Sunday, August 4

Delicious Tamarind Rice



Life might seem like a precarious boat ride on an enraged sea amidst cold showers at times, but still, interlaced with snippets of calmness granted by a sunny day and the pacifying hopes of the sight of a sandy shore past the horizon, the ride can transform into an enticing one at the most unexpected of times. Such a sliver of joy knocked at my door last week, while my days had gone haywire for a few irrevocable matters. For a writer, to receive a mail with the subject emboldened in bright letters which screams out that ' YOU WERE PUBLISHED', in any sort of medium for that matter, would be an intoxicating feeling sans doubt. And one such rewarding moment completely made my day when i received a mail from the Tamarind Rice people notifying me that my story was published in their July issue. 

Being their subscriber,i could read the issue wholly and all the more easily by downloading the pdf and it wouldn't be ornamental if i state that i was thoroughly amazed by the quality of the contents, a few by bloggers i read and enjoy on a regular basis too. The readers can vote for their favourite write ups in the vote and win section of the website and better yet, can be winners too in the process if you are lucky. 

In the August issue, they are breaking free from their usual norms and are sticking to a particular theme, the details of which could be found Here. Go ahead and contribute if your nerve cells have already started firing away at the mention of the theme!

Tamarind Rice, in my opinion stands out from the rest of the online literary magazines owing to the fresh and absorbing contents and the vibrant ideas that they come forward with every new issue. 

They say, 'Never to judge a book by its cover'. And maybe extrapolating the idea a little bit, here we could say, 'Never to judge a magazine by its title'. But i would advise each of you to unhesitatingly go ahead and judge this online magazine by its befitting title, for every little bead of rice in this particular dish is as delicious as it could ever get.

You can reach the magazine here at Tamarind Rice. I had re posted my entry in this magazine 'At The Bookshop' as a fiction on my blog by another name- That Final Arc. If you like the story, vote for me here at Vote and Win. 


Thursday, July 25

That Final Arc - Fiction


The overpowering scent of freshly brewed coffee hung invitingly in the air. It had been remaining so for the past few minutes, quite daringly challenging my alacrity - the alacrity of a professional who was unflinchingly feeding raw materials in constant streams to the contraption at hand, so that it would churn out the desired products in another blink of her eye. “ The elixir will just have to wait for another half hour more”, I muttered under my breath as the tantalized bundle of nerves in charge of my senses kept firing away diligently, seeking respite. 

It was close to 6 when I left my cabin, hurriedly sloshing down my throat a cup of tepid coffee. Half of my colleagues had already dashed for the cab which would take the employees to their respective homes.

“ Hey Maya, late as usual ? No shortcuts to success eh! ”

The clutter of the rattling keys that accompanied the raspy voice was allusive. I turned back and flashed my boss my widest grin before embarking on the elevator that led me to the lowest floor.

The sky was alarmingly pale that evening. No crimson tinge. No home bound birds. The scenario that but unraveled before me was entirely one that defied the signs of nature – public vehicles that swished past me emitted venom from every single crevice of their being and the pudgy man who knocked me down to the pavement was more a critter of a less civilized world than that owned by Mother Earth, thanks to the cords that drained him of his senses through his ears, both figuratively and literally.

The loud blast of an unidentified vehicle ( The latest SUV perhaps ? ) nudged me back to the problem at hand – That I was ten minutes late. And that unfortunately meant I had to wait for twenty minutes more for the next bus which took me home. And they say troubles, when they attacked you, they did so in torrents. The street vendors, all at once, started shifting their temporary workplace to more secure corners as bulky drops of rain started pouring down on the already weighed down world rolling before me, igniting both a fury and inevitability in the home bound people to move faster.

My eyes had already started vying with the cue of sleep, the frozen joints of my body badly in need of soothing. Sans an umbrella, the wisest way to evade the unwelcoming shower was to seek solace under the nearest roof and I did just that, undoubtedly and unerringly.

“ Ma’m would you like to take a look at the newest additions that we have?”

People had a way with pouncing on me from behind when least expected and as always I jerked my head in startle to the gleaming, albeit coarse face of a middle aged man standing right next to me.

“ Oh ! Sorry. I was trying to keep myself from drenching in the rain. Maybe some other time, if you will let me share an inch of your shop now till the rain subsides? Out of compassion of course?”

The chime of the golden bells left suspended from the entry door rang through the dingy, yet well cared to shop. A customer let himself in, brushing aside silver droplets of rain from his hair, though with an air of inquisitiveness, quite unlike the way I had barged in. Not caring to reply to my query, the shop keeper left my side, leaving me high and dry amidst a flock of customers who found their way through the shop with ease born out of practice. And that was what prompted me to look around and look around did I for the next few minutes.

Minutes zoomed past in a jiffy until that moment when the shop keeper startled me once again from behind.

“ So, are you from Kerala?”

“ No. Why ?!”

“ From the way you were sniffing the pages of ‘ The God Of Small Things’ a while back near the Booker Prize section, I deduced, however falsely, that you were intrigued by the theme of the book. “

“ I cant deny the fact that you were partly right. Indeed am i intrigued by the theme of the book, but that wasn’t the sole reason why I was found bonding with it”

“ So, have you read the book?”

“ A couple of times, yes. “

“ I see. Do you need anything from my book shop now?”

“ No, I don’t. I am not allowed the privilege of savoring the alluring pages of a newly bought book anymore. Working woman. Mother of a two year old. I guess that explains a lot!”

“Please enlighten me, will you ? I didn’t quite get the relation between the two.”

