Year 2007

Every time the massive double glass doors with the word Flurys painted in calligraphic fonts, swung open, the aroma of fresh bread and cake wafted through the air, lulling my senses as I stood just outside, savouring it and disappointed simultaneously that I didn’t have the resources to taste any of them. Flurys tearoom and pastry shop was first opened in 1927 at Park Street, Kolkata, fifteen years after Loreto House, my college was founded. Even after decades, Flurys is still regarded as one of the finest places for dining in Kolkata. However, Baba wouldn’t allow me this luxury because I was there to build a career, and not party. The funds for my stay in Kolkata during my graduation were enough for a comfortable living but a single slice of a Flurys pastry would burn a gaping hole in my pocket. I would have to make do with using my eyes and nose to savour those sinfully aromatic delights. Every single food put on show, was clearly visible from the huge pavement adjacent to Flurys, because, in place of concrete walls, they had tall glass panels for a compelling scene of an assortment of cakes, doughnuts and sandwiches on display and the affluent lot relishing them and occasionally watching passersby.

I would stand there for some time and then walk away, disillusioned. Being from a small town where the concept of the pastry was still a vague idea for me, where we had to be content with pastries baked in hydrogenated vegetable oil, Flury’s cakes were a newfound glory that was irresistible yet beyond my reach. Every day, while returning from college, I would stand there for a few minutes. Sometimes, a friend or two would accompany me and we would position ourselves just outside one of the glass panels, watching the 5-tier cake on display on one side and an array of pastries and doughnuts in the huge glass cabinet, enough to lull our senses. I don’t know about my friends but I would paste a silent wish upon each pastry. “Someday, I shall walk through the glass doors and order every delicacy off the trays. And I’ll sit on one of those high-backed, gilded chairs, with tapestry that hints at a regal backdrop, placed close to the glass paneled walls, and gaze at the passersby, eyes twinkling with pride. And I’ll be thoroughly enjoying every spoonful of the delicacies. And…”

And I would be jolted back to my senses by the uniformed guard standing outside, opening one side of the door for me, “Do you want to come in?”

I would shake my head and walk away.

Year 2014

I didn’t visit Park Street after 2008 since I had returned to Assam. And frequent visits to Kolkata also didn’t feature Park Street on our list of priorities although by then I was already employed and would happily splurge on gourmet food, not to mention that my hometown saw a mushrooming of cake shops that baked soft spongy cakes and pastries which would melt inside the mouth. But the wishes that I had pasted so expectantly on Flurys’ pastries, beckoned me sometimes. After my marriage, Sunny, my husband told me that he too was in Kolkata around the same time and would sometimes stand outside Flurys, longingly staring at the pastries and the brownies which looked tempting enough to make anyone slobber! How was I to know then that he too would stand outside the shop just like me and tally the pastries with his eyes virtually tasting them while despairing at the lack of resources to procure them. So now, we both decided that we would visit Flurys and taste the delicacies together. But again, while we had the resources, we missed out on the opportunity.

Year 2021

I am back to the City of Joy (unlimited) albeit without Sunny since he is neck deep in work. I have put my foot down this time. I am visiting Flurys, I promise myself. So, I am standing here again, awash with nostalgia and a numbing pain reminding me that more than a decade has lapsed and here I am. I have the resources and the opportunity, a rare gift from God. Should I get in? Yes I should. I definitely should. And why not? Haven’t I waited for all these years, discontented with even the most succulent cakes and pastries just because I thought none of them had the aroma from the past? I stand outside like I used to, and the guard opens the door for me, “Would you like to come in”? Just as I am about to enter, I pause for a moment, smile at the guard and say, “No, thank you. I’m good to go.”

And I walk away…

If Only…

The world shows its unpleasant side

 in the blink of an eye. 

I watch people come into my life

and silently go by..

I stand on one end of a strange long road

calling out their name,

without them on this end,

 it will never be the same.

