The Art of Gift Wrapping

Tell me, who doesn’t love receiving gifts??? Especially if it is charmingly wrapped with creativity??? I do.

When it comes to wrapping a gift thoughtfully and creatively, there are two schools of thought. One a utilitarian one that thinks that after all it is a wrap that has to be  opened and then thrown away. But the other school of thought appreciates the amount of time spent on it, which simply shows how much you care about the person…After all it is not just the gift that matters but the manner in which it is given.

Yes, as you have guessed I belong to the latter school of thought. It simply flatters me to think how much time and effort the person has spent on packing the gift…(mind you, after having spent considerable time picking it).

A friend of mine once got me a gift blue in color and bought chocolates wrapped in blue wrapper and got it wrapped in a blue gift wrapper… and all of course for the fact that my favorite color is blue…Now, isn’t that sweet? I think so…

Here is a picture of the gift that I wrapped for a friend who is a bride-to-be…and I hope she likes it.

Posted in Arty-Crafty | 3 Comments

The Dark Angel’s Note

I’m the daughter of darkness. My sins are darker than my own skin color and this darkness goes deep beyond the skin. I was the darkness, which people found ugly and went extreme extends to avoid, until I vanished into the obscurity and today I’m the darkness people fear and loath more than ever.

My name is Pari, which translates to angel in English. I was told that I was born on the most inauspicious time. When I was born, people were convinced that I’m the reincarnation of the devil himself. It was not just the darkness of the skin that they found repulsive, but the pure ugliness I embodied. My mother rejected all such allegations and named me Pari in retaliation. Needless to say, she was proved right. I became the angel. The angel of her own death. She died exactly two months after my birth. My father felt that a birth and a death, which almost coincided was no coincidence. He retired to obscurities. My mother’s maid took over and took care of me. Though she wasn’t particularly fond of me, she had promised my mother before her death that she would take care of me. My father provided me the money and resources. Otherwise he was mostly absent from my life. He thought I was responsible for his wife’s death and the misfortune that has fallen on his life. He didn’t quite believe that I’m the reincarnation of the devil. He was too rational a man to believe it. Nevertheless, he secretly feared that it might be true.

Most children fear the dark. Not me. I knew darkness was a part of me and I belonged to darkness. Where no one could see my tears, fears, and even me. It was the darkness that lulled me to sleep. When people feared darkness, I embraced it.

School days were painful but college days turned out to be a cruel nightmare I didn’t want to remember. I dropped out of college after one long excruciating year. I knew that I didn’t fit in this world. There were times when I wanted to end this life. But I didn’t know where else I would fit in. I worried that what if I found after life something similar to college. This thought always stopped me.

It was around the same time, my school teacher Helen (also my mother’s childhood friend) helped me find a job in a call center. She is the only human being from whom I have known real kindness. I didn’t make any friends in the call center. I was happy working there. I enjoyed helping people out with their problems. It was my first real interaction with human beings. I was exulted by the simple fact that I helped real people and they liked me, at least my voice. Then I started discovering the virtual world, the magnificent world of Internet. I started blogging. I made some friends through chat. And one night I met him in a chat room. As you know, it was him – Armaan. Armaan, the personification of desires. We discussed art, literature, philosophy. Our chat lasted until four in the morning. With a funny feeling, we both realized how long we were chatting and we have to go to work within another four hours time. Before saying goodbye I broke one rule, I agreed to meet him on chat the very same evening. Usually, I chat with a new person every day. This way, I don’t have to reveal much about myself.

I was nervous, but the feeling was different from the nervousness I had experienced before. I went to bed thinking, I will sleep at least for an hour or two. I couldn’t sleep. I was alert. We talked about everything with so ease and the fact is that we understood each other so well. The feeling was new and quite unsettling. Before I knew, it was time to get ready for office. I didn’t sleep a bit. I mentally went through the conversations we had yesterday. I wondered what he was thinking now.

In office, I got up couple of times from my seat, walked a bit from my seat, and then wondered why I got up from the seat. Did I want something? I was lost. While talking to clients, I realized I wasn’t my usual. My heart was pounding against my skin. I felt alive. At times, I felt short of breath. I went to the washroom many times and looked at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t find any difference expect that I looked dazed. It wasn’t love. We didn’t talk anything that hinted that it could be something like that. Moreover, if it were something like that I wouldn’t have agreed to talk to him the following evening. I found time moving at a snail’s pace. I bit my nails so many times. Though I was nervous, unsure, and confused, the feeling was something bitter-sweet. I found myself eagerly waiting for the evening. That day I did a lousy job at office and yet I was happy.

When I was leaving office, I wondered if he would turn up. What if he forgot about everything in the morning? What if he cursed me for ruining his sleep? With so many questions in my mind, I went home and logged on to chat. To my surprise, he was there. I didn’t ask him anything personal and neither did he. This arrangement suited me well. We continued our rendezvous for weeks and we talked about everything expect about personal details. I was happy. I was alive. For the first time in life, I was happy that I’m alive. I didn’t wish for my own death. I have a real friend in my life. I knew this friendship was growing into something more than friendship. I feared but I was in a stage, where I couldn’t have stopped myself had I even wished for it.

