Ek Jashn Yahan Bhi

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EDIT 2: Fans of IPKKND please visit the Page From DM’s Desk for more recent updates and developments 😉

 

Hello to all fans of IPK.

As you all know, Ek Jashn is out and I guess many of you would love to air your views – like the good old days.big grin So taking a cue from vks, here is the perfect opportunity to speak up. And the good news is – to comment you dont need to provide your email ID. batting eyelashes

So what are you waiting for – get those fingers to dance on the keyboard – Happy days are here again. I wonder if Khulasa mami could be tempted to wake up from her stupor. thinking

EDIT 1: I have only recently come to realize that some of you are still reading SS. I am indeed very touched – thank you. While I cannot at this juncture promise a resurrection of SS but perhaps I can (and indeed have been) be inspired to write a few flash fiction which I will link up to this page as and when I post them. Hope you like and do leave me a note – that works wonders as encouragement and inspiration 🙂

EDIT 2: This Post seems to be pretty popular for some reason! I wish I knew what you as a reader was searching for. Anyway, yielding to the (diverse – mostly internal) calls, I have started another Page – From DM’s Desk where all stories based on IPK/SS will be indexed.Two more have been added recently.

So if you havent read them already, please hop over there for a bit of fun and chitchat – as always I look forward to your comments and reactions.

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Moonshine

Hello All,

Moonshine (MS) is the new Silver Streaks (SS) !

Well, fingers crossed and if you like it half as much as you claimed to love SS, I couldn’t ask for more.

Moonshine accompanies Rajani as she journeys through life fulfilling her roles as a daughter, a wife, a daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and of course mother. As with SS, I do hope you will shower her (us) with your blessings, support, advice and encouragement.

Since this is a rambling yarn (with a book format rather than a blog post), new updates will appear under Pages on the picture navigation bar –> Moonshine — Chapters.

Ready? Get set and click on Part 1: Sugar and Spice – off we go~~

Or perhaps you may like to read a few short stories or just browse the Blog to decide if MS is worth your time and effort.

Thanks for dropping by and I would love to know your views on Stories and more.


Affairs of the Office

The year was coming to an end and there was a festive air at the office. Groups of employees huddled around in bunches discussed the upcoming Christmas party and their plans to welcome in the New year. Team leaders and bosses were also in a mellow mood and considerately looked the other way.

Except for Sheena.

She was in a foul mood and didn’t care who knew it. “What the hell are you guys doing out in the corridor.” She looked at her watch. “There’s still an hour before closing time.”

There was silence.

“Well?” she snapped, her eyes boring into each of them.

Nitin succumbed to the hypnotic glare. “Nothing Ma’am, just…just talking about the party.”

“The party is tomorrow night. If you don’t have any work let me know I can always…” The corridor cleared up in an instant.

Unappeased, Sheena continued her march down the corridor. She halted outside the last door on the right. She burst into Riteish’s office without even bothering to knock.

Riteish, who was busy mumbling sweet-nothings into the phone, looked up in surprise. “Hey T, gotta go. Yeah me too. Bye.” He put down the phone. “And a very good evening to you Shinee.”

“Don’t call me that,” she snapped irritably and prowled the office floor.

Riteish raised an eyebrow. “Ah that time of the…” He coughed to hide his grin.

She stopped in her track and glared at him. “That’s out-dated stuff buddy.”

“Excuse me?”

“Apparently you are not privy to the Whatsapp joke going around.”

Riteish scratched his head. “Err…no what?”

That time of the month,” hands on her hips, she said with emphasis, “allows women to do once a month what men do the whole month.”

Riteish gave a crack of laughter. “Touché!” He waved a hand. “Please sit. Here,” he got up and pulled a chair for her.

Reluctantly Sheena slid into it. She slipped off her heels and wiggled her toes in relief.

Riteish went back to his seat. “Tea, coffee or…” he grinned engagingly.

Sheena was unmoved. If anything, she was even more cheesed off. “Don’t miss a chance to flirt do you? Even with me? Where neither of us are interested?”

“Habit.” He shrugged. “Besides, practice makes a man perfect.” He looked at her with a lost puppy dog expression.

“Argghh. Men.” Sheena made it sound like an expletive.

“Okay fine.” Riteish held up his hands in surrender. “I guess you are really upset about something. What is it? Is it something related to work, office staff or…”

“Aditya.” Sheena came clean.

Riteish stiffened and looked warily at her. “Aditya? Your husband?”

“No. Aditya, your friend.” Sheena sneered. “How many Adityas do you know?”

“Oh no not again.” Riteish shook his head. “You know Sheena, husband and wife should never work in the same office. Too intrusive, you know, neither gets any space, freedom, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah sure I do,” Sheena said sourly, “and exactly the reason I cannot leave this office. I don’t want to give him his space, his freedom. He can’t control himself while I am here and if I leave, then, oh boy.” Sheena snorted derisively.

