Category Archives: SOMETHING EMOTIONAL

RAZIA

“The events, characters and firms depicted in this story are fictitious. They do not bear any sort or resemblance to actual persons or professions, living or dead.”

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It’s a foggy morning. It’s September but the sun’s still not visible. Slowly the light rays make their way into the cramped room through the spaces between the iron rods, as rustic as the hues of the golden sun that splashes all its colors at once; dramatic, enchanting yet temporary, lasting till the night sets in and paves way for the uninterrupted darkness.

Razia stared at the ceiling, then her gaze fell at the man sleeping next to her. He was handsome, his fair skin contrasting with her dusky one. Soon, the heat inside gets unbearable, and the man gets up. He puts on his shirt, makes his hair, gets his cellphone and calls up his wife.

“Sorry sweetheart I was stuck up with some urgent work. You know how these IT industries operate. We have foreign clients. Sometimes we need to work overtime and stay back for night shifts. Yeah I’ll be back in an hour.”

“I know what you must have been thinking about me, Razia. A man must be dedicated to his wife. But you know what? I’m in love with you! You surely have something in your eyes that makes me come to you again and again! The comfort you provide is unmatchable! I mean, my wife can never live up to my expectations. You’ve set a benchmark. Will meet you soon!” He left with a wink and a smile.

Razia smiled back. She didn’t respond. How could she know about the relationship between a husband and a wife? Unperturbed, she got up and cleaned her face, smeared with kohl and lipstick, and put on her clothes. It had been a steamy night, like all other nights.

The phrase “I love you” was no more a melody to her ears. Everyday someone or the other used it on her, to soothe her burns, only to cut them up again, just for a few hundreds of rupees per hour. But she has learnt not to complain.

“Listen to what your customers say and don’t be a hassle. This is our business, and we must do it the right way. Sometimes settle down for a bargain. Business is slow- so do as the men say. Don’t let your ego get into your head. It can ruin your career. Utilize your youth before it is lost behind your age. And yes, sell your body, but not your heart. This isn’t a place for weak hearted individuals. Once you’re in, you’re out of the game. Understood?”

Understood.

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Mornings are filled with hustle and bustle in this part of the city. Sometimes Razia goes around the electronics shops, looking at newly ordered gadgets. Goods starting from televisions, microphones and cameras-all glitter through the glasses. She had managed to get enough money saved to buy a smartphone for herself. How she wished she could call her mother and talk to her, at least for once! She might be still alive and languishing somewhere, begging for a livelihood, or she might have died of a disease…who knows?

Budhwar Peth- a name synonymous with Lord Ganapati, houses three temples out of the five major Ganapati temples located across Pune. Every morning after she took her bath, Razia would go and stand outside one of the temple premises. She never dared to go inside, for the world had labelled her as impure; a creature who has no past and no future, a creature not even worthy of a penny, nothing. Just a creature whose existence was carved up long time ago inside the four walls, who was silenced forever. And God wouldn’t like to see His ill-fated lesser mortals. It would be a disgrace.

The ABC Chowk was the favorite destination of students. Every day she could see scores of children, teens and adults thronging the marketplace as if it were a sweetmeat shop. She could see so many girls carrying schoolbags with them, chatting loudly as they stop to eat Dabeli and Pani Puri. Small girls, with oiled hair neatly tied up into two long ponytails in their red and white Salwar Kameez, looked adorable.

She had the freedom to go into any bookstore she wanted. She could glance over the stories from the Panchatantra and the Aesop Fables. Diagrams from twelfth standard chemistry textbooks. Images of the Universe. She used to get astonished by the photographs of celebrities in glossy magazines. Some were identifiable, from the item songs that they perform; some were not. They looked so gorgeous!

She looked gorgeous too; her kohl rimmed eyes spoke of a feminine aggression; her ruby red lips gave her face a new dimension, already overloaded with powder. Jasmine flowers adorned her long hair and she wore strikingly bright colored saris. Her wrists grooved to the tune of her bangles.

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“Why am I not rich and famous like them? Even I put make up and wear dazzling clothes”, she had asked her Madam one day.

“They work for the entertainment industry; you work to entertain men. They encash their beauty, you encash your build.”

She was infamous; for her identity belonged to the city’s biggest brothel. Never did a single day pass on the roads where she could walk with peace; the men catcalling and making jeers, the women throwing disdainful glances. Mothers could often be overheard warning their kids, “Never go near her, she’s a prostitute!”

Running away was not an option. This was her home, her only identity. She had tried running away a long time back. She doesn’t even remember the dates anymore. The stigma associated with the monotonous humdrum of her polluted life followed her like her shadow.

