Monday, 29 December 2008

i believe

I believe,

Santa did not forget us this year.

He’ll stop by soon, with his reindeer.

That truth hurts more than lies.

It’s easier to put them in disguise.

That the last year has been quite tough.

Many hoping 2009 brings the good stuff.

Battles fought, lives lost and games played,

Many living life in the dark now, afraid.

We all have a part to play, things to say,

There’s no point shutting up, continuing to pray.

I believe,

That love heals, but it can also hurt.

Remember the good stuff, not the dirt.

That the sunrise will warm your soul,

Twinkling, golden rays, filling in the black hole.

Friends lost are not gone forever,

You’ll let them go, forgive them if you’re clever.

Though forgiveness is the hardest thing to muster,

Especially when you know you can never trust her.

I believe,

That there is something watching from above.

Creating, destroying, and teaching us to love.

That things are never just or fair,

You just need to learn the art of warfare.

I believe,

Our children will destroy the sun, the world,

No more people, countries flags to be unfurled.


This maybe my last post for 2008, but I’m hoping not considering the negativity :). In any case, Happy New Year to everyone reading this. I hope the new year is better than the one gone by…

Sunday, 21 December 2008


*Couple standing at the top of a bridge over the subway around 2am*

“Are you sure?”

“Baby, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

“Could you please tell me how this happened… we’ve been so careful!”

“Don’t know, really. It took me this long to even figure it out.”

“Even though you missed your period for what… four months?!”

“For god’s sake… I thought I was late!!”

“Geez… do you really think I’m going to believe that after you’ve been trying to get me to marry you for what, two years now.”

* long silence *

“History repeats itself… you did the same to her, now you’ll do it to me too.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway, can’t you abort it?”

“Jesus Vikram, it’s too late, it’s been over four months now.”

Kismat huh. My kismat this is, to become an unwilling father…”

“Listen, fuck off. You don’t have to do anything for me or this baby.”

“My, my, what a sacrifice… you the virtuous single mother and me, the deserting, unwilling father of the baby.”

“No, I don’t want you and your fucking attitude around my child. Get out.”

“Oh, I see. Fine.”

“Please… Just leave me alone to live my life now. * crying * You’ve ruined it enough.”

“Quit being a drama queen. What if it’s a boy?”

“Right, and what difference is that going to make.”

“Since I’m an only child and my father is such a successful man… And I don’t have kids… He may find out someday and…”

“Trust me, he won’t find out. Nobody knows apart from the doc and you, and nobody else is ever going to find out.”

“Under the circumstances maybe you should let me give you some money at least.”

“Vikram what’s wrong with you… first you accuse me to trying to get you to marry me, then you offer me money? Fuck off.”

“What? What do you want from me?”

“X chromosome, Y chromosome… how does it even matter.”

“You don’t get it… If it’s a son he may get my father’s everything. I can’t risk that, so I’m offering you money to keep quiet. It’s not for the baby.”

“Zero, zilch, nothing. I don’t want anything, I’ll shut up anyway. Goodbye, Vikram.”

*turns around to go when Vikram pushes her over the side of the bridge. He checks to see if anyone has seen and then leaves, muttering about risks and gold-diggers*


This is an exercise thought up by a friend of mine, which involves telling a story in 26 sentences. The sentences begin with alphabets starting from A, B, C… and going up to Z.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Remembering him


When you climbed a tree

Pulled my mother’s pigtails.

When your mother defended

Your every misdeed.

When you made my mother cry,

When you bullied her.

Remember when you were happy.

Remember when you grew up.

Your father died, you took over.

Your first time with your wife.

Your first child, first pet.

Were you happy then?

Were you happy while

You sat in the seat of power?

I remember.

I remember your smile, your voice.

Your big hands and great, big laugh.

The way you taught me to pinch people.

I remember you rolling on the floor

With our dog.

He’s also gone now.

I remember you sharing chicken liver,

Laughing with Ma.

I hope you were happy then.

I remember the last time

I saw you alive.


You on a ventilator does not count.

You weren’t well.

Smoked too much.

Was it because you were unhappy?

Ma was scared.

So was I.

When my father died,

We did not cry.

When you died,

I could not stop.

Leaders wept.

Colour faded from the world

When you left it.

I’m sorry for our mistakes.

Mistakes you can see

From wherever you are.

But cannot mend.

The wind is blowing outside,

I hope it takes some

Of my words to you.

I hope you are happy now.

With my dog and yours,

And with your parents.

We miss you.

Remember II

Sudden death.

It’s not a game.

White coats,

Shoes clicking on

Cold, polished floors.

Your face was dark.

Dark with death.

Yellow with disease.

You did not see us.

You were already gone.

Visitors coming and going.

Your wife’s fits,

And her tears.

Your dog’s howling.

Our country’s tears.

Seven days and eight nights.

Then you were gone. Officially.

On a slab of ice.

Flies buzzing around it.

I could not see it.

Its face was covered.

But I know.

It was not you anymore.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Morning glory

I knew the instant I woke up it was going to be a bad day. After hitting the snooze button at least three times I had officially made my day worse by already being late. Sighing, I blearily opened my eyes, thankful not to see a total stranger occupying the other side of my bed. Not that it happens often. But that would have made me hopelessly late for work.

The instant I looked at my reflection in the mirror I knew my thoughts were confirmed. Bad day, bad hair day, bad face day… I sighed again. You know those movies where people’s reflections in the mirror get a mind of their own? I half expected mine to get evil as well. But it didn’t happen. The person staring back at me was no monster. It was me.