“What do you mean?”

“Oh please Riteish. Don’t act so innocent huh? I know all about you men and your rules – you save my back and I will save yours.”

“Don’t talk nonsense Shinee. There is no such rule.”

She looked at him disbelievingly. “Yeah right and the sun rises in the West. Besides, don’t forget, I know Adi. Before we got married, we were colleagues. I know his modus operandi. That helpless dazed look is cultivated with great care and finesse. It is specifically aimed to trap foolish young women…”

“Hey, hey, hold your horses girl! You really have become like the typical suspicious nagging wives. No sooner has a chap talked to a female colleague, bas they are having an affair. Nonsense.”

“Oh really. So are you trying to tell me nothing is going on between Adi and Steina?”

Riteish laughed. “Steina and Adi? Don’t be silly Shinee.”

“Yeah? How about a bet then? One lakh says that they shared the hotel room while they were in Hyderabad?

Riteish stared. “One lakh.” He was taken aback but he recovered quickly. “Come on. That’s taking it a bit too far,” he said. “Have some faith in Aditya. The poor chap is really a good boy. He never looked at a girl, not even in school.” He snickered. “I doubt if he has looked at you properly in the six months or so that you have been married.”

Sheena glared at him. “That woman, Steina,” Sheena said, “is openly declaring to all and sundry that Aditya bought her the bracelet at the Bangalore airport and she is wearing it for a special date tonight! As if I don’t know who that date is!” Sheena fumed. “Very conveniently, Aditya is working late tonight.” Sheena paced the floor restlessly and stopped in front of Riteish’s desk. “Tell me, wouldn’t you be suspicious?”

Riteish seemed to be be wrestling with something. He drummed his fingers on the table. He leaned forward. “Do you know Sheena,” he said as if coming to a decision, “that your husband also asked me the same question about you last week?”

Sheena looked at Riteish blankly. “What question?”

Riteish leaned back and passed a hand over his face. “He asked me if you were having an affair with Sreejit.” His voice was muffled.

“Sreejit!” Sheena jumped off the chair. “Is he crazy or what? Sree and I practically grew up together. We are like siblings.” She shuddered. “How could Aditya even think that Sree and I could ever…” she broke off unable to say it.

Riteish played with the paperweight and avoided meeting Sheena’s eyes.

“But, but why would he think such a thing of me?” Sheena was bewildered. Her temper rose and so did her pitch. “And why the hell would he ask you?” She looked at him suspiciously. “You are lying,” she said flatly.

Riteish looked offended. “Why would I lie? What purpose would it serve?” He raised his hands. “Look, just calm down will you? He asked me because of the same reason you asked me – you are both my friends.”

He paused. “Besides, you have been spending a lot of time with Sree lately. You even flew to meet him in Kolkata last Sunday, stayed overnight at his flat, took a day off from office in the middle of a looming deadline,” he fell silent.

“Oh,” Sheena nodded her head knowingly, “so you also think that – you know what? Forget it.” She grabbed her bag. “I am leaving –“

“Hey, hang on,” Riteish was up in a trice, “I don’t think anything of the sort,” he coughed, “but the facts are pretty damning aren’t they? Honestly I can’t say I blame him for drawing his own conclusions.”

Sheena glared at him, “Sree is having serious issues with his live-in girlfriend and I just went to see if I could sort out things,” she clarified. “But both of you have judged me and condemned me without the courtesy of a fair hearing haven’t you?”

“Aren’t you doing the same to Aditya?” Riteish pointed out gently. “Did you ask him what his relationship with Steina is or what, if anything, is going on between the two?”

“I can’t believe Aditya doubts me over Sree,” muttered Sheena despondently, “I texted him before leaving and even sent him a detailed email from the airport. But that doesn’t justify Aditya’s going around with Steina, giving her expensive gifts.” Sheena’s voice trembled and she turned away.

Riteish sighed and fidgeted before picking up the intercom. “Hi Aditya,” he said casually even as Sheena started hyperventilating, “busy? Can you come over to my office now? Yeah,” he looked at Sheena who was vehemently shaking her head, “you can say it is pretty urgent. Okay then, see you in a bit.” He put down the phone. “He is coming,” he said rather unnecessarily.

“And I am leaving,” Sheena stood up but Riteish blocked her path, “No way Sheena. It’s time you both talked it out, sorted out your differences face to face rather than using me as your punching board.”

“I refuse to talk to someone who discusses his wife with another person,” Sheena said stiffly.

“Unbelievable Sheena, unbelievable,” Riteish shook his head and threw up his hands, “a case of the kettle calling the pot black!”

“What did I do?” Sheena flared up, “I was upset, at my tethers end, I need a friend to talk to. It was either this or jump off the building,” she burst into tears just as Aditya entered the room.