One evening, he told me about himself. He was working with an MNC as a Software Engineer and he was living in the same city. The trouble came when he wanted to know about me. I told him I was working for a call center but I lied to him about the name of the BPO for which I was working. I worried if he came to my office and found out what I looked like. I didn’t want to lose him. The following week, he sent me his picture. I was surprised to see a handsome face. As expected, he wanted my picture. I cringed, I knew I can’t give him. I made excuses for the next one week about the picture. He asked me whether it is because I didn’t trust him? That caught me. I told him the truth that I’m ugly. He said that I can’t be ugly, a person with such beautiful thoughts can’t be ugly. He firmly believed that it was because I didn’t trust him. I was in a dilemma. Finally, I took my cousin’s picture and sent it to him. He couldn’t stop telling me about how beautiful I was. I was burdened with guilt. I  knew he didn’t love me. I cried deep inside. I asked myself – how can I fool myself into thinking that someone might actually love me? I knew this was leading nowhere. He couldn’t stop talking about my beauty and every time I felt sick deep down in my heart. I have never cheated anyone in life. I couldn’t handle it. I thought the best way was to break up. I slowly started keeping distance from him. That drove him to bouts of anger, depression, and aggressiveness. I got scared. I didn’t know how to handle this. I didn’t have anyone to ask about this.

One day I decided to tell him the truth. I knew he would walk out on his own. One day, we met. I told him the truth that the picture is not mine and I had taken someone’s picture because I didn’t want to scare him. He got aggressive and he told me that I was coached to say the story because his Pari cannot be an ugly creature like this. Pari had sent me in her place to get rid of him.  Even after telling him so many times he wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. Then, he asked me whether Pari had fallen in love with somebody else. To get out of the place and in my desperation , I told him yes. After that he didn’t say anything, he let me go. I left. I didn’t cry. I felt stupid. I felt foolish. Yet I was happy I didn’t feel guilty anymore.

One week later, I read in newspaper with horror. Armaan is killed. The news said that police is still investigating whether it was a suicide or a murder. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared. I prayed to the God I have never prayed before. Days passed by, but I was dying inch by inch. I couldn’t handle the pain or pressure. One day, I walked up to the police station and told the truth. It is said that an unpleasant truth kept under covers is sometimes for the best. People didn’t take it nicely. The next day’s newspaper carried my pictures. Not all of them but some of them. But all the news paper said the same thing. Mystery behind the Techie’s death solved. They portrayed me as a woman who trapped an innocent man in her love by showing the picture of a beautiful lady and when the man expressed his wish to take the relationship to next level by marrying her, she ditched him mercilessly and in the trauma he killed himself.

The news item varied from one news paper to another according to the figments of the reporters’ imagination. Some were spicy as in how I enslaved him in my vicious trap and threw him to death.  Some newspapers even interviewed my neighbors and relatives and they all said that they were always convinced that I was capable of evil and told how I killed my own mother.

We live in a strange world. If a beautiful girl ditches a man and he commits suicide, she is not to be blamed. People would say that she wanted to move away from the relation and he killed himself to get even with her. I’m not surprised; why should a world which was so unkind to me be kind this time?

This time, I’m embracing the darkness forever. This is my goodbye note. Please don’t consider this as an attempt at justification or an attempt for sympathy.

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The Story of My Best Friend, Me, and Our Friendship

Okay! This is my story – the story about my best friend, me, and our friendship. My name is Tom and my best friend’s name is Jason. We are best of best friends. We have a good equation, chemistry or whatever you may call it. We met three years ago and we instantly bonded like long-lost friends. Trust me; I have never bonded with anyone like this before. He is quite some chap. You know what I mean, don’t ya?

We are living together for the past three years in an apartment in the West Side. We both love the place. It’s a smart place with a great view. I love places with a good view. It puts me in a contemplative or meditative mood occasionally and helps me reconnect with the self. I can be quite spiritual person deep down, at times.

We not only share the apartment but similar taste in almost everything. We even share the bed (Oh! Please do not get me wrong or assume things). We have a routine. I wake him up and we go for jogging in the jogger’s park for an hour, come back home, have breakfast, and then he heads to work. I catch up with the news on TV by lying down on the couch, feeling all snug and warm. After that, I catch up on some sleep and when I wake up, it’s time for lunch. After lunch, I flip through the channels and catch up on the remaining sleep until Jason comes home. Oh! Please do not think that I’m a useless guy, a bunch of lazy bones, who is wasting his life. I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, who believes in the Epicurean philosophy of life – Eat, live, and be merry.

When Jason gets home after work, he tells me everything about what happened at work. By the way, I’m a good listener as well. You guys should try me some time. Anyway, getting back to the point, sometimes it’s a bad day for him and automatically it falls on me to cheer up the guy and make him feel pepped up. After dinner, sometimes we watch a good movie or if there is any nice match going on we watch that. Then, we quietly go to bed saying goodnight to each other.

On weekends we go to Jason’s  cousin – George’s farm house and spend some time there. Or we go to the beach with friends and play beach volley or even better check out the babes on the beach. I often end up liking one or two but I can never muster up the courage to approach any one of them. Jason on the other hand, rarely admits that he found any attractive babes. When it comes to approaching, he too is like me – a shy guy. So, mostly we end up just gazing at them and go back home feeling completely dejected at our own inability.

