Saturday, December 22, 2007

Baby boy says hi!! :)

Yup, our little bundle of joy arrived on the 8th of December...And, for a start,

Kailash says hi to all!!! :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

I haven’t let go..

I know. I know. It’s all dark inside the storyteller’s hut; almost like a haunted house. Cobwebs. Unwashed tea cups. Mounds of melted wax that once dispelled the darkness as we sat and talked stories once upon a time. And now, with the last instance we spoke being almost four months back, some of you might have slowly started to believe that the hut is shut forever. I wish I had never let that idea creep in, but you see I just let other things take over – like laziness, tiredness, helplessness among others. Nevertheless, I am happy to see so many new guests who have stepped in, rummaged through the story bag and left little notes of appreciation. When I see them, I am delighted but guilty as well, at my inability to tell you more and entertain you better.

It appears to me the status will remain such for some time to come, for I am at the threshold of change – probably the most important one so far in my life. At best, I can assure you that the rugged muddy ground of the hut will continue to stay (aren’t you rolling your mouse over it already?) and hopefully the roof should also be intact unless some gusty wind decides to blow it away; and the story bag is still there and all yours. Having said that, I hope and pray I will return, not just alone, but with a little angel who will tell you more stories. Till then, stay good, healthy, and peaceful and definitely – do hang on!

Friday, July 27, 2007


18th July 1990. Meenakshi pressed her forefinger hard into the daily sheet calendar. As she did, she closed her eyes to recall how she had pressed the calling bell at the “Khushi Villa” exactly fifteen years ago. Fifteen years it was, since the day she had first touched down on this bungalow tucked away peacefully in a remote corner of Maharashtra. It was a rickety bus journey that had preceded her arrival.

Fifteen years ago, as a charming thirteen year old, Meenakshi had felt deeply thrilled at the prospect of spending her life in the villa. Back then, she had observed with wide eyes, the wild tuskers and stags that jutted out from the walls and the large paintings that accompanied them. She had wondered why the tuskers and stags had only heads and had found it quite weird. She had imagined the animals to wake up and walk around the house in the nights.

Totally fascinated, Meenakshi had felt her stay in the villa would be a launch pad to realize her dream – that of becoming a great Bharatnatyam dancer. Struggling hard to control her overwhelming joy, her eyes had fallen on Ramaa Chechi for the first time. Oh, what a treat it had been to watch her! Looking at her from behind the grilles of a window near the backyard, Meenakshi had thought she could fall at her feet. Draped in a crisply starched cotton sari, Ramaa Chechi was going around the Tulasi Maadam in small circles, with a lamp in her hand.

Rajan who had accompanied Meenakshi on her journey to the place had made a passing reference to a teacher, while sitting in the bus. May be this divine looking lady was that teacher, Meenakshi had pondered. Meanwhile, Rajan had beckoned her to the backyard.

“What is your name?” Ramaa Chechi had asked.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she had questioned, patting Meenakshi’s cheek.
“I love to dance,” Meenakshi had replied and had stuck out her frail legs and hands, while also rolling her visibly, big eyes.
Ramaa Chechi had smiled, patted her again.
“Lovely, we will make you do that too.”
“Can I too look beautiful like you?” Meenakshi had asked eagerly.
“Of course, yes, why not?”

Standing before the calendar, Meenakshi recalled how much she had believed in that deceptively divine woman. Ramaa Chechi was a professional. She had pushed the little girl into her role so effortlessly. She had gently led the teenager into a room that presented an illusion of happiness, of a heaven free of all troubles – full of flowers and incense that choked her breath.

Meenakshi was reminded of how she had succumbed without protest, the first time. The surrender did not come out of acceptance of her doomed fate or as a move towards starting a new way of life. It was more a means of seeking solace and affection from a complete stranger for the grief that engulfed her broken heart; to blow away the misery and weariness of a young soul that was cheated by her own father.

