Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Live Death

Innumerable homes in London are built on the banks of the river Thames. Every weekend, we see lines of middle-aged men seated patiently by the river, with a fishing rod in hand. They just sit there from morning till noon, calm, serene and absolutely content (atleast, that’s the way it seems).

Once the Brat actually went up to an elderly gentleman and asked him ‘Excuse me, Mr.Fisherman, can you teach me how to fish?’ To which the old man gave him a wry look and said ‘I’ve been here all day, and haven’t caught a single fish!‘. The brat didn’t get the irony ofcourse 😉 but it was funny!

Last Sunday, there was this much awaited SALE (:-)) at NeXt. So as soon as I woke up, I grabbed my purse and headed to the mall 😉 Knight in shining armour declared I was ‘official'(ly crazy). But then, the stores had all opened by 5:30 am, and on the high street, serpentine queues would have formed that early!! Technically, I was running late by almost 3 hours!!

Anyway, I digress. So as I crossed this little bridge across my house, I saw two Chinese guys apparently fishing in the river. ‘What a waste of time, they aren’t going to catch anything here!’ I thought to myself. But suddenly one of the guys jumped excitedly. He had caught a fish!! It was a nice silvery one, and not small by any means. Not too big either. From where I was watching, it seemed to be just a little bigger than the size of a palm.

I was quite excited for them! In the last six years here, I have never seen anybody actually catching a fish 🙂

But what followed after that, busted my bubble of joy 😦 The fish started jumping about, obviously struggling to get back into the water. I felt a little sorry for the fish. And then, while one guy tried to hold the fish down to the ground, the other guy took out his camera and took a video recording 😦 That was when I felt sick at the pit of my stomach.

This has nothing to do with being a vegetarian (which I am) or a non-vegetarian (which I used to be). I don’t wish to discuss ethics/morality/vaues in being or not being a vegetarian.

This is beyond that. It is about some creature that was alive and kicking a minute ago, but struggling now, to simply breathe and live.

And more importantly, this is about how someone can derive pleasure out of watching it die 😦 😦 😦 I don’t understand this.

Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Mein Kampf and a Verdict

Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 3 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

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WARNING: LONG POST AHEAD. PART FICTIONAL, PART HISTORICAL.

I held Mummy’s hand tightly. For one, I was meeting her after so long! Almost six years. I’d almost forgotten what she looked like. So I wasn’t going to let go of her hand for even a moment! And two, the short Man had just entered our court room. Instantly, I felt Mummy stiffen. Some of the men and women who were seated with us stood up from their seats as the Man took his place in the witness stand. A couple of middle-aged men – like my Daddy – shuddered and began to hurl curses at him. The Man looked around the room, at all of us, his eyes betraying no emotion. The crowd quietened down immediately.

Ok let’s get down to business. We don’t have much time’ – the Judge announced in His booming voice. This wasn’t the typical court room one would see in the Movies. There was no sound of ‘Order Order’ or the symbolic Tap of what-looked-like-a-hammer!

This was a different court room. In a different world. One that was miles and miles above where we used to live earlier. Mummy says she arrived here five years ago. But she isn’t too sure. Papa reached here two days back and I just about landed. And boy oh boy, you can imagine how excited I was, to have both my Mummy AND Papa with me at the same time. It has been so long since we were together.

I digress! So, our court room was a nice airy hall, with high ornate ceilings and French-windows. Pretty curtains kept in place with gold-plated tie-backs.

Outside was a long table loaded with fresh fruit and drinks. I was waiting for the trial to get over, so I could run out. I was famished. Judge, of all the people, should know! They never gave us enough to eat. They didn’t even let us cry. You know where, right? At Auschwitz.

‘So, Führer. Here are the broad charges against you.. ’ Judge’s voice boomed again.

1-     ‘Conspiring against peace

2-     War crimes

3-     Crimes against humanity’. ‘And, remember, everyone present here is the Prosecution!’

Now, I did not understand any of this. ‘Papa.. what is happening?’ I whispered. ‘Shhhh…that’s the Baddie.. he’s going to be punished today!’ he muttered hurriedly.

