Tag Archive | story

Life and an icecream

He sat by the corner. I could see that he was upset. I went and sat by him.

‘What happened?’, I asked

‘I hate my teacher’, he said.

My son as such loves going to school but somehow he was not able to relate to the new class and the new teacher.

‘it is a new class, you will take time getting used to it’, I said.

‘it is already one week’, he said.

I sighed.

‘Sometimes it takes a little bit longer’, I said.

He shrugged and then said, ‘ I don’t want to go to school’.

That hit me…hard.

‘See sonny, you have to go to school, school gives the basis to get a good job. And when you get a good job,  you can do as you please’. I said

‘Huh’, he said

‘What?’ I said

‘You are in a good job, aren’t you? But you crib all the time. About your boss keeping high targets, about your co-workers back stabbing. Whats more you can’t do as you please, so what is the use of having a good job, what is the use of going to school?’

I stared at him with my mouth agape. He had his point.

My son was growing up….he observed….a lot.

‘Come let’s have an ice cream’, I said

‘Mamma will scold’, he said

I shrugged and said, “I will have a sugar-free one’, I said.

We had our cone ice creams, he a strawberry, me a sugar-free vanilla.

‘You know life is like an ice cream’, I said

‘Huh?’, he said

‘Sometimes it is cold, sometimes soft and always it looks tough like the waffle here. but then it gives the crunch. So it is with life, it looks tough, it is sometimes hard, sometimes it is a breeze but the important thing is you enjoy each bit because they become memories’, I said.

He looked at me as if with new understanding.

‘Thats what you talk about with Suresh Uncle’, He said

I nodded, Suresh was my childhood pal. Whenever he came to town, we reminisced about bike rides and movies and of our dreaded Physics teacher and so on.

‘So enjoy this bitter-sweet moments’, I said

He smiled.






For the earlier part, read here

Next day it was a silent Kittu who went to school.

‘Well, young man, have you brought the school fees’, it was Rao Sir.

‘No, my mother could not arrange it’, he said.

‘What do you mean by that, if she couldn’t then you do’

‘What, ME?’ said Kittu, ‘What will I be able to do?’

‘Why??? You can’t do anything?? Have you seen boys delivering newspapers, have you seen boys singing in the streets and then earning some money…’

‘I am not a beggar, I will not beg’, said the defiant Kittu.

‘Then work,’ said Rao Sir, ‘it is better than bossing over others’. Rao sir who knew about Kittu’s behaviour at home said. ‘Do anything but bring the fees in two days time.’ And as an afterthought he added, ‘The Tent Company has returned and people are queuing up for seeing some moving pictures.’ Those days there were no movie theaters. There would be companies showing these movies that would move from place to place with their tents. In which those movies would be shown.

Kittu sat in absolute silence trying to digest whatever Rao sahib. Slowly the fact of their financial position was sinking in. Yes, they were now poor, so poor that most of the days his mother and sister had to sleep hungry. So poor that his or rather any of his siblings education could not be funded by his mother. So if he really had to study then he had to fund it himself.

But what had Rao Sir said later. The Tent Company were in town. So what was he to do about it?

He sat for a long time.

Rao Sir meanwhile was talking to Rukmini. ‘Forgive me sister, but today I was harsh to your son’.

‘Did he do something wrong?’, asked Rukmini.

‘No, but I wanted to make him realise what situation you are in. He is a bright kid who will do wonders but he has to be independent now itself for that. He has to learn how.’

‘But how….’, said Rukmini.

‘I have planted the seeds, let’s see what happens. Meanwhile take these two rupees and do as I say’, said Rao Sir.

Kittu could not fathom what Rao Sir had told him. Then he called upon Suresh his classmate, ‘Suresh have you been to the Tent’.

‘Yes, I have’, said Suresh proudly.

‘What do you do there’, asked Kittu

‘We watch films and we eat…. candy and peanuts and….’, said he with dreamy eyes.

Something clicked and Kittu ran. As soon as the bell rang, he ran. He had lots of work to do. The day was long and there were loads to do.

‘Amma, amma I have a plan’, said Kittu and explained to his mother what he wanted to do. He wanted to sell peanuts outside the Tent.

His mother said how difficult it would be for her to finance his project but she would do it for his sake. So from that day onwards she would fry peanuts and fill them in triangular packs of old newspaper.

And then Kittu would take those in wicker baskets and go sell it outside the Tent.

He could not accumulate his school fees in two days but he did do it in seven.