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It had been a summer night. Razia was a teenager back then, barely 15 years old. She was sleeping beside her parents. Suddenly, she was woken up by a commotion outside. There was this loud sound of firing and gunshots, and before they could understand what was going on, she saw her father being shot in front of her own eyes. They dragged away her petite mother, who didn’t even get a moment to cry over her husband’s corpse.

Razia was confused. Her father’s lifeless body was before her; his calm eyes wide open. It seemed as if he wanted to say her something. The ethnic cleansing of their community was getting violent and deadlier with each passing day, but Razia had never ever thought in the wildest of her dreams that she’d have to lose her parents in such a horrific manner. She ran away to the village mosque nearby, and sat inside, clutching the Quran tightly in her fists. The mosque was a dilapidated structure now, which bore the signs of religious discrimination and hatred.

The next day, she could hear the screams of women and children who had lost their husbands and fathers last night. She was still scared to go out of the mosque, she felt secured inside. “Allah would stop all wrongdoings and punish the goons”. She had full faith on her God.

In the blink of an eye, she saw her Ammi Jaan.

Ammi Jaan looked no longer petite, it seemed as if she was in the possession of some djinn. She had disheveled hair and her clothing torn to pieces. Her face was swollen and her eyes were red. Her body was full of scratch marks and wounds.

“They’ve burnt our house. We have nothing left in this country. Let’s go.”

“Go where, Ammi Jaan?”

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Soon they were busy walking amongst a sea of people who seemed to be knowing where they were going. It was bad, crossing jungles in those same set of clothes and barefoot. The thought of death scared them no more, they had already lost everything back home. The hopes of a new, dignified life at a distant motherland—-

“So is this your story, miss?”, the reporter sipped tea as she made notes.

“Yes.”

“And what is your name again, pardon?”

“Razia. Razia Sultan.”

“Razia Sultan was the—’’

“Was the only female ruler to rule the Delhi Sultanate in your country”, came back the curt reply. “I don’t know why my parents christened me with this name, but I had read about her in school. She had been a brave lady, and had always tried to connect with her subjects. She had protected all kinds of ethnic minorities in her state. Unfortunately, she couldn’t reign for long and was killed. Three burial sites in India claim to hold her dead body remains.”

“You’re literate?”

“Yes. I had to leave my country the year I was in 10th standard.”

“Please continue with your story.”

“Where was I? Ah, yes. My mother was acting strange. She had this grave look on her face and wasn’t crying or talking. She just held my hand firmly and led me through the forest. After walking some miles, I realized that we were fleeing our country. Imagine, leaving your country in this condition—’’

It was a hot sultry afternoon, and the reporter was getting impatient.

“I meant your story. About how you landed up with this Madam here.”

Razia smiled. Her shadow followed her everywhere. Such a wretched luck that she had, the misgivings of her fortune had even robbed her of the status given to a refugee.

“Okay let’s stop it here. How many times do you reporters need to learn about the stories of these women? Do you think the police has the entire day to spend over both of you? Off you go now! I have to go through these official proceedings,” the Police Officer came in and took the chair next to her.

“How long you’ve been in this service?”

“Three years. Maybe four. I don’t remember exactly, Daroga Sahib. During the initial days, they used to hit me because I was always trying to escape from their clutches. I never cooperated with the clients. I used to cry and scream and kick my hands and legs in anger and disappointment. So, Madam and Ashfaq used to beat me hard. Very hard.”

“Ashfaq?”

“The guy who sold me to Madam.”

“We’ve issued a notice to look out for him. He is responsible for a lot of cases like yours. By the way, do you have any medical issues?”

“I don’t know, but I have had abortions quite for a few number of times. I wasn’t taken to any nursing home-Madam used to hit my stomach hard with the heavy sticks like you use.”

“Your medical reports suggest that you’re HIV positive.”

Raziya’s face went expressionless.

“Technically you’re not an Indian citizen, but you have a voter ID card. You are an orphan and you don’t have a family to go back to. Also, you’re infected. We don’t know what to do with you. You’ve to stay under detention for a few days till we find a reprimand home for you. As I said, there are lots of women and children being rescued every month, some have families while some don’t have, and mostly the families don’t want their daughters back. We don’t know where and how to accommodate you all. The NGOs are in constant collaboration with us. Let me see if I can register you with any.”

“Thank you very much, Sahib.”

“And while you’re here, you can keep on entertaining us.”

It’s late evening, and the sun has started to descend, throwing its golden hues for the one last time tonight, before paving way again for the victorious, uninterrupted darkness.

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The red light area at Budhwar Peth in Pune is said to be very huge with 4000-plus commercial sex workers. Where is our world heading to?

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THE OLD COUPLE

At 2.30 a.m. in the morning, Mommy got a call. She switched on the lights, and sat with her head downcast for a few minutes. Tears were streaming down from her eyes. Then she frantically started moving around the room, arranging stuff, making more calls to daddy.

