insensitive and suggested that they should try for another child, or else they would be left completely alone after Mili is gone. But they could never imagine replacing Mili.

Day before yesterday she had started feeling weak again. She coughed up blood and was too weak to even lift her head. Uno came and snuggled next to her. He licked her hand, letting her know its going to be alright. Usually Mili kissed him whenever he showed affection like that, but today she was too weak to do that. Her mother pulled Uno and took him out of the room. As Mili cried here, they could hear Uno barking in the living room. Everyone tried to say their last goodbye.

Today, standing on the graveyard, Mili is trying to recite a 5-line poem for Uno. Uno passed away on the couch in the living room. He must have been scared of the dark. And while everyone was gathering around Mili, no one noticed him running around wildly, trying to make sense of it all.

Mili's parents felt sad. They knew Mili's time would come soon too. But at least she would have someone waiting for her!!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

30 day challenge. Day # 1

You move into a new flat. Everything is perfect. Except this horrible thing you didn't count on first...

Wonda moves into a new apartment. On the surface, the place seemed ideal, but her first night there, Wonda discovers a terrible problem with the place that she didn't take into account.

It is only after Wonda had changed into her white and blue striped shorts that she smells it. This smell - which can't be described as a stench, nor as a perfume. It is just a smell. Something she has smelled before. But she just can't put her finger on it.

She checks the kitchen. Behind the fridge her landlord has provided with the flat. Under the sink to see if some erst-while spilled gravy had dried up there. Nothing. Everything looks clean.

Wonda thinks of what she has to do in office tomorrow. One meeting post lunch, three reports to be finished and maybe one or two diagrams to be made sense of. Tuesdays aren't so bad. Except she has to see Vikram again. Vikram sits on her right. And he cracks awful jokes and gets offended if she doesn't laugh at those. And no matter how she tries she can't ignore Vikram. He is a nice person underneath his I-am-too-cool-to-care look. And to top it all off, he lives somewhere in Bhakti Park too, she has heard. Oh well. One must face their enemies sooner or later. And in cases like this, everyday.

She must call her sister in Delhi before she goes off to sleep. Everyone at home has been worries about her shifting to a new house. But then she couldn't keep living with her uncle and aunt for ever, could she? What worries her most was the food. She has very limited knowledge of cooking. At best she can fry an egg, boil some potatoes and whip up a spicy variety of rice with pickle. Wonda makes a mental note to learn new things.

"Hello, di"

"Wen! Why didn't you call earlier? I kept thinking you haven't even reached home. You know how all these cabbies are."

Wonda sighs. She can never make her sister realise that Bombay is not like Delhi. Yes. It might not be like home. Kerala had been quiet. But Bombay was always on the move. And hardly anyone had the time to pass comments. It probably also helped that the government doesn't let rich Punjabi lads in Bombay run around with guns.

"Oh di. You worry for nothing. It's ok. I was just busy cleaning up."

"Did you eat?"



Oh damn. She always caught her fibs. "I had snacks in the evening. Not hungry any more."

Truth was Wonda was craving her mom's tamarind rice. With so much going on in her life, she just needed a known thing to make it seem alright. But she didn't quite have the energy to soak the tamarind and then cook it with rice this late.

"As you wish. You must take care of yourself"

"Yes di. Listen. I have to go to sleep. Got work early next morning. And I still have some reports to finish"

"Ok. I'll call tomorrow"

She hangs up and walks to her cupboard. Out comes her crisp white shirt and the navy blue skirt. She feels the fabric in her hand and smiles. Sitting down to iron her shirt, she starts humming an old Dev Anand song 'Hai apna dil toh awara na jane kis pe ayega'.

Once done she brings out her handbag. Those two files must be dealt with today. She fumbles inside the bag, pulls out a file. Its greasy.

Her brow furrows. She is positive she didn't put anything in this handbag. And her tiffin case was safely soaked in the sink. Then.. Oh!! And there is the smell again.

She peers into her bag. There is a small green Tupperware jar. Tilted, gravy had come out of it.

She opens it. Inside is a mixture of rice, some tamarind paste and a egg!! Whoever makes an egg with tamarind rice.

There is a note on the underside of the container. Wonda opens it tentatively.

"Welcome to the neighbourhood, Wonda!!! Ainda zaroorat pare toh bula lena. Get it? 'Ainda'- 'Anda'. Har har har"

Oh man! That Vikram!!!!