There were two-three people selling peanuts but Kittu had an edge. The people who did not come to watch movies would flock around him for he would sing the songs and enact dialogues for those who could not afford to watch the movies. Slowly his brother too started standing with him selling weeklies and booklets of the songs from movies.

When there were no customers Kittu would sit and study with the help of the light from the lantern. His brother would ward off flies from their stall while in turn selling booklets.

(to  be continued)


for the previous part click here


Fortunes change in a moment. Joys became sorrows and situations become miseries. More than two years had passed. Datta had not repaid the amount. There were still sixty people in his home and one more son had been added to his family. What is more he had realised that Shivshankar was actually a front for his brother-in-law. And they had forged the house in his sister’s name. And so about six months back Datta had filed a court case. And it seemed as if he would win the case. Anna mused the events of the past two years when,‘Anna’, someone called, he looked up to find his sister. She fell at his feet, ‘Anna, please forgive me, I became greedy, please forgive me, forgive me for old times sake’. Datta remembered the old times wherein he had pampered his sister and she in turn had served him. ‘It is alright get up’, he said. ‘Anna come home, I have made your favourite channa dal payasam, please come’, said she. Datta went with her.

An hour later Datta returned whistling a happy tune, crossing the paddy fields. When suddenly he felt bile rise in his mouth and he fell.   It was late in the night when Rukmini along with her two elder sons went in search for her husband. They covered the town but could not find him. Until someone told them of a body lying in the paddy fields.


Radha measured the rice. It would just be enough for two or so. So today also she would have to remain hungry. Again…… It had been about six months since her father had left them. Some said it was suicide, but no, she didn’t think so. Her father was not one of those who would quit and run away. No doubt it was murder and she knew who had done that to him. It was the same person who had thrown them out of their own home. The numerous people who lived under their roof had fled on hearing about her father’s demise. Her mother was left alone with the six of them. The youngest not even a year old. And then that woman had come and kicked them out of their house, and here they were living in a shed. Her other sister had been lucky enough to live with one of her mother’s sister. The brother next to her was working as a helper in a shop. Another was working in a beedi factory. But it was Kittu who was a problem. He was the only one who went to school now. And his teacher was quite happy with his progress at school. But Kittu though intelligent had a fiery temper. And it was difficult to control it.

Their mother now worked as a house-help. Even if a single person spoke a bit harshly to their mother, Kittu would be up with daggers drawn and because of this their mother had lost her job in two places. The other problem was that Kittu could not understand that they could not afford rich foods anymore. He did not understand that whatever little they had, had to be shared. Often were the days when Kittu would demand that ‘something nice’ be made for him. Almost all the days she and her mother would tie a wet cloth around their waist misleading the stomach to give a false sense of fullness.

‘Amma’, she called as she saw her mother hurrying in, Amma the rice will not be enough for all’. ‘See, what I got’ and Rukmini opened a box to show some curry, ‘Today I hope Kittu will be happy’.

But no, Kittu was not satisfied. ‘I want some more of that curry and what is this, just this much rice?’ Raghav, the eldest of the boys tired from the work of the day was irritated and blurted out. ‘Be happy that at least you got that much’. Kittu, the fiery one, rose up and said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Do you know that most of the days, Amma and Radha akka sleep with empty stomachs with a wet cloth tied to their stomach? Be happy, that it is them and not you.’ Kittu was shocked and he looked at his mother and sister. Both averted their gaze. (to be continued)


I am appalled with the events which are happening around us and how we are projecting negativity at every step. It is my belief that to step out negativity we should stop thinking, speaking about it much. It does not really mean that you are escaping from it but it means that YOU DO NOT ALLOW NEGATIVES IN YOUR LIFE. I always used to have sleepless nights when agitated and then I realized that thinking too much does not help, not thinking helps sometimes. You just give the problems some space and you get solutions. The rapist got his two minutes of fame with the interview. While the nation debated, the interview must have given ideas to some other perverts. So was the interview necessary, were the debates necessary?

Today I bring to you the first part of the story Savior. A story based on true life incidents and someparts of which the regular readers must have already read. It is a story of a family and their fight against odds. A story of courage and yes….positivity. So read on……….


Year 1945

Kittu ran. As soon as the bell rang, he ran. He had lots of work to do. The day was long and there were loads to do.

Year 1943

The rambling house of Dattatreya had scores of people living in. It was known that anyone facing a crisis whether financial or medical could turn to Datta saheb. And so the house held sixty- seventy people at a time.

