Butterflies and Bees ~ Fiction


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Varda sat there with a blank look. The frame above the fireplace held the photo of a handsome man with a strongly built canine by his side. The man in the frame was the first living being she fell in love with. She recalled the first time when he had held her as a child against his chest, while she was just a few months from turning one. She recalled the warmth of his hand over her tiny head. His touch had healed her insecurities and fears. They were to become the best father daughter duo soon!

She even reminisced the moments when he would take her out for those long drives with the cool winds of that tiny hill station caressing her long tresses. She loved it when he made her favorite Chicken sausages on Sundays. The long walks, the cool beats that played on the audio during long drives, running along the rugged forest trails during Spring, the musicals that played on the old gramophone at night, she missed them all. And, she missed him terribly. Especially, the mere physical presence…….

………………………………………………………………..4 years ago………………………………………………………………..

Varda was barely 5 months old when Wilson, a 50 year old widower had adopted her. Rather, he had rescued her. The feisty little hybrid Indie faced her first brush with death when she ran wildly towards the other end of the road chasing a beautiful polka dotted butterfly, oblivious to the peering headlights and the blaring horn that was heading her way. The butterfly disappeared into the mist. But, it was just too late for Varda to comprehend that she was hit and almost run over on her leg by the speeding car. She shrieked in pain and, winced for three hours till her eyes began to droop and, her voice had become weak. But the pain did not last. Perhaps, the pain went numb as her eyes were closing. She probably had visions of polka dotted butterflies and, yellow and black striped bees that was later followed by an excruciating pain. She opened her eyes gently and peered into that empathy filled face of the man she was going to know as her master soon! And then, her eyes closed again although she heard a lot of noises for a very long time. After an hour that seemed like ages, she opened her eyes again to find herself on a table and, a pair of hands with a needle. The world went blank after that.

A few days passed by. Varda drifted in and out of consciousness. She heard some muffled voices intermittently. “The medicines are doing their job. Her foot will heal. It is surprising that she survived such an accident! And Wilson, your faith is like a rock! When I looked at her mangled lower body, I had given up on treating this malnourished pup! Your faith actually got me through, here! That said, she will take a few more months to heal completely.”, said Dr. Sharma.

And what the silver haired man said after etched into her memory for a lifetime – “Common Sharma, In my time, I have seen the best fall and, the mediocre rise like phoenix. Somehow, her heartbeat assured me that she is a fighter! Had Shirley been here, she would have been on cloud nine…..” (Silence)

See, she is listening! sharp girl…..Varda!

Sharma swayed his head from left to right with a grin – “right! After the storm, Varda eh?”

It would take three more months for the Varda to realize how her life was about to be filled with sunshine after that stormy night!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Wilson had been married to Shirley for about 30 years. They were the perfect couple who had raised good children and, discovered a deeper love for each other with age. However, his plans to globetrott and, spend his post retirement life completely with his soulmate came to a deafening halt when Shirley suddenly passed away in her sleep one fine day. The void hit him so hard that grief now became a part of him. After retiring as a Colonel from the Indian Army and post, Shirley’s untimely demise, he went away from the crowd to lead a quiet life in the serenely calm hills of Kalimpong. His children had studied well and, were settled abroad. They would visit him once a year and at times, he would go and live with them for a few months. However, Shirley’s absence could not be filled even while his children and grandchildren admired and loved him unconditionally. He was still an affectionate parent and a grandparent. But, he kept his aloofness at times, intact. And after 10 long years of grief, that late evening walk brought in a change in his life, a change he never imagined. Varda, the storm had arrived in his life with her agenda of ‘butterflies and bees’!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Over the period of four years, they were together, they became the perfect master canine pair. Varda was a quick learner, given her strong genes from the great Indian Mastiff. Besides, having been born a stray, her adaptability to environments was amazing. She learned the tricks of fetching and hunting with the retired veteran. She loved running through the forest trails while the old man would yell – “Go girl, go! Run with the wind”. She even helped as a runner and fetcher when they went for long treks and expeditions wherein, Wislon would set up tents at night. They went fishing together in the small lake nearby on Sundays. After all, swimming was Varda’s favorite sport!

From a flustered and scared pup, Varda transformed slowly and steadily into a fiercely loyal and, an extremely vigilant canine. Wilson’s children fell madly in love with Varda’s charm when they visited their father. And, so did their children and, so did the children in the neighborhood. Life was good until….the fateful night of 11th April.

They had gone for a long drive as usual, which was always a part of their daily drill. Somewhere in between those bouts of joyful barking and laughter, somewhere in the middle of those mindless banter of how the world had gone from bad to worse, the incessant talker and the good listener missed the board of – Work in Progress, while they drove on, into a route towards the unfinished bridge covered in mist, that would later seal their fate.

When the hit happened, Wilson and Varda had looked into the face of death for the first and last time when the jeep hit the boulder and, tumbled into the river. That moment was too deep and too short and yet, too loud. And then, everything was calm. Deafeningly calm.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Varda looked up at the frame again. It had been four days since her master departed. And yet, she could not accept that he was gone! Although the short four golden years of her life felt like a a drop in the ocean of uncertainties she faced in the first few months of her life, that precious drop of assurance also made her believe in the fact, that there was enough sunshine in the world for everyone.