Often Jason’s cousin George (who is married and lives in a large farm house with a even larger wife) tries to hook him up with some of his wife’s friends. Knowing George’s wife way too well Jason always evades his cousin’s attempts, which always irks his cousin. When he gets totally pissed off, he takes it out on me and tells Jason that he will be without a girl all his life and will be stuck with me forever. There is something sinister about the way he tells it, as though the worst part is not ending up without a girl but being stuck with me. I must admit at this point that I don’t like George or his attempts at match making or prophecies. Can’t you see, Jason is a happy guy. He goes for jogging regularly (thanks to me), work, and has good social life. He is a simple person with simple needs, just like me. That’s why we get along so well. But some dim-witted morons cannot see or understand that. That’s probably because he cannot see or think anything beyond his large wife and farm house.

Anyway, that’s not of much importance in my story. The twist in the story came when Jason’s mother fell sick and he went to visit his mother. He stayed there for a week or two. Okay! To be exact, 14 days and 4 and a half hours. His mother’s friend and her niece had come to visit his mother on the second day of his stay. His initial plan was to leave on the third day, which never happened.

The niece’s name is Daisy. She is as beautiful as her name. She is his childhood friend. She had come to stay with her aunt during her summer vacations, when she was 3 or 4 and they used to play hide and seek in his house. This was the first time she returned to see her aunt after all these years. Her mother had passed away recently and she wanted a getaway. Therefore, she landed up at her aunt’s place.

When Jason returned home, he was not the Jason I knew. He was a lost man, a man who got himself engaged to be married to his childhood friend. Frankly speaking, I don’t think he even remembers her as his childhood friend.  When his mother and her friend said they are childhood friends he could have hardly denied it or the memories of it. When I said he was a lost man, what I meant was that he is not the Jason I knew. He was always in a trance state; smiling to himself, chuckling and the rest of the times on phone with her or out with her on a date. I was not happy the way things were unfolding for me but I was genuinely happy for my best friend. He found a girl for himself.

After 3 months, they got married and she moved in with us. She was nice to me. Nevertheless, I had to move out of his bedroom, I didn’t get to wake him up every morning, and obviously he stopped telling me how his day at office went. However, we all three went for jogging and on weekend trips. With these two lovers, I felt I was playing hide and seek with two people, where no one was hiding from me or seeking me. There were times when I felt I too should find someone. But unlike him, my mother wasn’t around. I retired to my contemplative mood. I felt that though I’m there, my existence was invisible to them.

There is something about Jason that I haven’t told you yet. Like me, he is not a cat person. He is a dog person. Okay, there is a theory that you can only be either a dog person or a cat person. Yes, there are exceptions to it. But generally, you can only be one of these. Jason doesn’t like cats and whenever I chase away a cat he pats me appreciatively. Yesterday, when I saw a cat when we went for jogging, I was seized by the urge to impress Jason. I chased the cat and in my anxiousness to make it dramatic, I ended up killing it. Let me tell you, I had no intentions to kill it. It just happened accidentally. Seeing this Daisy broke into inconsolable tears. Her tears were streaming down as though somebody just opened the shutters of a dam. I’m amazed at how the female species can produce tears in such profusion. Do they have additional lachrymal glands? But what amazes me even more is how a resolute male species completely dissolves in the tears from an opposite gender. He kept consoling her. Even after reaching home, she wouldn’t stop. He didn’t understand what it was all about. Was it just about watching the carnage of a cat or is there more to it? We were in the same boat. Even I didn’t understand but I knew I was in hot water.

She wouldn’t talk. She kept crying. I thought after one or two hours she would stop it.  But she didn’t. I seriously doubt whether she had cried herself like this when her mother died.  He decided not to go to office. He kept stroking her hair not knowing what else to do. Eventually, she calmed down. He offered her a glass of water and he asked her what was it that bothered her so much. She spoke through sobs and hiccups that when she was 5, her mother had given her a kitten and she had it for several weeks until one day it mysteriously disappeared. She felt sick for a month. She said she was reminded of her Kitty as the cat that was killed today looked like her Kitty.

I felt like laughing, that was something that happened 21 or 22 years ago. Surely, she must be knowing that it can’t be the same cat. The whole day, I spent licking my wounds. Nobody had food that day, as Daisy decided not to have food. Around evening, there were some altercations in the house for the first time. I didn’t want to eavesdrop on their conversation. So, I stayed away from the scene. Moreover, I’m a decent chap who gives respect to people’s privacy. The altercation continued throughout the night. I was awake the entire night and so was the entire household.

Morning he came looking tired and miserable. He was in his jeans and t-shirt instead of jogging wear. He told me, “Let’s go!” I was overjoyed. I was happy that he understood me and stood strong in front of the female lachrymal glands. He got on the car and happily wagging my tail, I hopped on the car. We drove through unfamiliar streets. He was silent and lost in thoughts throughout the journey. I didn’t think it was appropriate to break the silence. I enjoyed his company even through the silence.

The car came to a halt in front of an animal shelter. We entered the premises. He talked to the grumpy looking man and he patted me on my head and walked away in haste, not even looking back once. That’s how my patient listeners how I reached here.