Rukmini, Datta’s wife had a daily tightrope walk. Managing such a huge household was no mean feat. The food had to be cooked, the house had to be cleaned and laundry……….those were mountain loads.

Aayi (Dattatreya’s mother) disapproved of the magnanimity of Datta considering the meagre earnings. But somehow Datta was always able to placate her.

Datta had five children. The two daughters he considered his ‘eyes’. And his sons were his arms. The youngest was eight-years- old. He loved kids and excluding his five there were eight others in the house, with whom he enjoyed playing kabbadi. The neighbours would often see him outside his house running about with the kids, frolicking in the sand running after each other.

In short Datta’s heart was of gold. But then can one survive in this weird world in such simple terms?

Datta had a sister Gowri, whose desires had no limit. Call it chance or divine providence that her husband was no better. Extremely shrewd, he lost no chance in making a quick buck. Mahindra as was his name had been eyeing on Datta’s ancestral home for long. The ancient home enthralled him. The vast rooms, the open space always kept him scheming.

‘Gowri’, he called out one day, ‘Gowri don’t you feel stifled in this two room house. You were brought up in a mansion. Don’t these two rooms stifle you?’

‘Yes, it does, so….? Are you going to build one for me?’, she asked.

‘Not really but maybe I will get you the one that you love.’

‘Eh…is it? And which house is that?’ Mahindra gave a crooked smile, ‘Guess…. the house which you like the most’.

Gowri thought. The only house that came to her mind was the one with large windows, open balconies. A house in which she had run and played hide and seek. ‘But’, she said, ‘Anna lives there’.

‘Yes, he does but he may not live there for long’, he smiled shrewdly.

Some days later

Datta closed his shop and came out worried. The business had not been much. Buyers wanted more range of goods. Earlier people were happy with the few things they got now, they wanted choices. And to keep variety he needed money. But from where could he get money when he hardly could manage afloat. Managing a household of 60 was no mean feat. His two daughters had to be married off and he so wanted to take his mother on a pilgrimage. But for all that he needed money.


He went to the grocers who refused to give him any provisions until he paid his old dues. Datta was crestfallen. How could he face his wife and his family? Wasn’t it his job to care for his family, he could not see them starving.

He went to the moneylender of his area, who refused him too. He was at his wits end.

‘What Datta, what is the matter/’, it was Rajanna, Datta’s cousin.

‘Nothing’, said Datta.

‘But your face says something else. …..Money problems?’, asked Rajanna.

‘Yes…what to do Rajanna, maintaining such a large household is no mean feat’, said Datta.

‘Hmm, so he refused, ‘asked Rajanna pointing to the moneylender.

‘Yes’, said a crestfallen Datta.

‘Is it urgent?’ asked Rajanna.

Datta nodded.

‘I know someone who can lend you provided you can give some security?’, said Rajanna.

Datta thought of all the family gold, the copper vessels, the family heirlooms which he had mortgaged and asked, ‘Security… what can I keep as security?’

‘Let us see what he says, come with me’, said Rajanna.


Rajanna took Datta to a big trader, Shivshankar.

‘Anna, he is my cousin, Dattatreya’, said Rajanna.

‘Hmmm, said Shivshankar, ‘ Aren’t you the one who lives near the flower market’.

‘Yes, yes I am the one, how do you know’, said Datta.

‘Your mother and I are related’, said Shivshankar.

Datta felt a ray of hope. Maybe just maybe Shivshankar would lend him some money without any security.


‘So you need some moeny, is it?’, asked Shivshankar, ‘What can you give to me in return’.

Data felt the ground slip away from underneath his feet.

‘What would you need?’, asked Datta in a quivering voice.


Ultimately it was decided that Shivshankar would lend him Rupees Five hundred on the basis of the papers of the house.

Datta would have to repay the amount within twelve months.

(to be continued)


Fulfilling lives

I peeked out of my comforter. It looked sunny outside. There were some sounds coming from the other room. I put my hand out, searched for my mobile and picked it up. It showed the time to be 7.30 am. Which meant I had just 45 minutes to catch my local if I wanted to reach office in time. ‘Pooja, why didn’t you wake me up’, I shouted. Silence. ‘Alright make some coffee for me’, I screamed again.

‘Khud bana le (make it yourself)’, she screamed back. I stopped and looked back towards the door.

Pooja and me have been roommates for five years now. We had been roommates during our MBA days and after that when we moved to Mumbai to start our careers, we stayed together.

