Pothiz august-2010


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Pothiz august-2010

  1. 1. Contents Second Issue.................................................................................. 3 Forbidden Love ............................................................................ 4 A Log of Wood ........................................................................... 13 Excreta etc. .................................................................................. 21 Character Sketches ..................................................................... 26 Just Like That .............................................................................. 29 A Friend Lost .............................................................................. 33 The long road home................................................................... 36 Matrimonially, perfect............................................................... 47 Light of the day .......................................................................... 54 Terrorism: A few vignettes ....................................................... 62 The last shot ................................................................................ 65 Fake .............................................................................................. 67 Love Stunts ................................................................................. 67 Madness ...................................................................................... 69 Mathematics of Life ................................................................... 70 There are People ......................................................................... 71 Blues- Prayer............................................................................... 73 Like Never Before ...................................................................... 74 Announcements ......................................................................... 74
  2. 2. increasingly mobile population. 'Excreta etc.' From the Publisher’s and 'Just Like That' are the Desk stories of ordinary moments, ordinary things, Second Issue ordinary people, which by Pothi.com Team manage to impact us in Dear Readers, strangely powerful ways. We liked 'The Long Road We are back with the Home' for its interesting second issue of Pothiz! We style of writing and are really happy with the 'Matrimonially, perfect' for overwhelming response its simplicity of concept. we continue to get from 'Light of the Day' is about the readers & writers of all the eternal confusion of sorts. We hope we young people about continue to improve with marriage! In this edition every coming issue and we also have a story become a staple in translated from Oriya everybody's reading list. called 'A Log of Wood'. The original story is by Basanta Kumar Satpathy who is a well known Oriya writer. The story draws a vivid picture of rural Oriya society with all The Featured Entry its inequalities and 'Forbidden Love' is an exploitation. interesting, even if slightly tragic, story of our
  3. 3. We received many good Story (Featured Entry) poems this time and selecting from them was Forbidden Love really difficult. We have by Anonymous picked up seven of them He turned again while here and we hope the lying on his bed. His poetry lovers amongst you mobile was on silent mode enjoy them. but there was no way of As usual, do give your avoiding the SMS’s that feedback to us as well as were pouring in. to the writers through the Sometimes angry, comments. sometime pleading, Given the number of sometimes plain scared! entries, it is becoming "What has happened? difficult for our editorial Why aren't you replying? team to process the entries What did they say?" in short span of 10-15 days. So, we have decided "Are you alright? Please to bring out Pothiz once in baby, this is torture. Send two months. This should me just one msg saying u r also give the writers more fine." time to write their entries. The next issue will come What would be more out in October and you difficult for her? Him have the time till disappearing from her life September 15, 2010 to without telling her the submit your entries. So, reason; or him facing her start writing right away. and telling her the truth. How did it matter? Was Pothi.com Team disappearing even an
  4. 4. option? Where would he was no way he could have hide? He could change the known, why was he mobile number, but what feeling guilty? And yet, about e-mail, facebook, there was nothing else he mutual friends. Damn this could feel. This is what ever connected world. If she would also end up only he was born in an age feeling. For no fault of when Mumbai to Delhi anyone. Are these the was still too far for people situations for which we to find each other. When have invented God? there was no way to Somebody has to be at contact someone without fault and He comes handy. knowing their addresses. Three more messages came in. He could imagine her crying now. He should be there to comfort her. But will he ever be able to do that again? Hug her tight and comfort her when she was distressed. Then he could have No, he would deliver the disappeared. She would most distressful news of have cried over her lost her life and would leave. love and moved on. She Just like that. could at least be spared the torture he was going He picked up the phone through. What was he and went through the feeling? Frustration? messages. He decided to Guilt? But why guilt? write a short reply. What was his fault? There
  5. 5. "I am fine. Don't worry. I he realized what was will see you in the going on. morning." Mother was equally But that's not right. That'd distressed initially. "Hey be far too comforting. She bhagwan! What are we to wouldn't be prepared for do?" what is to come. But how But by now she had does he tell her what is to realized that nothing come? untoward had happened He did not send the and situation was still message. Instead, he controllable. They would switched off the phone. not have to face any social There was no question of embarrassment. sleeping. The events of the evening replayed in his "Calm down. What is his mind. fault? How could he have known?" -- "Why are they in such a "Kids these days. What all hurry? Can't we find a do we have to see because suitable girl for him? For of them?" His father was all we know, everything shouting. has already happened. Do Father's outbursts could they care about dharma, have hardly helped him in maryada, anything these the tragically, bizarre days?" situation he was in, he had "Keep quiet now. Is this rushed into his room once the way to talk to your children? If you are going
  6. 6. to talk like this, what to everything about that expect from outsiders? He evening was unusual. is a nice, cultured boy. But It was only a week back, let me talk to him." wasn't it? He was at her Mother had stepped into place on a Saturday the room. evening. "Nothing has happened, -- right? You know how "My boss wants me to go wrong it will be, don't to Delhi, as the new you?" Region Head. It’s kind of a He was frustrated beyond promotion." his tolerance, but he could She had hesitated, and not trivialize her concern. then probably realized That was the only relief that not congratulating for him too. will be too mean. "No Ma! Nothing has "Really? Wow! happened. But please Congratulations." She leave me alone. This is not added after a pause, "You easy for me." are going to Delhi?" -- "Don't know. It depends." She left then. Later when she came to call him for "Depends on?" dinner, he pretended to be asleep and did not answer. "You." She did not wake him up. "What do you mean?" That was unusual but
  7. 7. He dramatically got down decided to call him up at on his knees. 5.00 in the morning. She guessed he'd be at the "I don't have the ring, but I airport by now. She could need to know right now. safely call him up without Will you marry me?" disturbing the entire She was taken aback by household and without the gesture, but soon burst causing him any out laughing. "Of course, I embarrassment. To her will. Mr. Dramebaaz!" dismay she found that his phone was switched off. -- She thought of all the The alarm went off at 4.00 things that was wrong am. He had a 5.30 flight to between them and catch. Ma also got up. She wondered if their fussed over his coffee and relationship had a future forced some breakfast at all. But something must down his throat in her have gone wrong. He usual way. As if nothing knows her well enough by had happened. As if his now to not pull a world had not changed nightlong prank on her. forever. What could have gone -- wrong? He had been confident before he left to After sending God knows meet his parents, "I will be how many messages the honest. My parents entire night and after wouldn't be too making umpteen entries comfortable with the idea tearfully in her diary, she
  8. 8. of love marriage you whatever’s happened to know. But we are him. The doorbell rang fortunate sweetie, same again and she ran across caste, different gotras. the hall to open the door. They have no solid It was him, after a night of grounds to oppose. I can torture, he was finally play a little drama to there. emotionally blackmail She wanted to be angry, them. You just get me a but right now knowing nice photo of yours in a the reason for his salwar kameez and no behaviour was more make-up." important. She let him in She had decided on the silently. same approach for her He looked at her─ but she parents too. But they will could see that his thoughts be brought into picture were elsewhere. later. One hurdle at a time. "Surabhi, your Nana's Between crying and cousin lives in Bangalore?" wondering, she drifted off to sleep at around six in "My Nana's cousin? Lal the morning. Nana - yeah. He lives somewhere in the south. I She heard the doorbell haven't met them in years. and woke up startled; But why are you asking? when she looked at the Does your family know clock she was horrified to him?" find that it was almost eight. Damn. She would "His sons? Do you know be late for office. But them?"