My cell phone buzzed. Text messages annoyed me. I ignored it but the buzzing continued. Not a text message. My mother, for sure. I picked up.

“Yes Ma.”

“As much as I’d love to bring up a dreary little brat like you, I’m not your mother.”

“Morning, sunshine.”

“Morning, Tara, Good morning in fact!” chirped my best friend of three and a half years.

“It’s not good. And you’re practically my mother. Now what’s the story, morning glory. I’m already late.”

“Nothing. Wanted to check on you. You were pretty moody last night.”

“You hesitated a brief millisecond before opting for the word ‘moody’. More later. Gotta run.”

“Yes, well.” Sigh. “You were something. Moody maybe. Be happy, love. Ta.”

Sigh. Moody monster me.

Forty five minutes later my car refused to start. Forty five minutes because none of my clothes were back from the dry-cleaners and I had to iron one of my dreary white shirts myself. Pristine white shirts look awful if they’re not ironed perfectly. And I decided since it was going to be a bad day, I might as well try to look slightly less monstrous. Closed black pumps, my nicest black trousers, pristine white shirt and tons of make-up (I was going for a subtle look) and I thought I was there.

After freezing my pumps off in the Delhi winter for a while my hardy little car finally started. A sigh again, but this time it was relief.

I got to work, got yelled at by my boss and settled into my chair with my first cup of coffee for the day. There were going to be several more.

About an hour of Facebook-ing later I began getting the calls. Are you ok, is everyone ok? Er, yes, why wouldn’t I be. I didn’t bother asking. People were weird sometimes. News began trickling in though. And even though I’m not in the news industry it’s only so long before you find out your city is being targeted by er, what’s the word... yes, terrorists.

I didn’t believe it for quite a while. Then someone switched on the news and boss didn’t seem to mind. He was glued to it himself in his own cabin. Man, these 24-hour news channels sure knew how to do their job, I thought. Or not. Frown. Weren’t they over-dramatising things just a wee bit?

Well Delhi’s been through a lot, I thought. This was nothing. And I returned to work.

“What if this is my last day on Earth?” shrieked a particularly annoying colleague.

Well annoying she was, but… what if she was right? Hmm. I wish I didn’t look my worst and I certainly wish I had been in a better mood that day. If it were my last, I mean. Then the best friend called.

“Yes, I’m alive. Fine. Kicking. Rather hard, mind you. What about you?”

“Marry me? I don’t want to die alone!”

“It’s illegal in this country for people of the same sex to marry, sweetie.”

And so it went on. She was freaking out along with half the people in my area. So what if a teensy bomb went off in some random dustbin in La La land. It’s not like the nation’s capital would collapse or politicians would care. The world wouldn’t even blink if a few more Indians died. They’d probably think, good, there’s too many people in this world anyway.

A couple of hours later things got worse actually. Much to my surprise. And pleasure actually. It was going to be an exciting day after all.

Police started scouring our industrial area since terrorists apparently claimed they were aiming for the business people now. Another reason not to join my sector. Go figure.

A couple of hours later they had sealed our building off. God knows why. And they planned to evacuate 560 odd people using a rooftop. Erm. Ohkayy… Luckily since I was two floors below the roof, I was only the 100th or so person out. Or not.

As I walked to the roof I heard gunfire. And that's when I finally began to hyperventilate. My life flashed before my eyes. If only I’d married one of my one night stands. And had a kid. Or been happy. Or made my mother happy. Maybe I should have just married my best friend. You’re too young to die, what are you thinking, screamed my rational inner voice. Which was quickly suffocated by more panic and adrenaline.

A suited, booted army looking guy stuck his hand in and yelled at me to follow him. We were at the entrace to the rooftop now. And I was at the head of the line it seemed. I blindly shook my head. People were pushing me from behind, he was yelling… But I could only hear the helicopter and more gunfire. I was finally pushed into his arms and he dragged me to where there were about five other employees standing.

Then I heard something fall and hit the ground with a metallic chink. Slow motion. The army looking guy yelled at some others who resembled him, they all rushed for the metallic looking thing and… it blew up. Oops. It really was a bad day. But who would notice a couple more dead Indians? Certainly not George Bush, Condoleeza Rice or diplomats of other countries, for all their sympathy and big talk. Or our very own Prime Minister for that matter. And that was the last thing I remember thinking before my senses were rocked by a huge explosion.

Monday, 8 December 2008

South Indian tradition

Bells ringing as Paati does her morning chants.

Anklets chiming, as the dancer next door warms up.

The neighbour with freshly washed hair circles her tulsi plants,

The bride entering her new home, tipping over the traditional rice cup.

Ma teaching my sister how to tie a sari,

As Hindustani music lessons begin downstairs.

The new bride fingering her almost sacred thaali,

Wondering if it’s the answer to her prayers.

22 and never been kissed,

Waiting for her husband to look her way.

Unsuspecting about his midnight tryst,

Believing every word her in-laws say.

Culture, music, dance, prayer,

Freshly brewed coffee, the smell of jasmine.

There are some things beautiful about South Indian tradition.

But not the 22-year-old with a 35-year-old-womanising husband.

Sunday, 30 November 2008


It’s the rule of Mother Nature.

Survival of the fittest.

So why do the best perish?

And the rotten apples stay behind?

To rule over countries,

Wreak misery on friends,

Lie to their bosses,

Get undeserved promotions.

My psychiatrist said…

Talk to me. Please.

But I sat in silence.

What if she was one of them?

Pretending to be my friend.

Friends who’ve stabbed,

Terrosists who’ve killed.