As she looked up, she saw the crowd paying respects to her master. It was then, she saw Marissa – Wilson’s granddaughter place a small toy near the frame and say – “Will miss you too, Varda”.

Suddenly, there was a blinding light at the door. Varda saw the familiar face and, barked with joy! None heard her barking. But, he did. And, she took the joyful leap into his outstretched arms as he said, pointing towards the sky – “Come girl, I know a forest out there…with so many butterflies and bees…..and we have a lot of exploring to do….”

————————————————–Butterflies and Bees———————————————————

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P.S: The above post is my humble attempt at writing fiction.

The Property~ Fiction Series


There was a sudden flip in system, is all he knew. Something made him dizzy. After a few bouts of vomiting, he felt a need for rest. As he clutched the railing of the restaurant, the waiters and the owner came running towards him. His eyes started drooping and, the images blurred. He could almost feel his heart beat on his skin. What was it? A heart attack? But, he felt no pain. And then, he passed out………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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PART 1

A flurry of images played in his eyes – from the time his son was born till the present moment and, everything in between. And yet, the moment he held his son for the first time was etched in his memory. That vivid moment refused to smudge even as other memories had started becoming livid.

The day, his son was born was after all, special. A purpose to live, had returned. A verve to thrive in a lifeless loveless relationship returned. A love of a father that he got but never returned, returned. Yes, those tiny fingers, tiny toes, tiny eyes, tiny cheeks and everything tiny about the new life filled him with exhilaration. He had made a promise to the child that day – Come what may, I will fulfil all your wishes.

That was the year 1987 when Anant was blessed with a baby boy whom he named Vignesh. And now, 27 years had passed by. 27 years of ennui. 27 years of yearning. 27 years of expectations that never saw the dawn!

The reality had finally seeped into Anant – Destiny has its designs. No one understands it.

22nd August ‘2106:

On the fateful morning of 22nd  August, Anant had faced once again, the repercussions of a troubled marriage, but this time with a greater force! After having done his pujai and japam, he was confronted by his wife Neeraja on the same issue that had been culling the peace of his home for 5 long years.

Neeraja: “Why don’t you sell your Chennai flat? We need money and, you know it!”

Anant: “Really? You never liked my family despite zero interference from any of them. And when the property deal came through, I agreed because I felt we should not burden Vignesh with our monetary woes. The Chennai flat that we have got from the deal is an earning member for us. It will get us rent. How can you think of selling it? Besides, every brick of that property belonged to my father. I did not earn it. It is inherited. And, I have my sentiments attached with it. We will not speak about this. Please!”

Neeraja: But, we have to pay back the loan I took from my sister to finance Vignesh’s MBA.

Anant: Neeraja, Vignesh could have taken a study loan too. That would have forced him to stick to the job in hand. Ever since you have filled his ears with the property deal thing, he is not focusing on his work and, is busy job hopping with little inclination towards saving! Neeraja, I don’t want him to be aimless like me. I want him to take responsibility. I want him to know the importance of money. Selling a flat to get a lumpsome is the most insane thing I have heard! And besides, why would someone sell a property in such a good location?

Neeraja: Why should he take loan to understand the importance of money when people are ready to help him? Why must he suffer all that? Sell the house and transfer the property to Vignesh’s name. 

Anant: Think clearly, Neeraja – if we sold the flat like you said – transferred the property to Vignesh’s name while we are still alive, what will we do? Where will we go? What if, tomorrow he doesn’t want us staying with him after he begins his own family. Love for son is good. But, we should not go helpless to help, even if it is our own son. We will be doing the greatest harm to our child if we don’t let him comprehend responsibility.

Neeraja: My son will keep me. About you, I am not sure! Vignesh was asking again when you are planning to sell that house!

Anant was breaking away into a million pieces of regret, pain and shame from within. The harsh words never stopped. When he heard his wife implying coldly that his presence did not matter over years and now, it did not matter to either her or Vignesh, he felt like a soul struggling to escape the reality. He gulped his sorrow and, stared blankly into the portrait of his parents. And, a million possibilities arose and died a silent death in that instant!

What if, he had studied hard and, got into a stable job? (He was the most intelligent of the four with a quick wit and a sharp mind!)

What if, he did not while away his time as a youngster and, took his responsibilities seriously? (He thought about all the times when he had ignored his father’s repeated advice on taking responsibilities in life and, had meandered aimlessly with his peers)

What if, he had not married Neeraja? (He had the choice. After all, it was an arranged marriage)

What if, he had defied Neeraja and, pursued a career in Mumbai where a good job was waiting for him a decade back? (Neeraja had thrown a tantrum saying – No, why should you work? The rent money is enough!)

What if, he had talked openly about his state of mind with his brother and sisters?

What if – the two words with endless possibilities…..

He finally said – “I am not selling the house. As for the loan, I will pay the amount to your sister from the rent I get from that home. But, Vignesh shouldn’t be leaving the job now. Any job will have challenges. He has to face them! He cannot become like me!”