The Man called ‘Führer’ remained motionless. The crowd in the room was anxious. Still, there was pin-drop silence.

Suddenly, somebody threw a shoe at The Man. Then, there was another. And another. In a few moments, it was raining shoes! One infact hit me on the head. Mummy quickly covered her hands over me to keep me safe. Oh! How nice it felt to be protected by her again. I had been so lonely until now.. I had missed her so much.. at Auschwitz.

‘Stop!! Stop that right now!’ Judge yelled. ‘You’re behaving no better than … er..quiet, people!’ Judge cut short His words. The last of the shoes fell short of reaching the witness stand. The crowd quietened down again and waited breathlessly, for the Man to speak.

The Man rose from his seat. A swift but calculated movement. He scanned the faces of the people in our room. A shiver ran down my spine. Who was HE???? I wondered. Short and unimpressive to look at. But one who triggered such an extreme reaction by throwing just one glance!

The Man cleared his throat. Quite obviously, he was his own Defence lawyer as well! ‘My people…’ he spoke firmly .. ‘My people.. you call me an irrational madman. A Villain. A murderer’

A cloud of silence descended onto the room.

‘What appears to you as Crime.. for hundreds and thousands of soldiers and comrades defending our Fatherland, was in truth (long pause) – JUSTICE

A loud murmur ran amongst the crowd. I felt a little afraid.

The Man continued, ‘God knows that I wanted peace!’ Führer looked knowingly at Judge. Judge pretended to have not noticed at all.

‘GOD knows that I wanted peace!’ Führer emphasised loudly. The crowd began to murmur again.

‘Is this your idea of peace?! You started World War II. You planned it. Waged war. Destroyed a whole generation! You swine!’ –  an elderly man shouted from the bench behind me. I looked up at Papa. He was staring at the Man, his eyes shining with anger.

‘War??’ Führer’s voice boomed now. ’War??? Germany, our Fatherland, was forced to fight or starve. Soviet was about to attack us. The Communists would have taken over our nation. If we did not stop THEM at the right time, this disease called Communism would have plagued the whole of Europe. What I did – (pause) What I did – was PROTECT my Fatherland. OUR Fatherland.’ He said angrily.

‘Papa, who is he?? What exactly did he DO?’ I asked again, excited and curious. Before Papa could reply, The Man continued.

‘When I was 24, I left my hometown Vienna, to avoid mandatory military service in the Austrian army. My heart and soul belonged to Germany – the most superior nation. 1914 – I still remember the day – we had gathered in the Plaza to celebrate the German proclamation of World War I ! For me, as for every German, there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence. Compared to the events of this gigantic struggle, everything past receded to shallow nothingness!’

The crowd shuffled impatiently.

‘Do you even remember how we lost the war? Defeated, broken, bruised and bankrupt. We had nothing. Our economy was in ruins. The British, French and American armies had ousted us. And beyond the obvious, do YOU – who accuse me of being a criminal – know the REAL cause of our destruction?’

Führer paused and looked around, fire burning in his eyes. Many of the grown-ups shifted their gaze to the ground, as if they did not have the courage to meet his. I thought it very strange. Papa said HE was the ‘baddie’, and here, my friends and family couldn’t lift their gaze to meet his?!

‘Our REAL enemy – was the group of ‘November Criminals’’. The audience looked a little baffled. ‘Ah! For those of you who choose to be ignorant – they were the German politicians who signed the armistice negotiations with the Allies in November 1918. Specifically, the Jews and Marxists, who undermined and SABOTAGED our efforts in the war. They were the REAL back-stabbers who led to our defeat’.

At this, some of the elderly men shook their head sadly. I wasn’t sure if they were in agreement with him, or desperate to hear something else!

‘Hear the TRUTH, my people’ – the Man continued. ‘This is YOUR history! The German Empire was abdicated. The German Republic was formed. A new nation, born in political and social turmoil. Remember 1919 – the Allies signed the Treaty of Versailles, and forced our Fatherland to accept all responsibility for causing the War. They took away YOUR money, land, and restricted YOUR troops, missiles and military aircraft. THEY HUMILIATED YOUR NATION’

I watched in admiration, as The Orator spoke. There was something very powerful radiating from his persona. I was almost in awe of him! I suspect many of others in the audience felt the same way!

