Categories
Thought and Reason

From ‘Taboo’ to ‘Tolerance’

Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 6 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging event in the history of blogging world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

 

LOVE AND INDIAN SOCIETY – TRANSITIONING FROM ‘TABOO’ TO ‘TOLERANCE’

It is summer. Imagine you are walking down a long dusty road. You are tired, your throat is parched. A little water to drink is all you need. You have two options:

1-     A roadside tap with cool, fresh water – but you do not know the source

2-     An unopened, branded can of still water – but which is a couple of months old

What would you choose?

Er, let me guess. Most would choose Option 2. The reason: We assume it is safe, because certainly, it has been officially approved.

Well, this may be an awful example. But this is exactly how we treat this commodity called ‘Love’.

Indian society is known to have classified its people into different castes, groups and sects. This has always been the case. Even so with Love. We believe Love is divine. We worship it. And we divide it into Pure and Impure. Just like that branded and unbranded water!

So long as Love refers to ‘clearly named and approved’ relationships, it is accepted by society. Therefore, affection towards parents, love for the spouse (own spouse, of course 😉 ), children, siblings…is respected and appreciated. But love that crosses any of these boundaries immediately turns on the danger signals!

And that exactly is where problems begin. We build a mass of unwritten rules about love.

Parents must love their children…Children must reciprocate this love by looking after parents in their old age…Young girls and boys must not fall in love with each other (unless of course, its a very brotherly/sisterly love!!)…One must Love within the same community…etc. etc.

Now, I am not saying these are all bad. But these rules are way too rigid!

We are utterly emphatic about our limited understanding of ‘pure’ love, and disparaging of anything beyond that, which we conveniently denigrate as illegitimate!

Indian society is brutally intolerant towards emotions that cross approved peripheries.

Let us take a few examples from recent times:

–        An honour killing takes place in the most gruesome manner because it is love across ‘approved boundaries’, a panchayat wants to ban same gotra-marriages and a survey shows most people actually support it!

–        Certain self-proclaimed moral police / Sena threaten to marry off couples who were found celebrating Valentine’s Day and supposedly in love!

–        A famous educational institution suspends a professor on grounds of him being homosexual! So if the same professor had been with a female lover instead of male, then it was alright? It is a shame too, that he will – forever – be remembered as ‘the gay professor who committed suicide’.

–        A film actress, who actually has a Temple built for her by fans, is worshipped for her ‘on-screen talent’. The same actress however, is taken to court for because she dared to support pre-marital co-habitation. So in reel-life, one can be in love multiple times, and still be respected, because in each film, the ‘character’ was supposedly a devoted wife/’sincere lover’. However, in real-life, the thinking individual is veritably excommunicated because she challenged unwritten social norms.

–        If a girl were to express the slightest interest in a neighbour who belonged to a different caste, for example, what are the odds that she will be asked to tie a Rakhi for him and firm up a ‘chaste relationship’!

We are witness to such violence emerging out of ‘love’. And all this, because in our society, Love is an emotion that is largely overrated.

We are passionate people! And I don’t mean that in a weird way. In the true sense of the word, we are over-excited about Bollywood, Cricket and Love.. And not necessarily in that order! We toss these on a pedestal and worship them!

Therefore, ‘Love’ moves from being an everyday, common emotion, into something absolutely sacred. And something that is taboo!

We do need to realise, though, that like hunger or thirst, love too, is an everyday, common emotion. It is not a secret! It certainly isn’t untouchable!! We are not guardians of ‘love’. We are just insignificant beings that feel the emotion. Simple!

The quicker we accept this fact, the lesser the importance we will award to all those unwritten cobwebs of rules that have served to build our perception of Love! And then, we might also stop confusing Love with other things like Virginity, Duty and Responsibility, amongst other things!

We can bid adieu to all those moral policemen who try to formalise and shield Love, to those followers of Godmen, who confuse love with sex, and to those hate-mongers who use Love as a pretext to inflict more violence on society!

When Love isn’t taboo, then ‘honour’ killings are meaningless, too!

When Love does not bind you to someone of the opposite sex whom you do not actually love, then certainly, we would make a more tolerant and happy society!

It is extremely difficult, but it is the only way forward!

Indian society at large, has to liberate itself from its monumental perception of ‘love’. It has to broaden its boundaries. Nay, trash all boundaries, and accept that Love has many different forms (defined and undefined), and that they are all natural, human emotions. When we accept this fact, Love will not be ‘taboo’.