And as far as she could think, the first time was the only instance she had exuded passion in her profession and never again after that. Meenakshi looked at the silver ring in her hand, thoughtfully. This was the ring that the first man had left behind for her, as a gesture of what Meenakshi imagined to be genuine love. He would have been in his early twenties then. She could say he had liked her. Loved her? She didn’t know. But she preferred to assume it that way. It at least gave her the comfort of having something substantial to dream and ponder about; something to make up for the void that so dominated her life.

Meenakshi looked dreamily at the withered rose that she had preserved in between the pages of her only notebook. Tears welled up in her eyes. Despite the many years of seeing the different men that she had seen, love was not a lost feeling as far as she was concerned. It was lost, yes, in a partial sense, but only deep within her. She had vainly searched for her first man in every man she had met after him. She had stayed hoping that he would come and take her away someday. The ring would be her only proof of identity then. She had imagined he would come while she played on the swing. He would then fall at her feet and tell her how much he needed her in his life.

Alas, but what did she know of him, except for a faint memory of his face and the wetness of his long parting kiss on her cheek years ago? For all she knew, he would be happily married off to some pretty woman who would have borne him his children. Worse still, would he even recognize her if she were to come face to face with him when walking down some street? Even so, she carried on, despite being fully aware of the futility of her dream.

What a life had she lived! She had seen all sorts of men. There were the nervous first timers. Then, there were those men who fed their egos with an air of nonchalance, a kind of despicable carelessness. Well then, animal behavior also found its place. She had dressed and undressed to please and impress them all; acts that defined the very essence of her existence. And after everything, Meenakshi felt the whole place stank of dumped feelings and a nauseating eeriness that sometimes drove her to the point of contemplating death as the soothing alternative. The only relief probably had remained her friends in the villa – Nupur, Selvi and Rekha. They would laugh and hoot together while discussing men – their subject of expertise, and remain thoughtful as they spoke about the fading memories of their lackluster childhood.

And now, after fifteen years of a life in skirts that paradoxically shouted happiness through large, bright flowers, she was waiting with her little box to leave. Meenakshi sighed, as she turned to face the villa for one last time. She was going back, back into the world that brought her into the villa. She had nothing particularly pleasant to take back and nothing particularly exciting to look forward to. As policemen swarmed around the place, Meenakshi walked towards the van with a blank look on her face.

Ironically, it was the deathly infection that had won her the prized ticket to her freedom.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's home, again!

You know how it is visiting home after a while? It is truly like revisiting a part of yourself. After what seems like ages, mom, dad, my sister, and I are back together to live the feeling of what it is to share our lives under one roof. Vani is on vacation, I am on one too, mom is no longer the busy teacher running to school, and dad is still the man who runs the show. When did we last hear of this? ‘Way too long’ back!

At a time when responsibilities of a different order, ones confronting a married woman is all that you have witnessed for a while, you actually wonder how it felt to remain irresponsible. And that precisely is the feeling I have come to experience again, during this break, the sense of parental pampering, a rare comfort of ‘there is someone to mind it all’. You don’t worry about what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it is all piled in copious amounts on a the ‘stainless steel plate’ that exclusively belonged to you ever since you came into this world. And what luxury - do you have to remind mom about what would tickle your taste buds? Come on!

We have spoken all sorts of stories, ones buried deep inside our souls, waiting to be reborn, in the words of our retelling and our acts of hearing them out all over again. Tales like how I gave my sister the name she has come to bear today, how she used to be this little brat who wanted everything that her sister had and at one point of time trembled with jealousy over all the attention that the elder one received when she had set off for graduation.

With mom this time, it has been a run through of her patented ‘arranged marriage’ philosophy, as we laughed over all that appeared ‘once serious’ and now ‘outrageously funny’. All the same, it is also the time that she has chosen to send out those signals to my sister about ‘minding the step’. This time, it is my turn to grin from ear to ear!! With dad, the discussion as always has proceeded on a different platform – books, music, investments, the irony of how we so easily complicate our lives, as well as a rather formal talk on how the married life went on. And you know how it is with sisters, you don’t need solid stuff to speak and can get away with all sorts of nonsense!