I woke up in this commotion to realise that Grandpa is no more.

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My Grandpa was 90+. He was the tallest in the family: 6 feet, and not a single child from his seven children could grow up to that stature. He was twice the height of Grandma, the domination visible even before we could take a sneak peek into their lives.

Grandpa had been sick since a few months but recently he was making rounds in various hospitals. My parents and his other children were taking turns regularly to be with him. Towards the end, he was at the ICU and the day before he left us, he was already on the ventilator.

The last time I had met Grandpa was a couple of days ago. I remember going to him with Daddy and Nishi. It was pitch dark outside when we reached our uncle’s home. Grandma hugged us tightly.

“Both of you’ve grown up! Nickie, you’re getting darker and thinner. You don’t take care of yourself. Look what have you done to your skin. Nishi seems all right, all sweet and cute like she was since she was a child.”

The three of us held each other and cried. Grandpa was there on the bed, barely able to move; his tummy was swollen and he had a catheter attached. He wasn’t eating anything, and had a bad pain in his lower back.

“See your grand daughters have come. Have a look! Nickie and Nishi have come to meet you!” Grandma said, all excited.

My grandpa was moaning. He took my hands and  made me touch his forehead. Grandma said that he was giving his blessings. He then signalled me to press his back, the pain was getting unbearable.

He asked where my mother was, and why hadn’t she come that day. He ordered daddy to bring her the next time we come to meet him. He was missing everyone and wanted to see his children. I was shocked to see a man like him, lying like that on the bed, desperate and helpless.

Auntie was trying her best to make him eat something, but he won’t budge.

You’d have been shocked as well if you’d have seen him in that condition: Grandpa was thin, yet strong. He could still walk for long distances and could stitch clothes with ease. He was a very active person, always doing something or the other. He had a sharp brain, and remembered everything. In short, he was a self made man who made his own decisions and listened to no one.

Grandpa used to come home when I was a kid, and he used to tell me lots of stories from The Mahabharata, The Ramayana and The Bhagavad Gita. He always told me to pray and believe in God. I could listen to him for hours, the daydreamer I am, and when he used to ask me for a pen I’d hand him over an entire packet.

Grandma used to say me that she had once married man when she was 20 years old, not rich like her family but well to do. Some days later, there was a robbery in her household and that left them with just fields enough to survive, not live and they became poor. Grandpa was living with his parents and siblings and their spouses and children, plus his wife and children, plus the livestock, the pond and the agricultural fields.

It was not enough to sustain such a huge family.

So grandpa worked in the fields and ran small shops to finance his children’s education. He always saw to it. Whenever he used to go out or come back into his mud house, he would spank his children. “Are you studying or sleeping?”

So it had to be like that. I am keeping daddy’s deeds for another day, today’s it about our old folks. There was always a financial crunch back at home and daddy was preparing to become a Chartered Accountant in Howrah, but he always sent him money, however little in amount. He wanted Daddy to become rich and successful, even though it meant sacrificing his own comforts for it.

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How do we all remember our grandmothers? Loose skinned, white haired, old ladies who don’t understand a thing that we say, don’t know that you don’t need to put turmeric while preparing Maggi. Pray to God the whole day for our happiness, prosperity and longevity. Don’t know a thing about phones. If they’d know, won’t they learn to make calls themselves? Don’t understand English and yet are proud that we can speak in a tongue not so native, not so close to their hearts and that its taking us apart.

We think that we’re too smart, don’t we?

My grandma must have been beautiful during her youth. She’s got probably more hair on her scalp now then I’d be having in my entire life.

Grandma claims to have seen the Britishers before India’s independence in 1947. I really don’t support the story, but it is funny and interesting to listen to her: her stories of ghosts, ghouls, souls, spirits, werewolves, Gods and Goddesses and what not. She can keep any child captivated with her enthralling style of storytelling. She even says about the big orchards bursting with fruits they had, the large ponds filled with fishes to the brim, their rice fields covering hectares of land and the large vegetable gardens. No matter how hard I try, I can never be as good as her.

I remember Daddy telling us so many times about Grandma going to the bed with an empty stomach, lying to him just because there was no food for her child.

“Today’s my fast, I won’t be eating tonight.”

“But Ma, today’s not a Thursday.”

“You don’t know anything. Now finish off this rice gruel even before it gets more thinner.”

Grandma was working hard, supporting her husband, helping with the housework. She bore her last child while she was working in the rice granary, trying to separate rice grains from the chaff. Just in case, if you think that these old ladies are weak.

Grandpa was ten years older to Grandma; she dutifully abided to her husband till his death. She supported all his decisions, whether right or wrong, knowing that sometimes she’d be judged as a mother, an in law, a sister. But she never paid heed to her reputation, because she was a trustworthy housewife, taking blame for her husband’s faults, listening to the tantrums of her children and filtering them before presenting them in front of Grandpa, and loving her grandchildren unconditionally.