  9. 9. "Actually no. Only the together and not feel youngest, Biku Mama─ guilty. " he’s quite a legend in the "Stop it Nishant! You have family. I think he’s only a tortured me the entire few years elder to me. He night. I have absolutely no was probably the first patience left for your engineer in the extended riddles. Tell me now what family on my mom's side. has happened." We’ve heard stories about how dedicated and hard "I am your Biku Mama." working he is. How he managed to make it Probably his voice had despite Lal Nana's poor dropped too low - or financial situation. But I probably she did not want have never met him, why to believe what she heard. are you asking this "Come again?" anyway? Do you know the family? Have they said "I am your Biku Mama, anything about me?" Surabhi. And I don't know a better way to put it to "Sit down please, you. All that was there Surabhi." between us is totally He pulled a chair and sat inappropriate. It just down facing her. shouldn't have happened and it cannot happen in "Now listen to me future. Can you carefully. What I am going understand what I’m to tell you is shocking. But saying?" you have to promise me that you will pull yourself
  10. 10. A thousand expressions only to inflict a bigger came and went on her face pain in the morning. I am in a matter of seconds. sorry. I am really sorry. Surprise, shock, loathing, But please let us help each hurt, disgust, horror, other get through it. It complaint ─ what not. wasn't our fault. It was nobody's fault. What is the "Go away from here," was point in being angry with all she could say before each other baby?" she crouched and buried her face behind her knees. Damn, that last word was Why should something so inappropriate, but she like this happen to her? did not seem to have What had she done so noticed it. Habits don’t die wrong to deserve this? overnight, irrespective of Incest, she had been in the reality. How difficult it danger of getting into an is right now not to hold incestuous relationship. her and kiss her madly until she forgets her pain. "Surabhi, I am sure you But if he did that the pain will trust me when I say would be worse, oh God! this. I know what you are going through. Last "I never thought it will evening, the same thing come to this. But really, happened to me. I was lost you being here doesn't Surabhi. I was totally lost. help me. Go away for I didn't know how to reply now. We will meet later. to your messages. I am Please." sorry I caused you so He was conscious that he much pain the entire night no longer had the right to
  11. 11. force his way with her. "I will. You don't worry "Okay. I’m leaving, but about me Nishant. Take can I trust you not to do care of yourself. And..." something foolish. "And?" Remember, nothing irredeemable has "If we happen to meet at happened." some family function, we have never seen each "Yes." other." -- "Right." "The Delhi offer is still As they took leave and open. I have accepted it." turned away from each "Cool. Congratulations." other, their brave faces crumpled and tears filled "Surabhi. I don't know their eyes. how you are going to cope; I don't even know Image Attribution: how I am going to do it. http://www.flickr.com/ph But both of us have to otos/h-k- move on. Somehow. The d/3838158206/sizes/s/in/ph only thing I know is that otostream/ I...," he hesitated, but decided to continue, "I loved a mature and courageous girl, that’s my consolation. You’ll manage, right?"
  12. 12. Translated Story wood was good. So I preferred the dried one. A Log of Wood Though it was a bit by Dr Bishnupriya Hota expensive, it won’t let the (Original Odiya: Basanta kitchen become sooty and Kumar Satpathy) smoky. The log lay unattended for almost one After much deliberation, it week. The santals (tribals) was decided that it would weren’t available since it be cheaper to buy wooden was the makara festival. logs and then get it split. There was no question of Accordingly, I brought their coming out for work two quintals of wood from and finishing my job Bharat Depot and before they had their share transported them on a of rice beer and cock fight. pushcart to my backyard. Not even a single piece of The owner of the depot wood was left in my had said, ‚This piece of house. It was a Sunday. log is two years old. It is Being a winter morning, completely dry and when the wind was cold. I sat on cut into small pieces it will the verandah with a burn like gunpowder. It’ll newspaper in my hand cost Rs. 12 per quintal, if assessing what we had you want cheaper, then done for the tribals in the there is sal wood; a bit raw last thirty years. and with barks, it will Suddenly Moti, our pet produce smoke.‛ dog barked. Startled, I saw Being from the forest an old woodcutter region, I knew which approaching with an axe
  13. 13. on his shoulder. He came man took Rs. 24, now you to me and asked in his will take Rs. 4 – Rs. 28 in faulty, ungrammatical all. A gas stove would way, ‚Need cut wood have been much cheaper. sir?‛ meaning whether I If you so like, do it for wanted the logs of wood three and a half, otherwise to be cut. leave.‛ I pondered, we have been spending millions to bring them to our level, but they were still stuck in the place where they were twenty years ago, couldn’t even learn the language. He softened his voice and No sense of verb and said in his own way which subject. meant like this, ‚How I mimicked,‛ Yes, I need shall we poor survive if to get the wood cut. How you are so heartless babu? much will you charge?‛ You are quite well off and still fighting with us for 50 He examined the log and paisa? God has made you said, ‚It about two rich. Why do you set your quintals. In the depot, get eyes on our share? The Rs. 2 for a quintal. Also depot is closed today, so I give the same.‛ came, otherwise… ‛ ‚What? Rs. 4? It will be My young and educated too much. I will give you son (who hasn’t yet Rs. 3.50 only. The depot earned a paisa in his life)
  14. 14. heard me arguing with the entered two inches deep woodcutter and said, ‚OK, into the wood. It took him you will take 25 paisa great effort to pull it out. more, now don’t argue.‛ I asked him, ‚How is the I glared at him and said, wood? Will it burn well? ‚Has money become He said, ‘The wood is cheaper these days? He good but you are at a would have done it for profit and I am in loss. It three and a half if you won’t split easily, rather hadn’t interfered.‛ Then I will bend the axe. This instructed the woodcutter kind of wood was lying to start the work without there stockpiled in our delay. He took out some depot since last two years. tobacco from his Nobody took them, no one waistband, rubbed it with will be willing to split it. It his palms and put it in his will burn well but one mouth. Then he began to who would cut it will cut. develop boils on his Looking at his face, I palm.‛ doubted his capability. I He struck it again. It thought though he had struck in the right place. agreed to do this for He struck again; a splinter money, it would take him came out like a rocket and two days to finish the fell a little distance away. work. Impatiently I asked him He laid the log on the not to make big pieces, ground and delivered the ‚Our hearth is a bit small, first stroke. The axe cut it thinner.‛
  15. 15. Contemptuously he don’t have a home then looked at me and said, you should apply for it.‛ ‚You please keep quiet, ‚You please help us in this see whether I am able to matter. What will you do it or not .So many years people do with the land? It have I spent cutting wood is our job to do the and you think I still need farming.‛ instructions!‛ When I asked about Curious I asked, ‘How family planning he said, many years have you been ‚We aren’t used to having here? Where were you many children like you before coming to this people, just one or two place?‛ each couple. Besides, your My home is in wives and children don’t Mayurbhanj, babu, near work. That is why you Betanati, I came to depend on others. See you Remuna during the war. depend on me to cut your Two of my healthy sons wood.‛ and first wife died there in Then he asked me, ‘Tell Mayurbhanj, a place me, babu, is there no more infested by witches. My of king’s rule after the house, land and King of Mayurbhanj, only everything was grabbed ministers are there, is it by some businessmen like so? you.‛ I thought it is no good ‚Didn’t the government conversing with this provide you land? If you obstinate fool. Rather my