Aditya stopped short. He looked warily at Sheena and then at Riteish, “I…I think I will come back later,” he muttered and hurriedly backed out.

But Riteish was faster, he grabbed his arm and dragged him back, “Oh no, no, neither of you is going anywhere until you have talked it out.” He picked up his bag, “I am leaving, you two talk it out,” he waved his hands, “my office is all yours.”

This time Aditya grabbed Riteish’s arm, “Don’t leave me here alone with her please,” he begged.

“She is your wife dammit!” Riteish was incredulous.

Tears forgotten, Sheena jumped to her feet. “Don’t you dare leave me alone in this room with this…this monster!”

“See?” Aditya said in an aside to Riteish, “See how she screeches? No consideration for the fact that this is an office,” he groaned. He kept his voice low and Sheena had to strain to hear, “It’s impossible to talk to her, she either screams or bursts into tears.”

“Let her,” said Riteish unconcernedly, “it’s way past office closing time and there’s nobody except the guard, and,” he grinned, “he is hard of hearing.”

He patted Aditya, “Listen to me and fight it out right here. No interfering neighbors and I will warn the guard not to let anybody disturb you,” he squeezed Aditya’s shoulder encouragingly, while Sheena muttered in the background, “So I screech is it?”

“Why are you doing this?” Aditya urgently whispered. “Stay, don’t go please.” His voice firmed and he clutched Riteish, “If you leave, I too will leave.” Realizing that he was panicking, he attempted to retrieve his dignity by straightening his coat and pushing back his spectacles.

Riteish looked heavenwards and then at Sheena who was still sniffing, “Look at him, just look at him,” he said. “Do you really think that this man,” he clapped a hearty hand on Aditya’s quivering shoulder, “can actually have an affair with another woman when he is afraid to be in the same room as his wife?”

“Riteish!” Sheena and Aditya chorused in unison. Aditya backed away nervously as Sheena opened her mouth to begin her tirade, “What the hell do you mean Riteish? How dare you speak about my husband like this?” She was furious.

“Sheena, Sheena,” Riteish sank down on the couch, “make up your mind. Are you for him or against him?”

Sheena was stumped, “Oh shut up Riteish!” she looked ready to tear her hair, “you always do this!” She ground her teeth.

Riteish raised an eyebrow.

“Confuse me! I came here to talk about – ” she cast a glance at Aditya and clammed up.

“Go on, spit it out Sheena,” encouraged Riteish, a hard glint in his eye. He kept his eyes firmly focused on Aditya.

She nodded her head grimly and boldly attacked Aditya. “What the hell is going on between you and that woman?”

Aditya stared at her uncomprehendingly. “Me and that woman? Which woman?”

“Hey Shinee, he seems to be having an affair with more than one woman!”

Sheena shot Riteish a darkling look – one that said tere-ko-toh-main-baad-main-dekh-loongi look but refused to be diverted. She focused on Aditya. “Now don’t play the innocent! I know all about your office affair,” she said in an ominous tone. “You and Steina.”

“Steina?” Aditya quavered. He looked towards Riteish, who stared back at him unblinkingly.

“Go on answer that.” Ritesh’s tone was hard and unyielding. This time Sheena shot him a grateful look before attacking Aditya again.

“Yes Steina! And drop that innocent act,” she flapped her arms wildly, “I heard it from the horse’s mouth…” Emotions overcame her.

“Horse’s mouth?” repeated Aditya casting another pleading wild look at Riteish. Just as Sheena looked into her purse hunting for her handkerchief, he clasped his hands together and made begging and throat slashing motions at Riteish.

The grim lines around Riteish’s mouth eased.

She blew her nose. “Yes, I overhead Steina telling whoever cared to listen…”

“That would make it the mare’s mouth,” Riteish interrupted helpfully.

Sheena turned to glare at Riteish who cowered and backed off. But his shoulders shook.

“Yes what was she saying?” an uncharacteristically aggressive Aditya shot back.

“She said that you bought her a 10k diamond bracelet at the Bangalore airport.” Sheena’s voice rose to a crescendo and then choked on a sob.

“Tsk, tsk,” said Riteish.

Aditya threw him a half-reproachful half-pleading glance.

“Yeah, so?” asked Aditya.

“So!” said Sheena, “you wouldn’t be buying her a diamond bracelet unless you were – ,” she dissolved in a fresh storm of tears.

“Tsk, tsk,” went Riteish again.

“Shut up Riteish.” Aditya shook his fist at Riteish, who smothered a laugh.

Riteish turned to Sheena. “Yes, Sheena,” he spoke gently, “I bought Steina a bracelet at the Bangalore airport but only because her credit card wasn’t working. Look,” he pulled out his wallet, “ she paid me the money in cash today. Okay now?”