With a finality in his tone, he left for his work as an accountant in a small hotel. On the way while cycling down to his work, Anant remembered the countless sacrifices and compromises that had sucked the life out of him. He was supposed to attend every function at Neeraja’s place but, she would not reciprocate the same towards his folks. She wanted monetary benefits from his ancestral property, but did not want anything to do with it. She wanted help from his folks when Vignesh wanted to pursue MBA but, she would not communicate directly with any of them. A fleeting thought had crossed Anant’s mind then – What if, I had followed my heart and walked out?” What if…..

PART 2

Anant had never dreamed big in life. He had taken VRS while, Vignesh was still in primary school. It was Neeraja’s idea. Ever since Anant had married, he had felt a strange thing about his marriage. He was not allowed to think. He was only permitted to act on the terms dictated by his wife. Having been a Math Wiz who played chess like a pro and, whipped magic with a deck of playing cards, he felt misplaced. Slowly, the feeling transformed into acceptance. Things will improve some day. He had thought so.

And, Neeraja too never encouraged him to seek a better job. They were content with the mundane life they lived in Thalassery. Looking back, nothing ever seemed amiss to either of them. To an onlooker, they would have appeared to be a simple couple who maintained a simple home and, lived a simple life. And, Vignesh grew up with unconditional love from his father under the domineering presence of his mother. Yes, Anant had nightmares about his son turning out exactly like him with no aim, no voice and no verve. As a father, he wanted Vignesh to aim high. He wanted Vignesh to touch the sky. He wanted Vignesh to seek enjoyment in whatever he pursued. Sadly and predictably, destiny rolled the dice and, Vignesh grew up with the thought process of his mother, turning Anant’s worst fears into a sad reality.

Post engineering, Vignesh joined a leading IT company. It was a welcome news for the family. Anant’s bank balance was nil now. His savings had depleted after Vignesh completed his engineering. And now that Vignesh had a job, things had started to look up. For Anant, it was a ray of light that gave him hope – “Yes! Vignesh has stood on his feet. He will do good for himself!” He felt proud when Vignesh announced that he was being transferred to Chennai.  He thanked God – “Finally my son is flying from his nest. He will grow out of this aimless lifeless place. He will ascend the ladder of success by facing challenges. He will be fine, now!”

Everything was going well until 2013 happened – the year when the property deal was finalized. Vignesh had completed a year at work. His probation period was coming to an end. And, he was looking into a bright future. It was around this time, Anant received a call from his brother in law – “Anant, the property deal has come through. It will be divided squarely into four portions, each for each sibling. I know how much you need money at the moment. This deal couldn’t have come at a better time!”

For Anant, this was his father’s property. Although he had no heart to sell it, he needed money to sustain. He had no job. He had crossed 55. And, now he did not want to burden Vignesh with his monetary woes. Having faced a severe financial crisis, this came as a breather at the time for Anant. Money cannot buy happiness, says who? That is how the Chennai flat was to ease their financial pains. Anant thought – “All my worries will end now.”

Little did he know, a big curve ball was waiting to strangle him in near future.

PART 3

22nd August’2016:

A phone call put a lot of things on spin that day. 22nd August’ 2016. This day will be remembered by many for different reasons though. It had come around in the afternoon. Neeraja had picked up the phone and, the voice on the other end sounded heavy and tensed,

“Mrs. Anant, I am calling from the restaurant. Your husband just collapsed all of a sudden. We are taking him to Maithri hospital near by.” Neeraja stood there with an expressionless face as, Vignesh came out of his bedroom. He looked at his mother’s frozen eyes and instantly understood.

Meanwhile, at the hospital the doctors were trying their best to revive Anant. His ECG was normal. His BP was normal. And then, the doctor had suggested the MRI scan. Anant on the other hand was drifting between unknown worlds. He suddenly felt calm and composed. It was as if he was ascending somewhere but, he did not know where. He saw some familiar faces. For a moment, he thought he knew them, but memories were fading away very fast. He looked around to see if Neeraja and Vignesh were there. No, they weren’t.

His eyes started spewing water. The MRI scan showed a massive brain hemorrhage in progress. The blood was spilling out of his veins at an accelerated rate. The middle aged doctor took one look and knew the two possible outcomes of which one was the less painful to both his patient and the family. He wished him peace.

“Vignesh, right? Ok. See, your father has suffered from a massive brain hemorrhage. Usually, it is triggered by unchecked blood pressure, which he may have ignored. Now, I will come to the point. His survival chances are bleak. Even if survives, recovery will be a long bumpy road. And, at the moment, we cannot undertake a surgery as the hemorrhage is massive. If he doesn’t respond to the drugs at this stage, we will take the final call for surgery tomorrow.”

Vignesh sat in stone silence. The doctor could not make out what the boy felt at that moment. After all, he could only give him a hope that was not a hundred percent sure whether it would work its way out!

PART 4

All his life, Vignesh had grown in a shielded environment that was guarded by Anant and Neeraja. He remembered some of the best moments he had spent with his father around. However, what he remembered in particular were the last few days with him, that were filled with fights, arguments and stand offs over selling away the Chennai flat.

On the other side of the glass, Anant was locked in a maze of coils and wires with beeps resonating intermittently. He opened his eyes for a brief time, a few hours before the final call. He reminisced every joyous moment he had lived with his family. Although he knew he was not a valued human as a husband or as a father, he still embraced the memories of having lived a family life with warmth and grace. He did not care about what would become of his home. No, not anymore. And suddenly, he felt relieved of worldly burdens. He looked up and saw his amma and appa with outstretched arms. He heard a voice – “Come with us, son! You have suffered enough. It is time.”

