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

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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.

 

 

Borrowed Advice

As a matter of principle I don’t meddle in affairs of the heart but I came across this piece by Rosemarie Urquico that I thought was too good not to share. Anyone who needs a bit of advice on which kind of girl to date – read on or pass it on 😉

“You should date a girl who reads.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

Ever since I read this piece, I have been wanting share it. It is a feel good article that makes the ‘dated’ (for want of a better word, at least in my kitty) feel special and great about themselves. Regardless of whether anyone else is inspired to date her or not.

But strangely enough as I begin the actual posting process doubts began to creep in. Is it really sound advice? Apart from the fact that he will be saving a lot of money on gifts; ) A critical factor that seems to have been overlooked is whether the ‘dater’ too is a reader. Can he discuss Murakami, quote Neruda? (Not that I can!) Or is this a given and second nature for men? Is he comfortable with the idea of a thinking girl? Someone who is her own person, able to make her own decisions, walk the less traveled road, is complete by herself (give or take a few gazillion words).

And if there is such a man, then I would advice her to grab him and never let him go.

Look forward to reading your thoughts, reactions, opinions, comments….

Edit 1

I came back to this post to add my belated nebulous thoughts with apologies to the author and her brilliant piece. For it is a diamond glowing and shining dispelling the darkness, giving up hope that one day we will find that one person who will realize our true worth (and possibly push us beyond ourselves) and love us forever and forever.

And therein lies the trap that young girls fall into – at least in these parts.

We always want to be loved, be appreciated, be valued, be understood, nurtured, cherished, forgiven etc etc.

When we should be looking for the person who interests us, fascinates us, engages us, intrigues us, and makes us want to nurture, cherish and look beyond the many flaws that make him who he is.

It is my understanding that men (apologies for the blanket generalizations that follow) are notoriously like children – fascinated by new toys. They won’t rest until they have taken apart the pieces of that one toy which attracts their attention, got to the bottom of it before throwing it away, broken and mangled.

Knowing that why don’t girls look (instead of waiting to be looked at or picked up) for that person who fascinates, intrigues and enraptures her enough to overlook the myriad glitches that are part and parcel of the package deal? For her first teddy bear, no matter how threadbare it maybe still finds a place in her bed and heart forever and ever.

But then again, like I said, I don’t like to meddle in affairs of the heart – take my advice and find your own path instead of following another ignoramus’ advice 😉

Like me.

I almost never follow my advice and frequently disagree with my own views 😀

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 151

 

 

Bringing Mythology to Life

Growing up on the banks of the mighty and holy river Ganga, I was fascinated by the mythological story of Ganga’s descent to earth. I never tired of hearing and cannot resist sharing it – the abridged version.

In times more ancient than ancient times, there lived a King called Bhagiratha. His kinsmen had sinned (I shall spare you that story – for now) and were doomed to spent their afterlife trapped on earth with no scope for rebirth or moksha. Pained by their plight Bhagiratha quite literally moved heaven and earth and after a lot of hardships and penance (which involved the cooperation and blessings of both Brahma and Mahesh)  brought Ganga to the earth to wash away the sins of his forefathers.

But that is just for context.

In April 2017 we have found out own real live Lady Bhagiratha – 51-year-old Gouri, a daily wage laborer from Sirsi in Karnataka, a southern State of India.

To supplement her meager income as a laborer, Gouri she also maintained a kitchen garden of sorts comprising of banana, areca and coconut trees. But arranging for water for them was a major issue. She needed to urgently find a solution. Which she did in her own unique (and possibly inimitable) style.

Problem: No water

Solution:  Dig a well.

Problem: No money to hire somebody to dig it.

Solution: DIY

Problem: Nil

She dug every day for 5-6 hours, over and above her job as a laborer. Despite suffering intense body ache and exhaustion, she dug for three months and ended up with a 60 foot deep well. In the final stages, she enlisted the help of three other women to clear the heap of mud that had accumulated.

Today she has ample water for her life giving trees, has earned the respect of thousands and is an inspiration for women world over.

She has effectively proved that where there’s a will there’s a way well.

Hats off to her grit, determination and spirit.

This is my submission for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest which seeks to promote positive news.

Do share your views, opinions, suggestions and positive news.

Thank you for reading and have a super weekend.

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” ― Lady Gaga

Stop crying over your obstacles, it’s time to demolish them, one shovelful at a time

Story club # 10: Two Tales

I am sure nobody noticed but I missed last month’s Story Club. And in my defense, there is so much to do and so little time! Anyway to make up, this month, instead of one story, I am attempting to tackle two short stories. Both are penned by the same author WW Jacobs, a British author who is mostly known for his macabre and haunting story The Monkey’s Paw although he mostly wrote humor stories.

If you haven’t read The Monkey’s Paw, please do read it before reading further. I don’t think there are any spoilers ahead but the read is not likely to make much sense unless you are familiar with the story.

The Monkey’s Paw has been a personal favorite for as long as I remember. And not only that, it left a permanent impact on me. That the monkey’s paw is from India and cursed/blessed by an Indian fakir somehow made the story all the more real for me. Whenever I read the story I go back to the drawing room of my first home where I lived as a child, and can almost hear the knock on the door, see the man standing at the door, the horrified silence…

The message ‘Be careful of what you ask for you may get it’ has remained with me ever since then and has sort of become my guiding principle for life as well.

I am quite paranoid and wary about not wishing. Indian mythological stories too have strengthened the belief that nothing good really comes out of wishes being granted. That in fact things could turn out to be worse than ever before. That it was better to make peace with what one had than hanker for things beyond us.