Three legged Jimmy called out, “Welcome aboard mate! Everyone has a story. My master gave me away, when I lost my leg in an accident. No one would adopt me because of my handicap. You look good and you’re healthy. You will find a new home.” And others joined him to welcome Tom. Only Fluffy the cat without any fur kept quiet. When the chatter of welcome died out, she said, “That’s why I always say that dogs are silly and emotional fools. Look at us cats, we never let the humans be our masters. We are our own masters. I need to tell you chap, forgetting the fact that you killed an innocent cat, that you must plot a revenge and this Daisy female she never liked you. She waited for the opportune moment to have you out of their lives.”

Others also agreed to this. Hearing all these Tom said, “That’s the difference between dogs and cats. When we say faithful, we remain faithful to the end. And the paradox in my story is that my friend ditched me for a cat. Man is a fickle being. He does not know what he wants or where his true happiness lies. He might have achieved everything but he is the vulnerable of the lot. Jason still is my best friend. I will wait here till he comes to take me home.”

Fluffy snarled in utter disgust and went back to licking her paws one by one. Tom slipped back to his contemplative mood.

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Curls of Smoke

After sex, he slept off wrapping his arms around her. She kept still under his arm wrap, not wanting to disturb him. She slowly, turned her face to see his face. His face had a strange tranquility. It is not just in sleep. It is something that is always there. She saw his body rise and fall to the rhythm of his breathing. She found it amusing that it should be in synchronization with her own breathing and rise and fall of her chest. Or was she trying to make hers in sync with his? In any case, there is a strange rhythm in their relation. There is no denying about that. She always knew that he is different from all other men that she has been with. It was not just the age difference. However, it is also true that she has never been in a relation with anyone so young. He is 21 and she is almost 40.

She sighed and looked at the ceiling, focusing on the fan, trying to fall asleep. She knew she could not sleep when her mind is full of thoughts. She always found sex mentally stimulating. After sex, she would always get up, light up a cigarette, and chew on her thoughts. The thought of cigarette made her feel unsettled. She knew she needed one at the very moment. The men she had been with found it unnatural that she did not want to talk or cuddle after a good sex. She preferred being alone with a cigarette.


She went to the drawing room, lit a cigarette, and sat on her rocking chair. She always found it easier to think clearly through the curls of smoke. She inhaled the smoke as though it were the nectar of enlightenment.

Looking back, she knew she was always the man in every relation and it took a boy to make her feel like a woman in a relation. She had been with many men and invariably she was the one who dumped every single one. Rohit once called her a butterfly. A butterfly that flitted thorough relations, never settling down for any. She knew that she was just a fancy fly for them and nothing more.

Little did matter what they thought. She knew that many men were drawn into a relation with her, as they knew she was a free parking zone. They parked themselves when in a difficult phase or rough relation and drove themselves out guilt free, as she was always the one who called it quits. Some men were drawn to her because none of the men, she ever was with, could understand her or how her mind worked. She was not like other women. Nor was she too beautiful. Once someone tried to define what was it about her. In his attempt, he said that her beauty is her intellectual sensuality. She dismissed it with her wry enigmatic smile. She knew it was all bullshit.

She was actually someone who was feared by everyone. Men secretly feared they could never understand her or escape her charm. Women openly feared that she might seduce their men and envied her, as they never understood what drove men towards her. No one called her a slut, maybe because she was quite a known figure in the literary and arts world. She has authored three books and co-authored many. Nevertheless, she knew that they joked about her being a female spider that killed her mate after mating. Not literally, only figuratively.

She dumped all relations she ever been with because she was never involved and she knew it wouldn’t last in any case. She drew satisfaction out of the fact that she dictated the terms. She had the ball in her court.

However, things changed ever since she met him. It was an evening when she dropped to a photography exhibition by some new age photographers. Her friend had asked her to write a column about it. She was looking through the exhibits taking mental note and at times jotting down things in her little notepad. She heard a voice ask her, “What do you think about this?” She turned to see a young and good-looking face staring at her. She said, “Different and interesting” and she moved on to the next one. She felt his eyes follow her. She moved further away and concentrated on her work.

She was quite impressed with the exhibits that she lost track of time. They were about to close the place for the day, only then she realized how late it was. She got out of the place to see that it was raining heavily. She knew it is difficult to get an auto or a cab home. She waited cursing the rains. Suddenly she was aware of someone’s presence close to her. She turned to see the young man. He offered her a ride home. She couldn’t have denied it given the circumstances.

She was surprised to see that he had a bike and not a car. She couldn’t believe it. She asked him sarcastically how do to you expect to get go home in this??? He asked her calmly, “Haven’t you been in rains lately? Have you never gone on a bike ride in the rains???”. She did not want to say no. She simply said, “I haven’t done anything like that in a long time”. He smiled and said all the more a reason to do so.

Left with no other option, she hopped on the bike and he raced through the lanes against the wind and rains. To her surprise, she loved it and she held on to him tightly.

When she reached her house, she asked him to come in. She said she would get him a coffee as soon as she changed into something dry. She changed and came back to see him, sit and shiver. His arms embracing himself and teeth clattering, making a funny noise. She felt sorry for him and went to her wardrobe looking for something clean and dry. Rohit has never come back to collect his belongings. Perhaps hoping that someday she would change her mind or his belongings would make her think of him. She found a shirt and pajama. She took it to him and told him he could wear it and handed him a laundry bag to put his wet clothes. She told him that he did not have to return the clothes that she lent him. She, then, showed him the bathroom.

