Category Archives: A to Z Challenge

Zis is the End !

Z

As Adele croons in my ear I write the last blog of this challenge. Very late and rushing to meet the deadline, in a few minutes it will be the 1st of May everywhere in the world. I’m skidding and sliding and hoping to do it justice.

This is the end of a challenge that was taken on enthusiastically, my reason to finally begin writing blogs, something that I always wanted to do. I discovered a lot through the month about myself as well as others in my life. Random thoughts that aimed to share, to humor, to scare, ideas to reflect upon and love to be expressed all tumbled out of me. The alphabet challenged me and tormented me. With lots of support and encouragement from family, old friends and new ones made within this challenge, I persevered and got here to zee end today.

To those who would be thinking of taking it on next year, I would recommend think it through carefully. It is tough, a lot of grit is required not to throw the towel in. And, I am glad I didn’t. It revealed to me that I had a lot to say and I could express it to my heart’s content. I also discovered that I had supporters who carried me and championed me to here, the end.

The blogging will now ease off for a while, I will concentrate on the stories that I neglected while I was absorbed in meeting this challenge. Thank you to all who have read and thank you to all who have shared their thoughts and encouraged me, and helped me get zis end of the A-Z Challenge.

Where you go I go
What you see I see
I know I’d never be me
Without the security
Of your loving arms
Keeping me from harm
Put your hand in my hand
And we’ll stand

You Should Procrastinate

Today I’m going to turn another universal truth on its head and hope that by the end of this even if you do not agree with me, you’ll still recognize that there is some truth to the virtues of procrastination. Virtues!! Hell that’s the worst thing to be, our mindsets have been tuned to being anything but. From time immemorial our elders and betters pontificate that the early bird gets the worm. We are inspired and begin to put the thought to practice, others have benefited and so shall we. Someone who is a procrastinator (and who I have observed carefully over some years) shared with me that this is was what his experience was of it

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A let down, grumpy feeling that best describes his mood when he tries to complete a task ahead of time. A sense of dissatisfaction that permeates, niggling away at him letting him know that he hadn’t given it his best.

Meeting deadlines for him means skidding into the room at the very last moment with the task clutched in his hands. Now, he said, “I have no bones to pick with the pre-crastinators, who wear the look of condescension as I fall into the room all frazzled and rattled. Who am I kidding of course I enjoy the look of smugness wiped off their faces as the assignment delivered is always perfect and up to my exacting expectations. I do a mental high five and walk out with kickass confidence, my faith in me validated.” The need to be the first never motivates him, the need to be perfect, however does.

The reason procrastination works so well for some is not because they are geniuses (I’m just kidding, of course they are.) They are geniuses because they recognize what works for them. Do not mistake procrastination for evasion. A procrastinator is certainly not an evader, they are not trying to get away with not doing the task, in fact it is just the opposite and they are working constantly. Their life has been taken over by the task, they are constantly thinking, they are considering the possibilities, they are contemplating on how to approach it, they are pondering over the problem, they are deliberating the issues, they are meditating over the solution, they are reflecting over the difficulties and they are waiting for that eureka moment that will bring with it the light that will clear the fog and bring with it the clarity that will surprise you, shake you and make you reckon that there is something to be said for the habitual procrastinator. I have taken a leaf from the book of the procrastinator and hence the blog is coming in at the last possible moment (it is still 29th at the antipode to India.) Is it my best work? I don’t know. Yet, I’m satisfied.

 

 

 

 

X Marks the Spot

Born in the 70s and educated in the 20th century, I have some serious bones to pick with the systems that governed my education. In the memories of childhood academics, the one that I have no fondness for is the X in my answer sheets. I do not mean the ‘x’ of algebra (surprisingly I had bigger problems with Math than the elusive x.) What I am writing about is the red X or cross that the teachers would mark an incorrect answer with. Some teachers used small ones at the end of the answer as gentle reminders and some boldly crossed out entire answers to let you know how deeply you offended. Whatever the shape or size of the red X, it only ever shouted out WRONG or INCORRECT or MISTAKE!!

As I approached the learning process, discovering new lands and delving into the past, Math was fraught with anxiety yet the sciences took up my imagination. Literature and language become my greatest loves, the arts though neglected during early academic years became my sustenance in later times. Someone who considers herself a lifelong learner, I did not enjoy writing exams so much and getting back the answer sheets even less. There were some sheets that would not have a single X marring them, and then there were some that the Xs crossed, causing a lot of despair. Over the years the number of red Xs became fewer though they followed me everywhere, hoping to goad me into doing better. Did they succeed? No, they only caused resentment and did not hit their intended mark.