Oh yes, It was time to say good bye.

23rd August ‘2016

At 11:00 AM, Anant had passed on peacefully. Neeraja looked empty but was not grieving.  She was perhaps thankful to God for not letting her husband live like a vegetable for the rest of his life. Vignesh had handled his father’s demise with elan, so it appeared to all. Relations were informed. Cremation was arranged. News of Anant’s demise spread like wild fire. Until then, Neeraja and Vignesh were not aware of how a small town was going to pay homage to the one man it adored!

PART 5

Anant may have been an insignificant human in his home. But he had a different image outside. He was seen as a benevolent human who believed in giving a helping hand to people. The many students he had tutored for free, the many unknown faces he had helped in their time of need and, his employer who had seen and cherished the honesty of a departed man, shed tears that welled from the hearts.

The shock pinched people as they came in droves to come in terms with a biting reality –

The warm eyed smiling Anant will never be seen again cycling down the road to work.

The warm eyed smiling Anant will never again be taking Math tuitions for free.

The warm eyed smiling Anant will never be a part of temple proceedings any more.

The warm eyed smiling Anant will never be able to share his spiritual richness with the people who adored him.

Because, the warm eyed smiling Anant had left abruptly and, for ever!

10 days had passed since Anant’s demise. His portrait hung in the living room with a garland of fresh flowers. Anant’s smiling face crowded the air for some reason. Neeraja had learned to live without talking with her husband for some years now. Yet, she was not sure if she was capable of dealing with the physical absence of a man she had taken for, as a life partner. As she peered deeply into the once warm eyes of her late husband, Vignesh stepped out of his room. He was perhaps getting ready to go somewhere. For a brief moment, he looked at the portrait of his father. And then, he announced – “Time to sell that damn flat!”

P.S: The above is a piece of fiction.  However, such incidents do happen around the country. We hear a lot about all kinds of misfortunes and tragedies. And some snippets find voice in the form of stories and fiction. So, let’s say this this fiction is inspired from the adage – TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION. 

SHE. ~ Fiction Series


An attempt at writing a small fiction. Hope you enjoy it!

There was something mesmerizing about her. SHE usually smelled fresh. When plump, SHE was perhaps the most seductive creation. SHE was good at turning on the feral nature in humans. Although SHE loved flirting with every human SHE met, SHE did not quite believe in commitments. But whoever SHE met along the way struggled to be associated with her. An enigma, SHE was for sure.

While every pair of human eyes on earth, gaped at her in awe coupled with sometimes greed, sometimes need, SHE on the other hand chose to be the wild stallion – unrestrained and detached. No man was spared of her magic! SHE probably owned the world. Maybe, Maybe not – SHE thought once or twice about it.

SHE

However, SHE was not wicked to say the least! Only, SHE did not, rather could not sustain in a world devoid of theater. SHE thrived on comedies, tragedies, errors and misfortunes. Strangely, SHE could be a part of happy and sad occasions with no great emotions and yet, could handle both with grace or, no grace.

So, for some, SHE was the cause of all happiness and, for many SHE was also the root of all miseries. But respect, SHE demanded from all except for a handful who did not acknowledge her existence. For the world, SHE intended to remain a mystery. Because, SHE has always been unpredictable and, a nomad who stayed true to the adage – Rolling stone gathers no moss.

Sometimes, SHE could do grace by bringing soul mates together whereas, at some other time, SHE might be just busy disintegrating a loving family. If SHE wiSHEd to harness a child’s education in some village, SHE would and strangely, SHE also became a reason for some child slogging away in misery in a big city.

To put in simple words, SHE could cause wars and, SHE could stall them too! Yes, SHE remains a powerful entity, an epitome of power and yet, prefers to be treated as a mere tool. In the hands of a good man, SHE might transform into a blessing whereas, in the hands of an evil one, SHE becomes the messenger of incomparable devilry!

SHE does not vindicate. Neither, does SHE defy. SHE is meant to be neutral, SHE believes so.

SHE does not believe in choosing owners. SHE lets the best choose her, rather! But boy, does SHE have attitude?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

And while her million accomplishments relayed that night in her thoughts, SHE lay there near the river in the hands of a skinny man who was in deep sleep. SHE looked at him and, thought – Maybe, it is time to change my owner. The dawn had just cracked and, SHE looked forward to new beginnings. Although SHE had some dirt sticking on her, SHE was not entirely inconspicuous or ugly! Someone would look at her and, take her home.

And, SHE assumed – the normal routine of life shall continue. A new owner, a new home, a new family and, the list was endless. This was the first time SHE felt like having an upper hand over the Almighty! After all, SHE has always been the catch for everyone, immaterial of which strata they belonged to! Even in the abode of God, devotees would take a glance at her! And while SHE reveled in her arrogance, SHE sensed some movement. SHE peered into the darkness and, saw a dark figure approaching her. SHE could not clearly see in the dark, except for a silhouette that faintly formed in the mist of the dim dawn. However, SHE could hear the tinkling of bells. They got louder and louder. So, did the footsteps. When, the figure approached near her, SHE stared in horror into the deep bottomless pools of black! And then, the world went blank………………………………………………………………………………………………

It was 6 AM. The Sun was rising slowly. Bird music filled the air. The orange hues splattered across the blue skies in faint strokes as Ramnath Pandit, the temple priest opened the gates of the Krishna temple near river Bhadra. He looks around and his face beamed when he saw Amba near the gate. He looked at her and, exclaimed – “Arre Amba! Aaj itni jaldi aa gayi….? Bhuk lagi hai? Kya chaba rahi ho subah subah?”. He loved Amba, her milky white colour, her innocent eyes that exuded warmth and, her soft mooing. Amba was the temple cow and, Ramnath treated her like his child.