  16. 16. work was getting slower. his axe in my hand. God, it So I decided to watch his was so heavy. I asked, way of wood cutting. He ‚What is its weight?‛ dismembered the log just While sharpening the axe as an experienced critic on a huge stone, he said, deconstructs a tough ‚I have made it in two modern poetry. God has kilos of iron and the stick endowed him with such is two and a half kilos.‛ divinity that he would find bliss in cutting these ‚It is already noon. Will giant trees all through his you be able to complete it life. He completed half of in one day?‛ his task within one and half hours. Last time ‚You are disturbing me by another man had cut the talking too much; you wood into big sizes. This please do your own work. time I was sitting there to Haven’t you seen that watch so that there your wood is not so easy wouldn’t be any mistake. to split?‛ I came to him, took some I saw he had a flat belly. It of the pieces apart and just slipped out of my instructed him to make tongue, ‚Have you eaten them thinner although something in the they were of the proper morning?‛ size. The man was getting ‚Does a poor has anything tired gradually. Every to eat in the morning. I time he attempted to strike just drank a bowl of rice a log he produced a water. My wife and son sound. Curiously I took have also gone to their
  17. 17. work with a bowl of rice He chewed the dried water each.‛ bread like a papad, drank I went inside the kitchen the jugful of water and to taste the roasted then washed the jug clean mutton. My servant with ash. He then rubbed Chaitanya said, ‚Sir, shall tobacco in his palm, put it I give him some leftover in his mouth and began bread?‛ the last phase of his work. ‚Give it to the dog. Why I ordered him, ‚Listen, I do you prepare more than am going to take my is needed? Do you know lunch, so you put on those two breads cost 25 paisa? split wood in the Two hours ago, that man backyard.‛ Actually, that was arguing with me for was my task. But the 25 paisa.‛ woodcutter agreed instantly and said, ‚I’ll cut The bread was old, there and you stockpile …no were cockroaches on it …no ... that’s not good. and the dog also didn’t eat You please tie that dog it. I came out with a and show me where to mouthful of roasted spicy stockpile the wood.‛ meat and asked, ‚Would you like to eat bread?‛ After a luxurious bath, I had a hearty meal, lit a ‚If it is extra then give me, cigarette and went out to I will have it.‛ see how far had he Chaitanya brought him progressed. But the task the bread and water in the was over and the wood jug used in the lavatory. was very neatly arranged
  18. 18. in its place. Some splinters be with me. Next month were scattered on the when I come again, cut ground. I took out a basket from my dues.‛ and a broomstick and told ‚No, that is not possible, him, ‚Collect all the who knows whether you splinters in the basket, will come or not.‛ otherwise my dog will get them in his foot, this is his Suddenly he glared at me; playground.‛ his eyes were reddened as if had drunk rice beer. He Without any objection he exploded, ‚What did you did all he was said and say? Don’t trust me, till then, stood up with the now buttered me up to get axe on his shoulder for your work done and now payment. I gave him two you don’t trust me? You two-rupee notes and said, people took everything, give me back 25 paisa. He my house, my land and stared at me helplessly now speaking of trust. and said, ‚No change, What do you think? Have come from home empty paid enough by giving me handed?‛ two pieces of double It wasn’t that I didn’t have bread? Aren’t we human change, but who would beings? I understand well give away the change of your tricks, take your 75 paisa? I said, ‚Get it money.‛ Saying this he changed from the threw the money in my market.‛ face and went past the gatepost towards the road. ‚But babu, today Sunday, the market is closed. Let it
  19. 19. Seeing his strong reaction, various colleges, he retired I realized I had made a as the Head of the great mistake by Department of English, expressing my mistrust. If Fakir Mohan college. He he realized that I had no has written a number feelings for him, that it short stories, all of which was all pretension to get exhibit his unique features my work done, then he of writing. At once might turn about and split hilarious and witty. He my head like a log of was immensely influenced wood with his axe. The by Fakir Mohan Senapati. thought of such horrible His sympathies are with consequences terrorized the marginalised and the me. Instantly I sent oppressed. He was Chaitanya with two two- awarded for his works by rupee notes to give to him Odisha Sahitya Akademi and closed the door in theYear 1978. behind him. I was Dr. Bishnupriya Hota sweating. works as a Reader in About the Author English at G.M.College (Autonomous), Basanta Kumar Satpathy Sambalpur, Odisha. is a noted Odiya short story writer (1913-1994). Image Attribution: He was born in a remote http://www.flickr.com/ph village of Mayurbhanj otos/nostri- district of Odisha (Orissa). imago/3461973826/sizes/s/i After a long career of n/photostream/ teaching English in
  20. 20. was outside, but we didn’t Story care. Excreta etc. by Bharatram Gaba Three years ago, on a wet afternoon, we moved the last of our bags up to our new house. The atmosphere was dreary and incredibly humid but Together we spent long the hope in our hearts nights adjusting buckets dispelled that. We were under the leaks and moving from a spacious emptying the full ones, three bedroom apartment even shifting the sleeping in the affluent western kids around the place so suburbs to a 300 sq. ft that they weren’t in the cubbyhole in the heart of way of spreading puddles. middle-class Dadar. No In the heat wave that air-conditioner, no lift, no followed the rains, the microwave, not even a house being directly under shower, but the spring in an open terrace was little our steps and the song on better than a 300 sq. ft our lips shooed these oven. But, this was our piffles away. We soon first HOME. discovered that the roof A year later, we installed leaked incessantly during an air-conditioner. For the rains, it was wetter this, a box-shaped grill inside the house than it had to be made around
  21. 21. the unit just outside the must have been so window. That was when it painstakingly constructed began – the attack of the the night before. It became pigeons. such an integral part of our daily ritual that like Each morning, one corner most other routines, we of the grill sported a new, ceased to think about it. half-finished nest and a Then, for our elder son’s mosaic of patterns on the holidays, we went back to machine where the birds my parents’ house. had obviously performed their ablutions. We tried We stayed there for nearly everything. We piled junk two months – the duration on the grill to starve them of the summer vacation. of space. They found a When we got back and way to nudge it aside, opened the windows, an however heavy, and make overpowering stench hit a new nest. Then we kept us. The air-conditioner a scary looking doll, only could hardly be seen to find the next day that under the carpet of excreta our scarecrow had bird- and feathers. And in that droppings all over it. . familiar place on the grill, Finally, we resigned to it there was a large nest that as a fact of life and looked complete in every instructed the help to respect. Within the bowels clean out the grill of the nest were three everyday. He did this with small, yellow-white eggs. religious fervour every Fatigue from the heat gave single morning, way to rage as I armed destroying the nest that