Stumped, Sheena stared at the wad of notes in Aditya’s wallet.

“But how dare you discuss me with Riteish?” Sheena made a swift recovery.

“Discuss you with Riteish?” the hunted look was back.

“Yes!” she said “Didn’t you say to him that I was having an affair with Sree?” She made a disgusted sound and turned her face away.

Aditya rolled his eyes frantically at Riteish, “When did I ever say such a thing?”

“Yes, you did! Ask Riteish.” They both turned to Riteish. “Tell him,” ordered Sheena.

“Tell him what?” Riteish said mildly.

“That he said to you that I had slept with Sree!” Sheena’s voice hit the roof.

Aditya recoiled in horror. “I never said that! Sree is a great guy, he would never do such a thing.” Aditya vouched for Sree’s character.

“But I would?” pounced Sheena. “Sree is a great guy, he would never do such a thing!” she mimicked him. “But you aren’t so sure about me are you?”

Aditya winced. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he mumbled.

“Then what did you mean?” Sheena cornered her husband.

He caught sight of Riteish clutching his stomach and lolling about on the sofa, “How the hell can I mean anything when I didn’t say anything! Why don’t you ask Riteish?”

Riteish casually got to his feet and stretched lazily. “Gosh! Just look at the time! I better go. You guys carry on. Doing just beautifully. I’ll just get my bag.”

“Wait!” Aditya wore an arrested expression. He caught hold of him by the lapels, “Just what have you been telling Sheena?” he asked dangerously and actually shook him threateningly.

Riteish looked at him reproachfully, “My dear fellow, is this any way to thank your friend?”

Aditya looked at him suspiciously, “And just what do you mean by that? Don’t tell me all this brouhaha is all your doing?”

Riteish scratched his head. “Guilty as charged milord,” he said meekly. “The thing is my dear fellow,” he added hastily as Aditya and Sheena both glared at him, “I was getting tired of playing referee between the two of you. For heaven’s sake, it’s high time you guys started talking to each other instead of always dragging me in the middle. After all, what is my crime?” he asked. “Just that I arranged your marriage?” he held his ears. “Forgive me this one transgression,” he pleaded. “Never again, I promise, never again.”

Riteish put his arm around Sheena. “Aditya was just worried about Sree because you just dashed off to Kolkata. I, err,” he coughed, “I just added some spice to give you a taste of how Aditya feels when you discuss him with me.”

Sheena looked down at her shoes.

“Cheer up Sheena,” Riteish winked at Aditya who had his hands folded and was bowing to him from behind Sheena’s back, “I am sure you know how to make it up to him.”

The door opened and Steina popped her head in.

All three occupants froze.

“Oh hi, there you are,” she simpered to a suddenly wooden Aditya, “I went to your office, aren’t we -,” she clammed up as she caught sight of Sheena.

Aditya frantically rolled his eyes at Riteish who smoothly stepped in. “Hey T. Right on time.” He looked at his watch. “Come, let’s go, otherwise we will be late,” he hustled Steina out. “Bye guys,” he called as he shut the door behind him.

Aditya wiped his forehead and loosened his tie. “I think we better get going too, it is pretty late.” He coughed.

“I am sorry Adi for having doubted you and having discussed you with Riteish.” Sheena was contrite. “I promise I won’t ever do that again.” She slid her arms around him.

Aditya drew her close, relief evident on his face.

“But Adi,” she looked up at him, “does that mean Steina is having an affair with Riteish?”

Aditya blenched.

“Does Bhabhi know?” she said in a hushed whisper.

“Oh no, its nothing like that,” said Aditya in a strangled voice, “it’s a business dinner, with some clients,” he said glibly.

“Okay,” Sheena chewed her fingernail, “but then why did Steina boast about a dinner date?”

“Who knows? Women are impossible.”

The End

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For more short stories Click here

The Misconception

“Sia!” Lalit couldn’t believe his eyes. But it was her.

“Arent you going to let me in?”

“Sorry.” He held the door wide open.

Sia’s pencil heels clicked ominously on the marble floor as she swished past him.

Lalit stared after her. Something wasn’t quite right. Why had Sia sought him out after so many years, he wondered. Frowning, he followed her in.

“It’s been a long time.” He waved her to a seat. “Twenty years right?”

“Nineteen years.” Her voice was crisp and curt.

“What would you like to have?” he asked automatically.

“Nothing, thanks. I haven’t come here to renew our acquaintance.”

“Acquaintance?” Lalit looked at her. “Was that what we were Sia – acquaintances?

“Call it what you will.” She shrugged coldly. “It doesn’t matter.”

Irritation overcame Lalit. “I wonder at your gall. You barge into my home after 19 years and you don’t even have the courtesy to be polite.” He looked her up and down opening assessingly. “If your sartorial splendor is any indication you have clearly gone up,” his lips curled, “way up on the social ladder. Didn’t you learn social norms on the way?”