‘They DESTROYED and HUMILIATED US in front of the entire world’, he continued dramatically, but paused to cough. Nobody offered him water to drink. ‘Do you think we should have accepted such humiliation??? NEVER! It was OUR RESPONSIBILITY to break the shackles of the Treaty and RE-ASSUME OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD. Germany had to be re-born. Re-built, through a powerful Nationalist government. We had to punish the November Criminals and Jewish Marxists.’ He coughed again. His earlier arrogance was still visible. But his posture now showed that he had slouched a little.

‘What you call WAR was in reality, the only way to peace and prosperity in Europe! Our Nation – Germany – was and IS the true Leader – the supreme power – and it was MY responsibility and yours too – to help restore Germany its real status’

‘But war is never a solution, Führer!’ – cried an angry young man from the audience. ‘You STARTED World War II – you caused HAVOC – you destroyed MILLIONS of lives!’ Some of the women in the group started to cry, and shout ‘You are a KILLER.. KILLER!’

Führer looked around in the direction of the man who had asked the question. We could not discern the expression on his face. He squinted his eyes to get a clearer view of the young man. The young man shrank back. ‘Young man! If your neighbour plundered your home and raped your woman – what would you do? (pause) Sit back and watch? Or fight tooth and nail?’

The man kept silent. ‘Answer, young man’ Führer thundered. The man looked perplexed.

‘You KNOW what you would have done. You would have attacked. Killed and plundered. To ensure you avenge the injustice done to you. That is exactly what I did too! I also vowed to vanquish the Anti-Race called Jews!’

The audience turned to look at each other, bewildered.

‘We were ruined from the Outside. And from the INSIDE. ’ but before Führer could complete, there were loud shouts from the Audience. Führer waited patiently for the shouts to die. Judge looked around. I felt a little sad for Him. Having to deal with a tough character in the Stand. And with a bunch of ‘wronged’ outside the stand!

‘All that I strived for is right here – in my 25-Points – read it!

This is what we BELIEVED in :  COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD. Is that so wrong?!!

  • I wanted the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.
  • That the German people have rights equal to those of other nations.
  • Those who are not citizens must live in Germany as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.
  • If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich
  • That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished!
  • That ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.

Go on! Read the rest of my 25-Points here!!’

With that he threw a bunch of pamphlets onto the nearest desk. Nobody dared to pick one up.

‘This is the demand of any true patriot! You accuse me of WAR! All I wanted was peace! In my way’.

‘But what about the atrocities committed by the Nazi army? Do you have no regrets whatsoever?!’ a frail-looking woman asked in a thin voice.

Führer glared at her. ‘Nazi philosophy by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe’. (Mein Kampf)

‘But what you did was not mere sub-ordination, but complete destruction! You tried to annihilate an entire race of people called Jews! You are inhuman – you Murderer of Millions!! You called us THE PROBLEM. Your ‘FINAL SOLUTION’ was to EXTERMINATE us, like a pack of rats?!! You threw us into concentration camps like Auschwitz Papa suddenly shouted.

Führer turned to us. Papa looked livid. Mama held on to me very tightly.

‘Every manifestation of human culture, every product of art, science and technical skill, which we see before our eyes today, is almost exclusively the product of Aryan creative power. (Mein Kampf) We – the German people – had a duty to control the world! The anti-Race did not deserve to live!’. At this point, I thought I saw Führer flinching slightly. ‘The JEWS threatened our civilization!’ Angry murmurs rose in the audience.

Führer did not pause. ‘A mere 1% of our population – the Jews tried to take over our Nation using money power – they controlled politics, business and the markets. They were lazy, adulterous profiteers who tried to make our race impure!’

That is unfair!’ shouted a woman from the last bench. ‘Every human has the right to live. The Nazis snatched that right from us! They rounded us up into trains that had no windows. They herded us into concentration camps. They crammed us into unhygienic rooms. With no water, no food. No air, even. They took us away from our men. They did not even spare our children!!’