So, again, let me ask you a question.

It is summer. Imagine you have reached that long dusty road. You are exhausted, your throat is parched. A little water to drink is all you need. You still have two options:

1-     A roadside tap with cool, fresh water – you have no idea of the source, but it seems clean

2-     An unopened, branded can of still water – which could be a little stale

What would you choose? Er, let me guess. Option 2!!! Bah!!! I told you, that was a bad corollary to Love.

But I do hope this post made you think. And accept the fact that Love is just another emotion.

Let us stop idolising it.

The mantra is not ‘Taboo 😦’ but ‘Tolerance 🙂’.

Categories
Awards Short story Thought and Reason

Contest – murder mystery

‘A Mystery is History!!’

Catchy lines from my son’s favourite ‘Tigger and Pooh’ 🙂

I love Mysterys. Always enjoyed reading them. Watching TV serials like Byomkesh Bakshi (olden days), and more recently, Special Squad (especially Aryan Khanna 😉 ) and D.O.N (Remember, Mr.Archana Puran Singh? Er… Detective Omkar Nath)

So when Blogadda wanted to make the community more exciting, I suggested this concept of a WHO-DUNNIT mystery. For the last year or so, I’ve been a huge fan of Ajay‘s stories. When I asked him if he would be interested in writing the mystery for this contest, he very kindly agreed. And what a little gem he produced! On Blogadda’s request (and Ajay’s permission ofcourse), I peppered the story with some clues and distractions 🙄 😛 and it was nice to see the concept coming to life 🙂

To confess, I was really nervous about how the blogworld would respond to this contest. Then, WOW! What a bunch of interesting entries poured in!! What was equally fascinating was the ‘comments section’ with Suranga and the others exuding their sparkling wit in the form of poems, limericks and two-liners 🙂

I am sure Sidin had a really tough time doing his job!! Its a pity though, that ‘only 2 of the entries were pronounced winners’! However, like Ajay rightly said, its the umpire’s decision that is final.

Tiku had asked me/Ajay to comment on the results. Ajay has already commented on the Blogadda website. And I would like to take the liberty to name a few of the entries that I found interesting.

Imho, this was a contest of judging not only the correct answer but also the quality of writing. I whole-heartedly agree with blogger Asheesh who said this is about the inner Ekta Kapoor 😉 😉

Strictly, in my opinion: Lila had killed herself. That’s part I. Part II – the way it was carried out/motive/etc. of course is very subjective.

Bloggers had very seriously donned the detective’s hat and came up with extremely imaginative and creative suggestions of the killer/motive/weapon. Some spoke of poisoned beads, some of liquid HCN (wonder what that means 🙄 ), some others of poisoned roses :mrgreen: It was real fun 🙂 entries by Gyanban – (who also cheekily tried to mislead people into guessing 😉 ) – Gosh! This guy must work with Scotland Yard!!! and Chatterbox‘s who was quite convincing.

I liked the entries by bloggers like Niveditha, Anu and Sudhakar who took tremendous effort to ‘understand’ Lila’s character, and then come up with a solution. They were all, for a moment, or several moments, Lila herself. I loved Urmi’s line ‘She was Lila, she couldn’t bow down even before the wishes of the Almighty’

Avada Kedavra nailed it with these lines: ‘Nobody in this house was capable of killing her. Moreover, nobody had any reason or motive what-so-ever to kill her, after these many years’

Shankha’s entry was very interesting and Soumya’s was straight-forward and convincing.

I also enjoyed reading the very sleuthy (is there such a word even?!!) solutions by bloggers like the Paranormal GuyChandana.

This particular wannabe writer was extremely creative in her presentation of the answer. Her entry was a class apart!!

Ashwini again got the answer simple and straight, but a little explanation would have done the trick.

Enjoyed the way Brindha has given a logical explanation for all those supposed clues, which really were meant to be distractions.

Blogger Archangel very cleverly took an alternate stance, that ‘No smart lady would kill herself’.

Unfortunately, I could not find this particular entry in her blog… hmm.. is this the beginning of the NEXT MYSTERY???!!!

The more I think of it, the more I wish we could have had atleast 3 winners 😉 and even that would be a challenge!!

And now, a totally uninvited vote of thanks:

Thanks to Blogadda for accepting my ideas/suggestions. It has really made me think!! So my blog friends, be ready for more such events!!!!!