Who to trust,

And whose shoulder to cry on?

People ready to think the worst.

But what if they really knew.

The grey clouds,

Without any silver lining,

Glasses of wine gone sour,

Glass mirrors,

With cracks in them,

Airline tickets with endless conditions,

Silver earrings gone rusty,

And faithful dogs

Who’ve grown weary.

What if they knew?

Would it make any difference at all?

It’s the end of the world,

It’s 4.23 am,

I’m still at work,

Trying to make a difference,

But I know I won’t.

It’s too late.

Tick tock, the clock mocks me.

It mocks my brother,

My divorced parents,

My ageing step-mother

And the terrorists.

I don’t know their religion,

But they want to know mine.

Security checks my bags as I step in for a glass of beer.

The clock ticks.

People pass the buck.

But nobody really cares.

Except the families.

Families of the corpses.

I’m no Kurt Cobain.

But did he ever wonder…

Why aren’t the drugs working?

Grieving mothers

Under sedatives,

Worried citizens,

Popping Crocins.

Helpless writers,

Puzzled foreign secretaries,

Weary citizens,

Fretting mothers,

Scheming politicians.

Take your pick.

I picked the drugs.

But they didn’t work.

Nothing erases their images.

Images of good apples perishing,

Terror all consuming.

A winter's tale

I don’t know how long I was sitting there for. Hours, probably. I just held the card in my hand, too numb to even weep. It was short.


Reached safely. It’s beautiful here. Megs and I are having a blast. Hope you and Pa are well. See you soon. Don’t miss me too much.

Love you,


If the picture on the postcard was anything to go by, yes I’m sure his honeymoon was fantastic. Though the card was over ten years old, it wasn’t faded, the ink hadn’t smudged. It was like I had gotten it in the post a few days earlier.

I don’t even know why I had dug out all the letters and cards he had even given me. It was pure masochism. Maybe a part of me thought it would help my grief. It didn’t seem to though. It was only making me feel worse. I was not only re-living every moment I ever spent with my son, I was also re-living how I found out he had died.

It was a perfect nightmare. Roused from the deepest of sleep by a shrieking telephone, only to hear your son had died in bomb blasts. Unexpected bomb blasts in a crowded market. On a perfectly normal weekend. Later people said I was lucky he was even found and identified. Many people are still missing or have not been identified. Lucky me, indeed.

I wasn’t even sure if I had heard the nurse right. Nurse or whoever she was.



Is that Mrs Chaturvedi?

Yes. Who’s this? Do you know what time it is?

Yes Ma’am, I’m sorry to call you so late, but it’s about your son.

What about him?

I’m calling from Nehru Hospital. I’m sorry Ma’am… your son was wounded in bomb blasts which took place in the evening. He suffered bad internal injuries. We couldn’t save him.




I’m sorry Ma’am, your son passed away a few hours back.




Are you ok?

Are you sure it was him? How can you be sure?

His wife was with him Ma’am. She got hurt too, but she made it. She identified him and asked us to call you. She’s in the Emergency Room getting treated for second-degree burns.

Oh. Ok. Which hospital did you say?


Ok. Thank you.”

And that was that. My old fool of a husband had slept through the worst moment of my life. I sat there wondering what to do. Then I woke him up and told him. He cried like a baby while I held him. And we went to Delhi to bring home the corpse of our only child.

I sat in my study three weeks later, after all the ceremonies were over. Poring through letters he had sent me, gifts he had given me. The big scrawl I nagged about his entire life was all that I had left of him. My son. I had given birth to him, nearly lost my own life in the process, and lost him 38 years later. Who am I to grieve, I thought sometimes. Meghna was left to live her entire life without him. She had to bring up Dhruv also alone.


My husband’s concerned voice shook me out of my thoughts. His eyes were still red, but concern was etched on his forehead as he examined me from the door. As if he was waiting for me to fall apart.

“Yes. I’m fine. What is it?

Nothing Hema… I’m just worried you know. You’ve not eaten, you’ve not even cried.

I’ve been busy, Ved. Who do you think organised everything, right from ice for the corpse to where the ashes would be dumped, and what food the funeral guests would eat.”

And I turned back to my letters.

He crept away quietly. I couldn’t blame him. He had lost a son too. An only child. He didn’t want to lose his ageing wife to the grief as well.

I put away the letters in a plastic folder, careful to fold them as my son had folded them. I sighed. There was nothing I could do. Nothing anybody could do to bring him back. Or to ease this suffering. I stood at the window and watched the snow fall outside, covering everything with a blanket of white. All the blood, the tears, the charred bodies, the bullets and wailing babies, women… It was going to be a very cold winter for us in Darjeeling.

Meghna and our grandson were in Kolkata with her parents. Luckily Dhruv had not gone to the market that day with his parents. And luckily his mother was bargaining with a shop owner while her husband wandered. Otherwise he would have lost both parents. Meghna suffered minor burns. It was more psychological and emotional damage she had suffered.

I could hear Ved watch the news. The political statements and usual hoo-haa had begun. In fact it was almost over by now. Only people like Meghna, Dhruv, Ved and me, people who had lost loved ones in the blasts… only we remembered it. Only we thought about it everyday. Our resilient country had moved on already and forgotten about it. Sometimes I wish we weren’t so resilient. That the capital would collapse after such attacks. At least they would do something about it then.

