Monday, 13 October 2014

The Last Say

A woman of eighty found herself standing in front of a mirror in her living room but the reflection on the mirror was odd. The woman looked like her, the plain saree was the same, so were the lines and wrinkles on the face, the loose skin, the messy thin greying hair but her posture was different, the lady in the mirror was erect, she had an unusual glint in her grey eyes and she smirked at the lady standing in front of the mirror who was lost in deep thought, she looked worried and sad. She didn’t seem to be aware of her surroundings. Suddenly, the reflection in the large ancient mirror spoke, “My dear” she said with a peculiar smile “trying to solve a problem, are we?” The woman was startled, “What on earth… What is…? Where am… Who are…” she gasped.
“Try again, we have all the time in the world” she said with a giggle, “God knows, I am going nowhere unless you are going somewhere.”
The lady caught her breathe and with a lot of effort managed to whisper the words, “Am I dead?”
“Dead?” said the reflection. “Sarita, use your imagination, your reflection is talking to you. Does this look like heaven or hell?” She continued not expecting an answer. “This is nothing but a reality check, my lady.”
“So is this all in my head? Am I hallucinating?” Sarita asked, now finding the strength to talk. “Have I gone mad?”
“No, you’ve not gone mad?”
“So, is this real?”
“So what the hell is going on?”
“You ask way too many questions!”
 “Final question. Why am I here?”
 “You have put yourself in this position.”
“What do you mean? I didn’t mean for me to be hallucinating or dreaming or whatever you want to call this. I was fine till a while ago. I was in Ahmedabad in my beautiful house reading…” suddenly she looked worried. “No that’s not it. A while ago I was…”
“You were crying at your daughter’s house in Mumbai” her reflection finished the sentence for her. “You were regretting every single decision you made since she had left the house. You were cursing your son and were willing to kill him, you were screaming your lungs out, telling everyone who would hear about your problems and yesterday while you were having a pity party you fell on the sofa and slipped into a comma. So yes, you did this to yourself, a series of your decisions have brought you here!”
“But how is it my fault that a son I trusted and raised turned out to be an ungrateful piece of shit! I didn’t raise him to be this mean, conniving, selfish man.”
“Oh! Don’t lie to yourself! You knew he was a cheat and would always be one when he lied to you about giving Tina her share of the property. And that wasn’t even the first sign. You never confronted him when he stole money from your closet or when drugs were found in his drawers. You let it pass and now here you are in a mess you have fashioned for yourself waiting to die.”
“Don’t shout at me, I thought he will know better once he is older!”
“And wasn’t it worth the wait.”
“And yes, I do want to die! I have lost everything I ever cared about. My house, my books, my son, my grandchildren and my husband. I miss him the most, I haven’t made love since twenty years! Twenty long years! Even my wrists are numb with all the fingering! So, yes I think it’s time.”
“Oh! That is not why you want to die! Admit it, you are running because of the mess you have created for yourself. The will. And woman seriously get a dildo!”
“He made me sign the papers when I had my first heart attack. I was scared.”
“You are always scared. That is the problem don’t you realise it. You were scared to die then and you are scared to live now without all the money.”
“It is not about the…”
Suddenly, Sarita could feel electricity running through her body, her chest started burning and she felt like her body is going to crumble down to the floor. She screamed with eyes tightly shut and when she opened them she saw a fan but only for a moment.
“So you were saying” said a familiar voice. And she was back in front of the mirror.
“I feel…”
“They shocked you but you didn’t wake up and let us not get sucked in a long conversation about how you feel.”
“Fine!” She said glaring at the mirror. “I was saying I should die! I deserve to die! Have I not suffered enough?”
“Your son was a monster you created for yourself and you will have to deal with it. You were his creator and now he is your master.”
“Anyway, I don’t want to deal with the monster. I lived with the monster remember and all I want to do is die in peace. Mostly, because I can’t take the peer pressure of going to the bloody temple again. It’s hot and noisy! Poor God!”
“Stop trying to change the topic! You will die. You are old, you are going to die eventually. But this is a chance for you to finally stand up for yourself. Get him arrested and make sure he suffers. Don’t let the beast have all the power.”
“Fine. I suppose you are right. I suppose I could teach that arse of a man a lesson and die comfortably in Ahmedabad. But as soon as the police get him I die!”
“It’s a deal! So are you ready to wake up?”
“Yes. Okay just wait.”
Five minutes pass.
“Anytime now” said the reflection.

