Categories
Short story

The birthday present (‘All for love’ – Cafe Gingerchai)

This story is my entry for FINISH THE STORY contest conducted by Cafe GingerChai where we sip thoughts!To get updated on future contests,register at Cafe GingerChai.

Part I (Original story)

[Link to the original post on Cafe Gingerchai]

It was a warm night, neither humid nor too hot – in fact just right for a stroll. But it was 11.30 pm , not late by metro standards. But in the suburbs where the company township was situated, it was way too late. The highway was about ½ km away  and occasionally the hum of heavy vehicles passing by, could be heard but other than that , it was quiet with only the chirping of the cicadas in the background.

    Ranjan hurried along the small lanes of the VIP quarters , isolated and further away, in the moonless night, frequently giving furtive glances around him. He seemed tense but strode ahead with purposeful steps, until he reached a particular bungalow. He stopped in front of it and stared at it for a few minutes. The senior level executives were issued spacious bungalows with lawns while the junior and the mid level executives were assigned one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, a fact that did not go well with them , after all the divide was quite unreasonable they thought. But this was not the issue at the moment. He was here for his own personal reasons…

       It was quiet and dark on the other side of the wall. One notable thing was that the street lights were few and far between and most of them were not working.  The spot, where he was standing was shrouded in darkness, which suited him just fine.. There was no sign of any activity inside the rooms of the freshly whitewashed bungalow of Mr. Gupta. Only a dim red light flickered through the curtains of a room, most probably the master bedroom. He scratched his head and tried to remember if Mr. Gupta had a dog and, No ! No dogs, no watchman., so nothing to be afraid of. Yes! Everything was going according to plan. Mr. Gupta was out with the executive board members in the Company Club house entertaining the overseas client trying to secure the coveted deal, which meant that he will not be back before 2 am. That left him with enough time to accomplish whatever he had come for.

       He gave another glance towards his left and right and also the two bungalows flanking it , but all was silent. It would be a fool who would be out at that hour leaving the comfort of a bed and wife to roam about here and there…. He smiled at the private joke. He touched the gate gingerly. It was an iron gate. He tried to move it but it gave a low audible creak and he stopped.

    “Damn!Asha , my sweet little fool. Why does she have to wish for near impossible things.” He could not afford to make any noise. He was dressed in track pants and a rubber soled shoes . He also shockingly realized that he did not have his cell phone nor any identity proof with him in case of an emergency.

    He decided that the best and fastest approach inside would be to climb over the low brick wall.

   “ Asha! How you bewitch me!” He sighed, “All for love!” The brick wall  was not high  but it still disrupted the normal functioning of his 37 year old  body for a few seconds, after he climbed over and jumped onto the other side clumsily. But thankfully the grass was thick which carpeted both his fall and the noise. He panted. His heart was racing at 100 beats/min ( more out of anxiety) and coupled with that he experienced an alien sensations gurgling deep inside his stomach. After all this was the first time he trespassed someone else’s property.

      He nearly gave up and retreated , but then he calmed himself , took some deep breaths and sat on the soft grass for a few moments.

     “ No snakes, I hope” he thought peering in the darkness. He had to do it today. He was not going to get a better opportunity to come here.

     His hate quotient multiplied, knowing his nemesis Gupta, deserved every bit of it. Mr.Gupta fitted the description of a monster boss to a Tee. Ranjan first came across him eight months back when Mr.Gupta was transferred from their Bareilly unit. The dislike was mutual and the Monster made his life miserable. Finally after requesting the administration and literally prostrating himself in front of them, he was transferred to another unit ,but the scars remained till date . It took all his patience not to physically assault his boss.  He used to often wonder how could anyone tolerate Mr.Gupta. How did his wife and children cope with him? He knew that Gupta had two sons aged 9 and 6 years. What did they think of him? Was this monster a normal person? He did not seem to have any friends or associates either. The only admirable thing about him though was that he had not seen  anyone else with a greener thumb than his. He kept an impeccable garden and was the subject of envy among the others.