They hear me calling aloud,

Yet my voice loses itself in the crowd 

of strange onlookers whose smirk stirs my soul, 

I am thrown to the wind,

my soul, my heart they pigeonhole.

What am I here for, without their love?

What is the use of a shelter above?

I watch them leave, alone and lonely,

Come back, hold me once..

Sigh! If only…


COVID-19 (Silent Night…and Day)

Silence… the engulfing, all-pervading, ever-growing, insufferable silence! It’s suddenly so great that it has for the first time in all these years, slammed down the breaks on the passage of time. And for the first time perhaps, every day feels like Sunday. So we are stranded in our partially voluntary confinement. The town where I live, is perhaps one of the busiest towns of upper Assam. And if you are even remotely familiar with upper Assam, you’ll perhaps have guessed that I live in Dibrugarh. And my part of the town, not very far from where the grand clock tower proudly stands, is always on the move and very commercialized. My house is situated adjoining the busy road.

On a usual weekday, we are virtually victimized by every fuel-driven honking vehicle. And so I have for years, prayed to every God that I have known, to rid us of the chaos and the accompanying pandemonium so effortlessly generated by every man riding a motor vehicle. Every single day, this manic movement of bikes, cars, trucks and buses and the complementary earsplitting horns have set my teeth on edge and all I have wanted is some peace.

And now, like some unprecedented answered prayer, peace has come down heavily upon us! So much that every pin dropped would sound like a bang and every heartbeat sounds like a speaker droning with a thumping base! This stillness reeks of Death. It’s as if Death swoops down on our lot almost every night and whispers with a malevolent glee, “You could be next baby!” And everyday melts into the consuming darkness that grows stronger, bigger each day. I pinch myself hard and ask, “Did I really pray for this silence? Did I actually ask for such tranquility that whenever I manage to rest my head on my pillow, I hear my heart pound like a huge drum being beaten at regular intervals?”

Such has been the impact of the nationwide lockdown imposed on us by the Government, (presently the only possible precautionary measure to dodge the deadly coronavirus) that the cosmetic silence raises an alarm in our minds.

The adjacent road wears a deserted look, stripped off its pedestrians and vehicles. The honking has, not-to-mention, stopped. But the ensuing stillness is unnerving and at times, even the feeblest thud sounds like a miniature bomb detonated. This silence is so stark that its superficiality almost speaks to us in unvoiced words signalling the lull before the storm!

So here I am, typing vigorously on my laptop, pausing only to marshal my thoughts and contain my mercurial self. The only accompanying hum is the pink noise from the overhead fan spinning merrily. Life and work both have come to a standstill for me, though I cannot exactly pinpoint which feels worse – life’s sudden immobility or work coming to a grinding halt!

Ever since the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the WHO, India has so far performed better in comparison to the first world nations where their liberty excesses have taken a toll on lives. The developed countries and their liberal democracies have largely failed to check the increasing number of deaths.

And every news channel has the same set of events to report – the number of deaths across the nation and the world due to the coronavirus, the increasing number of people falling prey to the disease, medics in a dilemma, the need for social distancing, the helplessness of the Head of almost every nation, lack of sufficient burial grounds for the dead, researchers and scientists racing against time in their struggle to keep pace with the virus as it snowballs into a terrifying  pandemic, their relentless efforts at inventing a vaccine for the deadly virus, shortage of testing kits in most countries, more deaths…

So now, I have retreated to my books in my pursuit of the eluding peace within and outside. I avoid watching the news as it reminds me of the fragility of man in stark contrast to the unbridled power of Death. We are precariously vulnerable, and despite supposedly being the supreme creation of God Almighty, have been brought to our knees, caged like zoo animals, cautioned against our own defenseless selves. Frailty, thy name is human! Breaking free isn’t cool anymore as freedom now comes with a heavy price, the price of embracing Death.