As an aspiring educator in the 21st Century, I was pleasantly surprised to discover during my training that we were expected not to mark a child’s answer with an X and especially not with red. There were studies, we were told, red used to denote danger, stop signs and warnings. It was a color that signified negativity to a child’s mind.

Finally someone had said what as a kid I had wondered about. Why the love for the red does a teacher prize, their vocation is to enlighten, and not to dishearten. There are so many colors in the spectrum why not a pleasant blue that calmly reminds? A sassy pink that with verve refines? A pale green that coolly propagates? A bright orange that hopefully energizes? A vibrant violet that disguises reproofs as prizes?

As for the X, does it not exclude creativity? Penicillin, the pacemaker and x-rays are discoveries that would not exist had it not been for someone making a mistake. So before you correct with a large X, stop and consider, let it not be a factor to curb innovation. Let it not continue to be a prophecy of inadequacy for a child who stops trying, due to the X’s intimidation. Reclaim it as a tool to fuel adventure, only on maps, for X marks the spot where treasure is to be found.

Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

A firm believer in the adage that actions speak louder than words, sharing a few quotes that inspire me.

 

Fear not, my lord, we will not stand to prate;

Talkers are no good doers:

be assured We come to use our hands and not our tongues.

Shakespeare’s Richard III

It is a good divine that

follows his own instructions: I can easier teach

twenty what were good to be done, than be one of

the twenty to follow mine own teaching.

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” ~ Muhammad Ali

“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” ~ Oliver Goldsmith

Vegetarian by Choice

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I’ve been itching and threatening to write this one for quite a while, so those that know me well, will not be surprised with today’s post.

I am a vegetarian!!

As soon as I drop this bomb, new acquaintances do a double take. “But, you don’t look like one,” pops out of their mouth before they realize. Out of politeness, now I nod and smile having heard this a million times. I have pondered over this statement many a times, what does a vegetarian face look like? The face I wear somehow does not suit that stereotype.

Is it a Buddha like serene countenance that is required? Or a look of profound piety, which I do not possess? So pray (I wonder) do I carry the look that is carnivorous? Or is it cannibalistic, the face that the creator furnished me with? Whatever the reason, I’m not yet enlightened. Since polite folk just laugh when I ask them back what a vegetarian looks like. “Not like you, certainly,” said one and another afraid probably of my cannibalistic looks hurriedly pacified, “No, no I didn’t mean to offend!”

Still with doubt in their mind, the next question that comes, “Is your family vegetarian? Were you forced to by your in-laws,” they ask with pity in their eyes. If they knew me well enough, they’d know how remote that possibility is, as my long suffering in-laws can testify, forcing me to do something against my will. Well, that just doesn’t happen. The doubting Thomas’ need to confirm, “Must have left it for religious reasons!”

Here I give up, my genuine, ‘I don’t relish the taste of non-veg,’ doesn’t suffice. For you see, I do not have the ‘looks’ to convince.

Grudgingly, they wonder what to feed this strange creature who does not fit the mould and upsets their well-planned menu. Now, they must add some vegetarian options to it. Sigh!! More work!! What to add is the next dilemma, what do vegetarians eat? Grass, we cannot serve, she is after all a guest. Salad, she’ll think we are commenting on her weight, she needs to shed but how can we be so obvious. Vegetables are sides, to be had with meat (that is the actual food.) Then they have their ‘aha moment’! They hit on just the right combination – aloo (potatoes) as appetizer and Paneer (cottage cheese) for mains. There, what a fancy menu, she’ll surely be glad we know what a vegetarian’s palate be fond of. As I eat their carefully selected choices and smile in wonder at another thoughtful meal of aloo and paneer. There and then I promise myself to get to the writing of my long overdue cook book, “Vegetarian Party Cooking – Not a single Aloo or Paneer Recipe!”

 

 

 

 

Uniqueness

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Another open letter to my seventeen year old and my almost teenager.