Meanwhile, SHE breathed her last and, in those final moments, SHE did have some lasting thoughts before the curtain call–

I am the piece of paper that rules the world!

I am the piece of paper which tests humans’ verve!

I am the piece of paper, which has never seen a dustbin in life!

But then, I am also just a piece of paper with the numeral 1000 that ended up as Amba’s breakfast!

Price‘less’.”

P.S: The above is a work of pure imagination.

The Sacred Stone


From a child’s eye – it is love.

From a man’s eye – it is fear.

Where has the child in us gone, I wonder?

———————————————————————–

There was a distraught look on the child’s face, as a shooting pain spread from his shoulders to his back.  His back and his legs were hurting too. The hit may not have been impactful for an adult but for the five year old Shiva, it felt to be the most severe form of beating his father had given him. The impression of the five fingers on his face felt like bright red dents on his right cheek.A moment of confusion followed by a sheath of fear that had begun to cloak his face. And yet, he wondered – “What did I do wrong?”

The burning sensation lingered on as he was still reeling from the shock and confusion on why his father had got so angry when his son had placed the bright white tinged with yellow ketki flowers on the Shiv Ling. Apparently, his father believed that he had reserved his right to get angry because he was Neelakanta Shastry, the temple priest of the town.

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The boy now looked at the Shiv Ling and started speaking slowly – “Why? What did I do wrong? You only said you would accept anything from me if I gave it with whole heart filled with love and devotion. You said – even a pebble offered with utmost devotion is nectar to you. And, on my way to the temple today, I saw these bright flowers. I thought you would love them. I placed them on you thinking you will love them and be happy. And then, my father came and saw those flowers. He got very angry. He slapped me and beat me with a stick because, those were the cursed ketki flowers and that, I should never have put them on you. He further said that, now you are angry and will punish us all for this grave mistake of mine. Will you, dear God? But, did you not create those flowers too? Why would you hate your own creation? And, if you had not liked them, you could have told me. I talk to you everyday….even as my father thinks I am mad to talk to a stone. But then, I don’t see the stone. I see you in the stone……”

The weariness caused by the crying was making Shiva drowsy. He sat next to the Shiv ling and slowly, his eyes began to droop. His tiny head now rested on the cold smooth arch of the Shiv ling. His tiny hands hugged the masculine emanating Linga. He was falling asleep. And then, all of a sudden, he felt calm. The pain seemed to be going away. It seemed as though some light had entered his battered body and, peace was transcending upon him in the form of milky white waves of light. He seemed to hear a voice from far. And, now it seemed to be approaching towards him. It was a baritone voice and yet so soothing. It felt like soul for the ears.And, the voice whispered softly

“My dear child, cry, you must not! The world is a beautiful place despite the traditions, rituals, ignorance and all the negative aspects that make it. And, it is believed that certain traditions shall appease me. Do they? I will not answer that. But does your pain make me sad? Yes, it does. Do not worry, my child. The path to understand me is never easy. And, this was just a small obstacle that you have crossed with grace. Remember, I am also walking with you every second. Your pain is my pain, my child. So, do not fret. Just have faith in me. I am always there for you and, with you.”

And then, the aura began to fade. The sound was becoming feeble. Little shiva felt as though he was falling down fast and then, all of a sudden,

“Hey shiva! Common get up! How long have you been sleeping here. Amma and appa were worried when you did not come back home soon. See, it is almost two……”

He looked up and saw his doting elder sister Rukmini hovering over him with knitted brows. He got up and looked around. There was no one there. For a second, he felt a bit surreal. He could not recollect much except that he had fallen asleep.

While walking down the temple steps, Rukmini quipped – “…..And, father was feeling bad for having hit you so badly. He told me not to tell you.. but he has got your favorite halwa from Ayyanar’s shop! By the way, Shiva, what did you do this time?”

And then, he remembered it all.  Suddenly it dawned on him that he felt no pain. He touched his cheek and the five fingered impression of his father’s hand on his cheek was gone. He held his sister’s hand tightly and, stopped for a moment to look back.. Just as he was about to look back, a beggar on the steps hummed loudly – “Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo…….” Before he could glance at the linga, Rukmini cupped the young boy’s face in her soft hands and said… “Shiva, there is a whole life left to finding answers for all your questions on the traditions that we have been following since ages. And, I am sure you will find them and enlighten the world. But for now, just remember – We all love you. Ok!” Lil shiva was once again the naughty prankster as he tugged at the long plait of his sister and began to scoot. However, that day was also the day when little shiva reached home with a mind that had experienced a peace that only a higher spiritual awakening could trigger.

