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niece's (niece on UKA) UKArchive
53 Archived submissions found.
Title
Golden Butterflies (posted on: 17-09-12)
Another poem where the words and the pen took charge of my hand and wrote itself...so if it's not good I'm not responsible...:)

Thoughts thrashed Around in my mind Like golden butterflies Enclosed in a glass jar; I kept them there For they defined me--- Who I was, What ''I'' meant; Like a line Of distinction That highlights And demarcates My wisdom, My sorrow, My loves My world. Even as I strived To defend and protect The ''I'' and ''me'' All I gathered Was rejection, Dejection and pain. So one evening I set those thoughts loose Watching them fly High and free Merging and blending Into infinity And I knew joy, I knew contentment, I knew peace And I knew me. Then there was no me.
Archived comments for Golden Butterflies
stormwolf on 17-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Then there was no me.

aha! the concept of returning to the whole. I saw the butterflies in the jar. A lovely analogy and the setting free is always a good idea.
I reckon the more we try to contain ourselves by metaphorical glass jars, the more the soul calls out for freedom. That sets out a wanting in the spirit that takes away our peace. The poem describes this well.
Aison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Alison...my muse had been missing for a while and found her while waiting for my son to arrive after a class...these days that's when they strike when there is no pen and no little notebook to jot down the thoughts...this time I was prepared tho'...:) I've let most of those precious butterflies free...just kept some for my day to day existence and also some that have been a little difficult to chase away 🙂

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 17-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
We are all subject to the sum of our experiences, good or bad, they are what define us, if we shed them, we are depleted. As you so rightly and eloquently said.

Enjoyed the piece always do enjoy your writing niece, it's becoming to me like a comfortable pair of old slippers. if you'll forgive me for saying so.Thank you for posting.

Author's Reply:
It's very important to have a pair of comfortable slippers, WFF...just broke mine, so I would know 😀 ... I'm glad you like my writing...and thanks for telling me...it means a lot...

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 17-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Loved this Niece, especially the image of the golden butterfly.

Author's Reply:
Golden was the first word that came to mind when I thought butterflies...tho' I've never seen such ones. I've seen some beautiful looking moths tho'...brilliant shades of silver and burnished gold...Glad you liked the poem and thanks for letting me know...

Regds,
niece

franciman on 17-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Hi Niece,

Maybe I should be addressing this to your Muse? Even with gold instead of golden, I'm giving it a perfect ten.

This really sings, it is simply beautiful.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
It's the muse mostly, Jim...but with so many "I"s and "me"s in it, I think it wasn't just that though:D ... it's great to hear from you and nice to know that you liked this...and thanks for letting me know...(and the nom?) 🙂

Regds,
niece

PS : Was meant to be "golden"...a genuine typo...thanks for pointing it out 🙂

Texasgreg on 18-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Photobucket

Aye! Can see that your words just flowed as it often seems to result in uninhibited success.

Beautiful, Niece!

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Words and thoughts that flow are always the best, right, Greg? I'm making it a point to carry a little notebook around (used to do it a long time ago) because you never know when inspiration can strike 🙁 ... thanks so much for your beautiful comment 🙂

Regds,
niece

PS : Btw, loved the pix...always like the ones you place next to your comment and posts 🙂

amman on 18-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Like the analogous sentiments in this one Niece. Flows well but, really, Alison has said it all.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, amman...glad you liked it 🙂

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 20-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
I can see that you are a philosopher on the quiet, Mini.
Lovely thoughts and sentiments extremely well expressed.

Author's Reply:
😀 ... I hope so...thanks so much for your kind comment, Luigi...it was one of those days when things didn't work my way...good time to get philosophical, no? 🙂

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 20-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
Lovely, niece - No, I don't reckon that golden butterflies actually exist, but that makes the image more striking: all such creatures are beautiful yet ephemeral. As we all are, maybe! Very striking imagery all round, and I loved the final line.

Author's Reply:
Roy, great to hear from you...I love butterflies...even the not-so-spectacular ones...the only insects I can touch without squirming 🙂

Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me what you felt...:)

Regds,
niece

Pelequin23 on 25-09-2012
Golden Butterflies
beautiful you have a way with words !

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pelenquin, for your kind comment 🙂 ....

Regds,
niece

anth2014ed on 04-09-2013
Golden Butterflies
sorry this is not a comment, but could you provide permission for work to go in the Anth (see forums and FP)

Author's Reply:


As Mischievous as The Rains (posted on: 10-09-12)
Why it doesn't rain when the children are within the confines of the school building...my father's theory

The clouds have gathered; And everything's still--- Any moment now The bell will ring... Then it does... The chime of the school gong Mingles in seconds With the gurgle of young chatter Rushing down stairways And corridors like a dam burst. Even as they emerge The clouds come alive --- Pouring rain, wetting School bags, socks and shoes And making big fat puddles In which to float Those ruled paper boats. There is much rejoicing For the rains love children And the children...? They are as mischievous As the rains
Archived comments for As Mischievous as The Rains
Texasgreg on 10-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
My theory is ya gotta feed, water, and let the sun shine on kids to watch 'em grow. 😉

Nice Niece!
Photobucket.
Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg...I totally agree with you...tho' there's too much pressure on the kids out here...

Regds,
niece

amman on 10-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
Hi Niece.
Your words always bring your characters to life, as if we were there to witness the scene in real time. Didn't we all like to jump in puddles. Nothing changes.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, amman...those are very encouraging words indeed 🙂 ... Mumbai puddles are suspect most of the time ...so jumping in is an absolute no-no ... I know---poor city kids !!! But for two whole years I've waded through the largest puddle in one of the posher areas...it WAS fun !!!

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 10-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
I've no doubt your father was right, Niece. Lovely poem 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea...there is a bit of truth in it definitely...either the rains (hence Nature) senses their presence or the higher ups at the Education Department have kept school timings in such a way that the kids get wet while on their way to school and back 😀

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 10-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
Niece, it must be true. Here it starts raining when I am halfway to the shops. For us old ones it is a nuisance but I bet the children love it.
A good poem.

Author's Reply:
True...and try forgetting your umbrella at home during the rainy season---even if it is bright and sunny outside, take fifteen steps and it's pouring cats and dogs...Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 12-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
Another poem that really got to me! I loved the analogy of the children spllling down the stairs and corridors like a dam burst. The way the storm clouds hung about ready, like friends waiting at the school gates...then the total happy soaking chaos.

It's a beautiful thought and links the children in their innocence to the wonder and beauty of nature.
Just loved it. Into favs
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Wow...thanks, Alison. ..running out of the school at that last bell is a memory that's as fresh as yesterday 🙂 ... and it was always better if the rain clouds were there to greet us!!! I still love to go and wait outside my kids' school and watch the children go home...the loner walking alone, groups of giggling girls, the boisterous bunch of boys...:D

Your comment and your adding this as a hot read means a lot...Thanks once again 🙂

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 13-09-2012
As Mischievous as The Rains
All I hear is laughter and pouring rain. Brilliant again.

Author's Reply:
WFF, thanks so much for the comment and everything else...so kind of you to go and read old (almost forgotten) posts of mine as well...truly appreciate your gesture that put me on Monsoon Cloud No.9 🙂 ... Many thanks !!!

Regds,
niece


Angels that laugh (posted on: 27-08-12)
... a kind helpful soul...or a secret angel 🙂

She had this loud throaty laughter that could both please and annoy at one and the same time. She giggled incessantly while we struggled to clamber up the steeper slopes, or huffed and puffed our ways up the less inclined surfaces. I called her ''my secret angel''Ravi just insisted on calling her a ''kind helpful soul''. ''Let me help you,'' she would say and we would find ourselves hauled up by the pint-sized creature like we were a mere kg sack of potatoes. Much much later when she told us how she was a state level football champion, things fell into perspective. We knew where all that strength was coming from now. If it had not been for her, we would have turned back and returned to the comfort of our resort's room and asked for a refund from the fun activity organiser who'd insisted that the trip would be a breeze for ''senior citizens'' like my husband and I. Fortunately for us, even as we had watched our trek companions trudge ahead nonchalantly, this young girl, who having forgotten her water bottle, had run back to retrieve it from her room and had run into us. She saw us struggling, almost on the verge of giving up and decided to help.. ''You are lucky,'' she unabashedly told us later, ''If you hadn't found me, you'd have gone back, right?'' She wouldn't accept mere nods for an answer. We had to say ''yes'' although we were breathless from several minutes of climbing and were on a few minutes of a ''catch-a-breath'' break. Then suddenly she would jump up, ''Can't afford to rest for so longcome oncome on'' At times she would suddenly start marching ahead, forgetting that she was supposed to lead us all the way up. Then she'd remember and run back, flailing her arms about, ''Oh, I forgotcome on, guys.'' ''Guys?'' Ravi would mutter,under his breath, with a tinge of disapproval. She was atleast forty years younger than us. When the one hour---for us one-hour-forty-minutes --- trek was over, we stood there tired, huffing and puffing, but absolutely mesmerised. The rest of the gang, a motley crew that included two hyper ten-year olds, a lovey-dovey couple, a few middle-aged men and women, were scattered amidst rocks and crevices, admiring the amazing view while they waited for us to catch up. ''I saw her with you,'' our guide told us, explaining his disappearance after the first few minutes of starting the trek, ''I realised you had help.'' ''He will get his tip alright!'' I whispered to my husband and he chuckled. The sight that met our eyes was nothing less of spectacular. Standing on that mountain peaks, gazing at all that lay belowvast stretches of coffee plantations interspersed by a long winding road that snaked its way admidst all the green. Even as my eyes brimmed with tears, I reached for Ravi's hand and squeezed it. ''It was worth all the trouble then, right?'' The others had been waiting for a long while, hence within ten minutes of standing and staring, we were told that the descent would begin in two minutes. ''Just a few more minutes? I mean after all the effort, I do have a right to enjoy this sweet mountain air and all that lovely scenary. I'm sure nobody would mind,'' the few people who were close by nodded in assention. The rest of them would have also agreed for certain. ''Ma'am, I have to get back and bring the next group that will be waiting,'' he told me. The climb down was even worse. Neetu giggled more now as we clumsily negotiated our descent, with her help of course. The guide too managed to keep tabs on us. Neetu was particularly amused when I almost slid down a rock, fortunately not slipping and falling. And then again when the guide mispronounced something. By the time we reached the bottom, Ravi and I were wondering why we ever undertook this journey. Right at the end, where the inclined slopes merged with the flat planes, we found a huge rock and sat on it, long enough to catch our breath. ''I better be leaving,'' Neetu said. She gave us both a tight squeeze each and was off. ''Nice girl,'' Ravi said. ''Yes,'' I said, ''Should call her up when we get back to Mumbai You have her number, right?'' ''No, I thought you were taking it down.'' ''I thought you were.'' I told him, ''Has she taken ours?'' Ravi shook his head. ''No worries. We will take it when we meet her at the restaurant this evening.'' We didn't since we'd also forgotten that she had mentioned she was returning the same evening just after our late afternoon trek. Later that day we tipped the guide with a hefty 200 rupees note. And we never met our lively chortling young angel again.
Archived comments for Angels that laugh
Texasgreg on 27-08-2012
Angels that laugh
Aye! I'm too cheap fer the helicopter, too. -joke-
I assume this is non-fiction? Nice, heartwarming story.
Photobucket.
Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Oh, no, not non-fiction, Greg...but yes, inspired by the few times we've done uphill treks...I don't even remember what prompted me to write this...never had elderly people with us on such treks 🙁 ... [It's also an old write which I found while looking for something to edit and post]...

Unfortunately, didn't get your joke...I don't think I've ever told you this, but I am a little slow :(...at times...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Greg....:)

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 27-08-2012
Angels that laugh
What a shame! Still, c'est la vie, eh? One's always coming across people you'll never see again, some more interesting than others :). Lovely little tale Niece, much enjoyed!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea...I've realised over the years that even if you saved phone numbers and promised to keep in touch, you just don't do it...in fact, I still have such a contact on my social network profile,...I saw her once at a restaurant and she didn't recognise me...:(

Regds,
niece

amman on 28-08-2012
Angels that laugh
Hello Niece. Lovely, heartwarming little story. Can relate to the trekking commentary; always worse going downhill, for sure. Great title too.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
In South India, just as you begin your trek, they warn you that if wild elephants give chase, then you run uphill and never down, because elephants seldom chase you to the top...for obvious reasons. I've only done two major treks...one up Duke's Nose in Lonavla, Maharashtra and the other a fantabulous trek up one of the hills of Munnar...there was a lovely lake half-way up there...but not much of a trekker otherwise 🙂 ...

Thanks for reading and commeting...the title---the first thought that came to mind :)...

Regds,
niece


Faith on a Cloudy Evening... (posted on: 13-08-12)
Faith and Prayers on Friendship Day...

We watched the Monsoon Clouds Hover above us And across the horizon--- Too late now even to say ''It's high time.'' The rains were overdue A long while ago; The clouds seem to mock us- For there is so much Man cannot control; We are but mere mortals, Meek, weak, susceptible To the whimsy of Nature, Fate and something else; Over cups of just-brewed Japanese tea, That is the colour of sunshine we discuss everything but that! Only time will tell What lies ahead A future beyond our ken; And with the clouds As our witness We celebrate life, Living and friendship And hope to speak Of these uncertain days In the past tense The stubborn clouds lurk above Watching us and listening As she says amidst smiles And unshed tears --- ''This too shall pass''
Archived comments for Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
Texasgreg on 13-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
The storms of life bring people together. I prefer whiskey over tea with companionship, though, 😉

PhotobucketNice, Niece...hehe

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
My husband and friend's hubby too would have preferred whisky (or vodka tonic ;)), maybe, Greg...but the time was just right for tea that sultry evening...:) ...Wine would be my personal choice tho' again not a big fan anyways 😀 ... I came back from there feeling pretty down(I've been in a similar situ, so I know)...so wrote this down...as they say, writing is therapeutic...

Thanks so much for you comment and Mr.Sunshiny Face...:)

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 13-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
Very philosophical, niece: no, ultimately we have no control over thr great forces of nature, or whatever, that shape our lives. "We are such little creatures" - can't remember which H G Wells that's from, but it's true nonetheless. If we can bounce back from whatever's thrown at us, it's the best we can do! A thought-provoking write. You've even got me thinking now!

Author's Reply:
A cursory glance through Google search indicates that the quote is from H.G.Well's "Things to Come" 🙂 ... had to go and check it out... I'm not normally that much into philosophy...but that evening with the clouds looming dark and ominous (and not a drop of rains in so many days) and my friend's uncertain condition...just had to find that hope and cheer to go on...things seem to be fine as of now...hope all will be well in the end 🙂

Thanks for the comment, Roy...it's always so nice to see you 🙂

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 13-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
What better than drinking Japanese tea and chatting with friends, accepting the fact that humans cannot control events including the arrival of overdue rain or foresee what lies ahead.
Only the hope of happier days sustains life.
A good write, niece.

Luigi x

Author's Reply:
The only thing that looked bright and cheerful that evening was the Japanese tea in white cups...in fact, the men were not very complimentary about it's appearance initially...but it was indeed a lovely colour...tending on a yellowish gold, not just yellow yellow 🙂 We've had very strange weather this year...the rains starts like there is no tomorrow and then it simmers down to nothing but a drizzle...glad you liked the poem and also for the rating, Luigi...appreciate that 🙂

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 14-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
Beautiful, philosophical piece, Niece, much enjoyed.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Andrea...:)

Regds,
niece

sunken on 15-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
Another excellent sub, Ms. Niece. Nib worthy in my opinion. Sadly my opinion is of little consequence at the moment. I blame the footsie 100, stale bread, that cling film they wrap boxes of tea bags in and, of course, turnips. Keep up the good work, Niece.

s
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k
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n



Author's Reply:
I'm thrilled by the number of Bernards I've been collecting over the last few days 🙂 ... that and all the comments I've received ... 🙂 Thank you for your lovely lovely comment, for the Bernard and also for making my day...and a special day it was for me 🙂

Regds,
niece

barenib on 16-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
An enjoyable read, I particualrly liked the ending - John.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, John, for your kind words 🙂

Regds,
niece

SugarMama34 on 16-08-2012
Faith on a Cloudy Evening...
Hello niece, what a beautiful and philosophical piece this is, loved it. It speaks volumes and I loved the imagery that you evoked with your words and knowledge. I really enjoyed reading this.

Lis. xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Lisa 🙂 .... so glad you liked it ...

Regds,
niece


Black is Beautiful (posted on: 06-08-12)
I wrote this after reading an exclusive interview by a usually elusive 60-year old Indian actress from the yesteryears...abandoned at childhood by her famous father, she went on the become a trend-setting actress and the poster girl for yoga as a form of fitness...but after a brief love affair with fame, one controversry followed another and she went into a shell...never lost her dignity though and is still stunning...and yes, she did say those words

She revelled in what Her 'life' offered--- A troubled childhood; A much forgettable past; A lover lost On those infamous paths; Yet a job well done--- And what came As a reward --- Riches, fame And ignominy Age beautified her Pain did glamorize--- She believes She is fulfilling a karma; The colours of her life Are bleak! But black, She says, Is beautiful !
Archived comments for Black is Beautiful
Andrea on 06-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
Lovely, Niece, much enjoyed!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea...it's an old one edited ever so slightly...just realised that typing in the words "Indian actress", ""60" and "yoga" would take you to the Wikipedia link about the same person...

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 06-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
living in a goldfish bowl must be hard for these people. the public have preconceptions of how people should be....A very sympathetic piece.
I don't get the black thing though. Are'nt we all beautiful?

My Daughter had a friend who was infatuated by Sean Connery.

My wife Theresa knew a woman who knew the actor when he was an unknown in Edinburgh.

I asked the girl to come down and meet this woman who we were having a drink with.

She came and soon asked old Maisie who was in her eighties about the actor.

'Who that arsehole?' she answered. tThe girl never thought about big Sean again.

Author's Reply:
What???!!!??? The best Bond ever ... Sean Connery !!! I don't think i want to meet your wife's friend...:D The truth is most often bitter...

As for the "Black is beautiful" line...those were her words and I think referred to her life or maybe even her personality because for a long time people considered her a home wrecker, et al...but come to think of it, she is dusky and gorgeous...and personally, I think beauty is on the inside...yes, we are all beautiful in our own individual ways...I agree with you, WFF 🙂

Regds,
niece


Texasgreg on 07-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
A whole life and beautiful philosophy to boot in so few lines and eloquently done...

Wonderful Job!
Photobucket
Greg 🙂


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg...I was quite touched by what she had to say...I'm not a major Hindi movie fan (being South Indian I prefer movies in my local language as they are far better in plot and believability too 🙂 ) Stardom is a crazy thing, but this one seemed so calm and accepting...despite being let down not once but twice by the men she adored/loved ... that is something !!!

Btw, love the pix you post at the end of your comments...they are really cute :D...

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 07-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
Just in case I've depleted one of Scotlands heroes. I heard a story of four Scots, two men and their partners, on holiday in Spain.

They followed a big car through an electric gate into a big fancy hotel.

They parked and popped inside for a drink. when given the bill which was extortionate.

One of the four argued very strongly and loudly about the overcharging. Sean Connery approached and said, 'how did you lot get in here?'

'This is a private club, the prices reflect that.
Because you are Scottish and so am I, I'm going to pay your bill.I'll get you another drink and join you.
When you have finished that, I expect you all to leave.' This they did and all were happy. No arsehole there then.

Author's Reply:
Phew...that's some relief then...typical Bond-like behaviour...shaken nor stirred :). Maybe he changed for the better after becoming a celebrity...

Regds,
niece

soman on 07-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
True, life is indeed tough for stars of yesteryear. And our actresses age very fast. Some of them move to mother roles for a living, and hang on - while their erstwhile 'lovers' now put on the mantle of their 'sons'!
Good story, niece.

Author's Reply:
Just watched a famous actor hug his "mother" who used to be his "sister" about 15 years ago...it's true, Indian actresses age fast and what is most pitiable is their desperate attempt to hang on to stardom even when others know they are finished...not this one...she did heroine roles for a long time...even with newer girls sharing the limelight...to throw another hint, her award winning performance as a courteson is remembered to this day...and one more, her famous so-called liasons with a much-married and extremely famous star was one of the things that drove her into a shell...in fact, in the interview, she talked about him, never once hinting at their relationship but acknowledging the fact that he changed her life for the better...those are one too many hints!!! Any guesses ?

Thanks for the comment 🙂

Regds,
niece

sunken on 08-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
Hello Ms. Niece. She sounds like quite a lady. You really seem to have found your poet voice of late. In comparison, I seem to have mislaid mine. I suspect it's slipped down the back of the sofa again. Can't understand why this remains un-nibbed. I'll get my placards out.

s
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n
k
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Author's Reply:
:D, Sunken, your saying so is equal to a nib for me...plus there's Bernard too...what more can I ask for???!!!???

Your are right, you know...I'm posting and also writing more poems than prose...because I still seem to suffer from writer's block when I start to write a story...I blame the fact that I'm wanting to start and complete a novel...maybe I should just give up and stick to short stories (only) and poems...

Thanks for your comment...and get back your creative voice soon...missing it out here 🙂

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 08-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
A good one, Mini. Nice to read of a lady who, notwithstanding her adversities, can still celebrate life.

Best, Luigi.

Author's Reply:
Must have been some life for her...living in a plush bungalow in the suburbs (a privilege in a city like Mumbai), one would think she has it all...but the question is whether she feels that way ... I'd be the first one to run and buy her biography if one ever comes out...but I doubt it 🙂

Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Luigi

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 12-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
Another beauty (pardon the pun)
The format is short and striking. It encapsulates the life of this mysterious woman who lived a full life and knew her share of sorrow. Better to have really 'lived' than play safe has been my motto.
The last two stanzas are brilliant
Age beautified her
Pain did glamorize---
She believes
She is fulfilling a karma;
The colours of her life
Are bleak!

But black,
She says,
Is beautiful !

This is a person who understands that her karma has to be lived out and although it has cost her dearly, she is stoic and brave in the face of the passing of time, knowing she has done her job well. It speaks to me of a person after my own heart, who does not view life in the way some do but who understands that the challenges we face and overcome are all to the soul's benefit. So she knows that black is beautiful. The 'black' here encapsulating everything from skin colour to the germinating darkness of the womb from whence all life comes.
Another incredible poem from you Mini.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Alison 🙂 ... this dusky beaut has recently joined politics too... what a full life she'd have lived by the time she has to go...it's something not all the love, money or influence in the world can buy:) ... you make me intrepret my own poems better, Alison 😀 ...

Regds,
niece

SugarMama34 on 13-08-2012
Black is Beautiful
Stunning poetry, it shows so much and says so much too. The words you have chosen are great and it tells her story well in brief, so that the reader can get a glimpse in what she has had to endure...definitely a strong woman, ready to face whatever life throws at her next. If I had a hat, I would take it off to her. Loved it!!

Lis xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Lisa...the strong silent types are always intriguing...they've understood life better, overcome pain and rejection...would love to peep into their heads and view the world through their eyes 🙂

Regds,
niece

PS : I'm sorry for forgetting to thank you for the nom...so kind of you, Lisa...and it means a lot 🙂


Monsoon Dreams (posted on: 23-07-12)
For the longest time I thought the girls who are headed for a local municipal school wore a pink uniform...these girls come from the lower strata of society and must face many hardships, but come rain come shine, they are there every morning walking down the street before our apartment...

My wake-up call Each morning Is the thrilling Hustle and bustle As shrill girlish voices Natter and chatter Down wet cobbled streets. I stand by the window And watch them drift Gently by in their red and white Chequered pinafores --- Heavy backpacks that Weigh and bend Their straight young backs Ever so slightly. But this morning As I lie in Listening to them, I do not see them; Instead I'll close my eyes And float pink paper boats Down gushing Monsoon dreams.
Archived comments for Monsoon Dreams
Andrea on 24-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
The Caste system is, indeed, very harsh (assume that's the case with these girls?). Much worse than the class 'system' in the UK. The desire for education seems to conquer many things, however.
We do not make such distinctions here (Netherlands) I am pleased to say - yet!

Good pome, Niece, - enjoyed.

Author's Reply:
The divide here is not caste but class, Andrea ... caste system does not affect the city people as much as it does in the interiors...though I won't say it's not there at all...these girls are from economically lower background (daughters of maids, lower level employees of offices, etc)...but it's their spirit that is so delightful because they travel by the ordinary public transport (which is no great shakes out here)...they must be travelling huge distances too...and for all you know, they'd have helped their parents out in the morning to cook, clean up, et al...I used to watch them drift by every morning minutes before I woke up my two kids...I hardly get the time to stand and watch them these days 🙁

Thanks so much for reading, commenting and rating...

Regds,
niece

Texasgreg on 25-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
Aye! Class is in the mind of the beholder. I tried it once. wasn't for me, LOL.
Photobucket
Good write, Niece!
Photobucket.
Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
😀 ... class is confusing...out here there are too many divisions and sub-divisions...so I find it easier not to bother about such things...:)

Thanks so much for the comment and the sunny smiley face...

Regds,
niece

amman on 26-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
Hello Niece. You have captured the spirit of these young girls as they natter and chatter/down wet cobbled streets. I especially like the poetry of the final verse.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked the last verse, amman...it was an after-thought...and glad you liked the "natter and chatter" part of it too...those were the only words that came to mind when I thought of them 🙂 ... thanks

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 26-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
Hi Mini. A nice observation of young girls happily determined to achieve an education regardless of their reduced financial circumstances.
Good poem.

Luigi x

Author's Reply:
They look very beautiful in their pretty uniform(that appears to be the colour of strawberry milk from where I stand)...the fact that they are so hard-working adds to the charm. They also remind me a lot of my own school days when there always seemed to be so much to share with friends all the time...

Thanks a lot, Luigi, for your nice comment 🙂

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 27-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
This really got to me on SO many levels. The imagery was delightful and I could tell so much from the way you wrote. I almost heard the rain and the atmosphere transported me instantly to the scene.
I was moved by the way you understand their girlish enthusiasm in spite of the weather, their burdens, both physical and on other levels too. I loved this poem and will think of it long after I have read it which, to me, is a sign that something has really resonated with me.
The last stanza is supremely poetic and speaks of the child in you who is also the poet..just lovely.
Alison x

into favs
and allow me to nominate it too.

Author's Reply:
I wish...I wish...I wish they had an option out here for an author's fav comments on his/her own work...then this one would have been one of them 😀 ... never have I felt this much joy at having someone understand what I was trying to say...in fact, the last few days I've seen the girls walk by and told them in my mind "Sorry girls...didn't do justice to this beautiful scene you create every morning." 😀 ... thanks for the lovely comment and the nomination and the hot read 🙂 ... it will take a while for anyone to get me out of my cloud-nine moment 😀

Regds,
niece

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 28-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
You did them proud!

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison...glad you think that way 🙂

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 29-07-2012
Monsoon Dreams
I have an image of these girls, pristine in their uniforms, quickly avoiding stain giving accidental encounters with other travelers, as they thread their way through the masses.

Matron will cane them if she finds the slightest blemish when they line up in the 'Great Hall' for inspection. Great read enjoyed muchly. Thank You.

Author's Reply:
Never thought of the Matron...and this would be a sari-clad one too 😀 ... the other reason why the girls must be taking extra care each morning...though as for the masses, these girls are out very early when most people are just about emerging from the land of sleep...

Thanks so much for the comment, Weefatfella...:)

Regds,
niece

sunken on 04-08-2012
Monsoon Dreams
Good to see you subbing again, Niece. This is lovely. Yes, I said lovely. There's nothing wrong with lovely. In fact, if lovely didn't exist then I wouldn't want to either. Exist that is. As you can see I've still not got the hang of commenting. Great little piece though. Well done on the nib. Commiserations on the smelly Bernard.

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Author's Reply:
Great to see you commenting too, Sunks...was sooooo missing you on the site. Now to read some of your fantabulous poems ... Btw, hadn't noticed the nib...did you put it there by any chance ???!!!??? 😀 Thanks so much ...

Regds,
niece

PS : Just told my son that my friend's back on UKA and his name is "Sunken" and he asked me if it's "Sunken Treasure" 😀 ... and thanks for the Bernard...:)

sunken on 04-08-2012
Monsoon Dreams
The nibbers are a law unto themselves, Niece. I think half of them are on some kind of medication. I blame bran flakes. I read the poem last week and I don't think it had one then. You can blame me for Bernard though.
Your son's comment on my name is priceless. You may have another poet on your hands there.

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t r e a s u r e (cos Niece's son says so)

Author's Reply:
Sunky Treasure, had some really nice comments on the poem...so that was good 🙂 and a nom and a hot read to boot (thanks to Alison) ... and now your comment as well 🙂 ... btw, I know a person by the name of Lovely ... she is not very lovely 😛 ... now I'm being mean as well...Once again great to see ya back and thanks so much...I don't know about my little fella being a poet in the future (I'm not even sure his mother is one :D) but he surely knows how to judge a person ...

Regds,
niece


The List (posted on: 16-07-12)
Change lingered in every nook and cranny waiting to take over...

It was whilst we were dismantling the fading plastic Christmas tree, that Naren dropped the gum-ball sized translucent bauble with it's holly imprint. It shattered into tiny shardsunnecessarily and dramatically so. I would have over-reacted under normal situations, but things had thawed so much between us. Hence when Naren sat on his haunches with his head buried in his hand, I patted his back and mumbled, ''It's alright. It was old anyway. I might as well get new Christmas decorations along with a new tree next year. You can help me choose it.'' The list sat on the bureau with the Santa soft toy acting as a temporary paper-weight. ''Don't you understand?'' Naren muttered emotionally, ''I'm leaving you. How many times do I have to tell you? I need you to sign the papers.'' Pretending not to hear, I continued to wrap the remaining decorations in foil, placing them gently at the bottom of a carton. ''Sign itstop this tortureboth yours and mine!'' I stopped. So this was it. It was official. I turned around and signed the petition that lay close to my cheerful Santa---all the while sensing Naren's eyes on me and something else --- change that lingered in every nook and cranny waiting to take over the moment I signed on the form. Nearby the list fluttered from under Santa's bottom. ''Baubles Candy Sticks Elves'' Midway through signing my rights as a wife away, I paused and reached out for the list, and at the end, I added ''New Love''.
Archived comments for The List
Texasgreg on 16-07-2012
The List
Aye! I was very moved by your description of denial and regretful acceptance. If this is from real life, I hope Santa brought you a bright and shiny new love with lifetime warranty. 😉

Good Job!
Photobucket.
Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Santa's been kind to me for a while now, Greg...he got me what I wanted 17 years ago 😀 ... this is fiction...I'd have posted anything personal under biography...but considering my habit of adding loads of masala...more likely faction 🙂 ...

thanks for the lovely comment...oh, yes, I did write this just after Christmas when the XMas tree was pleading with me to be taken down 😀 ...

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 16-07-2012
The List
A nice little tale, niece. Like Greg I wondered if it was a true story, as it sounds so convincing.

Best, Luigi.

Author's Reply:
Probably the use of first person narration that does it...when you say "I" I guess you do become that person for a while...in fact, I always have my husband read my work before posting it (not poems tho' because he says he can't understand those 🙂 )...I told him about the confusion this little work of mine is causing on the site:D ...

Thanks so much for the comment...:)

Regds,
niece

ChairmanWow on 16-07-2012
The List
Strange how signing a piece of paper can change your life. Christmas has become the time for break-ups. Nicely done flash-fiction, especially the surprise but positive ending.

Ralph

Author's Reply:
It was post-Christmas that I wrote this...also the fact that two of our very close friends have been through bitter divorces...one of those couples still can't see face to face...it must have been in my thoughts when I wrote this...sort of a trigger...I can't remember tho'...Yup, we always fight change...even when what we have may not be right for us ...

Thanks, Ralph, for commenting 🙂 ...