Grandma was with me for a few months when I was born. But when my parents had brought Nishi home, perhaps Grandma was the happiest amongst all of us, because she was entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of me and my sister while my parents were away on work for long hours. Those were the days my mother had just started her own venture, back in the 2000s, it wasn’t easy for a female entrepreneur, a mother, a daughter, a daughter in law. But Grandma is perhaps the sweetest mother in law I’ve ever seen in my life. She loves my mother unconditionally. She took care of the entire household, the cooking. Sometimes she would make my mother’s hair or would put her headache to rest. Or maybe made a cup of tea for her. All of this, while managing little Nishu. Nishi literally lived on her, breathed her, exhaled her, ate on her, spit on her. Grandma bore it all. If she loves my sister so much, I can’t imagine how much she’d have loved her own children throughout her life?

I remember while Daddy was leaving for Sikkim, my Grandma cried. She was very disturbed by the fact that her son was going to a state she had no idea about. She cried when he left for Libya, too. She was so confused about what was going on, why her son had got this need to go to a foreign country when he could work here. Poor grandma, how could she ever understand brain drain?

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By the time I’m writing this, it has been already 21 hours since grandpa left for God’s home. Grandma’s life whisked away within a second, just like that. Sixty years of togetherness gone within a whiff, just like that. “Till death do us apart”, they say. See, death is here, and has taken away the man of the house. No matter how strong the lady might be or how populous her family might be, no one can replace her husband, her companion for life.

Sometimes I think of death. I feel afraid. I know cowards die thousands of times before their time comes, I might be a coward; I might be imagining myself in a heroic scene being killed for the nation but the next moment I get up and think about what happens after death.

One day, we are all going to close our eyes and are never going to open them. I fear death. Death is like a shadow; it follows us throughout our life till it gets a chance to get inside us and take our souls away and leave behind a lifeless body, a body without its achievements, its history, its future. Just a concoction of  bones and muscles.

Death can be painful. It is painful for the ones who are spared by it. The person dying might undergo a lot of trauma, but the people surrounding him to get a hole in their hearts, that gets filled with time but there’s that mark that says that it has been operated upon. We don’t forget the past, the dead, we just become accustomed to the silence and loneliness associated with it. Because that’s what life teaches us: to accept and move on.

Red bangles and vermillion, her saris all snatched away from her, because it is the norm. What kind of norm is this? To let a widow die under her grief? To make her collapse under depression? To make her realise every minute, every second of her life that her life is over despite of the fact that her heart is still beating, she can count her heartbeat, she can feel her heart that bore seven children and many grandchildren, that heart that she gave to no one save her husband, that heart which was there with her, pumping blood and mixing adrenaline, estrogen and oxytocin in her veins.

Well, who am I to question the authenticity of these customs and rituals? They’re being done since generations, so they must be right, they say. These customs that literally suck the life out of a living human being, why to talk of a dead one?

How ironical is this. White is not the same for Christians and Hindus. One girl starts her life wearing white, while another keeps fasts to stay away from it, because she knows that the color looks good only on a bride’s face. One world and infinite differences.

I must stop here, I can’t go on anymore. I can’t imagine light colors on grandma. She must be looking beautiful in tragedy. She is beautiful.

This society can never be mine.

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HALF GIRLFRIEND

Pages from her diary:

“My soul houses that unfortunate heart that greets rain bearing clouds every season but still receives no water and remains dry and parched, and hence I stopped planting seeds of hope inside, because they’re never gonna bloom.”

”Every now and then, as my world gears up for an evolution, tectonic plates clash and collide, new continents are formed and old ones are dropped, the whole life thriving inside me is massacred in a mass extinction process. But there’s no progression. The lands are still cracked, lifeless and barren. There’s birth of erupting volcanoes, but no signs of flora that reside below the ice capped mountains. My beautiful world is ruined everyday and nothing fruitful comes out of it. This is my earth, my failed planet.”

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Do you know how it feels to be depressed?

Imagine you’ve been imprisoned inside an underground cell. There’s a bustling world above you, alive with its crowd. The people above know the presence of the jail. Sometimes, they might tap the ground to check if there’s still life inside.

There are other cells surrounding you. You can hear the inmates, sometimes happy, sometimes hysterical. You realise that everyone inside might not be sharing your story but the lessons learnt are eerily similar and painful. There is some form of interaction amongst you people through the thick walls of that dungeon.

There is a man sitting outside your cell, the prison guard. He knows that you’re not guilty and you’re just a girl arisen from circumstances. He knows everything. He has the key to your freedom, your happiness and liberation from this suffering.