Later that evening, when Neelakantha shastry came to the temple for conducting his regular pujais, what he saw baffled him. There was an imprint of five fingers on the shiv ling and, parts of it were chipped. The shock on his face remained frozen for a few minutes. And then when he touched it, in a flash of a second, it all dawned on the 40 year old man as tears welled up and, his face turned crimson…..He prostrated before the Lingasaying, “Oh God! I saw you as a stone and my son saw the stone as you!”

And, the beggar out on the steps closed his eyes and smiled – “Har Har  Mahadev”

hhr

P.S: The above is a work of my imagination that is often torn between religion and spirituality. Of course, I am more drawn towards the spiritual side. And if any of my readers are hurt, kindly bear in mind that it has been written as a fiction…..and you can always choose to believe in it or, not to 🙂

 

 

The stubborn pupil, the stubborn teacher ~ Fiction series


Part 1: The disgruntled pupil

Five year old D was a lonely child. He refused to mingle with the rest of his class, although his classmates were amicable and helpful. To Nina, he seemed to be an impermeable mind that had decided that the new teacher was going to be worse! She had just begun her first stint as the new class teacher of the senior kg section B where D was a student. From day one, she could sense the boy’s resentment towards her. She could also sense a misguided anger in him towards everyone, an anger she failed to understand in the beginning. While every child in her class extended the olive branch of trust towards her, D refrained from even considering her, an ally. And, now after a month and a half, she sighed heavily as she knew that the circle of trust she had initiated with the children of her class, was incomplete without D. And, D was not ready to break the ice yet.

The world saw five year old D as a handicapped child with a paralyzed left hand and an unstable left leg. Having been exposed to a singular emotion of sympathy, D repelled the help that he received whenever he needed as much as he reveled in the comfort of being helped at every step. Even at a tender age of 5, he understood that he could not run like the others, could not use two hands together to open his tiffin box, or perhaps open his bag without scattering the contents on the floor. The children rushed to help him, every time he tripped and fell. A friend of his, G made it a point to accompany him to the washroom, every single time. However, children are children after all. Despite the prevalence of goodwill, the classmates indulged in troubling D whenever their minds turned idle. In such times, D suffered pangs of hurt, not because he was ridiculed for his lousy gait or his inability to control his bladder, but because he was unable to do things independently as everyone else could. He was sucked into the infinite black hole of sympathy that came from teachers and children alike. Nina was not sure, what troubled the boy more, the sympathy, or the helplessness in sustaining his self esteem?

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Part 2: The thoughtful teacher

When Nina entered her class on her first day, she almost knew everyone just by looking at their faces. She had gone through every child’s record in detail. She was briefed about every child in her class and, especially about D before hand. The teachers had advised her to be overtly gentle towards D, owing to his condition. And, so began her challenge of handling a class of a naughty 22 with a challenging personality – D. As days passed, she realized that the 21 of her class were far easier to manage than managing the stubborn D who had decided to challenge her role as his teacher. While everyone in the class followed her instructions to the teeth, D had decided to disobey everything she said. In the initial months, she was gentle and calm. “Patience is the key”, she reminded herself as she constantly counseled D from time to time, often slowing down the schedule of the class for him. Also, she was constantly scrutinized by her subordinates with a hawk’s eye, a hostility she overcame later. Over a period of time, she realized that D had no mental handicap as was hinted by a few teachers earlier. The boy was not slow in his work as once in a blue moon, he would finish his work depending on his mood. She finally figured out that, D suffered from a huge mental block. He would work as slow as a snail when every child in his class would complete the class work before time. She was finding it difficult as she had to report every child’s progress to the coordinator on a weekly basis and, her gentleness was getting her nowhere! The coordinator reminded, “If you say that the child is good, why is he not performing? If he is not performing, maybe you need to rethink your way of teaching.” That was it and, Nina decided, “No more playing the good cop! It is time for an unconventional deviation!” It was during one of his worst tantrums in writing, shehad reached her breaking point. She would not have felt the hurt if the child lacked the aptitude to study. But, a child with a hidden intellect refusing to follow the rules only because of a misguided anger was not acceptable to her. She waited patiently for the perfect day to make her point! And, it came……one day…..

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Part 3: Let the games begin!

Nina had thought upon conducting a small race for the students in her class. She broke the class in approximately 4 teams. Each team would run. Following which, the winners from each team would be applauded and would further compete with each other.  Considering there were only 6 girls in the class, it was best to get the girls’s team run through, first. D sat silently with his eyes staring down at his feet, as the teams were being made. When his name was called out, a surprised class shouted in a chorus, “Ma’am, he cannot run!” to which Nina almost barked, “By God, he will!” D had not expected this and he wondered, how he was going to do a task which he almost believed like the others, that he could not. For the first time, Nina noticed that the arrogance had left the boy’s face and he had a questioning look on his face! At first, he refused to join in. And then, in an unusually stern voice, Nina ordered him to come and join his team. A perplexed D obeyed for the first time as he looked at his teacher. For Nina, the long suppressed words flowed, aloud, “D! You don’t have to win. You only have to run. It doesn’t matter if you cannot run like the others. It doesn’t matter if you fell down! It doesn’t matter if the others make fun of you. All that matters is, THAT is the post you have to touch and then, run back! Clear or not?”

