Restricted Entry

ronda-del-boccio
Photo (c) Ronda Del Boccio

Restricted Entry

Words 101

“Sir if you could kindly help?” He bowed obsequiously.

“Yes?” The Dean removed his spectacles.

“Please admit my son into your medical college. He missed the cut off list by just a few marks.”

The Dean pulled a file. “More than twenty marks.”

“I can arrange government funding,” He bargained. “Unlimited.”

“But seats are limited.”

“I’m sure you can work it out.”

The Dean scanned the list of candidates. “So many girls. Why do they want to be doctors? Their place is at home.”

“Perhaps their marks could be shuffled?”

“Perhaps.” The Dean closed the file. “Kindly arrange fund transfer.”

Osoreirimasu.”

***

Osoreirimasu: Thank you in Japanese when you want to acknowledge the trouble that someone has gone to for you. Inspired by this news article

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thank you Rochelle for hosting this challenge and Ronda Del Boccio for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt please click here.

Thank you for reading and as always I look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFfAW: Achilles Heels

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Photo (c) Yinglan

Achilles Heels

“Flowers? I hate flowers.”

“But…but all girls like flowers.

“And that is your first mistake. I am not ‘all girls’. Besides I am allergic to flowers.

“I am sorry. Next time I will get chocolates.”

“Chocolates are very fattening. They give me a migraine too.

“Umm so what should I get?”

“Why should you get something for me? What do you want in return?

“Me? Nothing. I was just…”

“Just what?”

“Why are you so suspicious?”

“Because no one ever does anything just like that?”

“You are such a cynic.”

“Yeah so? Got a problem with that? I didn’t ask you to stay.”

“Fine I am leaving.”

“Good riddance…”

“I heard that. And just for that I am not leaving.”

“You were looking for an excuse weren’t you? Why do you put up with me?”

“I also wonder. You are one the most annoying persons I have met.”

“I did warn you that I am a very difficult person.”

“One whom I cannot live without.”

“What do you know?”

“Let’s go shopping.”

“Shopping? I don’t much care…”

“Shoe shopping.”

“Shoes?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t need shoes.”

“Okay.”

“Well maybe I could just look at them.”

***

Written for FFfAW challenge – a story in 175 words or less (I confess to overshooting the mark this week to 194 words 😦 ). Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this challenge and Yinglan for the beautiful photo. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Caught in the Middle

ted-strutzs-town
Photo (c) Ted Strutz

Caught in the Middle

Words 101

“When is Deva coming?” Arnav asked Khushi.

“He hasn’t confirmed.”

“I’m booking his tickets.” Arnav fumed.

“But…”

“Does he plan to come after Diwali?” He silenced her.

“Why did Dad book my tickets?” Deva blasted Khushi. “I told you I would manage.”

“So what if he booked?” Khushi soothed.

“But Mom, I have a presentation then! Please cancel it.”

“If I cancel, he may not get any tickets!” Arnav warned Khushi. “It’s Diwali.”

“I’ll manage Mom.”

“How?” Arnav grilled Khushi. “Teleportation?”

“Mom please tell Dad to chill.”

“High time Deva grew up Khushi and acted responsibly.”

“Mom perhaps I’ll skip Diwali.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Ted Strutz for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – XI

The final part!

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

Chapter 9: The Ugly Truth

Chapter 10: Unanswered Questions

 

Chapter 11: Will She Won’t She

Sonu flinched but rallied.

“Fine.” He nodded. “I’ll wait until you know. But,” he shook a finger at her, “But be prepared to be pestered for the rest of your life.” He warned. “Once I get a bee in my bonnet,” he shrugged. “Anyway would you like to see a movie?”

“Movie?” She was thrown. “What movie?”

“I was thinking the latest Ant-man movie.”

“I don’t like these stupid action sci-fi type of movies.”

“Have you seen any Ant-man movie?”

“I haven’t seen any.” Lovely admitted. “But I don’t…”

“So how can you say you don’t like them?” Sonu challenged.

“That’s neither here not there,” Lovely was exasperated, “I am not interested…”

“That’s your problem,” Sonu leaned back, “you are a stick in the mud.”

“What!” Lovely was affronted. “How dare…?”

“But of course! Even though you haven’t never eaten something before,” he indicated the untouched plate of tortillas between them, “or seen something you already know that you don’t like it,” he mocked. “No spirit of adventure at all.”

“You have absolutely no idea of what or who I am!” Lovely shot back. “And don’t you dare question my spirit of adventure. Have you tried paragliding?” she sneered. “I bet not.”

“And you have?”

“Of course. River rafting, rappelling, kayaking and even jumping off the cliff.” She ticked them off on her fingers with a semblance of animation. “Adventure sports give me such an adrenaline rush! I still have to do the flying fox and bungee jumping.”

“That’s what I am giving you a chance at,” he slipped in slyly, “bungee jumping, in fact a whole range of adventure sports.”

She frowned puzzled. “Apart from being a wedding planner you are running an adventure sports unit or what?”

“Actually I am terrified of adventure sports,” he confessed, “I had a narrow escape during a school trip while river rafting. I fell off and I didn’t know swimming.” He paused. “I still don’t know swimming. In fact I am terrified of the water.”

“Then?”

“Isn’t marriage like bungee jumping? Or for that matter like any of the adventure sports?”

She looked at him resignedly. “Are we back to that?”

“Yes. And I will keep coming back to it until you agree.”

“And then what? Move on to another unattainable toy?”

“Oh so that’s your problem!” He said with dawning understanding. “You think once we get married, I’ll forget about you and ignore you.”

She looked uncomfortable. “Partly. Yes.”

“So how about living in?”

“Oh my God.” Lovely clapped a hand to her head. “You don’t give up do you?”

“Nope. Not while I am alive and kicking.”

“Fine.” She crossed her arms. “And I won’t give in. Let the battle begin.”

Sonu rubbed his hands in glee. “Shall we begin with tortilla and Ant-man?”

She laughed. “You are incorrigible.”

He scratched his head. “What’s incorrigible?”

“It means…”

“Does it mean you love me?”

“You are impossible!”

“Nothing’s impossible.” He grinned. “Except for me.”

“And you are insufferable and arrogant.”

“Rubbish!” He denied. I am very humble and down to earth. Should we begin with tortilla and Ant-man?”

Lovely shook her head. “That would be too easy.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll have to begin with learning how to swim and then graduate to bungee jumping.”

“Whew.” He moped his brow. “And if I do, will you marry me?”

She rolled her eyes and looked away.

“Fine!” He threw down his napkin. “I’ll do it. But on condition.” He put his hand on the table palm up. “When I jump off the cliff you’ll hold my hand.”

She slid her hands under the table.

He shrugged. “Fine. I’ll just change the rules then.” He scrolled through his phone.

“Rules? What rules?”

“Rules of the game.”

“Are we playing a game?”

“Of course.” He looked up from his mobile. “One of the world’s most age-less time-less games.” Her eyes dropped before his.

“Okay and done!” He put down his phone. “I just enrolled myself for swimming classes.”

“Good.” She made a move to get up.

“Do you dance?” He wasn’t finished.

“Dance?” she frowned. “Where did that come from?”

“Never mind.” He said impatiently. “Just answer me.”

“I learned some Kathak in school. I even gave a stage performance in school.”

“That’s great. So you like dancing?”

“I guess.” She said warily.

“While I learn swimming, you will learn dancing.”

“Why?”

“Why not?” Argued Sonu. “Dancing is a great stress buster. It frees you and relaxes you. And the best part? I will learn along with you.”

She stared. “You’ll learn Kathak?”

“Not Kathak! Western dance rumba jive salsa,” he coughed, “Waltz.”

“You think you are very smart don’t you?”

“I don’t think.” He looked modest. “I am.”

“Well I am smarter than you.” She picked up her bag. “Thank you but no thank you.” She stood up.

“All those questions you asked?” He didn’t look up from his phone. “The ones we didn’t have an answer to?” She dropped her bag and sat down. “I think they apply to you as well.”

“What do you mean?” She frowned.

“I think you are also part of this system, this society. Even though you are being given a chance you are refusing to take it. You also blame yourself. You also think you are impure and you are unworthy of marrying.”

She paled. “Rubbish.” She said weakly.

“Is it?” He pressed home his advantage. “If it was a broken bone, an otherwise kind of a physical assault would you have been so traumatized?”

“You don’t understand.” She spoke through stiff lips.

“Perhaps. Make me understand. Isnt that why you want to be an IAS officer? To help women get justice? To liberate them to free them? How will you do that if you yourself aren’t free? If you stop yourself from moving on, going ahead with your life…”

“You don’t understand…”

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself. If you want to change the world, first change yourself.”

“Change myself how?” Her eyes shot daggers. “By marrying you? You think marriage is the solution to everything?”

“Not everything. Something. And change doesn’t happen overnight.” He looked at her. “I am not asking you to marrying me tomorrow or next month or even next year. I am just asking you to take that one little step,” he paused, “with me.” He broke off a piece of the tortilla and held it out. “Try it.” When she hesitated, he insisted. “Trust me.” he paused. “At least in this.”

She accepted the gauntlet and popped into her mouth. She chewed experimentally even as he flashed her a confident triumphant smile. “Nice isn’t it?”

She downed a glass of water and shook her head. “On the contrary, quite awful.”

She almost laughed at his crestfallen expression. But he quickly rallied. “So fine you don’t like it but I am sure you’ll like tacos. They are…”

“Oh please Sonu!” Lovely raised a hand. “Could we have some decent old-fashioned Indian food? I am starving.”

“Sure.” He beamed. “But for dessert you must have their cheesecake. Have you had it?” She shook her head. “It’s out of the world.” He drooled.

“Better than jalebis?”

“Jalebi is your favorite?”

She shook her head. “No. In fact I don’t like them at all.”

He stared. “Then?”

“I was just trying to understand how bad this cheesecake would be.” There was a glint in her eyes.

“Very smart.” He gave her a resigned look. “Just wait until you try the cheesecake. You can change my name if you don’t like it.”

She tapped her cheek. “Hmm let me see…”

He leaned back in his chair. “No rush. Take your time. You have an entire lifetime to think up names for me.”

“Why waste an entire lifetime?”

His chair scraped. “If you think it would be a waste then may as well forget it.”

“Giving up so easily?” Her voice was low.

He stilled.

She drew in a deep breath. “I meant it for you.” At his puzzled look, she continued. “Why waste your entire life on a…a…a lost cause?”

His lips twisted. “You think I am doing this for you?”

She nodded.

“I am flattered that you think so highly of me.”

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“That you think I could be so self-sacrificing and caring about others.” He shook his head. “Sorry to break your illusions darling, but I care only and only about myself and my feelings.” He leaned forward. “I am not proposing to you because I am concerned about you, your feelings your future. Nope. It’s all about me. What I will do without you.”

She looked at him helplessly, drawn despite herself. She stiffened.

“Big words.” She jeered. “Easy to say, easier to forget.”

“You are a tough nut aren’t you?”

“And difficult to be with.” She added.

“And selfish and self-centered.”

Hurt flashed in her eyes before blanking out. “I don’t get where you get that from.”

“From this.” He gestured between them. “You are just concerned about your feelings the possible impact if some eventuality happens in the distant future. What about me?”

“What about you?”

“What about my feelings? What about the impact of your rejection on my present?”

She rolled her eyes. “Stop dramatizing.”

“And you lack empathy too.”

“I do not.” She was cut.

“Just because you cannot see my broken, wounded heart, just because I am not crying, you think I am fibbing, joking.” He paused. “What else can I do when my life is slipping out of my hands right in front of my eyes?”

“I am not convinced.” But she was shaken at the look in his eyes.

“If you insist.” He nodded briskly. “I will wait until you admit it.”

“Admit what?”

“That you love me.”

Her eyes flew to his. She stiffened and glared at him. “Don’t you think you are presuming too much?”

He shrugged. “I am no fool madam. And neither are you. If you didn’t love me, you would have walked away long ago and I would be nursing a broken jaw.”

Her lips twitched.

“So,” he smiled, “I will wait until you are ready to say it.”

“What if I never say it?”

“There is no end to what ifs.” He waved his hands impatient. “Shall we go?”

She looked at her watch. “Oh. Yes it is very late.” She stood up.

“If we hurry we can still catch Ant-man.”

“Ant-man?! I thought we were going home!”

“Soon. Very soon.” His eyes were warm.

She blushed and looked away. “But I am warning you that I am not going to join any dance classes.”

“Hey! A deal is a deal!”

“Deal?” she was incredulous. “What deal? I never agreed to any deal.”

“You will.” He was confident.

“You are pushy.”

“So are we back to character analysis?” He waved a hand. “Be my guest, but let me warn you it is a waste of time if you are looking for shortcomings and faults.”

“And brash and audacious.”

“Perhaps just the tiniest bit.” He admitted.

“Overbearing and overconfident.”

“Confident not overconfident.”

“Overconfident.”

“Confident.”

Their voices faded into the distance.

*** The Beginning***

Thank you for reading and especially for sharing your thoughts 🙂

 

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – X

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

Chapter 9: The Ugly Truth

Chapter 10: Unanswered Questions

Lovely spent a sleepless night reliving the horrors, which she had pushed away to the dark recesses of her mind. She was glad when it was morning and she could forcibly pull on the mask of normalcy and go back to work her still raw and bleeding wounds tucked firmly away out of sight – even her own.

The day dragged.

There was no sign of Sonu, not on phone or outside her office.

Just as well she thought as she reluctantly trudged back home and as expected.

But at home she was taken aback to see Sonu along with everybody else, including Ghasitaram. The animated discussion gave way to silence at her entry. Lovely stood at the doorway defiant and questioning. Ghasitaram walked up to her and met her eyes for the briefest moments before looking away.

He drew a deep breath and said. “What happened wasn’t right.”

Her lips twisted. “You mean I should have kept my mouth shut.” She cast Sonu a sneer. “I told you he wouldn’t believe me.”

“It’s not that.” Ghasitaram spoke before Sonu could.

“You believe me?” She was skeptical.

“When Sonu told me, I…I confess I didn’t. But…but like he said why would you say such a thing. So I confronted Lallan.”

“He admitted that he…?”

“No.”

Lovely flashed Sonu another accusing glare and walked away.

“But I saw guilt written on his face.” Lovely halted. “He is alive only because he is bedridden.” She turned around. “I am sorry beta.”

“Why are you apologizing?” She choked.

“Because he is,” Ghasitaram paused, “he was my friend. I feel responsible. But forgive him beta, he is not right in his mind. He is sick. Forgive him and let yourself heal.”

“It’s not just he who hurt me,” Lovely managed to say.

A hushed murmur ran through the room. “Who…?”

“Everyone,” she pointed an accusing finger to her family, “Dadi, Chacha, Chachi. They knew everything but said nothing. Did nothing.” Her voice became stronger. “Instead they told me to keep quiet, behaved as if it was my fault. That it would be better if I just killed myself out of shame and disgust and spare them the bother of having me on their conscience. What kind of society do we live in? Why must the victim keep quiet? Why is the victim shamed?”

Only questions and no answers…

“Why are questions always raised about the girl’s character, her intentions? Despite knowing everything why do they risk their own daughters’ future? Why is everybody so hell bent upon hiding the reality? Why is everyone so afraid of speaking the truth? When will the focus shift from the victim to the rapist?”

A thick silence pervaded the room.

She put a hand to her throat. “I feel suffocated, strangulated because of this enforced silence and the hypocritical lives that we have to live and hold up the image of a perfect family man.”

Eyes burning she faced Sonu. “If a goonda comes and slashes at you, breaks your leg, do you keep quiet?” Her eyes scorched Titu. “Do you hide your face in shame? No! Then why are we forced to do so? Why? Why? Why?” She screamed but again there were no answers.

She shouldered past the gathered crowd and ran to her room. She locked and bolted herself in.

The next day after work, she found Sonu waiting for her outside the bank. She froze him with a blank stare and disappeared into a waiting auto before he could move. But he was waiting for her again the next day and managed to catch her as she got into the auto but she urged the driver to speed away. After five days, Lovely gave in and took the bull by its horns.

“Yes?” she was cold. “What do you want?”

“I…I want to talk to you.”

She crossed her arms. “About what?”

“Things.” He said vaguely. “Many things.”

“I don’t think we have anything more to talk about.”

“You are wrong!” he jumped in. “I have a lot to say.” He looked around. “Please can we go somewhere private?” He quailed at the expression on her face. “A public place,” he clarified. “Like the mall?”

Lovely shook her head resignedly. He really was like a dog with a bone.

“So? What’s the problem?” Lovely asked the moment they were seated in a quiet little café at the nearest mall.

Sonu looked at her with troubled eyes. “I…I just…”

Lovely unbent. “It’s okay Sonu. It’s not your fault. You don’t have to feel guilty and over-correct for someone else’s crime. I am fine.” She swallowed and looked away. “It’s just that I have this huge wound inside of me. It doesn’t hurt if I don’t poke or prod it. But even the slightest of touches inflames it and all the pus comes gushing forth proving again that it hasn’t healed and probably never will. But,” she inhaled sharply, “I repeat it’s not your fault. So don’t feel obliged to explain, justify or even,” her voice wavered, “do a repeat telecast of your avowals of love and what not. Don’t worry I won’t hold you to it.” She smiled mirthlessly. “You can walk away and forget that we ever met.”

He shook his head. “But I can’t forget you.”

“You can and will. Just give it time.” She advised. “Trust me.”

“You can. I can’t and…and I won’t.”

“Oh please Sonu! Don’t be the drama king.” She flared up. “Don’t be so childish and stubborn. You don’t know what you are saying.”

“I know perfectly well what I am saying, if you will let me speak.” He held her eyes. “I love you and I want to marry you.”

“Even after all this?” She looked at him with shock.

“How does that change anything? One evil man hurt you wounded you and I am terribly sorry for that, but that doesn’t change my feelings for you. And why are you so surprised? Isn’t that your angst? Why blame the victim? I don’t think any of this was your fault and so it doesn’t change my feelings. If anything I love you more for having overcome this and come back to save your sister.”

“Don’t try to play the hero Sonu,” Lovely was shaking. “It will backfire on you. The novelty will wear off and…and…and besides I can’t I can’t stomach the thought of,” she broke off.

Sonu draped his jacket over her shoulders.

“Let’s have some coffee or would you prefer tea? You’ll feel better. And they make absolutely delicious tortillas. Have you tried them?”

She didn’t answer and neither did he push her. He took out his phone and flicked through his gallery. “What do you think of this?” He showed her the picture of Goan sunset at the beach. She stared at the colors lighting up the clouded skies. She cleared her throat. “It’s of course beautiful. Why do you ask?”

“The Dhoodhsagar falls was particularly spectacular.” He showed her another picture. “What do you think?”

She nodded.

He scrolled through the pictures holding out the phone to her. “Which do you prefer? The sandy beaches or the rocky beaches?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“I don’t know anything about you, your likes dislikes.” He shrugged. “I am just trying to get to know you.”

“Is this anyway to know a person? By playing twenty questions?” She threw up her hands. “Besides what does it matter?”

“It matters to me.”

“You are crazy.”

“I think you are right.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Do you know I fell in love with you at first sight?” he grinned at her expression, “Despite your protective gear,” He paused. “Or maybe because of it.”

“Sonu…”

“God woman! Will you let me speak?” He shook his head. “Boy you are such a chatterbox.”

She glared at him. “That’s rich coming from you.”

“Exactly. So please don’t keep trying to snatch the mike or the center stage from me.” He rebuked her. “So where was I? Yes, when I confessed my feelings to Titu after our third meeting, he also thought the same thing.” He looked into her eyes. “And he promptly whisked me away to Goa for de-addiction and rehabilitation. We had a blast but yet all I could think of was you. How you would have liked the sunset, whether you would have found it romantic or dismissed it with some scientific explanation, whether you would have liked to walk on the beaches or grumbled about the sand that got into everything, whether I could have convinced to try the feni or dance to the music on the ferry…”

“Sonu please,” her voice was raw and cracked. “Please don’t do this.”

“It’s already done. I can’t undo it. I can’t get you out of my system. Not then. Not while I was struggling to cope with the physical pain of the accident. Not now.”

“You’ll regret it.”

“Maybe maybe not. But in this,” he gestured between them, “I don’t have a choice.”

She blew her nose.

“Let’s not talk about me.” Sonu said earnestly. “Tell me what you want.”

“I want you to leave me alone.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

Her eyes dropped before the intensity in his eyes. “I can’t marry you. It wouldn’t be right. I can’t…can’t,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “I don’t think I can have a physical relationship…”

“Okay so we won’t. Any other thing? You don’t dislike me do you?”

She shook her head dumbly.

“Great. So maybe you even like me a little bit?” He grinned engagingly at her.

“You are too much.” Her lips twitched.

“So you are saying that you too love me?”

“When did I say that?”

“Your eyes did.”

“Nonsense.” She looked at her watch. “I think I better go.”

“Look I am trying to cut a deal here.”

Lovely sighed. “What deal?”

“I want us to live together as friends, as partners,” he raised a hand, “and if we have to marry for that,” He shrugged. “So be it.”

“It won’t work out…”

“Well then it won’t! We’ll go our separate ways. What’s the problem?”

“You are the problem Sonu. You are oversimplifying things.”

“No. You are over-complicating things. I just want to share my life with you. Besides, Titu will get married soon and then what’ll become of me? I’ll be all alone.” He made a tragic face.

“You should also get married.”

“Excellent suggestion.” He beamed at her. “So when should we get married? Would you like a destination wedding? How about Goa? Or we could go after the wedding…”

“You aren’t listening to me!” She snapped.

“We’ll have separate rooms. For as long as you want. We can draw up a pre-nuptial and have it written down if you like.”

“It won’t work Sonu it won’t.” She said in despairing tones.