We balance each other nicely. I am reckless, she is calm. She analyses, I act. And now she has become my surrogate  mother. Meaning she wakes me up, cooks for both of us and so on. While I am the one who shops for groceries et all.

All in all we gell nicely. But Pooja saying no to a cup of coffee was very unlikely. So what has happened to her.

While I stood staring at her, she boomed, ‘Aren’t yo  getting late for office’, and I rushed to get ready.

In the coming days I noticed a gradual change in Pooja. She was distracted, didn’t eat much, went to office reluctantly and refused to open up with me. I just hoped that it was love and not something destructive like drugs.

Until finally one fine day, her mother landed up at our doorstep.

‘Pooja, how are you’, asked her mother.

‘Fine, ma’, Pooja said.

‘Take these snacks, I made it especially for you.’, her mother said.

‘uh, hu’, was Pooja’s reply.

‘There are some Motichoor ladoos too’, said her mother.


‘Pooja are you sick?’, said her mother.


Are you in love with someone?’

‘sheesh…..no, why are you asking this question’

‘Pooja, you don’t call me nowadays, even if you do, you don’t talk. By the looks of you, you are not eating well, you look distracted too. So tell me, whats going on or what is it that is bothering you.’ her mother said.

‘Nothing’, was Pooja’s reply.

‘Aunty is right’, I chipped in, ‘Something is bothering you…’

‘Leave me to my worries’, she screamed.

We left her but it was obvious that something was bothering her.

it was late night. I heard her sobbing in the balcony. I crept slowly to where she stood taking care not to disturb aunty.

‘What’s the matter babe’, I asked.

She looked up in horror

‘Nothing’, she said.

‘And I suppose some dust fell into your eyes and so you are crying’, I said.

she let out a sigh.

‘I want to break free Shraddha.’, she said


‘I did MBA because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Go back to my town. Start some small scale industry, help generate income, create opportunities for youth…. This job, its demands are not for me ….But….’

“what?’, I asked.

‘I have to do some repair works for our home in the village, i still have to pay off my educational loan. And what about capital for my venture….

‘Good that you know the hurdles before you’, it was her mother. Obviously she was eavesdropping on our conversation.

‘I have spent so much in your education and upkeep. Also what about us, do you want us to stay in some old age home. huh, Leaving off a nice job for ‘jan kalyan’, Hah. And then we have to get  you married too’, she said and went off.

Pooja let out a sigh.


We settled back to our routine but Pooja was a different person now, dull and subdued.

It was a Friday evening. I was playing solitaires when Pooja stepped in. ‘Come come, I have brought some rasmalai for us’, I said.

‘Rasmalai? What are we celebrating?’, she asked.

I generally don’t like sweets. And if I do there has to be a reason. Pooja knows that.

Well, I have a plan. Listen quietly till I end.’, I said.

‘Alright’, she said

Four of us i.e Myself, Dinesh, Kartik, Apoorva will give you 10% of our salary as interest free loan for a period of five years. ‘

‘BUT…’, she started speaking/

‘I asked you not to speak in the middle. Yes, I spoke to all our batchmates. So the four of us will provide you with 10 % of our salaries. With that you will have to manage your personal expenses, repairing your home, paying off your educational loan etc. I think it will be enough because you have some of your own savings too. Aniket can provide you with venture capital provided you make a nice case study and submit your ideas. Sheela can market your product of you are thinking in terms of rural crafts etc. Ashish….’

‘I get it. I get it….you all have decided to help me achieve my dreams.’

I grinned.

And so Pooja left to follow her dreams. I miss her, I really do but then she is going to make a difference to the life of others and that is commendable. I hope some day I have the guts to do the same


‘Maid’ to order

I brought this, Kamla said pointing to her bag. I peered inside. It held a cucumber, two tomatoes and a beetroot. ‘Is it okay?’, She asked. Though I was fuming inside, I said, ‘Perfect……for a salad’.

I am a journalist. And while reviewing a rehabilitation center I  met Kamla. She was a victim of domestic violence. She had been beaten so wildly by her husband that she has lost one eye and her mental balance. The police had rescued her on a complaint of a neighbour on one of her husband’s beating sprees and she had been sent to the center. Now physically she was fine and the center did not know what to do with her.