Like the famous Hindi poet, Sri Harivansh Rai Bachchan told his son Amitabh Bachchan, India’s  megastar – Man ka ho to achcha aur na ho toh achcha

Translated, this reads as – If it happens as you wish it is good, but if it doesn’t, then it is even better.

Strange and quite incomprehensible isnt it? But what it means is that if things don’t happen according to your wish, then it is occurring as per the wishes of a higher force who is looking out for you and preventing you from treading paths that are bound to spell disaster for you. Only you don’t know it yet.

Anyway to come back to the story, I realized, that my memory of the story was sketchy and didn’t quite remember about the other two wishes. Perhaps I was too preoccupied by the outcome of the first wish to really comprehend what followed.

But now as I read it again, the end is what nags me. What if he had not made the third and the final wish? Who was it at the door? Would Herbert have returned? How far can things be reversed? Or was it all meant to be? Was fate playing a cruel game of her own? Having some fun at the expense of gullible disbelieving mortals? I wonder and wonder and wish that the father hadn’t wished the third wish.

Oops I forgot…

I don’t wish do I?

After that heavy piece here is a humorous piece from WW Jacob – The Golden Venture. It is a lighthearted fun read which reiterates that nothing good comes out of bad. A comfortable and fun story. I hope you read this one too and share your reactions as well. As for me, for the second story, that is all I am going to say because while reading it I was led astray. I found the characters and story so engaging that I was inspired to pen a short story.

I am posting that story The Inheritance separately – click to read it.

As always I would love to know your reactions, opinions, suggestions and even better, if you feel like it, post a review of the stories or pen an inspired version of your own. Drop a link in the comment box and I will be along for a read.

A quick recap of the Story Club:Rules are simple (and breakable) :

  1. Advance announcement of name of short story, one that is freely available on the net.
  2. Story maybe a folktale or in the local language. But an English translation should be freely available on the net. Or participant could post the translated version along with his or her review.
  3. Bloggers should post on their blog.
  4. The basic idea is to gain from each others rich heritage of literature and be able to understand a little bit more than before and of course have fun!

Anyone interested in hosting the next month’s Story Club? Please feel free to may email me at mysilverstreaks@gmail.com

If you don’t want to host a story club, but if you have a favorite short story, do share it – thanks!

Mango Trees

There are three mango trees right outside my window.

CornerThis one is at the left corner and its branches intermingle with the middle one – almost as if they were one. If you visited my earlier post here you would remember that I commented on their apparent overnight transformation. One fine day I noticed that the leaves were no longer dark or stiff and dusty. They were lush, tender green, brown and yellow shiny leaves! No striptease, shedding old leaves, baring arms and all that – just a magical instant make over. I promised to catch them in the act the next time. But that was a whole year away. That’s when it struck me – there was no need to wait for so long.

MtreesThey were both here, right under my nose. That’s the middle mango tree on the left and the third one on the right. I don’t need to ask you if you can see the difference between the two mango trees.

Mango treeOne is lush green and yellow, overloaded with fresh luscious leaves, heavily pregnant so to speak, just waiting to pop out mangoes. And the other, stuck in a time warp with its dark sparse leaves, stagnant and unchanging through the seasons. As if it had given up on life, barely hanging on – a gust of wind would be enough to snap it, end it all.

I looked once more at the dying tree and blinked.

What was that?

MangoWithin the dry hard winter leaves nestled tender, fresh shiny leaves, lime and brown. Can you see?

By the way, how many mangoes did you count?

It’s never over until you say it is over – and sometimes not even then.

For Becca’s Sunday Trees 283

CFFC: Kolam

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you may have noticed that I have already published my photos for this week’s fun foto challenge hosted by Cee on Looking Down on Things. But as I mentioned, I have a few more photos to share on this topic.

I opted for a separate post for these photos because they are an insight into Indian art, thought, philosophy and way of life.

rangoli-3

In many parts of India (and Asia), patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. Usually these patterns (rangoli or alpana) are made on the occasion of religious festivals and auspicious functions such as weddings. But in South India, these drawings called kolam (among other things depending on region) are made in front of the house, every morning.

rangoli2Kolams are not only decorative but are also believed to bring prosperity. Kolams were traditionally made of coarse rice flour – it serves as food for ants so that they don’t have to walk too far for a decent meal. It is also an invitation to birds and other smaller creatures. Kolams symbolize thinking beyond the self; the philosophy that the greatest joy is in giving rather than receiving. Only if you give, will you receive.And no one is too poor to feed another or welcome another.

rangoli4Every morning, women of the house clean their homes, courtyard, road and draw patterns with rice flour. The kolams are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so the design will hold better. As a child I remember watching Aunty as she drew bigger and bigger patterns without moving from her crouched position on the floor with just a flick of her wrist holding the rice powder between her thumb and forefinger. It was like magic.

rangoli1Walking back from the beach after witnessing a breathtaking sunrise, I was taken aback to see kolams on the road. The streets were deserted now but soon they would be bustling with activity. The patterns were sure to be trampled upon – why would anyone deliberately let their work of art be destroyed?

It was only later that I began to see the glimmerings of the deeper philosophy behind this tradition. Kolams on the road symbolize the impermanence of life and everything in it. It is a daily reminder to go ahead with our tasks without being attached to it.

Today’s work won’t last forever, be prepared to do it over and over again, all the days of your life. Be grateful for the new day, this life and another opportunity to create a new kolam, once again.