I watched the man as his sharp jet black eyes narrowed down to two slits, peering at me as if he was indirectly solving a riddle for me, a riddle which needed to be solved with utmost precision and direness. A desperate customer kept calling out to him from around the far dimly lit corner of the shop, perhaps seeking help to dig out his favourite book from the pile of Classics stacked against the edge. Ignoring the calls, he kept staring at me as if his next move depended wholly on my answer. 

I tried to laugh his query off, with a smug on my face, replying in a haste , “ You see, it is complicated. Reading was so much of a passion way back when I was in school and i used to be the happiest while cuddling up in my bed reading a new book. But now, the habit has died down or maybe I lost the drive someway down my neglected shoddy lane while I was scurrying past the polished highway in this mad race. I can squeeze in time if I need to at this point of time, but whether there be time or not, in the end, it is the inclination of mind that matters and unfortunately that is where i failed or rather that is where my life hassles failed me.”

“You cannot be truer ma’m. And maybe that is why only a focused few manage to live their lives the happiest while others live in desperation or at the least nurturing a slight yearning forever when all it takes is the right inclination of their minds to draw that final arc to perfect their life circle.”

As if it dawned on him just then that he had a customer waiting, he left my side, draped back in the cloak of a considerate shopkeeper, to lend his hand to the person at the far corner who was in search of that particular book he was dying to get hold on.

The street lay washed of all its sins at the mere touch of that steady rain. The parched sun had almost vanished behind night’s pall seeking a good night’s sleep, albeit not forgetting to hang his envoy, the round silver snippet of beauty, in charge of his kingdom while he peacefully slept. The city had r eclined back at the cue of nature and I stole a look at the book shop before boarding my destined bus. The shop keeper stood watching me from inside, his gaze implicit and his smile knowing. I tightened my grip on my newly purchased book, drawing it closer to me, before nodding a goodbye to the person who, out of sheer serendipity or perhaps even advertently, descended before me and slowed me down.
                                                 __________



P.S : Completely unrelated i know, still can't help but shout out that this is the 150th post :)

P.P.S: This story was published on Tamarind Rice, an online magazine, in its July issue. To know more about the magazine, visit their page Here. 




Thursday, July 4

Rivulet



A flash of beauty,
The crack of dawn,
Shimmering sun's ray,
The scent of rain.

A surreal soundtrack
Or a soulful note ;
They take me back
And leave me sour.

I tried my best 
To make you mine;
The fire in me
But,burnt me whole.

I let you go
As someone told
For if only you sought
You were mine.

 Counting tides
I waited days
But no one came
Nor anyone spoke.

Why didn't you notice
That i was gone ?
My screams had echoed 
Through mountain mounds.

Tears rolled down
Formed eddy streams,
Till my rivulet grew
And left you far.

Wasn't he right ?
Who faithfully said;
That things sans reclaim
Were never truly ours to claim.

And that was when
It struck me hard;
That life was such -
So undeniably real!
_______


Wednesday, June 19

Of Pinto And The Return Of Gusto


Certain phases of life hit you hard. Merciless would be the apt word to describe those, if i insinuate myself deeper into the pile of specific words in search of one that brings to life the shade of grey in its totality. Merciless, because they simply don't let you wriggle away free from them quite that easily as our confident minds assume. Merciless, because they smother you till your life starts effervescing into snowy white foams to eventually fade into nothingness.

No, i am not clinging precariously on the steepest cliff staring deep into the abysmal low. But yes, i am partly gasping in the suffocating clutches of a dire work commitment, from which there seems little escape for a few more days at the least. 

Those minute seeds of literary inclination, that had been sprouting enthusiastically, though which much effort and sans perfection, seem threatened of being uprooted in the heavy monsoon that has been literally pouring down on my hectic days. More often , as i have always realised when skeptical, it is either everything or nothing at all for me. Either i give something my best shot or i don't even to bother to give it a try at all. Either i read a lot, burning the midnight oil for several consecutive days sans impatience or dreariness, or i don't read a single line at all for months. The same goes with writing. But then, i am not a professional writer barged with looming deadlines nor have i ever been a regular blogger. Infact, i see this space as my niche, my haven where i unwind when the flow gets fierce or where i confide in while sitting idle on my couch, with a couple of hours to spare from my routine to set ablaze those mysterious nerves specilised to fire off contrived pieces of work. 

When the situation remains so, with much acceptance form my part, out of the blue, there descended a bright sunny day on my otherwise murky cascade of events, when i decided to order a couple of books from Flipkart, one among them being ' Em and the big hoom ' by Jerry Pinto.

You may have the urge to label me as pseudo intellectual, but i have to admit this that post a particular write up of mine ( find here), i have been focusing less on Indian English works, a decision born out of the inclination of a working person to stick to the safer side lest you would have to sit back and helplessly lament over the loss of  hard earned chunks of money or worst yet, the sight of that hardly available slot of free time slithering down the drains - Until, i came across a few articles by Jerry Pinto

It might sound stupid, but truly, i have not been much of an admirer of satire. Somehow, satire has always hit me as biased with the cynical inclination of the writer projecting itself onto me more than the mastery of the craft which is particularly proclaimed by most literature savvy minds. But, Pinto, unabashedly and undoubtedly i say, has succeeded effortlessly in proving me wrong and that too, to a very intense degree! Check out this article for example -  Blame It On Wordsworth.

Well, and that was what prompted me to grab a copy of Em and the big hoom. Halfway through the book now and like every good piece of literature, this book too has struck me deep, igniting a spark in me to scribble down something on a piece of paper after a hiatus.

Words are magical and a good book sprinkled with meaningful thoughts is insatiable. Probably, the best inspiration for a budding writer. I know that this post is pointless, but i feel a lot relieved now. The vacuum that has been carving up my insides is being slowly replaced with a sense of purpose. I am reading a good book. And i cannot be happier. 