Dear Kids,

Today, both of you are at life’s important threshold, one is almost ready to walk out into the world, leaving behind the safety of home and the other steps into a phase where innocence begins to fade. As your Mum, I try to always do my best, don’t roll your eyes, you know what’s coming next. Read carefully and think clearly, I’ll try today, to expound on Uniqueness.

Peer pressure, a word you experience often enough to know its meaning and its implications. This is a word that will chase you all your life, it is not one that begins in your teenage years and gets left behind here. It is how you learn to deal with this fact of life that will set you apart making you the leader or the led. Whenever you are in a dilemma on whom to listen to, the temptations without or the conscience within, the desires of the heart or the brain that cautions, remember that the creator put the brain on top and the heart below it.

Though easier to follow, the footsteps of others, the path they carved was for them alone. It suited their purpose, it might not fit yours. Chart your own course, it might seem daunting but believe me when I say, it will be a lot less taunting. Does that mean you not learn from the achievements of others? No certainly, not.

“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;”

(-H. W. Longfellow)

You must understand that there is a difference in your own path and following another’s. The satisfaction to be gained from endeavors that are based on our own convictions rather than on those that others have influenced are easier to live with than those followed blindly.

Each of you have in you a certain something that is yours to own, for there is no one else in the world truly like you in any way. The universe gives you your individuality and that is your strength. So recognize it, embrace it and revel in it. Your uniqueness is what defines you, what separates you from the rest.

Love, Mama

 

 

The World of Children vs The World of Adults

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The world of children and the world of adults intersects on so many levels and yet is so disconnected. Reading Saki’s story ‘The Lumber Room’ with a student today I endeavored to bridge the chasm that separated these worlds. In the process I realized that certain conversations that I have with my children are to be questioned.

The story is simple enough on the surface of it. A child, Nicholas, is in ‘disgrace’ for having put a frog into his ‘wholesome bread-and-milk basin’ that constituted his daily breakfast. ‘His sin is enlarged on at great length’ by his aunt, while he wonders why he is being taken to task when the wiser adults have in fact been ‘proved to be profoundly in error.’ The aunt had insisted that a frog could not possibly have gotten into the bread-and-milk, while he knew it was there since he himself had put it into the basin. While I chuckled at the precocity of this child and admitted to my student that what Nicholas claimed was perfectly reasonable, we discussed what the aunt would have probably said scolding him. He laughed while he told me his own parents would say that people were starving in poor homes while he fussed about eating his vegetables and I shared that I would scold my children that there were millions starving and here you have wasted perfectly good food that is now not fit for eating. A child’s mind is not equipped to imagine the scenario that the adults are alluding to and so they cannot relate to the hunger suffered by others who are so far removed from their lives. Our words though stored away for future use somewhere in their minds fall on deaf ears. Does this mean we do not lecture them on the importance of empathy? Or is there another way?

Nicholas’ Aunt then devises an outing to the seaside for the other children to make his ‘disgrace’ more pronounced. He of course is unfazed, expected to be miserable as the others leave he couldn’t care less for the company of the children he finds so uninteresting, leaving her disappointed. She further tries to restrict him by banning him from exploring the ‘gooseberry gardens’ he, the smart cookie that he is strings her along and has her guarding the entryways to the garden while he goes exploring into the banned ‘lumber room’ so full of treasures that she has hidden away. There is a tapestry of a hunting scene, that excites his imagination, a teapot like a china duck far more interesting than the ‘dull and shapeless’ everyday one that was used in her kitchens and ‘little brass figures, hump-necked bulls, and peacocks and goblins, delightful to see and to handle.’ How many times as adults do we keep trinkets and decoratives that may be either fragile, dearly bought or even hold sentimental value to us away from the reach of younger children? We are afraid that they will break or be damaged. Reaching this bit of the story I was struck by the thought that while I guarded my ‘treasures’ did I limit the mind of my children? Were they not entitled to explore and let their imaginations find joy just as I did? Were these baubles more ‘dear’ than their ingenuities?

Nicholas had a few more lessons up his sleeve. He informs the ‘soi-disant aunt’ that though she’s sent the other children off on a fun expedition Bobby, wouldn’t enjoy as his new boots were too tight. The aunt perplexed wonders why Bobby did not tell her, Nicholas’ answer is a crime as a parent I am also oft accused of by my kids. “He told you twice, but you weren’t listening. You often don’t listen when we tell you important things.”