My in-laws being away, and the husband and I, presently being the sole occupants of our house, take house walks – ambling through the house and the terrace garden to admire the rugged sky against the verdant vegetation adorned by leafy plants and angelic flowers on a whopping 650 flower pots. The terrace garden is a safe haven for doves, pigeons, white-breasted water hens, sparrows and squirrels, butterflies and bees. On an ordinary weekday for us, when work predominates, the terrace garden is a forgotten grandeur that only the gardener tends to. But now, on the 16th day of the lockdown, we are paying attention to every plant and that’s when realization strikes us like lightning – we have missed out on so much.

I shall put all this whining to rest and stop wondering how, when and if we shall get our old lives back. After all, wasn’t unperturbed peace all I had wished and prayed for? Hadn’t I asked for silence in its true form? Can I help in bringing the world back to normal except by staying indoors and excelling in the art of social distancing? So I inhale some fresh air and push aside thoughts of our existential crisis and bask in the steely night and grow thoughts anew!

I welcome this lockdown with open arms and give myself the much needed time to think and reshuffle my endless chain of thoughts. I am a new person, the uncomplaining, unflustered warrior in this battle against COVID-19 where victory has been proclaimed before I have so much as brandished my invisible sword. Hale and hearty, I finally turn to Mother Nature and embark on redefining my estranged relationship with Her.

So now, during nights, I cheer on chirpy crickets trying to flatten each other’s voice in a singing contest among them while frogs croak their evening anthem in unison calling out to the Rain God to shower them with a deluge. Their calls which appear so much louder and clearer now, were earlier, mostly drowned by the noise from honking vehicles and their screeching breaks.

The hum of the soft-falling rain and the rhythmic pitter-patter of the raindrops on the window pane, the occasional gusts of wind are creating music – a soothing balm to my heartbeats which are now almost inaudible even as I press my head against the soft pillow and drift into an effortless slumber.

The Man in the Blanket

Dr. N. Sharma is a renowned surgeon who has countless achievements to his credit. A hugely successful doctor, he has scaled newer heights with every passing year. He had worked with the Assam Oil Division Hospital of the Indian Oil Corporation in Digboi, my hometown, and is a great family friend of ours. He retired from the hospital in 2006 and relocated to Guwahati where he presently works with the NEMCARE hospital. His patients love him and adore him for being the most sympathetic doctor ever. The poor worship him for his godly nature and his benevolent activities in the remotest parts of Assam. He, along with his son, Dr. Abhigyan Sharma (my childhood buddy and best friend), pays frequent visits to rural areas of Assam where medical facilities are far fetched. They arrange regular medical camps there and supply medicines free of cost.

Uncle Sharma, being a busy doctor, has to frequently attend medical conferences and hence travel extensively across the country. Most of his visits turn out to be fruitful and every time he returns home equipped with more knowledge on surgery.

One such conference was in Jaipur, the beautiful capital city of Rajasthan and uncle Sharma was one of the invited doctors there. However, this visit stood out from the rest because the journey back home was as strange as it was fulfilling. Uncle had narrated this little incident to us and by the time he had finished, we had goosebumps!

Rajasthan falls in the extreme Northwestern part of India where the Thar desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, proudly stands. Soaring temperatures during the day, drop to uneasy levels by the evening. Summers are longer but winters are dreadfully cold. During one such winter, uncle Sharma had been on a brief visit to the Jaipur medical college for the conference. The conference lasted till late in the evening and uncle had somehow forgotten that the clock was ticking away. He chatted with some of the fellow doctors there and found himself explaining to the student volunteers, certain medical procedures involving surgery.

Suddenly, he remembered that he had a flight to catch from Jaipur and reach Delhi that evening. From Delhi he would be boarding another flight scheduled for Guwahati the morning after. He couldn’t possibly afford to miss the 8:45 pm Air India domestic flight to Delhi, but when he checked his watch, it was already half past ten at night. The flight must have even reached Delhi by then. He sank into one of the chairs, utterly dismayed. Observing him for a long time was one of the student volunteers of the conference who approached him and sat by his side.