Leaving you with one of his astoundingly powerful interviews, for those who felt i was vague about the gusto part on my post title and would like to have a more reasonable proof than my imperfect write up to consolidate the same. Watch it. You will read him for sure, if you haven't already. 





Saturday, June 1

Black Or White ?


Image Source : here

24-10-2002 : 10 P.M 

Bulky drops of rain slithered along the side window, cleansing it of its adherent dirt specks. Somehow the rain, instead of cleansing Shikha of her pain, drenched the pall cloaking her, weighing her down even more. A loud cry from the next bed struck her fierce. Was that lady crying out for her loss too like her? Shikha strained her neck to peek through the narrow slit between the drapes to see the doctor standing patiently beside the woman on the next bed. 

The next moment, Shikha felt the ragged cotton drapes shielding her from the rest of them slid from her hand, as a sudden pang of pain shot through her, a pain which would bring along with it a reason to cry over for a long time to come, if not forever. Before she knew she had drooped down to her normal state, drops of perspiration settling down on her lacklustre skin and droplets of tear clustering on her congested eyes.

                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~

25-10-2002 : 8 A.M

I rushed through the rooms to complete my morning pre rounds, lest the professor would  pounce on me unleashing her fury, oblivious to the presence of her patients watching us. And that would amount to an inexplicable and embarrassing situation, something which was extremely discomforting for me.

As an Obstetric intern, the last night had been hectic for me with a handful of deliveries to attend to; and in a way, undeniably harrowing as well. 

' What was that patient's name? Yes, Shikha.' 

In a flash, the painful sight of Shikha crying on the shoulders of her mother for her stillborn child retreated to my mind, a sight which could haunt anyone who witness it for a few days to come. Having dissected the scene all night, the incident had started descending on me as a shock by then, with a revelation dawning on me that never before had I the breathing space nor the state of mind during my duties to even notice such distressing interactions between the patient and his/her relatives.

As i entered Shikha's room to enquire about her condition, I was greeted by her son, three year old Aadi, with the cutest face I could ever imagine.Perched on his grandmother's waist, he started clutching on my stethescope playfully and in between bated breaths, asked curiously about his mother who had been confined to bed to his awe for two whole days. 

" Can my mother come home today?"

" Oh yes she can. She is perfectly fine now"

" Can my father come home now?"

" He can as well baby. But we wont be letting you go home today. You need to take a couple of injections to keep you healthy", I let out a joke blatantly, not remembering how such a statement would create a havoc when uttered to a kid. But before long I happened to realise that I was conversing with a wonder kid, for he seemed the least fettered by my comment. Instead, he hopped out to the next room to play with the kids there, concocting illegible lyrics for a famous tune, at the sight of which a dash of warmth sprouted on his mother's otherwise sullen face, for once forgetting about her loss, however momentary that tryst with happiness be.

Sensing her face swelling up the next second, i continued,

" If a woman comes to know that she is carrying an anomalous child, for you here, something as extreme as anenchephaly, it is always advisable to let it go at the earliest. In your case, it has been a spontaneous loss, something which no intervention could prevent for good. With God's blessings, you already have a healthy child, the sweetest and the most adorable one in that regard too. Isn't it better to be happy with one kid than giving birth to a dishearteningly anomalous child, who is sure to be lost after birth?"

She looked intently at me as I said this and the wry smile that had been shadowing hesitantly on her face widened to a beautiful curve, granting a fresh glow to her eyes, a sign which reflected a soul pacified after much torment beneath, as we listened to an imperfectly moulded 'shiela ki jabaani', drifting to us from the adjacent room, where Aadi stood playing with his friends.

As someone said, a loss makes you appreciate your blessings like never before and sometimes, holding tight onto your blessings could be the only means to push your life ahead from the misery.

                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S : This is a work of fiction. 

Tuesday, April 16

A Journey And A Revelation



Image Source : here

The fiery red ball had rolled back to its assigned slot sharp at the strike of dawn. The unerring pattern of the nature was slowly being unfurled. The exhilarated birds, cluttering their ever vivacious wings, had already propelled out from their nests. A mesmerizing shade of crimson had been sprayed unevenly on the nature’s canvas signaling the fervour of a new start . It was time to pull myself up from the cozy comforts of my quilt and head to work, for not an element of nature would defy that vividly sketched out schedule of this world – a schedule that commenced with the crack of dawn and ended with the fall of dusk.

But why oh why, didn't the dawn ever sleep in? Why oh why didn't the bird ever feign sickness?

For the consequences of a speck of laziness creeping into the well polished sheen of disciplined nature would be drastic. The same holds true for our lives too. A day that rolled by sans the assurance of that one penny would be akin to a day simply not lived at all. Or, is it so?

In search of sanity, seeking solace from the chaos, I once decided to paint my walls blue. The hue would ultimately pacify my distraught mind, I believed so direly. As an extension to this mire of thought, I decorated my cabin with the prettiest of articles – a frilled purple glinted photo frame encasing my dearest family, vibrant files, an artistically carved wooden deck on the side wall and a lot more that fail to resurface from the neglected recess of my memory right now. Slowly as days rolled by, my visual field failed to register the presence of those much loved accessories. No, i hadn't turned blind at a spiteful snap of fate, but my mind had indeed turned blind to those perky additions crafted by me, solely aiming a rescue from my redundancy. Before long, proving my worst fears right, the whole world started morphing into one huge monochromatic grey wall encircling me, restricting my exit forever.

Life continued in misery, until that bright sunny morning when the weather was at its allure best and the shimmering clouds seemed to float fast as if in a hurry to cross timezones. Tired of my hibernation and inspired by the swell of energy around me, I decided to break down the huge repulsive grey wall forever that particular day - All by myself. Blowing away the powdery past that settled on my skin, and along with it my worries and woes, I set out on a journey, a long pending trip to a far destination, alone.