The most fascinating part of it all is how everything fell into place, the emotions, the long-established signals of communication and the unchanged meaning of silence. And then there are these other things – dad’s driver who taught us Gujarati, and this wonderful little angel who is all but three, living in the same building. She has the most beautiful and adorable pair of eyes that I have seen in a long time. She speaks Gujju, and I speak everything else other than that and she still is so much fun to hang around with!

In between all this I miss him and wonder how he is taking care of himself, starting from what he is eating. Despite all those petty fights and admonitions (fond though they are) we throw at each other over the phone, I deeply wish he were here. I wish I can hold his hand and lean on his shoulder and whisper softly how I miss him.

And yet, I revisit carelessness every night, as I lie curled in my mom’s lap. After all, it is a means to satisfy that burning desire to be a child once again, especially when your little one is already telling you through her soft kicks that it’s time for this woman in her mom’s lap to change roles, very soon.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If I may ask..

While I was working on a report today morning, my mind wandered off to many thought landscapes. Like I had said in an earlier post, I have these questions suddenly popping inside my head that I feel like shouting them out to a crowd.

Here is today's question:

Is there this one thing (need not necessarily be a physical entity) that you love/value the most in life? If so, what is it? And, why do you love it so much??

Waiting to hear sound bytes! :)

PS: No particular reason as to why this question. Just like that!

PPS: And I want honest answers!!! :D

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Story Clip #1: Raman

Raman, everyone is so proud of him, except himself. His mother tells relatives he earns plenty that he could buy a house within another year. His father tells friends that his son is ‘settled comfortably' in a rewarding job. House, car, marriage – plans, plans, and plans they made for him. But, Raman is tired even to feel proud anymore. The attraction has withered away. It is yet another Tuesday in Raman's life, a year after he wore the illusorily shining badge called 'software engineer'. He writes ten lines in the morning and stares at it all of the evening. And still he cannot break through. The brain that topped the class in the final exams doesn't help find that one bug that refuses to let the program run. The boss sends a stinker of an email demanding an explanation and accusing him of being slow. Not again, he broods. The confidence curve falls flat and enthusiasm levels dip. Do I have to do and see this all my life? Can't I ever make mistakes? he thinks. Raman shuts the application and walks out of the office, past the manager who summoned him for an explanation. Indifference for a day, to make up for the peace of mind and smile lost for a while now.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Maya's story

“And I scratched and scratched the page with the fine nib of a treasured parker, spurting out black ink, like the oozing blood of a devilish thought, springing out of a wounded ego. How else could I extinguish the roaring flames of anger? The page tore open like a deadly crevice. I ran around like a mad man pulling down all that fell in my line of sight – curtains, table covers; I took the umbrella, poked the bed and the pillows, with its tapering end. Fury and pain wrenched my heart. I had become a loner, in a world full of pretending well wishers, a world without Hanna.”

Maya switched off the monitor and stared wide eyed into the empty space ahead of her. Her hands trembled a little. It was a fiery face of Professor Malcolm that she hadn’t seen thus far, given the six months of personal interaction that she had had with him – in her mind.

She wasn’t sure about that line, she had typed – “oozing blood of a devilish thought, springing out of a wounded ego.” She opened the document, deleted the line and began typing again. “;olr n;ppf ppxomh pgy pg s epimfrf jrsty” she keyed without looking at the screen. Shit, she thought, staring at the train of red underlines that the software had left, like a school teacher who thrilled at striking down everything with that dreadful red ink. Why can’t this damned MS Word convert it to what I want? She felt like suing the software for its supposed inadequacy. Her finger rested lazily on the backspace key till it deleted the unintelligible stuff that she had just then entered. “like blood oozing out of a wounded heart, “ she corrected and sighed deeply.