  22. 22. myself with a broom and me. The irritation was violently cleaned out the because I was going to machine. At that time, I do have to do the job. About not know what stopped the relief, I hadn’t the me from clearing out the faintest idea. That night I nest itself, but I gave went to bed with an vigorous instructions to uneasy feeling in the pit of have it removed before I my stomach. got back from work the The following morning next day. saw me up at dawn, I sure as hell don’t have a something I hadn’t done good memory. But that since my wedding day. next day, something about After the daily the nest kept nagging my unmentionables, I made mind all through. Try as myself a cup of tea and much as I did, I just just sat back and gazed couldn’t get any work goofily at my family. In completed. I was the first light of the day, surprised and a little the children looked like frightened by this new little angels, sleeping the feeling. I called home to sleep that only the check whether the job had innocent could. That been done. Nope, the help particular morning, my hadn’t turned up that day wife’s face looked more and wasn’t expected for at beautiful than I could ever least a week. remember. A strange mixture of relief My thoughts wandered to and irritation swept over what we’d been through
  23. 23. together. The last thirteen corner of her eyes. I could years had been one hell of even sense her trembles, a roller-coaster ride and but she didn’t move from she’d stuck by me every her place. inch of the way. It was a In the stillness of the massive struggle to be morning, a tiny cracking able to make our own sound reached my ears. It home, but we ultimately seemed to come from did it. We had our own under the female pigeon. little place we called home Then it hit me like a ton of and it was worth all the bricks. The eggs were heartaches. All at once, the hatching! stench from the open window hit me again and That was not a female brought me back to the pigeon sitting on the eggs real world. In a fit of - that was a mother anger, I jerked myself up, nestling her babies. I could picked up a stick and still make out the fear in rushed to the window. her eyes, but she wouldn’t budge and leave her I looked out at the nest. babies unprotected. I The female pigeon was in looked back over my it, sitting on the eggs. That shoulder at my children day, she didn’t fly off again and remembered the scared as she generally did times when my wife and I when someone had put our bodies approached. I could between them and the clearly discern what leaking roof. I looked like naked fear as remembered the times she looked at me from the
  24. 24. when we’d stayed up slowly withdrew from the nights taking turns window. Daily routine fanning them with a pushed the incident out of newspaper because the my mind and I left for power had failed. The work. times we’d used our The first thing I did that bodies to shade them from evening was to go over to the morning sunlight as it the window and check on streamed in through the the birds. There was curtain-less windows. I nothing there. Stunned, I remembered that last was told that our help had Diwali, when I’d held my come in later that morning shivering thirteen-month- and had cleaned out the old son tightly to my nest. I couldn’t eat or sleep bosom and sung to him to that night. I was too try and calm his frayed scared to ask what had nerves and protect him become of the eggs. from the noise. The ritual of going over to I kept the stick down and the window each morning looked back out at the continued for quite some nest. Fed on a steady diet time after that. It of the manly thing to do, I gradually slowed down to tried desperately, but checking once in a while could not hold back the for any signs of branches tears that began to form in or feathers. But I needn’t my eyes. That was not a have bothered. The birds nest─ that was their never came back. Home. And we had been destroying their Home. I
  25. 25. About the Author Experimental Character Sketches by Rajendra Nargundkar Author's Note: This is inspired by the Marathi humourist P.L. The Americans & the Deshpande, who wrote Kiwis gave up trying to some immortal character say my name and made sketches. Of course, these me ‚Brat‛ – it stuck. I may be nowhere near his married my teenage in quality, but that doesn't sweetheart and we have 2 boys. We live in Bombay. stop me from attempting some. I used to write because I was too sad to talk. I was first published on Icleo.com (a women- centric website) by a friend. Then (and I probably contributed to it) Icleo went the way of hundreds of other The Man Who Knows websites – into the digital Too Much void. I don’t consider myself a writer in the This is the watchman at truest sense of the word. any residential complex Image Attribution: gate. He knows exactly http://www.flickr.com/ph what is happening inside, otos/foxypar4/563798423/s who is coming or going. In izes/m/in/photostream/ case there is a murder in
  26. 26. the residential complex, sundry. Even tougher than his testimony is crucial. answering the board exam He monitors the parking questions. If he/she makes of sundry vehicles and it to dream courses like tries to fob off guests engineering or whatever, trying to park inside. Also he/she is considered a a useful chap when success by everybody. If housewives have small not, God has to help her, errands like calling the like Krishna came to the dhobi, or the raddiwala, or aid of Draupadi. If he/she the absconding maid who happens to have an needs a stern reminder. At interest which is other times, his sphinx- somewhat non- like appearance belies his mainstream, then even alert mind, at least in the God is of little help. You daytime. He may be can admire a Sania (or a occasionally found Saina), but you can't aspire snoring at night, but he to be one, is the golden never goofs off more than rule here. the average office-goer. A Girl over 21 The Indian Student in "So, what are your 12th standard marriage plans?" goes the This is a person who has question for this one, on to answer threetimes a the lines of the question day, for one year, the same above. If you don't have dreaded question- "So, any, you better be a WHAT are you planning celebrity, or else...All the to do?" from all and older relatives feel left out
  27. 27. of the 'family affairs 'if this bookies, who know girl seems to be exactly which team will independent minded as win the next T20 match. far as marriage plans go. It About the Author is after all, everybody's business what the girl does─ for example, what would the Khap panchayats do if they can't sponsor a few honour killings now and then? The Climatologist He produces reports on Rajendra Nargundkar is the next climate disaster Director, IMT Nagpur. about to happen, such as Has been a marketing professor in India and floods, only to find that abroad, including at two there is a drought. This is IIMs. He is an avid reader, somewhat like predicting traveller, movie buff and a tornado that ends up in a writer. Has published an tsunami. While the autobiography titled My glacier-melting prophecies Experiments with Half- truths at pothi.com. He were being hotly debated, can be contacted at a volcano quietly put rnargundkar@gmail.com. everyone in their place. Image Attribution: Nevertheless, an http://www.flickr.com/ph interesting species, which otos/angelic0devil6/538614 recognises the fallibility of 238/sizes/m/in/photostrea man. Unlike the cricket m/
  28. 28. wanted the entire world to Story know the fact. She would keep blowing kisses and Just Like That muttering (within by Mona Bhageria Adurty everyone’s earshot) the weirdest possible He was standing near the nicknames to a very gate like he always did. I embarrassed looking think he liked the breeze husband. He would keep ruffling his curly hair, looking at his watch until although I daresay he his wife got down at her wouldn’t have admitted it stop and we would look at to anyone. With his each other and smile. favourite football jersey paired with another one of his blue jeans (might have been the same one, very difficult to tell the difference) and coaching class bag, he had the same dreamy expression and mischievous faint smile on No, I didn’t know his his face. At the next stop, name; neither did I want the couple got in. He to know. All I could gather looked at me and smiled, was the name of his and then looked away. coaching class and the fact It was our private joke. that he was a major The couple who got in at football fan. And also that, the last stop was recently we both found the couple married, and the wife funny, everyday.
