Category Archives: Prose

Hesitation

Myra was unaware of my gaze. She did not know that while she stood their contemplating her actions, I was watching her every move. I knew that my little daughter still thought that I was in the grocery store. As I stood by the car, I could see the longing in her eyes. I could hear the hiss of her breath as clearly as if it were my own. I knew exactly what she was thinking. This was an opportunity too good to be missed. And yet, her actions seemed hesitant. She still held back.

I waited in anticipation of her next move. One tiny move would determine my fate as a mother.

She took one last look at it, sighed and walked away.

That was the most fulfilling moment of my life. All my efforts of the last few years had finally borne fruit. I felt blessed!

My daughter had learnt discipline. Even when she thought of me to be faraway, she respected my wishes. The chocolate cake seemed to look back at me desolately.

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Filed under Food, klash, Prose

Why School Means The World To Me

On wednesday, I’d gone back to school due to work. I met a few of my old teachers and it sent me on a spiral. I realized that for all the stories on this blog, a very prominent one was missing. That of me. How I came about to be. I’m going to start putting out my experiences as a pre-teen. And this is just a very raw, completely undedited start to it.

I’m not even sure I’ll edit any of it. I still don’t have the slight detachment needed.

Word Count: 1200.

 

I still remember my first few days in school vividly. I’d shifted from the hustle and bustle that was Calcutta to a laid-back place like Jaipur. At the age of 12, I’d seen the insides of more hospitals than I cared to count and I’d spent less time with my mother than with every other member of my household. I hadn’t been fond of communicating. I always talked nineteen to the dozen but, I never communicated my needs, wants or fears. I’d learnt to accept that mum and dad needed to take care of my ailing brother and that being a baby about it wasn’t an option.

My parents loved me dearly. In hindsight, I can now understand their pain in having to leave me with my grnadparents and aunts because their lives revolved around hospitals. But back then, I wasn’t so understanding. I wasn’t very accommodating either. In my eyes, they’d left me coz I wasn’t important enough. And now, for their personal reasons, they were uprooting me. As a result, I didn’t want anything to do here. I didn’t want to go to school or even try to be nice.

My first few days in school were intimidating. I’d joined mid-session and friendships had already been formed. I was the new girl from out of town with a strongly accented Hindi and really fluent English. I was the girl who couldn’t fathom the joys in visiting historical places every weekend. I was the girl with the strong opinions or the one who already knew most of the syllabus, coz she’d studied it last year. And pre-teen years, in an elitist school in a tradition rich city, can be harsh.

Back at the beginning of the new millenium, the city had very few children specific places. We didn’t have good eateries offering multi-cuisine food at all. I know Indo-Chinese is a different cuisine but Jaipur had its highly ketchup-ed and lemon juice version. From a city where we had computer classes and activity outlets at every corner, I had been shifted to a city where all I could see was tradition. Books became my solace. And yet, it was impossible to source good books.

At that point in time, I didn’t think my life was going to get better. I didn’t think I would ever learn to like any aspect of this city. But then, I went to school. I did make friends, but it wasn’t easy. It took my friends a long time to figure me out but, I’m glad they did. We’re still going strong so…I’m going to hazard a guess and say that we did good. But even before I made friends, I found loving, caring, kindred spirits.

If I’d met just one teacher who touched my life and made it bearable, I’d have a very short story. And my life wouldn’t be what it is. But I didn’t meet just one. I didn’t meet just two either. I met a hoard of them. Somehow, in that expansive school with a million students and unending classrooms, I found people willing to look into me.

I often found my librarians wondering why I’d always sneak into the library. I’d devour books like they were the only thing keeping me sane. I’d lug tomes off the shelves and sit with a dictionary and immerse myself in literature. And if I’d missed a class or two, they were kind enough to pretend to not notice. They offered me a sanctuary. Even today, everytime life seems to crumble around me, all I have to do is sit surrounded by books.

I had teachers from all departments, teaching all subjects, play a very pivotal role in shaping my life. Fortunately for me, I remember my first encounters with all of them. Right down to what I felt, what I was doing, which school building we were in and what they said to have carved a place in a very stony heart.