Sometimes I even hoped there would be bigger terror attacks in our country. Just so that people would not forget about it and move on. Then I would remember… I’m not a terrorist. I’m a 65-year-old mother and Congress supporter. Why am I thinking such thoughts? Because your gods, your government, everyone has failed you… I’d push the voice away and continue grieving. I suppose that’s how terrorists were born. Those who let the voices get to them. Each had their own stories of grief, loss, sorrow to tell. Everybody suffered. Everybody hurts.

I continued to watch the snow, hoping it could blanket my grief as well. It was going to be a long winter.


Since nobody in my country has been able to talk or think about anything else since last Wednesday... This is in memory of everybody who died in the Mumbai terror attacks last week.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

November rain

The branch sways like flimsy lace,

Tears pouring down its rugged face.

Doors banging open and shut,

Thunder rolling in the power cut.

Grey skies, clouds flying,

My dog in her corner, crying.

Darkness consumes my home,

As I ignore the world and my phone.

Hard, heavy, cold rain,

Hoping it’ll wash away the pain,

The boredom, frustration, the grey.

But it’s the rain who wins the fray.

Slashing against helpless glass panes,

The city handicapped as it rains.

The November rain ushering in

A New Year; maybe one without anymore sin.

Huddled watchmen, empty roads,

The crisp air filling my pores.

It’s not so bad, I think.

Bringing me back from the brink.

Where I nearly fell into a pit again,

An abyss where I won’t have a friend.

Lyrics of a song flash through my head,

Thoughts of a new beginning consume me instead.

I step back from the black hole,

From people who suck out my soul.

The dogs frolic in the water,

A mother screams for her daughter.

The wind continues to rage against the tree,

But this time it’s to make her free.

My phones buzzes, power returns.

Something in the distance my dog discerns.

I ignore the buzzing and the light.

Make my way back into my thoughts, the deep night.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Grateful Cinderella

She sat at the bar, sipping on some concoction which didn’t look too great. But it wasn’t her drink I was looking at. There was something about her. I wouldn’t call her mysterious or even sexy. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Anti-social maybe? And nonchalant. She was immersed in her own thoughts as she stirred her drink slowly. The bad jazz music and several other guys checking her out didn’t make any difference to her at all.

I would have walked out if I hadn’t seen her. My friends were late as usual. Who knew if they’d even turn up. On an impulse I decided to try and talk to her. Try being the operative word. I straightened my tie, crumpled after nearly 12 hours in office, gave myself the once-over in a nearby mirror and strode over to her. The bartender chuckled as I sat down on the barstool next to hers. Obviously my intentions were clear.

“One whiskey please. RC on the rocks.”

I had no clue what to do next. I sat there for what felt like an hour, wondering what to say to her. I found myself staring at her and tried to make myself stop several times. She was still in her own little world. A simple black sleeveless top, paired with a flowy kind of skirt and flat slippers. Her straight, black hair covered most of her face so I didn’t even know what she looked like.

“You waiting for someone?”

Er. Was she talking to me? I still couldn’t see much of her face so I was wondering if she was the one who even spoke, before she looked at me straight in the eye.

She raised her eyebrows. Piercing black eyes. I gulped. I don’t know why. And straightened my tie again.

“Are you waiting for someone?”

“Uhm. . Ya. I mean, I think so. I don’t know if they’re coming or not. May take them a while.”

“Hmm. I’m Kowsalya.”

“Uh hi. I’m uh Deepak.”

“Hi uh Deepak,” she chuckled. “Am I making you nervous?”

My mind went completely blank. What the hell was I supposed to say? Yes, you’re making me sweat like a labourer but I don’t know why….?!

“Uh…” had to suffice.

“That’s ok. I do it to a lot of people. Never did it to my step-mother though.”

Right. I could tell a story coming on.

“Can I buy you a drink Kowsalya? Uh, once you’re done with the one you have I mean.”

She chuckled again. Funny though how the smile never seemed to reach her eyes. Was she acting or just very unhappy?

“Sure. Call me Sindhu.”


“My father named me Kowsalya. People started calling me Sindhu after my step-mother and step-sisters did. Long story. You got time?”

“Yes.” Now I was intrigued.

“Well. Sounds corny but I’m a Cinderella of sorts. Not in the sense that I’ll turn beautiful, find Prince Charming and live happily ever after. But in the sense that my mom died when I was born. Dad was in the army so he travelled a lot. But he adored me. And I loved him more than anything in the world. I was in hostel in Pune. Sahyadri. Heard of it? Anyway, when I went back after my 10th standard board exams he had a big announcement. He was getting married. I didn’t return to Sahyadri after my 10th because they don’t have 11th and 12th there. No Pre-university college either. Since the step-mother and her two kids were from down south he put me in a boarding school in Ooty. He died when I was in the 12th. Some assignment gone wrong.

My step-mother hated me. Dad had left all the property to me, all his money to her. Nothing to the two girls. Don’t know if he hated them, maybe he saw through their façade. She hated me the minute she set her eyes on me. Always called me ungrateful. I don’t know why I had to show her any gratitude, she never did anything for me. That’s why I was relieved when Pa put me in boarding again. I couldn’t bear to live with them, even though it meant more time away from my father.

After he died, she refused to put me in college. Said she didn’t have the money. Though she spent it all on clothes and stuff for her girls. She never spent a paisa on me. The maids used to keep quitting because the step-mother and her girls would scream at them and demand so much. One day I started cleaning up because no maids had come in many weeks, and the house was dirtier than a garbage dump. I shouldn’t have. That day onwards she expected me to clean the house. Like I was her maid.

I would do everything from then on. Cook, clean, sew, buy groceries, run behind her and her two bitches. It continued for almost five years.” She heaved a huge sigh. I noticed her drink was over and signalled to the bartender to get her another one.