  29. 29. I was studying for my than coffee shops, and graduation at my more importantly, it was hometown, Indore those difficult for a girl to share days and took bus no. 212 a glance or smile with a from Rajwada to Geeta guy considering that most Bhavan – from the palace of her family resided in to the temple, from history the same city. That was all to religion, everyday. And I wanted anyway, a little somewhere in the middle, secret of my own. I had an excuse to share a Time went by, and before I smile with him. knew it, I was a graduate, In the early 80’s, Indore ready to be married off lived upto its name – into some traditional inward looking, a little household who would closed. It would take a few proudly claim to its more years before it relatives that their became an educational daughter-in-law is a hub teeming with graduate. That was the thousands of teenagers, as way it was done those it is now. Those days, days and I had no there were more of particular reason to expect separate boys and girls otherwise. So when an commerce and arts average looking guy (a colleges than co-ed graduate, obviously) from engineering institutions, a grain merchant’s family there were more families came knocking at my in a restaurant than door, my family happily groups of friends, there obliged. The guy’s family were more parks for kids was well-off, the guy was
  30. 30. educated and we could thought about anyway? I meet their demands. There had left all my passions, was no apparent reason to hobbies and opinions in say no, hence I didn’t (or my parents’ house so I rather my family didn’t). I could fit in my husband’s wore my mom’s best saree life. I laughed in my and sat down dutifully husband’s joys, cried at his while my prospective misfortunes. I am not mother–in-law asked me if complaining, that’s just I knew how to cook. I did the way it was. not, but my mother had I had almost lost count of already coached me the passing years when properly on this. There one warm summer day, would be enough time to my husband asked me to learn later. I think that get ready for the evening. they also did not find any We had to attend a party reason to say no. And hosted by his business thus, we got married, not partner for celebrating his because we were son’s selection in some particularly suited to each university in the USA. other, just because our There was gaiety, cheer families could not find any and an appropriate reason not to do it. amount of jealousy in the I came to my new house room as was suited for the and settled in my new occasion. I went around routine. Life became a with my husband while he series of chores which did chatted with his not leave me much time to acquaintances. I was think. What would I have waiting for the party to get
  31. 31. over so that I could go About the Author home and finish my nightly chores of making curd and preparing for the next day’s breakfast. Suddenly, I looked up and my heart skipped a bit. There he was – standing in A typical run-o-the-mill a dapper safari suit, with engg-MBA combination, his hair all set. I kept with reading as my staring until he felt the passion and writing, a joy force of my gaze and I have recently discovered. looked directly at me. We looked at each other for a Image Attribution: whole minute until his lips http://www.flickr.com/ph twitched and before either otos/vm2827/3689161223/s of us knew, we both burst izes/z/in/pool- out laughing. I couldn’t 641997@N25/ stop even as my husband asked alarmingly if I was alright. I had tears running down my eyes, I laughed so hard, and after so long. I still don’t know his name, but he is the only one sharing my little secret and thus, a little part of ME.
  32. 32. the world had seemed too Experimental small to contain her. Now she is lying in a six feet A Friend Lost long wooden box. Why I by Jatin Pathak am getting the feeling that Please don’t bury her, or she still has some life left bury me along with her, I in her and will rise up am her best friend. This now and smile at me? Her thought was foremost in smile was a text book my mind during Jenisha’s definition of the ’million cremation. What a sad end dollar smile’. We had to such a beautiful life. I spent hours late at night was with Jenisha during just looking into each her last moments. It was other's eyes. She could early morning. She was read my soul as I could enjoying the greenery read hers. I can still feel alongside the road and the warmth of her breath trying to listen to the on my body, the touch of music of birds. The boys her hairs raised shivers jogging there were deep down my soul. We definitely envious of me as had been inseparable. she was holding me tight. Jenisha, do you remember Suddenly a car came, and the tears you shed one in one bang everything night? I captured them in was over. There she was my heart like pearls. lying next to me, lifeless Come, touch my heart, it is like still air. Oh God! still warm because of that. And this rose you crafted Why her? She was so on my skin, huh! You active and full of life that idiot, is this a place for a
  33. 33. tattoo. Come back and Why are these friends remove it. touching me now? I do not need their condolence. I, in fact, need nothing but a last glance at her face. Ah! Please do not touch me. I just cannot feel your touch. Her touch bought life in me and gave me a reason to exist in this world. She betrayed me and left this world, et tu Brutus. God, why are you so Jenisha please, don’t leave cruel? I always wanted to me like this. Stand up, tell her how much I please. Stand up for the adored her, how much she sake of all those journeys meant to me. I also we enjoyed together. You wanted to take a picture of remember our trip to her when she used to lie in Shimla last February. the bathtub as though she Wow! Those beautiful was drunk. How funny mountains and that chill she looked at that time. in the air, your one hand Yeah, I had access to her was with me and with the such personal moments other you were holding too. I was a regular in her the cup and enjoying hot friends circle and every tea. Ha ha, you almost one of her male friends spilled that tea on me. wanted to take my place. Please come back, we will