She could sigh by all means, for she didn’t know where her dream was heading to. Every letter, every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and every page that made sense to the machine as only indecipherable bits and bytes were the building blocks to the vision she was giving shape.

Maya had grown up reading every name board on the road. Even as the bus or scooter or auto she was moving in advanced faster than her letters/second, she craned her neck to finish the name down. “Lakshmi Tea Stall” “Connections BookPoint” and everything else. Sometimes, she had the feeling that the name of a shop didn’t fit its appearance. Such beautiful names for those ugly faced tea shops, she would grumble under her breath.

And, when she grew a little older, she loved assigning names to strangers. May be that girl would be called Rachna – that cute face with two pony tails would be complete only with that name. Swarnamukhi, for the dancer, her friend’s neighbour; Akshay, for the guy who was seen driving the Enfield everyday outside her house; after all, it was her own world of imagination, and people here could assume names that she wished to give them!

Her love at sixteen was books. Papa and Mama had no trouble finding gifts for her. They knew she would smile the widest at the sight of a bookstore. Maya literally fed on books, relished a different taste out of the many writers. Archer was like espresso coffee while Narayan was like a chocolate that slowly melted away, leaving behind that lingering sweetness in one’s mouth. Hesse was like a tastefully prepared filter coffee, an enriching philosophical experience that left one relishing it even after the act was complete. Austen and Dickens were like classic hot chocolate, Woolf was a dense dry fruit milk shake – you had to stop once in few minutes to munch those nuts – those powerful nuggets that gave the dash of splendor to her work. Hardy was bitter chocolate. What would hers be? Maya wondered.

Maya equated writing to love, simply and best put. She absolutely loved it. Stories were her passion. She wanted her words to be the window to a world she created. The characters in her story would be thoughts that danced to the tune of her creative forces – but sometimes they were not puppets. They shaped to something beyond her control sometimes bringing a smile and sometimes making her scratch the whole thing down. Each word was a revelation. Writing was to her, as music was to a singer and dance to a performer.

There was a man who wanted to sell his soul. She found him creepy. There was another who was willing to buy it. She found him loony. And what about those people who wore all that heavy makeup and chatted nonsense? She found them to be a rather strange breed of people. Did the others know about them? After all, they all lived in her paper world. She would let others see them, through her novel. She would tell them things that they knew well but never consciously realized. She would make them nod in childish delight (one arising out of discovering matters, all over again!) at what she told them.

Dreams, she had plenty of them. Like reading out excerpts from her novel to a group, autographing copies to a mad audience, for instance. She even wanted to do a workshop telling aspiring ‘kids’ (she would have moved out of the block then!) how to write. She would clip all reviews for her book together and read them at leisure. She would try correcting herself and scorn at a mindless review. Plenty of them, her dreams; But, she had fifteen more chapters to go and a publisher to find! Talk about literary dreams and aspirations! Would Maya make it? I am clueless, actually! :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The day

Shyama was not sure. She sat in her room, smiling at everyone, as people walked in and out of the small cube that stored God knows how many things, including herself. She smiled, but her insides moaned – was she sure about what she was doing? Her cousins were chatting, laughing and giggling, throwing sideward glances at her. She was supposed to be the happiest woman in the whole world that day. But, was she? She wasn’t sure. Worse still, the point was, she shouldn’t be worrying about it then, not at that instant.

A few anxious seconds. And then, her dad seemed relieved. Granny hugged him. Mom was brushing away happy tears. Little sister hugged her. A mix of emotions – relief, happiness and a strange emptiness. Amidst all that, Shyama stole a glance at him. Raghav looked at her as well. She felt reassured, smiled for the first time from her heart, since the morning. She trusted her instincts. They told her it would all go on well.