“You mean hypocritical norms? I leave that to people like you.” She looked back at him unflinchingly.

“Look who’s talking!” He was quick to retort rather bitterly. “You were the one who strung me along and then dumped me for greener pastures.” He felt a perverse pleasure as she flushed.

Sia narrowed her eyes. “I didn’t marry money if that’s what you are trying to hint at.” The flush was of anger not shame. “I am a successful business enterprenuer if you please. Not that it’s any of your business,” she completed disdainfully.

“I don’t understand.” Lalit shook his head bewildered. “What is your problem? Why are you bitter? And why come here, that too after so many years? This is not a social call is it? So let’s get it over with shall we?”

He got up and went to the bar. He poured himself a shot of whiskey. As an afterthought, he turned to her, “Drink?”

The briefest of hesitations, before she nodded, “Vodka, if you have. With soda.”

Lalit was taken aback. Sia certainly had changed. The girl he had known was a giggly, chatterbox quite full of herself. She had also been very straitlaced and prudish. They had had their first lover’s tiff because she had smelt alcohol on his breath.

“Sure.”

He handed her drink and raised his. “Cheers.”

She took a big gulp without responding or allowing him to clink his glass to her.

Irritation faded and now curiosity was almost killing him.

“So,” he said a bit facetiously, “what can I do for you?”

Sia stared into her drink which was almost half finished.

“Sia.” He prompted. “You know, I do have other things to do beside sit here and entertain you? In fact,” he looked at his watch, “I have a dinner date for which I must be leaving soon.”

“I know,” she said abruptly.

“You know?” Lalit was surprised. “How come? Have you been following me by any chance?” He settled back comfortably in his seat, “A bit late in the day to be jealous Sia.”

She threw him a withering glance. She put down her glass. “What I want from you,” she said carefully, “is to cancel your dinner date and promise never to see that girl again.”

Lalit was stunned. This was totally unexpected. What business was it of hers? What cheek. Anger bubbled up within him.

And why the hell should I do what you want me to do? You dump me at the altar, vanish without a word of explanation and now you coolly walk in and demand that I reschedule my life as per your wishes.” He hadnt raised his voice but the fury was very much evident in his tone and taut stance.

She sat silent, watchful.

Taking the moral high ground, Lalit continued to vent, ticking off one by one on his finger, “I am of age, I don’t have an irate wife in the background and my date is of age too.” He note of challenge in his voice. “Perhaps a bit young for me but what right have you to interfere in my personal business?”

“A bit young?” Finally the icy control snapped and her voice rose to a crescendo. “She is barely 18 years of age and you are 50! It’s…it’s disgusting.”

If looks could kill he would have been ash by now. But somehow it just served to just put his back up. “You mistake, I am barely 45, you are the one who turned 50 this year.” He laughed mirthlessly. “How could you forget your pet peeve? You were 5 years older to me.”

He got up to make another drink for himself and brought her one too. “Isnt it ironic, back then you refused me because you were older to me and now you pop up from nowhere just because the girl I am dating is younger than me? You amaze me Sia. What possessed you to believe that I would let you be dictated by you?”

For old times’ sake. It was clearly written on her face. But it was gone in a flash. She bared her teeth. “What I am wondering is how a decent guy could stoop so low as to trap an innocent…”

“So you do think I am decent? By the way, what is your interest in Riya? Is she your daughter by any chance?” He tapped his chin. “But Riya told me that she was an orphan. Poor thing I feel quite sorry for her, such a tragic, lonely childhood.” He looked at Sia. “The orphanage she was in,” he shook his head, “it’s criminal, some of the things that go on there.” He deliberately left it hanging.

Sia paled and her cheek bones stood out in sharp relief. Suddenly she looked old, very old and defeated.

Lalit felt a twinge of guilt but he stamped it down ruthlessly.

He drained his glass. “Amazing how our past comes back to haunt us isnt it? This is poetic justice. You refused to marry me on some flimsy ground and now fate has handed me your daughter on a platter.” He laughed. “It would serve you right if I let your hubby dear on to the secret,” he gloated. “Bet the poor guy is completely in the dark about this dirty little secret of yours.”

“You would lose the bet,” she said evenly. “I don’t have a husband.”

He looked at her blankly. “But you don’t deny Riya being your daughter,” he said slowly. His eyes hardened as anger flared within him. “You have such double standards. If you are so concerned about Riya why didn’t you adopt her? You could have saved her so much agony and trauma. Let me tell you Sia, I am thousand times a better option than that orphanage.”

“Leave her alone God dammit.” Sia shot to her feet.

“I will not.” He grabbed her by the shoulders, “Sia please stop this act at once. Where was all your maternal instincts when you dumped her in the orphanage like an unwanted piece of garbage? And be practical for God’s sake!” He thrust her away. “You cannot go around warning the whole world to stay away from your daughter can you?”