The end of the story had me laughing out loud, I’ll not spoil it for you. Do read this precocious story and appreciate this disconnect that makes the child’s mind such an amazing place to explore. What I will comment upon before I end is at the cleverness of the writer’s mind, set in Edwardian times children did not have the privilege of being understood. Children should be seen and not heard, an adage of yesteryears applying to them rather severely. Schooling and parenting is a lot different today, Nicholas would easily fit into the mould of today’s child and is a complete delight.

 

 

Short Story : She did it

Her eyes shone feverishly, she kept checking the time on her watch. She was waiting. Waiting for the phone to ring. It was about time. She should have reached by now. Why did the phone not ring? Her anxiety broiled inside her, yet she was a picture of serenity. No one could have guessed, seeing her sitting there, in the hotel’s café sipping her morning tea. Thoughts raced through her mind. She could picture the scene vividly after all, she had created it.

The maid would have reached by now. She would have opened the house. We have given her the extra key. I hope she hasn’t forgotten it at home. Gosh, why is this taking so long. Knowing Sid would be sleeping and wouldn’t wake up she would not bother to ring the bell. Did she have to go back home to get the key. No, no that mustn’t be, it would disrupt her best laid plans. Months of planning would go to moot.

By now she’d have made his tea and should have knocked on their bedroom door, “Chai is ready, Bhaiya,” and entered to find him. Amrita could picture the scene, what she would see, the blood on the sheets, Sid lying on his back, arms splayed out, with his throat slit, just as she had left him last night, dead! So very dead!

Almost a year and half of planning, putting all the pieces together, tying up the loose ends! She’d be free now!

No, not yet! She reminded herself. She had to play the grieving widow for a while.

“Where was Shimoli?” she thought impatiently, she needed someone to be with her when she got the call. To be credible witness to her shock! On the other hand it was good she was a little late. The call hadn’t come in yet. There was definitely something wrong.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” apologized a visibly flustered Shimoli, “woke up late and everything just went downhill from there. Hope you weren’t waiting too long? Have you ordered anything?”

Amrita quickly smiled at her friend and colleague at the Mumbai office, a picture of calm, hiding the turmoil in her heart. She was an actress par excellence, she had Sid to thank for that.

“No worries. I was waiting for you, what will you have?” asked Amrita.

Just then she heard her phone ring, it was their home landline number.

“Just a sec, got to take this one” she said rolling her eyes, “It’s the ritual maid call, wanting to know what to prepare for Sid’s breakfast!”

“Yes, Kashi Bai,” said Amrita.

“Hello Amrita, this is Girish,” she heard the voice of her neighbor on the floor above theirs, “Where are you?”

“I’m in Mumbai, Girish, for work, been here since Monday. Is everything okay? Where’s Kaishi Bai?” asked Amrita looking genuinely perplexed.

“Are you alone? Is someone with you?” he asked again.

“No, I’m with a friend,” she replied, “What’s the matter, Girish?”

“I’m sorry Amrita, there’s some bad news. Sid’s been hurt, you need to come back immediately!” he said.

“Hurt! How? What’s happened?”

“It’s bad Amrita!” he said, “Can I speak to your friend?”

“Yes, sure,” said Amrita and handed the phone to a confused Shimoli.

“Oh my God!” gasped Shimoli after listening to Girish for a few minutes.

She put down the phone and looked at Amrita and tried to hide the horror in her eyes.

“I’ll arrange a cab to take us to Pune immediately!” Shimoli said.

Amrita let Shimoli take over the arrangements. She called their Boss, Apeksha out of earshot from Amrita, all the while sneaking anxious glances at her.

It took all of Amrita’s self-control to appear confused and dazed and let Shimoli treat her like something fragile, something that would easily break.

On reaching her Condo in Pune, Amrita rushed up to find the cops and her neighbors Girish and his wife Kanika, the maid Kashi Bai was slumped in a corner of the living room. And her brother-in-law disoriented sitting on the sofa with his head in his hands and blood on his shoeless feet.

“Where’s Sid?” she asked fearfully.

“Oh! Amrita!” Kanika engulfed her in her ample bosom, “You poor girl, how are you going to take it!” she sobbed.

“Sid’s been murdered in your own home, in your bed!” said Girish softly, as if the softness of tone would mitigate the shock of his words.

“How is that possible,” Amrita shouted, looking at the cops. She tried to rush towards her bedroom but, Kanika held her back.