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 16-07-2012
The List
Nice little slice of life, Niece, much enjoyed.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea...was trying to tell as much as I could in 200 words...At 54 words more, it isn't too short for a flash fiction piece, is it? Thanks for stopping by and commenting and rating 🙂

Regds,
niece

chrisk on 17-07-2012
The List
Short but very effective. Sad when these things happen, not long after X mas! I know it's fiction and I see a short movie here! I might ask Ish to do a script if it's okay with you. Love,CRK

Author's Reply:
That would be great...Had the whole scene playing out clearly in my mind...would love to see how another person would interpret it ... Thanks a ton 🙂

Regds,
niece

Texasgreg on 18-07-2012
The List
LOL, Did not even notice it was under heading of fiction. Realistic.

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
😀 ... no issues, Greg...btw, my experience...posts listed under Biography on UKAuthors hardly get any hits...so even if it were true, I'd have still posted under Fiction ... 🙂 Thanks once again...

Regds,
niece


Rain Wish (posted on: 02-07-12)
While the Monsoon plays truant ... 🙁

They are not meant for us --- Thick rain laden clouds That chase eachother Across the grey evening sky. I watch them drift by And someone far away Sees those very clouds, says, ''I wish it would rain.'' And it rains!
Archived comments for Rain Wish
Andrea on 02-07-2012
Rain Wish
I think the Netherlands is the 'someone(where) far away' - it never stops!

Sweet piece, Niece

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea...I'd have packed my stuff and come there but fortunately it poured out here last evening...some respite...hope there are more rains coming this way tho' ...

Regds,
niece

Texasgreg on 02-07-2012
Rain Wish
Hehe. Right now, I'd like to be in the Netherlands! It's dadgum hot here.
Take a little peek..eachother needs a space.
Aye, sweet describes it well.
Photobucket.
Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Greg ... the Monsoons are very important for us...it not only gets the temperature down, but is essential for rural farming et al...and not to mention the water-cuts we'd face if it didn't rain a wee bit more...

Regds,
niece

ChairmanWow on 03-07-2012
Rain Wish
A fine zen-like poem that makes me try to remember what rain is like...

Ralph

Author's Reply:
Most Indians looks forward to this time of the year, Ralph...have made a note to check the internet for zen poems 🙂 ... thanks a ton for stopping by...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 08-07-2012
Rain Wish
Rain, niece? You want rain? We got it! ALL of it. I kid you not, the past two months have been the wettest May and June on record and it's still coming down. Just came on five minutes ago, after a bit of sunshine - again...well, it's Wimbledon, I suppose. And, no kidding, much of England was on drought alert in April: we'd had hardly any measurable rain for the best part of a year here in Shropshire. Then, suddenly - wham!
I know how much you depend on the monsoon, for the entire vital crop cycle, and it's usually quite predictable, isn't it? It must be a welcome break in the heat, too. Could we swop some of our rain for that heat, please? Your poem just goes to show - we all want different things at different times: it's never perfect for everybody!

Author's Reply:
Looks like the Rain Gods heard me, Roy...been raining intermittently since last Monday...though never enough...but at least it's a start and yes, a big respite from the heat...

And you are so right...we all want different things at different times...we'd gone on a road trip during the kids' summer break and we passed by many barrens fields that seemed all set for the arrival of Monsoon...one farmer has already committed suicide after the rains were delayed...and hope it stops at just one...

Thanks for the comment...

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 13-07-2012
Rain Wish
It goes to prove that Nature is so fickle that one has to do a rain dance in order to obtain what the soil needs most, at the appropriate time.
A neat poem, niece.

Luigi x

Author's Reply:
Rain dance or rain "raga" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amritavarshini)...it seems that certain scales can also have the same effect...I'd have thought otherwise...sing in an aweful voice and the Rain Gods would say :"Take that...now please stop croaking" 🙂 ...

Our rain fiasco is even getting the politicians involved...now that's bad news...

Thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

Regds,
niece

soman on 21-07-2012
Rain Wish
And it rains, you say. Where? in Kerala? not to my knowledge! Oh, I see, you mean in Dubai whitrher our people have migrated, taking the clouds with them.

Author's Reply:
Could be the Middle East, Soman...Dubai, or even Kuwait 🙂 ... but it's more likely the clouds that I saw rained on the lovely hills of Lonavla or Mahabaleshwar...I'm sure the tourism department of those places must have something to do with it...thanks for stopping by unlike those silly rains 😀

Regds,
niece


In Me (posted on: 18-06-12)
I may look puny; But its just An illusion !

I can grasp the sun And the skies, The whole universe In one quick sweep Of outstretched arms--- They are all only That big! In me, Whole new worlds Take shape and Begin a life cycle You know not of. In me, Words become poems, Lines become paintings, Voids become babies. To you I may look puny; But it's just An illusion !
Archived comments for In Me
stormwolf on 18-06-2012
In Me
Yah!!!
love it! The power comes over loud and clear. The whole shebang is just an illusion and we are far more than we know.
Alison x
ps great to read you again.

Author's Reply:
And it's great to have you comment on my work, Alison...:) ...thank you ...

Regds,
niece

Romany on 18-06-2012
In Me
I love the idea that we are all far greater than our actual being. Well expressed,

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Romany, for your comment...the tiny human frame can do so many things and hold such a lot of information...it must mean something 🙂

Regds,
niece

Texasgreg on 19-06-2012
In Me
Niece,

It reminded me of my line of thinking while growing up...before I was taught "reality" and what cannot be done.

To you I say..

Well done!

Photobucket.

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Hello Greg..."Reality" is a big spoilsport, there's no doubt. 🙁

And to you I say --- thanks so much for taking the time to comment 🙂

Regds,
niece

Ionicus on 19-06-2012
In Me
A poem that shows that believing in one self there is nothing that we can't achieve; the sky is the limit. A good philosophy that teaches us to always remain positive. Excellent.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Luigi...it means a lot to have someone like you appreciate my poem 🙂

Regds,
niece

Andrea on 19-06-2012
In Me
Excellent stuff Niece, and lovely to see you posting again!

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Andrea...yes, it's great to be back...and this time I hope to keep posting...:)

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 21-06-2012
In Me
You managed to say a lot in so few words, niece - and wise words, too. It's what's inside all of us that counts...what many people refer to as god...whatever that word means, I've always been convinced that it/he/she is internal. Whatever works for you is what's important... Oh, congrats on the nib!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Roy...I agree with you about the concept of "God", it's how each person perceives it and uses it for their personal growth 🙂 ... the comments, and the nib when it comes, are always a big encouragement ;)...

Regds,
niece

ChairmanWow on 22-06-2012
In Me
Dynamite comes in small packages. E=MC2 and all that. Nice write.

Ralph

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ralph...Dynamite would be an appropriate comparison...minus it's powers of destruction...in fact quite the opposite !!! 🙂

Regds,
niece

Ani on 24-06-2012
In Me
Very poignant short poem. Thanks for the read.
Fureya

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Fureya, for taking the time to read and comment :)...

Regds,
niece

amman on 16-07-2012
In Me
Hi Niece. Nice to meet you. I echo Ionicus' statement. Profundity in very few words. Excellent.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
Nice to meet you too, amman...and glad that you liked my poem 🙂 ... thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know ...

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 13-09-2012
In Me
We all are what we make ourselves or what we believe we can be. Self belief is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

If a woman is walking in the forest and nobody sees or hears her, is she still wrong?
Loved the words niece.

Author's Reply:
WFF, you are so right...self-belief is so important any day...thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

Regds,
niece


Good Bye, Rain! (posted on: 03-10-11)
As the rains bid farewell

One day it must all end In fire and ashes; So wash me clean Beautiful rain Wet these tired feet Blow away the pain; Bring down torrents And cleanse this soul; Renew, refresh,then rejoice As I am born once again. Bring glorious sunshine On your way out, Beautiful rain!
Archived comments for Good Bye, Rain!
Corin on 03-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
Beautiful Niece, I now have this wonderful image of you lying down in the garden stretched out naked on the lawn with streams of rain running down between your breasts around your neck, your hair plastered to your cheeks and your whole body glistening with water as your newly baptised soul lights you up with shining grace:-)

Uncle David

Author's Reply:

stormwolf on 03-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
Lovely! Niece

We do not have the monsoons that you have and I adore rain but too much must be trying. I loved the way you spoke of the rain being cleansing spiritually as I also belive and the first two lines were so meaningful and full of acceptance of what may lie ahead. I sensed your delight and I saw you dancing with joy. I felt that you were very much one with nature. Lovely
Alison x

ps I would watch that Uncle of yours 😉

Author's Reply:

jay12 on 04-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
After the last ten days opf sun in England I'm wondering where you live... The damn rain must wash away itself eventually.... hang on I get it now! It's an Indian Summer poem! Lovely ditty mate. 🙂

Jay.

Author's Reply:

sunken on 06-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
Ahem. What the..! Is Mr. Corin allowed to get away with that, Niece? It's a good job I'm here to redredd the moral balance of the site. Disgraceful behaviour! A lovely poem indeed. I'm a sucker for the rain. I would be a very unhappy sunks if I lived somewhere that lacked said element. Luckily I live in England, so no fear of that. Good to see you subbing and good to see you nibbed. Well done.

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Author's Reply:

sunken on 06-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
I meant 'redress' not 'redredd'. I don't even know what redredd is. I blame the close proximity of the letters d and s on a standard qwerty keyboard. It was bound to happen one day. Bonjour?

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insert delete

Author's Reply:

Kat on 18-10-2011
Good Bye, Rain!
Hi niece

A lovely and uplifting, hopeful poem which suits my present mood (after lots of rain!) very well.

Kat x

Author's Reply:


Lies and Hopes (posted on: 25-07-11)
And summer, they say, May soon end.

It was a gloomy morning--- Dark again this evening. Grey clouds have gathered And summer, they say, May soon end. The Gulmohur then will Stand bare, Unashamed, knowing That it won't be long Before her canopy once again Spread with her foliage afire. The sky is dark This evening- But it may all just blend Into another night of White lies and false hopes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulmohar
Archived comments for Lies and Hopes
stormwolf on 28-07-2011
Lies and Hopes
wow! Where are all the readers? This is a lovely poem that totally gave me an inner vision of the fading hope coupled with the remembering everything is cycles....I enjoyed the imagery of the tree standing defiant in the knowlege but the dark skies speak of a portent to things to come as does the pivitol line "summer, they say, may end soon."
One gets the impression that summer could be more than just the season...much more. Lovely poem much enjoyed.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison for your lovely comment and rating 🙂 ...trying to get back into the writing-posting mode...so it's great to get feedback...like with all my poems, once I started writing here too the thoughts seemed to flow on their own...I've written a few poems on the Monsoons, the various moods and thoughts...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 31-07-2011
Lies and Hopes
You say a lot in relatively few words with this one, niece - great imagery and a real overall sense of loss and sadness at what's slipping away.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Roy...the Monsoons have been kind to us this year...but I've not come out with any new poems on it...these are old ones dug up from somewhere or the other...

Regds,
niece

Hulda on 04-08-2011
Lies and Hopes
I hope you will not end writing like the sommer comes to an end.
At least the lies are white not black, some hope I have in the lies coming true and honest . I liked and loved to read it. Thank you niece. Take care, hulda

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Hulda...didn't want to be absolutely pessimistic either...and I hope, as far as my writing is concerned, this is a second beginning of sorts 🙂

Regds,
niece

Weefatfella on 13-09-2012
Lies and Hopes
They whoever they are seem to suggest that summer will never return, A frightening thought but the stalwart tree gives us hope eternal, it has seen it all before and we are comforted by this. Loved It niece.

Author's Reply:


Echoes (posted on: 13-12-10)
Echoes are all that I hear

I've woken up a thousand times To realise I've never slept- Looked into the mirror To see I am someone else; Thoughts I've had so many But in my mind, just a great void ; Cried many tears for many things But more pain I can't seem to avoid; I've taken so many steps, quick, then slow And I'm yet to reach somewhere; Painted and dabbled and written But a plain canvas is all that's there; I've met so many people But friendless I survive- That when I call into the barrenness Only a distorted voice replies.
Archived comments for Echoes
Hulda on 13-12-2010
Echoes
A blank page, writing, talking with myself, no one listens anyway and the written part, to write your feelings down, does some one reads or care! Well done, i surely liked it, keep on, keep on doing your STUFF.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Hulda...wrote this three years back when I got the feeling that some good friends were moving away from me. But then I made new ones and the old ones remained...I go through these mood swings very often though I'm mostly a positive person ...I take it as it comes these days.

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 14-12-2010
Echoes
i think you've hit the nail on the head here...maybe everyone feels this way sometimes, but not everyone expresses it with so much clarity. As you say above, it passes - but it can be very painful at the time if you let it overwhelm you. All things must pass, as somebody said once... Good one, niece, if not your usual optimistic view - but getting it out of your head and into the public domain must help. It works for me, anyway - well, usually. Then, I'm a grumpy old git.

Author's Reply:
Grumpy, huh? I'm getting there too!!! Almost embarassed my son outside his school by picking up a fight with a stall owner...I find myself running out of patience slowly and surely 😉 ...but mostly for what's not right/done...

Thanks for the kind words, Roy...appreciate it 🙂

Regds,
niece

Gee on 15-12-2010
Echoes
I think everyone has a tendency to define themselves by the way others think of them.
Sometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps back.
But you are getting somewhere and so many people will identify with this poem. You have a gift for expression and this is wonderful.

Author's Reply:
That's a lovely comment, Gee...like I mentioned earlier, this was written 3 years back and I've grown up so much after that...just don't sit and brood over issues like this any more because i've realised they sort themselves out...I like this poem a lot which is why I posted it...plus, wanted to start posting things on UKA regularly once again...thanks so much for stopping bye 🙂

Regds,
niece

ifyouplease on 16-12-2010
Echoes
I like your poem niece, but I think you can cut words and rephrase lines and make it a lot better with editing.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, ifyouplease...any suggestions? I had already edited it after my husband(my inhouse critic) pointed out many extra words, et al...I am open to criticism, so do let me know...thanks!!!

Regds,
niece

ifyouplease on 17-12-2010
Echoes
Okay this is a version, a rewrite perhaps

I’ve woken up a thousand times
To realise I’ve never slept-
Looked into the mirror
To see I am someone else;
Thoughts I’ve had so many
But in my mind, just void;
Cried many tears for many things
But more pain I can’t avoid;
I’ve taken so many steps, quick, then slow-
It seems I'll never reach over the rainbow;
Painted and dabbled and written
But a blank canvas is all that’s there;
I’ve met numerous people,
But friendless I remain-
That when I call into the barrenness
Distorted voices dominate the plain.

Author's Reply:

ifyouplease on 17-12-2010
Echoes
hope you like it, and find it useful

Author's Reply:
Will take a nice long look at it and get back to you...thanks so much for your time and effort...:)))...

Regds,
niece

e-griff on 18-12-2010
Echoes
Taking the cue from above (but not having read the alternative version) here's another alternative version to make life more complicated for you :--)

I wasn't sure whether to have a rhyme scheme or not. In the end I opted for one.

I’ve woken up a thousand times
to find I’d never slept;
Looked into the mirror
seen someone else, and wept;
I have had so many thoughts
but my mind is still a void ;
I've cried tears for many things
- a pain I can’t avoid.
I’ve taken steps, both slow and fast
yet still not reached my goal;
Daubed and traced, and written much
- a blank sheet's all to show;
I've met so many people
but friendless I survive.
I call into the barren air
and nothing there replies.



Author's Reply:
Hmmmmmm!!! Indeed very confusing...I've copied and pasted both the versions in a Word Doc, yours and ifyouplease's. I think I like them both, but will probably try to retain the originality and work on a mishmash of all three... when I'm done, I'll leave a reply so both of you can check it out and let me know, if the new version works...thanks for the help, John...:)

Regds,
niece

sunken on 18-12-2010
Echoes
Hello Ms. Niece. I think we can safely say you're amongst friends here. That void of which you speak will be filled in shortly. It's just a foundation for a new toilet block here on planet Uka. Apparently the Ukanettes have been complaining about the smell coming from the gents. I blame Luigi. It's all that Pizza he eats. Is this the most politically incorrect comment I’ve made to date? Quite possibly. A top write Niece. Again, it should have been nibbed. Well done all the same.

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Author's Reply:
Sunk, I think you have to pay me now for all the research I did to find the most politically incorrect comments of yours to date...here it is, I think...

http://www.ukauthors.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=14064

The void's all filled up now...with various things, but mostly facebook...so there will be no space for a gents...sorry...:(...

Btw, Bernard is getting to be a habit...I'd be very disappointed if I don't get one next time as well...thanks a ton, friend...:)

Regds,
niece


... (posted on: 26-11-10)
A tribute to those that gave up their lives on 26/11/2008 in the South Mumbai terrorist attacks!

I can't tell you How many times I've died Still living- Seeing a friend fall, A comrade die; My hopes have splintered Like pieces of glass Shattering. Even as you applaud What you call 'my victory', Somewhere deep down I know I'd failed To save just one more life. Each time I went to encounter, You called me brave, but I felt fear for what could be What may be 'my tomorrow'; As I went head on into danger Some even called me ''foolish'' But that's the only way I've learnt to play this game!
Archived comments for ...
Bradene on 27-11-2010
...
A very heartfelt piece of writing here that deserves far more attention. Wonderful. Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val...coming from a poet like you, this comment means a lot to me 🙂

Regds,
niece

pdemitchell on 27-11-2010
...
hi niece - a graphic event but any chance of reviewing the last two lines as they seemed to trivialise the event as a game somehow. Was this first hand experience or someone you knew? Good poem. Cheerz.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, pdemitchell, for taking the time and giving me your feedback. I wrote this poem while watching the cremation ceremony of one of the soldiers of NSG, Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed within the Taj hotel fighting the terrorists...NSG is one of the specialised commando forces in India. You have commandos like this in every country, right? This was my effort to get into the heads of such soldiers and think like them...even the Maharashtra police force that lost so many of it's good officers(although they were severely criticized)...I was trying to figure out what makes them tick !!!

RoyBateman on 28-11-2010
...
A powerful tribute, niece...I'm not sure that many of us could really get inside the head of someone who can behave like this, sacrificing oneself for others, complete strangers too. I couldn't do it - wouldn't dare say otherwise! With atrocities around the world seemingly multiplying out of control, this needed saying, so well done.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy...you are so right...our televisions were on all the time, while the NSG commandos fought for whatever life could be saved...they fought for two whole days...scary thought!!!

Gee on 29-11-2010
...
This poem reminded me of talking to someone who had landed on the beaches on D day and saw his friends falling around him.
Very well written and a great tribute.

Author's Reply:
Hi Gee,

Thanks for your time and the comment...

For months after the attacks, we kept hearing tales about how someone had just walked out of the Taj minutes before the siege or how a particular South Mumbai school had more orphans after that !!! It made us realise how vulnerable we were...There's this college close to our house and the first thing that struck me once normal life resumed was that the terrorists could have been anyone of them...they were just kids, after all 🙁 ...

Regds,
niece

sunken on 12-12-2010
...
Hello Ms. Niece. I remember when all of this was happening. It couldn't have been easy to write, but write it you did. A nib-worthy piece in my opinion. I'm sorry it never got one. I hope a Bernard won't cause offence here.
Good to see you posting again, Niece. An excellent write.

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Author's Reply:
Thanks a ton, Sunken...just getting over my Facebook addiction...a relapse is possible anytime, you know...hope to stick to the old routine of writing, posting and commenting from now on...the Bernard should help me achieve that, I guess...:)

Regds,
niece


Rain in the Desert (posted on: 21-09-09)
What was the rain trying to tell us?

1980- It rained On those dry Barren sands Of the Middle-east; I sat with her- my friend more Than a cousin- Sharing scary stories, Playing doll and Chattering like all ten-year olds. And I said, "The old year is crying... I think It's saying goodbye." Her words: "Let it... I hate this year." She didn't Have to say Anything more. That year She lost her father, I lost an uncle. As the year melted Away into the next Amidst tears, I told myself... Maybe it was Not bidding adieu After all. Maybe it was Just saying "Sorry" To her.
Archived comments for Rain in the Desert
e-griff on 21-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
very moving thoughts, much appreciated 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John...It rarely rained there those days...maybe once in two years...I shall never forget that evening...

Regds,
niece

sunken on 21-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
Hello Ms. Niece. I'm glad you decided to re-sub this. I was lucky enough to see it a few weeks ago, just before you deleted it. If you delete it again there will be big trouble. It won't be pretty and there might even be turnips involved. You have been warned (-; A touching and well written piece, in my sunky opinion. Please stand back Ms. Niece. You're about to get beagled...

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Author's Reply:
Sunky,

Wouldn't delete this or anything else in a hurry...part of the credit goes to your terrifying warning that lingers in the air and has me quaking like a leaf;)...

Re: my poem, that was the first time I lost someone I loved...and there were many more to come during the next fifteen years...

Am so glad you liked it...thank you, Sunky and convey my grateful "woof"s to Bernard:)

Regds,
niece

Griffonner on 22-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
Magnificent!

Niece, this is so emotive, so poignant, and so cleverly timed.

Can I say that I love it? Well, there I am talking about your poem, not the subject matter.

I once write a piece of prose about a female child in Iraq, and somehow I have lost it. I haven't tried to write it again, because I think these things are built of the moment - the moment that we are inspired to put thew words down - that can't ever really be recaptured. That is why this piece is so important.

Thank you for sharing this with us, and thank you for bringing it to the eyes and ears of the world.

*respectfully*

Allen
x

Author's Reply:
Dear Allen,

This poem is special...when you speak of personal feelings or experiences, it always is---and your comment and noms have put me on Cloud 9...thank you so much...

Also needs to be mentioned that it was a PM from Sunken that made me repost this after deleing it last week...or else, I'd have posted something different...

Thanks once again...:))))...

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 22-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
awwww deeply stirring and emotional Niece...I saw you both there playing and the profundity of thought from those child lips was simply stunning!!!

Alison


Author's Reply:
Alison,
We were probably just about outgrowing the doll-playing age, we loved to talk about movies esp. scary ones like Exorcist and Child's Play and then to let you in on a secret, we had begun sharing naughty jokes as well...a lot of things changed after she went away with her mum and two sisters the following year...like I told John, I shall never forget that day...and I'm glad I could reproduce it for you...

Thanks for your kind comment...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 23-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
A delightful little picture of childhood - you caught the moment perfectly...it must be a weird sight, rain in the desert. Very memorable, and clearly the whole episode became etched in your memory. One that'll stick for ever, I'm sure, and one that'll resonate with all your readers.

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Roy...I'd love to believe that people who have read this poem will remember the scene for a long time to come...and it's so sweet of you to say so...

Regds,
niece

macaby on 23-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
A short but poignant poem, needing few words but deeply meaningful. Well done.
mac

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Macaby...my poems tend to be short for some funny reason...I'm glad you thought it was good. I'm in the process of leaving the past behind, what better way than leaving it in a poem...:)

Regds,
niece

barenib on 23-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
As has already been said, a very poignant poem and given more power by the image of two children in a rainy desert. A good read - John

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John...I do appreciate your kind words...:)

Regds,
niece

shadow on 28-09-2009
Rain in the Desert
A beautiful and evocative poem, which will surely stay in my memory. Thank you for sharing it.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Moya for those lovely words and thoughts...:)

Regds,
niece


Monsoon 1 (posted on: 20-07-09)
Rain rain...don't go away

The rain has ceased; There is a little bit Of sunshine seeping in somewhere- But no surety That the roads may not flood Or the skies may clear up... It just means a little respite From an awful lot of water.
Archived comments for Monsoon 1
sunken on 20-07-2009
Monsoon 1
Hello Ms. Niece. I had no idea that you'd moved to England? Did ya see what I did there...? Ahem. A neat little piece and no mistake, not unlike your good self (-; Your hubby won't read this will he? I'd better scarper.

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he blinks by remote control

Author's Reply:
I've never been to England, Sunky...but I've heard it rains there all the time. I wrote this poem a couple of years back when we'd have flooding, esp after the 26/7 deluge...People'd panic and worry about reaching home on time or family members getting stuck on the road or in schools/offices...I love the rains tho'...When I was in Kerala it was something else to listen to big drops of water fall on the coconut palms and the banana plantain leaves...it's gloomy here right now...threatening to rain any minute...I love that feeling too...

Hubby's back only tomorrow evening, but seriously, he wouldn't do a thing to you...he knows all my friends from UKAuthors...thanks:)

Regds,
niece

macaby on 21-07-2009
Monsoon 1
Over here in Germany we are having a hell of a lot of rain at the moment. 2 weeks ago there was hail stones falling on the town of Essen, just round about the start of summer time.The only time I like rain is after a heat wave but the problem is when it starts it forgets to stop. I liked the poem, short but you can read the feeling of hope and anxiety between the lines. Nice one niece.
mac

Author's Reply:
Mac, unsupervised redevelopment in Mumbai has led to several issues...we need the rains because water supplies are running short thanks to the huge number of people living here...and thanks to poor infrastructure, a normal good shower causes severe flooding these days...I mean where can all the water go? We've not seen the sun in days, but fortunately it hasn't rained continuously...infact there are warnings out for three days commencing from today because Mumbai will also experience high tide and that along with non-stop rains can wreack havoc...

Thanks for your kind comment, Mac...I'll be posting a few more poems about the rain in the next few weeks...hopefully...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 23-07-2009
Monsoon 1
Nice bit of optimism there, niece. This summer, it could be England! It's peed down today so far, interspersed with bright sunshine - more like April. I dunno, anyone would think it was test match time again - but it's nothing like you get in the rainy season. As you say, it's necessary, but controlling it's a big problem. I look forward to the other rain poems...assuming you've not been washed away!

Author's Reply:
No hope yet, Roy, of me being washed away...but in all probability, tomorrow would be the day...there is high tide and heavy rain warning...the govt is seriously considering declaring tomorrow a holiday and then there's also a tsunami scare...even my little fellow was talking about it animatedly when he got back from school...but my experience, if they say it will happen, then it won't.

Thanks a lot, Roy...the other rain poems I shall post if I dont end up floating about somewhere;)

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 14-09-2009
Monsoon 1
I love heavy rain but I am sure that would quickly change in monsoon country ;-(
I think we in the UK have little real idea of the reality of 'an awful lot of water'
Alison

Author's Reply:
So true, Alison, about the change...we've almost reached the end of Monsoon season and yesterday we had incredible thundershowers...the second this season...I love heavy rains too, but thanks to unplanned redevelopement in our city, there is severe waterlogging and after the 26/7/1996 deluge, we are always on tenterhooks...and unfortunately we've had "an awful lot of water" only a few times this year...

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time:)

Regds,
niece


Up there (posted on: 13-07-09)
To my hubby who even as I post this is on his way to the lovely lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash... Mount Kailash is believed to be the abode if the Hindu God Shiva and his consort, Parvati...a climb up to the said mountain is supposed to cut one down to size...

I saw you climb The high mountains; I felt you kiss The dew-laden air; I knew when you negotiated Each uneven step on those hills Hewn out with wear. I smelt each flower On your path Listened to each bird--- What you said, What you touched, How you stood and stared. I was with you When you reached The top of the World. You couldn't see me But I was there. Lake Manasarovar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Manasarovar Mount Kailash: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kailash
Archived comments for Up there
Mezzanotte on 13-07-2009
Up there
This is a lovely idea. I hope hubby has a good climb.

Best Wishes
Jackie

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jackie...my hubby's not on a pleasure trip tho'...Kailash Parbath and Lake Manasarovar are holy according to our scriptures because we believe Lord Shiv and his consort, Parvati, reside there...it is undertaken as a spiritual journey and entails a lot of hardships esp. if you are walking all the way up. Hubby however will go up in a jeep as far as they can go that way...also I'd have loved to join him. But one of us had to stay back and attend to the kids...secondly, I've had severe wheezing attacks on two occassions when we visited certain locations on the Southern Hills...Since I couldn't go, I told myself I'd see it through his eyes...also it was his b'day this Sunday...first time in fifteen years, he's not been there (couldn't speak to him either since there are no phones there and he didn't carry his cell)

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 14-07-2009
Up there
Hello Ms. Niece. Sorry to hear that you couldn't be with your hubby on his birthday. He'll have known that you were thinking of him though I'm sure. Good to see you around uka again. I hope you won't mind taking Bernard off my hands for a while. I have shelves to erect. Thank you. Hello?

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Author's Reply:
Well, he wanted to go last year, Sunk and he'd have missed my b'day...so this is my b'day gift to him. They say a person who's gone to Kailash returns a changed person. I'll be looking for some serious changes in him;)...just kidding!

You can leave Bernard here for as long as you want...I don't mind...thanks:)

Regds,
niec

Mezzanotte on 14-07-2009
Up there
Dear Neice,

I had to google Lord Shiva to find out that he is the third member of the Hindu Trinity. Perhaps you should add something along those lines as a footnote to your poem...I think the beautiful motives for your husband's climb give the poem more quality...an extra texture so to speak.

Best Wishes
Jackie

Author's Reply:
I did want to add some info at the end of the poem, Jackie...did think about it. But I've been helping my son with some chart on Egyptian civilization he's supposed to make and take to school by tomorrow...I'll add the info right now...thanks...

Regds,
niece

macaby on 16-07-2009
Up there
Hi niece, a thoughtful and beautiful poem. I looked at the pictures of the mountain and the lake, wonderful indeed.
mac

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Macaby...as soon as hubby left, a friend of mine gave me a Reader's Digest(the Indian issue) which had an article on Kailash and made interesting reading ,all the more because he's gone there....and that's how the poem happened. Anyway, the group is supposed to leave Kailash sometime today and they've been around that area since Monday...

RoyBateman on 17-07-2009
Up there
What a fine tribute to your hubby! I hope he appreciates it - in fact, I'm sure he does. You didn't need many words to paint a delightful picture - I could almost see it myself. And I'm sure he could feel you up there with him, too...

Author's Reply:
I hope he likes it too...he says he cannot understand poetry too well and I'm not even sure if mine qualifies as one:)...Thanks a ton for your kind comment...

Regds,
niece

stormwolf on 04-02-2010
Up there
A beautiful poem Niece. This demonstrates exactly what a 'wise woman', who happened to be a nun, once told me. "There is no distance in spirit Alison"
I never forgot it and she was right. You were with him...every step of the way.
Alison x



Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison...I did a meditation(basically lifestyle) course a few months back and the focus was on being happy with what you have and being the way you are...We were told distance cannot reduce your feelings for someone...yes, and my teacher was also a "wise woman", a young lady that wore saffron robes and shone with inner beauty...I'm glad you commented...been trying to get back into writing mode and your kind words are encouraging...thank you:)

Regds,
niece

Pelequin23 on 02-10-2012
Up there
very spiritual and calming i like it

Author's Reply:


Life 1 & 2 (posted on: 09-02-09)
Life-a Book Life-a Movie

Life 1 Wanting to hold on To these wonderful moments, As I turn the pages Of my life, I've bookmarked One more page For eternity; A page full of memories To last as long as I live; One more page Browned by time To go back to, Until I close this volume And lay it aside. Life 2 There's nothing much to remember- Just a few scenes Like a good movie, You cherish what's in a nutshell A life lived well Interspersed with pain and tears, Joy, love, smiles and fears; You'll soon pack up the reels Making way for the new.
Archived comments for Life 1 & 2
Sunken on 09-02-2009
Life 1 & 2
Hello Ms. Niece. It's me, sunks. Hope you are well. A melancholy feel to these, or is that just me being oversensitive? Yes, I can be sensitive, Ms. Niece. It tends to happen when least expected. Last year, for instance, I saved a fly from almost certain death by cutting it free from a spider's web. I know we shouldn't mess around with the balance of nature but I figure one more fly in the world isn't going to upset anything is it? Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, melancholy... I can never spell that word, I always write 'meloncholy'. I think my version's better. It's like some eighteenth century melon disease... Like the black death, but with melons. I did enjoy you poems by the way. Thank you for reading my comment. I really am doing the best I can, honest.

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his claims regarding nail polish fusion have been rejected by a leading scientist

Author's Reply:
Don't worry, Sunky...when I was much younger, my brother and I went on a killing spree, clapping our hands together and killing about two dozens or more mosquitos...wrapped the dead insects up in a piece of paper and wrote "RIP" over it...cruel, no? But then several days later as a sort of atonement I rescued another one that I suspect I clapped my hands over...I am happy to inform you that the fellow escaped and was happily sucking away someone's blood minutes later...