      He looked at his watch . He had sat there lost in thoughts for almost 15 minutes. He stood up, smiling , he turned towards the verandah!…

      “Asha,! Its your birthday and I want you to be happy”.he chanted in his thoughts. He felt the air cooler comparatively, on his way back home. Was it so late? He again looked at his watch and then his eyes went to the ‘ package ‘ he was holding. Tenderly , he shifted the banana leaf holding ‘it’ slightly. He smiled , pleased with himself his face glowing with  satisfaction. He did not feel the least bit exhausted after his nightly caper. His step was light and springy.

     He smiled again when he reached his apartment block, but his smile disappeared when he saw the watchman napping in  a chair near the lift. If he was seen , it would give him away  instantly and there would be a big scandal. As it is, it was a small town and things get to spread fast over here – be it news, rumors, fire or illness.

    “What do I do now?” he thought shifting restlessly. There was no other way out.

    He had to take the stairs, but for that he had to walk through the well lit lobby and down the corridor. He looked up at the window of his apartment on the third floor.

   “ All for love”! He sighed and he tip-toed towards the staircase… He gave a last timid glance at the watchman before disappearing up the stairs. “Thank God! He is asleep” and stifled a chuckle at the irony. He started climbing the stairs slowly . sprinting was not an option, lest he woke up the entire household!. Panting, he reached the door of his flat. He took out his key and silently opened the door. When his eyes adjusted in the darkness, he walked past the drawing room to the bedroom. He stared at his wife from the door. She was still sleeping . She looked so innocent and angelic in the dim light. He walked in , sat beside her and touched her cheeks tenderly. She stirred in her sleep . He was still holding the ‘package’ and he moved towards the bathroom, when, she woke up.

    She was fully awake within seconds.

   “Ranjan? Where had you been so long?”

    He froze and then turned around slowly- smiling broadly.

Part II (My entry- completion of the story)

She caught his smile and beamed back.
‘Did you get it? Really? Oh, thank you darling!’, she hugged him clumsily, and grabbed the package to rip it apart.

The cold, dull yellow metal fell into her sweaty palms. ‘Oh beautiful! Divine..’ she cooed, trying the ruby necklace on herself, and glancing at the mirror. ‘Don’t I look gorgeous?’

Ranjan slumped into the sofa, and yawned.

It had been a long night. ‘Hey! I said, don’t I look fabulous?’ He gave an imperceptible nod, and closed his eyes.

Back in the bungalow, Mrs.Gupta sprawled carelessly on her king-sized bed, a dreamy smile adorning her beautiful, full lips. She was indifferent to the loud snores from the boys sleeping in the next room. At 9, they were already teenagers..lost in their world of sport, music and friends. They reminded her so much, of her own past life.

Her thoughts wandered back to college .. the air resounding with laughter, tingling with excitement .. arms interlaced with her lover’s ..as they enjoyed an evening stroll on the beach, or nibbled each other’s ears reading romantic classics in a corner of the desolate library.

They were clearly in love. But he wouldn’t admit it. After all these years, she still could not put her finger on why they could not be united in marriage. They had felt that electrifying current whenever they met.. when they touched. And yet, he had never confessed.. never proposed. At first she had been heart-broken, thinking she was at fault. Gradually, she realised, he had perhaps simply been afraid. Of commitment, of relationship failure.. or parental pressure!

They never spoke about it. Even when they met now, it was in complete silence. It was the pairs of eyes that did the talking.

‘How have you been?’

‘Not bad, and you?’

‘Good.. You know, I miss you’

‘And I dream of you..’

And to a few minutes back, when he had risked all, to be with her at the stroke of midnight. She had blown a tiny candle, stuck hurriedly into a pink cupcake on a banana leaf. They had held each other tightly, in silence. Tears had dried up a long time ago. It was mere acceptance now, of the fact that they tread very different paths. And this was all they could dream of. Hurried, clandestine meetings.

They bit into the cupcake together.. he crushed the leaf.

‘Don’t..we need it, remember?’ she whispered. And proceeded to wrap her old ruby necklace in it. One of the first few pieces of jewellery Mr.Gupta had wooed her parents with. She did not feel for it anymore.. neither loved nor hated it. It was a lifeless piece of metal, something she could not bring herself to care about. However, it had been the envy of Ranjan’s wife.