“I suppose we could sit and chat because I really wanted to know why I don’t like Dhokla because I am a Gujarati and since you are me with clarity you could tell me.”

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Arrival

On a sunny day, on the streets of Chowpatty on 16th January 1996 a pregnant woman walked to Purndare hospital with increasingly painful contractions. Being a second timer, she did not panic but this child, unlike her first seemed to be in a hurry to leave her warm womb. She walked as quickly as she could with her hand tightly held by her sister in law. It took them 15 minutes to reach the hospital. As she walked into the hospital, a nurse who knew her came running to help her. "Bhaktiji" she called out taking her other arm, "Why didn't you take a taxi?"  By her expression she could tell it was a bad time. ''Sonalji you wait outside", said the nurse after she took her to the emergency room. "But but...." Sonal called out as her weak sister in law was wheeled away.

Sonal kept pacing up and down as she heard screams from the other side of the door but she was hardly worried about delivery, all she cared about was the sex of the child. "A boy, Mahavir!'' she kept repeating, ''it's okay if he is not very smart or not very handsome as long as it's a boy we are happy''.

She reacted to the tap on her shoulder with a quick start, as she turned she met a face with a smile that one has for a family photo, she said, "it's a boy" and Sonal just stood there. The nurse shook her again and still she did not react. "A chokra!" she repeated in Hindi. And then suddenly Sonal started weeping, the nurse stood there rolling her eyes. "You can go and see him.'' she said pointing towards a corridor on the right. 

Then what followed was a hug that nearly left Bhakti out of breath with her fragile shaking. She started to feel like she had given birth to God himself. Sonal was constantly on the phone giving everyone the good news. Half hour later Bhakti’s husband was there and the first thing he did was check the sex of the child. He held up like his prized trophy, he felt a sense of pride. He looked down at his crouch and gave it a short smile, a token of appreciation for delivering as expected. He placed the baby in the crib and like a ritual he went and placed his right hand on Bhakti's shoulder, any more physical contact than that would seem inappropriate.Soon, that small room was filled with Gujarati women telling the mother ways to keep herself fit, there was constant advice on what she should eat and how much. There were a few nosy women also giving her advice of how to breast feed and how keep her previous weight intact. 

Among all of this a man of sixty five walked in with a small girl holding his little finger. As he walked in the noise began to die down, he went up to his daughter, ignoring the new born and said, ''How do you feel?''She gave him an unsatisfying nod. Just then the little girl stuck her head in crib and was fascinated by the beautiful face, fair and pure, he looked so comfortable and at peace. She looked at with starry eyes, hoping that this will be her new toy. She could not wait for it to come home.
Just then a voice whispered in her ear, ''You like him? He is your brother.''
It was her father, ''you will take care of him?''

Just then she learnt the first thing about this new shinny toy. It has to be taken care of, not played with.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Bore

He turned no necks
even though he brought everyone's cheques,
he looked down at the floor,
perceived as a bore,
he hid himself in a corner of a store,
One thought he had no life 
One thought he could never find a wife 
but in that little corner of his,
he made a haven of wish.
He enjoyed the silence 
as he turned to he desktop and 
opened Wikileaks to reveal
a war crime.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Save the innocence

“You... you son of an aunty! How could you do that to me?

“I said I am sorry. You know I didn't mean to. It just happened”

“Just happened!!! Really that’s what you want to go with! It does not just happen"

“Well, for me it did. I did not plan it really. I just talked and then bam.”

“Bam... Bam... BAM. That is how you want to describe it! Bam”

“I am really sorry man. But you know potty happens!”

“Okay, If you say so, I want to every little bit of this potty that just happens. Every little detail. Don't leave anything out.”

“Okay, So I was searching for things to buy online, like you know the latest diapers etcetera…”

“Yes and!!”

“OKAY, Dude you need to calm down. I am telling you. Since I was on your computer I saw someone message you on Facebook. It was her. It was that girl who comes to the same kinder garden. And I couldn't stop myself. I had to reply and so I said "Hi".”