Führer surprisingly remained silent.

‘You orchestrated mass murder of millions of innocent Jews! You gassed us in chambers! You starved us, beat us, murdered us! You experimented on our children like they were guinea pigs. You HUNG THEM FROM WALLS!!’

I turned to Papa in shock. Memories of my days at Auschwitz camp came flooding back to me. I had blocked them out quite successfully until now. I remembered the train all too well. My family and I were pushed into a dark compartment. Papa was torn away from us. Mama hugged me so tightly I could almost not breathe. The very thought of it made me want to take a deep breath. The Nazi soldiers would never give us enough to eat. There were no games to play. Nothing to read. All we had to do was work. And wait. Wait for our turn to enter the big showering chamber. The chamber of No Return!

I thought of the dark bunks into which they crammed us every night! I used to be afraid of going to sleep, for I might die of suffocation!!

‘You separated us from our children! You destroyed our lives!’ an old man now shouted.

Führer did not reply. He stared quite blankly.

‘Do you even KNOW what it is like to lose someone you love? You cold-hearted sinner!’ – shouted another woman.

Führer nodded slowly. ‘I do. I do know, what it is like. To have never been loved. My father… (pause) my father beat me into a coma. He attacked me – with both words and hands! The scar he left has lasted me a lifetime. He made me feel I was unworthy of living’

The audience was livid. Was Führer making this up? Was he trying to garner sympathy? They automatically looked towards Judge. He nodded. So it was true.

But Führer was not finished yet. ‘UNWORTHY of living, do you understand? Just like YOU!’ he was raging with anger again.

‘I DID NOT have an easy life! Unlike you prosperous bunch of profiteering Jews! I slaved for my daily survival.’

I wanted to be a Priest!’ The audience smirked.‘I wanted to become an Artist!’

‘But it was people like YOU who decided I was not fit for such fine arts. It was people like YOU who drove me into an alternate life.

I was unloved. Rejected. Scorned. But I believed. In MYSELF. In my NATION. In my purpose of life. Which was to restore glory to my Fatherland – Germany!’

‘We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany’ (Mein Kampf)

The audience spoke in hushed tones. The Man obviously believed in whatever it is he had just said! Our friends here however did not know how to respond. To drive home the point, that killing of an innocent was not justified in any event!

At this point, I felt like I had to say something. I raised my hand. Nobody noticed.

‘Er.. Excuse me, Mr. Führer!’ I said quietly. Even Papa did not hear me. I took a deep breath, and stood up on my bench.

‘Excuse me, Mr. Führer!’ I screamed. A couple of heads turned around to face me. The Man too, finally spotted me. And suddenly there was complete silence.

I was now very nervous. But I had to tell HIM something. Rather, ASK him something that had been nagging my mind ever since I entered the room this morning.

‘Er..er.. ‘

‘Sit down!’ Papa hushed me.

‘Mr. Führer! I actually do not understand WHAT you did, or WHY everybody here is angry with you. But I have to show you something.’

People threw questioning looks at me. I felt very conscious. But I had to do what a boy had to do!

I took my shirt off. My trousers too. The audience let out a collective gasp. I was a mere collection of bones. My eyes were almost hollow. My thin shoulders hung loosely by my side. My head was shaved. It had been, for a very long time. A number was tattooed. That had been my new name at Auschwitz.

Papa’s eyes filled with tears.

The audience turned back to glare furiously at The Man.

‘Mr. Führer, all my friends at Auschwitz look just like me. Actually, I do not remember what I looked like earlier. You know, before I reached Auschwitz. Mama says I was a very handsome boy. She cries whenever she sees me now

Hot tears rolled down faces in the audience.

‘Mama she says she should have ‘killed me’ a long time ago, so that I need not have become like this’.

Mama had started to shake silently. I knew she was crying again. I felt sad for her.

I turned around to show Führer my back. It was striped. Every stripe, a reminder of someone’s anger. Every bluish-black patch, a souvenir of hatred and violence.

Führer looked like he was rooted to the spot. This time, he did not even try to respond.