With a sagging backpack slung over my shoulders, spiked soles adorning my feet, a denim blazer wrapping me with comfort and dreamy eyes twinkling with excitement, i knew I couldn’t wait a second longer once the decision had been made.

 Trudging the road, I savoured places I had never seen before; Boarding trains, I explored spaces I had not a minute clue about. The wind that blew against my face was succulent at few places and at other places it surprised me with its tantalizing scent, probably the scent of a blossoming garden it had emanated from. I roved in search of those places and discovered fruits that tasted exotic and flowers that were outwordly. The zest of the hail storm that shook me wild never saw me wavering from my goal. Instead I sailed with it,on its wings, to the unknown, unexplored places it hauled me to on its way.

Resting under the pine trees, mad with happiness, I hummed loud my favorite tune against a soft rumble of the receding thunder. Dangling my legs from the formidable velvety rocks, I delved into the mysteries of the lusciously vast ocean sprawled ahead of me. Trekking the steepest, tortuous rocky mounds, I shed my worst fears one by one. Embracing cultures and observing beliefs, i realised that variety is indeed the spice of this world. Days saw me rejoicing with complete strangers who with utmost compassion fed me when i was utterly hungry and sang songs with me in between those scrumptious meals. Cracking jokes with them i laughed out loud, uninhibited for once, uncorking the bottled up frustrations which frizzled out with each hearty laughter, ceasing to exist thereafter. Sleeping under the milky white blanket of a full moon, locked in night's embrace, admiring the sparkling necklace knit by stars, I savoured few of the best days of my life - days which taught me that it was indeed the journey that mattered and not the destination.

Strolling back to my mansion a few months later, i was spellbound by the sight of those invigorating deep blue walls looming ahead of me in all its pristine beauty, the beauty which i feared was lost forever somewhere beneath the ugly grey tentacles of the surmounting doom. The tentacles never bothered me from then on. For I had discovered the perfect antidote for drabness - a stroll, a ride, a hike, a trip - a journey in any of its varied enriched form.
                                                        ~~~~~


P.S : This is partly fictional, partly the creation of a reverie. But i do believe in the therapeutic effect of a journey - True to what i had said in the post, even a walk or a short ride serves as the perfect stressbuster for me.

Sunday, April 14

Guest Post - For A Dream



Image Source : here

Last week, my dear blogger friend Prasanna Rao who blogs at Life Under Microscope invited me to write a guest post at her blog and i had to instantly agree to the offer as i have been reading and admiring her blog for quite long now. If you haven't visited her yet, do that at the earliest for otherwise you would be missing out on a unique collection of short stories and book reviews from her part. 

Here is an excerpt of the short fiction by title ' For A Dream ' that i wrote for her blog : 


" 'How would grown up Sonu look like in a pilot's attire?' The query seeped into my mind while I sat watching him in the pale glow of the twilight rays. Hunched forward on my tall, sturdy, polished wooden desk, his usual weary, lackluster face seemed to have acquired an unprecedented charm. 

'Thank you didi'. I remembered the deep felt words he had uttered, words garnished with all the innocence and exuberance of a 7 year old, on seeing me switching on the ceiling fan to make him feel comfortable in a weather which was sultry and depressing. He had long unkempt hair - an uneven bunch of black and brown mopy strands, a mellow voice, deep set, large jet black eyes and a demeanor which was precociously mature for his age. " 

--- To read the rest of the story do follow this link Guest Post - For A Dream. Expecting your opinion as usual, but this time at her space :) 

Wednesday, April 10

Musings of a confused reader


Image Source : here

I have been reading a few books lately, maybe a tad bit more than my usual numbers. Pausing for a while to steal back a glance, it dawns on me that i have been savouring a couple of varying genres back to back, with equal alacrity and inquisitiveness, an ardent spark which unfortunately, incepts only once in a while every year.

There has been a thought penting up all this while too, rather a conclusion, something similar to the music or lyrics scenario when it comes to judging a song. Replacing the concerned terms, the million dollar question when it comes to books would be : 'Which matters the most to you - Story or the style ?'

There are authors who dissect each shred of sun's ray to its minutest layer concentrating on its spellbinding anatomy and contrarily there are authors who tend to sideline the nature to a mere statement and pass on to delve in more practical and pragmatic nuggets and there is yet another group who are oblivious to the mysteries of nature, but has gripping and fine tuned stories which leave you glued to the pages from end to end. 

There are readers who would devour a book for the sole purpose of satiating their passion and there are readers who in addition to sufficing their urge to read, utilise a book as a means to polish their own grip on language - the aspiring author bunch. For some its the fast paced propulsion of the story that matters, but for some, the succulent details and subtleties would be the elixir. I have seen people who chuck away a Amitav Ghosh and the likes ranting about its monotonous pace, instead they relish each and every word of the burgeoning pile of those ' You - may not - like - how -  i - say - it - but - you - will - definitely- like - what-  i - have- to - say ' kind, like there is no tomorrow. 

Is it just me, for i do feel that a realistic fiction written in superlative language is more appealing and engrossing than a thriller tagged one or for that matter any book contrived using a mediocre array of words and a bland style. On the contrary, definitely a thriller if sprinkled with an enviable choice of words can sometimes be the best too! And so is a book rich in enlightening or contemplative nuggets though written in a simple and lucid manner. Briefing it, i guess a good book for me is an amalgamation of good content and elegant style with equal weightage to both. Its not the story alone that matters, at least not so for me , but the  richness of the content and the way it is conveyed. There might be naysayers to this theory, but i believe i am not alone in this regard.