“Why will it not? For centuries people have gotten married for sex, for procreation, for political and strategic reasons so why not for friendship and companionship?” He argued. “You want a career right. Go ahead and make your career but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone at home waiting to eat your head?” Encouraged by her expression he gathered steam and waxed eloquent. “While you are busy at work who will take care of our daughters? Somebody has to be home for them right?”

“Daughters?”

“Weren’t you planning to adopt them? Children need both mother and father.” He paused as a thought struck him. He fiddled with the cutlery. “Or don’t you trust me?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

***

Click here for the Final Chapter: Will She Wont She

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – IX

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

 

Chapter 9: The Ugly Truth

“What do you mean?” He spoke over her head. When she didn’t reply he put his hands over her shoulders and attempted to turn her around. But she threw off his hands and jerked away eyes flashing. “Don’t you dare touch me!”

“What’s the matter Jigs?” He was more concerned than hurt at her reaction. “Something happened in college right?”

“You don’t know anything.” Her lips were frozen and the words came from a distance.

“I don’t.” he agreed. “But you can tell me. I promise I won’t judge you. I’ve also had affairs in the past, I have also had my heart broken, and it is all right. I understand.” He reassured her.

“You don’t understand!” her voice was scratchy and hoarse as she restrained herself from shouting. “You could never understand because you are a man, a privileged and superior class who sets the rules but is answerable to none.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you think?” She nodded at his dawning look of horror and disgust. “I was raped.” She gave a bitter laugh. “Cat got your tongue?” She picked up her bag. “I’m leaving.”

In a flash he barred the door. “This conversation isn’t finished yet. I don’t believe you. I think you are just saying that to get me off your back.”

“Isn’t that reason enough to back off?” She snarled. “That is another reason I would never consider associating with you, leave aside marrying you. You don’t believe me.” She shook her head. “Why do you think I would say such a thing? What purpose would it serve? Or do you think men don’t rape and women beg to be raped?”

Sonu’s eyes dropped before the anger and accusation in her eyes. “I’m sorry.” He backed away. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s…it’s not that I don’t trust you,” he fumbled to clear himself, “I just said the first thing that came into my head to stop you from leaving.”

“Which also doesn’t speak high of you.” Lovely was pale but composed. “Good thing I didn’t tell you who raped me for then you would certainly never believed me.” She attempted to brush past him but he didn’t budge.

“I said I am sorry.” He apologized. “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I promise I will believe you. You are right. Why would you say such a thing if it wasn’t true? I really am sorry.” He held his ears.

Lovely moved away and sat down before her legs gave way. “It doesn’t matter.” She shook her head tiredly. “I am sorry I said it. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to marry. Seriously. Can’t you respect that and let me go?” She raised anguished eyes to him.

He took the chair across her. “I respect you and anything you say and want. If you don’t want to marry me, I swear I will back off. But please just explain to me why or how this…this…”

“Rape. You can’t even say it can you? Because you don’t actually believe it happens to women. You think they ask for it, they enjoy it and when things don’t work out the way they want, they scream rape. Isn’t it?”

“No it’s not that. At least not entirely. My reaction is more of a denial rather than an accusation against you. I deny it because I am not strong enough to accept the alternative. That someone deliberately physically violate you hurt you and scar you for life.” She looked away from the raw anguished honesty in his eyes.

“Forget it.” She withdrew. “I don’t really blame you for not believing. I…I also had trouble believing.” Her voice shook and wavered. “That it wasn’t my imagination, that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t ask for it, that I didn’t deserve it.” She broke down completely.

Sonu’s chair scraped as he stood up and paced the floor. He crossed his arms to physically stop himself from gathering her into his arms. He could only ineffectually exhort her over and over again, “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Please. I can’t bear to see you like this. Please!” There was a crash as he swept a pile of files off the table.

She sobered and sat sniffling. He held out a glass of water. She drank some and wiped her face. She was back to her composed self. “I’m sorry for breaking down like this. I thought I had got over it.” She excused herself.

“Who was it? Tell me.” His eyes burned into hers as he sat down again. “Tell me.” He insisted.

“What does it matter? What will you do? Kill him?”

“I want to.” He clenched his fists. “Someone in college? Did you love him?”

She sat still except for the twisting of her kerchief into a knotted mass. When she spoke her voice was faint and he had to strain to hear her. “I loved him very much. I idolized him. I trusted him with my life. If anyone else had accused him of such a dastardly act, I would have scratched her eyes out.”

Fury and jealousy tore into Sonu. “Who was it?” he was harsher than he wished to be.

When she didn’t reply he had an overwhelming urge to shake her and force her to speak. But this wasn’t about him. It was about her. Quelling down on his impatience anger and despair, he put her first and waited.

“It wasn’t…wasn’t in college.” She said jerkily. “It was after school and before I went to college.” She said skirting around the issue. Sonu opened his mouth and shut it. He didn’t want to risk putting her off completely.

“It was at home.”

“Home?”

“You do know 98% of rapes are by men who are known to victims?”

“That’s not possible!” Sonu instantly denied.

“It’s a fact!” her eyes flashed. “You can Google if you want.” Lovely shouldered her bag and stood up. “I don’t think there’s any point in continuing this conversation. You aren’t ready to listen.”

“You are right. I am in denial. But I am ready to hear you out. I promise.” He pulled at the skin over his throat in a childish gesture. “I won’t judge you or disbelieve you. And if I do, feel free to leave. I won’t stop you, I promise. Please sit.” He indicated the chair behind. “Who was it? A neighbor?”

“After school finished, I went home to stay with my grandparents. At that time, they weren’t staying with Chacha Chachi. My grandparents had an acrimonious relationship, which soured even more after their son’s death. One day they had a particularly bitter fight and I was forced to intervene. He was hitting Dadi with his stick. When pushed Dadi who hit her head on the wall, I screamed at him and threatened to call the police. So he taught me a lesson in obedience and respect for elders. He tied a dupatta around my mouth and raped me in front of Dadi.”

Sonu’s eyes were dark pools of shock and horror.

“Dadi hushed it all up. She threatened me with dire consequences if I went about spreading vicious lies about her husband. They would have me thrown into jail where I would rot until death. As soon as I was able, I packed my things and moved into a PG and later to the girls hostel in DU. One of the first things I did was to learn self-defense. Never again.”

“But you came back.” His voice was careful and neutral.

“When my grandparents moved in with Chacha Chachi due to Dadi’s health issues I had to come back.”

He looked at her questioningly at the odd note in her voice. “Someone had to protect Lata and Suri.”

Shocked eyes met her cold blank ones.

“Grandfather didn’t slip and fall. He wanted to teach Lata a lesson and that’s when I chopped him one in the neck.”

Neither of them spoke until Lovely stood up. “I’ll go home now.”

Sonu looked up with a dazed expression. “Yes. Of course I’ll drop you.” Ignoring her protests, he scrabbled around on the table. She sighed and handed him the keys from where she had placed them. “Thanks.” He mumbled.

He didn’t speak on the way back. When he braked the car in front of her house, he roused himself as if from sleep. “I’m sorry.” He shook his head to clear the haze. “I…I…”

“Don’t worry.” Lovely’s lips twisted. “I got you cornered haven’t I? You promised to believe me but you can’t can you?” She swallowed. “Our grandfathers were best friends like you and Titu. I wonder if your grandfather would believe this ‘story’? Goodbye Sonu.” She got out of the car.

“Goodnight.” Sonu couldn’t say more than that.

***

Click here for the next Chapter 10: Unanswered Questions

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – VIII

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

Today was the day!

Exam over, she was rejoining office after a week’s leave. As she dressed her heart thudded with anticipation and nervousness. She dithered over her dress and changed thrice before settling on one. Stop it she scolded herself, you weren’t this nervous before the exam!

Yes, but he was sure to be there waiting for her after work. She wanted to make sure she was well armed with a thick shapeless drab dress and a severe bun topped with her forbidding spectacles.

But to her dismay he wasn’t there. Nor did he turn up the next day. She checked his last updated status. He was online! She hurriedly exited her app. She was relieved she told herself firmly. This was for the best. For him.

“Miss me?” Once again he popped up when she was least expecting.

“I thought you’d gone back to hell.” She stilled her leaping heart.

“I tried,” he fell into step beside her, “but they threw me out.” He grinned engagingly.

She couldn’t help smiling back at him.

“Oh! Hurry they are going to tow away my car!” Before she knew it she was in the car with him.

“Where’s the tow truck?” she craned her neck.

“Must be coming.” He slid the car into motion and winked at her.

“You think you’re very smart don’t you?” she seethed. “Fine. Let’s talk.” She crossed her arms and glared at him.

“Not now.” He focused on the road. “I don’t want to to have an accident.”

She pressed her lips together. “Where are we going?” she asked stiffly.

“To my office. We can have privacy and your sensibilities won’t be offended either.”

She looked away. She yielded the battle and asked. “Are you okay enough to drive?”

He shrugged.

“I mean your leg was broken, so it must hurt?”

“Not as much as it hurts when you rebuff me.”

Sudden tears clouded her vision. She looked out of the window and blinked rapidly. It wouldn’t do to breakdown so easily. She re-bolstered her defenses.

“What do you want?” she demanded aggressively as she faced him in his cabin.

“I thought I had made it clear.” He threw the car keys on the overloaded table. It slithered over the plastic folders and dropped down through a crack in the middle. Lovely sighed and picked it out. Unable to find a reasonably safe place she slid it into the pen stand making sure to keep the distinctive key chain hanging out. “I want to marry you.”

“That’s the trouble with you Sonu,” she faced him with a stern face. “You don’t have vision.”

“Vision?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “You just care about the present. Instant gratification, with a complete disregard for the future, which trust me, will come, sooner or later.”

“What are you talking about?” Sonu was clueless.

She pointed to his messy table. “You threw the car keys without a thought for how you have found it later. All you were concerned about was getting rid of them. But you will leave this room sometime? You will need the car keys? Better to keep it somewhere you can easily find it?”

“I always throw my keys there and I have never ever had any had trouble finding it.” Sonu declared.

Lovely threw up her hands. “That’s neither here nor there. It just proves what I think – that you have no vision and have not spared any thought for the future. Can you seriously see us together? For decades?”

“I can’t see it any other way.” His eyes were soft and warm as they rested on her.

Frustrated (partly because of the way her heart leaped), Lovely almost stamped her foot. “Uff. Please none of this romantic drivel please. Marriage is no child’s play and it’s for a lifetime. Think about it. More than fifty years of commitment to the same person. Can you do it?” He nodded. “I don’t think you can.” She shook her head.

“How can I convince you I am serious? I don’t know about the future but I do know I won’t be able to live for very long without you.” She opened her mouth to give him a dressing down but he forestalled her. “For the past two months as I lay on the bed battled pain and agony of physiotherapy and learning to walk again,” his eyes bored into hers, “all I could think about was you. That you were there waiting for me or worse slipping away from me, kept me going. I pushed myself harder and harder, ignoring the pain. I had to get back on my feet as soon as possible, before someone else snapped you up.”

Lovely’s eyes dropped. She clamped down on her rising answering emotions and rallied. “I am glad I could be your inspiration but this doesn’t prove anything. In fact it seems to me that I am a toy, which has been denied to you. And the novelty of it has you hooked. Soon this craze this obsession will wear off and there would be nothing left.”

“You don’t understand! If I had the slightest doubt that this was an infatuation, I would have never asked you to marry me. I would have wooed you made love to you, got you out of my system and gone on my merry way.” His lips twisted at the shock in her eyes. “Been there, done that,” he gave a self-deprecating cough. “But,” he hastened to reassure her, “With you I don’t feel like that. I just want to be with you.” He looked at her helplessly. “I can’t understand it myself. It’s a weird feeling, uncomfortable and disturbing. Yet exhilarating.” He ran a hand over his hair. “God! I am not making any sense am I?” he groaned.

Unfortunately only too well.

Lovely clenched her fists and forced her jumping nerves to calm down.

“Look,” Sonu got up from his chair and drew up one across her. He leaned towards her, “there’s nothing to worry. I’ve got it all sorted. I…I mean we, Titu and I talked to everyone and they have no issues with me being the groom instead of Titu. Even Ghasitaram has no problem, in fact he has already sounded out your grandparents.” He smiled triumphantly at her. “They have no issues.”

“What about me?” There was just the faintest tremor in her voice. It cracked and she automatically raised her pitched to cover it. “Have you got me sorted too?”

He looked blank which served to fuel her anger.

“You didn’t think about me, my feelings at all did you? Why would I say no to such a brilliant catch isn’t it?” she jeered. “Why can’t you get it through your thick head that I don’t want to marry.”

“But why not?” Sonu stared. “I am financially sound, reasonably good looking and from a decent family, no in-laws to worry about, what’s the problem?” He looked irritated and frustrated.

“The problem is that it is all about you, the others.” Lovely said. “There’s nothing in it for me. My feelings what I want doesn’t matter at all.”

“Okay. Okay.” Sonu raised his hands and backed off. “Okay fine. We’ll talk about you, what you want. I just thought of removing any concerns regarding familial opposition or hurting Titu’s feelings etc which may have bearing on your stance. If you have any other concerns, we can sort it out together. I promise. So let’s see,” he counted on his fingers, “Titu doesn’t have any problem, my family, your family don’t have any issues,” he grinned, “neither do I. So only you are left.” He tapped his chin. “You are worried, I won’t let you work? But of course I will! I already…”

“You know what galls me?” her tone was conversational as she interrupted him.

“What?” he asked warily.

“This thing about you will let me work. Why would you say such a thing? As if I were your bonded laborer or something. Male chauvinist,” she swore under her breath.

“Hey come on!” Sonu protested. “It was just a figure of speech. I didn’t mean anything other than I fully support and respect your decision to work. Like I was saying, I have my heart set on being IAS officer’s househusband. You go out and set the world right and I’ll keep your home sparkling clean, fresh and welcoming. I’ll look after the children, send them to school, make them do their homework…”

“What if I don’t want children?”

“Every woman wants children!”

“I think you know by now, I am not every woman, at least not your idea of every woman.”

“But you like children!”

“How do you know?” she crossed her arms.

“You told us, that you wouldn’t marry, but you would adopt a child, maybe more.” He shrugged. “But if you are getting married, may as well have children and have fun trying,” he winked.

Her lips quivered and firmed. “What if I don’t want to try? Or have fun?” Angry with herself for allowing the bitterness ooze out, she walked to the window.

***

Click here for Chapter 9: The Ugly Truth

 

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – VII

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Where the hell are you? She wished she could call him up and blast him as relief flooded her but there were too many customers around.

Where you told me to go. Hell.

She called him up. “Where are you?” she asked peremptorily.

“He’s in hospital.” Titu picked up the phone.

“Hospital!” she screeched. “Which hospital? Text me the details, if you are lying, I swear I’ll murder you both.” She disconnected the phone and packed up for the day.

At the hospital she surveyed a battered Sonu with horror. There were multiple scratches and bruises on his face, one eye was almost shut because of swelling and his right leg was in a cast. “What happened?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Snapped Titu. “He had an accident because he wasn’t looking where he was going. All because of you.”

“Titu.” Sonu’s voice was thin and scratchy.

“If anything happens to him,” Titu angrily brushed at his eyes, “I’ll make sure you rot in hell.” Her threatened.

“Titu!” His voice was stronger. “I’m fine. And it’s not her fault. Let her be.”

“Yeah right.” Titu flounced off.

“I am sorry.” Sonu said. “Don’t mind him. He’s just overwrought.”

Lovely stood there, her throat working unable to say a word.

“Please just ignore him and,” Sonu cleared his throat, “and any text that he may have sent. I asked him to charge my phone and check for any messages. He must have seen our chat and he just flew off the handle.”

“What happened?” Lovely was stiff.

“I had gone for a morning jog as usual when a bike crashed into me. I wasn’t carrying my phone, but luckily a neighborhood Aunty called Titu who brought me here.” He smiled. “Don’t worry I look worse than I feel.”

“How do you know what you look like?”

“From your expression.” He grinned. “Though I have to admit,” he added slyly, “it gives me a lot of hope.”

“Sonu please!” Lovely began. She drew a long breath. “We’ll talk later. Get well soon.”

“You’re leaving?”

She nodded. “I think it’s for the best.”

“Okay.” He lay with his eyes closed.

Worried (and slightly cut), she looked at him.

He was letting her go.

Without a protest. 

“Are you alright?”

“I will be.”

“Shall I call the Sister? Titu?”

“I’m fine.” He opened his eyes. “Is it okay if I call you sometimes?” He moved his fingers, “until I can begin texting again.”

She fiddled with strap of her purse and nodded.

“Thank you.” His face lit up. “Go and study.” His voice faded. “Make the most of now until I’m back on my feet.” It was a threat and a promise.

Lovely fled.

Titu wandered back in to the hospital room. “You okay?” Sonu looked pale and exhausted.

“You shouldn’t have texted her.” Sonu said without opening his eyes. “It wasn’t her fault.” For all his bravado and show, his heart was heavy. She didn’t care. What did you think that she too loves you? That she would collapse in a flood of tears upon seeing you, like the other girls had? The pain in his body was easier to bear than the anguish that tore through his heart.

“She told you to go to hell!” Titu snapped. “She has a black tongue and you better stay away from her.” He warned. “Don’t get taken in by her tears and sweet talk.”

“Tears? She’s too tough to cry. And what sweet talk? All she said was a dispassionate clinical what happened.”

“The way she was crying outside I thought she would flood the corridors.”

Sonu perked up. “Really?”

“Yeah.”

So she did care! A beatific smile lit up his face. “I’m glad you sent that text. You are a true friend.”

Titu grunted. “That was not my intention. I wanted to cut her out of your life before…”

“It’s too late bro. Too late.”

And all was not lost.

.

.

.

Unless she was the kinds who cared about injured rabid dogs.

 

The next two months passed with agonizing slowness. The road to recovery and getting back on his feet was an excruciating process but an unfinished agenda a lovely end to his budding love story was a high that kept him going, pushing him, keeping him in good spirits (most of the times).

For Lovely it was another story.

She withdrew from herself and threw herself into her books and systematically demolished the piles of pending claims left by her predecessor like a woman possessed. Strangely her family members didn’t pester her about formalizing her engagement with Titu. Perhaps he had asked for more time in view of his friend’s accident, whatever the reason she didn’t care. She only knew there was no place for marriage in her life or weakness in this regard. That way lay disaster.

Brick by brick, she bolstered and steadied her defenses and nerves. She refused to entertain any thoughts about Sonu and kept her conversations with Sonu to the bare minimum. Sonu tried to get her to text him but apart from a good morning or a good night, she maintained a tight-lipped silence while avidly listening in on any conversation that might give her clues to his well being or casually interrogating her Chachi.

She was just doing what any decent human being would do. Other than that, she wasn’t interested in him. Period. Besides who knew who all were reading their messages? She still went hot and cold with shame and horror at having allowed him to breach her barriers and respond to his texts. How could she?! Already Titu had read it. What if Mrs. Sharma or some other family member had read it! What would they have thought? What if Titu told them? What if Sonu and Titu laughed at her behind her back? She agonized over each word of her text. No she hadn’t said anything that could be misconstrued or held against her. But she wasn’t about to take any more risks. And it was for the best. She wasn’t marrying Titu so where did that leave her and Sonu? Nowhere.

Then the dreaded and yet most anticipated day came.

I am back on my feet.

Can we meet?

I need to talk to you.

Please?

I don’t bite.

Fine. Be that way. I will meet you outside your bank this evening.

No. I am busy

You need feeding.

You also have dark circles.

Are you stalking me?

I thought of surprising you yesterday.

But you caught the cab before I could make a move. 

Not completely recovered yet.

How about celebrating my return to life? 

Or would you have preferred me to die?

Stooping to emotional blackmail?

 

Just checking if you have any emotions

None whatsoever

Liar

 

Why do you say that?

 

That day after you left me at the hospital?

What?

The entire corridor was flooded.

Rubbish.

Come on! I wont take much time.

Besides you owe me.

You told me to go to hell

I went and came back

Don’t I deserve a pat on the back?

 

 

 

 

Exams are around the corner.

You can’t hide behind exams forever.

Go study

Make sure you clear the exams

All the best

Thanks

I have my heart set on an IAS wife

She switched off her data. She scrolled through the messages over and over again.

If only

Bitter bile rose up and choked her. She switched off her phone.

***

Click here for Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

 

 

 

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – VI

Like I suspected this story is not going to finish in 6 (or 7) parts but to make up for dragging it, I will be posting chapters daily (if you like of course!)

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

“Where were you?” a bleary-eyed Titu attacked him the next morning as Sonu sat on the balcony his tea forgotten and crinkling. “I waited and waited for you.”

Sonu started. “But why? I texted you didn’t I? It was late and I…”

“Late? It was barely 11 pm!”

“Yeah. I guess I just wanted to be alone.”

“Alone and you? That’s a first! What’s wrong with you?”

“Wrong? Nothing. Everything is right. Just perfect. You know Titu it’s such a wonderful feeling to be in love. I don’t want to share it with anyone, not even,” he looked at him apologetically, “With you.” He shook his head. “I feel as if I am flying and there’s nothing I cannot do.”

“Oh my God,” Titu retired precipitously to the kitchen for some caffeine boost. So armed and somewhat rejuvenated, he returned to harass Sonu. “You are serious about her? Wasn’t one evening with her enough to get rid of that whimsy?”

“Nope. A life time wont be enough.” Sonu was serene and confident.

“She agreed?” Titu’s heart sank.

“Not by a long shot.”

“I am sure she’s playing hard to get to pique your interest and keep you hooked. She’s smarter than the other girls who are so obvious in their intent.”

“You misunderstand her.”

“And you understand her?”

“Not yet.” Sonu shook his head. “But there’s something in her eyes, a deep seated pain, a wounded look that slashes my heart.” He clenched his fists. “I want to kill whoever put it there,” he growled.