“You said Hi! You said Hi and now she is going to think I am an idiot. You don't just say hi to someone like that. I mean she is cute. Now she is going to think I am an idiot.”

“Sorry, dude! Why don't say something now!”

“Hey, I am not a two year old kid!”

“But we are three, big deal!”

This is the kind of talk we are going to hear if we let children get addicted to the computer, or should I say Apple products. I mean really, rich people! What do you think you are doing, giving a child of age five an iPhone? I mean really, you need to keep in touch with your kids every time you send them out either that or you are just so self-involved that you forget to acknowledge their presence when they are around you. And when they are gone you suddenly feel guilty.

Or is this some new show off thing?! Do you go around saying, “Look I bought my child a new very expensive piece of metal/plastic he has no knowledge about.”  

Yes, this is how it sounds. And this has to come from the elite class as most of the other kids copy what their ‘popular’ friends do. You have got to stop making your child a product to show to the rest of world. Let him/she be! And try and preserve their innocence because they are going to turn into desperate teenagers eventually so why accelerate the process.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Stop Scaring My Parents.

                                     “Dear Aamir Khan,
                                   Stop scaring parents.

(A family of four sit in front of the television at 11 am on a Sunday morning to see a show that is supposed to take the country by storm.)

Father: Come on! Change the channel. It will start any moment.

(A boy changes the channel with great disappointment. The father and the mother watch the television with their eyes wide, they looked like Mike Teavee. The topic that is up for discussion is rape. On hearing this both the parents shift awkwardly.)

Father: Why don’t you go to your room and study?
Mother: Yes beta, don’t you have a test tomorrow.
Son: Mom! I am eighteen and a science student.
Daughter: No, no you should go beta. You need to be protected.
Mother: Enough, we are sick of your jokes.
Father: Can we just watch please!

(The family watches the programme with awkward stares, some “Hahs” and “Hos” from each one of them and the mother sheds a few tears when a cruel case is narrated. An emotional song marks the end of the show. The presses the power button once the show is over and takes a deep breath. There is an awkward silence in the living room. Then the father turns to the daughter.)

Father: Beti, so how that internship search going for you?
Daughter: It’s great dad. I have applied at a few companies and two of them have already replied to my emails saying they liked my C.V.
Father: Where have you applied, in Mumbai only right?
Mother: No! No! I told her to do so but she has applied in companies that are in Pune.
Father: why? I told you keep it restricted to Mumbai only.
Daughter: But dad you said it’s okay if I apply.
Father: Yes but that was before and look what the world has come to.  There are women getting raped in every nook and corner. It is very unsafe. I refuse to let you go. What do you say son?
Son: Yes, you are right dad. She should stay at home.
Daughter: Don’t smile like that! (To the son). Dad this is unfair! You are really not letting me go because of this stupid TV show.
Father: Don’t blame the show. It is a very good show and it has made me more aware today. And now I have changed my mind and you are going nowhere.

(Meanwhile the mother goes to the kitchen and the son quietly goes to his room.)

Daughter: Dad! This show is a more expensive version of soaps. This what the producers want, they want your sympathy and trust. And to gain it they have added a masala of tears and sad background score. Please just let me go!
Father: You are just saying that because you want to go and we are thinking about your safety.
Daughter: But the show also said women should be stronger.
Father: Yeah, but that is unreasonable. And besides you are not strong. So you are not going.

(The father walks away.)

Daughter (in a whisper): Stupid Fucking Show.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Simple Confrontation

"Can you make it fast? Please!" said Rogger as he looked around swiftly.
"Please sir, I have to leave. Quickly"

He pushed the shopkeeper and snatched the jewellery box half wrapped as he rushed towards the cash counter.

In a fraction of a second a woman came to the counter with confusion in her eyes. She walked towards one of the salesmen as if she was going to inquire about something.
"Ruby, darling."

She heard her husband call out and suddenly the confusion in her eyes was replaced with a twinkle. She almost ran towards him and gave him a hug as she took a deep breath.

"Thirteen years, but these never get old." she said as she looked at him.Rogger nodded as a wide smile spread through his face.
"So what are you getting me this Christmas? Is it another one of those pens? Darling really just because I write occasionally that doesn't mean you have to get me a pen every year."
"Ruby, it is useful. Isn't it?"
"Well, it was in the beginning but then technology came into play and we all type now."
"Oh! Okay then I shall get you something else."
"Yeah, we will see about that."