“Don’t go in there, believe me, you don’t want to go in there!” she cautioned.

The cops questioned her about where she had been and why. In the meanwhile, Sid’s parents had arrived from Jaipur. Amrita let her father-in-law take control; play acting the shocked and bereaved wife to the hilt.

Later Amrita congratulated herself, “I should get an award for my acting abilities,” she thought. But then it came naturally to her, didn’t it, after all she’d been doing it for years. Sid had made her the actress she was today.

Siddharth had seen Amrita at his close friend’s wedding, who was her cousin. He had told his parents who had sent out feelers through common acquaintances. Her parents had been quite excited, they couldn’t believe their luck. A software engineer with TCS and working on a project in New Jersey, he was a huge catch for the daughter of a small garment shop retailer in Saharanpur. A meeting of the families had been arranged.

Amrita was vivacious and fun loving, a brilliant artist though not very good in academics. She had given her mother many sleepless nights worrying over the scraps she would get into, going out with friends to movies and parties that too with boys, a total no-no in a conservative city like theirs.

“No one wants a fast girl as their daughter-in-law,” she had warned Amrita to appear demure like her other cousins in front of Sid’s family.

Amrita at twenty-one couldn’t wait to get out of sleepy, stifling and conservative Saharanpur. USA was like a dream come true. She had to make sure his family liked her. That’s when the acting had begun. She had played her part convincingly. Sid and his family had gone back happy with the deal that had been brokered the perfect Indian bride and enough dowry, after all the parents had put their life savings into their son.

As Sid only had fifteen days left to return, the wedding was put together quickly, with barely any time for the young people to get to know each other. They left for Jaipur to stay with his parents till his return to the US. If Saharanpur had been backward and boring, living with Sid’s parents was archaic; she had to wear a saree all the time with her head covered all day long. Smile for all the relatives that trooped in to ‘see’ the new bride and bear their humiliating inspection. She was pretty, thank God, for that, but was too tall according to one Aunt and too thin for another. How will she bear healthy children said another, her hips are to narrow.

“It’s only till we get to the US,” she thought to herself, “Just a matter of a few days.”

Her Father-in-law though had a different take.

“If you take her with you now she’ll never learn the ways of our family, Sid. Leave her here for a few months,” Amrita overheard him.

Sid had left and she was alone with them. She had to be the perfect daughter-in-law, cooking and serving the family and eating after everyone had finished. She had acted and pretended to be ok with everything, holding her tongue at every comment thrown her way and cried into her pillow at night. The day her mother-in-law had hurled her bowl of daal on her face because she had forgotten to put enough salt in it, was one of the worst, she’d only gotten through it all reminding herself that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Only a little time and then she’d be out of here in another country, away from them. With Sid life would be different, she consoled herself.

After six months of hell she was finally on her way, to the US. Looking forward to a brighter future with Sid, who would be a progressive male, after all he had lived in the US for three years. The first few weeks were heady and romantic and she loved being there.

Till the first fight they had. Over her wanting to buy a dress and go dancing. He’d thrown a fit, shouting and screaming at her and then storming out of the house. After that, had come days of cold and silent treatment. With no one to talk to, a scared Amrita had begged and pleaded till he finally came around. She had assumed that this was a just one off incident…till it recurred again…and again…and again…at the smallest of pretexts, anything that angered Sid.

It wasn’t all bad though, a happy Sid was generous. Buying her expensive gifts designer bags, jewellery, etc. It was easier to act, to keep him calm.

Sixteen years and two children later, moving from one place to another the acting had continued…The mild and docile wife, who did not react to his moods, to his temper tantrums, his throwing things at her. The dutiful daughter-in-law, their treating her like a servant, their nagging and interference, Sid’s sending money to them regularly. To the world including her own family her life was perfect, for Amrita didn’t believe in airing her dirty linen. And even if she did, who could do anything for her. She was after all an Indian woman, her own parents would tell her to adjust.

Two things helped her to survive, her sketching and her voracious appetite for fiction, where she could escape into another life.

They had moved to Mumbai five years ago. Sid had invited his Boss with his wife for dinner. Over conversation Sid had boasted of Amrita’s drawing abilities and her sketch pads were pulled out. Mrs. Boss, Apeksha owned a design firm and was super impressed with Amrita’s work, offering to hire her as a freelancer. Amrita had looked at Sid, who was now stuck between the devil and the deep sea, he couldn’t offend his boss and also needed to appear a progressive male acquiesced then and couldn’t retract later.