Thanks for the comment and thanks also for putting me off the watermelon that was just waiting to be devoured...;)

Regds,
niece

macaby on 09-02-2009
Life 1 & 2
hi niece, i agree with sunken, a touch of melancholy running through both poems . thoughtful poems and well written.

Author's Reply:
These were written long back, Macaby...more than two years ago, but around the same time on separate occassions. I thought they sounded similar which is why I posted them together. Surprisingly, I was in a good mood when I wrote it, so it's funny Sunky and you feel it's melancholic...there are half a dozen theories shaping itself in my mind about why that could be...but I shall not bore you with it...

Thanks, Macaby...

Regds,
niece

Mezzanotte on 10-02-2009
Life 1 & 2
Dear Niece

I don't think they are melancholy. Just someone looking back over episodes of their life. Both poems end with the idea that more is to come, IMO.

Very lovely both of them.

best wishes
jackie

Author's Reply:
It's more like a slicky edited movie with a tight plot...at the end of the day you don't remember the normal mundane things you did...It's more like "when I was a kid, I saw my mum doing this cool thing..." or "five years ago, I almost thought I'd lost my baby, but..." You remember those things whether they are good or bad.

Or like an photo album, where you put those special pictures.

There are moments which you cherish even if it was as simple as sitting around the coffee table in the living room with the whole family. One day, we too will share these anecdotes with a generation that may or may not want to listen...

Thanks, Jackie, for your comment...glad you like my poems...

Regds,
niece

royrodel on 10-02-2009
Life 1 & 2
As history repeats itself. So that's the future?

RODEL

Author's Reply:
Hi Rodel,

The simple things may remain the same, but I'd rather the future was a little different. And knowing difficulties in life are avoidable, I always pray they are the types that can be overcome. And each person's life being unique, I don't think you could compare one person's life with another...one's could be a chick flick, another a tragedy, another, a great success story...but I guess the general trend of each genre would be the same...

Thanks for your time, Rodel...I hope I understood your question, tho'...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 11-02-2009
Life 1 & 2
Excellent idea, a life filtered through different media...though our memories are, in a sense, movies, I've always preferred the solidity and relative permanence of a book or album to stir memories. Two thoughtful and thought-provoking pieces!

Author's Reply:
I believe I've lived more than half my life, Roy...when I look back I see a series of events and experiences that could be written into a book...of these the last eighteen years have been the most happening, but I wouldn't imagine the excitement is over yet...shall wait and see what happens from here onwards...Thanks for your kind words, Roy...I appreciate it...

Regds,
niece


Wish you were here (posted on: 12-01-09)
To Anandiya and all those others who left without waiting to grow old

You left too soon; Sometimes I wish That you were here now- Had seen this Had heard that; Would you have greyed Like your mother? Or lost hair Like your father? If you had retained That million-watt smile Right into middle-age Then old? Would you have decided On one more child, Finally leaving comtemplation And just done it?- Like all that other stunts You managed to pull off The way you didonly you could! Sometimes I miss you so much Sometimes I wish you were close by now Sometimes I feel lucky that you lived And I've known you.
Archived comments for Wish you were here
cat on 12-01-2009
Wish you were here
Hi, this is beautiful x
The emotion it conveyed to me was overwhelming. It made me think of my nan, and then my mum and friends. How lucky I am to still have them, to tell them.
Pleased I read this.
c x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, cat...I was thinking of my cousins when I wrote this. But the day I posted this online we'd attended a ceremony organised in memory of a good friend, who died last year. It's difficult to imagine that we'd never be seeing those faces again. I'm pleased too that you read this and left such a lovely comment...at least it will inspire me to write more poetry. Thanks:)

Regds,
niece

Mezzanotte on 12-01-2009
Wish you were here
A very powerful and poignant poem. There are also those in my family who have been take away when much too young.
I tried to write my feelings about it but found it much too difficult.

A very coragious and honest poem, but it made me sad, so I don't think I'll read it again.

I think if a poem can elicit such a response it must be pretty good.

well done
Jackie

Author's Reply:
Hi Jackie,

Thanks so much. I still find it difficult to express some emotions in writing, I wrote this over ten years after losing those loved ones. That must have made it easier. One of them had a four-year old son, a young man now. I've not seen pictures of him lately, but I've heard so much...that he looks like his mother, a male version, etc...I can just picture him.

I hope this poem has not put you off my work permanently;)...just joking!

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 12-01-2009
Wish you were here
Hello Ms. Niece. I miss your poems. This is one of my faves by you. I've known a few people now who've died too young. It's never easy to get your head around it. A tip top poem. I hope Bernard behaves himself.

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Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sunk...your comment just made my day.

My cousins were 32 and 24 years of age when they passed away. Among all my cousins, I'd say they were the most exuberant, wild, crazy and amazing ones...those are the types that get taken first...

Thanks for the Bernard, Sunk...I shall add it to my growing collection. That's a hint, btw.

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 13-01-2009
Wish you were here
Very touching, and a universal emotion: something we can all relate to. Someone dying young is always hard to bear, because of that very real sense of potential unfulfilled. It's bad enough when someone's had their full span, but at least we can console ourselves with the thouhgt that it's the natural and unevitable way. Obviously a very deeply felt poem, and that comes across very powerfully.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy...the friend mentioned in the intro passed away last year. Apart from the trauma of losing him suddenly, there was a lot of unnecessary tension the family and friends had to go thru' becoz he was travelling on work at the time...he only had a new company recruit with him at the time.

Regds,
niece

macaby on 13-01-2009
Wish you were here
hi niece, i read this last night but before i could comment my computer died on me.when i was a child back in scotland, our neighbours son died. he was about 5 or 6 years old i was maybe 2 years older, that was the first time i experienced death.my parents told us that he was now an angel, up their in the sky with all the other angels and god.we accepted that as we were taught god gives and he takes. i never really new the boy that well so i couldnt say i missed him,unlike the person on your poem.i am sure it is more difficult to deal with,
especially if you both grew up together it must have been a great loss.the line in the poem with the million watt smile, that says a lot for the type of person he was. it is like that old saying" the good always die young", sad though it is. i liked the poem, the way your thoughts ran through it and your conclusion, very fitting. overall a really good poem.


Author's Reply:
Macaby,
As a kid, it didn't bother me that much. As a child of four, I've seen my mother and granny mourning after my grandfather died. I told my mum that she can stop crying. At that age I felt they had to cry only as long as he was seeing them do it. I was packed off to the neighbour's house till things settled down a bit.

We too believe the good always die young...and I thing whoever said it was a very wise person...thanks for your time and kind words, Macaby...

Regds,
niece


Stranger (posted on: 08-12-08)
Strangers, lovers, then strangers again...edited

We just slept on the same bed Strangers, lovers, then strangers again You look for something in my eyes Love, resentment, pain? And finding nothing, you turn away, Asking, ''Do I know you?'' My womb produced nothing But pimps and more whores Rotting in this hell called ''existence'' Where flesh is sold at a price, But love at none and I can reassure you, ''You will never know me'' My nights are dreamless My days haunted by nightly visions While we sit and make eyes Lustily luring victims into our sensual lair I hear that voice ask, ''Do I know myself?''
Archived comments for Stranger
Sunken on 08-12-2008
Who am I?
Hello Ms. Niece. This reminds me of a special massage parlour that I once frequented. 'Strangers, lovers, then strangers again'. It kind of says it all. I'm probably barking up the wrong tree and no mistake. A tip top write tho. Bernard thought so too. Nice one Niece.

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Author's Reply:
Yipppeee, a Bernard, thanks Sunk!This was a little effort to peak into the mind of the many women that live in Mumbai's famous Redlight district. There is a story too I wish to write.

I'm correcting the last line a bit by removing the repeated "myself". Didn't see it until after I posted it...thanks once again:)

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 09-12-2008
Who am I?
Do we ever know ourselves, or anyone else, indeed? This is a deep one, and quite disturbing - very dark compared with most of your subs, and quite unsettling in its intensity. I hope your imagination was working full-time!

Author's Reply:
I am not that brave to enter these kind of terrains too often...this was one of those rare occassions...I'd rather stick to the known and lighter side of life...thanks, Roy for the comment:)

Regds,
niece

macaby on 10-12-2008
Stranger
it, s quite a sad poem, i liked the 2nd stanza a lot. it,s like the person/prostitute in the poem is saying that this life is just a viscous circle, and her seed will more than likely "inherit " her way of life as maybe it,s the only way to survive. it,s a good poem speaking out against prostitution tourists.
well written.

Author's Reply:
Hi Macaby,

Welcome to UKAuthors!

Prostitution tourism is not a big thing is India and the Redlight District is frequented more by locals than anyone else. I've never been there, just close by to a popular eatery and warned that if my father-in-law asked I was supposed to tell him I didn't go to that branch but another one which is located at a "respectable" locality...most of the girls are sold by the family or kidnapped, etc and brought there...I feel very strongly for them and no one should be forced into something like this...that is indeed sad...but apparently there is a lot of social work happening thereabouts and the girls are being educated on various things. A lot of foreign celebrities also visit these places...spreading awareness and probably making things a lot better for them...

Thanks for stopping by, Macaby...I'll be travelling tomorrow and have tons of work to do...but I shall definitely try and make some time to read your post and comment on it too...:)

Regds,
niece

teifii on 14-12-2008
Stranger
Very well described vicious circle of seduction, pimping, prostition and more of the same. So sad.
Of the actual poem, I felt I wanted some rhythm or pattern of some kind, but that is probably just me.
Daff
http://www.merilang.co.uk/shop.htm - come and look.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Daff, for stopping by and letting me know what you felt...is there anything you could suggest to make the poem sound better? This is a genre I'm not as comfortable with as I am with fiction and any kind of suggestions and advice(that applies to fiction too) are always welcome...thanks once again...

Regds,
niece


Smells like October (posted on: 13-10-08)
Autumn in Mumbai

It smells like October The rains have ceased And old leaves fall Triggering fresh green growth- Death and birth at once; Sounds of festivities Reverberate in the air; They seem to be reliving Some happy times from Yore; Nostalgia revisits, As Gods are dunked in seas; People pretending to be divinity dance Like lovelorn Krishnas and Radhas, While somewhere young new couples Smile through introductions Heavy silks, lounge music and angst; It smells like October But a gentle nip in the air Tells us winter will soon come Putting end to all these pretences. Note: In India, especially the southern and eastern part autumn follows the rainy season and is characterised by summer like heat and trees shedding leaves. Yet the trees do not remain bare, but sprout new leaves immediately. Most of the festivals are celebrated at this time. ''Gods are dunked'' refer to the practice of immersing idols of Ganesha (the Elephant-God) as well as Durga (a fierce Goddess) in water-bodies. ''Like lovelorn Krishnas and Radhas'' refers to ''Garbha'' or ''Dandhiya'' where people of all ages dance holding decorated batons and striking them rhythmically while dancing. The period between October to January is considered very auspicious for solemnising wedding vows.
Archived comments for Smells like October
littleditty on 13-10-2008
Smells like October
A wonderful reminder of your wonderful land - images of rebirth in seasonal change - i miss India's colours and story - thanks niece, ditty xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, ditty...have you been to Mumbai? In our country, esp. in this city, we are constantly in a state of celebration...and it reaches its peak during this part of the year. It will end only with Christmas and the New Year. No complaints as long as we get breaks from school and work;)

Btw, this poem was in response to a reply to a comment on Tina's poem(the theme was autumn)...I can't find it tho'

Regds,
niece

e-griff on 14-10-2008
Smells like October
Mmm I enjoyed the poem, and I also enjoyed the comment at the end - very interesting. I just told my wife about it 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John for reading, commenting and also sharing this with your better half...this is one of two poems I wrote after Tina suggested that either Zoya or I should write a poem on Indian autumn...actually we don't have a proper autumn season ...esp. in Mumbai and Kerala where I hail from. I wrote two poems...one of them this, the other about the Kerala autumn...we have a second heat spell at this time of the year in Mumbai...so right now it is very hot here...but the mornings are quite pleasant.

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 15-10-2008
Smells like October
Lovely stuff, Ms. Niece. I have grazed my knee, so October around here just smells of tcp. I blame recently moped surfaces and dimmer switches. Nice one, Niece. Have a Bernard.

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Author's Reply:
A Bernard...yipppeee! Are you sure it's not just the smell that got him here?

I don't know what it is about October...but I always feel I can sniff it in the air. If I was to lose track of the days and land up in the month of October, I would still know it...at least I feel that way. It's also a time for celebration for the family. Between October and November we have three birthdays and an anniversary to perk up the holiday season...so a few more reasons to celebrate for us.

Thanks for the Bernard, Sunky and your support:)

Regds,
niece

Micky on 09-12-2009
Smells like October
Lovely piece ,niece
Always a pleasure to see your world through your eyes.


Micky

Author's Reply:


Old Bones (posted on: 15-09-08)
The old lady insists she knows...

She feels it In her brittle old bones She insists. The rains are far away The Monsoon clouds Have miles to go Before they unleash their wrath On our dry parched lands. I hold my peace Knowing that's best What use to argue With hoary wisdom! Her bones must be right She's been around For that long To know seasons Just by feeling it And I don't say a word As I hearken (to) The fury of the first rains Unfold outside my shuttered windows The old lady She just ignores it She hates anything That defies Old Bones.
Archived comments for Old Bones
Sunken on 16-09-2008
Old Bones
A smashing piece, Ms. Niece. Blimey, that almost rhymed. Perhaps one day I'll be a poet... then again. I like the sound of the old lady in your poem. Is she a real person or did you dream her up? Nice one Niece.

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forever and a stray

Author's Reply:
I shall try and believe you when you say you are yet to become a poet, Sunky...

I haven't met the old lady, but yes...she is very real...in fact, its not just one lady, but many of them, old women from around my maidservant's home...this conversation happened between me and my maid and she managed to convince me that what we were getting at the time was not the real seasonal showers, but pre-Monsoon showers...because the oldies in her locality said so...

I'm glad you liked my attempt at writing poetry, once again, Sunk...thanks a lot:)

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 16-09-2008
Old Bones
You paint a wonderfully vivid picture of this character, niece. I can just see her - the ancient fount of wisdom. Here, the old tend to be ignored rather than respected, so there's a big cultural difference - good to see a more positive take on things!

Author's Reply:
We probably do respect and look up to the older generation a lot...but things are slowly changing.

I've been wanting to write a few poems about the rains, this was the first I wrote this year...thanks, Roy, for your kind comment:)

Regds,
niece

orangedream on 17-09-2008
Old Bones
Niece - this piece is magic. My grandmother always used to say she felt it was going to rain 'in her bones'. I could hear her so well whilst reading your lovely poem. Much enjoyed.

Kind regards,
Tina

Author's Reply:
That is a lovely compliment, Tina...thank you!:)

The older generation were so much more perceptive and had a stronger sixth sense about these kind of things...they were so unique...you dont find people like them anymore...

Regds,
niece


shadow on 28-09-2008
Old Bones
Hi niece - lovely poem. I've known old ladies like that. In fact, I fear I am rapidly becoming one ...

Author's Reply:
I'm forever watching the clouds and their direction to figure out whether it will rain...believe me, it's not an age thing...been doing it for the last 20 years. In fact when my cousin was bed-ridden several years back, she'd believe me when I told her the clouds were coming in from the south, so it would rain...finally she called my bluff...now with the Monsoons almost on its way out, I'm looking at an early onset of winter like last year...but I'm not telling anyone;)

Thanks...



Regds,

niece


I (posted on: 07-07-08)
What's next? I wonder!

Yesterday I was a butterfly Flitting through the green; Today I'm a tabby cat That prowls in search of live meat; Ten days before I flew along A gust riding on the breeze; Then I turned into a flower Suckling the hungry bees. Aeons ago a star burst out And a speckle of its dust Took on a shape, took on a form That must have been me at first And such has been my course since I've come into this world. Sometimes I'm just an atom Sometimes a whole Universe.
Archived comments for I
orangedream on 07-07-2008
I
Simply love the imagery here, niece.

I am always so pleased when you treat us to one of your all too infrequent poems. A rare delight!

Regards,
Tina

Author's Reply:
Wow! That's a lovely compliment and coming from someone like you...Thank you so much, Tina!!!:)



Regds,

niece

PS: Spotted a Kingfisher outside the kid's room window a couple of days back...the entire family was so excited and surprisingly we don't know of any big waterbody close by!!!

Sunken on 08-07-2008
I
You'll always be a star in my book, Ms. Niece. That wasn't too corny a comment... was it? It's really good to see you subbing again. I'd almost forgot you did poetry as well as prose. You do it extremely well from where I'm sitting. Well done, Ms. Niece.

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no right turn 3 - no entry 2

Author's Reply:
You are very kind, Sunky...and having been your friend for so long, I can declare confidentally---No, your comment does not sound corny at all...I think we'll soon have to brand and market your kinda comments(and replies)...they are a treat by themselves...

Thank you:)

Regds,
niece

shadow on 09-07-2008
I
Lovely poem, I particularly enjoyed the pictures it conjured up, and the teasing way you mix rhymes with almost-rhymes.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Moya, so glad you liked it...I'm into free verse lately, but I like to check and see if I can still write rhyming poetry once in a way...

Regds,
niece

soman on 25-09-2008
I
Well done, niece. I can only echo orangedream's comments on your imagery. Good to see you testing the waters in poetry again. The advantage is that you can compress a whole paragraph into a few lines, if you have the knack; and you have.

Soman

Author's Reply:
I don't know how I missed this comment...thanks so much, UE for reading and commenting...forget poetry, I've almost stopped writing prose as well...desperately trying to get back by trying my hands at things like book reviews...it's not a burn out...it's like my creativity is taking rest...so in the lines made famous by Arnie, all I can say is, "I''ll be back"...:D

Regds,
mi(niece)


Soul Bird (posted on: 17-03-08)
She forced her way into my quiet life

A little bird twittered By my window, Forced its way into my life And with a song, Embedded itself Within my conscience; When all I wished for Was silence, peace, and solitude, She sang to me Till my life opened up. Then she flew away Looking for more desolate souls.
Archived comments for Soul Bird
Sunken on 17-03-2008
Soul Bird
Hello lovely Ms. Niece. Good to see you on uka again. Like the poem. I've been getting visits from a bird of late too (the feathery variety). It's quite strange. I thought it was a robin, but now I'm not so sure. It really struggles to land on my narrow windowsill, but eventually makes it. It then proceeds to bang it's beak on the window. I don't know what he wants. I've not seen him for a few weeks now. I kinda miss the little fella. I bet you really want to know this? I must be one of the desolate souls you speak of (-; Nice poem, Ms. Niece. Good to see you back.

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tomorrow never fries

Author's Reply:
Sunky,
I love birds and their songs. When I went off to this beautiful place called Coorg in South India last year, I heard this bird called a Malabar Whistling Thrush, also nicknamed the whistling schoolboy for the first time...it was amazing...I think birds are one of God's most remarkable creations...

My Soulbird was this young thing, a trainee, I met at the physiotherapists two years ago...when I went there I was in a foul mood and it didn't really help having the doc's assistant pouring hot liquid paraffin down my foot. This girl really made me open up that day, so much so that I made lots of friends over there before I left two/three weeks later...and btw, the first day was also the last day I saw her...

It's hard to imagine someone as popular and straighforward as you being desolate...hope you come out of it soon, Sunky...that you find your soulbird soon...

Take care

Regds,
niece



orangedream on 18-03-2008
Soul Bird
Niece - I almost missed this one. It is truly beautiful. I don't think I've read any of your poetry before, or am I wrong? I also enjoyed reading your adventures at the physiotherapists. That hat liquid paraffin episode didn't sound at all nice!

I too love birds. We have many wild birds that come to our garden and I spend a small fortune on bird food. We have, pheasants, partridges, ducks, woodpeckers and many,many more. I always wanted a parrot but then again ... I think that the essence of a bird is its freedom.

Your poem is also very touching when you explain about your meeting with your Soulbird, of the non-feathered kind. A great read, as far as I'm concerned.

My best to you and yours.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Actually after the initial sting, Tina, the liquid paraffin actually is very soothing...and it cured my problem once and for all. But like I mentioned I was already in a bad mood and I had made up my mind that was everything was going oh-so-wrong that day!!! I've written one more poem about my experiences at the physiotherapists...will post it soon...

Birds...I love them and thank God after leaving Kuwait at the age of the 14, I've always lived in places which are full of these beautiful creatures...even in a city like Bombay, we get to see outside the children's room magpies, the golden oriole , crimson-breasted barbet, cuckoos, parrots and sometimes at night, fruit bats too and outside my bedroom window, humming-birds...there are these kingfishers that have been supposedly spotted near my neighbours house...but have not been lucky enough to have one near our home...

Thanks so much for reading, commenting and rating, Tina...I'm glad you didn't miss my poem because I'd really want to know what you thought about it...

Regds,
niece

Gerry on 19-03-2008
Soul Bird
Nice one neice 😉

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Gerry,

Thanks so much for dropping by...it's great to hear from you...:)

Regds,
niece

soman on 20-03-2008
Soul Bird
Niece,
Delightful little creatures, aren't they. Not too common in your cities, I suppose, but here in the countryside in Kerala, there are different species taking their turn, with their wake-up calls at different times at dawn. Imagine, some of them have come down from as far as Siberia (in winter months) to give us the important messages they carry. Pity though, some of them disappear before there is enough light to see them!

Soman



Author's Reply:
Nature has been well-preserved in my area, Soman, despite it being the city. I don't know whether you've ever been to Parsi Colony and Five Gardens at Dadar...is supposedly a stopover for several migratory birds. Unfortunately I've only heard them while taking a walk thereabouts...

I wake up to bird calls too...my favourite being the one made by the cuckoo. The fellow seems to have followed me from Trichur directly to Mumbai...

Thanks, Soman, for the comment.

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 20-03-2008
Soul Bird
Short but very sweet, niece - Chris is very involved in the local RSPB, and we too spend a flippin' fortune on sunflower hearts, which the little tweets scoff like crazy. Still, even a smalkl suburban garden like ours can be filled with birdlife if you have the basics of food, water and trees. Simple, really - but a never-ending source of interest just outside the windows. Lovely little poem!

Author's Reply:
Just to listen to them is a lovely experience, Roy...while meditating I try to spend about five minutes picking out even the tiniest sounds I can hear and as I've mentioned our area is teeming with various birds...so it's lovely, esp. in the mornings...I can't imagine spending my life staring at plain brick walls, Roy...that would be dreadful...

Thanks for your kind comment, Roy...

Regds,
niece

orangedream on 20-03-2008
Soul Bird
Hi again, niece. It was beautiful hearing about all those wonderful birds that you see from your window. With the exception of the cuckoo and the parrot, the rest I have only seen pictures of in many bird-books.

Speaking of cuckoos. Our cuckoo is migratory. Is yours? If so, to where does it migrate? We hear our first cuckoo end of April beginning of May and then they disappear as the summer progresses to autumn. Not sure where ours go to. Mr. O thinks its either France or the Sahara. I haven't got the foggiest. I would give anything to see a hummingbird. The closest I've got was seeing a hummingbird moth in Southern France, a year or two back.

Warmest regards
Tina


Author's Reply:
The best way to catch a humming-bird, Tina is to get there before it does...if you stay absolutely still they probably take you for a part of the scenery and don't bother to hide...even if I moved the curtains a bit, they disappear like that...they are really amazing, but very very cute!!!

I didn't know the cuckoos were migratory birds, but did some research and found out that the Asian koel(which I guess is what we see outside our window) does not migrate. But they do disappear once in a while, they must be going off somewhere, I guess...

Btw, you can listen to the Whistling Malabar Thrush here...(http://www.indiabirds.com/content/fullimagepage.asp?Bird_SortID=664&cid=1)...it's amazing!!! They don't call him the whistling school boy for nothing!!!

Regds,
niece


orangedream on 20-03-2008
Soul Bird
Just seen the nib. Many congratulations, niece. Well deserved. Please, please write some more poetry!

Tina:-)

Author's Reply:
Tina,

Am thrilled to bits...this is a first where my poems are concerned. And one of the reasons for posting this poem which is about two years old, was to get started with poetry writing again...

Thanks so much...I didn't realise till I saw yours and Shadow's message...

Regds,
niece

shadow on 20-03-2008
Soul Bird
Lovely poem, I could just imagine your little bird. Congrats on the nib - very well deserved.

Author's Reply:
Thanks a ton, Moya...I was not expecting the nib, so it was a pleasant surprise...a big thanks to whoever is responsible for that as well:)

Regds,
niece


[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End (posted on: 10-09-07)
The concluding chapter --- thanks to all those who have read this!!! New beginnings...!!!

He told her about his trip to Kochi and his hometown. He told her how much the visit had changed him, as a human being and as an individual soul. He had learnt that there is more to lifesometimes everything, including love and hatred were connected. Initially, she was reluctant to entertain him. She didn't say anything, but it was obvious from her expression and demeanour. By the time, she had opened up to him, they had realised, they could probably remain friends. ''Coffee this evening?'' Dharma asked as he stepped out and turned around to peer at her, hopefully. Vandana shook her head with a smile on her face, ''Aren't you being too optimistic? No, Dharmanot any time soon, but maybe some day'' The bell chimed for the evening prayers and the people who passed the room could be heard murmuring among themselves in subdued tones. It was always like thateither there was no noise or the little sound that did come once in a way was more lulling than disturbing. The loudspeakers came to life as someone tested them and then began to play pre-recorded instrumental music---a flute-tabla combination as the congregation assembled. Soon Guruji would arrive and he would begin his usual pep talk followed by the satsang and then quiet meditation. Vaidehi had never ever been inclined towards all this. As a youngster, she hadn't believed in God or any power for that matter and hadn't changed during the rest of her lifetime. But the Ashram, Guruji and his teachings thereafter had given her a lot of strength when she had been forced to leave Vasant. She believed she was a victim of fate and she resented it when the Guruji told her that it was not her love for Vasant, but her failure to accept the truth that made her miserable. She knew she had loved Vasant. She had been desperately in love with him and the day she realised she had lost him forever had been the worst in her life. He ran from one woman to another, probably looking for the satisfaction he never derived from their relationship and Vaidehi had desperately hung on hoping he would see her feelings for him and change his track. That never happened. Even after she left Vasant , he had continued with his flirting and womanizing for a while and then suddenly he had sobered down after a visit to his hometown and the old bungalow where his aunt and grandaunt lived. When he returned he had approached Vaidehi and requested her to return to him. As advised by the Guruji, Vaidehi had chosen to remain in the Ashram. ''You belong here nowif you go back, you go back to misery and pain.'' She took his advice. A mistake, she often told herself! Vasant had returned dejected and disappointed and took comfort in his work which he had ignored for so long. He kept coming back to Vaidehi for advice and consolation, only twice asking her again to go back with him. And then Uma had happened. When Vasant had brought Uma to meet Vaidehi for the first time, she saw in her all those things which she never was. Vasant, seemed to adore her and that hurt even more. Somebody knocked on the door. It was one of the Ashram inmates, ''Guruji is asking for youhe will begin his sermon in ten minutes'' ''Tell him I'll come tomorrowI'm still feeling a little low'' Vaidehi informed the person. ''But then wouldn't you find peace in his words?'' ''No,'' Vaidehi stressed, ''He has told me I can take as long as I wantI'll go and meet him alone. Right now I need to be alone.'' Closing the door as the person walked away, Vaiedhi squatted on the floor and pulled the little tobacco box from under the bed. The seal had finally been broken and she took out three letters from inside. The one on the top was for Dharma. It was closed and scrawled on it was Dharma's name, the second one was for Vaidehi and the thirdwas for Uma. The letter was sealed. Keeping the ones for the others aside, she took out her letter which she had already read and reread two day's ago. Her eyes grazed past till it came to a rest on the relevant linesthe ones which had broken her heartprobably beyond repair ''I need to clarify some things. True! I loved you when we got married. Remember braving the heavy rain so we could enjoy the roadside chaat and ice lollies. There was magic then! Where did it disappear? We remained the same people but the sparks just went awaywhich often made me wonderwas it love after all? when I came back from my visit to Kerala I suddenly found myself lost. What the tribals told me was more than one man could take! When they told me that our family had just been carrying forward the conflict, the rage and hatred from one generation to the other, I saw reason for the first time. You know, I didn't kill my brother, but I hated him more than I did anyone elsewhich was probably why I treated Dharma the way I did. And then suddenly things changed. I stopped resenting the boy, but when he came back as a young man, I realized he still held a grudge against me. What would he do? Kill me, destroy me? And take this game of hatred to the next level?...'' Vaidehi put the letter aside and sighed. ''Game of hatred''did Dharma still hate Vasant? She knew he had returned to Mumbai about three months ago. She had expected him to call on her, but he had only telephoned her once and had told her that he was very busy, promising to meet her soon. As she returned the letters to the box, her eyes fell on the letter for Uma. He hadn't said a thing about Uma in his letter to heras she began to close it a sudden urge hit her to pull out Uma's letter and read it. Looking around, although she was alone and the windows and door to the room was tightly shut, she took the letter out. She held it for sometime, making up her mind and finally opened it. It took her eyes a little while to focus on the words. ''in all our days together, I know I never told you how much I adore and cherish our relationship. So let me tell you now. You are everything I ever looked for in a companion. The first time I realised it, I thought you were too young to live with me. But thank God I finally asked you out and things happened the way it did. Uma, you were the only good thing that has happened in all my lifeI'm sorry about what I'm doing to myself. I know it will hurt you, but I need to do it for several reasons. Hope you will forgive me and pleasedon't stop living your lifebe happy! That's all I can say'' Big tear drops threatened to pour down Vaidehi's cheeks. Instead of putting the letter back into the box, she left it on the bed. So that summed up her entire life! For almost twenty years, she had lived her life with a man who probably like he admitted in his last letter to her, didn't even love her. As she sat and wept silent tears almost crumpling the letter beside her, there was a knock on the door. ''I'm not coming today,'' she shouted out towards the door, not letting her voice crack with emotion. But the knocks at the door persisted. She pushed the letter under her pillow. Then she got off the bed, wiping the tears from the face and looking in the mirror ensuring that she looked alright. Outside her door stood Dharma. The wide grin on his face disappeared when he saw Vaidehi disheveled. ''Are you alright?'' he asked. ''Yes, Dharmawhat a pleasant surprise,'' she said genuinely happy at seeing him and feeling better too. Dharma had lots to tell her. He took two hours to complete his entire story, starting with the missing aunt Leela and aunt Susheela's story, in brief till her death almost four months back. That was the first time Dharma had visited the ashram, so she introduced him to the Guruji who remarked about the sudden change in Vaidehi's mood. ''Dharma, you know, you've changed so much,'' Vaidehi observed later after dinner at 7 and a little before 8 when the Ashram gates closed and by strict instructions all outsiders were to leave before that. ''One has to grow,'' he said, ''It was a pleasant evening I've spent here. I might want to come more oftencan I?'' ''Why not, my boy?'' Vaidehi said, indulgently. As Dharma took his leave, Vaidehi suddenly remembered the letter, ''Dharma'' she paused as she eyed her pillow, ''Your letter from your uncle?...I opened the box and I have itwouldn't you like to take it?'' Dharma thought for a while. There were only ten minutes left for him to leave and someone arrived there to remind him of it. ''No,'' he said suddenly to Vaidehi, ''I don't want to know what he has to sayI already know'' As he turned to leave, he remembered the other letter, ''And hadn't the lawyer mentioned three letters? Whom was the third one for?'' ''There was no third letter, Dharmaeither your uncle made a mistake while writing the note to the lawyer or else the lawyer himself got his numbers wrongthere were only two lettersone for you and one for me'' The food was good without any doubt and the table was laden with it. The clock chimed accentuating the silence that ensued in the room. The young man sitting opposite Uma gulped his food nervously avoiding her eyes all the time. He looked at Vatsala who was all smiles and tried to match her jollity with a weak grin. He didn't know why Uma seemed so upset, but what he did know was that the girl had completely taken his fancy. Unfortunately when he arrived there, he had only been accepting his landlady's hospitality and didn't know her lovely daughter would be there. He cursed himself for not having got any flowers or chocolates or something that young women normally liked. Twice divorced at the age of 34, Nitin could do with a life partner and a pretty one at thatwould suit him well especially since his promotion was coming up and a sophisticated wife like Uma would impress his superiors at work. Suddenly determined to impress the lovely Uma, he gathered his wits and got set to start a conversation with her. It was only mid-April and the temperatures had already begun to soar. The sea was calm and the tide was low. Anuj coughed spasmodically. Though he had gotten over his drinking habit, he was still susceptible to infections and illnesses and right then he had just recovered from a severe attack of viral infection. He glanced at his watch and wondered why Dharma was getting delayed. The first thing he had done after arriving at Mumbai the previous evening was to call up Dharma. Dharma seemed to be preoccupied though he had sounded absolutely happy to hear him. It was six months since they had seen each other. So much had happened after that. Anuj had returned from rehabilitation. Once he had settled down, he had accepted his foster father's offer to take up position as heir and second-in-command to his company. After two months on the job, it had been Anuj's idea to expand. That was how he had come to Mumbai. Dharma too had mentioned ''many things that had happened'' briefly informing him that Fiona was getting married early August and ''something else'' which he would tell him about personally. As Anuj stood there wondering what it could be, he ran his hand along the side of his hip and felt a little lump there. As another attack of cough hit him he dug the vial out of his pocket and holding it before his eyes, he examined it. The glitter of the red and black powder never ceased to amaze him. ''This will bring you luck,'' he remembered the old gypsy-like lady telling him. Did it? Maybe in some ways it had, in some ways it had not. It had brought him closer to his family but he had lost Uma. ''Somethings are better off in the hands of experts,'' that was the tribal Vasya. That conversation had been an enlightening one. He could still hear the sounds of the crisp leaves crunching underfoot as they trod through the woods that afternoon. The sound of a car pulling over distracted Anuj and he turned around to spot Dharma in his Audi A6. He smiled and just before his friend could get out of the car and approach him, he swung his hand out mustering up as much strength as he could and threw the vial as far away into the waves as he could.
Archived comments for [UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
Sunken on 10-09-2007
[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
Dear Ms. Niece. Well done and no mistake! I know you have all of the editing to do now, but still, it's a major achievement to have got this far. Have you had a celebratory tipple (drink)? I am, as usual, saving this for 4am eternal. Why do I suddenly fancy an ice cream? Make mine a 99, mu mu. Ahem. Sorry Niece. I had a 90's flashback then. I blame many things, but primarily I blame the onset of autumn. I hope this meaningless ramble finds you in positions relative to gravy and that... ahhh bisto.... No, it's no good. I need to eat. Ahem. I'll be back later. Perhaps I'll make more sense then. Thank you. Good day.