She concluded the conversation as they both made their way into to the parking lot.
"So what did you get for the kids?" asked Rogger once they got into the car.
"A big stuff toy for Emily and a one of those best seller video games for Ben."
"I hope he likes it. Remember what happened last time."
“You mean when you got him a Barbie video game, how could you? Really!"
"It was so not my fault. I told the shopkeeper to give me one from the best seller section and...
"You forgot to say for girls or boys" Ruby completed his sentence. 
"Anyways he will like this one."
"How are you so sure?"
"Well, you know, I have my ways."
He looked at her and saw her beaming. He loved to see that happen, after a long day he would come home hoping she would stand there and smile at him as he entered and he was never disappointed.
The car ride home was filled with a comfortable silence.

They turned the key quietly making sure that the noise would not wake the children. Then they quietly placed their presents under the Christmas tree and went upstairs. They opened a white door with a sign that said KEEP OUT.
"Well, that's new!" Ruby whispered.
"Till this morning it was DONOT DISTURB."
On the bed lay their son, lost in a dream. They both looked at him with a sense of pleasure that was hard to explain.Then they moved to the room on the other side, and there was a little girl sleeping with a short smile on her face.This was like a ritual. They always went to Ben and Emily's rooms before they went to bed. 

"I was that good, huh?" Rogger said seeing the smile on Ruby’s face after they finished making love.
"No! Don't flatter yourself! I was that good."
"Let’s just agree to disagree."

 Next morning the house was filled with excitement. It was Christmas and everyone loved this day. Both Ben and Emily were up early and started running behind Ruby hoping that they will get their gift early because of their puppy dog eyes. They tried this every year and failed. It was their family tradition to gather around the Christmas tree after breakfast and open their gifts together. 

They greedily finished their pancakes and sat around the tree in the living room. There were four gifts with names written on them. Both the children grab their gifts at the same time and open them in with one short, swift tear. When they saw their gifts their eyes lit up and Ben started jumping around with excitement as Rogger pushed Ruby’s present towards her. She opened the gift with great care, she liked preserving the wrapping paper, as she opened the last fold a planner fell in her lap. The one she always uses but this one was a limited edition.

Even though it was a fancier present then she has ever got on Christmas, her face fell when she saw the dairy.
“I’ll be back.” She said in a chocked voice as she got up and ran towards the bathroom. She walked swiftly towards the door and shut it with a quick but cautious movement. In moments she found herself standing in front of a mirror with wet eyes. Her darkest fears had become her reality. She stood there staring at her reflection and wondering what to do.

“Mum we have to go to school!” was heard from the other side a hard wood door after a double knock against.
“Yes, of course darling, I will be out in a minute.” She said as she took a deep breath and got out of the toilet with her chin up and unusually erect shoulders.
“Is everything alright?” Rodger asked as she made her way back into the living room.
“Oh, yes. We should leave”

And so they did. Rest of the evening was filled with small talk and awkward laughter between parents, the children were quite nervous as they had to perform.During the show the auditorium was filled with smiling proud parents, some of them had tears in their eyes but Ruby didn’t quite fit in. She was looking at the performances and clapping for the children but she was not paying attention. It was as though she was trying to find a missing piece from a puzzle.
As soon as the show was over she walked towards Rogger with an expressionless face but painful eyes.
“Hey”, she said in low voice with a hint of quiver. 
“Tell me what would you do if you were in my position?”
“And what position is that?”
“Imagine that your husband bought a gold necklace and at Christmas gave to somebody else.”
“Oh Ruby! I am…”
“Would you wait around to find out if it’s just a necklace or sex and a necklace or if worst of all it’s a necklace and love? Would you stay knowing life will always be a little bit worse or would you confront?”
“I am sorry, love! I am a classic fool.”
“Well, you have made the life I lead foolish too!” she said walking away.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


"Darling!" he called as he filled the room with a sweet smell, like the one a woman's lip balm gives out.
And she knew that today was the day he was going to tell her.
He was going to prick her bubble and everything else is going to turn into flames.