And, on that On your mark, Get Set and Go, D ran with his team. At first, D looked scared and embarrassed. But, as his legs pushed hard to carry him, the speed ramped up slowly. It was the first of many times, Nina saw the boy enjoying as he grinned to himself ear to ear as he felt the wind brush his hair. For a few moments, it appeared to Nina that D had gone into his wonderland and was reveling in the action he dreaded to do, all this time. The ‘Yes, D! You can do it” started in murmurs first and then, the momentum picked up as the chorus got louder and louder when D touched the post and turned back. When D came back, he was sweating, panting and tired. But, it was his eyes that caught everyone’s attention. Those black eyes shone like stars as the others heaped on him celebrating his victory! The sounds of the clapping resonated in the ears of D and Nina for a long time. The ice had finally been broken between the teacher and the pupil. A wall had been mowed down inside the child’s head.

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Part 4: The day that made the difference

The next day, D wished Nina, “Good Morning Ma’am!” and, she wished back. That was the first time D wished Nina in the class. Nina smiled to herself, “There is always a first time for everything!” During the class work, those little eyes fluttered for a while as those tiny fingers started moving fast on the notebook, something that had not happened in ages. D’s face seemed to be a collage of cocktailed emotions that had not emerged in a while. And then, he finished his class work first in the class and showed his work to Nina. Nina looked down and stared at a page of neatly traced Cursive Ls. And next to the red tick mark, now appeared a big beautiful red star on the paper. Nina loved giving stars to children and, D deserved a big one! The tears stopped right at the rims of the doe shaped eyes of D that met Nina’s eyes for a second. He happily jumped towards his seat (his left leg tugging behind) and flaunted his star to everyone.

For the first time, Nina felt that she had made a difference in a child’s life. The low pay did not matter anymore. The bickering colleagues did not bother her now. All that mattered to her now, was to make a difference in these tiny lives in the most impressionable way. What amazed her was the fact, that a degree can never educate you. It is just a stamp. The real education begins from within, just like it did for D and for her, too.

yu

P.S: Above is a fiction piece inspired by a real experience. 🙂

And, the stars welcomed him…in their abode – I ~ Fiction series


“Guide us in the hour of need”
Four year old Nyssa was playing with her bunny Troy. The toy bunny was white with shades of brown, a gift that her father had gifted her, last Christmas. It looked at her with its deep black eyes as she softly whispered in its ears, “Hush Hush Troy! Papa is coming home”…………………………
 
Sarah Jane stared blankly at the ceiling as her new born was sleeping peacefully next to her, oblivious to the effect, the sudden twist of fate had on her. She then called out to Nyssa and hugged her tight. The tears will flow. They will not stop. Not, this time…..
 
Shirley Tomas placed the rosary beads back in the drawer. She had held them in her hand, long enough since the dreaded phone call 9 hours ago. She prayed for a long time. Her heart failed to accept the truth even as her mind came to terms with the fact, that she could never relive the phone conversation with her son, about a day ago. And then, the tall gallant man appeared next to her and said, “It is time.”
 
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There was a big crowd that had gathered outside the villa of Retd Brig Benji Tomas. The old man stood briskly at the entrance of his two storeyed villa. His face was expressionless, as always. His mustache was neat and trimmed. His rimmed spectacles made it hard to look into his jet black yet, mystic eyes. He stood tall, impeccably dressed in a white shirt, striped scarf, brown corduroys and well polished wellingtons. His wife, Shirley stood there alongside her husband, with glazed  eyes as though they looked into an other world. Matrix, their German Shephard guarded their home with extra caution this day. And then, the old couple looked up, as a huge army truck came at their door step. The moment was overwhelming. The moment stilled the air. The moment was deafening as, Maj Neil Tomas, the hero of Ernakulam, the son of Retd Brig Benji Tomas had arrived home, for ever. 
 
The lion-heart who stood by his oath, fought his adversaries with all his might, and took the bullet on his face to protect his comrade, had come home to his family, in a mahogany coffin draped gracefully in tricolor with a huge wreath resting on it. Shirley Tomas staggered as the old man held her by her arm, lest she should fall. Her only child now lay there sleeping in that coffin, never to open his eyes again to feel his father’s hug, his mother’s kiss, his wife’s love, his daughter’s delightful squeals and his day old son’s sweet little nothings……
 
Maj Neil Tomas had arrived at his final resting place, a martyr…..And then, the stars welcomed him…to their abode…..
 
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P.S: The above is an attempt at a short story from my side, as a testimonial dedicated to the brave hearts of our country like Maj Raghuram, Maj Mukund, Capt Deepak Sharma and many more…..who have sacrificed their lives, guarding our motherland. 
 
“May your tribe increase.”
Amen.