“Not the whole world! Just you.” The words were wrenched out of her.

Lalit froze. “Just me? Why me? Just because I had a crush on you, which you by the way rejected, very cruelly,” his lips thinned, “almost pushed me over the edge -,” he paused. “Is that why? You think I am doing this to take revenge on you?” he was shocked. “But…but I didn’t even know she was your daughter.” He looked her up and down. “Actually even I cant believe it of you – Sia and a child out of wedlock. And to think I always thought of you as pure as your namesake.” He sneered. “No doubt you rejected me, but I respected you Sia. What happened to your so called engraved-in-stone morals and principles Sia? Or were you just waiting for me to leave?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” She sat down again. He took the seat beside her.

“Come on Sia,” he said leaning forward, “no doubt I was a fool back then but I am old enough to know better now. I can put two and two together.”

“If you can put two and two together, you would be the first one to back off!” Her eyes were glittering fiercely and her fists were clenched tightly.

Lalit stood up. “I have heard enough. It’s time for me to get ready. Please.” He politely indicated the door.

But Sia didn’t budge from her seat. “Not unless you call Riya and cancel the date.”

“Oh God Sia,” groaned Lalit, “Let’s drop this shall we? Rest assured I have no romantic interest in the girl.” He confessed wearily. “It’s her birthday, she was upset, so I offered, that’s it nothing more.”

“It could become something more.” Sia was wooden. “She has a huge crush on you.”

Lalit dragged a hand through his hair. “Fine, I will cancel the dinner. On one condition.”

Sia looked at him with trepidation.

“You go and tell her that you are her mother.”

“No!” Sia’s voice echoed around the room.

Lalit stared in surprise. “But why? She is clearly lonely. You obviously care for her -”

“I don’t care for her.” Sia interrupted him. “I don’t care where she goes, what she does, so long as she stays away from you and your family.”

“Hey! Wait a minute. What the hell do you mean, ‘me and my family’? What the hell is wrong with you? I don’t like to boast but let me remind you if my family had not stood beside yours when your father had the accident, you guys would have been out on the streets. If Dad had not given you the job…”

“Shut up.” Sia burst out. “I don’t want to talk to you anymore. Just stay away from Riya and that is my last warning to you.”

Lalit crossed his arms. “Otherwise what will you do?”

Sia glared at him impotently.

Lalit jerked his head towards the door. “Do what you want to do. Nothing, I mean nothing, is stop me from going on that date with Riya. And thanks for telling me that she has a crush on me. This time I will have my way with her.” He said rather crudely.

Thwack! Sia’s palm cracked against his cheek. Lalit stared at her shocked.

“Nothing will stop you is it? Nothing?” She was panting hard. She glared at him through bloodshot eyes. “Not even if I tell you Riya is your sister? Half-sister to be precise.”

The End

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The Little Things in Life

They froze – each cut off in mid-sentence – at the sight of their 5-year-old daughter cowering by the doorway. Trupti gave a last glare to her husband and immediately schooled her expression. She scooped up Smriti and vanished from the scene.

Gently soothing Smriti back to sleep, Trupti returned to the dining table relatively calmer. But when she saw the still littered dinner table, she almost lost it again. Only the image of Smriti’s petrified expression stopped her. Trupti started clearing the table, with silent but violent movements. Male chauvinist pig she thought resentfully. Everything is my headache, my responsibility.

The atmosphere in the bedroom was so thick you could cut it with a knife. She could feel the waves of anger radiating from Anand and was rather taken aback by it. What’s he got to be so annoyed about, she thought seething with injustice. I do everything without a word of appreciation and miss one, and God what a ruckus.

He also forgot to bring the packet of bread last week, despite having messaged him. Did I say anything to him? Not all, even though it was very inconvenient, having to make upma for breakfast, that too on a weekday. But look at him, all because I forgot to deposit his cheque. Such a huge racket about such a tiny issue –How could you just forget? Next you will ‘forget’ me as well. It’s clear you just don’t care about me anymore – only he can make a mountain out of a molehill, she fumed.

Well two can play at a game.

She grabbed her night stuff and was just about to stomp off, when she remembered that the study air conditioner was not working. Careful not to let Anand know, she quickly changed her motions to that of merely shaking out her stuff of dust. She plonked down on her side and reached out for her nose clips and then quickly changed her mind.

Let me snore – serves him right if he spends a sleepless night.

But it was soon clear from his still stance and even breathing that Anand was already fast asleep and here Trupti was still boiling mad. She had an almost irresistible urge to throw the pillow at him or do anything to continue the slanging match.