She finished making coffee and some toast and waited for him to come. Twenty minutes passed and yet he didn’t come out of the room. She grew anxious. What was she thinking when she let him in? Who is he? What is he? He might be a serial killer. With these thoughts, she went inside. She was surprised to see him wearing a towel and sitting in her chair browsing through her photo album, which was on the table. She was totally unprepared for something like this. She quickly told him that she had made coffee for him, which was getting cold. Saying these she turned to walk out of the room. He held her hand stopping her. She knew what was coming. She knew she could easily push him away or even slap him hard. But she did neither of those and there began their story.

She could easily push away any guy, but like what happened on that day she was unable to push him out of her life. The age difference between them bothered her a lot in the beginning, but she thought she could easily pluck him out of her life. He had a strange magnetism, which she was unable to withstand. She hopelessly surrendered. She sometimes worried whether his mother was younger than she was. What would his mother go through when she finds about her? Where would that leave her? Even if these things were taken care of, he would fall for a younger woman eventually. She reminded herself that she was not getting any younger. She suddenly realized with horror that she was threading the uncharted territory of female insecurity. Something she so happily was unaware of. She wanted him so badly in her life. Everything is perfect. Things can’t get better than this. She could see everything clearly through the curls of smoke.

She was in deep thoughts, when she heard his voice ask her, “You still awake, come to bed.” Hearing this she asked him, “Do you want a drink?” He chuckled and asked, “Can a man ever say no to sex and drinks offered by a pretty woman?”. She smiled and got up to fix the drink. He excused himself to go to the loo.

She knew that he didn’t have much of a stomach to take in alcohol. But her always said yes to alcohol. May be it was because she loved drinking and he didn’t want her to think that he was not man enough. She opened a scotch bottle reserved for special occasions. It was an eighteen years old scotch that someone once lovingly gifted her. She poured to two glasses and slipped in powdered sleeping pills. She mixed the drink so that the powder blended in well with the drink. She performed all these actions in an unhurried and definite manner. She heard him walk in to the room. She handed him one glass and sat down. He looked at her quizzically. She gave him her trademark enigmatic wry smile. He sat down opposite to her. She raised her glass and said, “To our eternal love” and he repeated after her like a schoolboy, “To our eternal love”. They finished the drink. He asked her, “Do you want another drink or can we head back to bed?” She said, “Let’s go.”

Lying beside him, she wrapped her arms around him, he in turn wrapped his arms around her, and together they embraced the journey to eternal sleep.

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Manicure and Pedicure, the Best cure for Depression???

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Ask a girl what is one of the simplest ways to fight depression. If the girl is smart enough she would say, “Go get yourself a manicure or a pedicure or better get both!”(Don’t you remember how Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde used to rush for a manicure every time she felt blue?). Well, if a girl does not know it yet, take her to a salon and get her a manicure. She will instantly feel all good.

Now, you must be wondering why I am telling you all these. Can’t you see that I’m setting the prelude for my sad story?  Well, it all happened on that day. It was an ordinary day like any other day if what happened had not happened. My usual chirpiness was giving away for a gloomy doom. From a scale of 10, my chirpiness was spiraling down to the negative zone. It was not so surprising given the fact that I just got to know that I had lost my job. I was on leave, when the rude shock hit the office. The office was soon to be shut down. We were asked to go home. No one bothered to break the news to me. It was around afternoon that I called up my colleague to find out about the new restaurant that has come up in the city and it was then that I got to know the news.

Initially I embraced the news with complete numbness, which was soon followed by soft sobs. I hung up the call and sat down to analyze the situation. I let the fact that I’m out of job, sink into my numb consciousness.

I tried to analyze my situation; I’m on the verge of reaching 30, single, out of job, unsettled credit bills, and definitely on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I realized I am both emotionally and financially broke. The feeling was quite unsettling and I gave voice to it through my soft sobs, which turned into inconsolable loud ones. I, finally, let myself sink into the bed as though resigning to my fate.

My phone is ringing, I know who it is. It is that same guy from the bank who called me to remind me about the credit card bills. I jump out of my window. Now, I’m running. But the phone ring gets louder and louder. I turn back to see, the phone is chasing me. Oh, I got to run faster, I tell myself. I’m running with all my might but I’m not getting ahead. Next, I find myself falling into a deep abyss.

I woke up to see that I had fallen off the bed and now I’m on the floor. And, my phone is still ringing. I asked myself…is it a dream within a dream? Anyway, I reached for my mobile and saw that the call was from my mom. I took the call to hear my mom screaming into my ears in a piercing voice, “Where were you Tina?, I have been calling you since last night.” Since last night??? I parted the curtain to see the sunlight. Oh! f****** ————. I didn’t realize that I was sleeping for so long.

Suddenly I found the urge to lament. I poured out my worries to my mom. She kept repeating the same thing, “Oh! My poor baby, don’t you worry? Everything will be fine. Mamma is here for you.” I reminded myself that she does not the whole story. She does not know about my credit card woes. I didn’t want her to know that. If I tell her, obviously I also owe her an explanation of how this debt piled up.