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lucy in the sky with paypal

Author's Reply:
Sunky, hope you ate well...food has been a lot on my mind too these days. They say running away from obsessions does not really help, so right now I'm in the process of indulging...enjoy now, cry later...

I didn't have a tipple, my husband refused me..maybe I'll just have some tang. I'm waiting to hear what you think of the last chapter...

Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 11-09-2007
[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
Well, there are so many ends being tied up - it's always hard when such a long and complex story ends to sort everything out to everyone's satisfaction, especially your own! Good strong ending line, I thought - very visual, and that's important to let the reader go off satisfied. I'm sure you'll have just as much, if not more, fun editing it and sorting out all the strands you've woven.(I don't mean that as a crit, of course - it's just that I know how tempting it is to go back and adjust storylines, tweak entrances and exits to wring even more out of the characters. Then , that's why we do this, isn't it?)
Congratulations on a mammoth project completed!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy...

I know there will be lots of work to be done here. I know it's nowhere near perfect and that I still need to do a lot of research on several things...I'm keeping if off for the while, take a break, do some writing exercises, probably a couple of shorts stories or so...I don't know. I think I'll take things as they come. Right now I'm in the process of organising my house and my life...

I'm glad you liked the ending...I did too and was hoping others would...thanks once again for everything, Roy...

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 12-09-2007
[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
Congratulations indeed Ms. Niece. I shall miss the sunset rooms. I must now look for other things to occupy me at 4am. Definitely a satisfying conclusion. I'm kinda glad you didn't go with an overtly happy ending, life just isn't always like that is it. Well done Niece. Writing a novel isn't easy in anyone's book (did you see what I did there?) Ahem. I am rating you the best way I know how to under these celebratory circumstances.

Rate: Champagne, chocolates and a big bunch of flowers.

s
u
n
k
e
n

loosely based on a teabag

Author's Reply:
I was tempted to bring Uma and Anuj together in the end...probably suggest it in a strong manner...right now, I've left it open. I'm glad you liked the way this ended...when I started writing, I had a vague idea about how I was going to conclude it, but it didn't turn out exactly that way!!! I guess, this works better...

I'll miss the "Sunset Room..." too, Sunk...and to think that I was just waiting to get to the end so that I could do other things. Once I start the editing, I think I'll have enough and more on my hands.

Thanks for everything...the support, the encouragement, the appreciation, comments ... and yes, for the Champagne, chocolates and the flowers...:)

Regds,
niece

soman on 14-09-2007
[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
niece, congrats on seeing this thru to the 'bitter' end. I now look forward to reading it wholesale, and wish you all the best on the book front. As I said earlier, I had trouble in linking the various names and their characters, due to a memory which is rusting at the edges.

soman

Author's Reply:
Thank you, soman...In the forum, Claire mentions that I'm done with the easiest part...and I agree with her. It's like trekking uphill, realising it's tough and with the full knowledge that it's going to be worse as you come down...I won't be keeping off the editing for too long, but I think I'm going to take a good two yeas, if not more to complete it...

Regds,
niece

reckless on 06-10-2007
[UKAWANIAY] - Songs from the Sunset Room - The End
Well done indeed. I very much liked this ending, it had pathos and realism in it. It was quite sad actually, especially for the Vaidehi character. Overall i thnk you have done so well .... it is really a very major thing to have completed 80,000 words - I hope you feel very proud of yourself. It has been an experience to follow you on this journey, I thank you for that. Congratulations again and good luck with any editing you do.

Author's Reply:
Reckless,
Thanks for everything and sorry for such a late response...my parents are visiting and I'm spending as much time as I can with them...

I'm really grateful for the support. I'll be printing out the entire material soon and then I'll begin editing...hope your novel is also progressing well..

Regds,
niece


Can't Comprehend (posted on: 17-07-06)
Terrorism - something which is difficult to understand! Wrote this on 11/7-the day it happened!

I don't have enough tears to cry For all the blood you've shed; I don't have the words now To ask you why you did this- Why to their deaths you lead All those innocent heading home To their loved and near After a hard day's work- Have never thought beyond their job, a house, a life, their children, parents, wife; I cannot imagine your nerve As you walked into that crowded compartment Left something for those unsuspecting souls Knowing what it would Do to them in minutes; I don't have the courage To think of how you viewed the effect Of what you had left behind. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Or did you even blink an eye? ....or maybe just flinch? I dread to think of it. How could you take away What you can never return?
Archived comments for Can't Comprehend
Kat on 18-07-2006
Cant Comprehend
Hi niece

I think you did well with this poem too - it puts across well the random nature of terror (for the victim) and the disbelief and amazement that we all feel, that people could do this to other people. Another good ending.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Kat,

I've often wondered how such people's mind works...I can empathise quite well...but this was too difficult to understand...I guess, their hatred has grown so strong that they do not see what they look at...only that one mission they have set out to achieve stands out clearly before their eyes! How else do you explain such cold-blooded murder?

Thanks so much, Kat for your kind words --- :)!

Regds,
niece

Kat on 18-07-2006
Cant Comprehend
PS: meant to say, is that a typo in line 1 of stanza 2 and should be 'your'?

x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for pointing it out, Kat...I've corrected it 🙂 !
Regds,
niece

Gerry on 21-07-2006
Cant Comprehend
niece, I think I read these two poems the wrong way round.
This leads up to your second poem very well. I agree with your feelings totally...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Gerry,

Thanks so much for the comment...the poems were written within three days of eachother, this one being the first - but I never meant it to be read together...this one helped me feel a little better after actually hearing one of those explosions from my house and later watching some clippings on the television...I realised I wanted to cry, but I just couldn't...and that's how it took shape...

Regds,
niece


Less Ordinary (posted on: 17-07-06)
It's the ordinary folks who ultimately suffer...!

The sitting duck- To not just The terrorists And their "isms"- But to a whole system, Dirty politics And money-making bureaucrats; To unemployment, frustration,dejection; To hatred born From even older hatred, Cruelty, despair. Sitting ducks- Simple folks Going about routines Have no strong opinions Just a clear ambition And a wish to live A little less than Ordinary Lives
Archived comments for Less Ordinary
scotch on 17-07-2006
???
i really like this it hits the nail on the head, i feel stuck myself in the system, and to be unconventional and live as a bohemian takes courage, instead of hoping to win the lottery as a way out into a higher level of freedom....scotch

Author's Reply:
Dear Scotch,

After the awful terrorist attacks on our lovely city, we have obviously frustrated police officials almost blurting out the truth...we have people actually looking for cracks and potholes in the entire "system"...why can't they get it right? If you ask me, it's all thanks to corruption. The people who were affected the most by the attacks were simple middle-class people who went to work by train and will continue to go by train, come what may...For them life has to go on...



Thanx for the comment, Scotch...it always great to get some feedback on my poems...I don't consider myself a poet...just desperately trying to become one:D...that's all!

Regds,

niece

Kat on 17-07-2006
Less Ordinary
niece, I think you have done well with this poem, I really like its tone and the expression 'sitting duck' is so apt in this situation - like the ending too.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Kat, the words "sitting duck" just seemed to appear out of the blue...and that's how the whole poem took shape...the ending-well, the people who really suffered were just simple middle-class people going back home to a nice shower and dinner thereafter and probably a favourite soap just before bed. Sad, isn't it?
Thanks so much for the comment, Kat. It means a lot to me.
Regds,
niece

Ginger on 17-07-2006
Less Ordinary
Niece,

I wish everyone thought this:

Just a clear ambition
And a wish to live
A little less than
Ordinary Lives

So well put, should be a slogan to a movie or something.

For someone who claims not to be a poet, nice job. 🙂

Lisa

Author's Reply:
Lisa,
Thanks for that lovely comment...I'm glad you liked it...among the people who died(or got injured) in the explosions, I guess atleast 60% of them were the types who could have gone on to become a something in life....the terrorists had done their homework very well, it appears!
Poet?- Wow! That's a lovely compliment...thank you*collars up*:D
Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 18-07-2006
Less Ordinary
Well said - it's always the innocent, the vast majority, that suffer. Those who plan these atrocities seldom suffer themselves - the exception being the suicide bomber, and I admit that these are the most frightening, the most inhuman. There's no understanding that level of self-deception...yes, I know that the awful atrocity you suffered recently wasn't suicide bombing, but it was related, in religious terms, wasn't it? Wouldn't it be wonderful if all that sixties peace and love hadn't simply been a momentary aberration? If only...a fine write, and obviously heartfelt.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for those words of appreciation!:)

In India, apart from Hindus, there are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis as well. When the compartments blew up there must have been so many people from all these communities. While conducting such mass murder, the terrorists can never hand-pick their victims! The motive is clear - stop India's progress or atleast cause a temporary set-back...and the main trouble-makers are from beyond the Indian border. The religious angle is furthered by attention-seeking politicians...they sow the seeds of distrust and bingo...there are riots and rifts forming where there weren't any...

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 20-07-2006
Less Ordinary
Hello Ms. Niece. I'm sorry that I can't be as in-depth as my fellow ukaneers, I blame this principally on the fact that I have a less evolved brain. I enjoyed your piece (if enjoyed is the right word), see I'm also insensitive. I'll shut up and vote. Well done Niece.

s
u
n
k
e
n



Author's Reply:
Sunk, am I glad to see you! It's always so nice to hear from you and read your thoughtful(?) comments...:D...I'm happy to know you enjoyed the poem...thanks for taking the time to read, comment and also vote...Thanks:)!

Regds,
niece

orangedream on 20-07-2006
Less Ordinary
Hi there niece - I'm with Sunken on this one. Everybody's just about said it all really. A great poem - extremely well-written.

"To hatred born
from even older hatred.."

How right you unfortunately are, niece.

:-)orangedream

Author's Reply:
Orangedream,
I'm truly flattered by this comment - thank you very much ! 🙂

Those words, like you said, are unfortunately true...The partition of India and Pakistan left a lot of gaping wounds which have been leading to these regular attacks in India...if only people learnt to move on...

Hey...I was supposed to give a light-hearted reply and see what I've done...Thanks very much Orangedream for your lovely comment and by the way, I really like your name:)

Regds,
niece

shadow on 20-07-2006
Less Ordinary
I found this very moving, and very true. Unfortunately. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Shadow, we can only pray for better days...and to fight this one curse...we need the world to stand together as one...easier said than done:(

I've been meaning to ask you about Crown of Frost...have you been working on it? I really wish you are! I would love the read the rest of it...!

Thanks so much for reading this poem, Shadow...and I'm glad that you liked it!

Regds,
niece

Gerry on 21-07-2006
Less Ordinary
niece, sorry late getting here. The recent events in India sickened me. When will sense come to the world? Sometimes I think it is all too late. The ordinary folk are the ones with the compassion and sense--but as you imply they are never listened to. A clever but sad poem...

Gerry. xxx.

Author's Reply:
Dear Gerry,
India's biggest bane is it's unchecked population growth...add to that power-hungry politicians...we have lots of popular and famous Indian faces shouting hoarse about the corruption and indifference...these things happen in a big way following a crisis, then they simmer down...like everything else! They don't last too long in public memory unless they were directly involved...It's sad to see the plight of some of the survivors...!
Thanks, Gerry, for reading and commenting...I truly appreciate it:)

Regds,
niece

Lare on 24-07-2006
Less Ordinary
Hi niece...how true...how so very true...provoking thoughts of now and then it is a good thing for us to break out of our molds and see what other facets of life offer. I really like your lines
"Going about routines
Have no strong opinions"
This is perhaps part of daily life that we self wrap ourselves in our daily cocoons...so very easy to do...

Very well done, niece...very well done...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Lare,
Thanks so much for the comment...we all need to move on after something like this happens...tho' there is no personal loss most often...somewhere you really do feel you've lost something ...

Hoping and praying for a brighter tomorrow 🙂

Regds,
niece

soman on 26-07-2006
Less Ordinary
niece,

A topic which is hard to comment on, and even harder to refrain from commenting upon, since you were on the spot and almost an eye-witness! This applies to the other sister poem alongside, as well. We in this country have been living with this evil for the past six decades, and it still shows no sign of abating.

A touching piece.

Soman
Soman



Author's Reply:
Soman, you must have seen the pictures of the possible suspects who have been picked up in the last one week - they don't look any different from the friendly vendors and shopkeepers I meet everyday...! It just goes to show that the very same people who can serve you with a smile, can become "the face of death" when they are blinded by "their cause"...and if it's not changed in 60 years, there is little hope of it changing ever...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Soman...

Regds,
niece

SugarMama34 on 05-11-2006
Less Ordinary
Hiya Niece,
A well thought poem and a philisophical write. You have captured in this poem what most people feel about politics and terrorism. I like this very much.

Hugs,

Sugar.xx

Author's Reply:
SugarMama,
I really love your name...

I wrote this after hearing one of the Mumbai blasts that happened in July. It was so gory and horrible. This is the second poem I wrote the same day. Sort of helped me get over the initial shock...

Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know what you felt about my poem. I'm looking forward to your novel...read the synopsis. It sounds quite promising! All the best to you...

Regds,:)
niece

ThePhoenix on 04-12-2006
Less Ordinary
I really liked this powerful poem, its emotive on a subject that can be all to easily expressed in uncontrolled fashion but your poem is steady and paced and expresses to me the exasperation and futility of this monotonous and dangerous time we live in.

thank you dX

Author's Reply:
Thanks Phoenix for the lovely comment...We do live in dangerous times. And the cause of that danger could be a terrorist, a young drunk driving recklessly, the politicians you voted into power or even your own spouse...there are not guarantees in this life:(...

Regds,
niece


A Possible Dream (posted on: 10-07-06)
A story within a story! Based on true facts and incidentsit just goes to show that dreams do come true!

It isn't very difficult to lose yourself on those tiny pathways. They are crooked and untarred and they zigzag their way, taking you past the houses of Kochunni whose son is now in Dubai and Chandi who died heirless and lonely but had a dozen claimants clamouring for his property after his death. Along that sandy road, no one would miss the two-storied bungalow to the right just before Nambiar's house. That is where Sharda, the daughter of Krishnan Nair and Nani, now lives. Sharda is a school teacher and is very good at English, I am told. So I decide to take my son there every weekend to achieve the impossible-namely, teaching him good English. As I spoke to her about it for the first time, she seemed quite upbeat. ''Prabha, I will take care of your son'' ''But his teacher said that ''crows would fly upside down'' if he got anything above 40% in the subject,'' I informed her. ''Prabha, please leave it to me,'' she said and started talking directly to my son, ignoring me for the rest of that meeting. ''Papa, why do you bring me all the way here to learn English?'' my son asked me on our way out. I was half-tempted to give the little brat a piece of my mind. Here he was bringing home disgraceful marks and I was trying to find a solutiontrying to ensure that he did better in his English papers and he had the nerve to ask me that question. But I held my tongue when I remembered Sharda's words-:''Don't ever run him down. You need to be positive if you want him to improve.'' ''WellI think only Sharda can help you!'' ''But there are so many tuition teachers near our house. Thomas told me about one the other day.'' ''There may be, my son. But they are not Nani's daughters.'' He immediately began to sulk. The prospects of catching a bus every weekend morning and travelling for twenty minutes when he could easily be watching the Sunday morning television shows must have been quite a put-off. ''Have I ever told you about Ammini?'' ''No,'' my son remarked, looking at me quizzically. ''Then hear this and you will know why I feel Sharda is the right person to teach you Ammini, who lived not very far from the bungalow we just visited, was a hard-worker and like most mothers, she doted on her one and only son and she firmly believed that her son was the bestbetter than the sons of her neighbours, Paru or Karthi or even Shanti who herself had studied till the third standard. Ammini dreamt that one day her son would go to a good school, do well in studies and go on to become somebody important or big! Like Krishnan Nair, the owner of the house where she worked as a maid-servant. She didn't know what he didbut Nair who worked somewhere in central India owned a chauffeur-driven car and his children wore the best of clothes. ''Ammini's husband, though, scoffed at her dreams. Looking at the six year old Raju, playing in the mud outside, he remarked, ''That idiot? Don't waste your time. I will take him with me to the fields, let him learn to become a good farm help,'' The fields where he worked belonged to Krishnan Nair. ''When Ammini went to work, she would take along little Raju, who would play in the mud outside as she finished her work for the day. ''Nani, the lady of the house, was a school headmistress. Ammini wondered whether she should broach the subject of Raju's education with her. Municipal schools were aplenty, of course and easy to get into. They would even provide free breakfast to the children. But Ammini wanted her son to go to a good private school, the kind where Nani taught. Unfortunately, Nani though a very kind person, was quite reserved by nature. Ammini neither had the courage nor the chance to mention her son's future and it looked like her dream would remain just thata dream. ''And then it happened. One fine day, as she sat grinding the ''chutney'' for breakfast, Nani called out to her from the dining room. Leaving the ''chutney'' half-ground, Ammini went into the dining room. Even in her wildest dreams, she had not been prepared for what she was about to hear. ''''Ammini, how old is your son?'' Nani asked. ''''Six, madam,'' Ammini replied, her hands trembling, hoping against hope. ''''Your boy is always playing around in the mud isn't it time you put him in a school?'' ''Ammini could feel her head spinning, yet she stood steady as she replied in the affirmative. ''''From next week, dress him up and bring him like you always do. I will take him with me,'' Nani told her. ''As she stood there silently, tears rolled down her face. She wanted to fall at Nani's feet. She wanted to say something, say at least a ''thank you''. All she did was nod and leave quietly. ''Later when breakfast didn't arrive at the table and Nani went to check, she found Ammini weeping in the courtyard! ''Soon it was the first day of school. Ammini was excited. Her husband though still not fully convinced was thrilled as well. After all, his son was now going not to any school, but a private school. At least it would be something to talk about during the long working hours. Little Raju was also excited. He didn't know what was happening. But he loved the new clothes, the new satchel and generally being fussed over. ''That morning, both Ammini and Raju set off, walking a long way on bare-feet. Thus began Raju's journey to fulfilling Ammini's dream. ''Life can be full of surprises. Ammini had expected so many hurdles on the way to achieving her dream. But what happened was something even she had least expected. After the first month of school was over, Raju began to protest. ''I will not goI don't like studies I will work with father on the fields.'' ''For a change even his father tried to convince him, but the boy was adamant. When Ammini coaxed him, he back-answered, when she bribed him he slyly took the treat but refused to do her bidding. Then she threatened him and he stared back insolently and when finally, frustrated beyond her wits, she thrashed him for the first time, he bawled loudly till the entire neighbourhood came to enquire. Ammini felt lost and helpless. ''Between themselves, the boy's parents decided that there was no use forcing him. ''Let him work in the field'', they agreed and Ammini was heart-broken to say the least. ''The next day, Ammini decided to take the day off yet went to Nani's house to tell her about her son's behaviour. Nani was unperturbed as she told her, ''I've seen all kinds of children, Ammini. Tomorrow when you come to work, bring Raju along. '' ''Initially people were surprised to see Nani, whom everyone in that little hamlet knew and respected, on her way to school with little Raju walking ahead. Nani held a big cane in her hand and though she never used it, it served it's purpose well. This went on for a long time. ''Needless to say, Raju went on to complete his school education and finally, a bachelors in civil engineering. He got a job in the Middle-east and soon his parents didn't have to work anymore. Ammini still stayed in touch with Nani keeping her updated about her ''little Raju'' as she still continued to call him. Years went by. Ammini's health took a turn for the worse and soon she succumbed to her illness. A few years later, Nani followed suit.'' ''Did all this really happen? How do you know?'' my son asked me. ''These stories used to spread pretty fast. In fact, my mother used to tell me that I had better study well if I didn't want to work as Ammini's son's subsidiary. I've also heard that once Raju, while back on leave, decided to call on Sharda, Nani's daughter who now lived in that old house. He thought he owed them that much ''After much coaxing, Raju sat on the steps, reluctantly and as Nani would have put it ''like he was sitting on a cluster of thorns'' would have aptly described his shuffling about uncomfortably. He didn't make much conversation, just mumbled his replies to the few questions Sharda shot at him, all the while stealing fleeting glances at the Nani's portrait which had been put up on the wall. Sharda was finding his behaviour very awkward. ''''Will you have some tea, Raju?'' Sharda asked seeking to get his attention. ''''NoyesI had my breakfastand tea with itnono, thank you,'' he stammered. ''Inspite of his vague response, Sharda said she would get him some tea and went inside. At least that would give him some time to settle down, she thought. But minutes later when she came out, she found Raju walking away. ''''Raju, where are you going? Have your tea and go,'' she called after him. Raju turned back and took a few steps forward, ''I can't, ''he said, loud and clear for a change, ''I cannot bear to sit there. She is watching me, admonishingly! '' he pointed at the portrait on the wall. ''''But, Raju, it's only a photograph,'' Sharda protested. ''''She''Raju stated vehemently,''will not leave me alone'' he pointed to the photograph and then skyward, ''even from up there''. With that he turned once more and walked away.'' My son began to giggle. My little story seemed to have convinced him! Surprisingly, he started picking up the language pretty well and at the final parents-teachers' meeting even his English teacher in school remarked, ''Mr.Prabhakar, you son has achieved the impossiblelook at his marks60% in his quarterly papers and then 70% in the half-yearly'' She looked up at me wide-eyed, ''I don't have anything more to say about it except that your son is doing well.'' As I left the room and the next parent occupied the seat I had just vacated, I smiled. For some people, the ''impossible'' is a possibility that does not exist!
Archived comments for A Possible Dream
RoyBateman on 10-07-2006
A Possible Dream
A charming tale, and one with a message - if only we could all be convinced of the value of education! When I look at some of the products of our own "ever-improving" school system, I simply despair - I'm glad your story had a happier ending than many of these yahoos are going to get. Great write, as always.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy, for those words of appreciation - they mean a lot to me. When the happenings in this story took place, probably 40 or more years ago, education in India was also a lot better...teachers taught because they loved to teach and not because it was just another job! Sad to say, things have changed a lot now!
Regds,
niece

Gerry on 10-07-2006
A Possible Dream
niece, a well deserved nib. A lovely story very well written...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Gerry...it's all true you know, even the fact that the poor guy could not get himself to sit before the late head-mistress's portrait. When my dad told me this story, I just had to write it down!
Regds,
niece

shadow on 10-07-2006
A Possible Dream
Dear niece, I love your gentle, funny stories. This was delightful.
Moya

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much, Moya. I thought I had to do justice to this lovely tale when I heard it about 3 months ago...apart from introducing a narrator( and his son).
Nani, it seems, was a real tough nut...if she was a terror at school, then she began practicing at home where she was constantly disclipining five naughty boys...while writing this story, in a way, I got to know what kind of a person she must have been.

Regds,

niece

Kat on 12-07-2006
A Possible Dream
niece, a delightful story which is very well-written - enjoyed!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kat...I'm so glad you enjoyed it...:) There is so much life can teach you.
Regds,
niece

soman on 15-07-2006
A Possible Dream
niece,

A good tale, the more so because it is based on facts.

Sadly, though, such teachers are a vanishing breed today;
and for that matter, the same goes for the students. Which is why education has sunk to abysmal depths these days!

Soman

Author's Reply:
Dear Soman,
Being a product of those wonder-years, I know you would appreciate this...I remember the most unlikely(or that's what I thought) person teaching me a new word I didn't even know existed when I was in the 9th grade..."summon". She also had an accent to die for. I never forgot that word after that. She was my grand-aunt(a teacher herself)from Kanattukara...those days and those wonderful people were truly something else!
Thanx...
Regds,
niece

soman on 15-07-2006
A Possible Dream
Afterthought : All kinds of reservations for all sorts of "backwards" is playing havoc, placing merit a discount.

Soman

Author's Reply:
Soman,
The Indian politician has to fill his vote-bank...he will do anything for that...and he is the reason behind every little problem in India, big or otherwise...I'm so sorry for this outburst, but these days it's been really bugging me...
Regds,
niece


Power in Your Hands (posted on: 05-06-06)
Carrying those dumbbells may not be a dumb idea after all!

''I cannot believe you are carrying those silly things!'' Shalini looked down at Trisha's hands as they both swung their hands vigorously while brisk-walking down the quiet lane. ''Believe itit is called ''power-walking'' and it's supposed to help you lose weight faster,'' Trisha replied, vehemently. The dumbbells in her hand stood outfor her five feet nothing, they did seem a little out of place. ''You are crazy,'' Shalini concluded, making a note to herself that she would go on these walks alone from the next day. It would save her a lot of embarrassment. Many of the other morning walkers stared at the two girls as they walked past them, one nonchalant, the other going a little red in the face. ''Nonot crazy,'' Trisha corrected her, ''Power-walking has it's many useslike'' they turned the corner into the lane where their friend Vinita lived ''power in your handsyou've got powergot it - power?'' Shalini was now even more convinced that she needed to go on these morning walks by herself. Just a few days ago, they had both decided that they were getting fat since the school vacations were on and all they did was to eat the whole day longthat is, when they were not glued onto the idiot box. That along with the inescapable fact they were now in their last year of school and needed to make an extra effort towards studiesbother! Morning walks, they had been told an umpteen times, were a good way to beat stress, but that morning, for Shalini, the opposite was true. ''Nothing like power'' Trisha was still on her ''power'' trip and Shalini was considering returning home citing a leg strain or something like that as a good reason to quit when Trisha asked, ''See that car over there? Know whose it is?'' ''Yes, that's the car Vinay's dad bought for him after he passed his driving test.'' Vinay was Vinita's first cousingood-looking, smart and rich to boot and Trisha had a terrible crush on him. Only one minor problem - he did not think the same way and Trisha had been heartbroken. He preferred the tall svelte Shweta to a short plump Trisha. The steel grey parked along the road glinted in the early morning sun and it did look marvellous. As they walked past the car, Shalini heard a screeching sound much like chalk on a blackboard. She looked down at Trisha's hand and just about managed to utter, ''Tri'' when Trisha moved the dumbbell away and sent it back onto the body of the car with a subdued but deadly thud. As they left the car behind, Shalini looked back aghast. It now had a long scratch on it's side from back to front and an ugly dent where that ended. ''Why did you do that?'' ''Because it felt niceremember, we are out here to feel nice?'', Trisha replied cheekily. ''But what if Vinay finds out?'' ''He never will.'' They turned into another lane. Sweat was pouring down Shalini's face and no doubt, it had nothing to do with the walk. ''Why are we in this lane?'' Shalini asked Trisha suddenly, ''This one's most unsuitable for walking on.'' The vendors and the filth they left around on this lane was most unpleasant. ''Because Santosh lives here'' Trisha looked at Shalini, meaningfully. ''Santosh?'' Shalini asked, quizzically, ''So?'' ''He did dump you for that new girl living in the 3rd block, right?'' Trisha's eyes glinted mischievously, ''He too has his own car, you know!'' As the plot sunk into her head, Shalini smiled back evilly at Trisha. ''Could you hold this for a little while? My hands are beginning to hurt.'' Shalini held the big weights in her hand. Surprisingly, they didn't feel too heavy as she spotted and headed briskly towards the red coloured sedan. The feeling of power in her handswas just awesome!
Archived comments for Power in Your Hands
bluepootle on 05-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Hi Niece,
I enjoyed this story! Clear, cleanly written, with a cheeky sense of humour. Made me smile.

Author's Reply:
Dear bluepootle,
Thank you :). It's nice to know that you liked the story...the idea came to me during one of my morning walks which I hate to take!
Regds,
niece

ruadh on 05-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Loved this. Well written and gave me a giggle.

ailsa

Author's Reply:
Thanks Ailsa. Considering how much guys love their cars, I don't think there could be a worse punishment!:D
Regds,
niece

Sunken on 05-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Hello young Neice of 'Power in your hands' fame. This is indeed a cheeky little number. It put me in mind of the following - returning home from a blind date with a white stick and a Labrador, trading a small snail for a somewhat larger and beautifully preserved butterfly, and of course - turnips. Women - revenge - cheek, equals one thing - A nib. Well done, it suits ya (-:

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his eyes were downloaded from the internet

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sunk...revenge has always been a great subject and it's one of my favourite. I even believe that nature metes out justice in it's own way!
Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 05-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Naughty, naughty! Tut tut, I'm ashamed of you thinking of such a thing. It's a god job the offending young man didn't run out to complain, getting an unwanted weight in the...well, somewhere. Very amusing, and different too!

Author's Reply:
Roy, I think the spirit of some naughty young girl must have taken charge of my brains while I was writing this story. I mean...scratch up some poor guy's car!?!
Thanks so much for reading and commenting:)!
Regds,
niece

soman on 06-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
So you are at it again, eh niece? I do hope this sort of thing helps you to sublimate your own "evil intentions!" lol.

soman

Author's Reply:
I've spent too much time around the kids (1 1/2 months, to be exact) and I guess it's showing. I normally behave and think my age!!! Yes...kids return to school by this weekend...so it's back to routines again for me which means "writing" as well!
Thanks for the comment 🙂
Regds,
niece

Claire on 06-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Loved this - no quibbles from me it was a pleasure to read, hun.

Author's Reply:
Claire, thanks for those encouraging words...this story is the result of three things which were foremost on my mind during the last 1 1/2 months - school vacations, weight gain and those hateful morning walks!
Regds,
niece

Micky on 08-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
I'm shocked and appalled ,could never have imagined such a thing !
Well done ! lol

Micky :>D

Author's Reply:
Lol...thanks for that comment, Micky-where were all these evil thoughts when I needed them years ago?!!!?...!:D
Regds,
niece

ish on 09-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Niece
Women dumped? Ya, I could tell you a story where one such creature put sugar in my car's petrol tank! Not funny. Cost me a lot of money.
The story is well written.
Regards
chrisk


Author's Reply:
Gosh, she really did know where it would hurt a lot, right, chris? I've been vying with my husband's car for his attention...I really don't understand what it is about her...I mean, it! It really makes me grind my teeth in anger...grrrr!....where is that sugar cube?