“Sir, is everything alright?” asked the student curiously.

Uncle who had been lamenting over the missed flight, turned to look at him.

“Not really, I have missed my flight to Delhi. It was scheduled at 8:45. I need to reach Delhi tonight itself or by tomorrow morning earliest. Or I shall miss the second flight from Delhi to Guwahati,” uncle replied with palpable disappointment.

“Oh! Don’t worry sir. There’s a night bus that leaves Jaipur for Delhi at 11:30 pm. If you can reach the bus stop by 11 pm, I am sure you’ll catch the bus to Delhi”, assured the student smiling.

“Really? Are you sure it’s possible?” uncle’s face lit up at the proposition.

“Yes sir, I am from Delhi and on vacations, I take the night bus from Jaipur. I think you really should be going now”, the student advised checking his watch.

Thanking the boy profusely, uncle hurried out of the conference hall and hailed one of the cabs among a horde of them waiting outside the seminar hall to drop conference guests to their nearest destinations. The cab sped off towards the bus stop as uncle sank into the comfortable backseat.

They reached the bus stop at a quarter past eleven. Uncle rushed out of the cab and hurriedly thanking the driver, ran towards the ticket counter. Unfortunately, all the tickets had been sold. But the conductor, a young chap who was watching uncle with growing enthusiasm, assured him that more than half of the passengers in the bus had no tickets but they could still pay the fare and adjust themselves in the crowded bus. Paying the conductor, uncle heaved a sigh of relief and turned towards the bus almost ready for departure.

It was a heavily crammed bus, overloaded with passengers, heaving and snorting as thick smoke bellowed out of its exhaust pipe. Luggage tied to almost every window railing, and passengers occupying the rooftop, added to the already overcrowded vehicle. Hens inside multiple cages stacked and hoisted on the carrier atop, glared out of their prisons and cackled their displeasure in unison. Uncle Sharma was least bothered since he wanted more than anything to board the bus at that precise moment.

As uncle got on the bus, he closed his eyes for a split second to let the spectacle inside sink in. It was filled with villagers with their families travelling to Delhi and some places in between. As he slowly walked past the row of seats, uncle wondered whether he would have to spend the night sitting on the bus floor. Passengers had occupied all the double-seats in either row. As he reached the second last row, uncle grew utterly disappointed.  Not a single seat was left for him. The village folk was noisily chatting about movies, city life, today’s youth and cell phones. Women were trying to control their boisterous children and put them to sleep. Uncle caught a whiff of tobacco and cigarette smoke as the night air grew chillier.

Watching the look of exasperation on uncle’s face, a young man in his early 20’s left his seat for him and told him that he would get off soon. Thanking the stranger, uncle heaved a sigh of relief and delivered his briefcase at one of the shelves above the row of seats and sat down and tried in vain to stretch his exhausted legs a little. A cold wind began to blow, moaning at intervals. And the air inside was rapidly turning colder. Uncle was still annoyed with himself for failing to keep track of time. He watched as more passengers filed into the bus, many of them compelled to stand holding the strap handles of the bus ceiling.

The bus roared to life and moved out of the stop and thus started the nightlong eventful journey. It had taken the route via NH 21 and it was the longest of all routes on road from Jaipur to New Delhi. So it would take more than six hours to reach New Delhi.

Uncle was hungry and tired but conscious of the rustic villagers who were staring at him wide-eyed. He was dressed in formals and frequently glanced at the briefcase in the shelf, inside which were some money, a few conference documents and a few credit and debit cards. He clearly looked out of place among the hordes of travellers who looked impoverished but were fully covered with warm clothes and who were well aware of the intensity of the cold in Jaipur. Uncle wished that he had at least brought a jacket to keep himself from the cold. He only had his blazer on.