I let her console me for a while. She reminded me that I’m young and full of life. Nothing should stop me from being happy and achieving what I want. I could easily get another job. She asked me to get up from the bed and have breakfast. I thanked her for being there for me through thick and thin. To which she said what mothers are for. I felt truly light and unburdened. I hung up the call and sat down to analyze the situation again. a) I’m young and full of life. b) I can easily find another job. c) If I find another job quickly, I can settle my credit card bills. * Conditions Apply (if I don’t get too indulgent and go on a swiping spree with my credit card)

With this thought, I went to kitchen and fixed a quick breakfast. After the breakfast, I thought I should analyze the situation completely and come up with a strategic move to tackle the whole situation. Like my mom told me, I reminded myself that I’m young and full of ….ahem life? No!!! The truth is I’m young and a complete wreck. From experience, I know that mothers have an uncanny gift of finding faults with her kids; but when her child is feeling down, she simply cannot find faults with her child. My mother is no exception to this universal truth about mothers.

I told myself all I need to do is fight depression and instil the feeling that I’m a go-getter. Yes, I need to fight depression. Voila! What better than a manicure or a pedicure to cure depression. Most of the men and some of the women drown their worries in alcohol. Which in my opinion is a complete “No”. You tend to get more sober and you cannot think clear after draining alcohol down your throat. That would be like adding insult to injury.  I have tried alcohol once. When I gulped the concoction, my throat and stomach brunt like hell. Then all I remember is waking up to the smell of my own puke and a splitting headache. Never want that again. All I can’t understand is that why people think alcohol is a solution to their problems.

I have a more constructive approach to fight depression. I need to hit the salon and get myself a pedicure. I jumped up from the couch to get dressed. I got dressed in less than 10 minutes, which in itself is a miracle (for those who know me well). I grabbed my keys and wallet. Suddenly the bitter truth slapped me on the face. I’m broke. I don’t have any cash and using the credit card is not a great idea, considering the circumstances.

I sat down with a heavy thud. My first strategic move is thwarted. No, I cannot let this happen. I kept telling there must be a way. Then, I thought why I can’t I do it myself? That was what I used to do when I was in school. During school days, my pocket money was meager and I did my manicure and pedicure myself.

I went and got my manicure set.  I took a large bowl of lukewarm water and gathered remaining supplies required for a pedicure. To set the mood. I played soft music. I immersed my feet in the bowl of lukewarm water. I removed the nail polish with remover, scrubbed my feet, and guess what I am already feeling better. I knew I could do it. I knew I would feel better. I reached for corn and callus remover file and started working on my heels. Each time I ran the file over my heel, I felt as though I’m removing my worries. I felt better and I filed harder. I started dreaming about a job where I would work hard and people would appreciate me for my meticulous and diligent approach to work. I would be awarded the best employee of the year. Soon promotion and hike would follow. But I would never let success get to my head. I will say bye-bye to my credit cards. I would save up money. When I have enough money, I would quit the job. The top management will try to retain me with attractive packages but I wouldn’t listen ’cause I have already made up my mind. I will start my own venture. I was already feeling like a go-getter. With these thought I finished filing using the callus and corn remover. My feet looked pink and soft. I was already feeling too pleased with my work. I dipped my feet in the water. Instantly, I took back my feet. Was the water too hot? Cant be. My feet were burning when it touched the water. I examined my feet. I realized I got to too carried away by my daydreaming and over did the whole filing process. I felt it is too risky to venture further with pedicure process.

I dried my feet with towel. Got on my feet. Ouch! It hurts like hell. I limped to get my slippers on. I put some plasters to avoid further damage. I hit all time low. I screamed at myself, who the hell ever told that manicure and pedicure can cure depression??? Anyway who the hell ever heard of pedicure or manicure going wrong??? I limped to reach my bed. Now, I’m on the verge of 30, single, with unsettled credit card bills, depressed( and no longer fighting depression) and can’t stand on my own feet. Well, did you notice that it is a pun? Well, that can’t help me feel better.

I sank into the depth of bed once again, waiting for my mother’s phone. When she will console me that all is well.

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Bangles Lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Months later she was fiddling through her bookshelf, her heart trying to take refuge somewhere in the pages of some book. Suddenly, from somewhere the bookshelf a glass bangle fell down on the bare floor and shattered to pieces in front of her eyes. She closed the fingers on her palm tightly as though trying to gain control over something that she lost control long before. Kneeling down on the floor, slowly, she picked up bits of it and realized that it’s hard to fuse the broken bits back together like her shattered heart. From her gloomy eyes rolled down few drops of tears and touched the harsh ground of reality.

Her mind rolled back to the memories of yesteryears when she used to be just a school girl. She remembered herself rushing back home from school with tears streaming down her soft cheeks, clutching on to the bits of her broken bangles and crying out her heart. She wept on and on all night, even after promises of replacing the bits of broken bangles with new bangles of vibrant colours were made to her. For the promise made to her was fulfilled when the banglewala came the next morning. She was shown bangles of every colour and variety to choose from. She remembered herself biting lips in confusion which one to choose because all of them were equally beautiful. As soon as she decided which one to buy, she wore those bangles and ran out of the house to show to the neighbourhood girls her new bangles of vibrant colours, her laughter touching the blue skies above and she held on to her new bangles as though those bangles were the most precious things in her life.

Suddenly, a piece of the broken bangle prickled her lovely finger and a drop of blood appeared on her fair skin within no time and instantly she was drawn back to reality. She closed her eyes as though even when she closed her eyes her heart bled with pain. She thought about how her life changed a few months ago. It all came floating back to mind as though it happened just yesterday; it was only because her mind was always preoccupied with those moments now.