  34. 34. live those moments again. also, you looked beautiful I know you are not in each and every comfortable in this emotion. Please, come wooden box. There is not back, come back to me. even a pillow for you in Oh no! She is not listening there. Do you remember to me. May be she really is that scary night we spent dead. I beg you all, be together in that Manali kind to her. At least do not bus stop? All your friends bury her, or bury me also had left and we missed the with her. I am her best bus. I gave you comfort in friend. After all, I am her those moments. That night favourite book. I was your pillow, remember? My world is Image Attribution: completely thrashed now. http://www.flickr.com/ph Why can’t we have otos/jelles/1232671079/size another chance to be s/z/in/photostream/ together? Jenisha, wake up. I know you are sleeping. You are a big time actor, wake up now. Love me, hate me or show me your anger. You know how much I fear your anger. I always thought some day in anger you will throw me down from the top floor. But I cherish those moments
  35. 35. schoolbag and be at the Story table, in his uniform, except for his tie, she The long road home always helped him with by Shweta Ganesh Kumar the tie. Suddenly, he ‚Wake up, Roy. Wake up! remembered that he had You’ll be late for school.‛ forgotten to shine his Sister’s persistent voice shoes. He scrambled off rang through his dreams. the bed and ran to find the With his eyes still shoe polish. stubbornly shut, he turned *** over from his side and lay on his back. He knew that ‚Babe, where are my he would have to wake up shoes?‛ Kabir yelled in the in less than two minutes. direction of Remya’s She would not stop study. nagging him otherwise. ‚Which one sweetheart?‛ He lifted his left hand and she replied as she walked wiped away the drool on out holding a bristle the corner of his mouth paintbrush. She was in the with the back of it. middle of an oil painting ‚Royyy.‛ that had been ‚I’m up, I’m up.‛ he commissioned to grace a replied. He sat up with a film star’s new apartment. jerky movement and Kabir smiled at his wife’s willed his eyes open. paint-sloshed apron and Breakfast was in thirty her piled up hair fastened minutes. He had to wash up, take his bath, pack his
  36. 36. on top of her head with a sweetheart, just be back crush clip. before breakfast.‛ ‚Those new track shoes, I Kabir stopped mid-way was just leaving to jog.‛ through tying his laces. Kabir said rather quickly, ‚Oh breakfast, right! What as if he did not want to is for breakfast?‛ he said make a big deal of it. with a wide smile. Remya who had started *** looking for his shoes in the shoe cabinet did a double ‚Scrambled eggs, two take. pieces of toast and a glass of milk. I want a clean ‚Jog? You are going to plate and an empty glass, jog? Since when did my Roy.‛ He smiled up at her husband become a fitness with a wide smile. freak?‛ she teased. Scrambled eggs were his He put his tongue out at favourite. He did not need her and replied, ‚Well, to be told twice to eat up. now that we’ll have In ten minutes, he had someone looking up to us, happily wolfed down his we need to cultivate a few breakfast. He washed his good habits around here hands and ran back to na?‛ Sister Rosalie. Remya pulled his shoes ‚Thank you sister. That out from the back and was the best. I’ll see you faced him with a wide after school,‛ he happily smile. ‚Whatever you say muttered into the folds of her habit as he hugged her
  37. 37. tightly. She ran her old, winning Radio jockey at speckled fingers through Radio Masala. He hosted a his hair. As he picked up talk show about civic his school bag and walked problems, but the debates towards the gate to catch were very tongue in cheek the school bus, she knew in style. He loved his job that she would miss him. and had been living it for Roy skipped towards the seven years now. He had gate. The school bus had started as a number arrived a minute ago and crunching analyst and had the driver was honking left it after three years to impatiently. He clambered pursue his dream of being onto it. a radio jockey. All thanks to Remya. *** They had met at JNU The radio was blaring where he was mastering some really bad songs economics and she was from the eighties. Worse it getting her masters in was not even his station. creative arts. They had Kabir reached over and met at a college festival changed the station. Not debate on the left-brain that the bad music was versus the right brain annoying him. Nothing topic. The debate had would faze him today. He proven inconclusive but was too excited about Kabir had taken Remya to tomorrow. He knew it the canteen to continue the would be hard to discussion over coffee. concentrate at work too. After the first few Kabir was an award minutes, they forgot the
  38. 38. initial subject matter. Remya’s parents had While Kabir claimed that never liked Kabir. But it had been love at first then, they had problems sight, Remya always with her wanting to be an maintained that it had artist as well. taken her quite a few ‚This girl, first she refuses plates of samosas and to become an engineer or a cups of tea to fall in love. doctor, and now she finds They had been together this boy with such a bad since then though. They background,‛ they said of had moved to Mumbai her when they discussed where Remya worked as a her. Her father, an commercial artist for an orthodox Hindu disowned advertising agency and her when she informed Kabir joined a strategic them about her wedding. intelligence firm. Though the profile was a great Remya and Kabir had one, Kabir started his day flown down to Madurai to reluctant to go to work meet them and make and ended it frustrated at amends. But in true the thought of going the cinema style, her father next day. It was Remya refused to open the door who had dragged him and banned the rest of the along for the Radio Masala family from talking to her. auditions. He proposed to After two years of trying her the day he signed the to communicate, Remya contract. And they had gave up. Kabir was her gotten married in a small only family now. And she, ceremony with just a few Kabir’s. This was literally friends at a small temple.