I was in need of a maid. One who would cook, clean and provide companionship. I opted to take her on. Her husband was still in jail and there was no threat of him to come anytime and demand her presence. Her parents were in Jharkhand and neither were they interested to take her in their care. The center incharge was more than happy to hand Kamala over to me. it was fixed that I would pay Kamala a sum of Rs 1500 every month for her services. My meagre earnings did  not allow  me to give her more. I assured the incharge that I would open a Recurring deposit in her name and the amount would be paid into it.  And then took her home.

The past two weeks has not been easy for me or her. Though I keep assuring her that she is safe here with me. She is perpetually in fear. The whistle of the pressure cooker, the doorbell, the ringtone of my mobile, anything can arouse fear in her and now I am so irritated with her fears that I want to go and beat the hell out of the man who is the reason of these fears. and yes she fears men too…any man. She is afraid of the watchman, the courier boy, the delivery man et all. Now how on earth can I substitute all these men with women.

I am lost in my thoughts when the mobile rings. I pick it up to hear the editor, ‘ Raksha are you my assistant’.

‘Yes’,  I said wondering where the conversation is heading.

‘I sent a package to you, why didn’t you or your help open the door’, he says.

‘Boss, I just returned from the _____ assignment. …..’, I say.

‘What about your househelp’, he says and continues, ‘ Raksha don’t give me lame excuses. I had sent  you a draft which needs urgent editing, now be here in another 30 minutes and pick it up personally’ and slams the phone.

‘Kamla’, I call out trying to be as calm as possible.

She comes and stands before me.

‘When I was not at home, did the doorbell ring?’ I ask.

She nods a yes.

‘Why didn’t you open the door’, I ask

‘Didi, I saw through the peep-hole, it was a big bald man with big moustache and so I did not open the door’, she says.

Kamla, it is Jagdish, he is the peon from my office and he has been here so many times, then why didn’t you open the door’, I scream losing my patience.

She looks at me with tears in her eyes . I leave the matter then and there and rush to go to the office.

‘Maid problems?’ a voice calls when I shut the main door. I move around to see my neighbour Latika.

‘Yes Latika, but I will speak to you later. Right now I have to rush to my office’, I say and run.

Later I call her from office and explain my woes.

‘Listen, she says, ‘I am free in the afternoons, how about me coaching her.’

‘Coaching on what?’, I say.

‘Hmm…life skills, respecting others, recognising good and bad etc…’, she said.

Will you do that Latika….’ I say.

‘For you … I will’, she says.

And from then on the afternoon sessions start.

In some days, I see subtle changes. she is less afraid of using the pressure cooker, she picks the mobile, yes she is still afraid of  opening the door to strangers but I am confident that Latika’s coaching will cure her of this fear too.

‘Thanks a ton Latika, I see visible changes in Kamla now, I tell Latika when I meet her.

‘Oh, she is a lovely lady Raksha, she just needed some patience’, she says.



Kamla is now a better person, a much confident woman too.  I can concentrate on my job and need not fear about leaving her alone at home. In addition I feel good that there is someone back at home. Yes, she is my family now.

I am relaxing in my balcony when Kamla comes and stands beside me. By her demeanor I can understand that she wants to tell something.

‘What is it, Kamla?’, I ask.

‘I will be quitting this place at the end of this month’, she says

‘Huh’, is all that I can say.

‘I am getting 500 more at the other place’, obviously she knows I can’t pay her more.

‘And yes give my RD passbook when I leave’, she adds.

And goes away.

‘Kamla’, I say finding my voice.

Yes’, she says.

‘Where are you joining’, I say in a  faltering voice.

‘At Latika madams’ she says smilingly and  walks away.


The 7-year Itch

You completed seven years and …..’, said a newly made friend

‘Yes’, I said with pride and a smile in the face. I mean there should be pride in completing every year isn’t it? Living with another person, sharing everything  is no mean feat.

‘Oh’, she said.

I raised my eyebrows.

‘I have not been able to live with the same person for more than …..three years’, she said. I did not comment, knowing that she was in a live-in relationship.  Anyway it was better not to open the mouth for something which I did not know about.

‘I mean you come to know all about a person in the first few years, what is left to discover anymore’. she continued.

I kept mum. First of all I had not known that you became friends/partners just for discovering. I had always though that there were other things too like, sharing, caring, love, romance, children etc. Secondly, yes, me and my husband were married for seven years but still there were some days when I felt I did not know him at all. Can anyone know the other completely?

‘You were talking about an itch’, I tried changing the topic.

‘Huh’, she said and then realizing what I meant guffawed. With tears rolling down her cheeks she said, ‘Not an itch, the seven-year itch’.