“My, my!” marveled Titu, “what an active imagination you have?! I also met her I didn’t see anything like that? She was laughing and chatting as normally as anyone else, perhaps,” he amended, “a little bit more sense than the average behenji. That’s her only claim to fame.” Titu declared. “Listen Sonu,” he cautioned, “don’t get taken in by the tragedy queen act. She’s not our type of girl. Just forget her and move on.”

“And I am wondering just who is my type of girl? Someone who dances well, parties and drinks? Didn’t we agree that we wanted to settle down?”

“But she doesn’t want to settle down does she? She said it very clearly that she wasn’t interested in marrying. So even if you do manage to convince her to marry, I am warning you, housekeeping will fall on your shoulders.”

“All that is inconsequential and a tiny price to pay if she will agree to have me in her life.”

“You’ve lost it man!” Titu was worried. “You and I are going to Goa and not coming back until you are completely rid of this evil spirit.”

Sonu didn’t object and went along with his friend’s suggestion. If Titu was right, it was an infatuation, a passing obsession, might as well take measures to rise above it. She deserved better and more than a passing interest. Yet in the midst of exotic locales, high on feni and romantic beaches, all he could see was her – laughing teasing, brooding, resigned, blanked out and that raw anguish that had flashed in her eyes before it was tucked away out of sight. Something horrifying had happened in college that much he was sure, but what? He raised his glass at Titu gyrating on the deck with a crush of people shook his head and turned away to admire the colors of sunset. Would she have found this romantic or would she have made some cutting comment about nature showing off? He clicked a picture and wished he could send it to her. But she had deigned to even share her number. Now the only way to contact her was to go to her home. Unless…

“Hi! I’m here to discuss a loan.” Sonu landed up at her bank.

Lovely jerked up. “What are you doing here?!”

“Told you,” he grinned, taking the seat across her, “I want a loan.”

She looked at him primly and straightened the sheets on her table. “I don’t deal with loans. I deal with claims,” she shot him a look from her brow, “I’m the bank’s unofficial troubleshooter,” he could have sworn there was a gleam behind the spectacles, “and I have special permission to shoot troublemakers.”

“Well,” he shrugged toying with a stapler on her table, “if you can’t give me a loan, I will stake a claim to your time.”

“I don’t have any time.” She dismissed him.

“But you will go home?” He pointed out. “I’ll drop you home.”

“I can go home by myself.” She snapped. “Thank you.”

“It’s no trouble.” He smiled setting her teeth on edge. Ignoring him, she nodded to the customer standing behind Sonu. “Yes? Please tell me.” She invited.

Unfazed Sonu stood up. “I’ll catch you after work.” He sauntered away while she stared at his retreating back with annoyance and anticipation. Contrarily to punish him (and herself for that transgression, that leap in her heart) she dithered over her work, until she was all caught up. Let him sweat it out, she was still seething over his high-handed behavior, but he was probably cozily ensconced in his air-conditioned gas-guzzler, she thought sourly switching off and locking up for the day. Or maybe he had gotten bored and left, she couldn’t help looking this way and that to see if he was actually around.

“Looking for me?” he popped up from behind.

Arrogant and full of himself, he definitely needed to be taken down a peg or two. “One can’t be too careful,” She curled her lips, “with the kind of good-for-nothings loitering on the streets.”

“What do you mean?”

“The streets of Delhi are choc-a-bloc with suited and booted,” she gave him a scathing disgusted look, “rabid dogs.”

He turned on his heels and walked away.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, she thought triumphantly. But it was a hollow victory. And it was strange how much space ‘rubbish’ could occupy her mind.

She couldn’t get his hurt expression out of her head. Every time she tried to focus on her studies, his eyes would flash up on the pages of her book – surely that hadn’t been a hint of tears? What had she said that he got so upset? She shut her traitorous book with a snap. And why did she care? Because what I said was plain mean? Besides what right did she have to insult him like this?

But it was okay for him to pester and harass me?

He wasn’t harassing! That’s just his way.

Yeah right, make excuses for him. What about me?

Apologize to him.

To him?! But why should I? He started it.

So you finish it. By apologizing. Show him that you are a better person. Can you do that?

I guess. But what if he takes it as encouragement?

Surely you know how to control one man? And you want to be an IAS officer?

She sighed. She had been way out of line and he deserved an apology. Staring at his calling card, she dithered for a long time. Should she call him? Should she apologize in person? Maybe she could pay him a visit at his office? But wouldn’t that give him the wrong message? Give him a tacit license to dog her steps. Besides they had nothing in common. What was the point in building a relationship that was based on a false premise? Relationship! She didn’t do relationships! Darn him for wasting so much of her time and thoughts! She needed to study. May as well be over and done with it.

She texted him – Hi.

She stared at her phone. Single tick. Double tick. No last seen status. Perhaps he was asleep – it was 3 am. Her heart thudded. The ticks turned blue. He was online. She sat up clutching the pillow to her middle. Why was he not responding? Perhaps he didn’t know it was her? Her DP also gave no clue as to her identity. It’s me, Lovely she typed and then hesitated, Jigyasa.

Still no response.

She checked the DP, it was him and he was still online. Was he ignoring her or was he mad at her; or worse hurt because of her?

It is Sonu isn’t it?

He was typing!

No.

She stared. She could have sworn it was him.

Oops. I did check the DP.

Did you?

She frowned and checked again. She almost gasped with surprise.

A mangy unkempt dog stared back at her.

I am sorry. It came out spontaneously.

For what? He wasn’t ready to absolve her so easily.

For crossing that line

Prove it

Prove what?

That you are sorry. Meet me after work tomorrow.

No.

Fine. He went offline.

I’m busy tomorrow. She yielded. Maybe on Friday.

Great!

Already regretting her hasty decision (and annoyed that he did take her apology as a license to continue pursuing her), she typed back but why do you want to meet me?

Even I wonder.

Her heart thudded.

I just have to. Like an addiction I am helpless

Her heart stopped.

I can’t stop thinking about you. It’s as if there’s nothing in my world apart from you.

She felt hot and cold. Her fingers shook as she slowly typed. Perhaps that’s because I am the new toy that you cannot have.

Perhaps

She swallowed hard to dislodge the lump in her throat.

Or

She froze and stared at her screen.

I have fallen in love with you

Tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped them away fiercely. You are crazy

Yes. About you

What do you know about me?

Nothing. But that doesn’t matter. I only know that I cannot live without you.

Sweat beaded her brow. She felt as if she were flying yet a dreadful weight dragged her down.

Her phone pinged.

Let me live. Marry me. Please.

Go to hell. She switched off her phone and gave into the luxury of gut-wrenching sobs into her pillow.

Heavy eyed and listless, she got through the next day alternating between exhilaration and dread of meeting Sonu. She cautiously and reluctantly switched on her phone at the office. Disappointment tore through her. Not a single message from him. She was the new toy. He was already bored of her. Or accepted that she was unattainable. Well that suited her just fine and she was well out of all that mess she had sworn she would never get into it. She threw herself into her work. But she couldn’t resist checking her phone about a million times. He wasn’t waiting for her outside the bank either.

This wasn’t like him to give up so easily she couldn’t help thinking. Had she again hurt his feelings by saying go to hell? What if something had happened to him?

What do care? She jeered herself. And what do you know about him? Nothing right. Just be thankful that he is out of your hair and get on with your life. Stop moping and get back to studying.

She pulled herself together and immersed herself into the world of academics. Like always this was her sanctuary her abode of peace and tranquility where she could forget about the world, and herself. Yet once in a while Sonu managed to intrude here as well. Where was he

By the next day she was concerned enough to call up his mobile from the office landline. She didn’t want him to get the wrong message again. But his phone was switched off. Why would he switch off his phone? It’s not like she was pursuing him.

Maybe someone else was. Maybe she had come back into his life. Maybe he was regretting his hasty declaration. Maybe, argh!

Forget him. Move on.

I would if only I knew he was fine.

Why do you care?

There were no answers or she didn’t want to admit to them. She had only one thought – how to get news of Sonu?

After three dreadful days her phone pinged.

Hello from Hell.

***

Click here for the next Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

 

FFfAW: The Pick-me-up

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The Pick-me-up

Words 175

“Come for a walk?” Reema was at the door. “Please! I need to vent.”

“Sure.” Dia shut the door behind her. “Yikes it is hot!” she gasped.

“I know,” Reema agreed, “But I simply had to get out.”

“What happened?”

“It’s every damn thing,” Reema groaned, “and the weather isn’t helping. I have an office deadline, college cut offs and admissions are giving us sleepless nights and on top of it, my father-in-law.”

“What’s he done?”

“He has begun to invite random people home.” Reema groaned. “We’ve guests for dinner and lunch.”

“Just make twice the amount.”

“One batch is pure vegetarian.”

“Oops!”

“Exactly.” Reema sighed. “But there’s one good thing.”

“What?” Dia wiped her brow.

“I don’t dread Hell anymore.”

“Right. It couldn’t be hotter than the kitchen.”

They laughed.

“I guess I better get back.” They traced their steps back. “I can see another crisis looming.”

“What?”

“The husband has a cold.”

“Oh no!” Dia commiserated. “Poor you.”

“Thanks for the shoulder.” Reema grinned.

“Anytime.” Dia winked. “But remember, it’s my turn tomorrow.”

***

Written for the FFfAW challenge – a story in 175 words or less. Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting the challenge and I am happy to have managed to rise to the challenge this week. Successfully or not, is up to you to decide! To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – V

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

 

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Back home, he had another task cut out.

“What?! Why!?” Titu was annoyed. He had been quite sure Lovely would veto Sonu’s plans and save him the bother. Dammit now he would have to spend time in her company. What if anyone asked who she was? He couldn’t very well say fiancé could he? She was downright ugly and a blot on his standards. “I don’t want to get to know her better!” He echoed Lovely’s sentiments. “What’s the point?”

“What will everyone say?” Sonu asked. “We did put off the engagement saying that you needed time to get to know her didn’t you? And if you don’t meet at least a couple of times, they are going to get suspicious. Even her own Aunt and Uncle.”

“What a bore.” Titu grumbled. “And what a waste of a perfectly good evening.”

“If you were so dead against going, why didn’t you say something before I went to meet her?”

“I did! But you didn’t listen,” Titu pointed out. “Besides I thought she would refuse. I am still surprised that she agreed.”

“She had no choice.” Sonu smirked. “Plus she also has a vested interest,” He pointed out smugly, “She needs to keep up appearances of this engagement.”

“Makes sense.” Titu nodded, “but,” he shot Sonu a keen look, “what doesn’t make sense, is your interest?”

“My interest?” Sonu got up to pour himself a glass of water. He drained it. “I don’t know what you mean.” He picked up his car keys. “Okay then see you at around 7?”

“What’s going on Sonu?” Titu stood in front of him.\

“Going on? Nothing.” Sonu shrugged. “I just remembered, I was supposed to meet a caterer…”

“Don’t lie Sonu!” Titu interrupted, “If you know me, I also know you. So out with it.” He insisted.

“I really don’t know what you are talking about!” Sonu stuck to his story. “I am just trying to help…”

“How are you helping me by forcing me to meet this girl? She doesn’t want to marry me and even I don’t want to marry her….”

“Exactly,” Nodded Sonu, “We need a valid reason to break off isn’t it? The sooner we meet and the oftener we meet the earlier we can convince Ghasitaram that you aren’t suited.” Seeing Titu’s unconvinced expression, he added, “You do know Ghasitaram is hell bent on this alliance?” Titu nodded glumly. “It’s not going to be easy to break this one,” Sonu warned. “We have to find a solid reason one that even Ghasitaram wont be able to overlook.”

“That will be tough,” admitted Titu, “the way he waxes eloquent about his friend. In fact he said until college they were like you and me. It was because of the partition they lost touch until now.”

“I know. He told me that as well. And that’s why we have to meet Lovely and find some solid reason that would convince Ghasitaram.”

“What if he doesn’t get convinced?” The dreadful possibility gave Titu the jitters. “I am not marrying that girl and that’s final!”

“Okay fine! I’ll think of something.” Sonu reassured him.

“I know!” Titu snapped his fingers. “You could marry her.” He said slyly. “You seem quite taken in with her.”

“Rubbish.” Sonu hedged. “It’s just that she’s piqued my interest. She’s so…so different and refreshing from the usual girls, that’s all.”

That’s all. Titu grinned to himself. This was getting interesting. He made no more objections until he saw Lovely.

“You do know we aren’t going to the temple for bhajan kirtan?” Titu said as Lovely got into the car.

She paused in the act of shutting the door, the only indication that the barb had hit home. “Yes.” She slammed the door shut and pulled at the seat belt.

“Then why are you dressed as if you are?” Titu deliberately rubbed it in ignoring Sonu’s glare in the rear view mirror.

“What’s wrong with what I am wearing?” Lovely said stiffly looking down at her sober full sleeved salwar kameez. “Besides, how does it matter what I wear?”

“Of course it matters!” Titu didn’t start the car. “We are going to a friend’s engagement party. What will everyone think? That my fiancé is a behenji?”

“Shut up and drive,” Ordered Sonu from the backsat.

“As you wish,” Titu slid the car into gear and zoomed off. “But for your kind information we are going to a discotheque. So don’t blame me if everyone stares at you or makes fun of you.”

“I thought it was a formal function.” Lovely said stiffly. “Not some half-naked dance party at a discotheque.”

“Call it what you like but we people like to wear clothes which we are comfortable in and not what society expects us to wear.” Titu tapped his fingers on the wheel one eye on Sonu’s black expression. He laughed to himself.

“I am comfortable in these clothes, thank you very much.” Lovely sat stiff and composed as Titu gunned down the road.

“Whatever.” he looked at Sonu through the rear-view mirror, “She can be your friend, fiancé whatever. I refuse to be associated with her.” He screeched to a halt. “Here we are.” He got down from the car. Sonu leaped out and accosted Titu. “How can you be so rude?”

“I had to be rude to be kind,” Titu was unfazed. “If she went in looking like that they would demolish her in no time.” He shook his head. “What were you thinking? And what the hell are you playing at?”

Lovely exited from the car. She slammed the door with finality. “I’ve booked a cab. I am going home. Thank you for a fine evening.” She glared at Sonu.

“Hey no!” Sonu went to her. “Don’t do that! If you don’t want to attend the party,” he looked behind where Titu was already deep in conversation with a couple of girls in bits and pieces of garments, “I’ll drop you home.”

“No thanks.” She raised a hand. “I’ve had enough of your hospitality.” She raised a hand to hail her cab.

Sonu walked up to the cab and dismissed him with a 100-rupee note. He turned to face a fuming Lovely. “If you don’t want to attend the party, I won’t insist. But please let me drop you home. Please.” Lovely glared at him before looking away. Taking it as tacit acceptance he went to Titu. “Give me the car keys. I’ll drop her and come back.”

“Sure.” Titu said affably and handed over the keys to him.

“Please,” Sonu held open the car door and waved her in. She looked up from her phone where she was hunting for a cab. Pursing her lips, she got into the car with a regal swish.

Sonu hurried over to the other side and started the car. “Sorry.” He said. “It’s all my fault. A misunderstanding. I should have warned you about the kind of party.”

“Yes you should have. They you wouldn’t have had to waste your time picking and dropping a behenji.”

Sonu winced but rallied. “Titu said that! Not me. I would never say that to you. Not in a million years.” He swore.

“Wouldn’t matter even if you did.” She dismissed his avowal rather rudely. “I just find it weird that all their lives girls are constantly nagged to dress properly, cover properly sit properly and then wham one fine day she is supposed to drop ALL her inhibitions and along with it everything else! She’s not supposed to draw any attention to herself; She should blend into the background and yet be attractive engaging and forward enough to catch a rich handsome husband. Idiotic double standards.” She ranted.

“Yes I suppose the mixed signals can be confusing,” he slowed the car and slid in to the parking.

“Confusing? They are dizzying and oh so frustrating!” She looked around. “Why are we stopping here?”

“I thought it was only good manners to at least treat you to dinner.” He unstrapped himself and got out of the car. He opened her door where she sat mutinously.

“I don’t want dinner. And definitely not with you.”

“Ouch.” Sonu winced. “No one has ever been so rude to me ever in my life and definitely not a beautiful girl.”

Lovely snorted and crossed her arms.

“Please. Look the guard is coming. Please don’t make a scene. Please!” he begged. The security guard had begun to stroll towards them. Rolling her eyes, Lovely got down from the car. “I don’t like these blackmailing tactics.” She warned. “And it’s the second one tonight. One more and you’ve had it.”

“Yes Ma’am.” He said meekly shutting the door behind her. “I wasn’t very sure what kind of food you’d like so I chose Indian. Is it okay?” He asked worried. “Would you have preferred Chinese or Italian? We can go to another joint nearby if you like.” He waved his hand.

“No.” She shook her head. “I’m not here to ‘enjoy’ my food but only to fulfill my years of ingrained societal niceties, to complete a formality and sooner the better.” She looked at her watch. “I have to study.”

“It will be a quick meal I promise.” Sonu looked at the hovering obsequious waiter. “Anything special you would like me to order?”

She didn’t even deign to reply. Sonu quickly gave their order and dismissed him. “Your ingrained good manners don’t extend to me?” He half-joked half-complained.

She looked at him with a puzzled arrested expression. “You are different.” His heart leaped. “You and Titu. I feel like banging both your heads together.” She said conversationally. “You especially get my goat.” She looked at him thoughtfully. “And I don’t seem to feel the need to censor my words with you.”

Pleased, Sonu leaned back as the waiter served them their drinks. “Cheers!” He raised his drink in a toast. “May you continue to be honest and frank with me.” He indicated her drink with his glass. “Don’t worry, that’s non-alcoholic.”

“So,” she raised an eyebrow, “Yours is alcoholic?”

“Yes.” He took a sip. “Alcohol keeps me focused.” He grinned.

She crossed her arms. “After you finish dinner, I’ll take a cab.” She said pointedly.

“Just one drink,” he promised. “So,” he leaned forrd, “Do you actually like studying?”

“Yes.” She nodded.

“Strange.” Sonu looked at her with concern. “Since when do you have this disease?”

Lovely threw back her head and laughed. He stared at the transformation it brought to her face. She glowed and he was the moth to her light.

“No I am serious.” He insisted wishing he could keep her animated and alive always. He hated the pained withdrawn look that she often wore. “Were you fond of studying even as a child?”

“Yes. Studies came easily to me.” She shrugged. “My parents, especially my father encouraged me and I always topped my school.” Her face clouded. “Until they passed away.”

“I am sorry.” Sonu cursed himself. That dreaded look was back. “It must have been very tough. I lost my mother and that was so difficult to cope with but to lose both your parents.” He shook his head. Surely that wasn’t why she appeared to wear a mask to cover the real her? “How did you cope?”

“I was shifted to the hostel soon after they passed away. It was the best solution for all concerned. Dadi had taken the loss of Papa badly and Chachi had her hands full with two young children and my tantrums alternating with bouts of depression were too much for them to handle.”

“Hostel must have just worsened things for you.”

“No actually it didn’t.” She toyed with the cutlery wearing a far away look. “Hostel was the best thing for me. There was no time to mope or mourn. Life was too busy and hectic with sports and extra-curricular activities. They put me into theater, which was very therapeutic for me. I got the chance to forget myself, become somebody else and also give me perspective and helped me to cope with my loss. Plus while in hostel I could pretend everything was fine, that my parents were still at home, I was just studying.” She swallowed. “That’s why I often refused to go home during vacations.”

“You aren’t taking your drink?” he asked. “Should I order something else?”

“I don’t take drinks with strangers.” She said baldly.

He stared. “I am sitting right here! How could I have laced your drink?”

She shrugged. “How do I know you aren’t in cahoots with the waiter? He seemed to be pretty paly with you.”

Giving her a resigned look he reached out and poured half of her drink into his now empty glass and downed it. “Happy? Convinced?”

“One can’t be too careful.” She refused to apologize.

“I am surprised that you actually agreed to have dinner with me.”

“If you remember,” she pointed out, “I didn’t agree. I have a horror of creating scenes and drawing attention.” She admitted. “But,” she warned. “I am a black belt in judo and karate.”

“Oh.” He was impressed. “I am glad you are on my side.”

She just raised an eyebrow. He grinned cheekily. “So where did you learn self-defense? In school?” He attacked his food.

“I wish.” The brooding dark look was back. “I learned it in college.”

Something had happened in college?

“You studied from DU right?” she nodded. “You stayed with you grandparents?”

“Initially. Then I shifted to the hostel.”

Definitely something in college.

“What did you study?”

“Math. You?”

“Math!” His eyes widened. “Don’t even ask!”

“Did you even go to college?” She mocked.

“Good question!” He grinned engagingly. “I only remember the college canteen.” He looked at her empty plate. “Aren’t you going to eat either?” He pointed to his plate. “Look I’ve been eating and drinking and am still alive.”

“There are worse things than death.” But she helped herself to a piece of naan and some dal.

What he dearly wished to ask but wisely held his tongue. “How’s your grandfather?”

“Not well.” She said shortly.  She took a cautious sip of her drink and put her napkin on the table. “How soon can we go?”

“Once you finish eating.” He promised. “You’ll have to go home and cook dinner for yourself.”

“I already cooked before coming.”

“You cooked?”

“But of course. I get the children ready for school, pack their tiffin serve breakfast, make lunch for everyone and do it all over again in the evening.”

“What does your Chachi do?”

“She oversees everything, decides the menu, controls the purse strings, manages her in-laws, husband kids…”

“But I suppose the children’s homework is also your headache?”

She softened. “The children are no bother.”

“You should thank me.” He asked for the finger bowl

“Why?” she frowned.

“At least you won’t have to serve dinner tonight.”

She laughed. “Actually, honestly that was also one of the reasons I got down from the car.”