  39. 39. true in Kabir’s case as he Roy’s head jerked upright. had been abandoned in an He nodded quickly and orphanage as a six-month tried to concentrate on the old baby. Life had not sums. Annie came over to always been fun and there his desk. She bent down were times when he had and said in a much gentler wondered about the point voice, ‚I know that of it all. But Remya had tomorrow is a very changed all of that. Now important day for you. But tomorrow would be yet the half yearly exams will another turning point in be up soon and you need his life. to do well, right?‛ Roy looked up at Annie *** Ma’am and smiled. He ‚My jeans pant and that liked her. She always took blue T-shirt Sister gave me the time out to talk to for Christmas. That’s what every child in the class I’ll wear tomorrow,‛ Roy and to help them through thought as Annie Ma’am the difficult problems. She wrote sums on the had a wide smile and blackboard. pretty brown eyes. Kind of like Remya, but Remya’s ‚Roy, have you taken were prettier. They were down all the sums? If yes, bigger and her eyes smiled then why aren’t you doing when she smiled. them yet?‛ Annie Ma’am’s voice rang through the *** classroom a tad sharply. Remya’s eyes were tired. She had been working for
  40. 40. six straight hours on the would bring yet another commissioned oil testament to her faith in painting. It was the fate. She splashed some Queen’s Necklace by night cold water on her eyes. and the actress wanted a She had till mid-week to lot of minuscule details. finish the painting but she Remya spared no effort wanted to keep her and worked tirelessly. She weekend clear. She still decided to take a break had to add finishing when Kabir’s show came touches to the charcoal on. But she ended up sketch she was making of painting with Kabir’s Roy, she knew he would cheerful voice in the love it. background. Even though the show was on the potholes in the city, it still made her smile. It was his voice, his passion came through and each time she heard him conduct his show, she remembered him enthusiastically debating the superiority of the left-brain. She was glad that she had gone with the debate team as a replacement for one of the ‚Wowww! This is so members who had fallen beautiful,‛ he had ill. Remya believed in exclaimed in a voice filled destiny, and tomorrow with wonder. It was an oil
  41. 41. painting depicting a ‚Do you know who drew mother with a child this Ma’am?‛ the boy holding onto her hand asked her, briefly looking sitting at Juhu beach. at her and then quickly There was a male figure returning his gaze to the that was advancing painting. towards them balancing ‚I did,‛ Remya simply three ice creams with a replied. wide smile across his face. Though the three figures She had his full attention formed a part of the now. ‚Really Ma’am? This multitude on the beach is so beautiful! I don’t they stood out as a even feel like looking at cohesive unit, as a family. the other paintings.‛ His It was one of Remya’s eyes sparkled as he spoke. favourites too and was inspired by people she Remya sat down to talk to had seen at the beach. She him eye to eye and said, had observed the boy ‚Well, much as I love it looked pensively at the that you love my painting, portrait. The rest of his it would be quite a shame classmates had moved on if you didn’t look at the to complete their tour of other artists today.‛ the Jehangir Art Gallery. He seemed unconvinced. ‚I’m glad you liked it,‛ Remya chuckled at the she smiled down at the half stubborn look that boy. passed across the young boy’s face. She stood up and said, ‚Let me make a
  42. 42. deal with you. I will come paintings pointed out to with you and take you him by Remya. At the end, through all the paintings he maintained that exhibited here and you Remya’s painting was the can come back and stay best amongst all in the here till your teacher calls exhibition. As he rejoined you, ok?‛ He took a long his batch, he held her minute and then grinned hand and said, ‚Thank and nodded. you Ma’am. I enjoyed it. ‛ He prattled on and filled ‚Me too,‛ she replied with her with his details. His a smile. As he skipped name was Roy, he was across the road to get into eight years old and was in the school bus, his teacher the fifth standard in Saint came to Remya and Ignatius, Santa Cruz. This thanked her for giving was his class’s first trip to him a special tour. an art gallery. Last year, ‚My pleasure,‛ Remya they had been taken to the said, ‚we rarely get such Gateway of India. Art was young people with an eye his favourite subject and for art. What do his English his second parents do?" favourite. He always came third in class. Sister His teacher smiled rather Rosalie wanted him to sadly, ‚He’s from the come first, but he found Mother Alva Home for mathematics difficult. He boys. He’s an orphan. But loved the oil paintings and the head of the Home, after the initial hurry took Sister Rosalie has always his time to appreciate the taken special care of him.
  43. 43. He’s the oldest orphan in does that mean that you the Home.‛ would not want him to be adopted at all?‛ Remya nodded Sister Rosalie cocked her wordlessly. It was destiny. head, her habit moved to ‚Fate, why else would Roy the side and wisps of grey be the only boy who has hair escaped from the side. not been adopted in the . She considered Remya’s last seven years?‛ Sister question and asked Rosalie said in a wheezy slowly, ‚What do you voice to Remya and Kabir. mean my child?‛ They were sitting across Remya took a deep breath. the desk from her at the ‚My husband and I have Home. ‚Sometimes they only each other. We have said he was too thin, then no other family. My that he had curly hair. family… um… we had Sometimes that he did not problems. I conceived look like them and once seven years ago, just sometimes no reason at months after our marriage. all. And then he grew up I…I miscarried soon after and the Home became his and the doctor - several home. Since he was five, doctors advised us against we started believing that it. We’ve never looked he was… maybe… meant back, but after meeting to be brought up by us. Roy - I think that he was Praise the Lord.‛ the reason why I was not Remya looked at Kabir, he destined to have a baby. I reached for her hand and …‛ She did not know held it tightly. ‚Sister, what else to say or
  44. 44. whether her words up. Remya finished the seemed logical at all. Her sketch. She would start a eyes welled with tears and new one once Roy moves she looked away. in. Roy, Kabir and she Kabir squeezed his wife’s would head to the beach; hand and spoke up, she would then make a ‚Sister, I’ve never had a painting of the men in her family before Remya. life. . We...‛ Kabir bought track shoes Sister Rosalie held up her in Roy’s size, so that he hand. She took off her can jog with him in the thick black glasses and mornings. He has also wiped her eyes. She been reading up on sixth looked at the couple and standard mathematics. He smiled. ‚If that is the has started to see why Roy Lord’s will,‛ she said in a had been having voice that slightly shook problems. They seemed with emotion. ‚Roy will almost as complex as his now have a family. graduate textbooks had Eight months of been. paperwork later, they Roy packed his satchel were ready. It is Roy’s last with the knick-knacks he day in the Home. Sister had collected over the Rosalie and the other nuns years. He peered down the got a cake baked. His stairs. None of the sisters things were packed and were in sight. He slid ready. They would have a down the banister with a tea party when Kabir and Remya came to pick Roy
  45. 45. flourish. He hopped off it, ‘Chicken Soup for the just before the last step. Indian Spiritual Soul’ and ‘CBW’s India’s Top 42 He heard a car honk as it Weekend Getaways’. She entered the grounds. has written columns for Roy’s face lit up. It was publications like the One time to go home. Philippines and Your About the Author Story. Her short fiction has been published in literary journals like Australian Women online, Single Solitary Thought, Pothiz and the Asia Writes project. She writes a column for The NRI, an online magazine and is Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a also a guest blogger for writer and a freelance Pratham Books, an Indian travel journalist who is NGO that works to based in the Philippines provide children with with articles frequently affordable books. You can appearing in the New read her blog on life as it Indian Express. Prior to happens at this she was a http://simplyspeaking.blo Communications Officer gspot.com/ for Greenpeace India and Image Attribution: a correspondent with http://www.flickr.com/ph CNN-IBN (CNN’s Indian otos/rekkid/2989204069/siz sister concern). She has es/z/in/photostream/ contributed articles for
  46. 46. deep, red blouse and she Story noticed with some pleasure that it hid the Matrimonially, extra bits on her pear- perfect shaped body very well. by Rati Ramadas Until now, her flabby There she stood, in front of body had never bothered the mirror. Nothing her. Her parents were fat extraordinary, definitely and she had inherited not exceptionally those genes. She had never beautiful. A woman with a thought about exercising pear-shaped body and or getting into shape when long, black hair stared she was around her back at Rachna. She had friends. It had never come seen the same person over up in conversation and the years but today she was happy the way something was different. she was. Today Rachna had made up her mind. She was sick of all the procrastinating and the moping. It was as though her resolve was radiating some inner glow which She bent down and formed a halo around her. tugged at an errant thread Rachna giggled to herself at the hem of the skirt. at the imagery. She had Everything had to be chosen to wear a long, perfect today. She stood block print skirt with a up and reached for the