Some days you explain yourself that he too must be a man of circumstances, must have gone through a lot, maybe more than you’ve gone through. You should forgive him, he’s nice and he’s just doing his duty. It is his greatness that he has bestowed some kindness upon a girl like you, who has been imprisoned for no reason, but still a prisoner is a prisoner, no matter what. The next day you’re angry at him. ”He knows I’m innocent. He can go out of the way and release me! What is my fault? Is it wrong to be different? Is it wrong to take a road not taken? Is it wrong to expect? ”

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On the days when the pain is unbearable, you shout. You cry. You keep begging him to set you free. You keep up the hope. He knows. He knows you more than you can ever know yourself.  He knows that only he can bring you out alive from that cold and dark cell.  He knows your pain, he has been through the same; yet he forbids to open the door. When all the howling gets cynical and crosses his threshold of patience, he starts to walk away.

“Please, I beg you, please let me go. Please let me come to you; I want to see this happy world. I want to build a life of my own. I imagine the wind touching me and the sun kissing me. I want to stay alive in reality. I can’t stay here anymore!”

After sometime you realise that he’s disappeared and you were just shouting into the void. Now it may take days, maybe even years for someone to cross that path again. Till then, you keep up the hope. There’s a grim solace in that silence.

But he might change his mind one day, who knows? Be positive!

He’s never gonna come back.

Leaving girl boy rethink this

***************

She sees him in her daydreams and in the paradise at night.

He and she, both holding hands and walking in the glow of the beautiful sunset, red and orange hues around. She, taking pride in her sindoor and my red inexpensive yet priceless bangles, holding his hands tightly as if it was her birthright to do so; and his herculean arms swinging over her in their ever protectiveness nature. There is no need of an abroad trip, just the walk to the local market is enough for her; I, being fiercely proud of her husband, her honour. She wants to show him off to everyone. Look people, here we are, from different castes and occupations, with different ideals and ideologies, yet we stay together. Who said that true love couldn’t be perfect?

It is past 9 pm. It’s getting late and she’s running home. He opens the door and she literally jumps on him. He gives the most reassuring hugs in the whole world after her parents, and she’s so grateful to God that she found him! They talk about our day. She’s chirping like a morning bird, constant, too excited to stop. He reaches for her hand. They are so comforting. She puts her head on her shoulders and doze off.

It’s been a bad day at office and she has got this splitting headache. She’s home and she’s getting mad over little things, being stupid and irrational. It’s been a tiring day for him as well. Going through wards filled with ill patients and checking on them for sixteen hours is not a joke. Yet he says nothing, just goes to her and listens to her ramblings, caresses her hair and says, “It’s okay.” Then there’s again that silence, so soothing, so known and so warm. She hugs him tight and his shirt is wet with angry tears.

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He’s a shy person, always buried in his own work, yet makes time for his loved ones. He never reverts back, he’s such a patient listener. He’s got such innocent eyes that you can almost see through them what lies inside: honesty and a never give up attitude. He’s a self built man, rather adamant, but that’s the best part about him: once he takes a decision, it is final as if it were a bill passed by the Parliament of India. He laughs when you laugh, cries when you cry. He takes time to explain you stuff that always escapes your little brain. It is always so cute when he asks you questions; you feel like a celebrity and transform into the Professor mode instantly. He accepts his flaws gracefully and tries to learn. He checks your pulse and counts the bones of your fingers.

Oh, the perks of marrying a doctor!

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He never fails to remind her that no matter what, she needs to work hard and prove myself, because education comes first. And makes me realise that there’d be moments when you’d feel like running away but you’ve to come back because the world sees your performance, not your perseverance. He’s the pole to her climber.

He is romantic, but he doesn’t like to show it off. He doesn’t post pictures of *we are such a happy couple* on Instagram, or doesn’t go live on Facebook. Like all men, he doesn’t understand what is going on in your mind and sometimes his ego takes over his soul but nevertheless he is still cute, he accepts his mistakes even though they are yours and he makes peace with you and sleeps on your lap like a newborn.

Sometimes he lies to her just to make her angry or jealous. A handsome man that he is, she is constantly under this threat that someone who’s better than her might come and steal him away. Because loneliness is a human’s biggest fear. She can stay without food, but not without him.

She doesn’t  know what love is, maybe it is this: a hectic life with him by her side, to pick her up when she falls down, to listen to her blabbering which isn’t equivalent to the worth of 2 cents as if they’re holy sermons from the Bible, to guide her when she’s lost, to be her light when it’s dark.

She doesn’t know what love is. She doesn’t  know what commitment is. She wishes she knew.