‘Mr. Führer’ I continued – ‘I love the way you talk. I know Mama will be angry with me. But actually, I think I admire you. I want to be a soldier, just like you’

Führer blinked his eyes just once, as if taking in all this was an effort for him. Most of the audience were now crying. They were probably all thinking of their children. Most of the children were here anyway, in this court room, far above the skies. But some of them were still trapped down there. They were alive, of course, but from here, they looked like zombies.

‘I feel bad for you, Mr. Führer. Your father hated you. Mine has always loved me J Mama says your Mama died very young, so you were all alone. I am sure, you just as lonely as I was, when the Soldiers dragged my Mama away into the Gas Chamber. But Mr.Führer, you were so brave!!’

The Man continued to stare at me. I was not sure if it was in disbelief, or in gratitude, for being the only one to have understood him. His eyes looked vacant. Like he was in shock, because something had hit him hard.

‘But Mr. Führer – I just want to know one thing – Were YOU the one who killed my Mama?’

The Man stared at me. Unable to reply.

‘You killed Papa too?’

He opened his mouth to talk, but words did not come out.

‘Were YOU the one who did THIS to me?’ I pointed to my visible rib bones that stuck out through the frail, almost charred skin.

Someone in the audience started to clap. In a few seconds, the entire audience was clapping their hands wildly.

The Man himself hung his head down in shame.

Judge miraculously produced a tiny hammer, and said ‘The verdict is there – for all to see!’

HE pointed to Adoph Hitler, who had tightly shut his eyes and refused to meet my gaze any longer.

Categories
MommySpeak Short story

The final redemption

At 28, he was beyond redemption. Drugs, alchohol, nicotine, women, theft… he had done them all! The de-addiction centres offered no more hope.

Her last hope was this pilgrimage by foot. They had covered most of the journey. This was the final leg. The famous dilapidated temple was just across the railway track.

She crossed the tracks and waited for him. He dragged his feet along, slow enough to show how resentful he was of her attempts at ‘rehabilitation’.
‘Try to walk faster..‘, she coaxed.
‘You’re pathetic!!‘ he spat angrily.

She looked crestfallen.

He plugged in his iPod to drown her unspoken words. He had heard enough. He knew what he wanted. To float away on clouds of Ecstasy. And she, was the biggest obstacle! He hated the sight of her. Sad, angry, begging. In turns. All day long!!! Well, atleast, she didn’t cry bucketloads any longer. That was a relief!

Then, she saw it coming. He didn’t. Eyes half-closed, he was swaying to the music in his ears.

It was nearing. She opened her mouth to speak. But her mouth went dry. She put out a hand, to caution him.

‘Buzz off and leave me alone!!!!’ he murmured.

Alarmed, she looked into his eyes.

Baby eyes that once had opened in wonder. Eyes that had once danced with joy, accompanied by the lilting sound of happy gurgles.

Eyes that had once quite blindly trusted in her.

Eyes that had slowly started questioning her authority.

Eyes that had then turned angry in rebellion.

Too soon, it had become too late! The same eyes had turned vacant, and cold. And when she had tried to reign them in, they had seemed almost murderous.

And then, he finally noticed! His eyes widened in fear. She knew that look. He was almost begging, for her to try to rescue him. One more time.

She needed to think. A millisecond went by. And by then, it was all over!

The grass around the track was splattered in red. A bright shade of red, that she knew was the same as her own.

She clutched at her breast. As if to hold the heart that was slowly and irreversibly crumbling into a zillion pieces.

And in that deafening silence, she let out a loud scream. In relief. Then, she screamed again. And again. In horror. At what had just happened. She pounded the grass with her bare fists. Furious, at the way a beautiful life had been wasted.

Spent, she dragged her tired feet towards the temple. The shrine was closed. She slowly climbed the steps. When she reached the top, she almost staggered backwards in exhaustion. She quickly sat down, and lay her forehead on the cool stone pillars. She imagined the beautiful face of the deity inside the shrine. It shone of kindness. 