  47. 47. kohl pencil she kept on done. The fact that the her dresser. She never past three months had stepped out without gone by because she had applying some kohl to her not bothered to make any big, black eyes. She picked plans was a painful up the pencil and noticed memory she forced out of it was a little blunt. It her mind. Just three needed sharpening.. Her months ago, after a grand sharpener, specially kept wedding back home, she for this purpose, was lying had followed a stranger to nearby. As she sharpened a strange country to live the pencil, she thought with him and start a new about how much Avinash life together. Rachna and liked her kohl-rimmed Avinash had talked a lot eyes. He had told her on about what she would do their wedding night that it when they moved to made her the most Dubai. Rachna had beautiful woman in the worked as a primary world. That memory sent school teacher back home a warm feeling through and wondered whether her body and she was now she could continue doing more eager than ever to that here. But Avinash had set pencil to eye to get that found out that she would perfect black underline have to do a course and beneath her deep, dark pass a test to get a teachers eyes. license. Perfect she thought. So far She had set timelines for everything that she had herself and wanted to get planned for today was the license as soon as
  48. 48. possible. But living away the young man given to from home and getting them intrigued Rachna. used to her husband and Avinash was dressed in a her new life had come in smart, blue checked shirt the way of her plans. She tucked into jeans; he had a never thought it would be toothy smile that reached this hard. his eyes. He was standing in front of some Rachna had met Avinash monument she did not through a website. recognize, with a camera Actually Rachna's parents around his neck and a had met Avinash's parents fanny pack around his through a matrimonial waist. That was the only website. Fate and angels picture she saw of him above had somehow led before the wedding. the families to each other. The families had liked And that’s how she what they saw and that pictured him every night meant they were satisfied when she talked to him by each other’s standing in over phone for hours. society, economic Avinash, standing with a acquisitions and familial camera in front of a duties. So the fathers had monument, smiling. They decided to take things had trodden cautiously at further and that meant it first and then the was time for Rachna and conversation flowed. She Avinash to speak, get to realised later that Avinash know each other and had asked the questions, reach a favourable all she had done was to decision. The picture of answer him. It has been
  49. 49. easier than she thought it kids and how many do would be. He had asked you see yourself having?'' her what she expected It caught her off guard from marriage, what and she paused. Avinash qualities she looked for in felt her awkwardness and her life partner and where quickly moved on to she saw herself five years something else. But later down the line. It was like while in bed she thought he was interviewing her about that question and for a job. She had felt herself redden. mentioned it in passing to She liked him and soon Avinash once, he had realised he did too. After a immediately stiffened up few days both of them on the other end of the conveyed their assent to line and the questions had their parents and then stopped for the night. She everything happened with realised that it had made incredible speed. She him uncomfortable and applied for a visa. The made a mental note never wedding date was set to bring it up again. After according to when a few days, his questions Avinash could take a few took a more personal turn. days off. Mothers started He started asking her making lists and shopping about her opinion on for saris and gold. children. Invitations were printed He asked, ‘‘If things and mailed. Soon it was between us go well and D-day and Rachna found we decide to get married, herself staring at a gaudy how soon should we have floral arrangement which
  50. 50. proclaimed to the world was bored but refused to 'Rachna weds Avinash'. do anything about it. She That was when it hit her. missed home and wanted She was now Mrs Rachna to go back. Avinash was Chandran. patient with her. Even when she woke up night Saying goodbye and after night whimpering moving to Dubai had been into her pillow, he held painful. She was terribly her close and comforted homesick. She missed silly her, told her she could go things - the irritating honk home whenever she of auto rickshaws, the wanted. But he had also shouts of slum children as let it slip that the tickets they begged for money were expensive and a little and food at street corners. out of their budget. He set She hated the long, never up a webcam for her and ending roads of Dubai asked her parents to do with its slick concrete and the same so that she could fast, plush cars. The sight talk to them every day and of tall buildings sickened they could see each other her and she longed for as they spoke. That helped tiny stores in crowded, for a while. narrow lanes. Two months into their She took out her anger on marriage, Avinash Avinash. She did not yell brought up the topic of or scream but rather her teaching license and sulked night after night. the timelines she had set Nothing seemed to for herself. She interest her anymore. She nonchalantly glanced at
  51. 51. the website he showed her people jumped to and went back to staring conclusions. But no one at the television. Teaching knew why he had would just have to wait. changed his mind. Her Rachna woke up tired friend casually remarked every morning. She hated about how lucky Rachna her life. She made was to have found the breakfast for Avinash and perfect man who had after he left for work she taken her far away from surfed the web for hours, irritating, nosy relatives. eating chips or cookies out Away from all of them, of a packet in her where she could make a nightclothes. She chatted life of her own, where she with her friends when could spend every they came online and moment getting to know hated herself even more the man she was married when they told her all to, without anyone around about their busy lives. to interrupt. She was in a land where she could It was during one of those spend evenings talking, conversations with an old playing, cooking, laughing friend that something in the company of her changed. She was at the husband, without anyone lowest point of her funk, to poke their noses and that’s when her friend told make comments. Her her that her wedding that friend wistfully remarked had been abruptly called that it was almost like a off after her fiancé had never ending honeymoon. changed his mind. Questions were asked and
  52. 52. At that moment, Houston, Texas from something clicked in Germany with the hope of Rachna. She put away her exploring America while packet of chips, put on she is there. She guest some music and cleaned blogs at Pratham books the house. She cooked an and also writes for elaborate meal, showered Demand studios. She and while she put on her blogs at long, block print skirt and www.oddsandmi.blogspot deep red blouse, she .com. thought about her day Image Attribution: ahead and just how http://www.flickr.com/ph perfect it was going to be. otos/epsos/4327124010/siz Her kohl rimmed eyes es/m/in/photostream/ shone as she thought how perfect her life was going to be. If she wanted it to. About the Author Rati Ramadas is a journalist who has now turned to writing full time. She loves writing short stories and is obsessed with the theme of arranged marriage and the Indian diaspora. Her other passion is travelling and she recently moved to
  53. 53. Chhoti Ma did what was Story best for her under the circumstances. What’s the Light of the day use of staying in a by Sree marriage where there is no love?‛ My timidity in pronouncing the word ‘love’ stemmed out of my expected response from Maa. ‚Baah, what is love-shove? ‚That bitch. Better not talk All nonsense they show in about her…she is a bad movies. Beta, for you I’ll example of what a woman get a beautiful bahu and ought to be. Of course, she that’s that. Don’t even comes from a think of marrying a firang. dysfunctional family…just I am telling you I’ll throw look at your father…all shoes on you even if you from the same family. ‛ as much as think about She moved away to wipe marrying outside our the dining table as she caste, creed and religion. finished her outburst and I Look at Rano, your maasi, thought it wise to keep she’d run away from quiet for a while. home to marry that good- for-nothing baniya and Then I dared to ask, ‚But now all she has in her life Ma, why do you blame is miseries. I am much her if her first marriage better off than her, I’ve my did not work out, after all