“Is that also the reason you are so against marriage? Because you have to cook clean and serve?”

“Partly.” She shrugged. “I don’t mind the work so much as the skewedness of the relationship. Why is everything just her responsibility? Why should she only cook…?”

“That’s not true! Even I know how to cook.” Sonu claimed. “In fact I make a mean biryani and often on weekends when the mood strikes, I cook for everyone.”

“Good for you,” she applauded. “But can you do that everyday not just when the mood strikes you? Four meals a day, every day regardless of heat, the humidity, health and mood?” He was silent. “And listen to complaints and criticisms?”

“That shouldn’t be enough to put you off marriage,” he argued. “You could keep a cook, an army of helpers. And what about children? You do like them don’t you?”

“Yes of course.” She nodded. “Later, when I am better settled in my career and have bought a house of my own, I intend to adopt a child, or as many as I can afford. But I have no intentions of being a slave to someone else’s moods and dictates.”

“No place for men?”

“No.” She stood up. “Can we go now? Or should I book a cab.” She scrolled through her phone.

“Let me pay the bill and we are out of here.” He promised. “How about an ice-cream on the way. Then you won’t have to scrounge for something in the kitchen.”

Her lips twitched. She nodded. “I do like ice-cream.” She admitted.

“Finally!” He pumped his fist

“Can I have your phone number?” he asked as he dropped her off home after a companionable ice-cream binge topped with arguments and discussions over the best flavors and brands.

“You can,” she said, “but you may not.”

“Damn.” He banged on the wheel setting off the horn. She frowned at him and got off the car. “Why not?” he wasn’t giving up so easily.

“Why should I? You do have the landline number don’t you?”

“I thought we could chat sometimes?”

“I don’t have time to chat.”

“Okay fine.” He surrendered. “At least take my card.” He thrust it into her hand.

“Why would I need your card?”

“Who knows?” He shrugged. “Perhaps to plan a wedding?”

He was rewarded with a laugh before she disappeared inside.

He looked at the time on his phone. Just 11 pm. And four missed calls from Titu. He looked up at the dark sky and the moon stared back at him. He suddenly cherished the silence, the loneliness. He couldn’t stomach the thought of going back to the blaring thudding music the gyrating mass of bodies. Not when he was in a different world altogether. He wanted to savor the evening, every gesture, every nuance every expression.

***

Click here for Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – IV

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4 The Unfinished Story

Sonu stood outside the nondescript door in a modest locality and hesitated. What was he doing here? You are here to maintain facades, he told himself sternly. But why you? Titu should be here, he’s the one who is ‘supposed’ to marry her?

But Titu had refused outright. “Let’s not get carried away with this charade okay? She wants to play pretend-to-marry-me because she wants to study undisturbed right?”

Sonu had reluctantly nodded his head.

“So how’s my landing up going to help her in her goal?”

“But her Aunt and Uncle will suspect something is amiss if you guys don’t meet up frequently.” Sonu said.

“Fine!” Titu gave in, “You arrange a meeting with her. Call her up, meet her, do whatever. Just don’t ask me to meet her to arrange a ‘for-show’ meeting.”

And here he was, outside her door, wondering rather belatedly what exactly her was doing here.

Oh yeah – to fix up a meeting with Titu.

You could have called her.

I did, remember? But she wasn’t there.

Yeah right. You could have texted her.

On her Chachi’s mobile?

You could have asked her for Lovely’s number?

What if Chachi doesn’t see text messages? Anyways I have to fix this asap as Titu is free only today.

Yeah right.

I don’t like what you are insinuating. Sonu firmly squashed that pesky nitpicker in his head and rang the bell.

There was crash, a scream and a yell. Before Sonu could bang on the door, it opened and a pair of arms wrapped around his waist and clung to him, “Save me Papa, save me!”

“Suriiiiii!” Hair flying Lovely came up at a run and stopped short as she saw who it was at the door. The animation in her eyes died down and a mask slid into place.

“Suri,” she disentangled the little girl and hissed, “Go inside. I’ll deal with you later,” she promised in a dire voice.

Embarrassed, Suri slunk away.

“Namaste.” She said formally while trying to gather her flying tresses and coax them into a bun. “Please sit.” She said decorously. “Did you have some work with Chacha Chachi? I am sorry they are out and will be late. I’ll get some water.” She turned away.

“No!” Sonu stopped her. “I don’t want water or tea or coffee,” he added hastily at her expression.

“But you must have something! I’ll get an earful otherwise.” She fretted.

“You can always tell them, we don’t eat anything from the to-be-bride’s house before the wedding.” He grinned at her.

“Why?” She sat down. “So that you can eat her head for the rest of her life?” He could swear he saw a dimple peep out.

“You are so quick!” He praised. “You deserve to be in the IAS!” He looked at her. “You aren’t wearing your spectacles.”

She looked away. “I…I am wearing my contacts.”

“Yet that day you wore your thick ugly spectacles?” He said softly. “And not just that, you armed yourself with a shapeless dress with an oversized dupatta and topped it with an oily hairdo.”

“I did hate making a spectacle of myself.” This time he clearly saw the dimple. She sighed “I thought of scaring you away with all the paraphernalia but since it Dadaji had made his intentions very clear I decided to change tactics and get some protected time till my exam.” Her eyes twinkled and her dimples were in full view.

Sonu blinked to clear the daze. “Didn’t your Aunt say anything?”

“Chachi is always too caught up in her make up to worry about me. Chachaji approved of my traditional appearance as did Dadi.” She seemed to clam up. “Let me get you a cold drink.”

On the verge of protesting, Sonu subsided. It would give him a reason to prolong his stay.

Now why would you want to do that?

Distracted by muffled giggles, he looked up. Two bright pairs of eyes were inspecting him from behind the curtains. He beckoned them.

Tripping, pushing and shoving they presented themselves. “And who may you be?” He asked with a smile.

“That’s Suri or Surabhi,” Lovely re-entered carrying a tray, “and that’s Lata, my cousins. Say Namaste and go in.” She ordered, offering the Coke to Sonu.

“We want to stay and talk to Jijaji.” Suri piped up.

Sonu choked and sputtered. Lovely offered him a couple of napkins. She glared at the two girls looking on avidly. “He’s not…go inside!” She jerked her head.

They shuffled away.

“You didn’t say why you came?” Lovely asked rather abruptly.

“To hear the rest of the story.”

“What story?” She frowned. Her brow cleared. “Oh that?”

“Yes that story. I am sure it didn’t end there did it?”

“No it didn’t.” A small smile played about her mouth. “She extracted her pound of flesh.”

“How? She spoke the truth? And they believed her?”

“You think anyone would believe a woman over a man? In those days? Even today, when it is his word against hers, his voice is louder isn’t it?” she looked at him with a sneer. “Even if she shouts herself hoarse from the rooftops.”

He brushed it away. “So what happened? I am genuinely curious.”

“You could have googled it.” At his look of chagrin and irritation, she yielded. “Okay fine, I’ll tell you just for the sheer pleasure of showing you the power of silence.”

Sonu looked at her puzzled. “Power of silence?”

Lovely raised a hand. “Patience! Chandra was put in jail and then began the hearings. Chidham and his lawyer friend fed her with lots of escape routes – say that Radha used to often fight with me, say that she attacked me, say that she tripped on the sickle, say that it was in self-defense – etc etc. Chandra was silent through these exhortations and meetings. When the judge asked her of any bad blood between her and Radha or whether it was in self-defense, she calmly refuted possibilities and accepted culpability of the crime. Chidham and Dukhiram were shocked. Unable to bear the guilt Dukhiram confessed the truth – he was hungry and she refused him food so he had killed her. Determined to save his brother, Chidham too jumped into the fray and said it was he not his brother Dukhiram who had killed Radha because she had refused him food.”

Sonu looked at Lovely with a resigned expression. “Too little too late eh?”

“Yeah. Sort of.” Lovely nodded and continued, “Naturally the judge was not convinced and convicted Chandra. She was awarded the death sentence.”

“The system isn’t fair.” Admitted Sonu, “but things are different now…”

“Is it?” queried Lovely. “Anyway to end the story, despite repeated pleas, Chandra refused to meet her husband even once before her death. When she was asked why, she said only one word,” she paused. “Maron or die, possibly the Bengali equivalent of rot in hell or even the F word…”

Sonu looked bewildered. “How…what does that mean?”

“Don’t you have any sensibility or sensitivity?” Lovely sighed in frustration. “By refusing to meet Chidham, by refusing to give him the scope to confess his guilt, sorrow and shame, she ‘punished’ Chidham.” Lovely’s eyes glowed. “She sentenced Chidham to lifelong guilt and shame one from which he would probably never be able to recover.”

Dazed, Sonu shook his head. “Women are so…so devious and complicated.”

“Men are not?”

“Nope.” Sonu shook his head.

“You are right.” Lovely gave a bitter laugh. “They have only one thing on their minds.” She got up. “I am sure you must be busy. Thank you for coming.”

“That’s not fair,” Sonu protested without getting up, “We don’t just have S.E.X on our minds.”

“And you proved it.” She mocked. “I wasn’t talking of that one thing.”

“Then what were you hinting at?” Challenged Sonu.

“I meant power, control and dominance.” Lovely’s eyes flashed. “Isn’t that what sex is all about?”

“No.” Sonu shook his head.

“There’s no point in continuing this conversation.” She was back to her wooden self. “Was there anything else?” she asked politely but pointedly.

“I would love to continue that conversation,” Sonu got to his feet, “But actually I came to ask if you were free to go out this evening?”

“Go out where?” She was suspicious. “With whom? Why…?”

“Whoa!” Sonu raised his hands as a shield. “Give me a break! Let me complete will you?”

Lovely shook her head. “I’m busy. I have to study.” She looked at her watch. “In any case, I wasted a lot of time today.” She gave him a scathing look.

Sonu laughed. “I, on the other hand had a most educative day. I have suddenly developed a very healthy respect and regard for women. Who knows how they may turn against you?”

“And men are so innocent and blameless.” She sneered.

“We are like that only.” Sonu wore a pious expression. “Anyway, I wont take up more of your time now, but will be back around 8 pm with Titu and go for a party.”

“I told you! I have to study. Besides, I don’t do parties.”

“Come on! Don’t be such a stick in the mud. You and Titu can get to know each…”

“Hey! Wait.” Lovely jumped in alarm. “Did you not get what I said the other day? I am NOT going through this marriage.” She cast a worried look around and lowered her voice. “So there is no point in getting to know Titu or anyone else.”

“Okay,” Sonu eased off and continued glibly, “I framed that incorrectly. What I meant was that we need to maintain appearances, otherwise our families will become suspicious. You do want to be free of matrimonial hassles until October don’t you?”

“And what’s in it for you?” She asked skeptical. “I cannot believe you are doing this for purely altruistic reasons.”

Exactly. What’s in it for you Sonu?

He shrugged. “I told you. I am like that only. Kind, considerate and every ready to help others.”

Before Lovely could protest, or worse, walk off her uncle and aunty entered. They gushed and fawned over Sonu until Lovely was ready to throw up. And he wasn’t even the groom she thought sourly.

“But of course you must go Lovely!” Aunty said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your future life partner. Enjoy and cherish these moments.” She patted Sonu. “Thank you beta. She will go. Would you like some tea?” She asked all solicitous concern. “Coffee? Cold drink.”

“Thank you.” He escaped victorious yet avoiding meeting Lovely’s furious eyes with a trapped expression. “Lovely was most hospitable and made me feel very welcome.” His eyes danced as he met hers.

***

Click here for Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – III

If you’ve just joined the fun, perhaps you may like to read the previous two chapters first, otherwise feel free to scroll away 🙂

Click here for Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Click here for Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Sonu relaxed. He reached out and took a pakora. “So why did you agree to come today?”

“I had no choice.” Lovely shrugged. “When the offer came from your grandfather, everyone was ecstatic,” she paused, “even envious. It was as if I had won the Nobel Prize or something. And of course there was no question of refusing. That’s just the groom’s prerogative.”

Sonu was perplexed. Now that Titu was ‘safe’ from the clutches of yet another unsuitable not to mention unscrupulous manipulative witch, he focused on the girl and the mixed signals he was getting.

“You don’t want to marry Titu?” Sonu asked.

She shook her head.

“But you want us to play along for a while?” He wanted to be sure.

“Yes.”

“For how long?” Sonu’s bored into hers before they dropped.

“Until 15th October.”

The boys looked at each other puzzled. “Okay, look,” Sonu said, “this isn’t fair. You know everything about us while we know next to nothing about you. If you want us to play along, you better come clean and spill the beans. Otherwise…”

“Otherwise what?” Lovely challenged.

“Otherwise I will insist that you two get married next week.”

“Hey!” An alarmed Titu sat up straight. “Why make me the scapegoat?”

“Shush!” Sonu hushed him, “this isn’t about you. It is about her.” He turned to her. “Are you going to tell us or,” he looked suggestively towards the restaurant where the parents were laughing loudly and talking excitedly.

Lovely took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. “Fair enough.” She nodded. “Here’s the thing. I want to join the civil services. My exams are in October and I don’t want repeated exhibitions for the purposes of finding a suitable groom and neither am I prepared to hear a million taunts for rejecting the best groom ever and far far beyond my station in society.”

“Oh.” They looked blankly at her. “You actually want to study?” Sonu’s voice dropped to a disbelieving whisper.

“Yes!” Her eyes sparkled bringing an attractive glow to her otherwise unremarkable face. “I love academics. I want to work, study, and be independent and answerable to only myself. At least in personal matters.”

“What if you don’t clear the exams?” Sonu drummed his fingers on the table. “They are very tough aren’t they?”

“Yes they are tough, especially so because I am working as a Probationary Officer at a bank. I hardly get any time to study. But I will get into civil services.” She wore a determined look. “If not this year then next year, or the next. No matter how many years it takes.” There was a fanatical gleam in her eye.

“Hey!” An alarmed Titu sat up. “Does that mean…?”

Lovely gave him a pitying look. “Relax. You only need to play along for the next two months or so. I’ll manage after that.”

“Why don’t you talk this out with your parents?” Sonu was curious.

“Don’t you know?”

“What?”

“My parents died in a road accident when I was 14 years old. I was put in the hostel. When I completed schooling I came to Delhi and have been living with my grandparents.” She said in an emotionless monotone. “Now that grandfather has had a stroke and Dadi isn’t keeping well either, they want to marry me off and fulfill that last obligation.”

“That does make sense.” Titu came to life. “You should get married. How will you cope alone when your Dada Dadi…?”

“Why?” objected Sonu, “She has her Uncle and Aunt doesn’t she? She can stay with them.”

“Why do I have to stay with somebody?” Lovely cut in.

They stared at her. “But…”

“Do you stay with anybody?” She asked Sonu.

“No. But…”

“Yeah.” Nodded Lovely. “But you are a MAN right? You can do ANYTHING!” She was seething. “While I have to stay under somebody’s protection.”

“It is for your own safety.” Titu said.

“Yeah right.” Lovely fumed.

“Is that why you are dressed so…so,” he searched for a word which wouldn’t sound offensive, “conservatively? To scare the groom away?”

“Dress?” She looked down upon herself. “What’s wrong with my dress?” She smacked herself on the head. “Oh sorry I forgot! You are broadminded people,” she jeered, “You don’t mind if a barely covered bride-to-be shakes a leg uninhibitedly in front of a crowd which includes her grandfather-in-laws and uncle-in-laws ogling her unabashedly do you?”

“To which era do you belong?” It was Sonu’s turn to sneer. “Eighteenth century? He clicked his fingers. “Snap out of it. This is the twenty-first century and nobody cares about such things. It’s prudish people like you with old-fashioned sensibilities that drag women down.” He shook his head and snorted. “And you want to be an IAS officer. To do what? Put women back into the purdah?”

“Twenty-first century is it?” Lovely refused to back down. “Don’t you want a good sanskari traditional bahu who will serve the family, bind the family, take care of everybody?”

“Of course!” Sonu defended, “Just like you would want a decent guy who would look after you and your family. That won’t change and should not change.”

“Oh please!” Lovely threw up her hands in disgust. “Which Utopian era do you belong? All that is required from the groom is that he be ready to ‘lend’ his name to her. In return, she has to sacrifice everything, if need be, her own life for his family.”

“What rot!” Sonu protested hotly.

“Is it?” Lovely leaned back into her chair. “Over a hundred years ago, Guru Rabindranatha Tagore wrote a story Punishment.”

“Yeah so?”

“You’d be surprised at how little if anything has changed since then.”

“Okay so what’s this story about?” Titu was interested despite himself.

“The story is set in deep rural Bengal and is about two poor brothers who are farmers – Dukhiram and Chidham.” Lovely dove into the story without any further ado. “They are married to Radha and Chandra respectively. Lovely drained her cup. “Chandra is about 17 or 18 years of age, is pretty and willful. Chidham too is handsome and has a roving eye. He often stays out nights without bringing any earnings, which irks his wife. She retaliates by going out often to the riverside and praising another man. Chidham doesn’t like it and abuses her verbally and physically. The next day she disappears to her uncle’s home, few villages away. Chidham could bring her back only after a lot of effort and pleadings.”

Sonu laughed. “Yes! Nothing has changed. She still does that and the poor husband has to dance to her tunes.”

Lovely rebuked him with her eyes and continued. “He has a love-hate relationship with his wife and obsesses about her. Because of her, he is so disturbed and restless that he fantasizes about her death, which could perhaps give him some peace.”

Sonu exchanged a knowing glance with Titu and raised his hand for a high-five. “Poor husband. I do feel for him. You are right! Again nothing has changed.” They laughed.

Lovely ignored them. “Radha and Chandra too don’t get along very well and neighbors are quite inured to their loud arguments and fights.”

The boys chortled and went for another high-five.

Lovely rolled her eyes. “That was the background of the story. The actual incident is about the day, the two brothers return home after a particularly unproductive day hungry and tired. The house is deathly silent. It is evident that things have been pretty bad between the two ladies today. Ignoring them, Dukhiram asks his wife to serve him food. Radha snaps at him and taunts him if she was supposed to go out and earn money for his food as well. Blind with rage, Dukhiram raises his sickle and kills her.”

“Oh!” Sonu sat up. “A sting in the tale!”

“Radha falls down beside Chandra spattering her with blood. Chandra opens her mouth to scream but Chidham claps a hand over her mouth. He doesn’t want anyone to know what has happened. It was dark. Perhaps no one would get to know. Perhaps they could dispose of the body.” Her voice rose and fell with Chidham’s thoughts. “And perhaps that’s what would have happened if a neighbor hadn’t decided to drop in at that moment to collect his dues.”

“What happened then?” Titu too was sucked in.

“The neighbor is naturally shocked to see the bloody scene and demands an explanation. Chidham falls at his feet and confesses, “Chandra killed her. Please save her.”

“What does Chandra say to that?”

“Nothing. She is too shocked to say anything. The neighbor, inured and witness to their daily fights, also a lawyer by profession, accepts it and says, “Tell the police that Dukhiram asked for food and she refused that’s why he got angry and killed her. We can get your brother off the hook. Don’t worry.”

Sonu looked at Titu and whistled.

Lovely raised an eyebrow. “Ironical isn’t it?” she gave a bitter laugh. “The truth shall set you free.”

“That’s it? That’s the story?” Sonu asked. “I don’t see the relevance,” he complained.

“No.” Lovely shook her head. “There’s more. Do you know what Chidham response was to this suggestion?”

“What?” they asked.

“Chidham said,” Lovely paused for dramatic effect, “I can get another wife but how can I get another brother?”

There was silence.

“Lovely!” It was her aunt calling.

“Coming Chachi.” She got up. “Can you see the parallels?”

Sonu exchanged glances with Titu and slowly shook his head.

It’s not about who is right and who is wrong,” Lovely said pointedly looking at Titu who flushed as he recalled his words to Sweety after she had garlanded him. “Isn’t that what you said in the twenty-first century? Clearly nothing has changed in the past one hundred years. What if Sweety was right and Sonu wrong?” She gave a bitter laugh. “But that is not important is it? What matters is that Sonu is your friend and you will support him in whatever he may have done – right or wrong. In all things, she is still comes a distant nobody on his list of priorities.” She walked away.

***

Click here for Chapter 4: An Unfinished Story

 

Why the Caged Bird Doesn’t Sing

caged-liz
Photo (c) Liz Young

Why the Caged Bird Doesn’t Sing

Words 100

“Once upon a time, I was young, happy and carefree.” He said addressing gathered guests on their gala anniversary celebrations. “Until I met her.”

Laughter.

“But,” he raised a hand; “I experienced true happiness only after marriage.”

“Awww.” They nudged her and giggled.

Whenever your demands were met, she smiled at them.

“Thank you for the greatest joy of my life,” he pointed, “my darling Jaya.”

Whom you wanted me to abort, she swallowed.

“I am now the proud husband of a Bank Manager.”

Cheers and claps.

One who is not allowed to manage her own account. Her father beamed.

***

Written (with apologies to Maya Angelou) for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Liz for the intriguing photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – II

Click here for Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Sonu flicked another glance at the girl. “But you have to admit there are advantages of having a like this girl as your wife. She would be only too grateful to be marrying anyone, leave aside someone so handsome as you, not to mention well off as well.” He clapped his friend on the back. “And she won’t say much either if you have interests elsewhere.” He winked.

“But what about my reputation? What will everybody say when they see my wife is a behenji?”

“Relax Titu! Why worry when Sonu is here? Let’s play along until it’s time to pull the rug and get rid of the girl.” He grinned. “Sweety was one hell of a teacher – she gave me some pretty neat ideas.”

“What are you two boys doing standing over there in one corner and gossiping like girls?” Dadi called. “Come and meet Lovely.”