***************

No sooner than she wakes up and tries to distinguish between the fragments of her unconscious memories and the original ones, reality sets in. She realises that there’s no happy go lucky life, it is an everyday fight. To pursue him, to persuade him for giving her the seven vows. It is not an obligation, it is a necessity. But for him, it seems as if she’s playing around with his family honour. He feels sorry for her and she feels sorry for him. His hands are tied up. Hers are in no better condition, but at least she’s trying to open the chains, the chains this society has brandished them with. The chains that were supposed to bring communal harmony have now become the noose of their necks. He’s afraid of the scars the jute ropes would leave on his wrists, however he fails to look deep into the scars he’s busy carving on her  mind and heart, unknowingly and unintentionally.

There’s a war raging inside her, for her, against her. One part of her soul screaming to get away from this isolation and live the final moments as if they’re gonna stay with them forever, the other part calming her down and settle down for self respect that she has been avoiding since long, to forgive and forget, to restart her life. One part of her brain telling her to stay updated on all the recent advancements of his life and that of the Constitution, to gather enough facts and prove him what you’re asking for is not wrong, what you’re asking for is your right and there’s no dishonour in it, no shame. The other part of her brain telling her to focus her energies on better things, because he won’t understand, you’ve been doing this since last year I guess.

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She doesn’t remember their first meet. He had seen her in the bus, while she was trying to focus on her biology notes. Those were the days she was planning to run away from Engineering to Medical Sciences. He told her later: “Everyone made fun of you and laughed behind your back for doing so.” She had first approached him, because she used to be an expert in starting conversations. And very soon they became close friends. She had thought that it was the end after he had left for his new medical college but as fate would have it, he returned back to her university after a year.

She still walks through his corridors, trying to feel his presence in his absence, leaving her space, trying to understand his world and hers, trying to entangle them, to mix their planets. The hospital feels like her temple, she being the only devotee, and he residing in the sanctum sanctorum of her heart. She walks aimlessly through his campus, sometimes bumping into security guards who sternly warn her not to go inside because it is not allowed for civilians. If only they knew that she was a patient. It then dawns upon her that there are more lines that separate them, more parallel than intersecting. The more she tries to make their bloods an emulsion, the more strongly they turn out to be immiscible. The word caste churns her stomach and makes her blood boil.

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There is affection, but there are no promises. There is fun, but there’s no happily ever after. Everything is so hush hush, as if they’ve committed a crime and they need to wash their hands off in silence. He gets suspicious when she’s with other guys. She starts getting trust issues when there’s no text from him. She’s always in this fear that he’s getting ready to take off, irrespective of her efforts to keep him close to the ground.

He says, she’s more than his best friend and less than his girlfriend. She has importance, but no identity in his life. He loves her deeply, but then she’s just another woman. She’s talkative, loud and funny. She gives weird advices and laughs for no reason, behaves like a madman. She walks around acting like a man, it’s her swag. So people feel that this girl is everyone’s pockets, and that she can be used, she won’t mind because, you know. But they forget that even she has got feelings. She dreams of everything a girl sets her eyes upon, innocent and small wishes in life. She doesn’t dream of burdening others, she dreams of setting up things on my forte and giving him surprises. And all these dreams just stay back in her heart as dreams.

The final verdict from his court of justice has been delivered yet again.

“Your Honour, you’ve again rejected my plea. You’ve yet again proved that the background of a person is more important than her character. I object Your Honour, I object. All my hard work in finding and submitting evidences and examples to you have failed. Your Honour, if you must punish me, then give me the death sentence. Don’t imprison my life inside the walls of the splendour of your goodness and affection for me.”

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The court has been adjourned till the next session.

“Maybe, just maybe, next time, I’ll get justice.”

THE LAST LETTER

As we stand today, miles apart

I am beginning to miss your presence

Now, I realise, an important fragment of my life has been lost

Lost to the universe

I never had thought of you in such a manner, Aiee

It had never occurred to me that people depart

Such intensity of sadness, a void, has been created back here

I wish you could come back

Everything I do,  reminds me of you

The way you walked. The way you talked. The way you ate. The way you behaved funny.

The way you loved us more than we did.

My eyes, fighting back the tears,

While I see our selfies.

Were we destined to stay for such a short period together?

This cruel decision of fate has left me shattered

I have lost my faith

There are things which only grand moms can teach their grand kids

I could hardly learn any.

I wish I could see you laugh again

I wish to have spent more time with you

I wish to have been cuddled by you harder

Because the world would have been a better place for everyone;

Its true if everyone, everywhere had an aiee as nice as you.

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I still can’t believe that you have departed from the earth.

I couldn’t believe my ears the moment mummy broke out the news to us. I had my design paper the next day and was tensed about it as such. But when I saw her crying uncontrollably, bursting out speeches in between of her tearful episode, I felt terrible. I can never see my mum cry. Nor she could see her mum lying still.

I had never witnessed any deaths in the family before. You passed away first. I wish you hadn’t done this to me. I am a person who always took pride in saying that “Thank God I have my both sets of grandparents for me!” Not anymore.