Thanks so much for the comment, chris. Nice to see you around!

Regds,

niece

Gerry on 11-06-2006
Power in Your Hands
Sorry i am late here niece--been away on holiday.
A delightful and amusing read, a deserved nib imo...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Gerry...(the earlier reply disappeared!)
Regds,
niece

Jen_Christabel on 02-07-2006
Power in Your Hands
What a great read Niece :o)

Jennifer

Author's Reply:
Glad to know you liked this, Jen...:)! Thanx...
Regds,
niece


If I'd Let Go (posted on: 24-04-06)
~~~~~~~

If I'd let go I'd see a whole new world, As I fly free and confident Like a beautiful bird; I could touch the skies Or skim the sea's surface Breathing in deeply As I feel the Oneness Of ---All God's creations- Both big and small, From the tiniest insects To the trees that stand tall; ---The blue of the heavens Touching the green of the lawn And the glow of gold As the sun rises at dawn; ----Of laughter or sadness, The line is thin, The sound of silence Over the man-made din. I'd see the joy in sorrow And the pain in joy As bliss takes over Inner peace I'd enjoy. If I'd let go I'd have to leave behind All that I've built and Made through the Time. Possessions and Relations I call my own Blinded by Ego When pride's seeds had been sown. Emotional clutter I'd gathered on my way Collecting trophies and laurels Of another day. So while bonds of ignorance Keep me chained to the ground I can't let go Because they hold me down.
Archived comments for If I'd Let Go
RoyBateman on 24-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
Ah, an eternal truth! If only we could "let go" properly and release ourselves...but we're just poor mortals, aren't we? Is that why so many people need religion - to externalise all that we'd like to be? I reckon humanism comes closest to that - I'll stick with that until something better comes along! Lovely, yearning poem here, niece - made me think.

Author's Reply:
Roy,
"Sanyas" is all about "letting go" and entering that state of bliss from which there is no return. Tho' in the olden days, it was mandatory for the sanyasi to give up everything and walk away from wordly life, these days the concept itself has changed. You can live in the world and still feel and sense "the power"/"God", tho' it is difficult. But I have to mention here, that a lot of men take it as an easy way out of responsibilities and the like.
Thanks for the comment, Roy.:)
Regds,
niece

chrissy on 24-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
I liked this very much. All people, I think, have this desire to relinquish the physical, mental and emotional 'clutter' that just being alive seems to bring and to wander off in possibly only a spiritual sense to become one with something greater than themselves.
This is a very well written and clear expression of that desire.
chrissy

Author's Reply:
Hi Chrissy,
Thanks so much for your kind comment-
In India where there is a lot of stress on spirituality, it's not easy to ignore it...I've always wanted to follow that path...but's it's very difficult for a woman(being a mother, or a wife, etc). I keep telling myself "someday...!"
Regds,
niece

Kat on 25-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
What a beautiful poem, niece. It expresses some wonderful thoughts, hopes and dreams in a measured and lyrical way - I really enjoyed it.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Kat,
One of my favourite visions is "flying like a bird"...it must be such an amazing feeling! I feel spirituality can take you to that level, where you can feel or be anything you like. Just my thoughts...I am not a follower of any of the Indian saints here, not that I doubt their power/strength!
Thanks for the comment...it is nice to know what you think, Kat and I appreciate your taking the time:)
Regds,
niece

Claire on 25-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
Simply superb!

Amazing piece - I'm surprised it didn't get a nib to be honest!

Author's Reply:
Claire,
Your words have put a wide smile on my face...and it's as good if not better than the nib, as far as I am concerned. Thanks!:)
Regds,
niece

Sunken on 26-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
I bet you're quite a beautiful bird young Niece(-;
Well done on this. I agree with Claire, (I really don't like agreeing with women as it seems as if I'm somehow going against nature) it does deserve a nib. You got the rhythm spot on, which made it effortless to read (but not to write). Well done Niece. One of your best.

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sponsored by tooth decay

Author's Reply:
Sunken,

That's a great comment. Definitely put me on cloud nine, and I didn't even need any wings;)...

It's great to hear from you, Sunken and I'm glad you took the time to read this and let me know what you thought about it. You may be a Smunky, but you are a wise Smunky and I look forward to your opinion!

Regds,

niece

Zoya on 29-04-2006
If I’d Let Go
Yeah, the eternal dilemma of duty and desire,
The eternal struggle of longing and responsibilities,
The never ending question, of to be or not to be?
Heart and mind are always at conflict with each other,
No one ever wins...
there is a beautiful couplet by Iqbal, the famous Urdu poet, and I try to translate it here:
"It nice to keep your mind sentinel over your heart/
But sometimes leave the poor heart alone."

((((Hugs Niece for a very inspiring piece of poesy))))
Love, xxx, Zoya

Author's Reply:
Zoya,
That's a lovely comment...I believe I can switch off(emotionally, etc)anytime I want to now...tho' I am too young to do that, firstly and secondly I feel a sense of responsibility towards my family. The same power that gave me my thoughts has given me my family and everything else that came with it. I believe we have come here to learn...and I intend to do that as best as I can...Thanks for reading and commenting...I truly appreciate it...:)
Redgds,
niece

Lare on 08-07-2006
If I’d Let Go
Hi niece...wow...what beautiful thoughts painted with beautiful words. To escape and be this kind of free...we might be lucky enough for this to happen to us for an unexpected moment...perhaps...but...to have this kind of freedom on a permanent bases...well...I suspect this will only happen when we are dead...I wish not...but...in any case, niece, this is very well done and leaves me with wonderful thoughts for the rest of my day...thank you for sharing...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Having this kind of freedom, Lare, is what "sanyas" is all about...you know, the ascetics with their saffron robes and long matted locks...they can do anything with their bodies...they have complete control over their lives...only hitch, they've left all kinds of material comforts, family, etc behind...I mean to say, you need to be free of any kind of bondage...Tough, right? ...But not all of them have to be genuine, mind you...
I'm glad my poem made you feel good...thanks you reading and commenting...
Regds,
niece


Grandma's Walking Stick (posted on: 10-04-06)
Even the new walking stick didnt seem a good enough incentive for grandma to start walking!

They bought her a new walking stick finally. At least that would get her into the mood for walking. She looked at them through wrinkles and crowfeet and exclaimed, ''I am not old.'' Then leaving the stick still propped up against her chair, she stumbled away in a huff holding onto the furniture that came along her path for support. At 79, my grandmother had a new problem. She couldn't walk as well as she used to. And then there was another problem, she wouldn't admit it. ''Why don't you go for a walk?'' my father, her one and only son, advised her. ''And who will do all the work in the house?'' she asked him as she headed for the kitchen for the first time in days and got busy harassing mother the way only she could. One day, Gopal, Gina and I managed to get her off her rocking chair in the balcony and took her down for ''fresh air''. Needless to say, she had an enjoyable time and agreed to go with us the next day and the next and the nextUntil mother told her that it was indeed such a good thing that she was finally going out and all that. After that grandma decided that it was a ploy her son and his wife were using against her. So when we called her again, she just refused to go. ''I will not have anyone force their will on mine'' were her words. We were a trifle disappointed. We had really loved her company, but now grandma had set her mind on believing that our parents were scheming against her, there was no changing her mind. Later, mother asked us why we hadn't taken grandma along. We told her everything. As mother listened, we saw a look on her face we could not comprehend. It was a pleasant weekend evening when before going down, we looked into grandma's room asking her if she would care to join us. This we did everyday without fail even though she had stopped going with us. Father, who was watching television in the living room, suddenly interrupted us with a loud ''Don't take her with you. She may fall or might come in your waya broken bone is the last thing we want her to end up with at this age.'' Within seconds, grandma staggered out of her room, wore her sandals and giving father a dirty look, accompanied us. The next morning as we were leaving for school, we heard mother tell grandma that there was a special ''puja'' (religious offering) at the nearby temple. ''But I don't think you should go. It's better if you sit at home. That way, there will be someone to answer the door, when I am working in the kitchen.'' We left before we saw the impact of those words.but I guess we didn't need to be told what happened after that. Over two weeks of grandma becoming active and quite an outdoorsy person, mother and father loudly discussed getting rid of her brand new walking stick. ''Shall I give it to the ''raddhiwallah'' along with the old newspapers? At least we will get something for it'' mother told father ''Yesyesbetter than it's lying around and coming in the way all the time. Mother does not need it. She is not all that old.'' The effect those words had on herwellthe walking stick never did go to the ''raddhiwallah''. Months went by. Grandma was watching us from the bench she was sitting on in the garden. Father and mother used this new trick of theirs anytime they wanted grandma to do something. In fact, they used it too often these days. They were manipulating grandma and it just did not seem right. I thought for a while and when everyone else was too busy to notice, I went along and sat down next to her. ''Grandma, don't you realise dad and mom are taking advantage of your gullibility?'' Grandma did not say anything for a while. Wondering whether she had not heard me, I was going to repeat myself when she asked, ''Do you know how old I am?'' ''Yes79'' ''And how old are you?'' ''Twelve'' ''How old are your parents?'' ''Ierrr'' ''Do you realise that all three of us are much older to you?'' she asked me without waiting for a reply. I nodded not understanding where this was leading. Grandma looked at me calmly, ''Your parents they have my best interest at heart. But I don't like to take direction from themnot from themnot from anyone......Gullible?'' she laughed, shaking her head incredulously, '' Child, I've lived more years than you have. I know what your folks are doing and I am just playing along.It's just better that way.'' I thought I saw tears welling up in her eyes as she sat lost in thought for several minutes. I continued to sit besides her watching her, thinking of ways to make her feel better. I have to confess - I did feel a little guilty about having spoilt her mood. That's when she turned around and realised I was watching her. Suddenly, she frowned and snapped, ''Why are you still here? Now off with youhow dare you interfere in the grown up worlddon't you come to me with these smart assumptions again, or you will see what else I can do with this stick of mine!''
Archived comments for Grandma's Walking Stick
Jen_Christabel on 10-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
A tender, poignant piece. Nicely done Niece.
Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jen, for the comment. My late mum-in-law was the inspiration for this.
Regds,
niece

niece on 10-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Thanks, Jen, for the comment. My late mum-in-law was the inspiration for this.
Regds,
niece

Author's Reply:

Gerry on 10-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
niece, a lovely vignette--sounds like she was a grand lady...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Yes, Gerry, she was....but she was also a pretty cool person and would have actually laughed off anything her grandchild said. That part was inspired by the other grand old ladies I've come across at my native place. They have a mind of their own and just hate to be dependant.
Thanks so much for the comment.
Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 11-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
A lovely, warm piece - and so believable! Yes, using psychology like that often works with kids and their grandparents alike. Often, they know and play along, occasionally they're fooled - that's why those generations often get on so well, I reckon. Great read, niece.

Author's Reply:
Roy,
As a kid, I just couldn't understand old people. But now it's not like that. Also I have been seeing my parents age and change...a lot!
Thanks for your encouraging words, Roy...
Regds,
niece

Sunken on 11-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
We don't often think of old people as being cool do we? I'm going to be horrible when I'm older (if I make it that far). I will burst any ball that comes into my garden and I shall moan about how things were better in my day - (even if they undoubtedly weren't). Then again, I may just fake sickness so that I can have some young nurse look after me (-; This is a lovely piece Ms. Niece, it made me smile in all the right places (mainly my mouth). I know that this comment is crap, but just think of it as helping out in the community. If I wasn't doing this I might be smashing windows somewhere or shouting obscenities at passing police operatives (not really, I'm a good boy, honest).

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he can't see mobile phones taking off

Author's Reply:
Sunken,
😀
Thanks for the comment(no...it's not crappy, it never is) and the rating. I don't know about your becoming a horrible old man...it's always the opposite that comes true, but your idea about feigning sickness may be worth it! Thanks once again. I'm glad this little story made you smile:)
Regds,
niece

shadow on 11-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Lovely piece, I really warmed to the grandmother. That is exactly the kind of old lady I intend to be. In fact, I've started practising already.

Author's Reply:
Me too! It would be nice to become a cute old grandmother some day and when I do, I too hope I'll be dignified and all that, but right now I'm (trying to) enjoy being a mother.

All the best and thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Regds,

niece

Apolloneia on 12-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Excellent subject and well written piece dear niece. An enjoyable read, a good read!
nicoletta

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Nicoletta...for the comment and the fav read. I am so glad you liked this...:)
Regds,
niece

RDLarson on 14-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Charming and so nice, niece, to have a family like this. Grandma's are special and so are Grand Dad's. It's nice to have a spry oldster as the main character. I would love to hear other stories about her..

Author's Reply:
Hi,
I do have many more granny and grampa stories playing around in my head...I will be posting them if they turn out well. Thanks so much for the kind comment. I truly appreciate it.:)
Regds,
niece

HelenRussell on 15-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
A beautifully heartwarming story, regardless of whether it is truth, fiction or a mixture, it was entirely believable.
Regards
Sarah

Author's Reply:
Hi Sarah,
This is fiction...but I guess, the fact that I've been inspired by some real-life characters...the old ladies from my hometown whom I just could not understand, then my mother-in-law and now my mother as she has turned a little older every time I see her, makes it real.
I am so glad you dropped by...thanks for that and the comment.
Regds,
niece

Kat on 16-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
I really enjoyed your story, niece. I'm a huge fan of 'older people' having been lucky enough to have grandparents I was very close to, and they were also my favourite group of people when I was nursing. Loving your work!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kat...what a lovely compliment-I'm on cloud nine:)...
It's not difficult to understand why the older people were your favourite, Kat...they can be so adorable tho' they can be quite difficult at times-like little children. No wonder they call it "second childhood"!
Regds,
niece

soman on 19-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
niece,

The 'nib' says it all. A tidy characater portrait, well etched, coming out alive thru your lines.

Keep it up!

Soman

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Soman, for those encouraging words...I am glad you liked this little story of mine.
Regds,
niece

Claire on 20-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Hey there hun,

This is a wonderful read, I've thoroughly enjoyed this one. The voice is strong and true. Deffo one to remember.

Well worthy of the nib.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Claire. It means a lot to me-your comment and everything else. 🙂
Regds,
niece

Lare on 22-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Oh niece...this is so precious and sweet. This is truly a love affair...about family...about life. I am so envious that you have captured this in this piece...I just...well...wow...this is so well done...and you ended this with such a wonderful way of Grandma still able to get in her last authoritative licks....niece, I love this...I really love this...I wish I could share this with my mother...ya know what...I think I will...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Thanks for that lovely comment, Lare...you'll never know how happy it made me!:)
Regds,
niece

potleek on 25-04-2006
Grandma’s Walking Stick
Niece I suppose in a way it's like the saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" When it comes to grandparents they know all the tricks.
Enjoyed this and thanks for the big smile...Tony

Author's Reply:
Old people are amazing, aren't they? My father-in-law will remember to wear new clothes on his birthday, but he forgets the name of his children. And I've noticed most of them are like that. Thanks for the comment, Tony...:)
Regds,
niece


Journey's End (posted on: 06-03-06)
Thoughts on life after death...

When I reach my journey's end, When I come to that crucial bend, Who will be there waiting for me? What will I hear, what will I see? Friends and family who went before Smiling and waving at the door? Voices from the past cheering me on... Voices that have a long time gone? Will they lead me to a wonderful feast? Or give me a warm cosy bed at least? There to enjoy wakeless peace, With no hopes or wishes to appease- The happiness of knowing there's no job to complete, No deadline to meet, no opponent to defeat.... Or when I reach my journey's end Will everything in life just mix up and blend? Places, faces, sounds and smells Till the differences one just cannot tell... And all one would see is pure white light Or maybe something glorious and bright... Like a tunnel that leads, a tunnel that guides, Till we come to the end of an amazing ride... There to enter a blissful state With neither a place for love or hate... That same bliss sages sing about in praise Where past, present, future is lost in a haze In this wonderful place at the end of life's race You feel the peace of Universal embrace... When I come to the end of my journey Will I change or will I still remain me?
Archived comments for Journey's End
Jen_Christabel on 07-03-2006
Journeys End
Poignant and beautifully done.
I just LOVE rhyming poetry :o)
Jennifer x

Author's Reply:
Jen, I am more comfortable writing poetry that rhymes than those that dont...I write those too, but then I always worry whether it sound poetic enough!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment:)
Regds,
niece

shadow on 07-03-2006
Journeys End
A profound and lovely poem, beautifully expressed. Well, we'll all find out, eventually.
M

Author's Reply:
Shadow,
Thanks, Shadow, it's good to know you liked it. We'll all find out...but whether we will realise it then is another matter!
Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 07-03-2006
Journeys End
Very philosophical! This is a new departure, isn't it - but there remains no answer...or, not until somebody reliable makes the return journey. I reckon you're still you - whatever "you" means to other people, until they too fade away. After that? Dunno, I'm a humanist! Best to do what you can in this life - and hope for the best. Good one - made my little grey cells work for their living!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy,for the kind words.
I too believe in living each day well without thinking too much about the future, but sometimes I cant help it. I read a lot of spiritual books and magazines...this must be the outcome of all that.

Regds,
niece

Sunken on 08-03-2006
Journeys End
Ahhhh.... life after death. I'd be more inclined to believe in such a concept if I could actually experience life 'before' death, my dearest young Niece of 'Journey's end' fame (-;
I am expecting nothing but blackness. A thought that pleases both my gothic hamster and myself as it is our favourite colour. Nice poem all the same Ms. Niece. Would you like a crunchie bar or a twix?

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he saves umbrellas for rainy days

Author's Reply:
Dear Sunken,
Great to hear from you :)...thanks for commenting! Black is a nice colour(I like it too)...but blackness for eternity? Hmmmmmm...?
By the way, I'll take the twix...it's my fav.Thank you!

Regds,
niece

Ginger on 08-03-2006
Journeys End
Hello, just found this today, glad I did.

This is what I got from your poem - I think you'll be happy, all worries and woes will fall away, and the happy content you is all you'll remember.

Thanks for the introspective thoughts in a nicely written poem!

Lisa

Author's Reply:
Hi Ginger
Like most of the others have mentioned in their comments, noone will ever know "the truth", till you've been there and once you've gone there, you will never return. I would like to believe that death is indeed beautiful. As someone who sees and writes about death from various different angles, I'm sure you will agree with me.
Thanks, Ginger, for commenting...
Regds,
niece

soman on 10-03-2006
Journeys End
Nice to get away from the fray once in a while and contemplate the hereafter, eh niece? More suited for oldies (like me), but a nice poem all the same.

soman

Author's Reply:
We are all headed there...and age, status or influence does not work in anyone's favour, right? I feel the very fact that our scriptures and mythology speaks a lot about after-life affects the Indian thinking as well. Thanks, Soman, for the comment.
Regds,
niece

Lare on 12-03-2006
Journeys End
Hi niece...it is amazing...I have been having many thoughts like this sense my dad died two years ago. I wonder, 'Is dad flying with today's clouds overhead?'...'What's dad doing now...is his spirit being introduced to all the spirits that have gone before him?'...'Does he smile down upon his still earthly family and friends and waits for them to join him?'...anyway...I have now read your poem several times now, niece...and you have written a very wonderful, insightful piece. This one is a small treasure...at least for me...thank you so much for sharing...you are a very special person...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Lare, for your wonderful comment. It's just made my day...yes, we are all special. But most of us don't realise it! I'm sure you father is up there somewhere or maybe even in our midst, listening and smiling...if death happens to everyone, it can't be awful, can it?
Regds,
niece

chrisk on 16-03-2006
Journeys End
Niece
I am sorry there is no chance of your disappearing for ever my dear. We are all going to be reincarnated!
A bit too young to think about all this, aren't we?
Good poem though.
Chrisk


Author's Reply:
Lol...Chrisk, I read a lot of spiritual stuff...these thoughts should be an outcome of that. Add to that, my 84-year old father-in-law who is a constant reminder that we are not here to stay...atleast not in this state forever---
Thanks for the comment and your thoughts on the subject.
Regds,
niece

e-griff on 16-03-2006
Journeys End
I think the thoughts and the imagination here are excellent. If you wished to improve it, the only thing I could suggest is a more complex rhyme scheme to introduce a little uncertainty and variety in the journey. JohnG 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, e-griff...nice to know you liked the thoughts and the imagination. I shall definitely look into your suggestion...
Regds,
niece

chinu_madan on 12-03-2007
Journeys End
Really cool stuff... I really liked it... specially the second part... "everything mix and blend" Beautiful indeed... This kind of work always brings me nearer to my maker....

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Nitin...since we are all headed that way, it's better to imagine that we are going to a nice place. Sometimes I feel that even amidst pain and suffering, when you get to see something beautiful, adorable or enchanting its the maker's way of telling us there is something even lovelier for us to go back to...

Regds,
niece


The Nauch Girl's Love Letters (posted on: 13-02-06)
Set in a 19th century or early 20th century Indian ''brothel'', this is a story-in-a-story about two ''nauch girls''. Pre-teens were usually kidnapped and sold in these places for money and they were trained to become ''nauch girls'', dancers who entertained the clients who came there. Happy Valentines Day!

Suvarna always took care to dress up well. But today she took extra care. She had a pretty face like most of the others there, and it required very little effort to look beautiful. But the last few days, Suvarna found herself checking and rechecking the final effects. Her friends teased her. They all knew about it. Who could miss that lookthat unending stare? Someone was in love with Suvarna, and instead of envying their fellow-dancer, her friends egged her on. Once they were ready, the girls entered the wide corridor walking towards the main hall where the men would be waiting to feast their eyes on these gorgeous creaturesthrowing notes aplenty as their visual senses were appeased. Suvarna's heart beat wildly. Would he be there today? Would that handsome young man, who had been coming for a couple of weeks now, have eyes only for herlike he did everyday? Or would he switch his affections elsewhere suddenly? For a second, Suvarna slowed her pace as an unknown fear gripped her heart. Then she noticed the matron who was standing near the exit watching her intently. ''Are you alright, my pretty?'' the matron asked. ''Yes, yes,'' Suvarna muttered nervously as she entered the dance hall. Later Revati maasi, the matron, sat in the centre watching her girls perform. The men were delighted and threw bunches of notes at the girls, which her eunuch assistants picked up and brought to her. Seductively, she tucked it into her blouse. At fifty-six, she was still a stunner. But right now, all eyes were on the girls. They were the prettiest girls she had in all the time she ran the place. Some of them were truly stunning, especially Suvarna, the prettiest. But what was this? Revati maasi, whose eyesight was going a little weak, strained to look at the girl. All her focus, body movements and gestures were directed at the young man sitting on the left. This was not rightnot done! She had to deal with itimmediately. Later that evening when most of the customers had left, she called Suvarna to her side. Dismissing all the eunuchs and older inmates, she sat the girl by her side. ''Is all well with you, my child?'' she enquired. Suvarna nodded. ''Suvarna, I noticed your interest in that man,'' she informed her. ''No, there is nothing'' ''Don't lie to me child. I've been in this business for a long time. Take caresuch men don't have your best interests at heart.'' Suddenly Suvarna shot an accusing look at Revati maasi, ''Are you jealous? Are you upset that someone is in love with me and is not just lusting over my body?'' Revati maasi's eyes widened at her reaction. But she quickly smiled, ''Child, shall I tell you a story?'' ''This happened in this same place forty-five years ago. There was a very beautiful girl here called Kamini. Beautifulwould be an understatement! Like you and many of the others, she came here with a so-called relative when she was only thirteen. It was only too evidentthe girl was of royal blood---probably kidnapped---you could see it in her eyes, her body language. She was extremely proud and arrogant and had to be beaten into submission, but once she got over her initial resentment, she came to be loved by everyone. She grew up to become an accomplished danseuse and her art of coquetry was the best I've known so far. The men were always mesmerised by her movements and glances. Some of them stayed back to see if they could spend ''one night, just one night'' with her. The matron put her foot down and said, ''No''. Rules were rules and the dancing girls would only do what they were meant to do. ''And then it happened. Just like with you. One day a young man came here. He couldn't take his eyes off Kamini. Kamini noticed it. Needless to say, he came everyday and for Kamini, who knew that the ''dance-house'' would be her home till death, this seemed like the little hope of escape'' Revati maasi sighed, ''Name one girl who does not dream about that daring young man who will come and save her from this hopeless existence? ''She hoped the young man would do more than just watch her perform. He did not disappoint her. The first letter that came to her was brought in by the matron's little daughter, Preeti. It was easy for Preeti to get across the high security being who she was. ''Strange are the ways of love! The boy was from a very rich and influential family and our beautiful Kamini, a dancer, a coquette, an entertainer. And both of them were madly in love'' Revati maasi paused. There was a far-a-way look in her eyes. ''Kamini saved all the letterscherished them. The young man would keep going off regularly. Then the letters were her solace. He always came back and when away he never stopped writing her letters. He ensured they reached her. He bribed the security guardsthe eunuchs. Two years later, the matron sniffed out that something was amiss. She set a trap and the whole bunch was caught red-handed. The eunuchs were beaten, the watchmen were all sacked and new ones took their place with a firm warning, Kamini was confined to a room for two days with no food or water. And the young man was prohibited from entering the ''nauch-house''. Only Preeti didn't get caught. And in the end, she was the one who finally brought the young lovers together. They fixed a time and the two of them planned to escape in the cover of darkness. The new guards would not help, so Kamini tied two of her saris together and slid down from the balcony. Her friends who knew about it pretended to be asleep. They knew they would have to face the wrath of the matron the next morning, but they were willing to do this much for their friend. ''So far so goodthe two of them ran off, went far away. They got married in a small temple exchanging pretty garlands in front of the temple deity, Mahalakshmi(Goddess of Prosperity and Fortune). The young man had enough money to buy a house and they soon started their new life. Then he started looking around for a job. Sadly for them, the man's family was so resourceful that they had informers even in this little town. They were soon found out. While no harm was done to the man by the henchmen who arrived there, the girl was dragged out and humiliated in front of a big crowd. They should have let her go after thatlosing her man would have been punishment enough ''But the young man's family were a grudging lot. They got him married to another girl, from a rich family. Kamini was forced to dance before the gathering that day ''By this time, the matron had found out what had happened and sent a request: ''Please send her back to us. She is my child,'' That was one thing about the matron. She scolded, she beat, she punished, but she loved them all like her own children. They would have sold her off to some other brothel anyway. They willingly agreed. ''During the long arduous journey, made even more painful by the horrible memories of what had befallen her, Kamini was severely taunted and teased by the henchmen who accompanied her. Among the few possessions, she was allowed to take with her, was a small parcel which she clutched to her chest all the time. Those men got suspicious. ''They began to harass her asking her if it was something she had stolen. When Kamini refused to part with the parcel, she was beaten and the packet, prised from her. The men then opened it to find dozens and dozens of letters, all written to her by her lover. Smirking and mocking, they set fire to it, in front of her. That was the last straw. They say the next day they found her dead in the carriage. The truthwho knows?'' Revati maasi had tears glistening in her eyes. ''It is easy to fall in love, my prettybut we are mere sensual slaves. You cannot escape your fate. Do you want to die like Kamini?'' Tears rolled down Suvanrna's flawless face. She shook her head slowly and reluctantly. Revati maasi could not help but think how pretty she looked even when sad. It was a pity that this beauty would never become a wife, a mother. Three weeks later, the young man stopped coming to the dance-hall. He seemed crestfallen that Suvarna did not spare him a look. As for Suvarna, she broke down after every performance. She insisted on going back, ''I want to see him till the end,'' she told her friends. Months have gone by. Revati maasi is checking on the girls in their private chambers. Suvarna and a few others have separate and better rooms. They are, after all, her favourites. Suvarna is fast asleep. She is over her grief, though Revati maasi knows she still hurts somewhere deep inside. She caresses her lovely hair. Suvarna stirs in her sleep. Stepping out into the terrace, Revati maasi pulls out a letter from her blouse and continues reading the letter she had left half-read. ''my third grand-childa girl, they say looks just like me. You know the other two are boys. Preeti, sometimes I wonder how life would have been if I was still there. I am old nowand I wonder what would have become of me if you hadn't helped me that day. It's a factI went through a lot of torture and if that night while returning to the brothel, he had not come back for me, I would definitely have died. But in the end I came out of it unscathed. True love can never go wrong. I was foolish in even imagining that he would give me up just like that. Hope you will write to me soon. Yours lovingly, Kamini'' Revati maasi folded the letter and put it back. As she looked up into the sky, she closed her eyes and asked for forgiveness. She had helped one girl escape from this horrible place. Yet she could not afford to do it againbecause then she was Preeti, but now she is Revati maasi. And she needed girls like Suvarna to run the place!
Archived comments for The Nauch Girl's Love Letters
Kazzmoss on 13-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
What an enjoyable story and a subject matter than was just a bit different from the norm. Loved the little twist in the tail too 🙂 Kazz

Author's Reply:
Hello Kazzmoss,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad to know you liked this little tale of mine;). I have to tell you that when I started writing this story, I hadn't thought of the twist...I wrote that when I realised the the story was getting too emotional and I didn't want it to end of that note.
Thanks once again.
Regds,
niece

Claire on 13-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Hi there hun,

I do enjoy your stories from your corner of the world. This one is amazing. What a heart-breaker! Never expected that ending though.

Author's Reply:
Claire,
You may be surprised to learn that you are partly responsible for the creation of this story. It came out of the challenge you had mentioned in one of the forums where one had to get a story out of one's fav. song. My current fav. is callec Ancient Secrets by Karunesh. So I worked on that one. Which means I have more reasons than one to thank you for. So a BIG THANK YOU for everything(including the "fav.read"), Claire.
Regds,
niece

RoyBateman on 13-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Very touching tale - different, of course, but still a real tear-jerker. Superbly told, too - well done!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Roy, for all those encouraging words.
It must have been an awful life for them...so much like what is still happening around us. Times really haven't changed very much.
Regds,
niece

Kazzmoss on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Hi Niece,

It was just right, not over sentimental, and quite often I find the ending can often write itself, you did a good job with it. 🙂 Kazz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kazzmoss...the story was to end with the girl dancing away while ignoring her admirer, who sits wondering about the change in her!!! I guess this worked better.
Regds,
niece

e-griff on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
excellent


that's all i can say

Author's Reply:
Thank you, e-griff. I am indeed honoured:).
Regds,
niece

bluepootle on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
I really enjoyed this one. I think the setting and the subject matter would make an excellent longer piece too, maybe even a novel. It certainly captured my imagination, and that's half the battle (the other half being won with the writing style, which was clean, simple and easy to read - tricky to manage, but you did!) Good stuff.

Author's Reply:
Dear Bluepootle,
It's nice to know that you enjoyed this story. Longer piece? That will entail a lot of research et al. Won't think of it atleast till my little one grows up a little more. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Regds,
niece

expat on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters

What a good story, niece! I checked your profile and saw that you were from India. Compliments on your literary command of English - very well written indeed, in all aspects.

:^) Steve.

Author's Reply:
Dear Steve,
The "British Raj" left a lot behind...English being one of them. It's one of the main subjects taught in most(if not all) schools. A lot of stress is laid on learning grammar and literature the right way. So while Indians take liberties with spoken English, they stick to the rules where writing is concerned. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and thanks for the lovely compliment!!!
Regds,
niece

e-griff on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Hey, I'm from Liverpool....
doi I get compliments on my english too?

Author's Reply:

expat on 14-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Ehhh, pal, quel vous faisait dit?

Sorry, niece, just a little joke with e-griff!
:^)

Author's Reply:

Emerald on 15-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Hi Niece,

What a wonderful Story - it kept me engrossed all the way.

Emma:-)

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Emma, for those encouraging words. And for the rating...!
Regds,
niece

Gerry on 16-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
niece, a very moving story beautifuly told...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Gerry...this is the first time I have the WOTM commenting on my work!!!