I don’t think I was a very easy student to deal with. I was naughty, really talkative, outspoken, opinionated, extremely irritable and with a very very short temper. If I was really ticked off, I was completely capable of excusing myself with an excuse and not returning to class. I was also extremely inquisitive. It didn’t have to be on the subject matter being taught. If it was of the topic, I’d ask it. And surprisingly, my teachers didn’t end up making me stand outside the class all day. You see, it was surprising because everytime I’d been unable to do my homework or was late to school, it was because I’d been running around a hospital and hence, I was itching for a fight. I was itching for someone to tell my parents that I was horrible and needed to be sent home.
They never did that you know. They didn’t even know about my ailing brother or anything till I was in senior school. So I know that when they overlooked my behaviour and focussed on something only they could explain, it didn’t come from an understanding of my issues or pity. It came from them being them.

And that is why school has always been this place that I’m extremely sensitive about. Everything they ever tried to teach me runs around my head repeatedly. You know, everyone says teachers affect changes in futures and that they help you to evolve but I honestly cannot say that. For me, they created a future out of a very bleak present. They sculpted a person out of a glob of clay which hadn’t had a chance to be moulded by her parents. And so, whenever I go to school to pick up one of my cousins who is now a student there or to visit; I’m not just nostalgic about the times spent with my friends. I’m not just nostalgic about my pranks or my past. I’m overwhelmed by how much of an effort the teachers made with me. I miss classes and I miss extra classes where I’d carry poetry by Christina Rosetti or Tennyson and my teachers would patiently help me grasp their beauty. I miss the creation of me from absolute scratch. And nostalgia seeps in much after I’ve left school and returned home. For when I enter those hallways, I feel like the lost little 12 year old who had no clue what she was getting into.

Even today, when I walk into school and I see teachers I recognize and they recognize me, I don’t just feel happy that they remember me. I feel grateful that they took the time to look past a really prickly exterior to my angst.

They say that one shouldn’t crave for approval or being remembered. But somehow, I can’t seem to do that. When I meet my old teachers, I want to hug them and tell them exactly what they said to me that changed my life and then I want to gush and expound on all the circumstances where their teachings brought me accolades. But instead, I become the same 12 year old I was. Really talkative, barely communicative.

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Filed under Childhood, Introspective, Prose, Reminiscing

Bunny & Mrs. Binka

This is a continuation of the story of The Bunny in The Closet. I was going to complete it for a Children Fiction Contest but…the story seemed to have too many inconsistencies. Nonetheless, I’m going to complete it here and edit it later. Hopefully when I have kids to read it out to. My new little sister might just love them. 😀

Mehak and Navya fed the carrots to the bunny, tucked him into the laundry basket and left the flashlight on so that the bunny wouldn’t be scared in the dark. Then, they closed the door carefully and listened real hard at the door to see if they could hear any voices from inside. When they felt certain that no sound was escaping, they skipped down the stairs and because it was bedtime, Mehak went home.

But, neither Navya, nor Mehak could sleep a wink that night. They were so excited.
The next morning, Navya wouldn’t let her mother help her with getting dressed. She didn’t want her mum finding the bunny and sending it away. So she dressed herself, packed her own bag, huddled the bunny into one corner of her cupboard so that it couldn’t come out and rushed down for breakfast.

Once Navya and Mehak reached school, they told their friends all about the bunny and how the parents didn’t know anything about it. However, since school was starting and their teacher, Mrs. Binka, was very stern, they rushed to their seats and waited for school to get over.
Aditya slipped Navya a tiny scrap of paper, unseen by Mrs. Binka. She was a stout old lady with really weak hearing and yet, nothing ever escaped her attention. Everyone secretly wondered she had some sort of hidden sensors! She always managed to catch the children in the middle of their pranks.

Navya hid the scrap in her textbook and sent a prayer up to heaven. She didn’t want to be noticed today. She hadn’t done her homework. If Mrs. Binka noticed her being naughty, she would be punished horribly. She moved her eyes ever so little to determine if she would get caught. At that moment, Mrs. Binka was turned towards the blackboard with a chalk. This is as safe as it’s going to get. I wonder what was so important to Aditya. Maybe I should read the note now. Navya slid the paper out of the text book and read it quickly. “ I have a plan to save the bunny?” it read.

Navya looked up to see Aditya smiling. She felt relieved. Hiding Bunny from her parents had felt like such a rotten thing to do. Besides, it must also be scared, being in the cupboard all day long. And, if she got caught, she could pretty much kiss her idea of having a pet goodbye!

During lunch break, Navya, Mehak & Aditya huddled under a tree in the playground and waited for Aditya to tell them his plan. But Aditya was enjoying all the suspense and he ate his food very slowly so that he could delay telling them.