I strongly believe that getting published, to this day, hasn't become a smooth joyride devoid of bumpy obstacles, though the current publishing scenario might seem like one and i highly respect and admire the perseverance with which those books have been crafted. But somehow, a bunch of those books doesn't seem worthy enough of the time or effort from the part of the reader. On the other hand, good writers who are obstinate about getting their work published by an acclaimed publishing house get rejected, and they live with their worries for they are purists who are against the idea of self publishing. (On a serious note , with no tinge of sarcasm, do good books get released in that manner?)

There was a time when as a kid, i used to look upon published writers as the most gifted people in the world. They were mature people who wrote sensible stuff and had me reading late into the night while i rejoiced in the sheer beauty of the world they led me to. Now i see a published author in every other alley, some classy, but the others way too clumsy and casual; i see toddlers, teenagers and even infants signing their published books in every other corner and the confused and flabbergasted me has made it a habit to search the web for reviews before grabbing a freshly churned out book to read, instead of the usual norm of reading whatever one could lay one's hands on. On the other side of the coin, there are subdued prolifically penned works too whose existence is sometimes masked by the shimmering book releases of the over hyped ones.

It seems all that glitters isn't pure gold after all, especially not in today's world. It is high time we imbibed those proverbs rather than merely acknowledged them. Seriously. 


Monday, April 8

Unfinished Tale - Short Fiction

Image Source: here 

I sat huddling on my chair, slowly sifting through the delicate white leaves of Ruchita's diary, the only faint sound echoing through the room being the alerting beep of the monitors perched on bedside tables. The elegant cursive letters, with a characteristic oval notation instead of the dots for the i’s, written in jet black ink, allured me more into the mystic tale each passing second. Ruchita was a writer and the prowess of her talent was evident from the tangled manner in which she moulded her sentences, even though the lines spoke of her life story and not of a tale churned out by her creative mind.

For the past one hour I had been drifting on a completely different world, traversing through the intriguing life events of Ruchita and Abhay, narrated through Ruchita’s beautiful words on her diary. She was amusingly garrulous at times and at other times, embarrassingly romantic. Ruchita and Abhay had been married for two months now. However, the journey that concluded on an exhilarating note in them getting married, hadn’t been a smooth joy ride all through. Tumultuous it was when Abhay refused to marry her on grounds of his parent’s disapproval; harrowing it was when Ruchita spent days encaged in her room cursing her unhappy life in between suppressed sobs and liberating wails; miracle it was when Abhay finally returned back to his only love defying his parent’s obstinate demands, to seek refuge in a completely alien city where he and Ruchita could carve a niche out for themselves, without being deterred by both their families.

The final account on the diary, the one that was written by an exuberant Ruchita madly in love with her husband Abhay, ended on 20th November, 2010. Today was the 30th of November, same year and the time was 8p.m.

At the far end of the brightly lit room, i could see the duty nurse, hustling through her duty report which was to be handed over to the person handling the night shift, with the fervour of a school kid ready to prance out at the first toll of the school bell.

Placing the light brown shaded diary softly on the side table, I grabbed the B.P measuring apparatus from its usual position near the head end of the patient. My movement, though mild it was, might have irked her, for Ruchita peeked at me through the narrow slits of her eyes. A smile broke out on her weary face on seeing me, but her eyes eluded me for i could hardly make out her gaze through the multiple cotton bandages fastened around her head and face, drenched in a repulsive shade of pale red. Even as the numbing cold waves from the air conditioner lashed at me, not sparing my overcoat clad body or my glove adorned hands, i could see tiny pearl sweat beads glistening on her bruised forehead.

Her speech which was almost lost the day she and Abhay were rushed to the casualty from the site of their accident on the wee hours of the morning nine days back, was gradually recovering, though she preferred to remain silent most of the times, lest it should cause her to wince out in pain on each movement of her lips.

“ Did you read it?” Ruchita asked me with much difficulty, her speech slurring, while I wrapped the cuff onto her arm.

I replied in affirmative as she continued in broken sentences.

“I never thought that his parents would make it here despite their enmity. How is Abhay today, doctor?"

"He is keeping alive, Ruchita. His parents are with him. And your mother will be here tomorrow morning too. Now i need you to get back to your sleep. You shouldn't be stressing yourself much ", saying that i gestured the duty nurse to administer her the night dose of sedative. She curved her quivering lips while the medicine seeped into her slowly. Before long, surrendering to the drug, Ruchita was sliding back once again to her relaxed sleep, her chest heaving up and down heavily as she sucked in life air with utmost direness.

An uncomfortable dark cloud started looming in the back of my mind, as I watched her serene face glowing in the ever luminescent I.C.U room. I saw her smiling in her sleep, a smile that only a woman in love would be blessed with, even amidst the most trying of circumstances.

No tear clustered in my eyes looking at her heavily tattered body. My eyes had been trained to remain alert, sharp and dry twenty four hours a day, while I was on duty. But i could sense my heart weeping silently for the shriveled fate of this dainty young girl. A part of my disheveled mind cursed fate, not for her debacle, but for the strong effervescing emotions that she nurtured towards Abhay even while she was clutching onto medicines, barely conscious, for her revival.


An inexplicable overplay of peace danced on her face, on the sight of which I felt my conscience weighing down heavily, as the thought of the blatant lie that i had helplessly uttered a few minutes back as the answer to her concerned query gnawed at me, leaving behind a searing pain.


"He is keeping alive, Ruchita".