Regds,
niece

chrisk on 17-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
niece
Nice. I agree with bluepottle. Good subject for a novel. However as you said, one needs to do a lot of research for these old practices.
Similar venues operated in many other countries too, even Europe.

Chrisk


Author's Reply:
Thank you, Chrisk. I would love to write a novel someday but right now I just don't get the time. No complaints!!! I simply believe there is a right time for everything.
Regds,
niece

BlueyedSoul on 17-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
OH neice this is so good...my eyes were glued to the page..it held me captive! Great writing my dear friend.

~BlueyedSoul

Author's Reply:
Hi Cindy,
It's great to see you back! Thanks for the lovely comment. I am so glad you liked this story. And hope to see you posting your wonderful poems soon!!!
Regds,
niece

Griffonner on 18-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Excellent. Simply excellent.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Griffonner. I don't have to tell you how your words make me feel 🙂 !!!
Regds,
niece

Kat on 18-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Dear niece

This is masterful writing and story-telling - a delight to read and congrats on all the well-earned praise and accolades your story is receiving!

Excellent!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Kat, Thank you!
I am going to complete one whole year of writing for/on UKA. I've definitely learnt a lot from the comments/PMs that I've received as well as from reading other's work. It's improved my confidence level a lot too. Maybe that is reflecting on my work as well.
Regds,
niece

soman on 18-02-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
Niece,

A very good one, one of your best yet. The ending caught me off my guard too.

Soman

Author's Reply:
With your support and guidance, Soman, I hope to get even better...thank you.
Regds,
niece

Ginger on 03-03-2006
The Nauch Girls Love Letters
As always, your stories show a little slice of India that I normally wouldn't have a chance to see. Very nicely written, made even more special by the subject matter.
Thanks for the good read,
Lisa

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Lisa, for the comment. Nice to see you back:)!
Regds,
niece


Would You Love a Child (posted on: 30-01-06)
Last week I came across a video clipping of a little child being abused by the nanny who had been employed to look after him. On the same day, the newspapers reported that a 5-year old girl had been rescued from her abusive step-mother. The question that nagged me since then---how can a woman treat a child this way?

Would you love a child- kiss her, hug her- Tell her beautiful stories Of fairy princess' and handsome knights? Would you rock her gently Till she dreamt of kindness Whilst sowing the seeds of eternal love? Would you sing to her Till her eyes drooped And her head felt heavy On your shoulder Soft hair brushing against your face? Would you then while watching her sleeping Admire that vision of her innocent grace? Or would you beat her, abuse her, scold her- For not being what you "want", not doing what you "say"? Would you glower at her threatening and accusing her For all your time She unwittingly takes or "wastes"? Would you become the evil demon Of her scary nights And the reason for her unheard whimpers? Would you bruise her body, her soul, her pride? Would you nip this bud before it's prime? Would you, you wicked wretched dame?
Archived comments for Would You Love a Child
Romany on 30-01-2006
Would You Love a Child
No I wouldn't! And it frightens me to think what I might be capable of if anyone did it to my kids. An awful, sickening topic, but one that has to be faced because it is, sadly, a part of the society in which we live. Brave of you to take it on.

As to your question - how can a woman treat a child this way?
How can anyone treat a child this way, man or woman? Although I take your point; it is somehow more shocking and less believable when a woman does it, because we are meant to be 'maternal' and nurturing. You only have to pick up a newspaper to see that that's not always the case.

Author's Reply:
Romany,
I've heard of child abuse, felt sorry for the little one and that is that....but this time I saw it. And it was horrifying...the child was only 2 years or so...and the lady just didn't seem to care!!! I wrote this three days after seeing the clipping. I just couldn't get it out of my head. Since then it has become a big issue and has been aired on TV and is being taken up seriously. And thank God for that!
Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Regds,niece

Gerry on 30-01-2006
Would You Love a Child
niece--good writing here. It is hard to understand, but perhaps easier to see, if the perpetrators have been brought up the same way. There should be no excuse for abusing children--or any animal come to that...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Gerry!
I really dont understand what anyone could get out of treating helpless little children or animals badly. It's such a cowardly thing to do. I cried along with the little boy in the clipping...and for a moment, I wondered whether that lady had a heart.
Regds,niece

RoyBateman on 30-01-2006
Would You Love a Child
No, it's beyond my understanding too...any child or animal cruelty - or any deliberate cruelty at all - is beyond my ken. Not an easy subject at all, but you handled it with tact and feeling -well done!

Author's Reply:
Dear Roy,
I had to write this poem...it was one way of getting all the hurt out of my system. I've been trying to find out how the boy was doing after that. Seems he is alright now, "by God's grace" as the informer put it. As for the other little girl, there are many people coming forward to adopt her now.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Regds,niece

Jen_Christabel on 10-02-2006
Would You Love a Child
How did I miss this the other week?

I love the contrast between the two stanzas, nice work.

Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:
Jen,
I'm glad you liked the contrast. This is the first time I am posting a poem which does not rhyme and it's nice to get some feedback. Thanks so much for the comment, Jen. I do appreciate it!:)
Regds,
niece

Griffonner on 10-02-2006
Would You Love a Child
I don't really understand why I am so late coming to this. Alas, I am, and for that I apologise. There were some chains of thought in this that struck chords inside my psyche... but I was a little boy.

Author's Reply:
Griffonner,
In the video clipping I saw there was this little boy(aged 2 1/2---a little younger than my second son) and it was one of the most disturbing sights I've come across. Sad how an adult can do such a thing!
I am glad you read this...late will do, but you read it and that matters. Thanks for commenting, Griffonner.
Regds,
niece

Lare on 26-02-2006
Would You Love a Child
This is very powerful, niece...so very eye opening. I recently witnessed this in one of our local grocery stores. It is so very sad...it would seem some parents would do well to learn how the lowliest of animals raise their young...it would be quite educating, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing this...well done...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Lare,
Writing this poem seemed the only way to get the hurt out of my system. How can anyone ill-treat a little kid? Yeah, animals( and even the beggars on the streets of Mumbai) know how to look after and care for the little ones and may serve as an example to those cruel people...!
Thanks so much for commenting, Lare!
Regds,
niece

Zoya on 21-04-2006
Would You Love a Child
Heartfelt! Yeah, there are people doing that all the time, and think nothing of it. Children to them a burden, a responsibility, at best a nuisance.
Thanks f or sharing this fantastic read.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Zoya for those kind words...I don't know whether you read about a little girl being ill-treated by her step-mother in Mumbai a couple of months back. The same day I saw a video clipping of a 2 year old being manhandled by the maid-servant in Kuwait...to read about it is one thing, but to watch it...it was horrible! I had to write it down...!
Regds,
niece


New Beginnings (posted on: 09-01-06)
A New Year.New Beginnings.and much much more! Life was looking so good for Simithings were just going to get better for their family. But then again---you never know! Happy New Year all!

As she threw her head back, her newly straightened and coloured shoulder-length hair fell around her fair face alluringly. Simi stood admiring herself in the mirror. Just out of bed, and still in her slightly old pyjamas, she made a pretty picture. Despite the late night partying, she looked as fresh as a dew-washed flower. Turning around she looked at her husband, Prem, still fast asleep in bed. He was so unbelievably handsome. Things could not be more perfect than this! She went over to him remembering the previous nightwell, almost morning. It had been 3 AM by the time everyone left and yet Prem had not spared her the experience of the most awesome lovemaking. She wrapped her arms around herself as she felt a tingle of excitement at the thought. Climbing onto the bed, she crawled towards Prem, hugging him. He shrugged her off sleepily. After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to wake him up, she went into the wash, freshened up and stepped out into the living room. She had remembered to leave the door open after they made love just in case five-year old Tanya who was sleeping in the living room came looking for them. Tanya was still sleeping on the sofa where she had dozed off at around 11 PM. She had been pretty excited about all the company that evening - Rakesh and Meera, Savita and Shammi, Pravina and Kiron, Latika and Mohan, all their young married friends who had come over to welcome the New Year together. Tanya especially loved all the attention showered on her by them. Once the excitement had worn off, she had quietly lain on the sofa and gone off to sleep with the music blaring in the background and all the adults laughing and joking. Nothing seemed to bother her. Simi planted a firm kiss on Tanya's cheek. She stirred a bit but didn't wake up. Looking around Simi realised the house was in a mess with things like cigarette butts, empty bottles and cans still lying all over the place. She got down to clearing it up, moving from the living room, into the dining area and then finally the kitchen. She had finished most of the preliminary cleaning up when she heard Tanya giggling in the next room. Father and daughter seemed to have woken up and she could hear their conversation and laughter. As Simi moved into the living room to join the giggling twosome, she smiled to herself. Everything seemed soe perfect this New Year morning. Prem had got a promotion a month back- which meant a bigger home in one of the posh living areas in Mumbai as well as a bigger chauffeured car. Tanya's admission into that coveted school had also come through. Father and daughter were bundled up on the sofa after a tickling session and they were chatting away when Simi walked in. Standing with hands akimbo, Simi chided in mock anger, ''Have you two brushed your teeth?'' ''I have,'' Prem said, raising one hand in the air. ''OopsI better go and do it,'' Tanya said, slipping out of the father's embrace and heading for the bathroom. Then she remembered something and turned around. ''But I want to tell you something before I'' ''Please brush first'' Simi insisted. ''No, let's listen to her,'' Prem interrupted, ''tell us, dear.'' Folding her hands and looking serious, Tanya declared after hesitating for a few seconds, ''Adults are so weird!'' ''Weird?'' Prem asked puzzled, yet laughing at her statement, ''Why do you say that?'' ''Is it alright to kiss on the lips?'' she asked, matter-of-factly. ''No, it's not'' Simi controlled the urge to smile and tried to look serious. She guessed that Tanya was referring to the time when Simi had caught her lip-locked ''like on TV'' with the 4-year old boy from next-door. ''Hmmmmm,'' Tanya rolled up her eyes thinking of how to explain, ''then last night, something very bad happenedI don't know who they were, because the lights were turned off. But I saw a man and woman kissing in the kitchen when I went to get a drink of waterAnd then the man did a horrible thing.'' Tanya said, wide-eyed. ''What did he do?'' Simi asked, her eyes on Prem. Her smile had disappeared. ''He put his hand up her skirt. And I got so scared they might get angry with me that I just quietly got back on the sofa and went back to sleep,'' she completed. Simi continued to stare at Prem. The previous evening at midnight, the whole world had stayed awake to watch the New Year arrive. Fireworks lit up the sky as everybody celebrated. It was a time for new beginnings and much much more. Since the view from the terrace of their ten-storied building was magnificent, all of them had gone up to watch the celebration from there. Allexcept Prem, who decided to keep watch on Tanya, and Meera, Rakesh's wife, who had ''a horrible migraine attack''. For Simi and Prem, things were definitely going to change this New Year!
Archived comments for New Beginnings
Jen_Christabel on 09-01-2006
New Beginnings
Great stuff Niece. A gentle, loving start and, although I knew something was going to happen (from your intro to the piece) it caught me completely off-guard.
Well written and a great read.
Jen :o)

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Jen, for those encouraging words...
Quite mean of me, right? To spoil all their New year fun...but I really wanted Simi to learn a big lesson in life...it's not just about looking good or having a chaffeured car and a big posh apartment---
Regds,niece

RoyBateman on 09-01-2006
New Beginnings
Oh, very neatly done - I didn't see it coming, yet all the clues were there. Out of the mouths of babes, etc. - sounds like Prem's been getting all the luck lately, eh? Sorry to be flippant...great story with an excellent twist - well done!

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, Roy, for the comment. I think now Prem is in for some good verbal bashing up by Simi. After posting this, I actually felt I should have introduced the "other " as the boss's wife or something. Maybe he was also there at the party. But that would mean too many details. Yet it would explain Prem's promotion, car, et al.
So glad you liked it, Roy.
Regds,niece

Gerry on 09-01-2006
New Beginnings
niece, I didn't expect that ending. I guess someone has some explaining to do. 'Be sure your sins will catch you out'
Very well written...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Lots of explaining, Gerry...poor(?) guy! Now it's "fireworks" for them all along!!!Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Regds,niece

ruadh on 09-01-2006
New Beginnings
Great ending, didn't see it coming. Well done.

ailsa

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ailsa. I am glad you liked this. This whole story came out of an image I had in my head of a little girl sleeping on a sofa in the middle of a party.
Regds,niece

Ginger on 09-01-2006
New Beginnings
I like the way you painted this wonderful picture of her life, and then with one innocent comment, tore it to pieces, nicely done!
Lisa

Author's Reply:
So much like a little child making a tower with his building blocks and then pulling it down, right, Lisa? Thanks for the comment. Like you I too am influenced by my 3 and 7 year olds. When you spend so much time around that age group, your thinking does get influenced. And yes...you have to be careful of what you say and do around them, for more reasons that one!!!
Regds,niece

shadow on 10-01-2006
New Beginnings
Very well told story. You made it all seem too good to be true - and of course it was!

Author's Reply:
Dear Shadow,
Life is full of surprises. Simi got hers on New Years day. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Regds,niece

chrisk on 10-01-2006
New Beginnings
Niece
Well done. Just the right length, not a word wasted.
Like the others, I didn't see it coming either.
chrisk

Author's Reply:
Dear Chrisk,
I guess I couldn't have dragged this story on for too long anyway...but yes, I am making a concious effort to keep my stories short and minimise superfluous information...as per your advice. I am so glad to know you liked this. Thank you.
Regds,niece

soman on 11-01-2006
New Beginnings
Niece,

We grownups tend to forget that kids are much more sharp and observant than we give them credit for!

A neat story.

Author's Reply:
Soman,
I know what you mean---as a child I have managed to embarass my mother once too often. And now as the mother of two, I am always very careful of what I say or what I do---it may appear they are not watching/listening, but yes...they are very sharp!
Thank you for reading and commenting...
Regds,
niece

Kat on 12-01-2006
New Beginnings
Hi niece

I enjoyed your story with THAT ending!

All the best to you.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kat...I am so glad to know you liked the ending. Atleast now Simi will spend less time looking into the mirror. I've often noticed that it is not good looks alone that keep one's lover/husband from wandering!!!
Regds,niece

niece on 12-01-2006
New Beginnings
Thanks, Kat...I am so glad to know you liked the ending. Atleast now Simi will spend less time looking into the mirror. I've often noticed that it is not good looks alone that keep one's lover/husband from wandering!!!
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:


Tsunami (posted on: 12-12-05)
A tribute to all those who went on the 26th of December 2004, this story is about seeking answers when all that one holds dear has gone. I was inspired to write this by all the wonderful stories of miraculous escapes I heard at the time.

The discussion had been on for several minutes now and the volunteer was having a tough time trying to stop the middle-aged man from stepping onto the beach. "Sir, you can't go there" "Why not? Who are you to stop me from going?" Thomas was not going to give up so easily. Noticing the commotion, another volunteer arrived on the scene. "Sir, please, we have our ordersthere is a tsunami alert on and we are not to allow anyone on the beach," Maybe it was the way he said it, but Thomas quieted down suddenly. "Huh! Tsunami alert!" Thomas shook his head in disgust, then as he turned his back to them he muttered, "Where was your 'tsunami alert' when it actually happened?" As he walked away, he continued talking to no one in particular, " So many hundreds and millions of people gonejust washed awayso many children" He stopped in his tracks as visions of that day emerged before his eyes again. A week away from the date fixed for Jason's wedding, they had arrived there from Madras to get the Mother's blessings. It was holiday season and the place had been thronging with people, both young and old, devotees from all walks of life and all strata of society. Thomas had been smiling at Stella, beautiful even at 50, when she commented on the number of ''pretty young things'' eyeing Jason, their son and how it would break their hearts to know he was already "hooked". Jason, who had just maneuvered ahead of them because of the huge crowds headed towards the shrine, heard her remark and turned his handsome face to smile wryly at them. Then there was a huge crash and the look of terror on Jason's facethat was all Thomas could remember. He was told later that he had been found in an unconscious state far away from where they had been standing. With his right arm in a cast and other minor injuries, he had looked around everywhere for Stella and Jason. Later, walking in and out of morgues, he kept hoping he could find them dead at leastif not alive. After two weeks, he was still searching. That's exactly what he did that day too. Once he had been turned away from the beach, he went to all the hospitals and clinics in the vicinity. But he met with no luck. Exhausted, he sat down on a bench in one of the hospital corridors, head lowered. His thoughts were on Jason who would have been away at Singapore on his honeymoon had he been alive. "Are you alright, sir?" Thomas looked up. He had seen her before - a thin pleasant-looking lady who walked around the corridors carrying a tiny baby boy. She was holding him even now. "Yes," he replied, his voice belying his words. "Do you need anything? You look so pale." "No," Thomas replied, a trifle irritably, then realizing that the lady didn't deserve to be treated that way, he asked, "What's your name?" "Susan." "Are you an inmate?" "No, sir. I am a volunteer. I've done my nurse's training. I quit my job when I got married, but I couldn't sit at home when all this was happening." "You are kind," Thomas said, "You and all those people" his thoughts were on the two people whom he had encountered at the beach, "putting up with tantrums of people like me." She didn't say anything; she just placed her hand on his shoulder. Thomas acknowledged her concern with a smile, " And whose baby is that?" "I wish we knew, sir," she replied, "We call him the "miracle baby". He was found lodged on a rooftop, alive and surprisingly unhurt, after the killer waves had receded." "And his family? Thomas asked, feeling his heart sink. "We have no clue sir. He's probably the sole survivor because no one has come to claim him. But we've not given up hope either." Thomas closed his eyes as he remembered that fateful day again. Minutes before he was washed away, Jason had received a call from his fiance. He had told her that he was nearing the shrine and he would call her after he got the Mother's blessings. But he never did. Thomas thought about the baby. What was his story? Was there anybody left to tell? "How old is he?" "Between three to four months, sir," she said, running a finger along the baby's soft skin. As she did that, his tiny mouth curved into a beatific smile. For the first time in days, Thomas found himself smiling too. So, it happened that in that dreary and horrible atmosphere, Thomas finally found something to look forward to while he waited. On his daily routine trips to the hospitals, he met the baby at least once. He played with the baby for a little while and then went back to his hotel room, one where he had been put up after he had been discharged from the hospital. A week later, Thomas's brother called up from Madras. "Please come back, Thomas. Why don't you let Augustine do the needful? He can be there for another one week" Augustine, his young nephew, had spent the first one-week by Thomas's side, but had returned later to attend to the family business back in Madras. "And after that?" Thomas queried. "Thomas, I know this is difficult for you to handlebut the truth is you have been there for very long, brother. You are being too optimistic. I have to be honest with you." When Thomas switched off his cellphone, he was crying. Too optimistic? It was three weeks now. The workers and other people at the relief camps had reduced in numbers. The morgues where the bodies had been lined up were also empty these days. Only the pictures of the unclaimed bodies remained where they had been put up for identification. As he looked at the photographs of the dead, Thomas wondered whether the little baby's parents and siblings were among them. By the time Thomas returned to his room in the afternoon, he had decided to let go. He would return home in a couple of days. He called up his brother and told him about his decision. That evening, he went to visit the baby. A few of the hospital workers had gathered around, playing with him. The baby was awake, cooing away. "Can I hold him?" Thomas asked. A little surprised, Susan handed the baby to him. In all these days, Thomas had never held the baby, only played with him. "Sir, he is going away day-after-tomorrow," she informed him. "So am I," he said, "So has somebody finally come for him?" "No, sir," she replied, " he will be sent to a convent nearby. After that, they may send him somewhere else. If he is lucky, he will go in for adoption." "Can I take him for a little walk?" Thomas asked suddenly. "Sir?" Susan looked a little confused, then smiling she said, ''Okay, sir. But please take care" Thomas held the baby close. With quick determined steps, he carried the child to the beach.so serene, so tranquil now. "Look over there," he told the baby, "there lies the sea that took away both our families. You and Iwe are alike," he looked down at the little face which smiled back gleefully, "But you are smalltherein lies the differencetiny and helpless." As Thomas looked up into the sky, he saw a few seagulls flying out into the sea. He looked back at the little face which was watching him intently, waiting for him to talk to him. "It is time to move on. If I leave you now, I will never be able to forgive myself. Do you want to come with me?" The baby gurgled away. Thomas chuckled, "Now you are my grandson, alright? You are the child my son never had" With tears streaming down his face, he hugged the little bundle. That day two lonely lives came together. And for Thomas, the wait had not been in vain.
Archived comments for Tsunami
RoyBateman on 12-12-2005
Tsunami
Niece, I must be a soppy sort of bloke, because this brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I could see it coming but that made no difference. Beautifully told and most moving.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy. I must have mentioned this before but your words mean a lot to me. I did try my best not to make this too sentimental. This is the best "I" could do. I am glad to know that you found this writing good. Thanks once again.
Regds,niece

Kat on 13-12-2005
Tsunami
I really enjoyed this too, neice - it is very well-paced and a super story to have written as a tribute.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Kat. It's great to know you enjoyed this!
Regds,niece

Ginger on 17-12-2005
Tsunami
I too am a sappy fool, as I have tears in my eyes. Wonderfully written and just the right amount of sentimentality.
Happy Christmas, Lisa

Author's Reply:
Hi Lisa,
I tired my best not to overdo the emotions here...even rewrote it once. I guess one couldn't have written this story without getting a little sentimental. Thanks so much for the comment and...
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too.:)
Regds,niece

soman on 17-12-2005
Tsunami
Niece,

Good to see this too rising to the top. A heartwarming story,
narrated in a matter-of-fact but effective style.

Soman

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Soman...the Tsunami was not a nice thing to happen to mankind...I've seen a very heart-rending picture of a person looking at photographs of the victims put up on the wall. What was he thinking? It's scary even to think of being in his shoes.
Regds, niece

chrisk on 30-12-2005
Tsunami
Niece
Sorry about this delay in commenting, I was in India.
I quite liked the descrition and style and most of all you managed to tighten the contents, meaning it is the right length, Lol.

Author's Reply:
Chrisk,
You can see I've taken your advice seriously...I am trying to concentrate on quality rather than quantity these days. Thank you so much for everything.
Regds,niece

chrisk on 30-12-2005
Tsunami
sorry about the 'description' spelling!
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

Poet on 05-01-2006
Tsunami
Hello Niece,

I found this a beautiful portrait of the potential of the human spirit. So well grounded yet so eerily real for such obvious reasons. God bless and thanks for sharing it. 🙂

Gary


Author's Reply:
Hi Gary,
Thanks so much for reading and commenting...I guess the Tsunami having happened so close to me, there were several vision in my mind --- this story came out of the visions of death and destruction that the newspapers brought to us everyday. India lost a lot of lives that day and it was one of those rare occassions when neither the rich nor the poor were spared.
Regds,niece

Ginger on 17-01-2006
Tsunami
Just read it again and have tears in my eyes again. What a sad day, but you told the story wonderfully.
Fav for me.
Lisa

Author's Reply:
Lisa,
So nice of you to come back and read this story again. Thanks for that and making this a fav. Yes---it was a sad day-so sudden and unexpected it took the whole world by surprise. Hopefully, next time we should be able to predict it and take proper precautions. That's all we can hope to do.
Regds,niece


The Gray Path (posted on: 21-11-05)
Today I felt their pain while writing about them...

Today I stepped where others chose not to tread On a path that's full of mystery and dread; And on either side I saw heartache and pain, People who were poor and people who were vain, Living lives of disillusionment and one of despair With loves and hopes ruined beyond repair. There was rape, deception, illness and murder, Lives that were taken apart further and further; Unhappy families or kingdoms at strife; Blood dripping down from the tip of a knife. Tears that flowed, tears that didn't; A mistress who said ''yes'', a girlfriend who wouldn't; Ghosts crying out in the pitch dark of night; Dreams that didn't work or didn't go right. The friend who ditched, the enemy who helped, A woman who sat on the road and wept Today when I sat to write with my pen, I saw the colours of life as others saw them.
Archived comments for The Gray Path
tai on 21-11-2005
The Gray Path
Very nice work niece, you were obviously very inspired by them. Glad some good poetry came out of their misery and strife. 10 from Tai

Author's Reply:

tai on 21-11-2005
The Gray Path
Very nice work niece, you were obviously very inspired by them. Glad some good poetry came out of their misery and strife. 10 from Tai

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Tai, your comment and rating means a lot to me...It's not always easy to write about somethings...that is what I wanted to put across!

Regds,niece

Claire on 21-11-2005
The Gray Path
Jesus hun, this is an amazing piece. Loved it!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Claire...your words are very encouraging. I am so glad you liked it!
Regds,niece

Apolloneia on 21-11-2005
The Gray Path
This is very very good niece!

Author's Reply:
HI Nicoletta, I am truly honoured by your comment...thank you so much.

Regds,niece

BlueyedSoul on 22-11-2005
The Gray Path
neice
Your piece shows us if we look around there is so much hurt and pain in this world. You expressed it here with such imagery. Nicely done.

~Always Cindy

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Cindy, for your kind words...Yes, there is so much hurt and pain all around and to thnk there is nothing one can do to stop all of it...
Regds,niece

narcissa on 22-11-2005
The Gray Path
I really like your use of rhyme, it's not intrusive and yet makes the poem move along. The tone is really moving- and consistant throughout. A fine piece.
Laura x

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Laura, for your kind comment. I am glad you felt the poem has the desired effect and the rhymes are not intrusive...I can never write poems without them.
Regds,niece

soman on 22-11-2005
The Gray Path
Glad to see you back in your element once again, dear niece.

Also to find that the rhyme etc. are flowing more easily now!

More power to your pen.

Soman

Author's Reply:
Dear Soman,
Glad to know you find my writing better...thank you so much for your encouraging words and the comment.
Regds,niece

chrisk on 23-11-2005
The Gray Path
niece
Moving piece. Easy reading but difficult to write and thats the beauty of this poem.
chrisk

Author's Reply:
Dear Chrisk,

I am so glad you made time to comment on my poem. It means a lot to me. Thanks!

Regds,niece

RoyBateman on 23-11-2005
The Gray Path
I don't think I've seen a poem by you before, niece - very stark and chilling! I hope there's a more optimistic companion piece, if only to cheer you up. Brrr...you made your point extremely well, though.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Roy. I have posted a few poems earlier...mostly light-hearted ones. The thoughts just seemed to flow out as I wrote this one --- scary thoughts --- One takes life for granted until calamity strikes... I've realised that truth ever since I started writing almost a year back...
Regds,niece

Kat on 23-11-2005
The Gray Path
Very well done with this fine poem, niece - great work!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Hi Kat. It's nice to know you liked this poem. Thank you very much!
Regds, niece

Griffonner on 30-11-2005
The Gray Path
Nice work, indeed, Niece.
Sitting back and looking like this always makes me realise that it isn't a pretty scene 'out there'.
A very thought provoking read.
Thank you.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Griffonner, for your kind words. You are right, it's not a pretty scene out there, and there is absolutely no explanation for why some people behave the way they do and why some people(children especially) suffer so much.
Regds,niece

teifii on 08-12-2005
The Gray Path
So true. There is so much to see from that road that I fear we travel with our eyes shut a lot of the time. Well crafted poem.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Hello Teifii
Eyes closed! You are so right. Living in India, sometimes you just need to harden your heart and look through the less fortunate. You do your little bit in charity and feel you've washed your hands off them.
Thanks so much for the comment
Regds,niece

Lare on 16-12-2005
The Gray Path
Hi niece...wow...this is very intense in observations in life. I agree...very difficult to write without going overboard. You chose your words perfectly...and treated this right on the mark...

Just me, Lare

Author's Reply:
Now it's my turn to go...Wow! Thanks , Lare, for your comment. I am indeed flattered!
Regds,niece


The Fragrance of Mogra (posted on: 31-10-05)
From the rustic interiors of India, this story tells about the triumph of virtue over vice, brains over brawnMoney and power is not everything! Note: The Mogra is a thickly petalled jasmine flowerone is enough to fill a room with its enchanting smell.

Alone in the huge spacious living room, Harishchandar sat with his face in his hands. While the emotions fought to take control over this 67 year old man, he hadn't cried. Why, he hadn't cried even when his wife had succumbed to illness several years ago. But this time the loss was too much to bearViren at 21 had been the heart and life of Harishchandar. Viren, the youngest of four sons, had been almost a mirror image of what Harishchandar had been ages ago. As thoughts of the youngster came to mind, a single teardrop rolled down his cheek. Sixteen days ago Viren had driven off a cliff. Viren always drove very fast, but he was a good driver. Viren was good at everything he did. Then how could he have died this way? With the men all gone off to perform the last rites for the peaceful departure of Viren's soul, Harishchandar was left to himself. It would be hours before they all came back. In the village, it was taboo for a woman to come before a man unless it was her father or her husband. Even the male servants were conspicuous by their absence. Suddenly a gentle movement caught his eye, as someone came and sat next to him. It was his one and only daughter-in-law, Meera, head covered with the tip of her saree and eyes downcast. Married to his eldest son, Varadh, she had always been the quiet docile type. ''She has come to console me,'' he thought, half-expecting her hand to come and touch his. But it did not. In fact, the sting in her voice literally made his jump out of his sad state of mind once and for all. ''So, papaji, your misdeeds are finally catching up with you, aren't they?'' A stunned Harishchandar looked up at her face. What arrogance! What impunity! As his eyes became wider with shock and rage, Meera saw the cruelty in them for the first time. But she was unperturbed and returned his stare indifferently. ''What are you talking about?'' he rasped, finally getting a hold of himself. ''You know,'' she replied. ''No, you arrogant girlI don't. For one, you have the impertinence to come before me and then you talk like that. I demand an apology immediately or I am going to tell your husband.'' ''Maybe you should also tell him about Kamala,'' Meera replied, insolently. ''Kamala?Kamala!'' he repeated as the memories came flooding back to him. Beautiful with a face that was fair beyond compare, perfect limbs and a well-rounded bosom, and the gentle sway of her hips and coynessand that enchanting fragrance, the lovely smell from the string of mogra that adorned her long black tresses made her the object of any man's desire. Harishchandar, then an adolescent, didn't waste a chance when he could brush past her or touch her. Kamala, their maidservant's daughter, must have been the same age as him. He thought he loved herhe thought that way till age brought with it reason the simple knowledge that she was a maidservant and he, her employer. He must have been around nineteen then. His parents had left for a wedding. Alone and on his own, he had found the golden opportunity to get what he wanted when Kamala had come to give him a glass of milk in his room in that huge mansion. Kamala was wary of him. She knew he spelt trouble. But the poor girl's fate had been sealed the day she had started working in the house. Later that evening, Harishchandar had with great difficulty scraped off the crushed mogra flowers that lay strewn on his bed. Two months later, Kamala's mother had gone down on her knees and pleaded before him. Her daughter was pregnant, and only he could save her. And Harishchandar on his part, promised to help. ''I will come to your house to discuss don't tell anyonewe shall ''settle'' everything..,'' he told her gently, as the lady had nodded hopefully. Harishchandar kept his wordhe settled the matter as well as he could. First he threatened Kamala's mother, and when she failed to succumb to his threats, he took a rope from nearby and throttled her to death. When he turned around to look for Kamala, she was nowhere to be found. She had escaped. Then to make it look like suicide, he had carefully hung Kamala's mother from the ceiling. You see, Harishchandar could not take chances. His father, himself a ruthless and flourishing trader, would easily have helped him out of this one. But not before he had given him a harsh scolding, and probably even a sound thrashing. He had to sort this out on his own. He tried his best to trace Kamala and when five days later, news had come in of the body of a young woman washed ashore at the riverside, he had gathered that it was Kamala. He himself did not go there lest people made a connection. And now as he sat before his daughter-in-law, he wondered whether he had made a mistake by not finding out. ''I cannot understand what you are talking about,'' he repeated, firmly. ''Keep pretending. But you can't run away from the truth'' Meera said before she got up and walked away. That was five days ago. Almost startled out of his grief, by the turn of events, now Harishchandar had only one thing on his mind. The girl had to golike Kamala's mother and many others after that. She spelt trouble. He had not a clue as to how she had found outhad she met Kamala? But then how? Probably, Kamala was alive and working in her house. She may have met Kamala on her way to college. But then again, why would she bother so much with itso much so that she would confront her own father-in-law, whom she was bound by tradition to respect. Maybe he had made a mistake in accepting an educated daughter-in-lawa post-graduate in something which Harishchandar could not even pronounce properly. Right from his grandmother, to his mother and later his wife, they had all been good uneducated women, but this one...! Education did horrible things to a woman's mind! ''Her parents gave her too much freedom senseless people,'' he thought, silently cursing the auto-garage owner for bringing up his daughter so carelessly. He almost forgot that he himself had chosen her for his son over many other much prettier girls because of her educational qualification. Later she hadn't even fulfilled the basic objective of a woman, bearing a child. And then she had the nerve! ''She herself is the ''the curse'''', he said, referring to the belief among his relatives that any woman who came into that house was doomed. Just like Harishchandar's wife had died quite young, still in her twenties. Just like the only two girls out of his six children had failed to live beyond five years of age. Just like newly employed maidservants saw ghosts in the house and left within a few days. But he did not believe in all that rubbish. It was now six years since Meera had stepped into their house and she was still alive! But not for long, thought Harishchandar sinisterly. That evening, he walked into the kitchen when Meera was alone and grabbed her elbow, ''You will come to the terrace tonight at 11 PM when everyone else has gone to sleepDo you understand?'' Meera snatched her arm back and glared at Harishchandar. For a second, Harishchandar felt intimidated, but then he recomposed himself. He was not used to this in a woman. He turned back in a huff and went to his room. Although she hadn't said anything, he knew she would come. By the time he climbed up onto the terrace, Harishchandar already had a clear idea as to how he would deal with the situation. He had killed quite a few people during his lifetime, some on his own but mostly through henchmen, anyone who came in the way of his betel nut trade or general progress. For him, it was like squishing a fly under his thumb. His three-storied bungalow had cement tracks all around it to enable free movement of pick-up trucks and the like. Anyone falling off from the top would surely meet with a quick death. And that was how Meera was going to die! He waited for what seemed like a long time. The moon shone full and bright, but the clouds kept hiding it regularly. The rains should come in very soon, thought Harishchandar. As he waited with bated breathten minutes passed, then twenty, then fortyMeera was taking too long to come. Harishchandar was yawning, when he heard the door creak open. It was absolutely dark. At the far end of the terrace close to the door, he discerned a shadow. It stood still And then a familiar smell filled the air as a gentle breeze blewthe fragrance of the mogra flower! ''Meera,'' he called out, a chill running down his spine. But there was no response. As fear began to cripple his entire body, the shadow began to approach him. He remembered all the tales of ''the curse'' and the ghost the maids kept seeing. In a desperate attempt to escape from the shadow, which was now very close to him, Harishchandar tried to run. But he slipped and fell over the terrace wall. One of the servants heard a loud thud and woke up. ''I must remember to pick up that coconut tomorrow morning,'' he muttered half-asleep before closing his eyes again. Most of the visitors and relatives had left for their own homes. A few of them who preferred to stay over due to various reasons had retired for the night. Meera with the help of a couple of male servants had managed the whole show, taking care of a houseful of guests who had arrived to take part in the 16th day ceremony of her late father-in-law. Varadh and his two brothers were still in a state of shock. They had all sought reasons and explanationswhy? Why had two such freaky accidents happened? Why indeed! Meera knew the answer. Bad karma. The bad karma of two people that had brought about a curse to the housethe souls of innocent people crying out for justice. Each night, when everyone had gone to sleep Meera saw her. Beautiful beyond words and with sad eyes, she came like a shadow and left before the first light of dawn lit up the world. All night she spoke to Meera about broken dreams and promises, shattered hopes, death and cruel murder. She wanted her revengeand Meera was willing to do anything to get what she wanted. No one realized how Viren, notorious for the cruel streak in him, had driven off the cliff. But for Meera, her short stint at her father's garage had come in handy while she tampered with the brakes earlier that day. As for her father-in-law's fall, that had been a cakewalk. Her father-in-law was weak with age and grief, though he still thought otherwise. To weaken him further with fear had been simple for this bright psychology student. Now the bad karma had been done away with. As Meera closed the kitchen for the day, she suddenly realized she was not alone in the corridor. She turned around to face the familiar shadow. ''I've given you what you wanted. Now give me what I want,'' she whispered. The shadow did not move for sometime, then suddenly it disappeared in a smoky haze. Smiling to herself, Meera undid the knot in her hair and ran a few fingers through her hair. The single mogra flower that lay hidden within, drifted gently to the ground. She wouldn't be needing it anymore. Then she went in search of her husband. Ten months later a baby girl was born in that house. The curse had been lifted!