Two years ago they had moved to Pune for another of Sid’s projects. He as always under the influence of his father decided to send the kids, Samar and Saksham to hostel at Mayo College, too much of shifting schools is not good for them declared her father-in-law. Her opinion was not even sought. Broken hearted at losing her boys Amrita still did not react. She had become very good at acting.

Amrita travelled once every two months to Mumbai for meetings with Apeksha. She was now earning good money and that was the only reason Sid let her continue, after all she was adding to the family kitty. It was on one of her trips, travelling to Mumbai that the thought of freedom had come to her. Divorce was out of the question, she would lose her boys. Besides, she didn’t want to give up the life style she was accustomed to, the luxuries. Why should she? She’d endured a lot over the years with him.

As the longing for freedom began to take root in her, the idea of doing away with Sid became stronger every day. Till there was nothing else that she could think of.

Then she began to plan.

Reading fictional murder mysteries had given her a lot of ideas to start with. She needed to get away with it. She was smart about it, she secretly bought a laptop and hid it from Sid. She would research at coffee shops and café’s with free Wi-Fi.

It’s interesting what one can find on the internet, if you’re looking.

Step 1. She read, you need a perfect weapon. A knife, she decided easily obtainable. Never interested in Biology in school she now studied the human anatomy for hours, to find its vulnerabilities. Did you know that once the carotid artery is severed a person can bleed to death in twelve seconds? When Sid made love to her she felt the pulse, the throbbing of the blood pulsating inside it and imagined slashing it.

Step 2. Decide the location. At home. While she was supposed to be on a trip to Mumbai. She studied train and bus schedules to and from Mumbai for days. In India no one checks your ID while buying a ticket for a bus journey. But taking a bus dead of the night by a lone woman was fraught with its own risks. She bought clothes from the street sellers outside the railway station, two caps, shirts and pants and two pairs of canvas shoes. Being slim and tall she could easily pass off as an average height man, and makeup did the rest. A successful trail run revealed their condo’s lax security and one flat per floor tied into her plans perfectly.

Step 3. Find an alibi. Amrita for years had not been close to anyone, she didn’t make friends easily since her marriage. Now she needed one. On her next visit to the Mumbai office she struck up a conversation with Shimoli and developed a ritual of her dropping her off to her hotel after work and meeting her for breakfast at the café in the hotel. Always footing the bill.

Step 4. Find another suspect. This proved to be the most difficult. Luck seemed to be with her as that too fell into her lap neatly. Sid had the first falling out with his father over his younger brother, Avinash who had a drinking problem and could not hold down a job. After depleting all their father’s hard earned money on one hair brained business scheme after another, he wanted twenty-five lakhs to invest in a franchise. There were rows upon rows between both the brothers and their father trying to convince Sid, who refused to give money to his wastrel brother.

Step 5. Find a way to link her suspect to the murder. Three months ago on their annual Diwali trip to Jaipur, she collected hair from Avinash’s hairbrush. She also developed a rapport with him and started to talk to him regularly, telling Sid she was trying to make him see the error in his ways.

Step 6. Find a place to trash all the evidence that could point to her. There are literally hundreds of places in India where one can dump things. And if valuable like a laptop, they will conveniently disappear without a trace. She had wiped out its memory and dumped it in a dustbin on the roadside weeks before.

Step 7. Put all the pawns in place. Amrita left for Mumbai and called Avinash from a pay phone. She told him that Sid was beginning to see reason and was ready to talk asking him to reach Pune by Thursday. Sid she knew was a creature of habit, he would arrive late from office having had dinner and by then Avinash, a sponge, would be sozzeled. Disgusted the teetotaler Sid would ask his brother to sleep it off and talk to him in the morning.

Step 8. The final act. All had worked to plan she had entered home in the dead of night and heard Avinash snoring in the guest room. Sid a heavy sleeper, wouldn’t wake up even if the house was burning, was fast asleep. She closed the door and snuck up to him on the bed from her side slashing his neck in one swift swipe with the knife. She watched as the blood drained out of his body and the life out of his eyes. She then dropped Avinash’s hair around the room. She quickly changed into the other set of clothes she had purchased exiting as swiftly as she had entered throwing the blood stained clothes in three different garbage bins at the bus stations on the way and chucking the fresh ones out on a corner of the dirty Mumbai streets took care of the last of the evidence. She was back in her hotel room before dawn broke.