Thanks to Ajay for so readily accepting to write a story, when he hardly knew me 🙂 except through Ryze! I am sure we will see your work in print some day. And I will hound you for an autographed copy 🙂

Thanks to Tiku (and the rest of my blog-buddies) for being such a darling friend. If I have got anything out of this entire contest, it is friendship 🙂

Thanks to ALL MY BLOGGER FRIENDS. You make me feel good about myself 🙂 Thank you 🙂 So much 🙂

Cheers..

Pal

Categories
Thought and Reason

Joke of the day – 1

http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/may/25/rathod-sentenced-to-18-months-in-jail.htm

This is justice for you!! Kill, rape, molest, harass… do anything you please, and you are duly rewarded with 18 months of VIP comfort – so what if others call it ‘jail’ 😉

A real shame for our country!!!

There’s a lot of discussion about the ‘verdict’. Some interesting opinions in this website here. People have suggested 7-10 years rigorous imprisonment.

IMHO… I would sentence him to be hanged unto death. Let’s not waste the tax payer’s precious money in keeping animals like Rathore in prison.

What are your thoughts on the verdict? Please do share!

Categories
Thought and Reason

Reason to smile

Found this article on the Rediff website and felt a ray of hope 🙂

http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/may/25/slide-show-1-these-little-aids-orphans-have-a-reason-to-smile.htm#contentTop

Do read it 🙂

I found some of the claims hard to believe, like the Doctor being able to change the behaviour of the children in just 6 months time. Also, many of the links are outdated, from several years ago.

Nevertheless, I think this is an extremely noble thing to do. May there be more people like Dr.Manorama around. The world will certainly be a wee bit happier 🙂

And, I hope that we too, contribute in some way or the other, to those less fortunate. And help them too, to relish this beautiful world 🙂

Categories
Incidents

Tiger Trails – Bloggers Premier League

Cafe Ginger Chai dot com has launched this wonderful initiative called Blogger’s Premier League. Read more about it here. Lots and lots of my favourite bloggers are participating.

So, I happen to be part of the Tiger Trail group. Last weekend we had to introduce ourselves. And this is what we did. Neha and I came up with the idea, and she introduced us to the very interesting method of writing limericks. And we had a ball!!!

‘TIGER TRAILS – Tread carefully’ 

She likes to write, and loves to play
With words and thoughts that mould like clay
Ideas, rants, fiction, fantasy..
The Crocodiel blogs only to see
A beautiful dreamland, far far away!

He loves his code, spends his day sifting through emails.
Catch him on Facebook/Twitter for other juicy details.
He has a blog called Idli Vada Sambar,
His posts range from funny to bizarre.
Here’s Sudhakar roaring with pride into ’Tiger Trails’.

She weaves stories in a blink of an eye
Juggles words around thoughts passing by
With larger than life dreams
Soul Searching, selling realms
A tigress, with feet on the ground and head held high!

Flap has a flip and flip gets another flap,
The lion King is stuck in the Tiger’s Trap
Does it sound intense?
Or a piece of Nonsense?
I know you won’t get it, so welcome to Justlikecrap

Neha’s Blog is sarcastic, cool, crazy and fun,
Entertainment is guaranteed, to all and one
Come here and have a smile,
Your visit will be worthwhile.
This is the place where you can soak up the sun

The Solitary Writer in the Tiger trails den
Spreads love and smiles through his mighty pen
Ste’s stories are full of wit
You will have a laughter fit
And fall in love with fiction, all over again.

It feels good to spread wings and fly so high,
Waving all your sorrows and pains goodbye
Now the heart is singing
for the new beginning.
Rashmi’s musings will take you up above the sky

This tiger was once asked a question,
“Why did you choose law as your profession?”
She said, “There is more about me,
Than what you can actually see,
Life’s Many Whispers” is my real passion!”

That’s our entire team; you have to ask no more
This limerick is an example, there’s lot more in store
We are here to stay,
Others, better start to pray
The Tigers are here, to make their loudest roar.

 —Looking forward to more from this interesting contest!!—

Categories
55-er

Satisfaction (55-er)

She surveyed the house. The party was at 7. Nikhil would be home any time now. To check.

She was nervous. ‘Would he approve, satisfied? Perhaps, flash that dimpled smile?!’

The car honked.

‘Pushpa..’ It was him! She straighted herself. Eyes on the floor.