A new rainbow appeared on the skies of her new life. New colours started filling her new life for she was newly married bride as young as a rose bud that has just unfurled. But when this rainbow appeared on the sky she didn’t even think that rainbows don’t last for a lifetime on the sky and soon it will fade away leaving no trace at all.

She remembered that fateful evening when she came back from temple. She didn’t know what had happened or what was going to happen. There was an unusual crowd around her house, when she entered the house people around gazed at her with pity, calling her poor thing, the unfortunate. Then she saw right at the centre of the room, there laid a body covered with white cloth and people screaming around the body as though they were in pain. Before she could realize what had happened or what was happening, from somewhere came the old women of the neighbourhood and took the pooja thali from her hands and broke her lovely red bangles and rubbed off her bindi and kumkum.

She cried and cried not knowing…when she realized, she also realized that all colours had been drained out of her life. Nothing was left behind. The white saree she wore symbolised her barren life. She looked out of the window and the sky up above was as blue as ever and wished she had chased the rainbow before it faded away.

For this time no promises of new bangles were made…

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Closed doors…

There are times in your life when every door closes on you one by one. You begin to wonder what did you ever do to deserve this. The ground beneath you begins to slip away. When you see a little light you think it is a door opening to you. But then you realize it was a small opening through which light was streaming in… You wish at least a window was left open for you….

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Share Auto

That morning I woke up with the dread that I have to battle one more day at office before I could claim the bliss of a weekend. I stretched myself one last time before getting out of the bed, with a vain hope of shaking away my pending sleep.  What I really wanted to do was shake off my irritation; but the action only seemed to have fueled my budding irritation.

I headed straight to bathroom with the last hope of purging myself. The morning ablution also failed to cool me. I hastily pulled up my jeans; looked for a clean shirt. On failing to spot one, I wore a kurti instead and a stole to go with it. Then, I spent considerable time in front of the mirror. At last, dismayed by the dismal face that was staring at me I left that attempt. Before rushing out of the house, I didn’t forget to steal a quick glance of myself in the mirror. When I reached half way, I realized I had forgotten it again. Like a whirlwind, I swooshed back to my room and retrieved my copy of The Life of Pi from underneath my bed where I had left it the last night after reading it.

I half walked, half ran to the bus stop only to see my bus (usually I travel by this bus, hence the possessive term) shrieking past me splashing the puddle that had sprout during last night rain after mating with the litters of the road. Luckily, I missed the splurge of puddle just like the bus (which was more due to lack of luck), which has now vanished around the bend.

There was something about the way the bus sped past me and disappeared around the corner. Half-teasing and half-accusatory of having failed to chase it. In a state of utter loss and gain and chagrined confusion I failed to notice the bunch of morons from the colony having taken their usual place at the bus stop. They were jeering at me with loud shouts and scowls. I realized I was more of a loser than that bunch of losers. Suddenly, I remembered what my personality development instructor always quotes. He often begins the session with this quote in an assumed inspirational voice, “Remember, you were a winner from the moment you were born. There were several hundred billion sperm in one glob chasing this one egg…There were billions of them, and you won. You won the first race you were ever in.” If that is true, I’m double sure that I was racing with a bunch of super losers.

I went and stood at the far end of the bus stop convinced that at any moment another hell would break loose on me causing me humiliation that would further scald my skin. However, nothing like that happened. An auto stopped in front of me. Unsure as I was, I asked whether it is a shared auto and to my surprise, he answered in the affirmative. I asked him would it go to Neelankarai? He said get on. I felt relieved for the first time since I woke up. You see, to be the first person in a share auto during morning office-hour rush is a rare luck. I didn’t let my rare luck play out my nasty mood. Anyway, I quickly settled in with my book. Although I started reading it, I realized it would take a little while for my mind to settle in.

Soon I was caught in the tapestry of words. The book I was reading was about a man who survived a shipwreck but was lost at sea in a boat with a tiger and a bunch other animals with limited food resources and chances for survival. Figuratively speaking, I too was lost at sea but my problems were nothing compared to that of the man. There is something wicked about human emotions; when you know that somebody else is suffering far more than you are, instantly you feel a relief that your situation is not so bad.

I must have been completely absorbed by the book I was reading because I became aware of my surroundings only when I felt a slight tug around my neck. I adjusted my stole still deeply immersed in the book. It didn’t help me. Suddenly I realized there was a huge mass beside me moving hither and thither causing the stole to tighten around my neck like a noose. I glanced sideways to see what it was. Instantly I was greeted with the most monstrous smile I have ever seen.  She had paan stained mouth and teeth; with some of the teeth missing. Surely, there was something wicked about the way she was grinning. I quickly turned away and pretended to be reading. She smelt like a bag of fish. I don’t know how I failed to realize that earlier. Maybe my mind was tricked into believing that the smell was the aftermath of the last night downpour.  Rain in Chennai can be a nightmare especially if you are brave enough to tread the roads of Chennai during or after the rain. And when did she get on the auto??? How did I not know???

Quickly I was pulled back from my thoughts as I could feel the creature’s eyes on me. I was annoyed. I blatantly pulled my stole on which she was comfortably sitting, convinced that my day cannot get any worse. Now, the whole day at office I would smell like….Yuck!!!!. I had taken bath and wore freshly pressed cotton kurti. Unlike the female who smelt like a bag of fish. I felt so angry that I could spit fire like a dragon if I opened my mouth. I retrieved my stole and moved away from her as much as the seat allowed me to.