Surviving the odds, becoming the fittest ~ Entry post for BlogAdda’s WOW contest


(The below post is a part of Write over the weekend an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.)
The two brothers played around with a medium sized round smooth stone that looked like a ball. As they both ran for the coveted kick, their mother signaled them to be back home. Serabi looked fondly at her sons. A single mother that she was, she had a long way to go in preparing her sons for an uncertainty riddled future that awaited them. After all, one day they will grow up and they will have to battle the challenges of this dangerous world all by themselves.
Kumal and Sangha were oblivious to the thoughts that bothered their mother. For them, it had been just playtime and tummy time until a few months ago, when they were barely able to open their eyes. But now, Serabi felt, the sooner they learn the rules of their tribe, the better. And most importantly, she had to bring them both on the same page, considering how different the brothers were from each other. From the time they were born, both siblings were like chalk and cheese. Kumal, the first born exuded aggression. He would  go looking for trouble and dabbled in unprecedented risks all the time. Sangha, on the other hand was docile. Also, he was more cautious about venturing alone. Serabi, being the practical mother spent more time with the younger one, knowing for a fact, she had less to worry about the elder one. After all, Kumal was independent. He would survive the odds, come what may. However, Serabi had one thing to do, before she had to leave her sons, a tough decision made already. She had to prepare her sons for their lives ahead. She had to train them. She had to make sure that her sons were ready to do what the members of her tribe did best. And that was, to hunt!
Marco had been observing the life of this resilient tigress for a long time and had been documenting every detail of Serabi’s life ever since she became an adult. When she saw Marco for the first time, she was untrusting, scowling and roaring at the strange instruments that glared back at her. However, in the months to follow, Serabi exhibited a comfort level with Marco, probably concluding that he and his instruments were no threat. She rendered both, harmless and useless respectively. Needless to say, it had taken Marco a great deal of time, patience and grit to have been able to communicate with Serabi in untold ways. For instance, she would even pose for the camera if she was in a good mood. In other times, she would totally ignore Marco and lie down with her back facing the camera. Apparently, Serabi had realized that all humans don’t poach and all men with a gun in hand do not hunt. Marco was one of those few living good men for her, as he advocated tiger protection. He worked with his team – Save the Tigers, hard to breed the endangered royal cats in captivity. And bringing Serabi under their wing was a big step towards achieving their dream of breeding more tigers. Serabi had given birth to a litter of four from which two succumbed to death because of medical complications. But Kumal and Sangha were born healthy. Once they were a few months old, Serabi and her cubs were left in the same jungle from where she was picked up and not forgetting to mention, their lives were monitored. She knew, she had to go back again, once the cubs were trained to become the tough, ruthless and able predators, that was expected of them.
Serabi, like all mothers of her kind hunted and brought the food for her cubs. Of course, Kumal and Sangha were very small then. And that time, she too had limited hunting stints as she was nursing them and it was dangerous for her to leave the cubs alone and go hunting. But now, Kumal and Sangha were almost adults and they were gradually showing a sense of self dependence. All she had to do was now teach them to hunt sans assistance. For instance, Serabi would bring a live fawn and leave it among them, to see if the brothers were fast in pinning the creature by the neck and biting it off. Kumal, being the aggressor always managed the first attack flawlessly. Whereas, Sangha still had to catch up in pace, stealth and aggression, all of which were prerequisites for a seasoned predator. The second time, Serabi had planned the attack on a herd of chitals, as she covered for Kumal and Sangha, where both had to grab the nearest prey, each. However, due to Sangha’s indecisiveness and lack of time precision and, the sharp hearing sense of spotted deer, the plan failed. Serabi thought over. And this time, she was planning something big, something that would bring out the ferocity in Sangha. After a few days, she prepared the young cubs for a big guerrilla attack. And this time, she raised the bar.
 
Serabi was planning a hit on a herd of buffaloes that were grazing on a large patch of pastures near their hunting ground. She lay low with her sons, observing the movement of the herd and trying to figure out the weakest link in the herd. She signaled Kumal to be where he is, and ordered Sangha to charge first. Sangha was reluctant as he moved behind but, his position allowed him just one thing: Do or die! His mother had positioned him near the water patch that was inhabited by crocodiles. It was a tricky spot. A slight miss in focus would make him the hunted. And then he had looked at his brother, who looked through him, as if saying, “Now is the right time! Charge!”. Sangha focused on the herd again and saw a baby buffalo drifting away from the herd towards the water patch. Yes, this was his moment. He crawled stealthily as his bright black stripes camouflaged his striking appearance midst the yellowish green grasslands. He had to take extra care as he couldn’t go too near the water patch, as he had already spotted a crocodile boss also aiming at his subject. And then, that precise moment when the baby buffalo suddenly stopped drinking, alerted by rustling of leaves, Sangha charged. He grabbed the young mammal and bit his neck, bringing him down on the ground with a thud. He dragged his food away as Kumal and Serabi sprang up from their locations and made a move. The herd was alerted as they raced against time to escape the gnashing teeth of the royal cats.
The aim of the outcome was achieved. Serabi would now go back to captivity, to breed. Her sons were now ready. Kumal and Sangha looked at their mother, as she was caged in a big van and was being taken away. And then, they turned back and made their way towards the jungle. Yes, they had heard a growl. A mating call. It was time for the hunters to enter a new phase. It was time to breed more Kumals and Sanghas. It was time to balance the food chain, the right way, the only way!
P.S: Inspiration for this story is drawn from NatGeo and Animal Planet that features a lot of programs on the nature of tigers, their endangerment and their breeding in captivity. And the names Kumal and Sangha have been taken from the movie: Two brothers. The story above is a small attempt from my side just to imply that even five sensed creatures have the going tough. They go by the rule that lets them live – Survival of the fittest! There is just no choice!