“I’ve always wanted to try a cosmopolitan. You mind?” she asked me.

“Why should I?”

“Oh right, you’re not my evil step-mom. Sorry.” Another half-smile which didn’t reach anywhere near her eyes. Now I knew why.

“Then what?”

“Right. A few months back some boy fell in love with me. He saw me while I was walking to the vegetable store. He started following me, and I got very freaked out. One day I finally yelled at him but he said he’d been following me because he was scared to talk to me. And all that jazz.” She took a sip of her cosmopolitan.

“I didn’t mind the attention. Or the fact that I finally had someone who cared about me for the first time in God knows how long. My school friends gave up on me years ago. I couldn’t call, couldn’t write, couldn’t email… I wasn’t allowed to communicate with anyone. Anyway I was really grateful for a friend.” She stopped talking. I was digesting everything she had said. I didn’t know how to react, even. So I just waited. But she didn’t say anything. Was that the end?

“Sindhu?” I murmured gently.

“Yeah, sorry. Was just thinking.” She sniffed. Another big gulp of her drink.

“She had him killed. She found out about him and had him killed. Don’t ask me how. I woke up and found a finger in my bed one morning. And a picture of him tied somewhere to a chair, gagged and…” she choked down a sob.

“It’s ok.” I put my hand on her but she flinched so I took my hand back.

“Sorry. I’m not used to people touching me unless it’s to hit me. My boyfriend never got past holding my hand. We never even had the chance to kiss.” Full-fledged crying now.

She stopped almost immediately though. And apologised.

“I don’t like making a scene.”

“Sindhu, what happened? Did you go to the police?”

“No. Something like this had happened earlier. My friend was trying to get in touch with me, and came by the house. That bitch had her beaten up. Showed me pictures. I went to the police. Nothing came of it. I don’t know if she was sleeping with the constable there or what but they didn’t do anything. Even file an FIR.”

“What happened. How did you leave then?”

“They went out that day. The day I found his pictures. She bashed me up till I could barely walk. I walked though. Oh yes, I did. I washed my sheets and everything, found some gloves, dumped the finger and photos under her mattress. When they came back I instigated a fight with her. She tried to hit me again but I was prepared. I caught her alone. She’s menopausal and weak now. Was. I was standing in front of a rather large brass Nataraja statue. I hit her on the head. Her daughters came. Predictably, they also tried to lash out at me. So I did the same with them. And I called the police. Self-defense.

I used every trick in the book. But it wasn’t all lies. Five years… No, it was more. Seven years of having them in my life, losing my father, the man I fell in love with… losing everyone. I told the police everything. They even managed to find his body. Now I have the house a bit of money. And I don’t know what to do with it. It’s only been two months or so.

I remember what she said as she lay there, in a pool of her own blood.

“You ungrateful, scheming bitch,” she sputtered, through the blood in her mouth.

“No, Ma.” It was the first time I ever called her that. And the last time. “I’m very, very grateful. I don’t mind everything you’ve put me through. It’s worth this. This moment… looking at you, dying in your own blood. And soon, it’ll be your daughters’ turns too. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me. Now, I can get away with it all.”

She’d gone by then.

Didn’t you read about me in the papers?”

I couldn’t reply. I was too… shaken? I shook my head.

“Hmm. Congratulations then. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to apart from a reporter. That’s my story. Sindhu they called me because they began calling me Cinderella. It became Sindhu. But my name is Kowsalya.”

I cleared my throat. “Well, I suppose I’m grateful to you step-mother and step-sisters as well.”

Raised eyebrow. Piercing look again.

“If that didn’t happen, I may have never met you. Am I right?”

Saturday, 15 November 2008


“Aha! It’s perfect.”

“Balls it’s perfect… It’s totally messed up and you know it.”

“Could you try being a little more supportive?”

“Dude, my oldest and closest friend just committed a crime, what do you expect me to do?”

“Explain to me why you would help me, then throw attitude at me.”

“Fuck off, at least I helped you… This is no little crime, mind you.”

“God help me… What else was I supposed to do?”

“Honey, are you trying to tell me there’s no other way to tell a boy you don’t want to marry him, and that you have to bloody kill him?!”

“I… I don’t know. I mean.. Mom and Dad were pressurising me so much and I can’t marry someone I barely know!”

“Just listen to yourself.”

“Killing him was like… Unplanned.”

“Listen, let’s clean this up before somebody finds us and this body.”

“My God.. You’re right, what do we do with the body!”

“No need to freak out, I have a plan.”

“Oh my God, oh my God (continues into a murmur)”

“Precisely why I came… You girls can’t handle such gory stuff.”

“Quit picking on me, just help me!” (trying to turn the body over)

“Right, put on these gloves first and then dump the knife in this bag.”

“Sure, but first give me a hand will you.”

“That I will, but put the gloves on before you touch the body… Oh see you flipped him on your own anyway.”

“Uhhhhm. Dude I think we have a problem because this isn’t the guy. It’s some stranger!”

“Very well, don’t listen to me and use gloves, we’ll just get…….. WHAT?! What are you fricking insane?!”

“Well, it looks like him! And this is his bed so I thought it was him! I thought I was doing the right thing!”

“X chromosomes aren’t all that they’re made out to be I see… What the hell are you gonna do now?”

“You’re right, I don’t think we should have done this. Oh my god.”

“Zoicks, as Scooby Doo would say. Now what?”