A year later, she stood staring at her mirror in their bedroom, twirling a curl dangling near her left ear. They had taken many steps together, forgiving, fighting, understanding, giving, sharing, loving and holding on. Shyama stood there lost in memories. Suddenly Raghav hugged her from behind. “Happy Anniversary, sweetie,” he whispered. She smiled - a smile of genuine happiness.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Letters to Dad - 15th March 2004

Dear Pops,

I loved pouring over your letter that came in a little late. Never mind, it was worth the wait for those five pages of your still undecipherable handwriting. Dad, you really are getting old. :), and your slants are getting slightly shaky.

You know how busy life is here Pops that I had to postpone this letter by a week. It is ironic that the topic that I choose to write today is about the lives of people who are at the other extreme of those we discussed in the last letter. Yes dad, I am indeed referring to my visit to the old age home, on my birthday. While I marvel at what my son teaches me through his ways, all that was left of me after that visit was silence and a vacuum.

Many of them, Dad - a sea of faces. They were about thirty couples at Karunalaya, each and every one of them, unique. Mr.Prakasam, the one who was so particular about his fitness was the first one that we met. Clad in his starched white kurta and dhoti, he was taking his morning walk in the garden. Full of warmth, that’s how he was. Mr.Prakasam shook hands with Akash, placed his palm on my head and then on Aryan’s and mumbled a blessing. Welcome, he said, we are all expecting you. We could only smile back, gratefully.

The woman behind my success, he introduced us to his wife, who had just emerged from the puja room. Come beti, she invited me, and then it was ‘ey chotu’ to a visibly nervous Aryan. She indeed looked divine in a simple chungudi saree. How could her children leave her here? How could they do away with such sweet parents?

Dad, each of them had stories to say; some happy, some sad, some heart-wrenching, some really brave. The Subramanians have shared sixty four years of marriage between them. And the love hasn’t diminished one bit, Dad. Mrs. Subramanian could hardly hear and said a different thing while her husband spoke something else. But her better half was patient, always smiling and trying to raise his already feeble voice to as high a decibel as possible, to convey the intent. We are old, he said, and our sons are away in a foreign land. We speak to them once in six months when they call up after sending us some money, he explained, while his wife just brooded and nodded. And suddenly, she looked up and smiled, as if there was no trouble in her world. Is that the slow insanity that old age breeds into one?

Seethamma was different. She was loud, frank and full of disbelief. Her husband was timid, unobtrusive and deep into the day’s newspapers. Seethamma seethed in anger. All you children, you don’t care about your parents. Why have you come here today? You distribute sweets or serve us lunch and go away. Does our misery change after that? She glared at me. The man, lifted his head up, threw a glance our way and then a feeble smile. Commotion, it seemed, was a parcel of his life. But dad, her question fascinated me, quite.

What are we to them, other than being people merely sharing a day’s joy with them (ironically, we hardly know whether what’s happiness for us, is happiness for them as well.) and doing the disappearing act after that? But Dad, I think the solace and the answer is that, we attempt, genuinely at that, to try and bring a smile on to their faces at least for a day; to make them believe that there are people in the world who still care; to massage out the numbness of a lack of love that has clung on to their souls.

Mrs. Parvati insisted she would sit next to Aryan. He reminded her of her grandson, she said. She insisted she would feed him. I let her do it. Aryan didn’t understand, Dad. Confusion was written large on his face. His eyes brimmed with fear. That night, he was quiet and finally asked me, Mama, who are those old people? I told him. I told him, they were like his grandparents, but they stayed there because their children could not take care of them. Why, he asked me, that’s really bad. I nodded and patted his head. Mama, I will take care of you and Papa, when you grow old, he said. I cried silently. After all that claim of ‘we will stay independent in our old age’ that I and Akash so often reiterate to each other, I still seek reassurances. And damn that, from my three year old son, who is yet to see the world, in all its beauty and devilishness.