‘All set?’

She nodded.

‘Y E S ?’

…Ji Saheb…’

‘OK’, he grunted.

She retreated, dis-satisfied!

=========

Okay, its official. I’m obsessed. With Dentists and Cleaning Maids!!!

Brrrrrrrr…………

Categories
Incidents

A non-post

..and I have nothing to post..

there was one little thought floating about

in my mind on Saturday

but by the time I could catch hold of it,

it had flown away.

Hmm.. oh yes, this particular paragraph has been lying in Drafts for a long long long time now.

I had this unnerving experience at the local grocery store about three months back. I was looking for something on the rack, and a woman clad in burkha (except covering the face) asked me – partially in sign language – ‘What is the PRICE of the item on the shelf?‘ I told her. But I was shocked that someone could NOT read!! I am not sure if she could read her vernacular language or something. But not knowing numbers was shocking. Even a child can read numbers, can’t they?! It made me wonder, what sort of family did the woman belong to? Some orthodox family that believed in women being solely meant for house-keeping and progeny?!! It was rather saddening 😦

I wish we would all make some tiny contribution to encouraging literacy 🙂 One brilliant suggestion is mentioned here at Quirky’s brilliant post.

Cheerio…

Categories
Short story

Woman in the rain

I chanced upon this ‘Complete the story’ contest by Yours Truly Theatre on Facebook.

Original story:
‘….rainy day on a bus stand, waiting to get back home, and then suddenly out of nowhere she comes along and then…’

My ending:
==================================================
I held my breath. She stopped right in front of me. Panting.

‘Prashant…‘ she whispered. Still panting. How sweet my name sounded when it came from her!

I didn’t reply. I simply couldn’t.

‘Please… come back’.

I remained silent. This time, she had gone too far!

‘This is for your good! Trust me…‘, she persuaded.

I had made up my mind. I was in pain. Deep pain. If this chasm widened, I would die.

But I was not going back.

‘Come with me’, she continued.

I adamantly shook my head.

Never.

Ever.

Never will I enter her dental clinic again. I’ve had it with dentists!!

==================================================

And folks, you KNOW how much I like dentists.. so this particular ending arises from this post 🙂 and this one.

Categories
Short story

The last paragraph

Okay! And here’s the last paragraph (well, not exactly one para…) to the story of The Old Armchair.

I did try my best… to wriggle out of writing the conclusion to the story 😉 but you guys/girls kept close watch 😉 So here it is. As always, please let me know what you think….

——————————————
Priya noticed her mobile flashing as she unpacked her suitcase.

‘Gues wat I found 2day? – Lav’
‘Er..wat?’
, she sent a text back.
‘Wooden armchair!!! Exact same thing!’
Priya smiled. She instantly knew what Lavina was talking about. ‘Wow! 1 4 me pls?‘ she typed out on the phone.
‘Done!C u soon!’ – pat came the reply.

She smiled again. Eight years had passed since they had graduated. She still remembered the day they left Mrs.Marathe’s apartment. She and Lavina had been in tears. They were both overwhelmed with emotion. It was all too much to handle. Bidding farewell to a wonderfully carefree college-life…to freedom.. and to Mrs.Marathe.

‘God bless you!’ was all she had said. Mrs.Marathe. Along with her blessings, she also gave them a little idol of Lord Ganesha each. ‘You will call when you have time…?’ she asked eagerly, but trailed off without waiting for a reply. She hobbled back slowly, to her favourite arm-chair. It was time for her daily siesta. She didn’t stir as the taxi came to take them to the station. She didn’t open her eyes as the girls touched her frail palms to bid farewell. If she did find it hard to swallow that lump in her throat, she didn’t let them notice it.

————–
The girls moved to different metros. A lot happened in those eight years. Priya built a successful career, travelled a lot on work, was engaged to be married. Lavina on the other hand, chose to build a family. She had two beautiful cherubic girls. They reminded her of herself and Priya. And the happy days they had spent in Pune.

Priya and Lavina had both called Mrs.Marathe regularly for the first couple of months after they had left college. They called her every Saturday, as they knew Mrs.Marathe’s sons would call every Sunday.

‘Hello Auntyji! How are you?’
‘How is your health?’
‘Are you eating properly?’

As they became busier with their lives, however, the phone calls gradually became less frequent. In a year’s time, they had almost entirely stopped.