This is an exercise thought up by a friend of mine, which involves telling a story in 26 sentences. The sentences begin with alphabets starting from A, B, C… and going up to Z.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The boy next door

Traipsing all over a crowded mall isn’t exactly my idea of ‘chilling out’ or having fun. But my friend demanded it and so I was dragged to one of the most hideous places a human can imagine. Bawling babies. Kids running around, tripping people and then looking innocent about it. Fat women and smelly men elbowing all the pretty girls. A weekend at the mall. Everybody’s favourite mall. I gritted my teeth and snarled at everyone I came in eye contact with.

What’s worse is, I realised my friend was trying to set me up with one of her best guy friends. One I definitely had my doubts about. We went for a dismal movie together, the three of us. The air-conditioned theatre and butter popcorn soothed my nerves a bit, though screeching cell phones and bawling babies were evidently present in there as well.

It was after the movie, when I was ready to flee home, when she introduced me to Anish. An ordinary, normal boy who seemed to have no interest in hitting on me whatsoever. I liked him immediately. Maybe the other guy [Bharath, right, that was his name] seemed to notice, because he didn’t seem to like me much. Though he dropped me home and got my number, he never made a move. For which I shall remain extremely glad. As it turned out he’s more into empty-headed, big-breasted girls. Or at least empty-headed girls completely enamoured with him.

Anish messaged me a few days later, after I had almost forgotten about him. Between running errands for my mother and snake of a boss I was nearly losing my mind. And he stepped in. Nothing knight-in-shining-armour about it, though he did provide some relief along the way.

I admit… I’m a solitary creature. Having never been in a relationship, [No, never. Ever.] I’m slightly difficult to woo, let alone date. That’s probably why I didn’t get along with Bharath in the first place. He had been in relationships non-stop since the 8th grade. And he was just looking for another girl to step into the shoes of the earlier one he had dumped. A scary thought. Imagine going through 90 per cent of your life, never being alone, always having someone ask you where you were, who you were with… you catch my drift I suppose. I’m scared of relationships. Petrified.

Which is why when Anish and I really hit it off, I disappeared off the radar for a few weeks. Apparently the boy was smart though. He gave me time and space, and soon I had stopped freaking out long enough to get to know him better.

Before I knew it he had to return to Goa. Yes, Goa. I mean who lives and works in the land of beaches and bikini-clad women anyway. Anish apparently. The first boy I’m slightly interested in and he whizzes off to Goa.

We lost touch. I don’t know why exactly. I got preoccupied with shifting jobs and house. It was nearly three years before I met him again. Déjà vu.. it was another instance of me just dying to get home but forcing myself to get out and socialise a bit. Because then I was in the middle of ending my first relationship. Which went horribly, mind you. Not a good time for him to re-appear in the scene. But he did, effortlessly. It went something like this.

A: You remember me don’t you?

Me: Of course I do. Weren’t we supposed to keep in touch? *smiling*

A: Yes… I’m sorry, I guess we both got busy. So how are you?

Me: I’m fine, just fine. How are you? Still in Goa?

A: No, in Delhi now. Goa was just a stopgap. And no, really. How are you?

Me: *confused look* Er.. I’m fine, Anish. Why do you ask?

A: You look…. Different.

Me: Yes, it’s been almost three years!

A: No, it’s not that. It’s… I don’t know. You look tired. Worn out. Fed up.

Me: *long silence* Oh. Ok. Guess I’m working too hard.

A: Hmm. If I remember right, you always worked hard. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be you. So I’m sure it’s something else. Anyhow, I hope you get over it soon. It’s not worth it.

And then I remembered the rest of the world standing there wondering why we were talking in hushed tones. We returned to socialising. Though I couldn’t manage it too well, with all the thoughts running through my head.

It was Zayed. The older man I was stupid enough to get involved with. He kept me up at night, made me cry most of the time I was alone. My first relationship. I remember my grandmother’s advice on men… Never compromise on your self-respect with men. Never compromise. Period. You’ll never stop. I’m sure she was disappointed when I did the opposite of what she told me. I can’t begin to tell you how much he hurt me, in how many ways I compromised myself, how he took advantage of me. And to think I presumed I was smart enough not to end up like my girlfriends, who always cried to me about their horrible boyfriends.

What Anish said didn’t keep me up that night. In fact, he helped me sleep. I slept so well for the next few days, that I called him in Delhi and said thank you. That took me four hours. I didn’t tell him much about Zayed. Didn’t even tell Anish his name. I just remember telling him I had gotten hurt. He didn’t ask me any questions. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I got so close to him. Because unlike most men, he never demanded anything from he. He was just… there. I don’t know if I fell in love with him that night, or if it was much later. We didn’t even think about getting into a relationship at first. It took me time to heal. But it would have taken me longer if Anish had not been there.

He’s not extraordinary. Very ordinary, in fact. I love how ordinary he is. Sometimes, the very opposite of me. Cool, always smiling, happy… a breath of fresh air. I hate charming men. Ever since Zayed. Charming, seemingly mysterious and enigmatic, intelligent men with smouldering looks that can melt you half-way across a room. It’s all bullshit. My Prince Charming isn’t even a prince. He’s the boy next door. No smouldering eyes, no smooth poetry and intelligent talk, no making love morning to night… at least not from day one. He’s still my knight-in-shining-armour. After all, who said the knights have to be kings… they’re probably ordinary boys-next-door as well.

So see.. what you see is never what you get. And that’s how I met your dad. In a crowded mall, on a weekend. And again in the middle of a boring get together. The last places I wanted to be.