To his right were strap-hangers struggling to retain their balance as the bus bumped into potholes from time to time. To uncle’s left, occupying the window seat, sat an unseemly man who looked somewhere in his early 70’s. He pulled off the thick gaudy, smelly blanket he had been covering himself with, turned towards uncle and grinned. He smelled of a mix of onions and garlic. Uncle cringed at his sight and looked away, cursing his fate.

Sahib, have you a sweater or a shawl?” asked the man.

“No.” came a faint reply from uncle, almost inaudible.

“But Sahib, it’s a long journey to Delhi and it’s going to be colder. I can share my blanket with you. I see that you have only a blazer to protect yourself from the cold”, said the man offering uncle the other end of the blanket.

“Oh! No! I am good! Please don’t trouble yourself,” uncle pleaded with the man while silently praying that the man would stop bothering him. The hideous smile troubled uncle even more. In the darkness of the bus, with dim lights casting a neon glow inside, the atmosphere looked hostile and intimidating.

“Are you sure?”asked the man, prying.

“YES! I am. Now, if you would please excuse me,” uncle replied, annoyed and repulsed and pretended to engage himself with his cell phone.

“OK sahib. But take heed”. And the man went off to sleep. Soon he was snoring. Uncle cast a sideways glance at the sleeping man. He had looked rather suspicious. But worst of all, was his foul smelling, retch-inducing blanket that he had covered himself with. Uncle wondered if this man had no sense of smell. The thought of the briefcase up in the shelf worried uncle and the cold gnawed at his skin.

A word of caution from his wife, against travelling with complete strangers, echoed in his ears, and with every passing moment, having to share a nightlong journey with a shady co-passenger, escalated his discomfort. The cell phone battery was draining fast and soon he would be losing contact with the world outside.

The rest of the seated passengers had all dozed off. Even the rowdy kids were quietly sleeping in their mothers’ arms. The strap hangers struggled to keep their eyes open for fear of losing their balance. It was almost midnight and uncle could feel an icy gust of wind force its way through the half open bus door. All the windows were tightly shut and yet the cold outside seemed to seep in through the narrowest gaps below the window panes. The bus sped across the deserted National Highway. The night had by now turned bone-chilling and uncle’s teeth chattered as he struggled to breathe. He pulled both ends of his blazer tighter round himself. Nothing happened. Having no other alternative, he held up his arms and crossed them over his chest. His felt his legs freeze as his fingers went numb.

Unable to bear the cold anymore, he gently attached himself to the sleeping eccentric man to his left and felt the warmth of the thick blanket even as its smell made him nauseous. The portion of the blanket covering the man’s face had slightly come off to reveal his countenance as he slept reclining his head against the bus window for support. The man’s head jerked a little and the tainted glass window quivered noisily with every bump. Uncle was careful not to awaken the queer fellow whose face, uncle observed, had a network of wrinkles. His darkened skin, heavily tanned from labouring in the hot sun, was an indication of decades-long toil and sweat. Uncle looked away but didn’t budge an inch. He found a loose end of the blanket and gently pulled it over his freezing thighs. It felt good. It felt really good. He let go of his shame and aversion and pulled the end a little further and soon, had managed to cover the left portion of his body with the other half of the blanket. The warmth brought profound relief and soon he drifted off to sleep.

Uncle wasn’t aware of how long he had slept but when he opened his groggy eyes, heavy from the previous night’s ordeal, it was half past five in the morning already and the bus had halted somewhere. New Delhi was an hour away now. Most of the passengers had already left and some had briefly got down to have tea at a roadside stall, rubbing their palms vigorously to keep from freezing. The sun wasn’t out yet and thick fog had shrouded the adjacent areas, reducing visibility.

On opening his eyes wide, uncle suddenly remembered the man from the night before and immediately turned to find the window seat empty. Shocked, uncle reached for his briefcase and to his relief, found it safely nestled in the bus shelf. It was then that uncle realized that he still had the blanket on and perhaps that kept the cold out. It seemed as though somebody had tenderly wrapped the blanket around uncle as the latter slept soundly.

Just then, the bus conductor boarded the bus, smoking a locally made cigarette.