Over the years, they had even forgotten the old telephone number. When Priya finally moved to Bangalore, where Lavina now lived, they met frequently and whenever they reminisced the old times, they couldn’t help thinking of Mrs.Marathe. They would feel a surge of warmth. And of guilt. They never spoke about it aloud. But it was there.

They didn’t try to look up the old address. They didn’t try to contact her again. They didn’t expect to see her again.
——–

A week later, Lavina had delivered a beautiful arm-chair at Priya’s house.

‘Wow, Lav. This is beautiful Nearly the same thing as what Auntyji had!’
‘Yep! Bought a pair, one chair for each of us’,
Lavina replied softly, and smiled. Priya smiled back.

As she gazed at the chair, a tear rolled down her cheek. ‘Lav…‘ she whispered, her voice trembling.

Lavina did not reply. She stifled a sob instead.

They stared at the arm-chair that had been placed in the verandah. It was a beautiful mahogany colour. Standing there. Simple. Sturdy. And silent. Silently observing the world whizz by. Just like Mrs.Marathe once had. Probably still did!

‘To Auntyji!’ she said suddenly, and raised an imaginary toast.
‘To Auntyji’ Priya chimed in.

———

Categories
Short story

The old armchair – fiction

[Warning: Very long post ahead!]

=============

‘Aunty-ji, Aunty-ji, open the door!’. Loud shrieks woke Mrs Marathe from her daily siesta. She hobbled slowly from the airy balcony, back into the sparsely furnished hall. The clouds were looming into darkness, although it was only 4:00 pm on a hot summer afternoon. By sheer force of habit, Mrs. Marathe peered through the faded looking glass. Satisfied that it was indeed the girls, she unlocked the chains that held the door.

Lavina and Priya barged into the hall, and dashed into their room toward the rear end of the old apartment. Mrs.Marathe followed them but stopped just outside. It was her policy to never enter the rooms of her paying guests, though the children did not mind her gentle presence. ‘Arre, what happened? Sooo arly today? College bund (closed)?’, she enquired.

The girls had pulled several outfits out of the small wooden cupboard and thrown them onto the bed, all quite breathlessly. ‘Sorry Aunty-ji, we forgot to call and tell you earlier’.

‘We are going away!!’ – they yelled in unison. They looked at each other, their cheeks burning pink with excitement.

Mrs.Marathe stood as still as a statue. She looked at the two glowing faces. Of all the paying guests she had had over the last ten years, these were the only girls who had managed to carve themselves, a place in her heart. The others had come from good families too, had had excellent upbringing, but had always treated her as only a landlady, a stranger who hailed from several generations before!

Mrs. Marathe lowered her gaze to the ground, as if to examine the grey-black speckled tiles on the floor, for the first time. At 80, she had finished living almost her entire life. She had married well, had three children, two of which migrated to foreign shores, leaving her behind in their ancestral home. The third had been prompt enough to sell that beautiful house, and send her away to this apartment. ‘This is a residential area, Aai, you can relax here’, he had said. True, this was a beautiful locality in the heart of Pune. Green leafy trees, wide roads, and to complement the stillness, a neighbouring college that buzzed with the lively banter of youth – the sound of distant chattering voices that kept her company through the otherwise quiet day.

Lavina and Priya were students of that same college. Both were in their late teens, came from middle-class backgrounds, and were studious, respectful and very friendly. They had spent many an evening, chatting over a cuppa, in that balcony, Mrs.Marathe sunk in one arm-chair, Lavina perched on the arm-rest, Priya in the other arm-chair.

‘Oh, theek’ Mrs.Marathe whispered slowly, and exited to the balcony. For two reasons. First, it would allow the girls to pack. The second, and real reason being, she did not want her eyes to betray her emotions in front of them. Her eyes had been accustomed to seeing people leave her. Her parents, her husband, children.. infact everyone she had known ever! Except for a handful of friends who, like her, were supposed to enjoy ‘retired life’ in the same neighbourhood. She knew, that at 80, she was supposed to be more ‘in control’ of her emotions than the two teenagers who were at that very moment, excitedly stuffing clothes and shoes into their bags.

‘Rent is high.. I can reduce..’. ‘They want telephone? Or come home late!’ She was already thinking, quite involuntarily, of why the girls were leaving, and how she could convince the girls to stay.