‘Thank you!‘ she whispered. And then broke into tears. She banged her forehead on the pillar until it bled. Then, she hugged herself tightly. And tried to remember his face. She saw in it, the beautiful eyes that had hated and distrusted, but still needed her.

‘Amma….’ – she would never hear that word again.

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Folks, this post is dedicated to all those parents who struggle helplessly with children who fall into drugs and other vices.

To parents who deserve better.

To parents who have loved and lost.

Specially, to those parents, who look back longingly, on a Life that could have been spent so differently, and so much better.

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Categories
Short story

Cruel Intention

Mohit had not imagined performing such an act, even in his wildest dream ! He belonged to a very cultured family who knew the value of life, and how cruel it was to kill. But he had no choice. He was determined to do it that very night. It was a kind of retribution… to the fate his late father, the respectable Barrister Mr.Vikas Jain had to endure. “Baba didn’t deserve such a death…I will teach them a lesson…that blood-thirsty gang”, he thought angrily.

Even Sanjay, Mohit’s elder brother was not taken into confidence. There was always an innocence radiating from Mohit’s countenance, and naturally, he was under no suspicion, when he went to the attic that morning, and hid it in the secret spot. He had planned his moves carefully, and for a very long time now.

The old grandfather’s clock, now almost a collector’s item, struck six. The sun was setting, and darkness crept up stealthily, to envelope this bustling little town. Sanjay had just returned from work. A visibly nervous Mohit noisily slurped his tea, sitting crouched in a corner of the house. They didn’t exchange a word. They were always known to be thick friends, and at times, had even stood up to their strict father, defending each other in their pranks. Sanjay looked at Mohit closely, then quietly picked up the newspaper. It was almost as if Sanjay knew Mohit’s plan, and was saying “Don’t do it…”.

But Mohit had waited long enough…too long infact. He had to do this, before any more members of his family could be attacked by this heartless gang. They were hiding in every nook and corner of the town. Nobody was safe, even in the precincts of their own cosy homes. It was a common sight now, to see shutters pulled down early, windows closed before nightfall, and people sitting on high alert, ready to protect themselves, in case of an attack.

Shrewd businessmen were, of course, trying to make hay. Producing and marketing, weapons of destruction, of self-sustenance. The late barrister had, however, always believed in non-violence, and his sons were bound to follow his path. At least while he was alive. “But not any longer ! I am not a killer…but I’m not a saint either. I have to do this…this was my unspoken promise to Baba”, Mohit thought silently.

As night set in, the family finished their dinner and retired to bed. This was the moment Mohit had been waiting for. He quickly climbed up the rickety stairs and went into the attic. Nobody had noticed. Everything was going as planned. He picked it up, hid it behind his back, and walked down again. To his surprise, Sanjay was sitting on the sofa, watching TV. “Damn…how do I do it now ?!”, worried Mohit.

“Sanjay…you should sleep now..don’t you have a meeting tomorrow morning ?”, called Shikha.

Sanjay looked up, sighed and turned the volume down in a resigned manner. “Coming, Shikha”, he called out. He gave one final, glance at Mohit …”Don’t do it, don’t”. And left the room, shutting the door behind him. “Click”. Sanjay had bolted his door.

This was the moment. Mohit was left by himself. But he wasn’t alone. He felt their presence. He knew they could enter any house, any time they wanted. No walls, no locks could stop them. He knew, they were waiting to attack him too. The way they had destroyed Baba. “There’s no better chance”, he thought, and with a steely resolve, tightened his grip over the weapon hidden behind his back. He quickly fished out the match box from the cupboard, and in a flash of a second, did it. He was sweating profusely. “Thank God, nobody noticed..they might hate me today, but they will thank me for this tomorrow”.

Mohit was drained, with the mental exertion of the long day. He summoned the vestiges of his energy and hid the weapon in the darkest corner of the grandfather’s clock. “Just in case I need to attack , or defend anytime again” !

As Mohit walked out of the room, he realised the TV was still on. He took the remote to turn it off. The last advertisement on the TV was going on…”Kachua Jalao, Machar Bhagao”.

 

(We hope you liked it…

-Samba and Pallavi)