‘No, Asha.. this is yours’, Ranjan had protested.

‘Its not often that wealth can buy happiness, Ranjan. This is in return for these few moment with you… for these precious, priceless memories on my birthday!’

======

Categories
Poem Thought and Reason

I wonder at possibilities (Poem, Indus Ladies contest)

Folks,

As I grow older, and a little wiser, I observe vast disparity all around me. Sometimes it sickens me. Sometimes it just makes me numb. Thinking about this, made me realise, that I believe what CAN make a difference to situations, to destinies, is education. Not that all educated people are sensible or sensitive. Still, I believe education empowers. So this is the topic I have chosen. Here is my entry to the Indus Ladies contest on Women’s Day (P.S: Been tagged by Shail).

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

I WONDER..AT POSSIBILITIES

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

Sometimes I wonder
If I were the girl who delivers milk at my door
What would I have done?
..Borne silent testimony to
..The brutality of a man who hit me?
..Toil endlessly day after day, only
..To donate it to the local liquor store!
..Walk my children barefoot on scorching roads?
..Hoping they, at least, would lead a better life!

Sometimes I wonder
If I were the girl who irons my clothes
What would I have done?
..Been a speechless spectator
..To baby clothes that morphed into designer wear
..And peers who eventually flew high
..While I gazed from below, Resigned!
..Wiping away an endless stream of sweat
..Amidst fumes from a hot coal box!

Sometimes I wonder
If more girl children
Could go to school, rather than
..Skip around potholes
..Oblivious to the heights I scale
..Or sweep or swab my home
..While I whistle in a cinema
..Or skilfully balance a brick wall on the head
..As I crib about glass ceilings!

I wonder at this wonder
This creature – smart, practical, beautiful
Who is just like me
..Only we live worlds apart
..Because I am empowered,
..I have read widely
..About how life CAN be
..About basic rights that belong to me
..And about infinite POSSIBILITIES

I wonder, if she were educated
Would she too, learn to believe
That destiny CAN be changed?

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

And now, I have to tag three people.. hmm.. and that would be (1) Roop (2) Pixie (3) Piper

(Thank you, Pragya, for reviewing this at such short notice!)

Cheers..

Categories
Awards Thought and Reason

2009 – Year of blogging!!

As you already know, its the last two days for sending in nominations for the Avant Garde Bloggies Award.

All you need to do is check out the Categories here (spreadsheet) and here (additional categories) and write down your nominations in the Comments section on the blog.

I have sent in Nominations Part 1 and Part 2 already, and will be sending in a couple more today.

And I want to thank Hitchy, Dreamer and Smitha , Monika AND Urmila, for having nominated some of my posts in Fiction, Poetry (Lol) and Culinary categories (:roll: ). Thank you so much, people, you made my day!!

Now, these are the posts I’ve written this year. (Thank you, IHM, for sharing the secret 😉 to the archives code 🙄 )

So if you liked any of these, please do remember me 🙂 whenever the voting phase begins.

Cheerio…

(Signing off from a snowy land)

Categories
Awards Thought and Reason

Avant Garde Awards – Nominations List 1 and 2

Came across the Avant Garde Bloggers Awards on Facebook, and landed there to see the variety of categories under which we can nominate fellow bloggers.

So, here is my first list of nominations:

1) Best Off-Beat Post -(by) Saurabh: http://stuffilearnttoday.blogspot.com/2009/11/luck-jury.html

2) Best Movie Review Post -(by) Mayuri Sharma: http://diemos.blogspot.com/2009/11/movie-review-de-dana-dan.html

3) Best How-to Post -(by) Dreamer: http://gawdsowncountry.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-achieve-zero-figure-with-minimal.html

4) Most Humorous Post -(by) Mayuri Sharma again: http://diemos.blogspot.com/2009/08/rakhi-ka-swayamvar-aftermath.html

5) Best Satirical Post – (by NONE OTHER THAN) Quirky Indian (the King of satire): http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/there%E2%80%99s-no-stopping-progress/