And what’s with this Indian tradition, Pa? Parents would stay with their sons, but never with their daughters. Isn’t it unjust of the society to have moulded such a strange ideology? We grow old, and children are channels through which we remain assured. At twenty nine, I am already seeking it. I wonder how it would be for you. Don’t you wish you could stay with us, but you still deny yourself the pleasure, just because we all live the Indian way?

Papa, I am serious. I really wish you and mom would consider staying with us, for some days at least. I know how it feels Dad, to be old and staying away. Mrs. Srinivasan words still ring in my ears. She is old, frail and dying. When I turned to leave that day, she held my hands and asked me when I would come back again. Do keep coming, she said, it’s not for the sweets or the food, our tongues have long last that desire to taste. It’s only love and company that we yearn for. I look beyond the gates, everyday, seeing as far as my poor vision can let me see. I imagine I see my son and his family. But they never come.

Love to you and mom,
P.S: Keep writing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

In a world of many things..

In a world of many things,

At one moment, you feel you could rest your tired head on to a silky pillow that absorbs all worries while the ivory moon sends its love as rays filtered through the window. That’s when you smile, a smile of light-heartedness, of relief, of a realization of peace and calm.

And then, the next instant you are running into the green open, cutting through straight and sometimes slanted shreds of silvery threads, descending from the heavens. That’s when you get soaked to the skin, unmindful of a world existing around you.

And suddenly, you feel transported back in time, when the scent of the past tickles your nostrils; of days that you have left behind but whose vague memories you have carried along. That’s when life’s meaning dawns; that you have indeed come a long way from being a child.

And what happened to those friends with whom you shared everything from a meal to the deepest secrets? They are all away, but something of a memory stirs in you and you are smiling through reminiscences of love, of a different order.

Ah, then a moment to savour, for it brings with it the first instant you caught his eye, smiling, the instant you held his hand and decided to walk together.

I tell you I tie musical notes to precious flashes of time.

I tell you this is what I live through when my iPod slides from one song to another.

They are unconnected emotions; but ones that make perfect sense, in a world that’s only yours, where music is the backdrop, filling the ears and the being.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Feb 01 again!

Two years since it all began and the story continues under a new name. I never thought this journey would come this far when I wrote my first (silly) post on the 1st of February 2005. Then on, I have moved through many, many experiences – some fondly remembered, some best forgotten, and some still making me wonder why they ever happened. This blog is where I have given vent to my many literary dreams – I would scribble ideas and gaze at them in wonder, as they took the form of stories, poems, and essays. Here’s where I could do anything, anytime, and in any damn way I wanted.

At times, I have caught myself smiling at a post, for voicing an opinion way too strongly, that it carried the heat of the moment at which it was written. At other instances, I have journeyed down the memory lane, reliving experiences by merely looking at the written words echoing the past. Dreamy, romantic, and fairy-tale like – that’s how it has been – for I live on with the feeling of constantly being engaged in a fulfilling affair with a virtual lover – one that I really hope will qualify for the much-desired phrase “ and happily ever after..”

This blog year (as I choose to call it) has been a memorable one for me for many reasons. It was also the year which saw one of the most tragic incidents of my life. Of late, this journal has not seen much of an activity, but I sincerely hope things turn for the better, very soon.

Like I said last year, I take this moment to thank each and every one of you who has taken the trouble to come to this site and leave a comment. And a double thanks to those who constantly keep a tab on what’s happening here.

I sincerely hope this blog has much more to offer, in the coming year. Thank you all.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Of cobwebs, dust, and inactivity..

Helplessness, that’s what I feel when I look at The Storyteller’s Hut. I began last year with this story (one of the posts, closest to my heart) and this year, something as trivial as this post. What a contrast!!

Now, how do I stop that bitterness that’s lumping up at my throat?

I miss you dear blog!

I really wish I could find the time to experiment more, to write more! :(

God, are you listening?!!