At the meeting venue after the initial rounds of niceties, a round of tea and snacks, Mrs. Sharma set the ball rolling. “Let the children get to know each other.” As everyone nodded, she added, “Sonu you also go along.” She smiled. “You don’t mind do you Lovely beta?” she asked the girl who dumbly shook her head.

“So your name is Lovely?” Sonu cursed himself for the inane remark. But he was rather short on inspiration and pressured to break the escalating silence and disdainful disapproval emanating from the girl. What business had she to look down upon them?!

“My name is Jigyasa but I asked too many questions and wasn’t beautiful enough so my granny changed my name to Lovely.” She met Sonu’s look of surprise calmly enough. “Are your names actually Sonu and Titu?”

Sonu coughed, “My name is Sudarshan and his name is Trilokpati.”

Lovely’s eyes gleamed through her thick spectacles, “The Master of the Three Worlds,” it was her turn to cough (or was it to smother a giggle?), “but not mine.”

They stared blankly at her.

“Why are you both so surprised?” She asked aggressively in contrast to her demure cat-got-my-tongue look earlier. “Oh I get it,” she nodded, “I am so plain and ugly that I would be grateful and ready to marry any man. Even if he looks panic stricken at the thought of being tied to me for the rest of his life and his best friend is already plotting ways to get rid of me.”

Sonu opened his mouth but no words came out of it. Titu didn’t even try to speak.

“Why don’t we sit?” She waved to the comfortable lawn chairs under a colorful umbrella. “Should we order something?” She asked as the waiter hovered obsequiously in the background.

They shook their heads.

She raised a hand, “Three cups of tea and one plate pakoras.” She turned to the boys. “Paneer or mixed?” The cat had got their tongues. She sighed and said, “Two plates, one of each.”

She looked at them with a gleam in her eye.

“What’s so funny?” Huffed Sonu.

“If only you could see your faces,” Her lips twitched.

“So you were pulling our legs?” Sonu was on shaky ground. He couldn’t even decide whether that was better or not.

Lovely sobered and shook her head. “No. I am serious.” She paused. “I have no intentions of marrying you or anyone else. But,” she looked at them sternly, not unlike their 4th grade Hindi teacher, Mrs Dandona, “we won’t tell the others just yet.”

“Why not?” Sonu asked suspiciously.

“I have my reasons.” She said shortly.

“And why should we go along with you?” Sneered Sonu.

“Because if you don’t,” her lips thinned and her eyes narrowed (Mrs Dandy for sure!) “I will marry Titu.”

“Not if I can help it,” snapped Sonu immediately on the defensive.

Lovely looked at him pityingly. “You are a glutton for punishment aren’t you?”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you learn anything from your run in with Sweety?”

They gaped at each other. “You know?!”

“Every sweet little detail, down to the tiny mole near Sweety’s belly button.” Her lips curled.

“Who are you?” An all too familiar sinking feeling enveloped Sonu. It was déjà vu. He stood up with his fists clenched. “Who sent you? Sweety?” He hissed.

“Relax!” Lovely rolled her eyes. She sat back as the waiter returned with their order. “Mmm hot sweet tea and crispy pakoras, what more can one want right? Go on dig in.” she urged before busying herself with the steaming goodies.

“Tell us,” Sonu bit out, “Otherwise…” he put a hand on Titu’s shoulder and stood up.

“So how’s it going?” Sonu and Titu turned around in surprise. Ghastiram stood there with a benign expression on his face. “Ah pakoras!” He reached out and helped himself to one. “Why are you boys standing?” He asked. “Urgent call of nature?” He laughed at his own joke. “Sit down, sit down.” he urged Titu.

“Please sit Dadaji,” Lovely got to her feet. “Please have a cup of tea.”

“No thanks beta.” He put his hand on her head in blessing. “You know Titu, Lovely is a very sweet girl.” He cast her an affectionate glance. “I’ve heard nothing but praises from everyone.” He patted her head “So warm and giving. And very mature and understanding.” He patted Titu. “Since she is my chuddi-buddy’s granddaughter, I didn’t want to keep her in the dark about anything. That’s why I told her all about Sweety and Pihu and,” he shook his finger at him, “you better tell her all about any other girl whom you may have had in your life. Best to start on a clean slate.” He took another pakora. “Carry on.” He said genially and moved away.

“He told you about Sweety?!” Sonu whistled.

“I don’t believe this!” Titu wore a dazed look, “Dadaji told you about the mole near Sweety’s belly button?”

Lovely shook her head. “No. He gave me all the wedding ceremony videos, including the jaymala.” She paused. “He wanted me to take an informed decision.” There was a faint note of incredulity in her voice. And a sneer.

“Oh so that is why you don’t want to marry Titu? Not that he’s desperate to marry you.” He exchanged a glance with Titu. “As if anybody could be.” He completed under his breath.

But she heard.

She stiffened and her lips twisted. “That suits me fine.” She looked at them with defiance. “I have no desire or intention to get married.”

Sonu relaxed. He reached out and took a pakora. “So why did you agree to come today?”

***

Click here for Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – I

A couple of weeks ago, I watched this year’s sleeper hit Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety, a well-made and enjoyable film. Yet, the misogynist core (and the cringe-worthy picturization of the otherwise peppy songs) was rather jarring and hence this sort of sequel to the movie. But I hope it also works as a standalone story, which as usual became longer than I intended it to be. Hope you will be (as usual) be kind enough to accompany me on this journey as well – a five six part story (so far!)

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

The entire gang had gathered in the sprawling drawing room at Ghasitaram’s behest. Unlike his earlier devil-may-care attitude, the Sweety fiasco had made him realize the importance of the kind of person who was going to be his grandson’s wife. That Sweety hadn’t even been married to Titu and she had already cleared the kitchen of his staple non-vegetarian diet and got her talons on the family coffers had given him the jitters.

“This time there will be no mess ups,” he declared, “for I will choose the girl.” He shook his finger at his grandson Titu and practically brother Sonu, “You boys better watch your step. I don’t want any hanky-panky.”

“Yes,” agreed the beleaguered Titu, “Sonu, this time you better not mess up,” warned Titu, “I’ve had enough of these roller coaster relationships, I really do want to settle down.”

“What?” Sonu was incredulous. “I don’t believe this! Are you blaming me for your woes? How is it my fault that you always manage to attract the wrong sort of girl?”

“But you are the one who created all the drama,” Titu’s mother handed him a cup of tea. If only you hadn’t put a spoke in the wheels, today Titu would have been married and I would have had grandkids on my knees.”

“But for me,” jeered Sonu, “you all would be out on the streets and Titu would be playing nanny to someone else’s child. Come on Mummy, who has a kid within three months of their wedding?”

“You know what I mean,” Mrs. Sharma was unfazed. “Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Speak up well in advance. We are modern family with a progressive outlook, but still it is embarrassing to have our son’s wedding called off during the jayamala ceremony.” She looked at the two boys. “You have no idea of the kind of snide remarks and comments I have had to deal with since then.”

“Not to mention all those accusations Sweety leveled at Titu. Of dowry, of initiating physical relationship on the promise of marriage and then breaking the promise, ” Mr. Sharma picked up the thread, “Only I know how I kept Titu out of jail and the court cases are still going on.”

“You don’t worry about that Uncle,” Sonu lolled about on the sofa, “The list of guys who were similarly lead on our Sweety the Great is growing longer and longer. She will be the one behind bars and very soon,” he promised.

“Yes, yes Sonu,” Titu folded his hands and bowed to him, “We are eternally in your debt but could your instincts kick in a bit earlier than for the absolutely the last minute?” He pleaded. “I still have nightmares, that I am married to Sweety. He shuddered. “This time I will see the girl only after you give the go ahead.” He clapped his friend on the back and turned to his mother. “Okay Mummy?”

“How can he do that?!” Mrs Sharma objected. “What if he likes the girl?”

“Mummy!” the boys chorused in protest.

“I saw a tele-film,” Mrs Sharma waved them into silence with a flick of the knife she was wielding, “Somebody sent his friend, who liked the girl and then he lied that the girl wasn’t good, with the intention of bumping off his friend…”

“Oh please Mummy, what awful serials you watch!” protested Titu while Sonu was up in arms, “You seriously think I’m going to steal Titu’s bride? Fine! I won’t say a word! Better still I wont come to see the girl.” Sonu got all worked up and emotional. “I won’t come for the wedding. I’ll go off to America…”

“Bye.” Ghasitaram rolled his eyes at Lalu who jerked his thumb towards the door. Ghasitaram nodded and raised his hand, “We are going tomorrow to see the girl. Whoever wants to come, can come and give their opinion otherwise hold silence forever and ever.” His eyes pierced Sonu before exiting with Lalu.

“I don’t believe this!” Sonu was frustrated, “I save you all from that controlling maniac and instead of being grateful and appreciative, everyone is blaming me? What &^&%&% nonsense!” he kicked a chair and yelped as he got hurt. He limped he away.

“We’ll wait for you tomorrow.” Dadi called. He turned to grin beatifically at her. “Only you understand my value Dadi,” he swore reaching for her feet.

“Okay okay fine fine.” She sniffed. “Be ready on time.” She waved him away.

Suited booted, primped and polished, they left the next evening for a prospective bride viewing. “I know the family very well,” Ghasitaram, informed them on the way, “Lallan and I were in school together and would have been in the same college also but for the Partition.” He looked at Titu and Sonu, “We were like you too, inseparable.” He sighed. “We met again after decades at the hospital where he is admitted.”

“Haww,” Mrs. Sharma commiserated. “What happened? Hope nothing serious?”

Ghasitaram shook his head. “Things look bleak. He’s had stroke and he’s paralyzed from one side. His wife is also a patient of diabetes and high blood pressure. They are worried about their granddaughter and her marriage and want to make sure everything is settled before any eventuality.”

“So you offered my grandson as a sacrifice?” Dadiji snorted.

“It’s not like that,” Ghasitaram denied, “I’d stake my life on my friend Lallan and I’ve met the girl. She is biddable, decent, polite and well mannered.”

“A killjoy for sure,” mumbled Sonu to Titu under his breath, “and boring.”

“Yeah I want to party have fun and enjoy with my wife not sit and read the newspaper while she shells peas,” Titu grumbled.

“Life is not only about partying and enjoying,” Mrs. Sharma said, “it’s about settling down, taking responsibility and you like matar paneer don’t you?”

“Uff Mummy please!” both Sonu and Titu groaned. She laughed and shook her head. “You know what the problem with you boys is?”

They shook their heads. “You don’t know what you want in life. No matter how modern you may pretend to be, ultimately everyone wants a wife who will sit and shell peas for you.”

“Right.” Ghasitaram agreed. “Partying is for girl-friends.”

“Exactly why I didn’t get married,” Lalu kaka added.

“Don’t lie,” Ghasitaram leaned towards him, “you didn’t get married because she wouldn’t have you.”

“Shush!” Lalu kaka cast a pleading glance at his long time friend and brother-in-law.

Ghasitaram smirked.

“Oops!” muttered Sonu to Titu and hung back letting the others move on ahead. “Quite a contrast from your kind of girl isn’t she?” He surveyed the prospective bride as she went through the traditional motions and decorous greetings from the safe distance.

Titu seemed tongue-tied as he stared at the girl.

“Lovely is not so lovely eh? In fact, quite the frump.” He nudged Titu. “And you are already besotted? Snap out of it man!” He rolled his eyes. “At least get to know her first.”

Titu shook his head. “That’s your department. I just want to settle down with whoever you give your thumbs up to.”

“That’s crazy!” Sonu protested.

“Is it?” Titu asked.

Sonu looked away guiltily.

“Mummy is right. I don’t know what I want.” Titu sighed. “In any case, this time I don’t think either of us has any choice or say.”

“What do you mean?!” Sonu was taken aback.

“Mummy warned me that this meeting was just a formality. Grandpa has his heart set on this marriage and this meeting is just a formality.”

Sonu whistled. “Since when did he start taking so much interest in your marriage?”

“Grandpa apparently got the jitters when Sweety cut off the kebab and chicken from home. Ever since then he’s been having nightmares of my future wife cutting off his daaru and kicking Lalu kaka out of our home.”

“Serve the old geezer right,” Sonu snickered. “If I hadn’t spoken up in time,” Sonu said in self-congratulatory tones, “this is exactly what would have happened. Mark my words.”

Titu nodded glumly. “This time he declared he wasn’t going to let any girl but the one of his choice to enter his house.” He took another look at the overdressed, caked slightly plumpish girl wearing a thick oily plait. “You think I could ever be besotted with that…that…” words failed him. He looked reproachfully at his friend. “You don’t know me at all if you think this is my ‘besotted’ expression. I was just trying to imagine myself tied to this woman for the rest of my life.” He shuddered.

****

Click here for Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

 

Monitoring the Monitor

leg-up-jhc
Photo (c) J Hardy Carroll

Monitoring the Monitor

Words 100

“I hate these senseless wars! Why can’t people be more empathetic, have more compassion? Can’t you do something?”

“We’re building a repository of all vibrations emitted by living beings.”

“Vibrations!? But why?”

“Don’t you know it all began with Om which is the vibration of the universe? Our bodies are a container of vibrations made of thoughts and emotions.”

“Hmm. So?”

“The repository will synchronize the vibrations of people, enable them feel the pain of others and stop them from hurting them. There will be no wars, no destruction, no power games.”

“But who will harmonize the vibrations?”

“I will.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and J Hardy Carroll for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here

 

 

 

Whimsical Notes

music-room
Photo (c) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Whimsical Notes

Words 100

“Do your homework.” She told her seven-year-old, who was sprawled on the bed, his nose buried in a book. “I’m going to the market.”

He scrabbled up. “Market? I’m coming with you.” He hunted for his shoes.

“What?! No!” She was taken aback. “It’s only vegetable shopping. You hate that…”

“Bad things happen to girls in parking lots.” He said darkly. “I can’t do anything,” he admitted, “but I can shout for help.”

My baby, my knight!

“Would you like to learn to play the guitar?” Perhaps that would distract him.

“Does he have a mustache?”

“The teacher? Yes.”

“Okay.”

***

A true account written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories click here

 

 

COB: A Perfect Circle

Just a couple of weeks ago when temperatures were touching 46o C a dust storm came up to settle scores with the blazing Sun (and my sinuses 😉 ).

20180613_174615It was quite a sight to catch a glimpse of a Sun as cool as the Moon, only rounder and unblemished just before it retired hurt for the day.

20180613_174533

The banana tree bows in homage to their Sustainer and Provider.

20180613_174537Or does it have ambitions of swallowing it up while it is down and out?

Hope you enjoyed these shots of the summer sun. I am happy to be able to contribute something to one of Cee’s photo challenges after a long time 🙂

Three things cannot be hidden long: the sun, the moon and the truth – Buddha

WPS: (Not) Made for Each Other

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 7.46.09 AM

From Google Maps Coniston Water Lake District England

(Not) Made for Each Other

Words 150

“How was it?!” They crowded her.

“The weather was awesome!” She sighed dreamily. “Rolling clouds, the light drizzle…”

“How was he?”

“A bear with a sore head.” She giggled. “Poor thing was starving. We forgot the biryani.”

Poor thing! They nudged each other. “How did you appease him?”

“I shared the chocolates he had got me.” She giggled.

“A romantic!”

“A romantic stick in the mud.”

“Meaning?”

“He made such a fuss about a few drops of water! Anyone would think he was made of salt.”

 

“How was the picnic?” It was his debriefing time.

“She insisted we walk in the downpour.” He sneezed. “Romantic nonsense on an empty stomach.”

“What happened to the biryani?”

“She forgot it in the car.” He scowled. “Then she hogged up most of it.”

“You two are so meant for each other!”

He glared at his sister.

“You are already blaming her.” She giggled.

***

 

Written for What Pegman Saw – a story in 150 words or less. Thanks to K Rawson for hosting the challenge. To read the other stories inspired by this challenge click here

This one is another take on the same theme as here.  Returning to flash fiction after quite some time and am feeling rusty. Do let me know what you thought about it and if you read both which one you prefer. Thanks for reading. Have a good day!

 

A New Breed of Terrorists

Photo (c) Fatima Fakier

A New Breed of Terrorists

Words 100

“Mamma!” A scream of pure terror rent the lazy afternoon silence.

David.

Carol’s heart stopped.

She dropped the casserole and ran out into the backyard.

She stopped short in horror.

An unkempt dark skinned man held a knife at her son’s throat.

Stop. Stop. Stop. Please!” Carol begged falling to her knees. “What do you want? Take it. Take everything anything just leave him. Please.” She sobbed.

“I want,” His eyes were crazed, “to make you feel my pain.”

She struggled to her feet.

“A child for a child.” He waved his knife.

“No! Please!”

“Tell the President.” He vanished.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Fatima for the photo prompt. To read and participate in the challenge click here.

The link to the picture? I am sorry but I cannot ‘see’ anything else….

Arnav Goes to School – VI

Finally the final part!!! 😀

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Pink and Red Balloons during Daytime

Part VI

“What the….!”  Khushi blinked and shook her head.

No blood, no mayhem and no Arnav either.

“Where’s your Daddy?”

Deva didn’t even look up while Chotti straightened and waved a vague hand, “Inside.” She went back to coloring the sea, sticking out her tongue. The dolphins were tricky they kept trying to merge with the sea. Or was it the sea splashing on to them?

Yeh Laad Governor bhi na. Khushi fumed. Master manipulator and number one trickster – didn’t even spare his kids. Her eyes narrowed and her lips firmed. If he thought he had ‘won’ the deal, he had another think coming. She wandered over to Guddu and peered over his shoulder.

He was studying!

On his own!

Unbelievable!

Some hanky panky was afoot. She was sure. “Why isn’t he here?” She asked mildly enough throwing her bag on the sofa and crouching down beside Chotti.

“Oh Mamma,” Chotti looked up her eyes sparkling, “Daddy is in the guest room ‘creating’ some fun thing for us.”

Khushi sat back on her heels in surprise. Creating some fun thing? What did that mean? Oh! Right! She smacked her head and stood up. He had blackmailed and terrorized her poor little babies while he made deals in the privacy of the guest room. I should have said no phones allowed, she cursed herself. She decided to catch him in the act but just as she turned her eye fell on his phone that was charging on the side table. Just what the hell was going on?

“Hey Chotti aren’t you done yet?” Deva stretched. “Don’t tell me I have to wait for you!?”

“Just this little bit Da.” Chotti pleaded. She looked up. “Help me?”

“Okay.” Guddu plopped down beside her.

Khushi’s eyebrows shot through the roof. From which side did the sun rise today?

“Da,” Chotti was speaking softly, “How was your test?”

“Okay.”

Chotti looked at him worriedly. “Why don’t you check it over once again? You don’t want…”

“Maybe I will.” Deva went back to scanning the sheet.

Chal kya raha hai boss?! Laad Governor to sahi main boss nikle! Khushi felt a grudging admiration but mostly annoyance. He comes one day and gets them to not only dance to his tunes but talk to each other civilly as well. But just for that she was willing to give him a walk over.

She frowned. What was he doing in the room? Was he sleeping? Was he not well?

“So all done guys?” A disheveled Arnav strolled in with a bit of pink streamer sticking out his pocket and a bit of thread clinging lovingly to his cheek. “Hi!” He smiled as he spotted Khushi and blinked slowly at her.

Unknowingly, unwillingly Khushi floated towards him and plucked the gustakh thread from her personal beard and flicked it away. “And what were you doing my dear Laad Governor?” She marveled at his expression. So relaxed and comfortable. Arnav’s eyes were sparkling. He leaned down and whispered into her ear. “It’s a secret. But I can tell you another secret if you like?”

Khushi could only stare and blink at him. She brushed a hand over his hair. “What?”

His breath tickled her senses. She shivered. “I was having,” he paused, “fun.” He looked amazed and thrilled at the same time.

Khushi laughed at his joy. “Fun doing what?”

Arnav turned to the children still slaving away. “What?! Not done yet?” He flicked the paper from Deva and said, “Go help Angel.”

Without a word of protest, Deva sank down beside Chotti who also shifted to make space for him.

“I don’t understand.” Khushi shook her head in bewilderment. “What have you done to them?! Where are my squabbling bachchas!?”

Arnav coughed and hemmed and hawed. He leaned towards her and muttered into her ear behind the cover of the exam sheet. “Much as I would love to claim magical powers, I have to admit I got the hang of it only half-hour ago.” He shook his head and said with a sense of wonder. “When I surrendered.” He slid his arm around Khushi and pulled her close. “They are adorable. Thank you.” He kissed her chastely.

Khushi blinked at him and smiled tremulously. “Thank you.” Her heart was in her eyes and the RV, which was blowing softly, picked up tempo.

“Tantarraaaa!” Chotti jumped up holding her chart, urging her brother to hold the other end. “How’s it?” she asked with eager anticipation.

“It’s beautiful.” They chorused. “Isnt it Guddu?” Khushi prodded.

“Yeah. Dad, were the answers okay?”

Arnav looked down at the sheet in his hand. “Oh, yeah, well,” his eyes glinted, “now that your Mom is here she can check it,” smirking he thrust it into her hand and walked ahead, “come on and check out my ‘homework’!”

“Yay!” The children ran after him. He turned back to look at Khushi. “Aren’t you coming?”

Now what? Khushi slipped the test paper in the social studies book and hastened to catch up though she needn’t have hurried. He was waiting for her.

“Okay, here’s the thing,” he was as excited as Chotti was while getting ready for a shopping expedition, “Khushi you close Angel’s eyes and I will close Deva’s and yours.”

They stared at him and each other in surprise.

“Come along now. Hurry!” ASR hustled them.

Blinded and handicapped, they shuffled forward with Arnav guiding them ahead inside the room. He quickly shut the door with his foot and led them in. “Can you feel something?”

Khushi shook her head. “No.”

Chotti raised her nose and sniffed. “I smell something. I know!” she jumped up and shook off her mother’s hand shrieking, “Balloons!”