Archived comments for The Fragrance of Mogra
Jen_Christabel on 31-10-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
I love your stories about India Niece! You have a way of conveying the culture and way of life so wonderfully! Very enjoyable - as usual!
Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:
Dear Jennifer,
Glad you liked this one. It is a little different from what I normally post, but then I guess the storyline could not be dealt with in any other way. It needed that little bit of extra drama and all that Thanks so much for your comment.
Regds,niece

RoyBateman on 31-10-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
Superb read - as always, a fascinating view of a culture that's different in so many ways. Still, we could all sympathise with the ending - natural justice. Thoroughly enjoyed this.

Author's Reply:
Dear Roy,
Thanks for the comment...this "is" a proper "garam masala" story! I didn't know how everyone was going to take it, so it's a big relief to hear you enjoyed it! Stories of revenge are always very nice, aren't they?
Regds,niece

chrisk on 01-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
Niece
The story is suitable for a film script. May be some one would make a film of it. Then you will get loads and loads of money and be very famous! Lol
Well written my dear.
chrisk


Author's Reply:
Yeah! With a lot of subplots and sub-sub-plot, the comedy act, the dance-around-the-tree sequence (or rain dance in a clingy saree?)...all thrown in for good measure. What a wonderful idea! And surely with some more masala added in, it would indeed fetch me all that money (slurp!)...the fame, tho' secondary, is definitely welcome!
Thanks, chrisk...a big thanks for everything!
Regds,niece

Kat on 02-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
Hi niece

I too, enjoyed your story very much - keep them coming!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Kat...glad to know you enjoyed this. I had to completely scrap my first attempt becoz it didn't sound too good...and I was hoping this one(the second attempt) would do enough justice to what seemed like a good theme and storyline...
Regds,niece

soman on 03-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
niece,

Sorry, tardy with comments -- as usual.

Original theme, crisp narration, suspense dangling till the very end.

Very well done indeed!

soman

Author's Reply:

soman on 03-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
niece,

Forgot to add : wouldn't be too surprised if the "fragrance" got wafted up into the top box.

Soman

Author's Reply:
Dear Soman,
I am indeed flattered with what you have to say about my story...thank you so much for those encouraging words. Top box...well, that would be great, but wouldn't put too much hopes on that happening!
Regds,niece

Claire on 03-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
First off, congrats on that well deserved nib hun.

And secondly, I've enjoyed reading this, as always I find your tales of India highly entertaining. Keep 'em comin' ;^)

Author's Reply:
Claire, it's good to know that you liked my story. Thanks so much for your lovely comment!
Regds,niece

Griffonner on 30-11-2005
The Fragrance of Mogra
Absolutely worthy of the nib. A magnificent story, niece. Brilliant.

Author's Reply:
Griffonner, thank you so much. I knew the storyline was good, but was hoping I wouldn't mess it up while writing.
Regds,niece


Please Don't ! (posted on: 17-10-05)
Edited...thank you Tai-li for your helpful suggestions...! This poem was written after the suicide of a 15-year old. While everyone plays the blame game, no one will ever find out what really caused the youngster to take such a drastic step peer pressure, the Indian education system, pressure from school or unreasonable expectation of the parents!

Please Don't think my thoughts for me- I do have my own mind! Don't force your visions onto me- You see, I am not blind! Don't make me say those words That don't become my mouth! Do not push me to the north When I rather be headed south! Don't keep moving my limbs for me I am not a puppet in your hands! Don't keep me tied down to this spot When I try to discover other lands! Do not always make me cry When I could laugh the night away! Don't make me feel so often that I cannot live another day! Do not drive me to the edge Until I'll give up altogether! Please Let me live my life the way I want; Don't weigh me down with fetters!
Archived comments for Please Don't !
BlueyedSoul on 17-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Niece
You have penned the feelings of an oppressed one. Touching and thought provoking. I liked this.
~Cindy

Author's Reply:
Hi Cindy,
Glad to know that you liked this poem. ...I wrote it after I got some first hand info on the boy who committed suicide. It strikes you that one day your kid is also going to be that age and you hope all goes well!
Thanks so much for your comment, Cindy.
Regds,niece

red-dragon on 17-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Very moving - not an easy thing to write about, but you have managed very successfully. Ann

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ann, for your words...they just seemed to flow out at that time...for sometime, I remembered how I force my own kid to do things. It just didn't seem fair...interest, skills, talents vary from person to person. You can't force anyone to be what he/she isn't!
Regds,niece

Gerry on 17-10-2005
Please Don’t !
niece, suicide is always a tragedy - but when it is youngsters it becomes more than tragedy. We will not always know why that's the sad part...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Hi Gerry,
Thanks so much for your comment. After something like this happens, there are so many questions that are asked. Pressure in Indian schools starts at the KG level, add to that parent's pressure in the form of various classes. How much can a child take?
Regds,niece

soman on 18-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Niece,

Our education system is still based on principles laid down a century ago to manufacture clerks for the British rulers. In today's ambience this anachronism creates more and more square pegs which get squeezed into round roles. That is the rope on which numerous suicides hang.

Well written. Keep it up!

Soman

Author's Reply:
Dear Soman,
You are so right! I wish they would follow the ancient Gurukul system chnged to suit modern times...wouldn't that be great? I wouldn't be surprised if the attempt has already been made.
And thanks so much, Soman. I would have stopped writing poetry if it was not for your encouragement, and making me feel I'm not all that bad.
Regds,niece

chrisk on 19-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Niece
I am not really qualified to comment on poetry, unlike Soman et al.
However this is a sad incident and even here in UK, teenage suicides are many. They call it the teenage angst, whatever that means!
chrisk

Author's Reply:
Dear Chrisk,
In India, it is only too obvious. Children as young as 4 and 5 go for spoken English and phonetic classes. The parents just want their kids to excel in everything. They need to realise that every one can't be the best.
Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.
Regds,niece

Jen_Christabel on 20-10-2005
Please Don’t !
I thought this was extremely thought-provoking. A good piece.
Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks Jennifer. I am glad you liked it. Writing it, helped me to change the way I looked at my kids...
Regds,niece

Griffonner on 23-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Isn't this so true? Of whatever culture... The only crit I could make is that it could be longer, but that's ust me - maybe me wanting more.

Author's Reply:
Thanx so much, Griffonner, for your kind comment and the rating...I am not that sure of my poems as I am about my prose...and your comment means a lot to me. Re: the length, I guess I would be able to add more verses as my son grows older. He turned 7 three days back...
Regds,niece

CalvinHobbes on 24-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Hobbes: while you have a potent poem/subject I don't see the narrative to be heightened enough. Those exclamation marks are giving digital dolby effects, but wonder using too many may send it dangerously close to "slogan-land". I could feel the angst, but then N (narrator) doesn't sound to be matured, but then I saw that it was written for a 15 year old. This is a good job.

Calvin: Hobbes, can you take back some of your verbiage. You are becoming intolerable. Niece, you have taken a very important issue. I second Soman on my views.

Hobbes: I third Soman.

Calvin: Hobbes will you ever shut up?

Chocos to niece

Calvin and Hobbes

Author's Reply:
Hi Calvin and Hobbes,

Thanks so much for your comment and the chocos(you sure I don't need to check it?)...

Like your split personality...you seem to make good use of it being both mean and nice at the same time.

Okay now re: Hobbes comments, it's more of a plea...how much can a young child fight against his parents or the system(Mind you, I am talking about 7 and 8 year olds, not the teens)...I agree with you about the exclamation marks...will change that! And I am glad you thought this was good...I take that as a great compliment coming from Hobbes!
Oh, yes...and like I told Griffonner, tho' I love writing poetry, I am a little awkward about posting it. So I really appreciate your constructive criticism. Thanks once again.

Regds,niece

Scabby on 25-10-2005
Please Don’t !
Hi there niece, sorry this fine poem was inspired by such a tragic event.

I find interesting your inclusion of frequent exclamation marks. The way I read it, these give the narrator's voice quite a frantic, panic-stricken tone. Very effective! Reads much more sombrely without them. Thanks for posting it.

Jon

Author's Reply:
Dear Scabby,
Thanks so much for your kind words...like I've mentioned earlier it was written at the spur of the moment.
It was sad, but a big eye-opener for me...you want your child to excel in everything, be it studies, art work, sports, et al. I was in the process of falling into the trap, but I've realised I can't change my kids' personality...I can't change what they are.
Regds,niece

Lare on 16-03-2006
Please Don’t !
Hi niece...wow...this one cries out...it needs to be read...but more than that...the words need to be heard...and that you have done...that you have done very, very well...very nicely done, niece...very well done...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Lare. Glad to know that the poem has the required effect...it's really sad if a boy who is preparing for the next day's exam decides that it's just better to jump out of the window---! The Indian education system is crazy. Several high profile schools interview 3 and 4 year olds before giving them admission. Would you believe that?
Regds,
niece

scotch on 27-04-2006
Please Don’t !
hi niece i think your poems are wonderful, lots of soul, it's as if you're married to your pen... keep going, best wishes scotch

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Scotch...do you really think so? I am not as sure about my poems as I am about my prose-so your words are really very encouraging...Thanks once again:)
Regds,
niece


The Balancing Act (posted on: 03-10-05)
''Smart alec'' was spoiling all the fun for the four cousins while they desperately tried to enjoy their vacation break
This story is set in the picturesque Indian state of Kerala.


As mummy slid the comb through my shoulder length hair, I yelled, ''Ouch, that hurt.'' Mummy, it seemed, did not take notice of that little protest and continued with her merciless act of trying to bring my unruly tresses under control. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, aunty walked in.

''I think you are hurting Mallika,'' she told mummy.

''Serves her right,'' mummy retorted, adding insult to injury, ''I told her to plait her hair before going to bed last night. This is what comes of not listening to one's elders.''

''You should just let me wear my hair shortthat will solve all this problem,'' I said, wanting to get even. Ever since, Renu and Ria, my cousins, from Dubai had arrived with aunty, this had been a sore point between mummy and me. The way they walked all over the place, tossing their short locks about, made me jealous. Renu was eleven years old, almost my age and Ria, everybody's favourite was seven. It was now almost two weeks since they had arrived.

Kavya, my older sister and I loved it when my cousins came down from Dubai. Apart from all the goodies they got us, they were great company. The days would fly past when they were around. It was hard to think that in another two weeks they would be gone. I hated that. It left a big lump in my throat which lasted for several days.

Inevitably, they came every year at Onam(festival) time. It was great fun then, what with making pookalums(floral decorations), several visits to the temple fair and to top it all, the pullikali(tiger dance). My cousins were also fascinated with the many cats and kittens, as well as the two odd cows we owned, and now we had a calf as well.

Then one thing we all looked forward to was the dip in the bathing tank. The bathing tank is a large enclosed private fresh water tank which has gradated steps leading into the depths typical of the old Kerala houses. Renu and Ria didn't know how to swim, we did. Anyway, we just fooled around in the water and generally had a great time.

But this time, things were different. After the first couple of times, Kavya never came in. She only sat watching us. Maybe the fact that the neighbour's son came and sat on the wall watching us had something to do with it. Renu, Ria and I were not bothered. But Kavya sat and sulked and sometimes she gave the fellow a nasty look. The boy would grin in response, his legs astride on the wall which divided their plot from ours. It was a very high wall, yet, for him, it was conveniently situated next to the bathing tank.

In fact, one day Kavya had commented, almost gritting her teeth, ''Firstly how does that idiot get up there and then how does he keep himself there?'' Seemed a very sensible question, but we could not understand why she could not come in. I guess, it had something to do with the ''young lady'' thing mummy and aunty had discussed one day.

The conversation had gone something like this. Aunty had looked at Kavya's receding figure and told mummy, ''Kavya looks so much like a young lady now.''

''She is a young lady.'' Replied mummy giving her a meaningful look which made aunty utter an inaudible ''oh''. Only God knows what that meant!

So when two days in a row ''smart alec'' did not make an appearance, we kept insisting that Kavya also join us. It wasn't as much fun without Kavya. Being the older one, she would help Renu and Ria take little rounds into the deeper end of the tank. Ria and Renu would scream in excitement and nervousness and it gave us all a good laugh. And we were missing that now.

That day all of us got after her. Even little Ria coaxed her, ''Please Kavya, help me swim.'' Finally relenting, Kavya got up from the steps and then looking around cautiously, she took off her clothes. She wrapped a thin towel tightly around her slim body and got into the water. She looked so happy as she glided gracefully, moving almost like a fairy. All of us watched her with admiration. That's when we were startled by a shrill whistle. Sitting up there on the wall, was the boy and he was chortling away.

Kavya's face fell. Swimming towards the steps, she ran out of the enclosure, without bothering to change or even to wipe herself dry. She was crying as she left. Once she was gone, all of us stood and glared at that stupid boy trying to show him how angry we were, but with Kavya gone, all his interest had gone as well. He got off the wall, without giving us so much as a glance. Then looking like he had completed a big task, he left.

When we got back, mummy and aunty were furious. The truth was out.

''Why didn't you tell us before?'' mummy asked.

''You girls have been encouraging that boy all this while.'' Aunty accused us without any justification.

In truth, Kavya had told us not to say anything at home because she felt they would ban the swimming sessions at the bathing tank, if they came to know.

''Anyway,'' mummy continued, ''the neighbours are here on a transferable job and that boy comes only during vacations. He will leave in a few days. So let's not make this an issue.'' So that was that. Though initially mummy and aunt decided that all of us were to stop going to the bathing tank, we created such a ruckus that it was settled that Renu, Ria and I could still go to the bathing tank on condition that we ignored the boy completely.

Kavya cried a lot that day. Somehow, she felt cheated. Had the boy done it intentionally? Had he been watching her unseen while she changed? Ria sat next to her all the time, patting Kavya and looking dolefully into her face.

Afternoons were the time when we would all sit and read books or play some indoor games. Mummy and aunty would be sleeping. That day everybody preferred to read books, as the mood was somber. Seeing the gloomy atmosphere inside the house, Ria went out with the intention of playing under the shade of the trees or with the kittens. Sometimes she sat chatting with the servant maids. Her innocence and non-stop chatter made her quite a hit with them.

In the evening, when father came home, he was briefed about what had transpired. Though he was upset, he too advised that it was better not to make a scene. Dinner was soon served and all of us sat down to eat. Excepting for the fact that Ria had an itchy palm, nothing much happened.

''Ria, were you playing in the mud?'' aunty chided her.

''More likely to be caterpillars than mud that caused this itch,'' mummy said after examining her hands.

''You mean, those hairy ones?'' Renu asked, with disgust.

As aunty went to get some calamine lotion, mummy said, ''I have an even better remedycow dung. I will ask the servant to get it.'' The speed with which Ria disappeared screaming, ''No'' had to be seen to be believed.

The next day, we were at the bathing tank at the usual time. The three of us, my cousins and I went into the water, and Kavya sat on the steps. Smart-alec made his appearance almost immediately. Despite being told to ignore him, Kavya and Ria kept looking at him and passing uncomplimentary remarks. Renu and I ignored him completely. He had really spoiled our fun the previous day and we didn't want to have anything to do with him.

Suddenly Kavya's, ''What does he think he is doing?'' made even the two of us look up. The boy was acting very strange. As he squirmed and wriggled, he suddenly lost his balance. Instead of falling into his own compound, he fell into the deep end of the bathing tank.

''I hope he knows to swim,'' Kavya said, as we all watched silently in the general direction of where he had fallen, waiting for him to resurface. He did, but then he was gasping and splashing about and threatening to go down again. Without a thought, Kavya plunged in, clothes and all and got him out.

Well, to cut a long story short, the boy was taken home by his mother who was apprised about her son's antics. She was extremely embarrassed and apologetic. Fortunately, he had only drunk a little water and was still conscious when Kavya brought him out.

''Poor fellowhe will not look at another girl in all his life'' aunty smiled. Once the boy was found to be safe, mummy and aunty had laughed for a long time. Soon enough, even we had joined in, after getting over the initial shock.

''What happened to his master-balancing act, I wonder?'' mummy said, laughing so much that tear rolled down her cheeks.

''Some funny itch he'' Kavya started saying, when she remembered something. While everyone continued to laugh, only I saw the suspicious look on her face as she suddenly turned to face Ria who winked back.

Later when we were alone, we got it out of the little imp. The previous evening, Ria's little head had started working after the ''itching'' episode caused by the prickly worms. For the price of a kiss each, she had convinced our two servant-maids to deposit the itchy monsters on the bathing tank wall that morning. It was a risky thing to do, considering the maids could have been caught red-handed. But the purpose had been served.

We never forgot those holidays. Ria has just turned seventeen. Kavya is engaged and will be married soon. But we still talk about it and have a good laugh. A few months after the incident, the boy's family had left the neighbourhood. We often wonder about him does he still do the balancing act? I doubt it!

Archived comments for The Balancing Act
thehaven on 2005-10-03 08:59:57
Re: The Balancing Act
A wonderful rich slice of life ,very enternaining and so well written.

Mike

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-03 10:22:58
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Mike,
Thanks so much for your kind comment. Sadly, things have changed a lot in Kerala during the last fifteen years.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

sirat on 2005-10-03 10:37:01
Re: The Balancing Act
I think he fell in deliberately in order to be rescued by Kavya. I would have.

Great story, gives a lovely picture of childhood in Kerala. I enjoyed it immensely.

Author's Reply:

Jen_Christabel on 2005-10-03 10:43:37
Re: The Balancing Act
Lovely! What more can I say?
Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:

shadow on 2005-10-03 11:10:20
Re: The Balancing Act
Vividly told, I could see it all happening. And so funny when the nasty boy got his come-uppance. Served him right! Great stuff.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-03 11:37:00
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Sirat,
Thanks so much for your encouraging comment...It's okay to fall in if you know swimming and can also act very well...and imagine your mom catching you doing something like that...espcially if you were a Keralite boy...then you've had it!
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-03 11:38:33
Re: The Balancing Act
Hi, Jennifer. Thanks so much! I think with a theme like this I couldn't go very wrong.So glad you dropped by...
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-03 11:42:01
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Shadow,
The fellow deserved it, didn't he? I know one person who will read this story and hope it had actually happened that way. In the real life incident that inspired this story, the boy never fell in...Sad, isn't it?
Thanks so much for your encouraging words...
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

ruadh on 2005-10-03 13:59:20
Re: The Balancing Act
I love reading 'slice of life' pieces. Good read niece.

ailsa

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-03 15:59:46
Re: The Balancing Act
Hi Ailsa,

So nice of you to read and comment. Thanks so much. Tho' this is fiction, it was greatly influenced by my own childhood memories as well as some stories my mother told me.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2005-10-04 09:54:29
Re: The Balancing Act
Hey there hun, this is a highly entertaining read and as always written so well by you. Let us know if you ever find out whether the boy still does his balancing act... he'd make a great little story.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-04 11:34:12
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Claire,
Actually the boy mentioned in this story was not that much of a boy...probably, a young man...the girls were much older, all of them, knew what was happening and they used to pass nasty comments about the fellow, without much effect. I guess, he was getting what he wanted and didn't mind all the after effects. Atleast one of the girls is a granny now and the others must be in the process of getting there.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

RoyBateman on 2005-10-04 17:01:23
Re: The Balancing Act
That'll teach 'im! What a start to adult thoughts - the itchy worms when he looks at girls, eh? Dreadful thought. Very picturesque tale, well written as always - a most enjoyable read!

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-10-04 19:23:34
Re: The Balancing Act
Hello niece,

Reminds me of the time I myself nearly got drowned in a similar pond, but I was only three years old at the time, and sad to say, there were no chivalrous girls to rescue me, only one of the domestic work force! Good tale, well narrated.

Soman




Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 06:06:42
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Roy,
Thanks! I am so glad you enjoyed it.
The "itchy worm" connection though was purely coincidental...(but don't tell anybody that!)
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 06:10:00
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Soman,
One of the things I missed in life was learning to swim...if I was brought up in Kerala during those crucial years, I am sure I would have picked it up quickly. But I was not that fortunate. I've drowned too very recently in four feet deep water...now don't ask me how I managed that!
Thanks so much for your support, Soman!
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Kat on 2005-10-05 06:21:35
Re: The Balancing Act
Hi niece

I really enjoyed this - you evoke life in Kerala so naturally and your narrative voice evokes your youth too.

Kat 🙂

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 06:37:58
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Kat,
I don't live in Kerala anymore...I live in Mumbai, though my parents are still there and I so look forward to my yearly visits. That is one of the high points in my life...
Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I appreciate it.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Griffonner on 2005-10-05 12:49:34
Re: The Balancing Act
I always love insightful pieces like this. Moments in time that encapsulate with them something of the flavour of another culture at the same time as telling a story.
Thank you for sharing this, niece,
Griffonner



Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 12:56:39
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Tai-li,
Thanks so much for your wonderful comment. I will look into your suggestion and see what changes I can make.
Kerala is in my blood, so much so that even after 10 years of being away, I still hear the "call" when it's time to go back there.
Thanks once again.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 13:08:01
Re: The Balancing Act
Griffonner, I really appreciate your reading and commenting on this piece. I am so glad I can bring out something of our beautiful culture which is unfortunately dying away. Most of those bathing tanks are either left unused or they have been covered up to build new houses, etc. But I guess, we have to move with the changing times.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

AnthonyEvans on 2005-10-06 09:42:50
Re: The Balancing Act
dear niece,

i enjoyed your story, i agree with mike/thehaven that it has a richness to it. i always feel that you know your characters very well and that there is no straining to round them out.

one thing troubled me a bit. i know you say that the wall is next to the pool but still, when the bad boy fell in i was surprised as i felt that the dividing wall was further away. re-reading i can see that it isn't but i wonder if you couldn't set up that falling in by putting in a small incident earlier? maybe something that he has in his hands (some fruit, say) falls into the pool and the young girls throw it back at him? something along these lines. of course, it could just be me who is not reading concentratedly enough.

but, as i said, a very enjoyable read. captures the emerging woman and the emerging man well and highlights the difference between the two.

best wishes, anthony.

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-10-06 10:13:44
Re: The Balancing Act
Niece
Congratulations, third place today.Might get to no 1 spot by the end of the week.
Quite enjoyed reading this. However I feel that you can tighten it up a little, I said a little, not a lot,Lol!
When I was writing my book'Frogs under the Wheels' my editor cut some of stories to pieces and threw many of them( the pieces) away much to my despair. However in the end it was alright. We Indians always elaborate, don't we?
Love to u
chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-06 10:39:55
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Anthony,

I think you are right there! Although I had the picture in my mind's eye, I haven't made it very clear in the story. Most Keralites would know that the high wall goes all around the bathing tank to prevent peeping Toms from looking at all the bathing wives and daughters.

Thanks so much for your comment and especially, your suggestion. i will definitely look into it.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-06 10:49:05
Re: The Balancing Act
Dear Chrisk,
Thank you! How sweet of you to even think of me in the 1st place! I think, I would be very lucky if I could stay in the 3rd place for a little more time. I will try and tighten the story. Any suggestions from your end on how to go about it? Please let me know.
Love to u 2.
Regds, niece




Author's Reply:

Micky on 09-10-2005
The Balancing Act
A delightful read and a very lovely peek, at this beautiful slice of life.
Thank you for sharing
Micky :>D

Author's Reply:
Hi, Micky. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my story. And I am glad you enjoyed it.
Regds,niece

Gerry on 10-10-2005
The Balancing Act
Niece, I found this story so entertaining, a beautiful tender little folk tale...

Gerry.

Author's Reply:
Gerry, so kind of you to read and comment. Thanks so much.
Regds,niece


Insomnia (posted on: 05-09-05)
When her best friend Namita committed suicide, little did Seema know what was in store for her
Sometimes the truth is not what you think it is!

The phone rings incessantly in the living room. From where I stand and work in the kitchen I hear it, but there is no way I am going to answer the call. Preparing breakfast for three people with different tastes is not easyI have my hands full, now. Anyway, more often than not, these early morning calls are for one of the girls.

''No, Mythili, we don't have to take the reader,'' or ''Yes, I am surethe English test is on today.'' They mutter into the phone before they put the receiver down. Right now, I don't know who is going to pick it up. But someone finally answers the urgent shrill ringing of the phone. I hear my husband's voice. I thank him silently for stopping that phone from making such a racket this morning. I have a headache from a bad night. It was making me feel worse. Must be a wrong number for Arun my husband has put the receiver down with a slight click.

Now he is standing next to me in the kitchen. He avoids my gaze, ''We have to go to Namita's house, Seema. Get ready quickly.''

Namita's house? What's happening in her house? Somehow, it does not register in my head even after Arun has explained everything clearly. How can Namita die? What does he mean she committed suicide? I just spoke to her last night? Arun must have gotten it wrong. Namita is a strong person. There is a heavy feeling in my heart. I don't want to believe it, but I know I will have to.

Now we are in the car. Arun is very sympathetic. He knows how much I cared about Namita. Apart from that stray teardrop, I've been quite calmsurprisingly. I had quickly instructed the maidservants and the kids before leaving. I know I won't be getting back home in a hurry.

Once I reached Namita's house, I sat near her lifeless body and cried. It was like I had to see her with my own eyes. The police are yet to take her away. Then I quickly got a hold of myself. Where are the children Shyamili and Pramod? And last but not least where is Gunjan? I go to him first, he is sitting in the bedroom he used to share with his beautiful wife till just a few hours ago! I sit next to him. As I left home, I knew I would be needed here, but not this much. Gunjan, who sat in a daze, held my hands and started crying. It seems so strange that Gunjan, whom I thought to be beyond emotions, can cry like this.

''Why did she do it, Seema? She seemed so happy'' he broke out into series of harsh sobs.

I cannot tell him the truth, can I? That Namita died because he did not pay enough attention and only worked and worked and worked. So much so that she ran into the hands of another man for the love and emotional support he could not give her. No, I can't.

As I sit and pat his hand, I remember the first time she had called me up about Jay

''You should see his work,'' she said animatedly, ''It's fabulous! Would you like to go and meet him?''

I didn't go that day. Maybe I should have. Jay's works notwithstanding, that was the day they got talking and the sparks went flying. She told me that much much later.

I go and meet the kids. Pramod is boy enough to cry and let out his grief. But Shyamili is in some kind of denial.

''She was mad. Look at the life she led. Parties, good clothes, too much of luxury. She was mad to give it all up. She should have been born a beggar on the street. I hope she does in the next birth.'' I am told she has not shed even a drop of tear. The mother-daughter relationship had been going through some rough weather lately. This would be the last one.

I set about clearing Namita's image. Her daughter has to understand that as a woman her mother must have had other emotions too. Sometimes a woman can't be happy just being a wife and mother. They need something more.

''Are you like that?'' she asks me, sharply. ''No,'' I reply.

''See, she was mad!'' she says, as she turns her back to me. Shyamili chooses to remain indifferent. Let her be for now! Maybe that is her way of getting over the loss. And some day she will understand!

I need some time for myself. Arun has been kind enough to wait all this while. Namita was my friend, not his. But he knows I may need him. I tell him he can leave if he needs to. He may have meetings, paperwork or other things to attend to.

''Don't worry. It can wait.'' He reassures me. I smile in gratitude. I wanted him to stay but I also wanted him to make that decision.

I take a little breather in the balcony. ''Mad''! The words echo in my ears. Was she? Well, maybe just a little. Not mad as in lunatic, but mad as in crazy! I will never forget the conversation we had several months back.

''Jay is so good, Seema. You have to see his work.''

''You keep telling me this all the time.''

''He did a portrait of mine. It's so lifelike. I almost feel the image may get up and talk to me.''

''ReallyI want to see it then,'' I said, equally enthusiastic. If it was that good, I thought I could also get one done.

Namita hesitated for a second. ''It's with him, you know.'' She said.

''That's alright. We'll go there and see it.''

''ErSeemaI would rather you didn't see it.''

''Why? What's the?'', then I understood, ''Don't tell me you?''

''Yes, I did.''

''Namita, did you have any idea what you were doing thenstanding in front of a stranger?'' I stuttered.

''Seema,'' Namita said, matter-of-factly, ''I have gone far beyond just posing in the nude. I've slept with him.''

''But, you are mad. What if he deceives you?''

''I don't care,'' was Namita's cool reply, ''I'm not in love with him or something. I may dump him before he does me.''