                                                           **


Friday, April 5

Tantra - Book Review


Title : Tantra
Author : Adi
Publisher : Apeejay Stya Publishing
Year : 2013
ISBN-10 : 8190863622
Pages : 344
Price : Rs. 195


The Story In Short : 


Anu Aggarwal is a vampire hunter and a well established and admired one at that, who flies to New Delhi from her usual haven of action, New York, the reason behind the detour being a debacle from her recent past. Her boyfriend Brian was murdered and Anu who couldn’t be her usual normal self after the incident sets out to quench her vengefulness and for that purpose reaches Delhi from where hails the murderer, supposedly a malicious vampire. The vampire hunters, as is revealed is a vast network with branches throughout the world. What awaits Anu in Delhi is yet another villain on prowl who is on a murderous rage, but this time the killings are more purposeful aiming small kids in and around the city. Anu decides to set aside her actual mission of tracking down Brian's killer to be followed up later as a dire situation is at hand that moment , involving the lives of children. Eventually Anu, owing to her late night vigilant strides through the dark alleys of the city, seeks out the person behind the cascade of murders and realizes that the mode of his action is entirely different, more to do with Indian tantric powers than mere slaying. 

Anu with the help of her hunter friend Amit finds out the roots of the particular ceremony utilizing fire, akin to black magic, from a person by name Dr. Sharma. Though reluctant at first to accept the relevance of such ideologies in the modern times, Anu soon comes to terms with the validity of the same and diligently masters the Astras that a Pandit Grover teaches her, so that she could win over the villain. The events that unfold in the backdrop of her mastery, finally leading to an eventful and gripping ending is what makes the rest of the story.

On parallel grounds follows the story of Anu’s encounters at home with her desi aunt, who is determined to have Anu in wedlock at the earliest. Irked by the intentions of her aunt and bogged down by the failure on her part to seek out Brian’s killer, Anu tries her best to coax her aunt against her fervent search for a groom, but her attempts go futile and eventually she yields to her aunt. A few incidents revolving around the event and also a marriage function which Anu attends with her aunt takes Anu’s life on a new turn and she starts acquainting with a person called Gaurav. Anu slowly falls for Gaurav and on realizing this the villain seizes Gaurav forcefully to use him as a bait to lure her into his dynasty. What happens eventually is for you to find out.

My Take:

The protagonist, a female warrior is new to Indian Fiction scenario and that comes as a welcoming change from the chunks of chick lit books flooding the market. Also the story is on the lines of a thriller, which means a fast paced page turner is in offer for the readers who struggle to find time for reading amidst their hectic schedules at work. The language is really good with a commendable choice of words and the author has maintained a lucid, engaging flow from beginning to end, something I look forward to in any book I take up to read. In that regard I am quite happy with my selection.

If to point the downsides, I feel the Anu’s past and the events in New York that ignited a spate of revenge in her needed to be dealt more in detail. I couldn’t relate much to her loss as the book didn’t provide any reason to, other than a few isolated titbits from her past sprinkled at places to serve the need for a plot setting for the story. In addition to that the author has left the characters dangling loose, without much probing on their life. Much more detailed account on each one’s life and path would have been engrossing enough. We don’t know much about Gaurav other than the fact that he is relentlessly flirting with Anu and that there is a resplendent thread connecting them together. Amit and Suresh, their Head in Delhi are also in the dark, brought to the foray whenever the story demands Anu to interact with them. The ' shift' that is mentioned in the story came across as vague to me. I had to go with the flow at those places, ignoring the doubts.

The cover page lacks charm, but then it doesn’t matter much, for the blurb is alluring enough and that should tempt the reader to grab a copy. Indian mythology and spirituality make vibrant topics for fictional works, as is evident from the wide acceptance of Amish tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy. The non Indian readers would definitely be intrigued by the details on the Asthras and the idea of Tantra. The portions narrating the same have been perfectly crafted and those would easily be one of the highlights of the book. The Dekhan Dekhi event is another enticing one and the author has sketched it interesting enough with a dash of humour to coat it with.

Anu’s quest for Brian’s killer is still on and that would probably be dealt with in the sequel. I would recommend this book to any reader who is in search of a fast and gripping read. If you are someone who is adamant on catching up with your reading on a working day, well then this book definitely is for you.

All in all a good read and i liked it despite the flaws. My rating would be a 3.5/5.


Reach the author at his website : www.tantrabyadi.com

Buy the book online here

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Programme for Indian bloggers by www.blogadda.com. Participate now to get free books.

Monday, April 1

In First Person


Image Source : here

Two days back, during one of those much treasured slots of time at home with my amma where we entertain each other spilling in news from our sides sprinkled with guffaws, goofiness, groans and giggles, a question popped up from my side as to whether she would yearn to send me off to another family with a bundle of wealth to be tagged along with my ‘beauty,brawn and brains’. As a reply she assured me that neither she nor my father would construe, even in their worst nightmares to sell me away with prior consolidation of a pact or treaty of sorts that would promise a certain amount of jingling while I walk onto my groom’s house. According to her, each ounce of what they compile for me in the name of good or gold serves to satiate their mind, so that thereafter they would feel happy and satisfied that they did enough and more for their children. 

Though, unfortunately the good intention gets twisted and tweaked when spineless people utilise this gesture as a means to loot money from the backward sections of the society demanding money in the name of girl's inheritance. However, i guess now a days more and more families are shying away from the concept of dowry and I strongly feel that the welcoming change found its inception from the fact that you would rarely find a girl now a days who wouldn’t be working, her job in turn serving to be the ‘security’, if I may put it so, not intending pun of course. 

A friend of mine recited a particular incident to me a few months back concerning a marriage proposal that came her way. It so happened that during the primary discussions leading to fixing the alliance, her father happened to show the groom’s party the nooks, corners and the pristine formidable assets of their house, the climactic ending of the home-tour being a promise by her father to the groom’s family that every single inch of what they traversed the past one hour belongs solely to his daughter, the would be bride, my friend. As an anticlimax to the particular tryst, the groom’s family withdrew their proposal stating that her father insulted them by his gesture of sealing the deal in the name of money!