Then on seeing the blank look on my face, ‘Don’t you know?’, she asked

‘What?’ I said.

‘Hey, Bhagvan’, she cried out, yes our native tongues do arise when in shock or surprise.

‘Don’t you know couples especially the males get edgy after 7 years of marriage. I mean what is left to discover?’, she said.

Now all this discovery business was making me edgy.

I stayed quiet.

‘They find out ways to make girlfriends, go out on tours, have a makeover…’, she went on.

My heart meanwhile thumped loudly. My hubby recently was going on a lot of official tours. On his last outing he had bought himself a couple of new shirts and ties, he had said that he had got it cheap in some sale but was it the seven-year itch?

I glanced at the clock and jumped.

‘What?’ she asked.

‘The school bus will be arriving in about five minutes and I am late’, I said.

‘Not a problem, I will drop you to the bus stop’, she said.

From that moment on I was like a woman possessed. I went through his mails, yes I know the password of his mail account. I checked his shirt for lipstick marks. I overheard all his mobile conversations, I checked to see whether his airline tickets matched to what he told me.

Until one fine day when I was checking his wallet and he caught me.

‘What?’, he asked.

I shrugged. Now we have had an unwritten policy right in the beginning of our marriage, that I would not look at his wallet and he won’t look at my purse.

‘You have been acting strange these past few days,  you have been tracking me, isn’t it? Can I know the reason?’, he asked.

‘ME?’, I asked in surprise. I mean was it that obvious.

‘I am waiting’, he boomed

‘Anita told me about the seven-year itch’, I explained.

‘What seven year itch’, he asked.

I was relieved that he did not know about it and explained.

‘Ask her why she has the three-year itch, why she changes partners every three years’, he said.

Seeing that he was seething I decided not to tell him about the discovering part and kept mum.

‘And anyways I have had enough of one woman, why would I need another’, he said still yelling and left the room.

Crestfallen I sat. Have I made his life so miserable, I thought.

After a few minutes he came back and looking at my misery said, ‘I meant that…see we have made such a nice home, we understand each other, we have a beautiful daughter, am I a fool to jeopardize all this and go after some other?’

I looked at his face, his feelings were genuine. I hugged him and decided to throw both doubts and Anita out of our life.


Fiction written as a part of Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st to 7th September 2013


And that is my last post for this festival. I had a great time, hope you all had too.

Ciao 🙂

7 and some ego.

We watched in silence as Aaji yelled at the farm hands. No she was not dictatorial, she was quite generous actually. Looking after the needs of the workers, seeing that they were not too tired was her work for the day but the one thing she did not like was slackness at work. If she saw some workers gossiping or idling around, that would be it and her sermonizing could be heard from miles afar.

After a while she shuffled to her room. Kartik nudged me and said, ‘I bet she is going to open her treasure chest’.

‘What is there to bet about?’, I asked him back, ‘Everyone knows that.’

Aaji had a treasure chest, a medium-sized one. One which she did not open much but on those occasions when she was upset, very jubilant or very sad. And only she had its key.

All were curious to have a look at the contents of the chest but who would dare to have a look?

Whenever me and Kartik came down to Aaji’s place on vacation, the chest beckoned and we would try our best to open it. We were inspired by films no doubt and had tried to open it with hairpins and screwdrivers but sadly the lock was a very old one and obviously not inspired by films.

And so we watched Aaji shuffle and tiptoed behind her. She went to her room and then locked the door. And that was it, that day too we were unable to have a look at the box.

One of the things about big, old houses are that, there is enough place to run and hide even if there is pouring cats and dogs outside. On such an idyllic day when we were snacking on some cashews and playing hide and seek that Kartik called me, ‘Keshav come here, jackpot’. I ran, it obviously meant that he had seen something which we should not see.


He was in Aaji’s room, there was no lock on her chest. We checked to see if we were alone in the room then slowly lifted the lid. It creaked open. We peered inside and were disappointed. There was nothing much there, a clay pot, some bottles, some book wrapped in a velvet cloth…’Curiosity killed the cat’, said Aaji holding our ears with both her hands. ‘Could not resist, eh? I had just gone to oil this old lock’.

‘But Aaji, what is there to hide, these are just some petty things’, I screamed.

‘Petty, hmmm. Would you like to know why I have kept these petty things’, she said.

‘Yes, yes’, we squealed in joy, who doesn’t like listening to stories and unraveling mysteries.

What is this?’, she asked holding the pot.