How dare he shout to her like that and then fall asleep so easily. And here she was still fuming. Only the thought of Smriti restrained her. Trupti tried to calm down but sleep eluded her. She had a million things to tell him – the problem was she forgot. Well this time she wouldn’t. She gritted her teeth and mentally compiled a list of the grudges she held against him. It was a long time before she could fall asleep. After all crafting powerful dialogues, which are pithy, crisp and carry punch is time consuming.

Naturally Trupti woke up late.

Anand had already left for his morning walk by then Trupti rushed to get Smriti ready for school. They just managed to catch the school bus.

Blast Anand, he could have woken me up but he didn’t did he? Well if he could be so standoffish so can I, she muttered to herself as she walked back home.

Anand had not yet returned from his morning walk. Feeling a bit worried, she debated whether to call him or not. Deciding against it, she started making breakfast and was just straining the tea, when her mobile flashed. It was Anand’s message ‘No lunch’.

Gnashing her teeth, Trupti dearly wished she could pour the hot tea on his head. How dare he deny her the luxury of carrying on from where they had left off last night? Smriti was off to school and this was the best time to have it out. But look at him, using devious underhanded tricks to avoid a confrontation.

Just shows, I am right and he is wrong, she thought rather triumphantly. He is sorry, but doesn’t know how to say it. Never mind, she thought feeling happier, I can be generous too, I shall forgive him.

As usual, she thought rather wryly.

She got busy, getting ready for the day ahead, Anand dashed in soon afterwards and also rushed to get ready, without a glance at her or a word of explanation as to why he was so late. Tea and breakfast were both cold. Serves him right, she thought rather pettily. She stole a glance at his stern stiff profile and her heart sank. He was in one of his ‘moods’ and nothing could move him now and he would take ages to snap out of it. Oh, how she dreaded those periods of dreadful cold silences.

Trupti completed her activities with suddenly nerveless hands and sinking heart. She hated when they were like this, she yearned to reach out but there was no time and besides he looked so forbidding.

She stiffened. But why should I always be the one to reach out? Let him brood, I don’t care.

Head held high, she went downstairs and waited near the car for Anand, as he usually dropped her to office. Soon they were on their way; the silence enveloped her like a suffocating blanket. She felt like screaming – anything to break this dreadful silence.

Knowing very well that Anand disliked listening to the radio especially while on the way to the office, rather defiantly, Trupti switched on the radio.

Their song was playing – Trupti held her breath.

Anand reached out and turned up the volume.

The lump in her throat eased and all was right with the world.

The End

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Author Note (dated 16 November 2015)

Hello everyone and a big thank you to everyone who dropped in for a visit here. happyI guess it’s very different from SS and will take some time getting used to it – or then again, maybe not.

Thanks Bharat for taking time out and your kind words of encouragement. Sudipta thank you for dropping by and the support. Manuv – at last a familiar face – good to see you here and thank you.

To answer your question Prachtg, I am afraid I am as yet undecided about the future of SS or the Arshi story. Btw I thought I had clarified this aspect, here in the welcome note as well as on Med but then again perhaps it is a sort of gentle hint for me to continue it  My apologies for disappointing you.

And since we are on the topic, I have to confess that I am in some dilemma whether or not to pull down SS from Med as well – a comment in the CB triggered this chain of thought but is as yet unresolved. Anyway, it stands for the moment at least – but again there is no saying what Kmami might decide to do one fine day. Since SS is as much your story as mine – if any of you are re-reading SS or have plans to do so, please do leave a note in the CB with a date by when you expect to finish reading so that I can take appropriate measures to restrain self-destructive activities.

That said, Prachtg, I really appreciate the ‘gift’ and I have started reading it and am already feeling enriched – thank you 🙂

And there you are MM, sneaked in at the last minute I seebig grin. As usual, it looks like I will have to once again depend on your ‘khalified’ shoulders – thank you!

Psst just wanted to tell you that Calvin is quite upset – because nobody is giving any ghas to him – please do click on the link/s under Pages on the left hand navigation bar – this holds the ‘more’ bit of the ‘Stories and more’

Have a great week ahead. thumbs up

PS: Don’t forget to scroll down to check out ‘The Fight‘ under the Pages link on the left hand navigation bar

A Narrow Escape

Staggering slightly under the weight of the bucket, Arvind dumped it by the clothesline on the roof of his building. He had just started the task of hanging up his washing, when he heard somebody addressing him. He turned around to see a middle aged plump lady, with an empty bucket in her hand.

“Hello, you are new here aren’t you?” She was smiling.

Embarrassed, Arvind mumbled a hello.

Not to be deterred, she repeated her question, while introducing herself as Mrs Gupta from the third floor.

Cornered, Arvind said, “Hello. I am Arvind from the second floor. I have been here for the past two months or so.”

“Really?” Mrs Gupta exclaimed, “I haven’t seen you on the roof before. I come here quite often.”

