SPF: Reality Bites

SPF 08-19-18 Anurag 2
Photo (c) Anurag Bakshi

SPF: Reality Bites

Words 101

Amidst thunderous applause Kali walked up to the dais to receive her award from the President of India. Not just a wife and mother, she was a woman of substance – of the likes of Madame Curie. Pride and exultation filled her as she surveyed her family cheering and clapping until their throats and hands were sore.

“Wonderful groundbreaking work Madam,” the interviewer gushed. “You are truly an inspiration for all women and we are extremely proud of you.”

“Thank you.” Kali said modestly.

“Tell us Madam who was your inspiration on this long and difficult journey in a male dominated field?”

“My inspiration?” Kali laughed. “Everyone!”

“That’s interesting. Could you elaborate please?”

“I was named Kali because I was dark. I was also given other names because I was fat and short.” Kali shrugged. “Rejected by suitors and reviled by society I turned to my first love, academics.” Kali smiled. “So here I am.”

“What about your husband?”

“He’s been a pillar of strength all throughout. He took care of home and children while I slaved away in the laboratory…”

 

“How long does it take to make a cup of tea?” A querulous voice demanded.

“Coming.” Kali switched off the gas.

***

Written (after a long time!) for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Susan for hosting the challenge and Anurag for the awesome photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

 

 

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 – 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

The Joy of Little Things

For a long time now, perhaps since 2005 that I have begun to click pics with my phone. Yes, you guessed right, of trees 😀 They had begun to work their magic on me and I just had to capture them, keep them with me so to speak.  I often wished I had someway of documenting them, cataloguing them so that I could browse at leisure. Just a pipe dream, a waste of time. Time passed, I focused on home, career, academics until fan fiction happened. Blogging was the next logical step for my stories and yet some guiding prescient hand named my blog Stories and more.

And now after two years, the more bit often gives me greater happiness than the stories 😀 Anyhow to cut a long story short, this week I target two of my favorite photo challenges – Cee’s Happy themed fun foto challenge and the Daily Post’s Smile challenge. Let’s see if I can spark a bit of happiness and bring a smile to your face with my selection:

20160617_142550Good food can bring back the spark to the dullest of days and lives doesn’t it? Like my son declared some years ago “It’s almost impossible to be angry on a full stomach.” Since then I have noticed, it is harder to be upset after food – the next time someone at home is cranky you know what to do right? 😉

Boating
Photo courtesy nephew

Then there’s nothing like some precious chillax time with friends while riding out the upheavals of academic pressures and life in general. This is one of those times when nothing matters but now 🙂

Anda7A beautiful sunset at the end of a less than idyllic day. A new day awaits and hope surges things can only be better.

Pondy beach

You are just fooling around, clueless and untrained – something clicks and you have the near perfect shot, good enough to please even your own nitpicking self. The wonder of learning something new can give quite an unparalleled high, don’t you think?

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When a little boy shows off his Tarzanic genes 😀

20180127_123003While his elders (and little girls!) prefer to take the more sedate route and dress up like their ancestors did.

 

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Then there are other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to my heart – chancing upon the white blossoms (or are they leaves?) of an unknown tree

DSC00382A prefect green circle in the midst of a chaotic entangled bushy jungle

20180126_121120When life clings on and persists in the unlikeliest of places.

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Photos courtesy the niece in Nice err Lyon

How the internet allows us to be there while sitting here – be it at the fag end of a day

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or the beginning of a new day.

IMG-20180221-WA0020Of trees that perk up after long cold dreary overcast days and engage in a bit of arm wrestling under a perfect and gorgeously blue sky – from all the way from Dublin, Ireland.

 

ToysDo you find joy and happiness in the little things of life? Did anything here make you smile? Do let me know!

But before I go, just in case these pics didn’t strike a chord, I must share this little piece to make up for taking up so much of your time:

“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.

“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”

“A pit full of fire.”

“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”

“No, sir.”

“What must you do to avoid it?”

I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”                                                       ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

May you all keep in good health and not die – at least not a moment before one has to!

The Journey Within

I missed Becca’s Sunday Trees but here I am on Tuesday. Have a wonderful day people!

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Skipping along the dirt road

she stopped to

stare and ponder

Poor old tree

No respite

No escape

Imprisoned

Forever and ever

The tree swayed with gentle laughter

A single curled leaf

Twirled its way down upon her head

Little one

Not all journeys are without

If you would

but look within

War Zone

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The summer Sun blazed down with an unbearable intensity.

The air shimmered and Mother Earth sizzled.

The trees stood tall, proud defiant and unbowed.

They had never bent and never would.

She alone submitted.

Perhaps He would be happy.

Perhaps He would relent.

She would do whatever it took.

For this wasn’t just about her.

There were others fighting a losing battle.

It wasn’t much.

Yet for the scorched traveler, her shade was heaven.

Just as not all those who wander are lost, not all those who yield are weak.

Linked to Becca’s Sunday Trees – 306 and the WPC – Layered

Not That Desperate

hearty-bread

Not That Desperate

 Words 99

“Sharpen your tools!” The shrill cry cut through smothering blanket of heat.

She handed a kitchen knife to the scrawny unkempt man.

“That will be Rupees 10.”

Reluctantly she held out a 10-Rupee note.

He bowed over it.

His first earning of the day! She was glad she hadn’t bargained with him.

He sat on his haunches. “I am thirsty.”

He downed the water. “Business is dull.” He looked down. “I haven’t eaten roti for two days.”

Poor man.

She offered him her favorite snack – bread topped with mango pickle.

Gingerly picking up the pickle, he walked away.

***

Roti: Wheat-based flat bread popular in India

Based on a true incident

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