“Hey, there was a man sitting beside me, where’s he gone?” uncle enquired, curious.

“Oh! He? Got off hours back, why?” the conductor wanted to know.

“He left his blanket behind by mistake….” uncle replied agitated but the next moment itself, the truth dawned on him. He stopped short, unable to speak further as a lump settled in his throat. He didn’t need to know the answer any further, but wrapped the ‘smelly’ blanket tighter around himself and smiled as gratitude filled his heart to the brim…

A Suicide Note…

Dear parents,

Nobody can comprehend the abominable pain of a girl who sits alone, crying to herself after having strangled a dream with her hands. When a dream shatters, the world outside becomes too much of a burden to bear. It is very difficult to build a dream brick by brick. It’s equally easy to bulldoze the dream and squash it and pretend that it didn’t exist at all.

Ah! Yes! You have guessed it right! I am what you would call “a suicide note”, ain’t I? A note like me would leave you in a state of shock, a note that would send a chill down your spine, a note that my writer left behind as a mark of her grief and excruciating pain.

I silently watched my writer take her last painful breaths. It was quite a heart-rending sight. Read me thoroughly and you will realize the pain behind every word she wrote. I am not just any other “suicide note”. I come from the hands of a writer, a poetess, an artist, a singer, an orator, a dreamer – A brave girl who fought a lost battle! My body is a tear-soaked-and-dried piece of paper, the ink of whose letters would have smudged into black patches, had my writer cried a wee bit more. She didn’t live long enough to drench me with her precious pearly teardrops!

As I watched her cry into me, her fingers trembling at every second word she wrote, I was filled with regret, I wish I could speak!

But I was mute and silently watched her struggle for the last few breaths of air and finally give in.

It’s impossible that a girl like her couldn’t have been determined enough to fulfil her dreams. But hang on, whose dreams are we talking about, hers or yours? For once, stop, rewind and recall that it was your dream she had set herself out to conquer, not hers. I beg to state that her dreams were different from yours. She just simply couldn’t take it any more – struggle to fulfil your dreams that, for you, were seemingly hers too.

Aren’t you convinced yet? Hold it right there! If you couldn’t shed a drop of tear to see her dreams die, how come you now make a sea of tears, weeping your heart out for a corpse devoid of any feelings, let alone a dream?

I am probably yet another ‘suicide note’ trying my best to explain to all unyielding parents, where they usually go wrong! Don’t you now regret that had she been alive, you would let her pursue her dreams? Is a career choice a subject to fight over? Who knows where this poor girl would have landed, had you let her dreams take wings?

I wouldn’t say that my writer was brave enough to cut short her life! But she had been a fighter once. The question of losing or winning the battle would come much later. I feel sorry for her for committing the mistake of choosing the wrong option – death over her dreams…

So, here I am a reminder on her behalf, to all those parents to loosen the noose around your child’s dreams and let them breathe.

Ah! The pain of being branded ‘a suicide note’! I am much more than just a ‘suicide note’. I am a silent representative of a rebel, of a squashed dream, of a frustrated soul without which the mortal body is nothing but a stone-cold model of clay subject to cremation or burial…

The soul in its quest for freedom and fulfillment of a cherished dream wanders from one corner of the universe to another till it finds what it has been looking for. I am an unfulfilled wish, a message the soul leaves behind each time the body it resides in, fails to accomplish its wishes.

I am the last vestige of a soul trembling inside a mortal body. I am, and will continue to be a painful reminder of how once upon a time a dream shattered into pieces, the remains of which will always bring back the memories of all those happy times you were beside her and all those sad moments she had been left alone to cry herself to sleep every night…

I am a part of her… treasure me if you will, or crumple me, that again is your wish………..