6) Best Travel Post – (by) Swaram: http://thesongoflife.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/straight-from-gods-own-country/

7) Best Travel Post – (by) Pixie: http://mytakeoneverything9.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/yercaud/

8) Best Visual Post – (by) Monika: http://monikamanchanda.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/where-i-secure-my-place-in-mommy-heaven/

9) Best Poetry Post -(by) Ozzymandias: http://autophony.blogspot.com/2009/12/history.html

10) Best Poetry Post (again) -(by) Piper: http://mishyroy.blogspot.com/search/label/attempt%20at%20poetry

11) Most Networking Blogger – Our very own Kishan Kanhaiya : the one and only Hitchy Bhai! http://hitchwriter.wordpress.com/

12) Most Responsive Blogger- Our Don Solilo: http://mesoliloquy.wordpress.com/

(I need to track down all those posts that made me think, laugh, and ROFL and send in my next list of nominations soon!)

Those of you who would like to add nominations please hop over HERE.

(Need I add, that if you found any of my posts interesting, please do nominate!)

Danke!

Here goes LIST TWO:-

1) Best off-beat post – (by) Solilo: http://mesoliloquy.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/does-obama-deserve-the-nobel-peace-prize/

2) Most humourous post – (by) Salil Ravindran   http://www.salilravindran.com/2009/07/no-excuse-for-no-exercise.html

3) Best header-  Monika : http://monikamanchanda.wordpress.com/

4) Best ‘How-to’ post- (by) Ordinary Guy     http://quintessentialhope.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/the-advanced-guide-to-cutting-your-fingers/

5) Best Poetry- (by) Mystic Margarita   http://mysticmargarita.blogspot.com/2009/06/kind-eyes-behind-pair-of-glasses-curly.html

Categories
Food and recipe

Indiblogger and Indivine again

Hey Peepals,

In case you are an Indi-Blog-ger and are checking out the latest posts on IndiVine, please do ‘promote my post’ titled ‘The Two Minute Tikka’ which I am quite sure, you lovely people, have already read.

Here is the link:

http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=5269

Thankooo.

xx

(P.S: Have a good weekend!)

Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Indiblogger and me

I do like Indiblogger. Not because they have given me a good rank. My rank, infact falls, every month, and is down from 79 to 65!!

But I do like the fact that (a) they provide a decent platform for bloggers to share their work. And (b) the Blog of the Month contests.

indiblogger_of_the_month

Talking of which, my blog has been nominated this time (don’t ask by whom!! I helped myself 😉 ).

So, in case you haven’t already seen your favourite blogger listed there, or haven’t cast your vote for someone else already, please do vote for me.

Here is the link to VOTE.

And this is the title of my blog: ‘I am no writer’ by ‘Pal’

These are the links to the posts that I dare categorise as ‘poetry’….he he!

1- The Ghost (all you lovely folks have already been very receptive to this spooky post)

2- A walk in the rain (this one will make you go ‘awwwwww….’)

3- End of the road (this is my favourite)

4- I yearn (this isn’t mushy at all, go ahead and read it)

5- Holi hai (wait..there’s a twist here..its not about Holi after all!)

On another note, many of my blogger friends have been nominated too. Ozzy, Pushpy, Shail, Aaroo, Tikuli, Prats (to name a few) … so if you choose to vote for them, I won’t get back at you – at all 🙂

You can vote for upto 5 favourite blogs. So pliss to remember to vote for my blog, also titled ‘I am no Writer’ 🙂

OK then, so in case you haven’t done so already, please log into your Indiblogger account and vote!

Categories
Poem

Godawful Poetry 2009

Yay! Godawful Poetry contest is back again. Check the links to this wonderful contest here, here and here. Caferati is a vibrant place to be!!

So! This contest is all about writing rubbish..in poetic form, ofcourse. I guess that comes REALLY easy for me.

Btw, this was my first GPF contribution for this year:

Yay! Its that time of year
To leave behind all fear
Rave and rant all we can
GPF, I am your pankha (read: fan)!

And my second:

Response to Ozzy-ji- GPF # 2
Oye my dear Ozzyji,
I very much enjoying Poetry!
This GPF is full riot, see?
I going for jumping Bun-ji!