And balloons it was! The entire room was filled with balloons. Green and pink balloons bobbed above them, just out of reach.

“What’s all this?” Khushi asked in wonder even as Chotti jumped up trying to catch them. Even Guddu lost his gravity and joined her.

“Hey! Hey, wait, wait,” Arnav cautioned, “there are rules.”

“Rules?” They chorused.

“Yes!” Arnav nodded. “It’s a game.” His eyes were sparkling and he rubbed his hands in glee. “See those makeshift goals?” he pointed to two crude semi enclosures at the opposite ends of the room made with streamers – again pink and green. “So it’s like this there are two teams. Deva and your Mom, and Angel and I. Yours are the green balloons and ours are the pink balloons. Okay?”

They nodded. “But what do we have to do?” Chotti asked.

“We have to transfer our color balloons to our goal. But,” he paused, “we can only use our heads to do so. Four points for a goal and two points for bursting the other team balloon. So what do you think?” He asked in anticipation.

“Mom! Let’s play!” Guddu jumped into the fray. “Come on hurry! We can win this,” he looked at Chotti and smirked. The fire of battle was in Khushi’s eyes as she strapped and tucked in her dupatta around her waist.

“Daddy!” Chotti pulled at Arnav. “Come on!”

And away they headed, this way and that way, bumping into each other not to mention furniture and the walls. But did they care? No! They were having too much fun, especially popping the other team balloons. Guess who was winning?

Arnav’s team of course!

Including Chotti in his team was a strategic decision – he picked her up and carried her around as she head-butted the high floating balloons, pitching pink ones into the goal and pinching the green ones against the wall. He was her eyes, she his head. The scales were heavily tilted against the mother-son duo and they cried foul loud and long, which made the game ever so much fun. It was a boisterous game fun-filled game that left them panting and grinning from ear to ear – especially Arnav and Chotti.

“This was the best day ever Daddy!” Chotti clung to her father.

Unstated and thirsting for victory Guddu asked, “Do we have more balloons Mom?”

Khushi looked at Arnav, who shook his head. Actually he had the rest of the balloons stashed away safely.

“Mom, can we play this game with Anki bhaiyya and Shubham….?”

“Not Shubham!” Chotti sprang up.

“You don’t have to play!” Guddu retorted.

“Why not?”

“Because you are a cry-baby!”

“I am not!” Denied Chotti hotly. “You are just being mean because I won…”

“Oh please! You didn’t win. Dad did..”

Leaving them to sort it out among them, Khushi turned to Arnav to sort out their issues. “You cheated!” Khushi said but without much heat. “You deliberately took Chotti in your team.”

Arnav shrugged and flicked her nose. “Too late to cry now.”

Khushi huffed and puffed. “I demand a rematch.”

Arnav grinned. “Any time, my dear any time.” He cast a look at his still squabbling kids and lowered his voice. “Just you and me okay?”

“Deal.” Khushi sighed as she was reminded of the reason for the day. “Okay so that means, you won today’s deal.” She had little choice but to concede defeat. “What do you want me to do?”

Arnav shook his head, “I may have won the game, with a little bit of smart thinking but today was an eye-opener. And,” he coughed, “You don’t know how many times I almost caved in and called you.”

“Why?” Khushi laughed. “Couldn’t make them toe the line like your employees?”

He shook his head. “Give me a roomful of employees any day!” They laughed. He held her hands. “I learned a lot today and appreciate how difficult it must be for you…”

Khushi squeezed his hands, “But I wouldn’t exchange it with a roomful of employees!” Khushi scratched her head and admitted. “Although some days I do wish I could run away.”

Arnav nodded. “I understand now.” He looked at them on the verge of blows. He sighed. “So, much as I hate to admit it – you win. I lose.” Strangely her smile of victory did nothing to ruffle his feathers. “So what do you want me to do?”

Khushi nibbled at her lips. “I want you to promise to spend more time with the kids, not just on holidays but during their weekdays, school days….”

“I will come once a week,” Arnav swore, “maybe twice a week.” He was determined to make up for lost time.

Khushi raised her hands in mock horror. “Not twice a week please! I can’t handle three kids together on a weekday.” She paused. “Well maybe I could take the afternoon off…”

“Whaa…? No! And just who are you calling a kid? Hey! Don’t do that!” Arnav yelled and grabbed hold of Guddu just as he was about to literally pull the rug from under Chotti’s feet.

“Just look at him Daddy!” Sobbed Chotti, “he always does this….”

“Enough of your drama Chotti,” Khushi said exasperated, “I saw what you did…”

“I didn’t do anything…” Chotti cried piously.

“You did!” Guddu shouted. “You broke…”

“I did not!

“You did!”

“Did not!”

“Well maybe once a month,” Arnav said. He scratched his head, “Or once in two months, perhaps for a couple of hours…when you are at home…”

“Oh no, no, that’s cheating Arnav…”

“No it’s not! It’s just that I would love to spend more time with you…”

“Liar! You just want back up support…”

“Rubbish!”

“No! I can see it in your face…” Khushi shook her finger at him.

“What can you see in my face?” Arnav moved forward.

“That look…” Khushi stood her ground.

“Which look?”

“That look which says i-got-khushi-cornered-where-i-want-and-i-will-just-on-squeezing-her-until-she-caves-in expression.” She accused

“What the…!” Arnav was surprised into laughter, “Unbelievable! Where do you get that from?”

“From your face…”

“Nonsense…”

And so on and so forth they went on and on beating their kids hollow (err figuratively speaking of course) and I had little choice but to draw the curtain on this day where Arnav (literally and figuratively) went to school.

A/N Thanks for your company on this whimsical journey of mine – wouldn’t have been half as much but for your active participation and appreciation. If you would like to read more about Guddu, Chotti and Anya (including her particular love story with a twist) who are all inextricably entwined with the lives of Arnav and Khushi, please join me for some old wine on a new page. The original Silver Streaks which I have begun to re-post on my blog or you could read some more snippets from there lives which are listed here: From DM’s Desk

 

 

Arnav Goes to School – V

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Children Multicolored Hand Paint
Photo from Pexels

Part V

“I’m afraid Deva this isn’t working out,” Arnav softened his words with a smile. “I think you should read it a couple of times and then I’ll give you some questions, which you can answer and,” He nodded his emphatically, “that will give you an idea about your strengths and weakness, not by this…this verbal Q&A session.”

“But I always….” Deva protested.

“Daddy come and help me!” having set up the craft material to her satisfaction, Chotti demanded her share of his attention.

“Okay!” Arnav raised his hands in surrender. “Here’s the deal.” He looked at his phone, “the order will be here in 30 minutes. Deva you read your chapter thoroughly while I sit with Angel and help her out,” Chotti glowed while Deva glowered. “And then we’ll take a goodie break and I’ll make a few questions,” quelling a ready-to-protest-Devansh with a look, “simple multiple choice questions,” Devansh subsided, “which you can do after the break.”

“What about me?” Chotti was unwilling to be left out post-break.

“You can finish up your project,” Arnav coughed, “on your own.”

“That’s not fair Daddy.” Chotti protested. “What will you do while we are slaving away?” For once Devansh was in complete agreement with his pest of a sister.

“Excuse me?” A crack of laughter escaped Arnav.

“You heard me Daddy.” Chotti crossed her arms and waited.

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Oh come on! You can decide that during the break while I am slaving away making questions.” He tapped his watch. “Come on! 30 minutes, not a minute less, even if the order arrives,” he warned. “The ice cream cake can melt for all I care.”

The next half-hour flew by as Arnav joined his daughter on the floor after having sought her permission to change his suit. She graciously agreed. “Take a washroom break as well.” She extended his parole.

“Yes Ma’am.”

She grinned cheekily at him before bending over her chart paper.

During the dessert break, ASR labored over the SS chapter, racking his reluctant brains trying to come up with decent questions. While he was otherwise preoccupied, the siblings were in complete harmony, slurping and planning an activity for ASR that would suitably match and more than make up for their slave away time. Arnav couldnt help but feel a twinge of trepidation – all the khusur-phusur not to mention the wicked glances that Chotti sent his way along with Deva’s animated inputs didnt bode too well for his future. Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna! The thought inadvertently slipped out from his heart.

“Okay break over.” Arnav packed away the decimated cake and other stuff. “Back to work. And no talking,” he warned Chotti, “He’s taking a test. And Angel, you have to give the finishing touches to your project…”

“And we decided that you will also have to do something for us.” Chotti laid down their condition.

“What?” Arnav was seriously regretting his offer. Nothing short of madness!

“Anything.”

“Meaning?” Arnav was taken aback.

“Meaning surprise us. Entertain us.” She waved her hand at the stuff littered on the floor – streamers, sparklers, balloons, colored sheets, glue and what not, “Make something for us. Something we will enjoy.” She threw him a challenge exchanging a look with her partner-in-crime who wore a smug look admixed with superior glee and pity for his beleaguered Dad.

“Well? Go on. What are you waiting for?” Chotti prodded before snickering behind her hand.

“I’m waiting for you guys to begin slaving.” Feeling on safer grounds, ASR remarked.

Chastened, they bent over their respective tasks, shooting curious looks once in a while to Arnav as he stared at the available raw material and tried to come up with something creative and enjoyable – something that he would love doing. When had he done that last? He couldn’t recollect anything apart from getting a rise out of Khushi that is. And now with his kids. He sighed feeling guilty about all the years he had missed spending with them. No wonder Devansh viewed him with suspicion as if he was some alien. He shook his head. He too had been overprotective of his mother and his Di.

Di.

A smile creased his face. He swiftly gathered the things he needed and stuffed them in the oversized pockets of his cargo pants before Chotti’s sharp eyes caught him.

“Okay guys.” He held his palm over this hand to indicate time out. “Carry on with your work while I go into the other room and do something creative worthy of you. And mind you no cheating.” He warned strictly. “I’ll finish…finish my project and come out and check your progress and only then allow you to check it out. Otherwise it’s back to the books.” He looked at Devansh. “Got it?”

Devansh nodded. He had already gone back to his test.

“But Daddy, why do you have to go to another room?” She whined. “Why can’t you do it here?”

“You’ll know when you see.” He said mysteriously.

“Oooh! Tell me now! Please, please Daddy please. Dad….”

“Shush!” Arnav hushed her. “Devansh is giving a test. Remember if he doesn’t do well then even you can’t see what’s in there.”

“What!? Why!?”

But Arnav shook his finger at her and had walked off.

“Da,” Chotti muttered softly, “I hope you know all the questions.”

“Of course I know all the questions!” He waved the sheet of paper and tapped it with his pen. “They are all written here. Buddhoo.” He scoffed.

“Fine! Be that way!” Chotti stuck out her tongue. “When it’s time I’ll tell Daddy…”

“Before you say anything I will tell him that you are disturbing me!” Deva shot back. “Daaad!”

“Shush!!!!” Chotti clapped a hand over his mouth. He glared at her and pushed away her hand. He opened his mouth to call out again.

“Please! Please!” Chotti begged.

“Say sorry.”

“Sorry.”

“Not like that. Hold your ears and do sit ups. Say sorry ten times.”

Chotti had none of Khushi’s hesitation or sense of humiliation. After all Da was right. She was disturbing him and she had no shame in owning up to it or paying for it, while Devansh watched with an unholy gleam in his eye.

“What’s happening here?” One afternoon with the kids and his sixth sense had kicked in. They were silent. Too silent.

Deva bent his head assiduously over his worksheet while Chotti made some elaborate leg extensions swinging her arms up and down. “Angel?” Arnav was hard put to keep the grin off his face.

“Nothing Daddy,” Chotti swore airily, “I was just trying out some dance steps for my dance class next week, 4, 3,2 and 1, 2, 3,” she panted and she switched positions. Arnav’s eyes strayed to Devansh – a tactical blunder as he was watching his Dad’s face with keen interest. Arnav’s expression slipped and instantly a wide grin split Devansh’s face. Arnav turned on his heels and went back to his slavery, all but laughing aloud.

Dad wasn’t so bad after all, Devansh admitted to himself with a warm glow in his heart.

“Wasn’t I clever?” Chotti gloated. “Daddy didn’t get to know anything!”

“Oh didn’t he?” Deva grinned to himself. “Will you please let me work?” He sighed.

Chotti slunk away.

*** to be continued ***

Click here for the final Part VI

 

Arnav Goes to School – IV

Click here for:

Part I

Part II

Part III

berries, blackberries, blueberries
Photo from Pexels

Part IV

“Can I have a choco-lava cake Daddy?”

“I want an ice cream cake, and an apple pie.” Deva too had his list ready. “Oh and a fruit salad sundae.”

“Da! You are such a hog! Daddy if he’s taking all that, then I want a tiramisu too!” She paused. “Three tiramisu,” she counted on her fingers, “Mamma and Nani also like it.” She looked at Arnav. “Maybe one for HPji as well?”

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Okay enough now. Let’s wrap up this extended lunch. I’ll see about,” he shook his finger at them, “ordering your requests, provided you start studying….”

“Studying! Right away after lunch?” Devansh was aghast. “We’ve just come back from studying…”

“So what?” Arnav said hard-heartedly, “Even I have been working since morning…”

“But Daddy,” Chotti slid close to him, “You went to office two hours later than us,” she batted her eyes at him, “and you’re are so much older than us.”

“Exactly.” Arnav’s lips twitched, “if I being so old can work so much, surely you guys with young blood can work much more than I can.” He crossed his arms and waited sure that fresh salvos were on the way.

“Yes of course we can Dad,” Arnav raised his eyebrow at this unexpected support. “But for an all round growth we need to exercise all parts of the body. We already worked out the grey cells, time for the muscles don’t you think?” he wheedled.

“Don’t listen to him Daddy!” Chotti threw herself into the fray, “he played a lot of football. Before school, during break and even after school!” She turned a beleaguered face up to Arnav and said piously, “It’s my grey cells which need a break, besides my dolls are crying for their Mamma…”

“Oh please Chotti,” snapped Guddu, “dolls don’t cry, they aren’t even alive…”

“Says who?” Chotti ran off to get her favorite doll and pulled a string. Instantly the doll set up a racket.

“Ouch!” Both son and dad flinched.

Seeing his opportunity, Devansh appealed to ASR, “Dad I HAVE to practice more. Shubham scored 3 goals while I couldn’t even score one goal.” He drooped.

“Shubham is older than you,” Chotti consoled him, “and,” with her brow darkening, “a meanie. Only meanies can score goals.” She absolved her brother of any such character flaws.

Arnav frowned. “What did Shubham do?”

“Nothing Dad,” Devansh shushed Chotti, “When she was younger, Chotti used to join us as we ran around the field playing football. She would get underfoot, trip and get hurt. That’s why whenever Shubham saw her near the field, he would hold the ball and not let anybody play. So then all of us would gang up and chase her away and ever since then she calls Shubham a meanie.”

“But that was the right thing to do Angel.” ASR shrugged off his coat and tugged at his tie and plopped down on the settee. Surrender was the only way out. Besides he was finally having fun. “He did what he had to do to save you…”

“Exactly what Mamma said – sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind,” intoned Deva.

“I don’t care.” Chotti put her nose in the air. “Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a…”

“He is not!” Guddu cried hotly. “He’s the best.”

“He is not.”

He is.”

Not.”

“Is.”

“Is not.”

“Okay!” Arnav played his trump card. “So which dessert should I order and from where?” He took out his mobile and waved it temptingly. Instantly they both lunged for it and fell on top of Arnav, who held away the phone.

The deserted corridors of RM were rent with shrieks and howls and it was a miracle that the living room settee didn’t crash. A rumpled but victorious ASR emerged from the tangle of skinny arms and legs with the phone still in his grip.

“I think I need to order something to drink as well!” Arnav was bright-eyed and flushed.

“Yay! Orange juice!”

“Pineapple for me!”

“Okay okay fine!” Arnav swiftly tapped the order app and gave a rather generous and large order led astray by the range of demands pouring in from over both his shoulders. Besides he couldn’t refuse them anything. He was just here for one day. Khushi could discipline them as much as he liked. But he did have the ‘deal’ to clinch.

“And done!” He pressed the proceed button. “This will take 45 min to an hour to be delivered. So why don’t you finish your respective homework during this period?”

“Okay Daddy,” Chotti gave an angelic smile, “I will do mine and on my own.” She stuck out her tongue at Deva.

Guddu was unfazed. “If I had some stupid drawing homework, even I would have done it by myself. But this is Social studies, I bet you don’t even know what it is…”

“Why can’t you do it on your own?” Arnav cut in hastily as Chotti geared up for another round.

“I study like that only,” Deva said sulkily, “I will read the chapter and you will have to ask questions.”

“Sure,” Arnav nodded. “I’ll be happy to do that.” He smirked to himself as he could see Khushi’s crestfallen face. Now what should he make her do? He wondered. Make her dance? Make her say sorry holding her ears? No! He couldn’t do that to her again. Maybe…

“Dad. Dad!” Deva shook him. “I finished reading,” he held out his book.

“So soon?” Arnav was surprised.

Deva shrugged. “Ask me anything from Chapter 22.”

Chotti returned dragging a rucksack almost twice her size. Ignoring them, she upturned the bag and emptied the contents on the floor. She carefully unrolled a sheet of chart paper and weighted them down. She rifled through her scattered belongings picking and discarding things.

“Dad!”

“Oh yeah!” Arnav tore his eyes from Angel and reluctantly flipped the pages. Social studies had never been his kind of subject. “Chapter 21?”

“No Dad. Chapter 22.” Devansh was busy bouncing a tennis ball.

“This is a long chapter,” Arnav accused, “how could you read it so fast, leave alone memorize?”

“Ask me anything.” Devansh challenged, his entire attention on the lime green ball.

Arnav sighed and focused on studying. Devansh had only skimmed through the pages, relying on his interrogator to fill in the blanks while he played ball. This was how he liked to study and so long as he was studying, absorbing and retaining, Khushi saw no harm in going with the flow.

Not so with Arnav. He didn’t appreciate the spoon-feeding, primarily because it meant double work for him – read the chapter, grasp the essentials, and pick up the ones Devansh missed. And to top it all SS!

Who the hell created SS? He would take great pleasure in doing away with the person for once and for all.

*** to be continued***

Click here for Part V

 

 

Arnav Goes to School – III

Click here for:

Part I

Part II

Shallow Focus Photography of Potato

Part III

“Come on Devansh.” ASR said testily. “Enough of this nonsense. Come down immediately for lunch.”

Guddu stiffened and he wore a matching expression. “Where’s Mom?”

“I told you! She is busy. And so is Nani.” ASR added.

“Busy where?” Guddu insisted.

“Just busy.” Arnav repeated feeling out of his depth as Chotti joined them. “Did you finish your lunch?”

“You were taking so long and I was feeling scared,” mumbled Chotti.

“Where’s Mom?” Devansh shouted

“Devansh don’t you dare…” ASR flared up.

“Is she in the hospital? Is she…is she…” Guddu’s voice shook despite himself.

“No!” Arnav was aghast. “Not at all! She’s fine. She’s gone shopping with Nani and Bua. Some wedding coming up,” he finished weakly. “Come for lunch and you can speak to her.” He awkwardly patted Devansh on the head. “Don’t worry. She’s fine. I promise.”

“Why didn’t Mamma take me shopping?” wailed Chotti. “I love shopping.”

“Mom never goes shopping at this time.” Guddu wasn’t so easy to convince. “She’s always home when I come.”

“So today for a change I am home.” Arnav ran a frazzled hand over his hair. “Isn’t that just as good?”

There was a depressing silence from Guddu although Chotti made up for it by giving him a hug. “Yes Daddy. Come Da, let’s finish lunch and then Daddy will play with us. He even promised to tell the story…”

“Did you and Mom have a fight?” Guddu clenched his fists and glared at Arnav. “Has she left us?”

“No!” Arnav gave up and called Khushi. “Hello Khushi…”

“Itni jaldi haar gaye?” She commiserated in a gloating tone. “tsk tsk tsk bechare Arnav.”

“Oh shut up Khushi.” Arnav snapped and instantly regretted it as Guddu’s face crumpled. He softened his tone. “Nice to know you are having a good time Khushi. Just talk to Deva will you? He is rather worried about your well being,” he held out the phone to Devansh.

Unwilling to be left out, Chotti clamored for her share of Mamma and a bit of whine and rant – how dare she go shopping without Chotti?

“Okay?” Arnav searched his son’s face.

Embarrassed, Guddu shrugged nonchalantly. “Whatever.” He mumbled.

“Mamma is at the hospital.” Chotti announced happily.

Instantly Guddu’s brow darkened. “She’s not!” he denied hotly. “She’s shopping. She told…”

“Arre Buddhoo,” Chotti scorned, “You really should clean your ears while bathing. She said she is NOT shopping but at the hospital.” She gave a dramatic pause, which made even Arnav’s heart rate increase. Was there more to this sudden ‘challenge’ by Khushi?

Chotti coughed importantly. “Mamma has taken Nani to visit her friend who is admitted in the hospital.” Arnav surreptitiously wiped his brow but the seed of doubt had been sown. What was she doing at the hospital? He fretted. Was it as she had told Angel or was she bluffing again? But he would have to get to the bottom of that later for there were other rather urgent and pressing concerns that needed to be taken care otherwise they too would have to visit the hospital.

While he had been indulging in his favorite daydream of ‘How dare you KKGSR’ Chotti had snickered at Guddu for being a Mamma’s boy and thinking she had left them. Devansh’ ego couldn’t take so much battering (at least not on an empty stomach and definitely not from Chotti). He flew off the handle and they were both rolling about on the floor, each hell bent on murdering the other.

“Enough!” ASR barked as he pulled them apart and physically dragged them to the dining table even as his phone rang insistently. “Sit!” His voice brooked no hanky panky.