“Come on now Aditya, out with it. You know how worried we are! What’s your plan?” Mehak wailed impatiently.

“Yes Aditya, it’s awfully horrid of you to tease us so,” agreed Navya.

“Well, it’s not a big plan really” said Aditya. “Mrs. Binka always lets her class keep a pet right? So all we have to do is go upto Mrs. Binka and ask her to adopt Bunny as our class pet. We could all take turns taking care of him. Everyone in class will have to take care of him and Bunny won’t be sent away. We’ll get to play with him everyday in school. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“Ooooooh that sounds good! We’ll get to keep Bunny!” Navya couldn’t stop clapping.

Mehak hugged Aditya and they all decided to talk to Mrs. Binka right before class started.

So, all the three friends went up to Mrs. Binka and told her about Bunny and requested her to keep it. Mrs. Binka was very happy with them for being honest and she decided that she would like Bunny as the class pet. She asked Navya to bring Bunny to school the next day.

And so, on the next day, Navya scooped Bunny out of the laundry basket, snuggled him into a blanket, plopped him into her backpack and took it to school. Mrs. Binka took one look at Bunny and decided that he was a very nice little pet and so, Navya, Mehak and Aditya got to save Bunny.
Everyone in class loved Bunny and took good care of him. He ate and slept in his cage during classes and played with the children during playtime.

And oh the adventures of Mrs. Binka and the Bunny! Well, there was a new one every evening when she took him home.

The End.

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Filed under Childhood, Prose

Wink…

My take for wink sans the word limit. And yes, it’s a hackneyed scene…Humor me. 🙂

 

The ambience felt stifling and the glitz and glamour lacked lustre. She felt heady from the alcohol steeped fumes which passed for air. The bada-boom music and the clinking glasses sounded cacophonous.

In this parallel universe, people and conversations lasted less than the length of a drink. Dynamics changed faster than the DJ changed tunes.

For the nth time, she regretted letting her friends drag her in.

Asking for the drink to be refreshed, she leaned on the countertop and let her eyes rove across the crowd. She caught the eye of a young man gazing longingly at the door. She winked and smiled in shared misery.

He made his way over and suggested a walk. She acquiesced.

As they wandered aimlessly on the streets, she enjoyed his silent company. He didn’t seem to want to fill the silence. She wasn’t much of a talker.

And when they made their way back to the club, she started to thank him. He chucked her, winked and walked away.

A few hours later, on her way out, someone handed her a note.

“Naman, (phone number) and a 😉 ”

In this parallel universe, someone had lasted a little longer…

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Filed under klash, Prose

Pujo…

Will be adding pictures to the post when Tall Guy sends them over! 🙂

 

Pujo in Calcutta is a special time. I could compare it to the carnival of Goa or the Ganesh Puja of Maharashtra but, that wouldn’t quite capture the real essence of my city during these ten days.

You know Pujo has arrived when the tiny, winding, twisting lanes of Calcutta have Pandals on every end. Calcutta is a city full of streets which are so narrow that if 2 cars were to pass through simultaneously, there would barely be enough place for a person to stand and just miss getting scratched. And these aren’t lanes I’m talking about here. Some of the “main roads” are kinda like this. Now in such minuscule areas, the most spectacular Pandals are created.

The beauty of the pandals lie in the fact that the slum dwellers regularly come up with the most ubiquitous creations. A pandal made out of Lac Bangles ONLY, or earthen pots, or designed as a cave are just some of the creations. Some which particularly stood out for me, were the one where you entered into a dinosaur’s mouth and came out his tail, (it even moved its jaw, as if eating you up and roared every few minutes); or the one made entirely out of recycled paper and my personal favourite continues to be the one made out of puffed rice(I bet I wasn’t the only one wanting to eat it all up!). All of these pandals were fully functional and easily occupied by a bare minimum of 150 people at any given moment of the day or night.

The entire city is lit up. All the “yo” songs are played, as loud as possible, transcending the language barrier. You’ll hear Munni Badnaam Hui and Zor ka jhatka interspersed liberally with Bengali Rock Music, which, if I were to translate…would suffice as a separate conversation. Safe to say, some Bengali music is better than Bhojpuri music. 🙂

The entire city comes out of its houses and onto the streets. You’d expect the outcome to be even more chaotic than Calcutta usually is. But in its own brand of being, the people surprise you (only these few days…don’t expect it ALL the time) and follow rules. Enter from assigned gates and almost, almost follow queues.