You left me, just like everyone else does, but this time, you have moved on forever 😥

But you do remember the moments we have shared, don’t you?

You must have felt amazing when you’d have got the news about the arrival of your daughter’s daughter to this world; and would have held me in your arms for the first time. I hope that I would not have done anything stupid on you at that moment and if I had done, then I am sorry. Too late to beg apology but yes, I am sorry.

I take pride in saying that my aiee makes the best tomato chutney and fish curry. I would insist to eat the freshly caught fish from your backyard pond, and would set off with Aja to catch some small ones. When you fed me with your soft hands, the food became ambrosia. Summers were always fun with you. Our afternoon sessions of watching Odia movies were the best. When you used to come home, we used to savour on dried mango pieces with sugar. Our favourite meal was a yummy snack of chicken roll.  And you got all excited when you were left alone in the house. You got the freedom to eat anything sweet available in the kitchen; despite a hundred warnings from every one of us; despite of the knowledge that you had diabetes.

Ludo, ludo and ludo. More ludo, but not less. You must have been the undisputed champion of the indoor game of this century. You had a way of pulling the game in your favour every time. You always got the number you wanted on your die and if not, then you still would manage to put your token in the block you wanted. Awesome playing strategies. Our much-loved past time.

It seems that everyone except me has borrowed your genes for obsession with style. Nail and feet paint, powders, bangles, gorgeous saris…… all used to be your prized possessions. It is no wonder that you were so beautiful. A clear hearted soul, that’s what you were, Aiee.

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Paan used to be your greatest companion. When the shopkeepers used to ask me about the brands of various ingredients used in your paan while you sent me to buy some, confusion clearly showed up on my face. You always kept it within you, literally. Even though chewing paan was just a daily routine, It won’t be an exaggeration to say that it was your soul mate.

We used to sit on your tummy and play. Had there been a tummy contest, yours surely would have won a position for its absolute roundness, fairness, smoothness and size. The coinage of the term moti bou for you still holds relevant.

Nobody could match the humorous way in which you spewed angry words on us. It was a delight to trouble you and listen to all those Odia slangs. It never hurt. While I am writing this, your dialogue “tu kebe ama gharu jibu, tu kaha ghara bhangibu lo” is echoing in my mind.

Aiee, I loved to talk to you. During these informal talks I discovered a different person inside you, completely different from the funny and casual lady altogether: a small girl, who had lost both her parents when she was only four, and had since been raised by her step mother. You never showed pain in your eyes, nor grief in your words, Aiee, you were so strong. My mummy has derived all her strengths from you. You have never complained against your step mom. You had merely said “How harshly she might have treated us, she still loved us and gave us food. I am today alive only because of her.” No person can ever say this kind of statement. It takes huge courage and even a bigger heart to say so. You were hardworking and have raised five children who have grown up to be counted in the percentage of that few good people the world currently holds now. Thank you for taking care of all of us. We hope to inherit your potentials and make you proud.

One day we shall meet at the other side of the horizon. May your soul always be our guide and support us through the tough times.

Love,

Nickie and Nishi

 

THE WHITE MUGHALS

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The whole kingdom was waiting for the golden moment.
The queen was expecting a child.
The Emperor sat anxious, praying for his heir………………
On that bright morning, she was born
Much to the disgust of the Emperor. He sat forlorn,
With his head downcast,
Was there no one to rule his kingdom by caste?

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He barely looked at his daughter’s face
And not even at the mother. The queen was unconscious
In her pain, but not in her fate
Tears rolled down from her eyes
When her glances met that of her child.
The baby was cute, her face was radiant
She had features that would make any parent feel triumphant;
But not her father
Who was rather disgusted with the queen and left her side
Whilst all this, the queen did dutifully abide
Her Royal Husband, His Highness
Even though she had fallen from his grace
Still she adorned herself daily, with the choicest of garments,
Ornaments, lauded with precious stones and jewels,
His favorite scent, his favorite flower on her wetted hair;
To seek his attention, she did what
She did what not……….
But alas! The King, he forgot
That once upon a time he had a charisma towards his first consort……………..

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He was free to marry as many times as he chose
He loved many, he loved none
He wedded princesses one after the other
It was definitely not a happy family, together, forever!
The new queens and their sons, plotted continuously
To get the throne
The princess, however always remained behind her veil.

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She had no say in the stately matters
And was always compelled to remain in the women quarters.
Slowly and steadily, she grew up to become a breathtaking beauty
At the same time, lovely and pretty…….
The queen took great pride in the princess
Who was cheerful even at the time of distress
Her dainty feet never announced her presence at the fort
But her voice did.
Her songs, happy or tragic
Captured a great set of audience.
One day as she was sitting alone by the pond
Someone stopped by to hear her singing.