Suffering withdrawal symptoms, Aman had chosen this moment to call up ASR. “What?” He snarled.

Wide-eyed Chotti began pecking at her food while Guddu sat mutinously. “Da,” she kicked him under the table, “Daddy is really angry.”

“I’m not blind.” Retorted Guddu with a return kick. “And when isn’t he?”

“Haww!” Chotti sat up straight. “How can you say that?!! He’s the best Daddy in the WHOLE world.”

“I don’t know about the best but he may be the angriest.” scoffed an out-of-sorts Deva.

“And you are the most selfishest person.” Chotti chastised him, “You know Daddy has diabetes and falls sick if he doesn’t eat on time? If you don’t eat, he also won’t eat. Do you want him to faint?”

Guddu blenched.

“Or die?” her voice shook.

“I don’t care if the President of Mars is coming.” ASR cut into Aman’s excited crackle. “Cancel my appointments. And don’t call me again.” He glared at the phone in his hand. “Now what the hell is wrong with this phone?” He fumed.

Devansh perked up. “Let me see.” He plucked the phone out of Arnav’s hand. “What’s the problem exactly?” He asked as he ran a professional eye over the phone.

“Noth…” ASR reached out to take the phone but changed tactics. “I don’t know!” he said rather helplessly. “It keeps hanging. I’ve tried everything in the book…”

“What’s this App?” Deva was busy scanning ASR’s phone. “Kill Bill?”

Arnav shrugged, “No Idea. I thought you or Angel must have downloaded it on our last trip to…”

“I didn’t,” Deva denied, “And I doubt if Chotti would be able to download any app,” he scoffed.

“Excuse me?” Chotti said haughtily looking remarkably like a mini ASR. “Of course I know how to download apps.” She peered over his arm. “Which one? Kill Bill? No that’s not mine, besides isn’t that something to do with bills? Maybe Mamma…”

“Why should she download on Dad’s phone?” Deva argued. “Dad, I think this a rogue app. I am deleting it.” He restarted the phone. “I think it should work fine now.” He handed it to Arnav. “Let me know if it doesn’t.”

“Sure. Thank you.” Arnav said meekly. “Shall we have lunch? Angel, have I told you the story about how Grandmamaji made friends with the Martians and set up ARDesigns over there?”

“No, Daddy.”

“It’s a very interesting tale. You see it happened that Mamaji’s space capsule got lost and instead of the Moon, he landed on Mars.”

“Ooh then what happened?” All eyes, Chotti chewed her food. Arnav heaved a mental sigh of relief as from the corner of his eye he saw Devansh pull up a plate.

“A lot of exciting stuff. What’ll you have Deva?” He asked casually. “Rice or roti?”

“Rice.” Devansh served himself and tucked in hungrily.

“Angel, you didn’t finish your roti? You know you are lucky not to be on Mars.”

“Why?” Chotti obligingly took a bite.

A starving Arnav also dug in. “They don’t have rice or roti.”

“Then what do they eat?”

“Algae.”

“Algae? What’s that?” Chotti was curious.

“Green slimy stuff.” Arnav spoke with his mouth full. “Finish up and I’ll show you a photo on my phone.”

“I finished.” Chotti pushed away her plate.

“But you just had one roti! Your Mamma said you have two rotis.”

“Only sometimes,” Chotti prevaricated, “very rarely.” She crossed her fingers.

“She’s lying Dad.” Guddu couldn’t let this opportunity slip, “She always has two rotis unless she’s sick or something. Mom doesn’t let her get up from her chair until she finishes…”

“Daddy do you know Da has his social studies exam tomorrow? He doesn’t know anything in social studies.” She said with relish.

“It’s not an exam, stupid. It’s just a silly test. They don’t count.” Devansh shot daggers with his eyes and promised just deserts later. Chotti stuck out her tongue at him.

“Yech.” Guddu retched. “Don’t do that – not while eating.” He gagged. “With all that muck…”

“Okay okay, enough now.” Arnav interrupted mildly, “who wants an ice cream?”

“There’s no ice cream in the fridge.” Chotti picked at her food.

“How do you know?” Both Guddu and ASR were surprised.

“Don’t you remember Da. Last month …” she clammed up.

“Oh right!” Devansh tapped his chin with an unholy glint, “you filched ice cream from the freezer and then left the freezer door open…”

“Daddy you’ll have to really sit on Da’s head to make him social studies.” She shook her head. “He really hates it…”

“Dad what’s for dessert?”

“I don’t know.” Arnav scratched his head. “I thought there would be ice cream.” He said the first thing that came to his mind.

“Didn’t Mamma make anything?” Devansh asked. “She always does.”

Arnav’s heart sank. Khushi had discussed the menu with him and he had vetoed dessert.

“They like to have something sweet after lunch.” Khushi had warned.

“They can have some fruit. Sugar is not good for health, I think you know that?” He had said pointedly.

Khushi had shrugged. “Have it your way, but they usually have milk and fruits at around 6 pm. But,” she smiled sweetly, “You’re the boss.”

Yes! He was the boss.

“I can order something…” Arnav offered.

 

*** to be continued***

Click here for Part IV

Arnav Goes to School – II

To read the first part first, click here

competition, dispute, fight
Photo from Pexels

Part II

“I don’t!” Khushi denied hotly. “We have a deal, school tiffin and lunch their way and dinner my way.”

“School tiffin is fine,” admitted Arnav, “but decide on a common menu for lunch not a spread worthy of a wedding reception…”

“Rubbish! See this is rajma for Chotti and she likes a bit of mango chutney to switch flavors. She prefers roti while Guddu like rice but since he doesn’t much care for rajma…”

“He doesn’t like rajma?” Arnav was surprised.

Khushi grinned and winked. “Actually he does like it but since Chotti likes it, he pretends he doesn’t.”

“But why?”

“It’s a matter of principle,” Khushi stuck her nose in the air, “you wont understand.”

“Make me.” Arnav insisted.

“See, it’s like this, one if he and Chotti like the same thing, then what’s the difference between him and Chotti right?” Khushi asked Arnav who rolled his eyes, “Oh come on Khushi!”

“And,” continued Khushi, “if rajma was on the menu how on earth was he going to know if that was for him or for Chotti? Now if I made kadi that would be for him and only him…”

“What rubbish Khushi!” Arnav exclaimed, “that’s so complicated thinking and I doubt if…”

“See!” Khushi wagged an accusing finger. “I said you wouldn’t understand!” She walked off in a huff.

“Did Deva really say all that or did you think it for him?” Arnav followed Khushi upstairs.

Khushi glared at him. “I didn’t think it for him, I know that’s his thinking. If you spent more time at home and with them you would also know it.” She paused. “Waise on second thoughts I doubt if you have enough heart and brain to…” she bit her lip as ASR’s lips thinned.

“Don’t transfer your convoluted thought processes on to my children.” Arnav stressed. “And don’t create complicated issues where none exist. Just lay down the law and watch them toe the line.”

“Oh!?” Khushi’s eyes flashed. “So you think you can make them toe the line?”

ASR raised an eyebrow. “Haven’t you seen me in office?”

“Hmm, true.” Khushi tapped a thoughtful finger to her cheek. “Waise,” she coughed, “I don’t remember ASR being very successful in making someone toe the line.” She bit her lip and watched with glee as he went from a haughty confused expression to a sheepish one within a span of few seconds.

She laughed.

“Nonsense!” He made an instant recovery. “Someone used underhanded tactics besides being as slippery as an eel.”

“Huh!?” Khushi’s mouth fell open. He put a hand under her chin and popped it shut. He walked out into the poolside.

Predictably, Khushi came charging after him. “What underhanded tactics?” she challenged aggressively her eyes glowing with righteous indignation. “You were the one…” she thrust a finger into his face.

He entwined his finger with hers and brought it down. “I was the one who wanted to play a fair game but you…” he said reproachfully shaking his head.

“But I what?” Khushi demanded aggressively.

“You were supposed to take the measurements, but you,” He tapped her on the chest, “got someone else to do your dirty work.” He raised a hand as she opened her mouth to retaliate, “You were supposed to take dictation not tape it…”

“…and I was supposed to start crying and beg pardon not take up your challenge head on,” Khushi completed her eyes sparkling with the light of battle. “And you couldn’t resist the challenge I represented could you?” She waggled her eyes at him.

Arnav’s lips twitched. “I do love challenges.” He flicked her nose and turned away.

“Not so fast Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada,” Khushi caught him by the hand. “Since you love challenges so much, I have one for you.” She grinned at him with a cat-got-the-cream expression.

Arnav raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?” He said arrogantly. “You will give me a challenge? You?

“Yes. Me.” Khushi crossed her arms. “Actually two challenges, if you manage to rise up to even one, I will…I will….”

“You will what Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” His voice was deceptively soft.

“I will do whatever you want,” she said recklessly, “for a day,” she added hastily at the glint in his eyes. “And if you lose, it’s the other way round. Deal?” she held out her hand.

Arnav looked at her warily. “At least tell me what the challenge is?”

“Scared?” Khushi taunted.

“Of you?” He scoffed.

Khushi giggled and nodded. She relented. “Don’t worry. It’s something I do everyday.” She shrugged.

Arnav reached out and firmly clasped her hand and jerked her close. “Deal.” He breathed huskily into her ear.

“So, what’s the challenge?” Arnav asked, much later.

“Ah the challenge!” Khushi gave her hair one final brush and turned to face him. “You have to collect Chotti and Guddu from school and take care of them until dinner.”

Arnav frowned. “And?”

“That’s it!” Khushi smiled brightly.

“That’s it?” Arnav said disbelievingly. “What’s the catch?”

“No catch.” Khushi straightened his tie and helped him with his coat. “Just do what I do everyday, for just one day.”

Arnav shrugged. “Sure. Any day. Just tell me when.”

“Tomorrow!” She paused. “Not tomorrow, Thursday.”

“Why Thursday?” Arnav was suspicious of the glint in her eye. “Why not tomorrow?”

Khushi shrugged. “Nothing special.” She dismissed airily.

“Khushi…?” Arnav warned.

“Okay fine!” Khushi capitulated. “On Friday, Guddu has his weekly test and Chotti her project submission.”

Despite the air-conditioning, Arnav broke out in a sweat. He could already see Khushi’s knowing gloating grin.

It was already 3.30 pm and the kids hadn’t even had lunch yet. 

What the…! 

There was no way Khushi was going to win this battle. 

Not again.  

Buck up ASR he pepped himself, buck up.

*** to be continued ***

A/N Since ASR is busy strategizing on how best to clinch the deal, the next post will be on D-Day i.e. Thursday 😀 And in case you are wondering how to pass the time until then here are a couple of links to short stories – go on make my day, read at least one!

Bunch of Short Stories

Some Short stories

Friday Flash

Click here for Part III

Arnav Goes to School – I

Yeah, so well after Moonshine I seem to be in a sort of limbo and haven’t been posting or writing half as much as I would like to. Even this story has been simmering on the back-burner for weeks now. I thought that perhaps if I began posting it, I might get the necessary impetus to finish it. Look forward to your (vocal) support in this 6 part (completed) story.

A quick word (or two) of clarification for those who are not familiar with the characters. This story is about Arnav Singh Raizada also known as ASR and his wife (kam eternal sparring partner zyada) Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada (KKGSR) and their two children – Devansh aka Deva, Da, Guddu and Angelika aka Angel, Chotti. Thanks for reading 🙂

Painting and Drawing Tools Set
Photo from Pexels

Part I

“Daddeeee!” Ponytail and skirt flying Chotti ran out of the school gates and into her father’s arms.

“Whoa!” Arnav’s face softened and creased as he gathered her into his arms. “Where’s Deva?”

“Must have sneaked off to the playground for a bit of football,” Chotti sniffed disparagingly.

“Go and call him.” Arnav was uncomfortable among the milling crowd of children and mothers. “We are getting late.”

“You know him right Daddy?” Chotti spread her hands expressively and in a manner belying her age. “He won’t come before he’s scored at least 3 goals. Even Mamma can’t…” she paused, “where’s Mamma?”

Arnav cleared his throat and passed a finger around his neck, feeling rather hot under his trademark three-piece suit. “She’s busy.”

“Hey Da!” she waved frantically.

Deva dragged his feet and satchel, shirttail sticking out of his shorts. “Where’s Mom?”

“She’s busy. Come on now hurry.” He hustled them, feeling a bit put out at Deva’s lack of reaction. After all ASR had cancelled his meeting just to…oh well at least Angel was happy to see him.

“Why isn’t there anybody at home?” Deva asked. “Not even Nani?”

“I told you. They are busy. Wash up quick and come for lunch.” He waved his hand at the lunch laid out on the table.

Chotti took a sneak preview and backed off. “I’m not hungry.”

“Angel!” Arnav called sternly.

Chastened, she came back. “Only if you tell me a story.” she bargained

“I don’t want this goop,” Deva stirred the hornet’s nest.

Predictably Arnav’s brow darkened. “Excuse me?”

Deva excused himself.

“Da is a bad boy.” Angel crowed, “Isnt he Daddy?” She sidled close to him.

Arnav patted her head distractedly. Now what? He was getting late dammit.

Chotti tugged ASR’s hand. “Forget him Daddy. He’ll come down when he’s hungry. No need to pamper him like Mamma does.”

Arnav grunted.

“Which story are you going to tell me Daddy?” She shook him. “Don’t worry about him Daddy, he always does this! I won’t eat this I won’t eat that,” expressive hand gestures accompanied her passable imitation of her sibling, “and then Mamma always has to bribe him with something special.”

“Something special?!” Arnav asked. “Like what?”

Chotti shrugged. “This and that. Sometimes Maggi, sometimes burger, sometimes mango shake,” she turned to him struck, “Daddy can I have a mango shake?”

“No Angel.” Arnav was firm. “You’ve got to eat this.” He quickly served her and placed her on the chair. “Now be a good little girl and eat up. I’ll just go and check up on….”

Chotti’s lower lip trembled. “Aren’t you going to tell me a story?”

“Ahh Angel,” An increasingly frazzled Arnav cast a helpless glance upstairs, “I don’t know any story…”

“Don’t worry about that!” Chotti was all smiles as she beckoned him and pointed to the chair in front of her. “You can tell me about how Grandmamaji went to Mars and set up shop there.”

ASR hissed in frustration as he disconnected Aman’s phone for the nth time. “Sweetheart, why don’t you start eating? I’ll just go and get Devansh,” his voice hardened.

Devansh!

Daddy was mad.

Chotti nodded angelically and delicately tore off a tiny piece of the roti, dipped it in the rajma and popped it into her mouth. “Daddy can I come and watch while you get Da?” she asked with morbid pleasure.

“No!”

Angel’s eyes swam with tears.

Arnav hastily softened his tone. “I’ll be right back sweetie. Finish your food.” He dropped a kiss on her head. Satisfied, Chotti stayed put her eyes glued to the stairs.

She could imagine Daddy dragging a kicking and screaming Da by the ears. She shivered with dreadful anticipation and gory relish.

“Devansh,” Arnav cracked the whip, “come on now and eat your lunch. I am late for my meeting.”

“I’m not hungry.” Devansh said sullenly.

“Of course you are.” Arnav was starving. This was not how he had imagined he would be spending Monday. A fun-filled afternoon, with adoring grateful children hanging on to his words with each of them vying to do his command was how he had visualized it.

And bragged about it to Khushi as well.

“Why are you always in the kitchen?” He had grumbled. “What do you pay HP for?”

“To run errands while I stir the pot and whip up stuff on the that ever growing list,” Khushi wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist.

“You spoil the kids rotten.” Arnav frowned. “You shouldn’t pamper them so much. Give them one thing and that’s it. How many days won’t they eat? One day, two days? Sooner or later they will come to the table and eat whatever is served.”

“Yeah right.” Khushi rolled her eyes. “Been there done that,” she sighed resignedly, “and got my head chewed off for being such a lazy slacker of a mother.”

Arnav frowned. “What the…! Who dare say such a thing to you?”

“You my darling laad governor,” she flicked his nose with her floury hands before running them under the tap.

“Nonsense!” Arnav denied hotly. “I never said such a thing to you.”

“Yes you did.” Khushi insisted wiping her hands, “When Chotti was having repeated chest infections and the doctor said she was malnourished….” Khushi watched with satisfaction as a dull color suffused ASR cheeks.

“Oh that?” He looked away.

“Yes that.” Khushi crossed her arms and nodded.

“That was ages ago,” Arnav dismissed, “Chotti was just 6….”

“….and now she’s just 8 and Guddu is underweight…”

“Whatever,” Arnav waved his hand impatiently, “all I am saying is that the children are becoming spoiled brats and need to learn some discipline. You shouldn’t give into their demands so much.”

*** to be continued ***

 

A/N Next update is tomorrow. Do let me know your thoughts and if you would like to take more sneak peeks into their lives click here – From DM’s Desk

Click here for Part II

Fighting a Losing Battle

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Photo (c) Pexels

Words ~ 800

Don’t you dare shout at me Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada!” ASR’s face was black as thunder.

“Why should I not? Are you the only one with daring?”

“Shut up Khushi.”

“Why should I? You shut up. Besides you started it!” Khushi’s voice was hoarse from the slanging match.

“I did not!” ASR denied.

“You did,” Khushi insisted, “God! You are really high maintenance.”

“I am high….huh?! That’s rich, coming from you.” ASR stomped into the kitchen.

“What are you looking for?” Khushi followed him.

Ignoring her, he banged drawers.

“What?” She insisted.

Slam.

“You tell me.” He snapped. “You know me so well.”

Khushi pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes as she accepted his challenge. She bent down and extracted a box of lemon teabags and banged it on the counter.

Arnav’s eyes flickered and steadied. He raised an eyebrow. “Clearly you don’t know me at all.”

“Oh but I do.” Khushi said mournfully. “I was just hoping I was wrong.” She opened a cupboard. “This is what you were looking for weren’t you?” She held a large kitchen knife.

Arnav smothered a laugh and flicked away the knife from her. “Where’s the kettle?”

“Right under your nose.” She rolled her eyes. “What’ll you do when I die?”

His eyes strayed to the knife.

Khushi rolled her eyes and snitched it back. She dropped it among the pots and pans and dusted her hands while shutting the drawer with a trademark swing of her shapely hips.

Arnav’s lips twitched.

Khushi plugged in the kettle and asked gently. “Shall we come to the crux of the matter?”

His eyes flickered.

Khushi sighed. “Arnav let Guddu go. He really wants to, besides it’s just for a couple of years….”

“Couple of years!” Arnav was up in arms. “How can you say just for a couple of years? Do you know how long that is?”

“You also went off abroad…”

“I didn’t have my parents waiting worrying…”

“Di and Nani were there…”

“Damn.” He turned away and smashed his fist on the wall. “It’s all your fault!” He accused, rubbing his hand.

“If that sorts your problem,” Khushi shrugged, “I accept.” She bowed. “It’s my fault. Happy?” She switched off the rumbling kettle.

“I’ll be happy if you rectify your fault.”

“Rectify my fault? How?” Khushi handed him his tea. (Side note: Yeah along the way, ASR had switched over to tea– coffee caused too much acidity and dhak dhak 😛 )

“Deva never listens to me. You convince him not to go.” He urged. “If you insist, he will definitely change his plans…”

“He listens to me only because I insist on things I know he will listen to…”

“That’s crazy!” 

“Exactly!” Khushi pounced. “And I have to do that thrice over.” She paused to tick them off her finger, “Guddu, Chotti, and of course ASR.”

“Rubbish.”

“Deny all you like.” Khushi shrugged. “All three of you are stubborn and self-opinionated egoistic…”

“Okay okay fine fine.” Arnav raised his hands in surrender. “Don’t drag me into this,” he paused. “Where will he stay? What will he eat?” He fretted. He brightened. “Maybe you could go along with him?”

“As if he would allow his Mamma to tag along with him! He’s a full grown man.” Khushi prayed for patience. “Besides who would manage things here?”

“What’s there to manage here?” Arnav was blasé. “Angel and I will have a blast with you out of our hair.”

“Mamma!” Chotti called from the living room. “I’m going!”

“Going?” Khushi poked her head out of the kitchen. “Where?”

“I told you!?” Chotti sashayed up to her looking hip in a figure hugging little black dress, “Sammy’s birthday party. I’ll be late. Don’t wait for me.” She twirled around. “How do I look?” she looked at them expectantly.

“Beautiful.” Khushi said extra brightly.

“Bye Mom!” she blew them a kiss. “Bye Daddy.”

“What the…!” Arnav breathed fire into her ears.

“Now what?” Khushi was at her tethers end. Hey Devi Maiyya please! Sambhal lena!

“What the hell is she wearing?!!!”

“Much more than what you wanted me to wear.” Khushi replied tartly.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Oh how I envy you your convenient memory.” Khushi gritted her teeth.

“That’s neither here nor there.” Arnav brushed her aside impatiently. “Why didn’t you say anything to her?” He was agitated.

“Because I have already had that battle with her and lost.” She raised a hand as Arnav opened his mouth to blast her. “And better you admit defeat too,” she advised kindly, “before she also decides to look for accommodation elsewhere.”

Khushi watched with interest and intense amusement the play of myriad emotions on Arnav’s face, which could perhaps be best described as oops-dammit-left-with-no-option-but-to-allow-Khushi-to-have-the-last-word—–again.

***

Cough cough waise Arnav ko toh aap bhi achche se jaante honge? Toh aapko kya lagta hai, unka expression kaisa raha hoga?

Look forward your reactions to this retrospective look at Arshi and their lives and if you are interested enough, I may just have another one – soon 😉

WPC: Twisted Nature

This week’s photo challenge is about showing something twisted. So let’s see how twisted one can get…

20170804_112521Twisted metal rods that dot the rural landscape

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Fed up with the twisted eyesores, nature takes things into her hands – when you can’t beat them, join them!