Step 9. The curtain call. All she had to do now was watch the cops put all the pieces of the puzzle together. They wouldn’t find the murder weapon though… she had wiped it and thrown it out of the window on the highway between Pune and Mumbai while the bus had rolled.

“Freedom,” she thought, “Just a matter of a few more days.”

 

River

river-flow
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River

Her mother tried to stop her

but with never a backward glance,

River bounded out of home,

she was a torrent of youthful haze.

With the cool mountain breeze blowing,

her cascading hair streaming.

The warm sunshine on her face,

her collected skirts swinging,

her anklet bells ringing.

Leaping over boulders and

dancing over glens,

picking her playmates along the way.

She at long last slowed down,

to listen,

the temple bells a-pealing.

She stepped into the edifice and

watched the Purohits

with their burning lamps.

Swaying she stood, lulled

gently into a hypnotic laze.

They adorned her with petals,

they bathed her with milk and

smeared her with ashes.

The multitude crowded around her,

touching,

seeking.

She looked on confounded.

What was this that they expected?

She knew not, she cared not.

Her journey was not to be interrupted,

she broke away from their embrace.

She ran with abandon,

they chased her to no avail.

Angered and arrogant.

They bound her.

They choked her.

Their hold a noose around her.

She struggled.

She strived.

Some of her survived.

A lot more cast away.

She reached the end of her journey.

Beggared and

battered she stood,

To question her creator,

on a game so iniquitous.

Q That Wrote Itself

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Q has stumped me, since finishing the post on P, I’ve been in writer’s no man land. It isn’t as if there are no words that begin with Q, or there was a paucity of thoughts for those words, there are many words that have great potential. Since I’m no quitter I have to write and get to the end of this challenge. As I agonized on what to write the thought came to me to let the post write itself. So like you at this point of time I have no idea what’s coming next.

Looking for inspiration in my much thumbed copy of the ‘Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and Proverbs’ in Q, of course I found this quote interesting, so I will begin here.

“A quotation is what a speaker wants to say – unlike a soundbite which is all that an interviewer allows you to say.” –Tony Benn 1925

If you will look at the date above again it says 1925 and here we thought that the problem was invented by our generation. When I did some freelance writing for India Today (once upon a time) I met the actress Nandita Das for an interview, she had earlier, politely (that’s her style others were more brash about it) given me a 15 minute window as she told me she was rather busy (she should be, I remember thinking at that time, after all she is one of the most talented actresses of our time. My opinion others may have another.) I reached her place early to not underutilize even a moment of this small window. Since I was so in awe of her and her acting acumen I had not prepared any standard questions, looking at her rather extensive bookrack I asked her about her interest in books and she began. The 15 minutes turned into 3 hours where we talked on varied topics. A time before cellphones and other social media interruptions that is one of the best memories that I have of my short lived career as a freelance features writer. While wrapping up she asked me a question, “Are you new to writing?” I was to say the least perplexed and then anxious that I’d made some serious faux pas, hesitantly I confirmed that I was. What she said next was rather heartening, “I thought so, other journos come with answers already decided in their heads that they expect me to give. It was nice talking to you.” When I watch Indian news channels today I totally get what she meant then. Here’s a picture that a friend shared on a social media group I played with it a bit and changed it to symbolize what our news channels look like these days.

4 j and 1 p

To the next Q word. I am often confounded by the lack of ability of some people to stand in one, that is in a queue. You will see parallel human lines beginning to form in front of ticket windows, cash registers, at places of worship, at hospitals, bus stops, railway stations till it all resembles a mob rather. On roads one person stops at a crossing and you will soon have cars zipping in from all sides blocking the parallel lane for oncoming traffic. Common courtesies and rules be damned I need to get ahead seems to be the attitude that drives such behavior. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere quickly. Is it because we are so busy? Or because we are running late? Or because we are too impatient? Whatever the reason be, the same people when forced to do so do manage quite effectively when barricades are put into place at roads and temples. Some may argue that this is a malady of the uneducated but I’ve seen the affluent and educated also ‘cross the line’ as often.

I think I’m going to stop here now at 657 words this post has written itself. Now to worry about the next letter of the Alphabet – R, my focus shifts to you.