Now I am really missing
Old contestants for ‘GPF Queen / King’!
Without them, my mood dingy…
Summon the Rita-ji and the Rumbo-ji.

But remember, when you write poetries
That Life is never-ending seas
From once birth to once dearth
Bless that man whose Words r Worth!

 

Why don’t you guys and girls try a hand at GPF?

🙂

Categories
Incidents Short story

Made it to the Top Ten – Thank you!!

Hi Everybody,

Thanks a million, for taking the trouble to vote for my short story (submitted for IndusLadies Mothers Day contest)!

I have made it to the Top Ten. Yippee! Thanks again.

The second round of voting has started in full swing, so I need your help again.

Please cast your precious vote at   

http://indusladies.com/partners/poll1.php

OR

http://poll.fm/xuom

(Ofcourse, in favour of my entry: ‘Pal of Crocodile Tales’ :-))

as soon as you can!!

The original story is here, in my blog, its called ‘Nanny Maa’.

Thanks a lot, in advance.

-Pallavi

(Phew…now I understand why Indian politicians are all so corrupt… campaigning for votes is such a difficult job, therefore the poor guys are forced to resort to underhand methods ;-)).

Categories
Awards Short story

Nanny Maa (short story for Indus Ladies Mothers Day contest)

 il_votebanner-120x240

Thanks a million, for taking the trouble to vote for my short story (submitted for IndusLadies Mothers Day contest)! I have made it to the Top Five!

The second round of voting is underway, so I need your help again.

Please visit    http://indusladies.com/partners/poll1.php

and Vote for my entry: ‘Pal of Crocodile Tales’ as soon as you can!! Thanks a ton!

————————-

 

Reema watched the children play quietly in a corner of the room. They built castles from building blocks, and painted vibrant colours using their fingers. They giggled as they enjoyed their ‘Messy Play’. ‘I wish Monu were here’, she thought wistfully. Her three year old lived with her mother, while she worked as a nanny in London.

It had happened all too soon. The recession, Rakesh losing his bank job, the looming loan installments on their apartment. She didn’t have an option, but to resume work at the nursery she had been employed with earlier. She winced at the irony of not being able to afford the same nursery for Monu. ‘He will be looked after much better in India. Family, school, friends…’ Rakesh had assured her.

‘Reema, its potty time. Could you take the toddlers please?’, Meg called. Reema first took the girls into the toilets. Then came the boys. ‘It burns…’, cried Mick. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll ask Mummy to take you to the doctor’, she replied. It seemed to soothe the boy, and he hugged her. As she held him for just a second, she remembered the last time she had hugged Monu.

‘Mamma! Look! Granny sent me a present! And she’s got lots more. IN INDIA!!’, Monu cried excitedly. Reema looked at the train she had bought yesterday, and had signed: ‘Your loving Granny’. ‘I’m so happy, Mamma! Can we meet Granny ? Plllleeeeeeasssssseeeee… I want my presents’. She hugged him in a tight embrace. She felt choked. Her plan was working. Her heart was breaking.

A series of gifts of Thomas and Roary toys, colouring books and pencils followed that week. By Sunday, Monu was all set to meet his ‘loving grandmother’. In a home miles and miles away from home.

Rakesh didn’t lose much time. He booked tickets on the same Air-India flight on which his friends were travelling. ‘Look at them, Reema. They don’t even have an option! No jobs, three kids.  They start from scratch…’ Reema didn’t let him complete. She had heard this often enough in the last month. She slipped into their bedroom and sat by Monu’s side, stroking the mop of black hair and kissing his soft, tender forehead. ‘In two days, my little angel…you won’t be with me. Oh God! What have I done to deserve this?’. Hot tears streamed down her sunken face and dropped onto her track pants.

‘Aw…I’m sorry’, cried Mick. ”That’s Okay, dear’, she replied, wiping the drops of paint that had fallen onto her trousers. Her favourite Dorothy Perkins, bought from her first salary. She had cried miserably that afternoon, hiding inside the toilet.