‘A suicide note’

The Happy Balcony

My dad’s apartment balcony appeals to me immensely. It makes me feel alive…

My dad has recently bought an apartment at the same town where I have been living with my in laws after marriage. The apartment is one of 40 other apartments in the same building which are gradually being occupied by families who, like my dad, had booked them during their construction. Dad’s apartment is unlike all the 39 other apartments in the eight-storey building. It has a large magnificent balcony that resembles a terrace in many ways. Overlooking the balcony is a splendid view of the mighty river Brahmaputra though it is pretty distant from where the building stands.

A panoramic view of the river, a distinct white patch of water, with the spectacular Patkai hills serving as a backdrop, is a breathtaking experience. The living room opens out to the balcony and through the tall sliding glass doors (I prefer calling them French windows except that they are sliding), you can enjoy the view of the majestic dark grey hills and the river softly flowing by. We, in the remotest corner of upper Assam are blessed with frequent showers of rain that pour down in myriad forms – sometimes a slanting torrential shower hitting at the ‘French window’ panes, while at other times, a drizzle enveloping the scenery with white.

At times, rain clouds drifting by, give wings to your thoughts and make your heart flutter. Chunks of them that bear a striking resemblance to gigantic cotton balls gradually take on a greyish hue as more droplets of water accumulate for a brief spell. And sitting by the ‘French windows’, all a writer would need is a pen and a diary or a laptop in these times while a canvas and some colours suffice for an artist. A singer would easily do with a Tambura and soon you would hear them croon some melodious tunes while the supporting chords produced by plucking the strings of the accompanying Tambura would gently mingle with the breeze and be carried aloft afar. A leisurely walk along the balcony offers an amazing experience. I adore this apartment for its unusually large balcony. It seems to set the mood for any occasion and give food for thought. Being a writer, I enjoy every waking moment in this house.

And now, while I am struggling to quicken the keystrokes on my laptop writing pad, I can already hear a subdued thunder signaling the arrival of forthcoming rain. It will shower in a little while as the clouds hovering above beckon me to hasten. I shall run out to the balcony and let the rain drops drench me completely. I call this love…

The 10-rupee Note!

Ordinary life is a life barely lived. Because, a life without unexpected turns and twists and the subsequent ability to maneuver through, is not worthwhile. Most people simply accept the way things are and move on, not bothering to ponder awhile about these seemingly ‘ordinary’ things that come their way. They simply ignore them, thus failing in the potentiality to transform the ‘ordinary’ into an extraordinary something.

One such ‘ordinary’ thing that came our way, was a simple 10-rupee note. Read on if you are an animal lover.

One summer evening, while having tea, my father was counting some smaller denomination notes, precisely; 10-rupee notes and keeping them separately as change for emergencies, since in our present times, change-notes are hard to produce. I was reading a book and occasionally throwing cursory glances at the soiled notes father was so busily arranging, when all of a sudden, my eyes fell upon one particular 10-rupee note which seemed to have something written on it. Father also noticed it. The writing on the note seemed curiously small.  Father singled out the note and started to read it. Quite surprisingly, this was written on it:

I am totally heartbroken as my sweet cat Poali died in a road accident on February 23, 2016 between 11:25-11:40 pm.  My life is in serious jeopardy. I don’t know how I shall live without Poali since she was very close to my heart. Life is difficult without my cat, Poali.

We were dumbfounded and sat staring at it while the note fluttered in the wind. Father couldn’t seem to recall where and when he had received the note.  I read and re-read the note, flipped it over to check if the writer had jotted down anything else, but couldn’t find any. We assumed that it must have been a girl who was devastated by the sudden death of her beloved pet cat. Continue reading “The 10-rupee Note!”

A Birthday Shock!

A few years back, while on a visit to Kolkata at my uncle’s place in Tollygunge, my cousin Smita and I had planned a surprise birthday party for our respective mothers. Both the ladies had their birthday dates close to each other and so, we had planned to choose a date (July 5, 2014) in between and surprise our mothers with a beautiful cake from Kolkata’s popular sweet shop, Mio Amore.
On the evening of July 5, Smita and I visited a Mio Amore outlet nearby. On entering the shop, we found a number of delicious cakes. We went for a Chocolate Truffle Cake that looked pretty yummy and tempting. One of the salesmen, an oldie, asked me,”And would you like to get something written on the cake?”