‘Pot’, we cried

‘What is it made of?’, she asked

‘Clay’, we answered

‘From where do we get clay?’

We blinked unable to understand where the conversation was heading

‘Earth’, isn’t it she said

Yes we nodded.

‘What is this?’, she asked holding a bottle of perfume

“Perfume’, we said

‘And the perfume travels through air, isn’t it?’, we nodded still unsure of what she was saying

She understood our predicament and our impatience and then asked, ‘So did you get a hint’.

We shook our heads.

Which are the five elements, the panch bhootha, the elements which make matter?’, she asked.

Yes we knew about that, we had heard about it in school as well as at home. We started reciting.

‘Earth’, she showed the clay pot.

‘Air’, she showed the perfume bottle.

‘Water’, she showed a bottle of water, maybe it was holding Gangajal. I am not sure.

‘Fire’, she showed a box of match sticks.

‘Ether’, she waved her hands across the sky.

‘But why have you kept all these in your chest. It looked so silly actually, such insignificant things in such a prettily carved wooden chest, ‘And what is there in that velvet cloth?’, we asked.

‘Wait, I have not finished yet’, she said. ‘Earth, air, water, fire, ether are the elements which make the gross body or the body which you see, the physical body. But there is something more which makes us…well us’.

We listened in rapt attention.

Apart from these five elements there are three more which makes the subtle body, that which makes our identity. What is it which makes us think?’

‘Brain’, Kartik said

‘Mind’, I said

“So mind is the first element of the subtle mind’

‘And what helps the mind in evaluating and deciding on the right and wrong?’, she asked.

We were at a loss and so sat in silence.

‘Intelligence’, she said

‘Alright’, we said.

‘But then there is one element which is a very small word and yet if uncontrolled plays a lot of mischief like you two boys’.

‘What is that?’, we asked in unison.

She gave a toothy grin and said, ‘Ego’

‘Ego is something which is necessary and yet if uncontrolled becomes a pain’.

We were utterly lost.

‘Like trying to be the best in school is good but imagining yourself to be the best is not. Trying to be the first in the running race is good but winning and then thinking that no one is better than me that is bad. So ego is good but too much of it is bad. Have I made myself clear, ‘Aaji asked.

We thought about it a couple of seconds and then nodded a yes.

She grinned.

But whenever you are angry or sad or very happy why do you come and open your chest’, I asked

‘I come and look at all these things and remind myself that I am just an ordinary person. From the elements I have risen and to the elements I will go. So there is no need to be conceited or pompous. I come here to correct myself’, she said.

‘And what is that’, Kartik asked pointing to the velvet cloth.

‘Oh that, that is my daily dose of some reality check’, she said opening the velvet wrap to show a book- the Bhagvad Gita’. It helps me to be in line. Just like in school you are taught to walk in a line, this helps me to be in focus, to be on the right path’, she said.


How could I not attempt a story in a seven-day challenge. I could have just named the story as ‘The elements’ or something like that but then I am taking part in the seven-day Write Tribe festival of words from 1st to 7th September 2013



Arti stretched her hands. She had worked non stop for the past 2 hours and she thought she deserved a break. She looked sideways to check if anyone was inquisitive and then checked if there were any new posts from doubtscleared??

She had recently started following that blog and had been addicted to it ever since. The author a septuagenarian wrote lively posts about everyday life in good humor, peppered with advises. But the way the advises were put was ingenious. Readers could also put forth any question and she would answer it in the subsequent blog post. You could say it was something like an agony aunt column in some magazine but this was even better. The presentation was lively and her promptness in replying queries made it interactive.

Checking the site daily had become  a ritual now for Arti. At an age when most lose interest in technology here was a woman who was savvy, she used technology to her advantage. No doubt with her advises she added a new dimension to many a person’s  lives.

So impressed was Arti with the lady that she sent a personal mail and now they were regularly exchanging emails. She knew that the lady was Mrs. D ( no,  she did not disclose her identity even in her mails), living with her businessman grandson in Dubai.

“No posts today, Aunty must be busy. No  wait, today is friday,holiday in Dubai so Aunty must be busy with her family’, she said to herself and logged off.

Later that day, she came to know that she had been chosen to go to Dubai for the internal audit of an Indian firm and she was super excited. Firstly for a novice like her getting an overseas opportunity was rare. Secondly she thought she would try to meet Mrs. D.

She hurriedly mailed Mrs. D… ‘I will be in Dubai from 16th to 28th of this month, can we meet?’