Her life was an empty page now. All the work of rearing her children now finished, she had nothing to do, but ‘relax’. How she hated that word! ‘You’ve worked so hard all your life, Aai. Time for you to take rest now’, they would always say to her. That she lived all by herself, with her nearest relatives living four hours away in Mumbai, hardly made a difference to their stance. She had been too hurt to argue with their logic.

She had gracefully surrendered before the war could even begin. Retired to her little shell, and sported a content smile. Always.

Her three sons would faithfully call her every Sunday. The same, standard questions.

‘How are you, Aai?’

‘How is your health?’

‘Are you taking care of yourself?’

‘We will come to visit you soon, Aai’.

They were loving boys. They had always respected her and her late husband. Always ensured she had a steady source of income.

But they hardly came to visit.

In the two years that Lavina and Priya had lived in her apartment, they had never seen her sons. Never heard of her going to meet them in Mumbai or Dubai either, where they now lived.

‘Arre, I am too old to travel’, Mrs.Marathe would always say, when they broached the subject.

‘Too old’, Mrs.Marathe thought to herself, and stifled a laugh. She laid a wrinkled palm on the jaded edges of the arm-chair and thought to herself.. ‘People envy my restful lifestyle. My slow-paced life. My indulgence in books. The rare afternoon tea parties I have with acquaintances from two generations before them! And whenever I want to DO something.. GO out.. play with my grandchildren here, they say ‘Relax, Aai. Don’t stress’. And I continue to plough through this lonely, lonely life.. this .. this curse’.

Suddenly, someone hugged her knees. Mrs.Marathe looked down to find Lavina crying in front of her. ‘Please don’t cry, Aunty-ji, please don’t’, she pleaded. Priya walked behind her arm-chair and gently placed her arms around Mrs.Marathe’s frail shoulders and gave her a peck on her cheek.

Mrs.Marathe smiled, and touched her cheek. How she longed for her own grandchildren to give her a kiss like that! She touched both her cheeks again, this time. They were wet. Tears were streaming down her pointy chin, and had made her green cotton sari damp where they fell! She instantly covered her face with her knotty palms. And let go of all the emotions that had been binding her heart, like a thick rope around a brittle vine. She shuddered for a few seconds.

‘I don’t want to Relax. I want to Live!!’ she cried.

Lavina and Priya held her close. Suddenly, they were the parents, and Mrs.Marathe, the child – desperately seeking solace.

In about fifteen minutes, Mrs.Marathe had calmed down.

Priya rushed to fetch some cold water. ‘Feeling better, Aunty-ji?’ Lavina asked softly.

‘Yes, my dear. I am sorry! For crying like this. You got frightened?’

‘Not at all’, they cooed. Priya gently stroked her silvery hair. Lavina massaged the frail legs.

Mrs.Marathe looked on at them. What relation were they to her? Neither her children nor grandchildren had displayed so much affection towards her until now. She was suddenly exhausted. ‘I want to take rest’, she whispered.

The girls supported her carefully, into her bedroom, fluffed up her pillows, and eased her onto the bed.

‘Aunty-ji, by the way, will you be OK when we go?’

Mrs.Marathe blinked hard. She suddenly realised, this was what caused the outpour after all. The girls going away from her. The tears had however, drained her of both energy and emotion. ‘Yes, don’t worry’, she replied and smiled faintly.

‘Its only for a week! You know, there was this sudden announcement in College, about a fully sponsored training programme, an entire week – in GOAAAAA!!! And guess what? We BOTH got chosen!!’ The girls looked at each other and grinned. Lavina clapped her hands like a child, who had just been given a lollipop! Priya let out a low whistle.

Mrs.Marathe smiled. The enthusiasm was infectious. Suddenly, she realised. ‘Then, you will come back?’ she asked with barely noticable a tremor of excitement.

‘Ofcourse Aunty-ji!’, they chanted happily.

‘This is our home’, Lavina exclaimed. Mrs.Marathe squinted.

‘She means, like our home’, Priya added quickly, not wanting to irk their already distressed landlady.

Mrs.Marathe laughed. She stretched out her hands towards the girls. They held her palms tightly. Almost as if they were afraid to leave her alone.

‘This IS your home, children. For as long as you want’.

The girls enveloped her in a gentle hug, and rushed to get on with the packing.

=============

[Another para left – will be completed tomorrow 🙂 ]

[P.S: Had written this quite some time back, and was too bored to read and edit… so I leave the job to you 🙂 There must be a lot of language/syntax errors, please do help edit this!]