All the while she was unaware that she was sitting on my stole and my actions seemed to have made her realize her mistake. She also realized that I was offended. She quickly took the part of the stole on which she sat and started dusting it as though trying to clean it from the stink or dirt that she carried along with her. I suddenly felt bad and took back the stole from her gently. She said something to me, which I didn’t understand. Nevertheless, I knew she meant sorry. I said it’s okay and again pretended to be reading.

Somehow I became curious…Who is she? What is she? I behaved so rudely, yet she was so gentle. I didn’t have the guts to look at her in the eye. So I quietly stole glances. She was looking out and smiling. Maybe it was a slight exaggeration. Her smile was not so wicked. It was just frightening to someone who is seeing her for the first time. In between, she looked in my direction with the same smile.

After that she took her purse and started counting the coins and feeling the currency. From her attire, I knew she can’t be well-off. Perhaps this auto ride is also slightly expensive for her. I felt maybe she is sad that she is going to part with the little money that she has. Yet she had the same smile. At that time, the auto-driver stopped and told her that her place has come. She asked him how much the fare was and paid him the amount. She slowly got out of the auto and unfolded a white walking stick, which I realized was a blind person’s stick. For the first time I looked at her eyes. I couldn’t know whether she was blind or not. Her eyes held a vacant stare but her paan stained lips had the same smile.

The auto started moving again and  she was lost from view but her smile lingered in my heart. Suddenly it occurred to me what was I??? What problem did I have to complain and lament about??? I realized it was not she who was stinking but it was me. It was not her smile that was monstrous but my own mind and attitude. I felt so miserable and looked out, yet I could only see that smile which somehow was now transformed to one of the beautiful smiles I have ever seen. The bright shimmering sunshine on my face made me realize it was too beautiful a day to lament about a missed bus and a few jeers. I thanked god for the beautiful day and the beautiful smile for the valuable lesson.

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Oh! tell me where are those dreams of yore…

Again, I writer; I write for my sole reader…

So much time has gone by. I did so little with the time that left me to drape my past. Some times when I look at myself and the ‘once present’ that has left me to become my past, I don’t have any regrets…At least, that is what I would tell others and myself. The truth matters less and perhaps it makes the present less questionable and more bearable.

I remember how I was some 6 or 7 years back. Young and naïve. Not just young and naïve; I, an extraordinarily ordinary person, believed I could make a difference. An extra ordinary feat that could set me apart from my ordinary self. Now, I know how naïve and stupid I was. Today, I’m nothing…an ordinary person who has fallen into the routine chores of mundane life. Neither have I done anything great in life nor anything that even remotely interests me.

In those days of yore, I had abundant faith in myself. I thought I would make a living out of something that I love doing. That was the time when my sister joined the IT industry as a Software Engineer. I was happy for my sister because she was doing well. One day, I found out how little she liked her job. She never really wanted an IT job. In my naivety, I asked  her, “How can you work like this when you don’t like your job? What about job satisfaction and satiating yourself?” She said, “Those things matter less. When you have a well-paying job with good work atmosphere, those are taken care of…Remember, with money comes satisfaction.” Without my knowledge she spoke the gospel of my life. But at that time little did I know, I told her, ” I don’t know how you can do that. As for me I would rather work for passion than money.”

I was doing well in college. My teachers’ faith in me made me believe I could achieve anything. However, I was wrong. I did not know exactly what was it that I wanted to achieve. So there never raised the question of whether I can achieve it or not.

I always loved words and enjoyed dabbling in words like no other thing in the world. I wasn’t good at it. But that is what I loved the most. Some how, as fate had a way …I became a writer by profession but I do not write anything I like nor do I write anything that vaguely interests me. I am writer by designation in the IT industry. I have clung to it because it pays well… Today, I’m like Dr. Faustus who mortgaged his soul to the devil for 24 yrs of absolute happiness….

Sometimes I fear I’m dying everyday. Not in the manner that you think. There is something in me that is dying every day. Nay, it is not innocence or naivety…They are dead and gone long ago…but what is left of me….

Oh! tell me where are those dreams of yore,     

are they left behind in the run for more?

The dreams that we so lovingly carried in satchels,

In our rat race, are they crushed under the sandals…?

Today, I don’t know what is that I wanted when I was young. I merely, tell myself…I was young, naive, and above all confused… But the question is do I know, what I want today? For that matter do you know what is it that you want in life…………?

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A Puppet in a Ventriloquist’s Hands

A puppet in a ventriloquist’s hands, I am

A forged smile ‘ve on my face.

He pulls the strings to make me dance

And I dance and dance I to his tunes…

‘t pains when the strings ‘re pull’d

But forced I am to dance to his tunes;

A forged smile ‘ve on my face.

I perform when the strings ‘re pulled;

I loath to dance to another’s tune

But I am just a puppet…

A puppet in a ventriloquist’s hands, I am

I come alive when the strings ‘re pulled.

 

 

Note: I believe all of us are puppets in this world and we are driven by the strings that control us without which we are nothing but  rag dolls. For some the strings are emotions, for some circumstances and for some others it is still worse it is the bondage of life esp in the case women.

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