This is for J and L. For all the times they've dragged me out when I've wanted to stay home. I hope you find your knights in shining armour.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

On the road

I am not happy, happy… but I’m satisfied, I guess. That’s a major thing for any human, given how unhappy we make ourselves. At times like this I really don’t mind being human though. Racing down the road at 90 km/ph, Bachna Ae Haseeno playing loudly, wind rushing through my straightened hair and stale perfume.

Strangely enough I saw another car in my rearview mirror, quickly catching up with me. A group of drunk boys seeing a young woman alone in a car… maybe they got some ideas because they slowed down next to me. Jeering, cat calling followed. The press sticker on my car did not deter them. This continued for another hundred metres though I made no attempt to encourage them. When they didn’t bugger off, I raced off and shifted back to fifth gear.

It was Sheryl Crow on the iPod now. Yawn. Even with her in the background I couldn’t help but feel sleepy. Work was hectic on a good day. On a day with bomb blasts? Wow. Madness. And of course the man I’m in love with picks that day to throw a tantrum. And so I speed off from office to the outskirts to pacify him. Sigh. Maybe he wasn’t worth it. of course he wasn’t. Wait. And I hit a speed-breaker. At the speed at which I was going, my teeth nearly fell out. God knows what happened to my poor car.

As I sat there recovering, I went back to what suddenly prevented me from seeing that speed-breaker. I’m a 25-year-old successful, some may say intelligent and hot television producer. I could have a lot of men. Why was I sticking with a smart-ass who wooed me beautifully and then cheated on me and treated me like dirt…? My heart was pounding. I couldn’t hear the music over it, in fact. Shit, it was one of those epiphanic moments I think.

I would not go and pacify him. I would go home to my worried, diabetic dad and loving family instead. Who the hell would ask someone they love to drive 20 kilometres after a 20-hour shift at a news channel, just for some pacifying and sex. He could get that from one of the seven other women he was wooing.

I took a deep breath. I would turn the car around, I decided. Screw him. Well, not literally. Not anymore. Jubilation. I hoped I would go through with it. I saw the boys again in the rearview mirror. Argh. Men. I’d wait for them to pass before turning around. They slowed down near my car again. And I heard a shot. I felt a searing, indescribable pain shoot through my head. The most intense feeling ever. More than the joy when my sister got married, the warmth at my first kiss, the rage and grief when I found my lover cheating on me… more than the jubilation I felt when I decided to leave him. And I remember my last thought. I wish he knew I was leaving him. And everything went black.

This is dedicated to a television producer who died under mysterious circumstances in her car in Delhi, India. This piece is entirely fictitious. As of now, November 11 ’08, her murder remains unsolved.


A loves making her mother cry.

B has a penis he calls Rudolph.

C would like to watch movies for free.

D does not tell people about his father.

E wants to be an astronaut.

F is in the ICU with her dying grandmother.

G is quitting her job because her boss wants her to sleep with him.

H is drawing with the ash from the ashtray.

I hates Sachin Tendulkar.

J wants to cook for her boyfriend.

K is the best crime reporter in the city.

L feels neglected.

M hasn’t told anyone she masturbates.

N wants a happy marriage.

O cannot understand his girlfriend.

P thinks he maybe gay.

Q is trying to make a word where ‘u’ does not follow ‘q’. Try it.

R is getting drunk on the flight back from Adelaide. While serving her passengers.

S wishes she could tell the truth to the world.

T cannot beard to add her ex and his mistress on her Facebook list.

U wants to have a baby at 47. Hey, Madonna did it.

V is a lazy piece of &^% and he knows it.

W thinks about sex every 5 seconds.

X wishes she was a boy.

Y has slept with 76 women and lied to every one of them.

Z is uncomplicated. He is a zebra.

See how many people have issues? I’m going nuts. I need a break. I’m taking off for a while. Satan will take over till I’m back. Sorry for the inconvenience.

- God

Monday, 10 November 2008


i believe in change.

i believe if i cry today, i may laugh tomorrow.

i believe a friend may not always remain a friend.

i believe we must move on.

i believe the puddles we step in will dry tomorrow.

i believe the beautiful butterfly sitting on my hibiscus will die. soon.

i believe the artist’s work will be appreciated. at least after he dies.

i believe in animals. that they should rule the earth.

i believe she will get over it. and then there will be another.

i believe in a second coming.

i believe someone is going to bomb another city soon… change its skyline.

i believe change is the only constant in our lives.

i believe … in time.

i believe paris hilton will grow old and her butt will get wrinkled.

i believe i will grow up.

i believe in change...

i believe i can do better…

....far, far better.

i believe we deserve better.

i believe we can change the world.

no, not obama. we. us.

i believe it’s time for change.

no, i know it’s time for change.

….. so what am i waiting for?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Sore

A sight for sore eyes,

Like sunshine during rain; a warm surprise.

Not perfect beauty, but on me it grew,

Clean straight lines, shared by very few.

Not an ounce of extra flesh from his head to toe,

Beauty which brought him love, and also many a foe.

It wasn’t love at first sight,

But with time it felt so right.

Of course there were ups and downs,

On him and me did many pounce.

But night after night, day after day,

He managed to keep my demons at bay.

One day there was no more black or white,

Only a dull seeping grey, no bright light.

The shadows seeped into my heart,

The monsters drove us far apart.

We’d sit, hands holding, skin touching,

But the spaces were only widening.

One day when the sun rose slowly,

The grey had spread, deadly and surely.

As I went about my morning,

I didn’t know what was coming.

Then I undressed, ready to shower,

I saw it – at me did it glower.

It was a sore on my chest,

On my heart, above my left breast.