The next day she received the reply, ‘My policy has been that I do not meet any blogger friends. So sorry’.


Her spirits were dampened. But then she consoled herself. It was alright. Being selected  to an oversees audit itself was good and whats more she could have a look around Dubai which otherwise would have been a little difficult.


Two days had passed since she had arrived in Dubai. And Arti was still adjusting. The work culture was different. The accounts were topsy-turvy and she was thinking whether she would have to give a crash course to the accounts section.  But otherwise she was loving the city and how it was ‘alive’ almost the whole night. Wherever she went she searched for a septuagenarian lady with white hair. That is how Mrs. D had told her she was. If only she could get a glimpse of her, if only….

The owners of the business firm were very cordial. The grandson who was handling the business now was insistent that to run a  business in a professional way, audits were necessary and so they had agreed. The grandson Mr. Dhiraj was young, enterprising and very very handsome. Had Arti not known that he was married and had a kid, there was a danger of her having fallen in love with him.

Just a day before Arti and her colleague had to return to India, Dhiraj and his wife called them home for dinner.

Shopping and traffic both delayed them for the dinner. Mrs. Dhiraj opened the door personally and made them comfortable. ‘We are having Italian today, Arti you love Italian food, don’t you?’

‘Yes, I do, but how do you know?’. was the surprised reply.

Mrs. Dhiraj looked flustered but said,’ Just guessed’ and went to get some drinks.

A Mac was blinking on the side table. Arti had never seen a Mac before and she went to have a look.

The ‘Doubtcleared? page was loaded, a sidebar had the message Congratulations on your 450th post!!

Picture courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Her father’s daughter

Radha was irritated. Very Irritated. She wanted to speak to her father but did he have any time for her other than his chanting and his devotional service. Nah, it was only them for him.

‘Why can’t he hurry up?’, she asked her mom.

‘And why didn’t you ask him yesterday, you had the whole evening to ask him?’,  said her mom.

‘I forgot’.

‘Then wait’, said her mom

‘I mean, why does he have to do all this?’

‘Radha, is it wrong to give a little time to the maker? The rest of the day he devotes to us, isn’t it? ‘, said her mom

‘Yes, I know, karma, bhakti, service, I know, Please don’t start all that again’, complained Radha.

‘Radhaaa’, he  was about to lecture her when Shankar, her husband and Radha’s father stopped her.

‘It is alright Savita, leave her, so what did you want from me?’

‘Dad, I have been selected for the school cricket team but the stupid school people want your signature on the consent form’

‘That is nice, congratulations’, and he took a pen and signed the form.

Radha took the form, took her bag and ran to her school

‘Why do you give her such a long rein. She has to learn discipline. And she always complains about your devotion…’, Savita said

‘It is alright Savita, she will understand, one day. She is young, she does not understand my views. She looks at the world and feels that her Dad does not fit in it. She does not understand the peace that  my devotion gives to me, or how it makes me a better person and the bliss I have. We have given her a good foundation, now it depends on her to branch out. She is still a tender sapling Savita, let us not pressurize her. A tender sapling breaks out in strong winds. Let us be her strength not her weakness.’



Radha was the extra person in her cricket team. It just meant that she served water to the others and kept everyone in good humor.

‘Hey Radha you are a much better player than that Ashu, don’t you feel bad to serve her water’, it was her friend Nishi

‘Why should I feel bad? She is playing and she needed water, I just gave her some, so what? And God is in everyone’s heart; so by serving her water, I am serving Him too isn’t it?, she said this and bit her lip. That was what her father said always. And she was surprised how she had echoed his words.

She carried on with her practice and her efforts and good nature were noticed. And it so happened that there was a crucial inter school match and three of their players were hospitalised due to a stomach infection and Radha was called on the field

She was scared. It was her first match and such a crucial one too. Her palms were wet. The heart beat so loudly that she was sure it would pop out any moment.  In her anxiety she wanted someone to give her support. At that moment she remembered the prayer that her Father had taught her when she was a child,

Ugram veeram maha vishnum

Jwalantam sarvato mukham

Narasimham bhishanam bhadram

mrityo mrityur namamyaham

And she felt a ray of calmness engulf her. And she went on the field to bat.

The match was a draw. But Radha had been not out and later she had fielded well too.

Radha would always remember that day as it was the first time she had played an inter school match. But most importantly because she had realized that she was her father’s daughter.


The Jagannath Rath Yatra commences today. So the believers can go ahead and pull the Ratha, the rest can look the other way. 🙂