‘Lunch!’.  The nannies cleaned the room, quickly transforming it into a dining area! Today was ‘Soup day’, which meant, a day of struggle! The toddlers pushed around the bland leek and carrots, while the infants unabashedly dribbled it out.

‘Let’s go for a nice walk after lunch, alright?’, the assistant manager came around, trying to cheer the children and staff alike. The former nodded excitedly, while the latter suppressed disapproval at the thought of having to dress and chaperon four children each!

The nannies strapped one end of the wrist-link onto three girls and a boy, and tied the other end to her own wrist.

They strolled leisurely around the sturdy bridge across the River Thames. Little Leah shrieked excitedly, ‘Boat! Boat’! The other children immediately looked in that direction. ‘Hey! Its Ducky!’ cried Mick. Before Reema realised, he started to run towards the steel barricade, so he could get a better look at his favourite black and green duck, that was bobbing away on the surface of the glistening river. ‘Slow down’, Reema cautioned. Mick quickened his steps towards the water. Reema tugged at his wrist-link. It was too late. The link snapped!

Thrilled at his new-found freedom, Mick ran as fast as he could on those little feet. ‘Noooo! Come back!’, cried Reema. She had to stop him. But she couldn’t just let go of the other three children. She quickly glanced around for help. The other nannies were chatting amiably, the children in tow. ‘Somebody help! Meg!! Meg!!’ she screamed.

Mick was now leaning precariously through the lower rung of the barricade. Another tilt, and he would fall into the river. There was no time to lose. Reema tied the wrist-links in hand to the rim of the dustbin on the path. ‘Stay here!’ she shouted to the baffled children. ‘God, please, please save him! Keep these children safe!’ she muttered, as she ran towards the barricade. The other nannies finally noticed, and quickened their pace. ‘That’s Mick…he’s falling through the barricade!’, cried one. ‘Oh Gawd! Hurry!’ screamed another at the children who trudged behind, blissfully unaware that this was their last outing from the nursery, for a long time to come.

That evening, when the shutters went down at the nursery, everyone was in a state of shock. They were still unable to digest what had happened. Mick’s parents had been informed immediately. Reema had been temporarily asked to take a few days off. There were to be no further outings until ‘the incident’ had been ‘thoroughly investigated and necessary measures put in place’. The children continued with their daily activities of rhymes, colouring and increased sessions of Messy Play. Occasionally, someone asked for Reema. But they soon forgot.

A month passed. And another. Six months now.

‘Rakesh, I’m sorry!’, Reema whispered into the phone.

‘No…’

‘I really am. I shouldn’t have left’

‘Don’t worry. How are you?’

‘Okay’

‘How’s our apartment?’

‘Looking great, with the new Italian flooring’

‘Wonderful !!!’

‘Monu’s enjoying his new school. I think he hated the Government school, where Mummy sent him earlier. He loves this one though. Huge playgrounds, friends..everything, really!’

‘Fantastic! This is all because of you, Reema’.

Silence.

‘If you hadn’t saved that boy, none of this would have happened. What was his name? Mike? Mick?’

Silence.

‘You risked your life to save his! And his parents rewarded you. With enough to last us a lifetime!’, Rakesh said softly.

‘Don’t be silly, Rakesh. Mike..  Mick..  Monu..  all the same’.

Reema’s voice faltered slightly, as she reminisced that fateful day. She remembered running towards Mick, yelling ‘Monu…Monu…!’ all the time. Mick had turned and smiled. She hadn’t realised the strangeness of it all then. She had just grabbed him by his jacket, and yanked him back onto safe ground, and showered kisses (against the rules!), crying uncontrollably.

The teardrops fell on Monu’s cheeks, as he shifted in his sleep. Reema quickly patted his back and whispered ‘Go back to sleep, my Angel!’.

Tomorrow was Mother’s Day. She was going to buy presents. Two sets of Thomas Tank Engine. One would have to sent by courier to London.

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* Featured blog in Sulekha.com Expressions

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Guys n Girls,

I have submitted this story for the Indus Ladies Mother’s Day contest (click link). Please vote for me if you like the story. If not, do let me know (so I know what to do when you participate… hee hee…just joking!!!).

Cheers…