Well this post wasn’t supposed to be a dowry post in the first place, but on my conversations with amma and I apologize for the least enticing deviation. Thus the talks proceeded merrily with amma disclosing a dream of her to own a beautiful house, bang in the middle of the city, even when the current scenario is such that our present home is 2km from the Central railway station, 2.5 km from the Bus stand and 3.5 km from the airport. She has always been crazy about artistically built houses and in her opinion, beauty when coupled with accessibility can be a terrific combination (we are talking about houses here, be clear about that).

And before I knew, she had jotted down phone numbers from the Real Estate Classifieds and had started calling them up enquiring about the subtle details about the plumbing, attached bathroom facilities, backyard and the distance in kilometers from the main road stretch. And if at all we had a wrong assumption that a house in the central hub of the city would come for free, we were proved wrong the very next instant. The guy at the other end proposed a certain sum for each cent, hearing which amma winded up the call impromptu in an impulse or was it because she blacked out?! The second option would be appropriate for the total sum that the guy brazenly put forward would amount to a decent one crore and slightly more than that, considering the spiking real estate statistics in today's world.



Image Source : here
The first plan of action frizzled out, much to our dejection. But my amma is someone who, though utterly lazy like her daughter at times, relentlessly chases her dreams once it seeds have been sown. She came up with a plan afresh, which would see us owning a plot or two in the suburbs now only to be sold out a few years later, which would empower us with the ability to buy a house, again bang in the middle of the city, in her dream locality. My father and I sat marveling at her business acumen for sometime and then we set out yesterday in search of affordable plots in the suburbs.

Two plots down and all we could conjure ourselves to do was to sympathize with the distraught lives of the people in those regions rather than to delve in depth on the pros and cons of the plots. Not that they were sad or looked distressed, but the living conditions were shallow, something I felt that they have accustomed to over the years and might not be having complaints about now. The sight is not something new for I had been to many such families as part of my community medicine health assignments during my college days and even had written essays during my exams on the abject poverty that those people dwell in. Yet, when we thought about the context which guided us to the place, the whole scenario seemed like God’s way of telling us to be satisfied with what we have.

But then, a dream is a dream is a dream and amma has enough reasons to support her too - like the unavailability of auto rickshaws at our place and a few more rational ones. And so also, a couple of days after if amma still feels like owning a dream house - implying a house at a better place, we might as well set out on a sequel to our journey. But right now, slumping down onto my cozy bed, with my jet black laptop on my table and a few good books on the shelf smiling compellingly at me and my favorite song being played in loops by my cell phone, my room with its four sturdy walls to protect me from sun or storm seems like heaven. Maybe something like a God’s own house in 'God’s own country' ? (Argh. That sounds tacky)

                                                                         
                                                                              **


P.S : My previous template crashed with no prior notice and i had to come up with a new one. The last one was my favourite. But i guess i have no other option now but to start loving this and to hope that this one doesn't disappear in a bolt.

Monday, March 25

The Havoc


Image Source : here

Rita watched unblinkingly at the shimmering silver disco ball wavering in the air, her throbbing pulse pounding fervently against her clammy skin.  She gasped every now and then as her heart seemed to be sucked in more and more into the mysterious depths of her insides, weighed down by her distraught thoughts. 

The thumping sound of the sturdy glass being knocked against the pedestal on which she rested her arms snapped her back to the present. The rewarding sight of the amber coloured liquid sifting swiftly inside the glass pacified her, for hadn't been for the liquid, she would have swooned right there in the middle of the exhilarated flock of party goers. Not that anyone would have noticed considering the dwindling level of orientation amongst the youngsters gathered there, still the fact that she had not a person to assist her if such a dire situation arose crippled her. 

In a swift irresistible motion of her hands, she had gulped down the drink which eased through her parched sweltering throat. 

Rita huffed in between her conflicting thoughts. When she accidentally tripped onto him that particular wry night while hustling back to her house, not even a fleeting thought had passed through her mind that he would later be an inevitable part of her love life.

The many enticing nights they had huddled together in his bed sprang to her mind and along with that treasured memory, also strolled towards her his promise that he would never ever part her, come hell or high water. He wasn't lying that much she knew, for she alone possessed that gratifying power to pry behind the mystic veil that cloaked his gaze every time he smiled at her. Or so, she always prided. 

But how unexpectedly things had started changing shades! How bizarre had been the turn of events since he started acquainting with that rusty looking guy from the neighbourhood.

With the gusto with which he was advancing with his nefarious motive, she feared that he would be cornered by the law one day or the other and this daunting thought had been haunting her night and day over the past one week.

' Was i wrong in threatening him to go public on his misdeed? But that was just to bring him around, why don't he get it! ' 

She winced in agony as the hurt expression that loomed on his flushed face, when she disclosed to him that she knew about his unlawful deeds, flashed across her mind. He was tranforming into a queer personality, utterly weighed down by insanity day by day and that was something which she couldn't simply sit back and watch happening. 

Nervously, Rita tapped her fingers against the sides of her glass as a gazillion unbridled apprehensions started pestering her one after the other.

'Maybe if i talk to him once again tomorrow morning, scraping back my disconcerting tone, he would pay heed to my words and abstain from his rapacious deals '

The slight movement of a couple heading to the exit hand in hand, chuckling in between sweet whispers, reminded her that she needed to drive back alone. She couldn't afford to binge and that sensible nugget pulled her back from opting to stretch her meandering at the place into the dark. Mustering the strength to pull herself up from her seat, she walked towards her car parked in the dark, the staggering more owing to the turmoil strutting inside her than due to inebriation. 