Amongst all this, I’ve ignored the deity herself. Now if I were to try to describe Maa in all her glory, I’d fail miserably. No words could ever come close to explaining how painstakingly she is created. Every nuance of her expressions in all her incarnations is captured dramatically. If you look closely enough and try having a conversation with her (as I frequently do), you’d notice her eyes gleaming with love and how her smile engulfs you. She is adorned in the most extravagant saris and jewelry. And yet, its probably always the last thing that you notice. You don’t notice anything except her aura.

Pandal hopping is probably the one thing I miss the most about Pujo. Moving all across the city with friends, from one Pandal to another and soaking in the revelry is a high no dose of ecstasy can match.

Imagine watching a rock concert by your favourite artist up close and personal and having back stage passes and spending an hour in their company. Now compound that euphoria for every person in the pandal and then magnify it by 10 times. And you now have an inkling to the kind of zing in the air.

Then comes the Mela…


(for a detailed description of the Mela…come back later.) 🙂

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Filed under Prose, Reminiscing, The world around me

Damn…!

One of my write-ups vying to be sent to klash.

 

He was way past his curfew time. He knew that if his dad caught him coming home so late again, he was damned for life. High on the liquor he’d consumed, head buzzing and the room spinning, he tiptoed cautiously towards his room.

As he passed his parents’ room, he snuck a peek and saw two silhouettes in the bed. Heaving a sigh of relief, he entered his room, and stopped short in his tracks.

His father looked up from the book he was reading and said “that’s your younger brother sleeping.”

And the only thought swirling in his head was “Damn, I’m screwed!”

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Filed under klash, Prose, The world around me

Sunday rituals…

Sundays are ritualistic for me.

It started when I was really small and my aunts would take me to “Hot Breads” for a brunch which consisted solely of breads and cakes. They’d drown theirs in coffee and I’d drown mine in juice…

I remember that the bistro was a new opening in my city and people were yet to be acclimatized to the concept of brunch. Infact, if it weren’t for the fact that all of us were very late risers, we’d never make it for brunch either. We’d gorge on donuts, croissants, the gooeiest cheese pizzas and the classic sandwiches. Also, I remember how Rinky buu had to force all of us to try it out and we’d just call her crazy. Coz for us, it was either Flurys occasionally or nothing at all. I guess, I have her to thank for my gastronomic curiosity.

When I was in college, dad would drop by from Jaipur on the early morning flight and we’d rush straight from the airport to Flurys for their incredible Flurys Mocha and he’d binge on omlettes and toast while I’d work through potato wedges, a croissant sandwich (the perfectly chilled crisp lettuce, tomato and cheese within a moist, flaky croissant is another post onto itself) and a slice of one of their delicious cakes which has the best sugar icing.

For the past year or so, Sunday breakfasts have lost their charm. Its only an occasional brunch in Mumbai or a “leaving on the flight in an hour breakfast with Techie Guy” that have lived up to the traditions of the olden days. And so, when I woke up today, after having spent an hour dreaming and reminiscing of my perfect brunch last Sunday, hankering for fresh bakes…I realized that this was going to be one very sad day. As you already know, my hunger pangs are incredible. If I want a Belgian mocha with the exact amount of whipped cream, then that is exactly what I want. Nothing else really hits home. And so, with such depressing thoughts, I walked into my kitchen fully determined to make myself some doughnuts and muffins. I guess, today wasn’t supposed to be a cooking Sunday. Just as I finished preparing the butter frosting which I’d fill into my doughnuts, and I let the batter rest…dad calls. He’s got me pastries and a Zucotto from Kookie Jar and Cinnabuns from Delhi are on their way home. Would I be willing to delay the Sunday brunch till teatime?

I was very pleasantly surprised. However, I’d made preparations for baking and wasting the batter wasn’t going happen. And so, I ended up spending a delightful afternoon baking cupcakes with a lemon icing and cookies with a coffee cream filling.

And I spent my entire evening gorging on the most decadent nougat slices, cinnabons, mocha biscuits and Moroccan tea. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll make this a ritual too…

 

P.S. Tall Guy, you’re an idiot of the first order to not know a Kookie Jar Zucotto. You do not deserve to live in my city. 😛

Techie Guy, I owe you all my special breakfasts. 🙂

Everyone else: The reason this post has no picture is because it’s near impossible to find suitable pictures of Flurys’ food online. That in itself is a mute testimony to the fact that people are too busy indulging their palates to really click pics.

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Filed under Food, Prose, Reminiscing, The world around me