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He looked on, amazed
While she sat gazing him behind her shroud
Tall and handsome that he was
She had seen many like him before
But none of them had ever stolen her heart………….
She tried, with all her might
But could not stop thinking about him, day or night
Same was the case in the opposite side
Even though both of them knew the end of their story would be tragic
They secretly hoped for a magic
A magic, which would change their lives forever
Then they could stay forever, happily and ever after………….

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But alas, some dreams do never come true……
In the quest for supremacy
Her love was seized by her own brother
Who ruthlessly killed her lover
Her heart was ripped apart
“How could he do this to me?
My brother, my own brother?”
She realized her destiny
Was not all glittery as it looked to be
The thirst for power had surpassed all blood relations
Human beings killing God’s own creations!!!!
Her kohl rimmed eyes
No longer held the same gaze,
Her soul had been wrenched
Drenched, in blood
Her identity was lost amidst the crowd
She was now just a face of the Harem, as she used to be
She was a Mughal. A White Mughal.

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I was inspired to write this poem after reading about the Women of the Mughal Empire. The term ” White Mughals” symbolizes two things. First, white color is usually associated with beauty and purity. White is also the color of the dresses the widows wear. Sadly, the Mughal princesses were living in the biggest of the ironies of the world. Most of the Mughal princesses were unwed, and were living their lives in the darkness of the voids their destiny had created for them. To eliminate more people who were eligible to get the throne, the princesses were banned from entering into matrimonial alliances. Usually in the Mughal family, there used to be marriages inside the same family i.e. cousins marrying one another. But after Shah Jahan came to power, he had already killed his brothers and cousins so there was no one who could marry his sisters. And the trend continued down for Aurangzeb as well.

Read this beautiful blog piece about the Mughal princesses.

Aside

I had started off like this: Life is short        But the journey is long To sustain all along You gotta be strong Its difficult to cover the path All the time facing the fate’s wrath But still there is a … Continue reading

ON COMPLETING THE 19TH MILESTONE………….

Well, you have got it all wrong. I’ve not turned 19.

My parents just completed the 19th year of their marriage. They are on their way to the 20th milestone.

You see, life is a great struggle:] and so this goes on and on…………………

According to me the relationship between my parents has remained unchanged: they fought even yesterday-13th of July-their marriage anniversary. The issue? Mummy had made chilli paneer and wanted daddy to eat it. It was really very yummy. But daddy, being a very simple guy refused it. He even refused to have some Chicken Biriyani which was purchased from a fast food joint on this happy occasion. [I ate even the last fragrant irresistible morsel of it]  So they started quarrelling.

“So you can eat in your office parties. But what I make at home is rubbish for you!”

“No, no, not at all.  I want to eat something plain and simple. It’s just that……….”

“Leave it. You feel I’m giving you poison or what?”

They are a squabbling duo.  Since my father has his office far away from our home, so we all meet once a week. Even then, my parents fight: sometimes in a funny manner, or sometimes the water level goes above our heads………………………

Actually, most of the times.

From food to clothes to daily mundane activities: my parents share with each other. Same goes for battling with each other. Luckily I and Nishi have learnt it the harder way-to stay out of their tracks and not to be on any one’s side during their fight. After all, fighting is injurious to health……………..

My parents have stood against the tough times. They have been always together. They get afraid against the odds sometimes, but still they keep on the struggle. From educating us to earning more money-everything is indeed a struggle. Being a mom and a dad is no child’s play. So they are the best parents and we love them a lot……………………….

It was 8.15 p.m. already. Nishi and I were restless here back at home. We had made some ‘great’ plans for them. My parents were outside. My aunt was also to come. I had to make a striking Saturday anyhow. I had earned my first salary- mere Rs 300/- from freelance writing. I used “my” money and had laminated a picture as a gift to mummy. As for daddy, Nishi had made a first aid box.

I had purchased a cake. It was small, but yummy. Both of us had made a card for them.
It read:

Being a mom and a dad is not that easy

We know it drives your head crazy.

We shout, we shriek

Keep on demanding eggs and streak

We make you chase us

Sometimes your heart boils to give us a curse;

We mess the room

We avoid to be groomed!

We hate studies :p

And whole day play out with buddies.

You just wish you could sell us on flipkart

And get new kids-bright and smart!

We know we trouble you a lot,

We are a bundle of mischief

But still on your laps

 We do love to creep.

You clean the house

Cook food

Earn the bucks

And set our mood.

You try to be the best for us.

You are the ones on whom we can trust.

Only because of your love and care

We have grown up till date

With all your blessings and prayers

We still cannot return your due rates.

So on this special day

Let’s avoid any treachery,

Oh my dearest Mummy and Daddy,

HAPPY MARRIAGE ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!