The moon was shining the brightest, showering a milky blanket over the surroundings. A light refreshing breeze swished past her, on the cue to which she wrapped herself in her arms, pacified by nature's comforting gesture.

An eerie silence reverberated in the deserted parking lot which made her quiver a bit. All at once, as if to prove her worst fears right, a sense of vertigo blinded her which seemed to over haul her more and more in each passing second. Whether it was due to the overpowering drink or due to the hot rush of hormones seeping  into the kinky recesses of her cacophonous brain, she couldn't conjure a reason that harrowing moment. 

For the very next second, she had slumped to the floor as if in a bolt, a groan escaping her throat.

She watched in bewilderment and disbelief as warm gush of blood spurted out from the nape of her neck, as if in a hurry to escape its caged life inside the strangulating vessels that channelled through her body. Rita felt her soul draining out from her body with each beat of her thready pulse. As the tired shutters of her weary eyes started drooping forever, she felt consoling hands hugging her close in between muffled sobs and apologies. 

His hands which grazed her cheeks a final time, instead of the scent she was so familiar with, now reeked of the unpleasant waft of fresh gunpowder.  

                                                       ~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, March 22

So Far So Good


Image Source : here

It has been long since i confided anything personal here. The last time i did was long back, here on this page. If the nerve wrecking, gut crunching P.G entrance preparations was the excuse for the redundancy in 2012, then its the absolute state of nirvana that i drift through post the biggest hurdle in a doctor's life, ( read post graduate entrance exam ) sans any dire commitments, is the excuse in 2013. 


There hasn't been much happening around here lately. As the last one year was extremely demanding, blame the coaching classes and the single minded diligent regurgitation of 6 years medical course material from the convoluted sulci and gyri of my brain, i thought of taking some time off, baring my mind from the medical shroud for a matter of few months, so that when the results would bë out by January end i would be all revived to either take up a pg course of my desired surgical speciality or to hit my objective books for the next round if didn't make it. As they say, life is no skiing game nor is it predictable in any amount. The result never came. Locked in a legal quagmire, supposedly, the results will be out only after the mockery in the name of court proceedings are over.


Not anticipating fate's foul play, the passionate me had conjured up a plan to make the best use of this small vacation of sorts. I had made a mental note of the things i would be doing after the examination with the same fervour with which i juggled medicine, surgery, gynaec and pediatrics objective revision papers. And the plan was to :


1. Read as many books as would satiate my mind cleansing it off the exam fever


2. Write to my heart's content.


3. Refresh my driving lessons ( the last time i had my rendezvous with the steering wheel being 8 years back during my driving test ).


4. Watch movies back to back.


5. Have a decent hair cut ( my locks are now twice the length of what is visible on my profile pic ) and


6. Visit my grandmother back at our native place from time to time.


 Except the haircut, all other wishes yielded fruits. My hair, to my awe, is untiringly continuing its growth sans a Tresemme or a Sun Silk therapy , that i cant make up my mind to crop it short even by one inch ( Aah, girls !). The wait is on now for the split ends to take charge so that i could head for the salon in the pretense of saving my locks rather than for that long over due make over ( Heard fringes are in ? )


Finishing a medical course, or any course for that matter is not so much of a pleasant feeling, especially for a girl. The M word relentlessly pops up in every other group discussion. The M word has been playing around in the air for a few years now. Belonging to the minority section of arranged marriage loathers, i declared long back that i would remain optionally single till the right guy arrives, something which has been mocked at and frowned upon by my parents. 


While my amma had her first encounter with the contraption called laptop when she had to enroll me on the online eligible brides list , my father had his first encounter with humility when i turned down the first guy who came to see me, toted with endless degrees to heighten his charm ( Kukki turning down Hrithik in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? Na, he was no Hrithik, though that had little to do with the decision ). And eventually, the obstinate me emerged successful and unscathed. I am granted permission to slog around in solitude until a divine intervention occurs, though i don't trust my parents much in that regard. I suspect callosity in that promise. After all isn't M the sole purpose of life? Sigh!  


Considering that my over ambitious crush list ranged from SRK post DDLJ (blame his dimples) to Keanu Reeves post Matrix to DADA post the 183 runs milestone / that mesmerising catch to dismiss Saeed Anwar at 194 to Chester Bennington post the Hybrid Theory, to Ryan Reynolds post The Proposal and nobody in particular lately, i don't have much hopes for me actually. Maybe one day, after a couple of years of wait, i would succumb to my parent's advice, admitting the impracticability of my wistfulness , to be greeted by that epic ' Told you so look ' from all quarters.


Jokes apart, life is going slow, albeit steady now. The pleasures of a vacation are many. My parents are back to pampering me as to a two year old now. During my years of college they used to treat me with utmost gravity, as i used to return home every month from hostel with used masks and head caps stuffed in my baggage, which my parents used to awe at unblinkingly ( we used to tie those used ones around the tap in our hostel because those acted as the perfect filter for the tiny worms that were inevitable parts of the tap water - fighting germs the medicos way ! ). Everything is back to square one these days. Amma wakes me up with a cup of tea and i sit dabbling in whatever thoughts that shoot through my mind all day. Peace.


Or maybe i should right away join the nearest hospital available. The good thing about this profession is that any hospital would appoint us as casualty medical officer if we approach them with our registration certificate. We are offered to take part time emergency duties too where they pay us for every hour we tend to the patients. What keeps me back for the time being is the fact that i felt like i needed a break. As history has it, ' the break ' has surpassed boundaries and now i have started feeling all irky. I really really hope for the results to be out soon. I love my profession and i seriously miss the hospital corridors , the many procedures and the casualty duties. Moreover, the exaggerated amount of idleness has started seeping into my joints and i am utterly lazy even to walk around inside my home these days. Grave!  


                                                   ~~~~~~~~~~~