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“Just a single cord is enough to be tangled”Munia Khan

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“The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.” Khalil Gibran

 

IMG_0145Once upon a time, I lived my life in this ‘green room’. Only the bed is missing.

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“Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him.” Khalil Gibran

 

Rose

“The snow and the storm destroy the flower; but its seed they cannot kill.” Khalil Gibran

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“You may chain my hands, you may shackle my feet; you may even throw me into a dark prison; but you shall not enslave my thinking, because it is free!” Khalil Gibran

Just 4 Fun #88

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So even if I did miss this post last week I believe we are still together 😛

 

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Ergo – let us all go ego-less 😀

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Too much gyan kya? Let’s see what I else I can find…

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Did you do that? Not me – I was a very good girl!

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Not me… at least not then. But have been in similar situations while going into the boss’ room 😀

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Yes! I will admit to this – you?

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Heheh

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I have to confess, the cat is cuter! Moving on

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Flexibility is key to survival.

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Hmm I hope he didnt really die for then she would have had the last laugh – just kidding 😀

 

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What’s your excuse? Mine is that it’s all those burgers and fries Mabel has been teasing me to drool about 😉

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Seriously!

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Extremely seriously!!!!

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So how many you identify with Aunty Acid? Oh that reminds of a joke where this guy was moaning to his friend, “I dont think my wife is ever going to die. She has nothing but clothes, she wouldnt be caught dead in.”

That’s all folks – have a great week and as usual none of this stuff is mine, I aim to keep the laughter going 🙂

Colors of Nature

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Remember this blazing amaltas tree from just a couple of weeks ago?

20180527_165530.jpgBut just two weeks later, as the Sun goes on a rampage, this one has opted for a strategic retreat – spring will come another day.

IMG-20180518-WA0025.jpgYet elsewhere, pink blossoms bloom (Dublin to be precise)

IMG-20180527-WA0000.jpgAs do purple ones – though my sister (not the one in the pic) insists on calling it blue – what do you think?

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Some inverted trumpet flowers (do correct me if I am wrong, which I think I am) blooming defiantly among tall disapproving trees 😀

 

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And some prickly pretty cacti! The last two are poached from my brother’s album as he tours the North-East 🙂

Now if only I had a few pics of the palash or forest fire to complete my collage.

Ah well spring will come again 😉

 

Linked to Becca’s Sunday Trees

Any readers of Silver Streaks here? Well you may like to visit here – A-Shubh Again

Feet of Clay

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Photo (c) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Feet of Clay

Words 200

“Mom!” Shilpa wailed, “Look at the cake.”

“Don’t worry darling,” Reema consoled, “Layer it with cream and fruits. Your Dad will love it.” She looked at the clock. “Why isn’t Vishal back with the ice cream yet?”

“Won’t Daddy be surprised!?” Shilpa rubbed her hands in glee.

“I was surprised when so many congratulated me!” Reema bustled about. “I felt like a celebrity!”

“He’s the bestest smartest Daddy in the whole world!” Shilpa twirled.

“Vishal!” Reema gasped. “What happened?”

Shirt torn, hair askew, Vishal tottered in.

“Liars!” he spat.

“Who?”

“Everyone! They’re accusing Daddy…”

“…Of…?

“…Sexual misconduct at the workplace.”

***

PS. Not Morgan Freeman! Are there no good men?

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and the beautiful photo prompt. To read the other stories (and participate in the challenge) click here.

SPF: A Rough Draft

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Photo (c) Susan Spaulding

A Rough Draft

Words 200

“Well? Is it done?”

“Sort of. Whether it is well or otherwise is not for me to judge.”

“Very funny. So aren’t you going to show off?”

“Umm. Not sure whether it’s worth bragging about.”

“Come on! Are you digging for compliments?”

“From you?! Who hasn’t even looked at it once?”

“That’s a dig!”

“Haha. Very funny.”

“How does it feel to have finished the story you were working on for over two years?”

“Mostly drained.”

“That’s it?”

“So much more remains to be done!”

“You have a complete story! Go find a publisher and just rake in the moolah.”

“If only it were that easy!”

“Isn’t it?

“Before I can even think of contacting a publisher, I have to edit my novel.”

“Isn’t that the editor’s job?”

“Nope! He just draws red lines through manuscripts before throwing it in the trash.”

“Ouch!”

“Exactly. Ideally one should spend at least thrice the amount of time editing as writing.”

“Wow! You don’t like editing?”

“I do but despite the difficult subject, writing was so much fun.”

“How’s that possible?”

“It was possible thanks to all the people who kept me company through the tortuous paths and cheered me from the sidelines.”

***

A/N Sorry about that I simply couldn’t resist bragging in a (not so) roundabout way 😉 I finished Moonshine the story for which I began blogging (240 chapters!) and the reason I’ve been away – just in case any of you noticed 😛 A genuine and heartfelt thank you to all you alpha readers – silent and otherwise 🙏

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Susan Spaulding for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Just 4 Fun #87

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Now if only i could learn to be silent…but then again half my troubles would have been non-existent if i had spoken up in the first place. Darn it! To speak or not to speak is the question – any answers?

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I beg to differ I am neither old nor restless I just young and senseless. What about you? 😀

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Questions questions and no answers. Hmm well on second thoughts it could be a typo after all s and d are right next to each other on the keyboard 😛

 

IMG-20180511-WA0015Finally somebody got it right!

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Mother’s day has just come and gone and this was a lovely piece as were a couple of others

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But my personal favorite was this one

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which just goes on and on and on 😀

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Hahahave a wonderful week and just want to stress none of this stuff is mine and I am just keeping the fun going – Cheers

Blooming Amaltas

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week is about our place in the world. I decided to interpret it rather literally mostly because this is the right time (although not the right weather) to showcase my world. Temperatures are soaring and yesterday it was a sizzling 43o Celsius (109 o F) and like every summer my campus is on fire. Take a look.

20180512_103046Miles to ogle before I walk 😉

20180512_103121“It is with the intention of losing my way that I have descended on this path” Rabindranath Tagore

20180512_103215A dazzling and enchanting sight one that is quite difficult to tear ones eyes away from despite the blazing Sun.

20180512_102916I could look at this for hours and hours – from an air conditioned room of course 😉

Bane1The amaltas are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. This man wages a losing battle against the raining petals.

Bane2Show off 😉

20180509_174225While in school I used to draw the Sun rising from between the mountain peaks – this reminds me of that 😀

By the way, this is the view from my porch – now I’m showing off 😉 Just a couple of years more before we shift so may as well make the most of it!

Also linking to Becca’s Sunday Trees

Hope you enjoyed your stroll through my world – have a wonderful week 🙂

Just 4 Fun #86

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Well that’s an optimist speaking – if you speak to a pessimist, guess what he or she would say?

“Cheer up! The worst is yet to come” 😉

Moving on here are some wonderful definitions:-

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Which one is your favorite? Mine is the Nurse one 😀

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My question is why did he purchase one in the first place? Similarly I’m pretty sure he went after her in the first place… 😀

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Moral of the story: Be careful of what you ask for you may get it 😀

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I wonder where these cards are available….

I recently received a forwarded message on Workplace rules for a happy life credited to WHO. Although I couldn’t find it on their page I thought the suggestions were pretty neat and worth sharing

1. Trust no one but respect  everyone.
2. What happens in office, remains office. Never take office gossip home and vice versa.
3. Enter office on time, leave on time. Your desktop is not helping to improve your health.
4. Never make Relationships in the work place. It will always backfire.
5. Expect nothing. If somebody helps, feel thankful. If not, you will learn to know things on your own.
6. Never rush for a position. If you get promoted, congrats. If not, it doesn’t matter. You will always be remembered for your knowledge and politeness, not for your designation.
7. Never run behind office stuff. You have better things to do in life.
8. Avoid taking everything on your ego. Your salary matters. You are being paid. Use your assets to get happiness.
9. It doesn’t matter how people treat you. Be humble. You are not everyone’s cup of tea.
10. In the end nothing matters except family, friends, home, and Inner peace.
Actually, if you ask me, nothing matters except inner peace – so at the next Miss World/Universe contest let the winner be the one who wishes for inner peace instead of world peace 😀
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To receive good luck and happiness always, just share your joy and inner peace
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Happy Living and wish you all a wonderful week. Please note that none of this stuff is mine, I am just keeping the fun going 🙂

Grounded

A massive beauty for Becca’s Sunday Trees.The lady gives a perspective of size.

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“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky, we fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.” Khalil Gibran

When the Calling Calls

k-rawson
Photo (c) K Rawson

When the Calling Calls

Words 100

Skipping along the road of life she halted. Her eyes sparkled.

Don’t go down that road, they warned, it is a dead end.

Others said it was tricky treacherous path.

A one-way road to hell.

Quicksand that engulfs and suffocates you.

What rubbish! She tossed her mane and scoffed at the naysayers. You are such scaredy-cats and so darn negative.

We are realists, they claimed, and you but a babe in the woods. You know nothing of life, of sweat, blood, the struggle, the agony…

Perhaps, she laced her shoes, heaved her rucksack, but you can’t see what I can.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and K Rawson for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Well did you see what I saw or was it too obscure? Do let me know!

 

Just 4 Fun #85

I am a bit late with my weekly fun post – been having too much on my own 😀

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A lovely message don’t you think? Let’s see what else I have for you this week but I have to confess my personal resources are dwindling. You think people are less into whatsapping than before? Or their quota is drying up? No way – actually most forwards these days are videos and I don’t even have time to see them all!

WA

A reality I’m afraid and there was one very entertaining video about a guy whose phone battery dies and he initiates a conversation with a lady about her teen and turns out she is his wife and the boy his son 😉

WAblindBut I can’t help wondering can they see the screen in such bright sunshine?

Heights of internet addiction….. 
At a funeral in church:
A visitor: What’s the WiFi password here? 
Priest: Respect the dead.
 
 
Visitor: All small letters?

 

***

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Err by swiping from left to right or right to left as the case may be 😀

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All batteries in the pocket 😀 Thankfully they didnt ask about the power cable 😉

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How many of you know what that brown thing is? Go on, dont be shy, raise your hands and type it out – bindaas 😀

 

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A couple of more works of anti-gravity art works

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Super cool eh?

Ending today’s belated offering with a couple of quick jokes.

I went to a restaurant. It was full; no place to sit…
I took out my mobile, placed it to my ear and said loudly – “Bhabhi come fast, he’s here with someone else…”
Sixteen couples ran away…
***
BBC organized (maybe BBC did or did not – just dont hang the messenger!) a contest where contestants were challenged to write something such that
Feelings of *suspense, curiosity, apprehension, peace, tranquility, anger, violence, anxiety, pleasantness and happiness* are expressed in one short sentence.
The winning entry:
*My wife is not talking*
Umm works just as well with the spouse reversed dont you think?
That’s all folks! Do let me know your favorite and thank you for visiting. And as usual none of this stuff is mine, I’m just keeping the fun going 🙂

As You Like It

For this week’s Sunday Trees I have a really bindaas one 😀

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Covered

from top to toe

They cry foul

As they do

when uncovered

turn

a deaf ear to

the unpleasable world

take a leaf

from me

dance

to your song

as you like

however

you like

Faith & Fury

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Photo (c) Jan Wayne Fields

Faith & Fury

Words 101

Khushiiii!” Heart in his mouth Arnav ran towards the edge.

Sweating and panting, bit-by-bit, he pulled her back and into his arms, for an infinitesimal second, before going on a verbal rampage. “What the hell Khushi! Can’t you do anything right? What if something had happened dammit?”

“But nothing happened!” Khushi inspected her scraped arms. “In any case, it’s all Devi Maiyya’s* wish. If She wants me who am I to fight Her?”

Arnav’s face grew blacker.

Khushi held out her hand. “Help me.”

“Ask your precious Devi Maiyya.” He snapped.

“I did.” Khushi twinkled. “She told me to ask you.”

***

*Devi Maiyya: Mother Goddess

Side note: Just a snapshot of my favorite couple Khushi and Arnav. I didn’t mean to write about them (100 words is not enough) but they have a habit of inveigling themselves and not letting go – apologies if it didn’t make much sense.

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Jan Wayne Fields for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

 

WPC: Life Lines

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Lines. And guess what suddenly all I can see are lines 😀 I had to draw a line at the number of photos I dumped on unsuspecting visitors 😉

Let’s start on a high note okay?

20180420_202221Lines of wine bottles and delicacies to soothe the sugar cravings

20180418_200814Night lights and lines in a typical Indian Metro city. Any guesses as to exactly which city? Nope not Mumbai or Delhi 😉

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Petals lined up in a neat circular pattern. That reminds me, enough of interiors! Let’s get hot and dirty.

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The bare branched of the Plumeria or the Frangipani trees draw intricate lines in the hot summer sun.

 

20180413_065405One such tree though not of the trees which whiled away the time drawing lines 😉 This one is busy shooting lines at impossible angles that are in the process of being smothered by a green rash 😀

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These Canna leaves have such interesting lines and am enjoying watching them blossom and grow with each watering.

20180425_065002This caladium leaf could easily be mistaken for playing host to a giant pink spider. Don’t you think so too?

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Not just in life but in death too the leaves leave messages for us. What do you think it’s trying to say?

 

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I think it is saying C you Soon 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend unmarred by any lines on your brow 😀

SPF: Life Notes

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Life Notes

Words 200

“Cheers!” They clinked glasses of preferred poisons.

“When did we last meet?” Priya asked.

“Rhea’s wedding.” Molly winked at Priya as she raised her glass in a toast to Rhea. “So Rhea, did our advice help?”

They giggled at her blank look.

“The birds and the bees.” Priya prodded.

“Oh please!” Rhea smacked her forehead. “Couldn’t you girls have given me some better advice?”

“Like what?”

“Like how disastrous it is to have a joint bank account with your spouse.” Rhea shuddered. “If only someone had told me to keep our accounts separate.”

“Money sweeter than honey.” Molly giggled.

Priya poked Molly. “What would you have done differently?”

“I would’ve prayed harder for my children to ignore me.”

They stared.

“When my children left home and promptly forgot about me, I was devastated.” Molly said. “After several tragedies, broken hearts and late night calls I realized the harsh fact of life.” She grinned. “If your loved ones don’t miss you, they are in a happy place.”

“Your turn.” They looked at Priya.

“I would’ve stayed connected.” Priya looked at them. “I would’ve stolen some time for my friends.” She swallowed. “Invested more in myself, my constant and often only companion.”

***

This photo prompt was one of my earliest (second or perhaps the third) attempts at flash fiction. You can read it here if you wish and let me know which one you prefer – if at all!

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Just 4 Fun #84

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Don’t forget to pack it no matter where you go and even more importantly keep it handy – like your mobile.

Chained

Hmm not exactly what I was trying to portray, anyway

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Yeah this is more like it 😀

Err how about an ice cream or two?

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This one was too good to pass up 😀

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Very creative dont you think? I just wish I had known about this a week ago – while attending a one week intensive workshop on how to save the world. Or something like that 😉

Before I sign off with these pearls collected from the internet and forwarded messages (i.e. none of these are mine) here’s a notice which may be of interest to at least some of you 😉

SUMMER CAMP FOR MEN
Evening classes for men. Starting this month!
Summer camp 
Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty of these contents, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants each.
Topic 1
How to fill ice-cube trays and why to fill water bottles before putting them back in the fridge.
Step by step with slide presentation.
Topic 2
Differences between the laundry basket and the floor.
Pictures and explanatory graphics.
Topic 3
Learning how to find things, starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming.
Open forum.
Topic 4
Health watch: bringing her flowers is not harmful to your health.
Graphics and audio tape.
Topic 5
Real men ask for directions when lost.
Real-life testimonials.
Topic 6
Is it genetically impossible to sit quietly while SHE drives?
Driving simulation.
Topic 7
Learning to live: basic differences between mother and wife.
Topic 8
How to be the ideal shopping companion.
Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques.
Topic 9
How to fight cerebral atrophy: remembering birthdays, anniversaries, other important dates and informing when you’re going to be late.
Admissions are open. 
Which one do you think is most important or any that may have been missed?
Oh wait! One final tip…
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View From the Top

This week, I have this really tall one for Becca’s Sunday Trees

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the young uns

rustle and strain

eager to also

brush shoulders

with the sky

 

buffeted by winds

engulfed

in icy silence

bare branches

send a whisper

on a leaf

 

the sky

is just as far

from here

as from there

 

it is not about

how high you are

it is about how

deep you are.

Another Dead End

photoa

Another Dead End

Words 101

“I hate them! I’m never going back again.” She smashed a cup.

Granny continued rocking.

“I don’t matter, only society matters. Just because Rahul’s poor….”

“…Unemployed.” Granny cut in. “Just think! No money. No roof.”

“I… we’ll stay with you Dadi. You’re lonely.”

“I don’t mind. Not now. Would Rahul like to stay so far away…? ”

“…. He would! He can draw and paint in peace.”

“And you?”

“I’ll be with him.” She giggled. “Whispering sweet nothings.”

“What’ll you eat?”

“Whatever you cook.”

“I don’t cook anymore.”

“Why not?”

Granny gave a cackle and vanished in a puff of smoke.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Yarnspinner for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Just 4 Fun #83

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Warm bright colors of spring and the coming summer season 😀 And today I bring some minion (among other) fun – for some strange reason (and much to my frustration) I have been unable to access Pinterest from my home internet. But today since I am traveling things are better and here are a few of my favorites. Hope you enjoy 🙂

 

2017-12-11.png (436×468) - funny minion memes, funny minion quotes, Funny Quote... - funny minion memes, funny minion quotes, Funny Quote, Minion Quote, Quotes - Minion-Quotes.com

Hhahah aint that true 😀

 

Today 20 Best Minion Quotes

It does work and even better if you work out along with it. Trust me!

Rackarungar: DIY

Ins’t that right? Now she not only has to keep track of her glass slippers, the kitchen cinders but his socks too! Ahh well such is life.

Minions

Fellow nillionaires raise your hands!

 

.

And I am frequently surprised 😀

Bored not hungry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!..........

But it’s not shutting up. I really am starving and I need to go on a diet. Any suggestions?

Great idea. 🙂  Thanks……hey!!!!!

BEST LIFE QUOTES    If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun

So true and the worse part is I just got to know it! So many rules to break and so little time…

 

Albuquerque Funny Minions (09:20:38 PM, Friday 17, June 2016 PDT) – 20 pics... - 092038, 17, 20, 2016, Albuquerque, Friday, Funny, Funny Minion Quote, funny minion quotes, June, Minions, PDT, pics, PM - Minion-Quotes.com

I am not particularly fond of cocktails so perhaps the laptop and wifi?

Minions

Now I know!

Today 20 Best Minion Quotes

Unless I have been sitting for too long then even they dont fit – yeah I am at that age.

I could go on and on but I am sure you have loads to do – have a wonderful week! And as usual none of this stuff is mine and is all borrowed from the internet.

Do let me now your favorite one!

Hark! She Speaks

This week for Becca’s Sunday Trees I bring one that has probably witnessed history that continues to hold significance today – from the precincts of the famous Chittor fort. I have previously shared several visuals from this place earlier as well but this particular tree overlooks the Sati sthal on one side and Jauhar kund on the other. I could not bear to take photos of the place where women burnt themselves along with the dead bodies of their husbands or jumped into it for fear of rape and slavery by plunderers and victors of wars.

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Hark! She Speaks

I can tell you

tales of brave

helpless women

Sending off their men

to wage battles

of honor and pride

Fasting and praying

for his victory

and

his long life

They were but

One soul,

one body.

If he died, she would

burn with him

if he lost, it was Jauhar,

for her

and her children

As the spoils of war

it behooved her

to embrace death

to protect her

dignity and honor

and

save them

the dishonor

of failing to protecting her.

Times have changed

The world has progressed

They educate her

indulge her

pamper her and

cheer for her as she shatters

One glass ceiling after another

But under the sheen

lurks a beast

that seeks to

subjugate her with

attitudes and mentalities

that are passed off

as our culture and

sanskriti

All said and done

it is still her duty

to uphold their honor

And his right to defile hers

it is her duty to bear it silently

to shield their bestiality

so that they can continue to

hold up their heads in society

She is still blamed

and shamed

Be silent

Or be silenced

remains the

unsaid mantra

Since the beginning of time

they have

hacked my branches

stripped me bare

And with cruel knives

carved out love notes

on my body

over and over

again

but did I die?

Did I hide nakedness?

Did I hide my face?

Why do you?

 

Silent

unyielding

unflinching

unapologetic

existence

is my DNA

 

What is yours?

 

SPF: You’ve Got Mail

 march-31st-20131

You’ve Got Mail

Words 202

Five-thirty! All of a sudden Rhea was energized. Her day at the office had ended. She couldn’t wait to get home and switch to her Rheal personality. Technically a copyeditor but relegated to proofreading, she had found succor in her secret alternate universe.

Scifi world here I come her heart sang as the whole weekend stretched before her. Quickly grabbing her weekly essentials so that she wasn’t forced to move out for supplies she let herself into her apartment. Shedding her baggage, kicking off her heels, plugging the kettle, she pulled open her laptop.

The notification button glowed like a welcoming beacon. Yes! Her blog was finally making waves. The act of writing itself was cathartic and fulfilling yet it was lonely. For fear of ridicule she hadn’t shared her newfound passion with her fellow beings and she was resigned to being unnoticed and unread.

But things were changing. Random page views blossomed to a like here and there. And even (gasp) a comment or two. Gerkle was a particular fan. Obviously a fake name but where on earth was Zeutron?

Hi! Could you tell Zoe on Earth that her Dave’s fine? We could arrange a one-way trip for her and you.

***

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

This story is a sort of a continuation of a previous flash 😀

Any fans of IPK but more importantly readers of Silver Streaks? Here's a little weekend gift - hope you like.