“Oh yes, Of course”, came my instant response.
There wasn’t much space left on the cake for writing, so we decided to write the shortest and cutest wish that could be accommodated on the cake surface.

It was a birthday cake obviously, so we chose to exclude the ‘Happy Birthday’ wish and instead write something more interesting.

“Umm”, I thought and an idea struck me. “Write down, ‘Two Super MOMS’, I told the man as he waited open mouthed and impatient, with the icing cone in his hand.

“Ok, what’s that again?”

“Two Super Moms”, I repeated and looked at my sister with raised eyebrows for her approval. She smiled and nodded.

We waited drumming our fingers on the massive glass cabinet inside which were kept five other flavoured cakes on display while the old man went to work on our cake.

“There, done!”, exclaimed the old man and packing the cake neatly into a giant box, handed it over to us.

Handing the oldie, Rs. 650, we left the shop gleefully. On the way home, we bought a packet of scented candles, colourful streamers and balloons. We had to sneak in the cake home since it was meant to be a surprise.

At home, we chose a secluded room and started decorating it with the streamers and the balloons we had bought. Mother and aunt were both unaware of our intentions but were curious as to what the two of us were up to. Soon, we had decorated the room and locked it from outside. We told them that there was something we wanted to show them. My father and my uncle had just returned home from a brief evening walk and were having tea when we decided to get the celebrations started.

Smita and I returned to our room to have one last look at anything that might appear out of place. Everything seemed perfect and so we decided to open the box that contained the cake. We placed the box on the centre table in the room and asked everyone to come in. Switching off the lights, we lit the candles that we had already placed around the box in a circular pattern. With the candles ready by our side, we knelt down and opened the box finally.

On opening the cover, we gaped open mouthed, not at the cake, but at the writing on the surface. On it was written:

Two Super MOMOS….!!!!


Empowering our women

On 31st May, 2017, the results of the Civil Services Examination were declared and not surprisingly, the topper was yet again a woman. Nandini K.R of Karnataka, who topped the list of all the 180 candidates who made it to the prestigious and coveted Indian Administrative Services (out of a total of 1099 candidates who cleared the Civil Services examination this year), is just one among thousands of women whose success stories in diverse fields have inspired countless others, men and women. And yet the patriarchal mindset of the Indian Society has still to comprehend the power of its women. This narrow outlook of a greater section of the Indian social structure looks down upon women who are willing to break the stereotypes and march ahead.  While a majority of such groups can be found in the remote locations of this country where illiteracy still abounds, many urban localities are also in a perpetual state of confusion of whether or not a woman should be allowed to dress according to her choice, return home late from work and even continue to work after marriage. This is a sorry state of affairs because education has not been able to alter people’s way of thinking.  While there can be no restrictions on the thought processes of such groups, a woman should also be at liberty to decide what is best for her.

While it is easy to write about or even deliver a lecture on Women Empowerment, the loquaciousness of it all is a farce. Empowering a woman in reality is easier said than done. While I enjoy the privilege of making choices for myself, does every woman enjoy even half of what I do? This realization is both blissful and terrible. I feel blessed to be among the chosen ones to avail of all the good things in life even as the awareness that thousands of women aren’t as fortunate as I am, shocks me.  If this is what is meant by 70 years of Indian Independence, I beg to state that our people still haven’t known the basic essence of freedom – the liberty of women. It is only when a woman has the right educate herself and break the shackles of unjust curbs on her self-determination, can a society expect to call itself free.

Even as I am writing this article, I know that some girl in some corner of the country is facing unspeakable atrocities. She must be faced with an adverse circumstance from which there is no escape. I am compelled to wonder what help my article is rendering to her. Am I empowered enough to reach out to her and shield her from unwarranted troubles?

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