That night he didn’t notice it,

Though in the light, in front of him I did sit.

It did not hurt me, the sore,

But I felt it as I didn’t before.

Sucking away my warmth and life,

Bringing gloom, grey and strife.

The next morn I cried as I rose,

The sore, to grow did it chose.

Day by day, night by night,

It took away all my light.

Invisible demons tortured me,

Love from my life did flee.

With the coming of the sore,

I saw what I’d never seen before.

The demons were right to abuse me,

My lover was laughing behind my back you see,

In our home did he play a charming host,

Each day with new notches on his bed post.

Light never returned, darkness never left,

But he never once noticed how’d I’d turned bereft.

He never spoke with love as he did earlier,

His dark eyes to me grew murkier.

A long time did this go on,

Over him did many women fawn.

Till one morn I packed up and went away,

Without a hint, nothing to him did I say.

The sore on my breast has faded since then,

And I’ve since kept my distance from men.

You see,

The sore had reached deep into my blood,

The grey had seeped in like dirty mud.

On me it slowly grew,

Noticed only by very few.

So closely was it linked to my love,

So heavily did it cover my eyes from above.

Sometimes I wish I'd cut his heart out,

But I think maybe my heart would I be without.

My rage would have gotten me nowhere,

It was peace I seeked now away from his lair.

The sore has gone now, left me with a mark.

I can almost see it even in the dark.

It has left me numb, in a sort of peace,

But without any grey, without any disease.

I look at the stars tonight and think of him,

Though I know he will be where the lights are dim.

With a fawn draped over his arm,

One submitting to all his oozing, deadly charm.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

counting down

10 things I hate about you- (author's note: this is random, names have been withheld, and no offense meant. really.)

1. your inability to admit when you’re wrong or full of crap

2. excuses, excuses, excuses

3. your smoking. get a room already

4. your excessive questions and not-so-subtle prying

5. your excessive syrup and fakeness

6. lying by omission

7. how you excel at everything you do (kudos to you though)

8. your vanishing act

9. the distance after you got a boyfriend (yes, yes, I am happy for you)

10. how you’re just like my father

9 things I would like to believe

1. not all men lie

2. I will find my niche

3. she doesn’t hate me

4. no, my grandparents aren’t watching me from heaven

5. people can’t see through me

6. I’m an ok daughter (as opposed to bad, black sheep)

7. I don’t have worms, just a really good metabolism

8. I’m not that selfish

9. my work makes a difference. to some people

8 things about me

1. sarcasm

2. my mom, dogs & other animals

3. lately… odissi

4. nonchalance (I try)

5. writing

6. ze curls

7. Madras (no, not Chennai)

8. the zen

7 things I want to do before I die

1. right the wrongs and find out if she really hates me

2. write a novel (maybe several)

3. travel all over India

4. adopt a child

5. find out what ‘true love’ means

6. find a man who doesn’t lie to me and loves me

7. make my mother proud

6 things I’ve thought about today

1. I want to do more cover stories

2. why’s he suddenly being nice? hmm

3. I want six weeks to pass queeeeckly

4. it’s not poetry, it’s just pseudo prose

5. I want to go back to sleep

6. I have to buy gifts

5 things I love

1. odissi!!!!!!! even waking up at 5 am for it

2. my dog waking me up

3. being transported to another world by a good movie / book

4. being able to drive myself around

5. Bengali food

4 things I consciously avoid doing

1. saying ‘hee’

2. telling people I don’t like or barely know stuff about myself

3. using smileys. ugh

4. talking like the people I sms too much

3 things I splurge on

1. books

2. beer

3. er… does filling fuel count?

2 things that make me sad

1. my dogs’ deaths

2. never having enough time with Dadu and never having met my grandfather

1 thing I need more of

1. self control

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


pure white, untouched paper.

I sit before it to talk to you,

since I can’t do it to your face.

what to say, how to say it.

all that come to me are images.

amidst the headache of heat and cold.


my palm over your face,

toes interlocked,

giggling at the feel of whiskers.

but the questions

unanswered haunt me

when I sleep.

my toes grow cold and lonely,

my fingers hurt from texting you.

great expectations.

where there is joy there is pain.

when I smile, I know I will cry later.

but not in front of you.

you once licked away the tears

and told me it would be alright.

I was not crying because of you.

now I am, and you’ll never know.

more images.

limbs entwined in the dark.

but it isn’t you and me.

more giggles.

a palm over your face.

toes interlocked.

notch, notch, notch.

I smirk.

what can I say?

now I have no expectations.

in the dark my toes are warm.

I sleep deep

so I can rise early

and live my dream.

but the paper remains white, virgin.

I can’t bear to touch it,

make it soiled like me.

you will misunderstand, twist,

make me cry more,

never forgive me.

pen shaking, I twist the lid back on.

and put the paper away.

my thoughts are composed

of things I cannot tell you.

entwined tongues,

heavy limbs,

the smell of your sweat

against me.

picking up my clothes,

I drive away quietly.

back to my work,

back to my life.

and you back to yours.

call when you want.

I keep my toes warm myself.

I giggle with other people,

people I had forgotten about

when I met you.

I wish I could be like the paper

I could not compose on.

white, pure, true.

true I can try to be now.

to myself and my dreams.

the composing is hard.

will leave it for tomorrow.

I leave you to your new notches.

slowly embedding myself

in my own life.

searching, finding,

answering, doing,

writing, expressing.

I will write to you tomorrow.

by then you will

already know.

I’m not me anymore.

I’m fang.

hear me roar.