Red color suffused Arvind’s face and muttered something about drying his stuff in the flat. He quickened his pace of hanging up the washing.

Mrs Gupta, evidently the mother of a boy, quickly and accurately deduced the situation. “First time staying away from home and first washing day huh? My son is also very lazy. I had to call and call to remind him to wash his clothes and clean his room. He only learnt his lesson after bed bugs attacked his hostel room. Did your mother call?” She looked at him knowingly.

Arvind blushed some more and guiltily nodded his head.

“Never mind, it is our fault, we tend to spoil our boys.” She soothed him. Besides, the laundry services are quite expensive right?”

He nodded gratefully and offered a shy smile.

“So what are doing here, studying or working?” she asked.

“I came here after completing my Bachelors in mechanical engineering for a 6-months internship,” he said.

“Come let me help you hang up your clothes. You are not doing it the right way. You should first wring them like this and then shake them hard to clear the wrinkles, shake out the excess water and then spread them smoothly. Don’t forget to clip them on.” Mrs Gupta dug into his tub, ignoring his weak protests.

“Oh don’t worry about me, I have been doing this since I was a little girl and probably could do this in my sleep.” She laughed heartily at her own joke.

“Mechanical engineer huh?” She looked at him in a rather calculative manner. “May be you could have a look at our cooler fan? It is making strange noises.”

Arvind made some strange noises of his own.

“Never mind,” she said. “Tell me, where do your parents stay? How many brothers and sisters do you have? Are they older or younger? What will you do once you finish studying? Go for higher studies or look for a job? Better to do an MBA, very high paying jobs for them.”

Arvind reeled a bit under the volley of questions (not to mention advice). He tried to answer them as fast as they arrived. Before his washing had been hung up, she had extracted not only his family history but also his internship pay package and future aspirations.

“So, you want to go in for an academic career? Are you sure? Not much money there you know.”

“It’s ok.”

“How is it ok? Not at all ok. Listen to me. I know. My son? He is also engineer, software engineer from IIT Delhi. He also wanted to write code.” She briskly jerked a shirt, sending a shower over him. “But what money will he get writing? Zero. I insisted that he do MBA.” Her eyes softened. “He is a good boy. He listened to his mummy. He did MBA, now working in bank, earning lakhs.”

“But I like academics.” Rather recklessly and foolishly, Arvind opened his mouth.

“Academics? Only those who cannot get through MBA do academics. What is there to like in academics? Teach the same thing over and over again to students who are not interested? And the money? Pffttt.” Mrs Gupta leaned forward and said in a hushed voice; “Don’t mind beta, but what they are paying you as an intern? Peanuts. My daughter? Younger daughter, Mohini, very beautiful, just like her name, any one who sees her is instantly smitten.” She dug an elbow into his side. “Don’t worry,” she chortled, “still unmarried.”

He blenched and withdrew a bit.

Worried that he may have got the wrong impression, she carried on. “But getting lots and lots of proposals. We are only fussy and choosy.” She shot him a sidelong glance.

Mrs Gupta scratched her head. “Oh where was I? Oh yes! Mohini, she is a graphic designer, she is earning more than you. She is due for an appraisal soon.” She nodded her head and waited till the import of her words sank in. “If you go into academics, both your salaries will be same. Not nice for both husband and wife to earn the same, right?”

Arvind froze in the act of squeezing out his jeans.

Unmindful, Mrs Gupta carried on, “But if you do MBA, ahh then you will be touching the skies, flying high, big car, buying gold for your wife,” she paused and seemed to recollect herself. “What about your marriage plans? Any girlfriends?”

Arvind coughed and shook his head.

Mrs Gupta was pleased. She smiled approvingly. “Do you like upma?”

Perplexed, Arvind stared at her.

“I am sure you do,” she was confident, “boys like everything. You know Mohini, my daughter? She makes very delicious upma. Come and have breakfast with us.” She waved her hand. “Everyone will be so happy to meet you.”

Crowded and cornered, instinctive survival mechanisms kicked in. He searched wildly for a plausible excuse. He dug out his phone and stared at it frowning. “Sorry, message from office. I have to go now.”

“Okay.” Mrs Gupta was disappointed but she wasn’t one to give up so easily. “We have a washing machine. Fully automated. You can come over anytime.”

Feeling the noose tighten, Arvind snatched up his bucket. “Tell your mother not to worry,” she said, “tell her that I will remind you every weekend, better yet, give me her number, I will tell her myself.”

Arvind thought it prudent not to wait for the lift and took the steps – two at a time.

What his mother couldn’t nag him to do in the past few months, Mrs Gupta managed in just one meeting.

Arvind located and tied up with a local laundry service for their weekly pick and drop services.

No doubt a bit expensive, but then not everything in life can be weighed in terms of money right?

Besides he could always do MBA to make up for the expenses incurred. smug

The End

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