That was the first time Namita had tried to keep something from me, but she couldn't. How could she hide anything from me? We have been that close since we met in junior college twenty-two years back.

The police have finally taken Namita away... for post-mortem! I feel sick at the thought that they will cut her up and stitch her back just to confirm what they already know - an over-dose of sleeping pills.

Two months back, I finally, convinced her to stop seeing Jay. She was devastated. I told her I thought it would be easy for her since there was no emotional attachment. She gave me one of the strangest looks ever. She had fallen in love. I don't know whether Jay felt the same way about her. I've never met him. But in my mind, I have the image of a good-for-nothing opportunist out to make hay while the sun shines!

But Namita refused to accept my point-of-view. Only three days back, when I met her we had an argument over the issue. We parted on a bitter note. Oh! We fought. Plenty of times! But we always made up sooner or later. Before she came, she told me she wanted to meet me alone. I chose a time when Arun was still in office and the kids were away at their respective tuition classes. When she arrived, I sent my maidservant out to the market.

The discussion had been, as usual, about Jay. It was always that these days. She blamed me for her depression and insomnia since I was the one who was responsible for their separation. I was wild at her. Need I say more! I sent her away rudely, citing some non-existent errand. Strangely, I felt some things had been left unsaid that day. If only I had listened!

Most of the family's friends and relatives have left now. Apart from Gunjan and the kids and a couple of his aunts, the huge penthouse is empty. Arun himself has gone back home to check on the kids. My cell phone began to ring. I am in no mood to take any callsexcepting if it's one from home. I look at the number on the digital display. I don't know the caller. But I answer, nevertheless.

''Seema, is that you?''

''Yes, who is this?'' I asked suspiciously.

''Jay''the voice informs me, then, ''is it true?''

Yes, I tell him. I should be yelling at him and firing him for having ruined my best friends life. I don't, because I can hear him crying.

Somebody clears his throat behind me. I look back to see a police officer.

''I will have to call you back,'' I whisper into the phone. I need to talk to Jay. I'm not done with him just yet.

''Mrs.Mehta,'' the cop asks me, ''I believe Mrs.Saxena called you up yesterday. Could you answer a few questions?''

I nod, wiping the tears from my eyes.

Oh, the usual questions, what we spoke about, how she sounded, what time
I tell him all, weeding out anything that might put her in trouble. The police officer leaves after he has intimated me that he may need to ask more questions. I dial Jay's number. He answers immediately. He is not crying anymore.

''Why did she do it?'' he asks me.

''I don't know, Jay,'' I don't know how I can speak to this guy like I knew him before, ''I thought you were going to tell me.''

''Huh?'' Okay, never mind.

''I can't understand why she did this,'' he paused for a response, but I did not say anything, so he continued, ''When we met two days back?''

''You met?'' I ask. I thought they had stopped seeing each other.

''Yes, when we met,'' Jay continues, ''I told her I was under pressure from my folks back home to get married. I told her we would have to stop meeting each other.'' He had started to sob again, '' She seemed to take it pretty wellshe was so cool, I thought she didn't careand now'' he broke down completely. I knew there was no point hanging onto the call anymore. There was nothing more to say. I gently turn off the cell phone. I plonk myself on one of the sofas. My heart is getting heavier by the minute. I don't know for how long I sat there. The cops have reappeared.

The officer sits down on another chair and says he has a few more questions to ask since the post-mortem report has come in.

He watches me intently, for what seems like ages and then, ''Mrs. Mehta, did you know your friend was pregnant?''

''No'' Now I am finally cryingand I wish Arun had been there. This is getting messier than I thought.

''Neither did Mr.Saxena.'' The cop informs me, casually, getting up, ''And Mrs. Mehta, are you sure about the time she called you up? The report says she must have breathed her last latest by 11:35.''

''I may be wrong'' I tell him. , ''I was woken up and I was quite groggy.'' The cop nods and disappears once again. My heart is thudding loudly. I remember the night before. I felt restless and could not sleep for a long time. Something was bothering me. Later as I sat in my living room, trying to read a magazine, the phone rang. I picked it up.

''Hi, Seema'' Namita sounded peacefulcome to think of it, too peaceful.

''Namita, do you know what time it is?'' I had asked her, looking at the clock. It was exactly 12:34.

''You told me I could call you whenever I felt like it'' I visualized her smiling face, ''Listen, I just wanted to tell you that I am feeling a lot better now''

''So you won't be needing Jay to make you feel good about yourself?'' I asked sarcastically.

She paused, ''No, not anymore. Thanks, Seema. And sorry for all the trouble. Now go back to sleep.''

No, Namita. You've got your sleep back. But with that, you've taken away mine!

Archived comments for Insomnia
sirat on 2005-09-05 23:10:57
Re: Insomnia
This is a highly atmospheric piece, written I assume by a Japanese person and set in modern Japan. There is an interesting twist in the plot, where the narrator at first thinks that she is responsible for her friend's death due to her attempt to separate her from her lover, then discovers that she had been entirely unsuccessful and it was in fact Jay (the lover) who had brought the affair to an end (not to mention the complication of the pregnancy).

I have also tried to write about feelings of guilt surrounding a suicide, and it is a very difficult and poignant subject, requiring an extremely light touch. The impression I get here is that I am missing a great deal because the story is written in a second language or is a translation of some kind. I think it has enormous potential but falls short of what it could be because of that limitation.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-06 06:20:14
Re: Insomnia
Dear Sirat,
Thanks so much for your helpful comment.

Actually this story would be based in India, probably a metro city like Mumbai or even a cosmopolitan town. People living here talk (and think) in English. In short this is Indian English. And no, it is not a translation.

I had this whole concept of adultery and suicide in my head from which I wanted to build a story. This is the third attempt completed over a month ago. I think the problem here could be that I was not so sure of the theme myself since I don't know anyone who has done either.

Basically, I wanted to analyse the mindset of two educated thinking women in modern India. More often than not, most Indian women give up their dreams of careers, etc to look after their houses. Sometimes it can be too frustrating. Namita was one such and unlike Seema, who was content was her lot, Namita needed that outlet for her emotions, expectations, et al. Add to that a daughter who wouldn't understand her and a husband who worked round the clock.

Thanks once again.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-09-06 23:25:45
Re: Insomnia
Niece
I liked the way you wrote this. It is a disturbing event and you have handled it well. I know a very similar case and there are no explanations or justifications when some one wants to take their life.
I bet you did this with so much feeling for the girl,
may be its just a story or is it?
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-07 06:10:45
Re: Insomnia
Thanx, Chrisk, for your encouraging comment. This is a story I felt very strongly about. Sometimes, it is amazing how your thoughts can go. I went thru this phase earlier this year when there were so many thoughts going thru my head, it was intimidating. Maybe it is just a process of maturing. The first two times I wrote this, I took Namita's point of view. But it just didnt work out. Maybe because I personally dont believe in suicide. moreover I think one needs lot of guts to do it.Not the other way round.
regds,niece

Author's Reply:

RoyBateman on 2005-09-07 13:07:04
Re: Insomnia
Again, you've brought a world of which I know little to life (If that's correct for this story) with great vividness. How very poignant, and unneccessary - a real culture clash. None of us can have it all, but it doesn't stop us wanting, does it? A memorable piece.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-07 18:24:33
Re: Insomnia
Dear Roy,
Thanks for your lovely comment. Modern Indian women consider themselves liberated, but I don't think that is the case. Not as yet, at least! They are tied down by many dos and donts, some even self-imposed. Maybe someday it will change!
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-08 15:58:59
Re: Insomnia
Hi Tai-Li,
So kind of you to read and comment. I am glad to know that you find my work unforgettable, and also that it does not resemble a Bollywood sob-story(thank God for that!). I am not such a huge Bollywood fan myself. Probably becoz I grew up on huge sumptous doses of malayalam movies(regional language of South India) which has always been understated and to-the-point. No unnecessary masala there! For eye-candy, you go to "Bollywood" but for something more sensible, I guess, regional Indian films have always been the best.
regds,niece

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-09-08 19:27:21
Re: Insomnia
Niece,

A vivid depiction of the conflicting forces that a woman has to contend with in modern day society.
We see from the newspapers that such suicides are increasing by the day.

Soman

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-09 06:13:37
Re: Insomnia
Dear Soman,
It's sad, isn't it? What does one do when life goes all wrong for them...?There is a price to pay for looking out for too much excitement in life, especially if you are an Indian woman. Thanx, Soman, for your comment.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

jer364 on 2005-09-11 18:06:42
Re: Insomnia
A difficult subject very well handled. The Indian responses and emotions seemed very real and believable without becoming stereotypes. Very poignant.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-09-12 05:45:11
Re: Insomnia
Dear jer364,
Thanx for your comment. It's nice to know that you thought this was well-handled and believable.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Jen_Christabel on 02-11-2005
Insomnia
Once again Niece you have enlightened us with Indian culture, and you do it so well!
Great read, as usual :o)
Jennifer :o)

Author's Reply:
Dear Jennifer,
Thanks so much...it is indeed very sweet of you to read this and comment.
This is another one of those stories which needed to be rewritten several times until it was quite readable...I think I may attempt this whole theme once again, probably later, from Namita's pov. I found that I just could not do it...could be becoz I don't believe in suicide as a way out of any kind of problem...
Regds,niece


Sweet Sacrifice (posted on: 01-08-05)
The big sacrifice a little boy made

''Don't ask baba for anything, you understand?'' ma hissed into my ears, as she dressed me up. This was the sixth time she had warned me. Dressed up in one of my best clothes, I went and stood in front of the mirror. I hoped baba would get this job. He needed it. And more than anything, we did toomy mother, my younger sister and I.

After a measly breakfast of tea with biscuits we stepped out. Most days, ma made ''poha''(breakfast made from beaten rice), but not today. There were too many things to attend to before she saw her husband off. She wanted to be standing at the door, waving out to him till he was out of sight. Somehow, they both felt it would be lucky that way.

Baba didn't seem to be too happy with my company. He looked at me with a frown, and then repeated, like he had several times before, ''I want you to behave yourself. We will go and buy your clothes first. After that when we go to Shah saheb's factory, you will wait outside. Don't do anything to make me angry!''

I nodded in reply. I wished ma hadn't gotten me into this mess. This Sunday when I could easily be playing cricket with my friends at the ''maidan'' (playground) or watching television in Parveen's house. But noma had to bring up the subject of my torn school uniforms.

''Ramu, since you are going to town tomorrow, why don't you take Gopal along too.''

''What for?'' my baba, Ramprasad Yadav, looked surprised.

''His school uniforms are in bad shape, Ramu. Before his teachers complain, I thought we should do something about it. You get cheaper stuff in town.''

''Can't he go on with the same clothes for another month?'' baba had asked, almost pleadingly. We all knew there was not enough money.

''That is what I told myself last month, Ramu. But no, it can't wait anymore. The clothes are already starting to tear where it can't be mended. I tried my best,'' she pulled out the school uniforms for baba to inspect. He looked at it, then he nodded his assent. No, even for a poor man, this was no way for his child to go to school.

Baba had lost his job three months back. As a sweet-maker in a well-known bakery, he had earned pretty decent wages. We did not own a car or live in the lap of luxury, but we still lived a good life - new clothes every six months, a moped for local transport and other such small things. Many a times, baba would bring back a boxful of the most delicious sweets that would melt in the mouth. And all of us never tired of eating the goodies. They were welcomed with happiness and laughter anytime they arrived. And shared out in the neighborhoodthat had forever remained grateful!

But not anymore! One fine day, a case had been filed against the bakery. It was the handiwork of a rival group. Apparently some child had taken ill after eating the sweets from the bakery and admitted to hospital. The complainant claimed that the bakery used substandard ingredients in their products. The bakery fought the matter, but lost. For one, baba knew for a fact that his bakery never did cheat on its customers. The treachery of one person had cost several people their jobs, baba included. A jobless baba found difficulty in finding another one, though he refused to take up a job offered by the rival group.

Sometimes ma told him, ''Maybe, you should have taken up that job, Ramu. I feel sorry for our children.''

''No way. Even God wouldn't forgive me if I did that.'' He would say.

Now as we walked down the road, on our way to the bus stop, baba checked out my clothes. He seemed a little more relaxed.

''If all goes well and we have some good news by the end of the day, I will take you to ''Durga'' Restaurant,'' he told me. I wanted to be happybut worried about the day not turning out as expected.

Baba's meeting was at 1 PM when the owner of the sweet factory would be taking a break from work. So first we went to buy my uniform. We walked in and out of several shops on the roadside. We were half-an-hour away from the sweet factory, so baba took his time checking out the cheapest clothes he could find. He reassured me that even if they tore, say after two months, he would definitely find a job by then and get me newer and better clothes.

By the time we finished shopping and reached outside the factory, the time was around 12:45. With fifteen minutes to spare, baba suggested that we sit in the park which was a stone's throw away. But just to be on the safer side he thought he would enquire if Shah saheb were ready for the interview. To baba's horror, he was told that he had left for home.

''But he called me here for an interview.'' He told the security personnel. Seeing baba's plight, the man went inside and enquired. When he returned, he informed baba, '' He wanted you to meet him in his house.''

''Where is it?'' baba asked, looking aghast.

''At Lal Chowk. Take a 68 Limited bus from that stop you see over there. Get down at the fifth stop. There you can ask anyone the way to Shah saheb's house.''

I don't have to tell you how I felt after that. My father sat stiff, looking straight ahead as we sat in the bus that had taken an age to arrive. My parents are a superstitious lot. I couldn't help but imagine that he thought me to have brought bad-luck on him. I cringed where I sat and baba did not even look at me. We were a good half an hour late for the appointment. Shah saheb was taking his afternoon nap when we arrived. We waited outside his house for almost one-and-half hours. Baba did not say anything all that while. Then he was called inside. Unfortunately, the lady who came to call baba saw me and called me too. As I stood reluctantly outside the door, baba motioned me to go inside with him.

Shah saheb sat at a huge dining table.

''Please sit, Ramprasad.'' The man said. Baba sat down, pulling a chair out for me as well.

''You have come very late. Are you always like this?''

''Sir, I went to the factory,'' Baba quickly told him.

''I told you very specifically to come herewho is this boy? Your son?''

''Yes, I had to bring him along for some personal workI'' baba explained, apologetically.

''Ramprasad, I have to get back to the factory. So if we can just get on with the discussion''

Baba went silent. Shah saheb asked baba a lot of questions, about this previous experience, how the bakery where he used to work earlier had closed down, and all that. Meanwhile, I saw Shah saheb's wife watching us very keenly standing at the door. After sometime she disappeared.

''You think your previous employers have been framed?''

''Most definitely, sir, ''baba said. He never swerved from that statement of his.

''Someone told me you were offered a job in this other bakerywhat is it called?'' Shah saheb tapped his forehead trying to remember.

Baba told him and then in reply to his question, ''They did, sir. In fact, they were willing to pay me more''

The lady reappeared now bringing a temporary halt to the discussion. A servant who accompanied her laid out some of the best sweets one could ever find before us. From juicy ''rosgullas'', to golden ''gulab jamuns'', the finest ''laddoos'' to the most tempting ''jalebis'', they were all there.

Shah saheb immediately helped himself to a ''jalebi'' and gestured to baba to have one. But baba did not touch anything. He was more concerned about the job. As for me, my eyes literally popped out of my head when I saw the wide array of sweets. I would have had one from each dish if I were given a chance. But when baba refused to help himself, I didn't know what to do. My mouth was watering, but I had done enough harm by accompanying baba. I didn't want to trouble him anymore. As the discussion went on, my mind was no more on the conversation. I wanted to get away as fast as possible. We had not even had lunch and after the poor breakfast, I prayed my stomach would not grumble. That would annoy baba!

Since the temptation was killing me, I looked away. Unfortunately my gaze fell on the lady who was still watching me standing at the door. As soon as I spotted her, she came out from her hiding place and said, ''Both of you have not eaten anything. Please have something. These are all made in our factory.''

Shah saheb seconded that.

''No, madam. We just had a sumptuous lunch before arriving here. Anyway, since you insist, I don't want to refuse'' baba picked up a jalebi and broke it into half. Then giving me one half, he ate the other. While he savored and appreciated the good quality of the jalebi, I almost gobbled up the other half.

Soon the interview was over.

''So, Ramprasad, I shall let you know. Can you call me in two day's time?'' Shah saheb asked him. Baba nodded, disappointment writ all over his face. He had expected a definite reply, either one way or the other. As we walked out, he suddenly smiled, looking like he had accepted his fate.

''Are you hungry, child?'' I did not reply. I wanted to get back home, probably have a good cry on ma's lap and then go to sleep after eating whatever she would serve up for dinner. She would be expecting us to return with some good news.

At the bus stop, baba bought me a ''batata-vada''(a filling snack made from potato) from the street-side vendor. I chomped on it hungrily, my pride dissolving as the body's cravings took over. A teardrop slowly rolled down my cheeks. I wiped it off, indignantly. No, I would not cry. I was a brave nine-year old. Suddenly, we heard someone calling out, ''Ramprasad Yadav''

It was the servant we had seen at Shah saheb's house. He carried a big packet in his hand.

''Madam has sent this specially for the boy.'' Then handing over the packet, the servant left. I couldn't help the big smile that appeared on my face. Baba also smiled, patting me on my head.

I began to open the packet in the bus itself. Baba told me to wait till I got home, but I told him I wanted to open it. I was curious as to which of the sweets, that nice lady had packed inside. To my utter dismay, I found only packets of biscuits inside. There were all typescream-filled ones, plain ones, salty ones, but no sweets. I was thoroughly disappointed.

Baba did finally get that job. It turned out that the old employer himself had suggested baba's name to Shah saheb, who had already decided on hiring baba when he called him for the interview. Soon life became the same again. Baba got a good pay. I got myself decent school uniforms as well as other new clothes. In another year's time, we even bought ourselves a television on an installment scheme and I got a cycle on my 10th birthday. Wellas for sweets, I eat them in plenty now. Shah saheb's wife always makes it a point to send us boxes of them during festival time, enough to share as before. She likes me very much. The other day, when we went to town to select my bicycle a day before my birthday, we paid them a visit. Shah saheb had gone to a friend's house and his wife insisted that we sit down for a while and have some refreshments.

As I picked up just one ''laddoo'' from what was laid before us, she told baba, ''Ramprasad, your son is so well-behaved. I've seen few like himso mature, so understanding.'' Then as we left, she pushed an envelope with some cash into my hand since baba had told her it was my birthday the next day. As I thanked her, she said, ''Child, remember that small sacrifices lead to bigger and better things in life.''

I wonder what that meant?



Archived comments for Sweet Sacrifice
RoyBateman on 2005-08-01 11:42:53
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
A really touching story - as always with your tales, exotic and fascinating, but easily understood despite the cultural differences. This would make a charming short film, wouldn't it? I think we all know what that meant!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-01 12:46:12
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Thanks, Roy. Had this image of a little boy sitting before a spread of goodies before him and not being able to take anything. And I worked around that.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

LenchenElf on 2005-08-01 21:32:28
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Beautifully conjured, I love the way your tales unfold gently, the intricacy of the weave of life and shimmering detail a delight. thanks for sharing this niece, all the best.
Lenax

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2005-08-01 22:58:54
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
This piece reminded me so much of Erma's wonderful works, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-02 07:44:07
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Dear Lena,
Thank you for the encouraging words…I am glad you liked this.
Regds,niece


Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-02 07:45:22
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Thanks, Claire, for the comments and the comparison.
Regds,niece


Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-08-03 13:51:42
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Niece
Nice story. There is a moral to it. It is long but then I can't see how u can make it shorter.
LOve
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-03 19:37:10
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Dear Chris,
Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the story. I've always felt adults are often too harsh and inconsiderate while dealing with their children. And now that I am one myself, I try to remember how I would have felt if I was in their place. I guess this story is the result of that.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

AnthonyEvans on 2005-08-04 21:34:12
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
niece, i always seem to enjoy your work, this piece as no exception. i like the low-key, understated way you have with things. best wishes, anthony.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-05 05:51:24
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Thanks, Anthony, for your kind comment. And I am so glad you are enjoying my work.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-08-14 08:20:40
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Stories about children, with the flavour of innocence, provide the most pleasant read, but are, in my experience, also the hardest for grownups to write.

Congrats, Mini, on your accomplishment!

Soman

Author's Reply:

shadow on 2005-08-14 19:08:26
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
A lovely story. You made the sweets sound so delicious, I really felt for that little boy!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-17 06:46:05
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Thanks, Soman, for your kind words. I think all the time I spend with my two young kids has helped a lot. It's easier to think their way when you spend so much time with them.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-17 06:47:53
Re: Sweet Sacrifice
Dear Shadow,
I love all kinds of sweets myself, so it was easy for me to imagine how a little boy would feel. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:


A Tree Story (posted on: 04-07-05)
What would a tree say, if it could talk !

It's been years since I have been standing here. I am surrounded by buildings and there is this little road on one side. I am an old-timerso to say. I've seen pint-sized humans turn old and become grandfathers, and then their grandsons becoming grandfathers as well. They say you can find out how old a tree is, by counting the number of rings on the trunk, for which they will have to chop me down, which God forbid! Personally, I have not kept count. Never bothered about such things because what does it matter.

There are many huge and smaller trees all around me. Some are almost as old as me, some even older. Most of them are youngerthe outcome of the ''Plant more Trees'' drive that is in vogue now. Finally, humans have realised our importance. There we all stand, rustling gently, becoming home for many a bird and small animals, and throwing shade that comes in handy when the need arises.

My mother used to be a huge fig treegrand and beautiful, she was. She stood too close to me. I must have grown from a seed or something. Unlike with humans, with us trees, we maintain the same relations with everyone else. I mean, I don't say I love her more because she is my mother, but I love her like everyone else because she is also a tree. In fact, we love everything around us - the birds, the little animals, the smaller but not lesser shrubs and plants, and to some extent, even humans.

Humans are a little difficult to like because they fight and they grumble and are never happy with anything in life. We all agree on that one. Normally, the younger they are, the better. Then there are those monstrositieswhat humans call vehicles and buildings. We have absolutely no feelings for them, though sometimes we do resent their presence for they ruin the very environment on which we thrive.

Okay, I was talking about my mother. Like I mentioned earlier, she was huge. But when I started growing, my roots, which were younger and stronger, began to sap all the nourishment, something that I could not help. My mother understood, and slowly she began to fade away. She never grudged me for it.

One day, many men came and cut her down and took her away.

We are all friendly with each other. We are not clannish. I mean a certain species of tree which humans may consider very useful or exotic does not boast about its efficacy. For us each is the same. We are here to serve a purpose and we don't undermine even the simple weeds that grow on the ground. We believe we are equal. There are some of us who have stood for ages, there are some others who last out for a couple of years, having served their purpose, they perish.

I, on my part, am considered holy by the humans. They come every morning and pour a little bowlful of water at the base of my trunk. All this fails to move me, just as the other trees don't complain about this special treatment. We all know that the human species survive on such beliefs.

We need very little to survive. Just a little space to spread out our roots and our branches. We are a satisfied lot. The weather is our best friend taking us through what humans would call yearly cycle. For us, it is just a matter of life. We welcome the rains, the hot summer sun and hard winter with equal enthusiasm. Some of us lose our leaves during autumn. We know it's temporary, so we don't worry about it. But sometimes extremes of climate does cause us some discomfort. Not that I am complaining.

Like, take the other day, there were heavy rains. And strong windslike no one had seen in a long while. A young tree in our neighbourhood fell down. Strong, handsome and smart he had been. But never proud ! He must have been around fifteen in human years. Not much for a tree ! When he could not withstand the strength of the wind any longer, he succumbed, falling gently to the ground. Now, we trees take care, not to hurt any living thing, even during our last moments. This chap, because he could not help it, fell on a parked car. One that was ugly as ever.

Soon there was a crowd around the machine, shaking their heads sadly and consoling the owner, who soon arrived on the scene.

''What a beauty she was!'' ''The damage will cost a lot to repair'' (By the way, money is another thing we can't understand), ''One of the best cars in the neighborhood!'', they all lamented. Soon the car was towed away. At least, it could be fixed.

Our poor friend lay groaning on the ground. None of the humans heard him. They never do. We gave him courage till his last breath. Trees don't die a quick death, you see. Soon humans from the Municipal Corporation arrived and chopped him down to pieces and took him away.

We did not mourn his loss. Because we believe life and death are not in our hands. The One who gives it, takes it too. Not for us to question His moves. So too with our young friendMay his soul rest in peace!

And that brings us to the question about life and death. I will stand here for as long as it takes. I am not old enough to go yet. But in this life, one never knows. What it there is a big storm,small ones can't touch me, though. Or what if lightning strikes, but that is also a remote possibilitybecause of my height. Or what if the World ends Or what if the humans dump some toxic waste at the base of my trunk. That is more likely to happen.

And till such time, I shall watch humans as they come and go. That is my life!

Archived comments for A Tree Story
RoyBateman on 2005-07-04 11:28:14
Re: A Tree Story
Really liked this one...it was actually quite touching. I've planted a good few trees in my time, and they've always given me great pleasure - I'd like to think of them as fellow inhabitants of our planet too. Unusual point of view in this, and all the better for it. Well done!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-07-04 13:11:30
Re: A Tree Story
Thanks, Roy. It’s nice to know you liked this article.
Actually, two trees fell down in one day owing to heavy rains and this got me thinking. I love trees too…and have had the good fortune of living in a place full of them. Sadly, in the city of Mumbai, there are not too many of them. Just these dull and drab concrete structures.
Regds,niece


Author's Reply:

LenchenElf on 2005-07-05 18:20:04
Re: A Tree Story
A lovely piece, very much enjoyed Niece and thank you for sharing it and the tree's gentle voice.
all the very best
LEx

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-07-05 18:31:31
Re: A Tree Story
Thanks, Lechenelf, for the reading and commenting. It was just a thought that crossed my mind.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-07-06 09:09:51
Re: A Tree Story
Niece, you have echoed my own feelings to the letter. I am fortunate to have some 200 odd trees of assorted sizes, shapes and variety, and I try to take care of them as well as I can. And I am convinced that they in turn repay me a hundredfold. -- I get the feeling that there is some unseen power protecting me, holding my hand when l slip ... Recently three coconut trees, over 50 years old, died of natural causes. They took every care to see that neither my family, nor myself and my house suffered any injury / damage in their fall! It was truly amazing experience. ... We may not hear them talk but I am positive they do have feelings.
Sorry if this comment is too long!

Soman



Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-07-06 12:58:28
Re: A Tree Story
Hi, Soman. Trees are truly amazing and I definitely feel they send out positive vibes. There is this one tree outside my building which has squirrels and some lovely birds that come and sit on it. Most often at night, there are even bats that come and hang around to feed on the fig-like fruit that grows on it. In fact, this same tree was the inspiration for this article. Apparently, it is considered holy and there are some neighbours who water it religiously.
Thanks for commenting.
Regds,niece


Author's Reply:

shadow on 2005-08-14 19:16:13
Re: A Tree Story
A very interesting perspective. Trees are among our greatest friends on earth - and yet we seem to be doing our best to destroy them - let's hope they turn out to be stronger than we are.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-08-17 06:41:08
Re: A Tree Story
Dear Shadow,
Two accidents involving trees on the same day started me off on this one. In the first case, a car was damaged, but unfortunately in the second one, a lady lost her life.Both happened very close to my house.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Lare on 29-01-2006
A Tree Story
Hi niece...a day in the life of a tree...almost like reading its diary. I have, at times, felt feelings from trees...but...I don't believe I have ever had a tree talk to me before. But since reading your piece just now...I believe I just listened to a tree talk to me...what a very pleasant experience...thanks to you, neice...very well done...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Dear Lare,
Thanks for commenting ...those are very kind words...and thank you for the rating.
I live in Mumbai, a concrete jungle, but luckily for us we live in an area that has plenty of trees. In fact, the tree which grows next to my kid's room has some of the most beautiful birds that come and sit on it. One day when I have plenty of time on my hands, I will sit and watch that tree for hours and hours!
Regds,niece


Moksh II - IN LOVE (posted on: 27-06-05)
This is the sequel to my story ''Moksh''. Sharath the ascetic-in-the-making gets his first taste of love and suffers the side effects.
A friend suggested that I write a story where Sharath finally does get his "Moksh"(Salvation). Here he is on his way there, slowly but surely but not quite yet.


When Madan went to Sharath's house that day, he was bursting with excitement. After all, preparations for the temple festival were on and there were so many details to attend to. First there were thetuskers that had to be organized from different temples for the elephant march. Then stalls would have to be set up. Then there were lights, giant wheels and so on and so forth to think about. Sharath, the secretary of the temple committee, had also mentioned a big surprise which he would announce later. He did not trust the other members to keep it a secret, so he said.


As soon as Madan reached Sharath's house, he rang the doorbell. No answer. So he rang again. Getting impatient, he rang four times without stopping. The door jerked open, violently. Whoever was on the other side seemed to be quite annoyed and it looked like it too. Vinaya, who came and stood at the doorway looked angrier than Goddess Mahakali(the Goddess of destruction), the temple deity.


''What is it?'', she shouted. She had been grinding idli atta (batter for steamed rice cakes) manually and it was not a very pleasant chore.


''ErI came to.er.Is Sharath?..er.. The temple festival.er..,'' he stammered, looking as if he had seen a ghost.


''Wait,'' Vinaya interrupted him, her expression softening, visibly. In fact, it looked like she was going to laugh.


She disappeared indoors. Almost immediately, Madan heard some animated discussion from within, which was soon followed by laughter. He shifted uncomfortably, not knowing what to make of all this exhilaration indoors. He had a faint suspicion that he was the reason behind it and that, he did not like. So when Sharath arrived soon after, Madan looked very upset. Unfortunately Sharath did not notice it and since he did not ask, Madan himself enquired, ''Why was everyone laughing?''


Sharath was genuinely surprised, ''Who was laughing?' That was Sharathalways spaced-out, always in a world of his own.


''Maybe, they just saw something funny on television, ''Madan told himself as they left. He had definitely heard sounds from the idiot box. They always aired some light comedy in the mornings to keep people in good spirits as they started their day.


Minutes later, Vinaya found herself smiling as she headed for the kitchen. She had forgotten her vexation over the difficult task she was yet to complete and the fact that her stingy husband, Sooraj, never got her an atta-grinding machine. Her in-laws had long since stopped laughing and settled down in front of the television again. Vinaya remembered Madan's expressionthe kind of face one thought was possible only on comic strips or caricatures. Never had she seen such a face in real life. She chuckled to herself as she got down to grinding the ingredients to a very fine paste.


Sharath wanted to become an ascetic. Though his family did not approve of his choice, Sharath was convinced that that was what he wanted from life. To prove his point, he had started wearing saffron robes. He practiced yoga and meditation. He always wore a solemn expression and he never looked at girls, didn't feel inclined to either. He had gotten almost everything right. But one thing he could not give up was his penchant for good food and Vinaya, his sister-in-law was a very good cook. Sooraj, his brother worked hard to feed and clothe a family of six, which included his parents, his wife and son Arun, and what he considered a ''useless'' brother. And now, there was the added nuisance of entertaining Sharath's followers as well.


''Okay, so that is done,'' Sharath told Madan and a few others after discussing their agenda for the day ''I shall go to the temple to supervise the arrangements and you go and meet Govindan.'' Govindan, the local tea-stall owner, was quite resourceful, by his own claims.


Then Sharath began to walk towards the temple. What met his eyes was like something out of a dream! The prettiest girl he had ever seen was coming in the opposite direction. As she walked past him, a mesmerised Sharath took an about-turn and followed the girl. The girl too saw him and looked around to smile at him. Sharath could not make out what it was about her. Was it her long hair with a single red rose on it? Was it the slight upward tilt of her pretty nose ? Or the swing of her rounded hips ? He followed her like one in a trance.


The girl walked a long way, with Sharath following like a faithful dog. She looked at him ever so often with a coy smile. Even her lips curved so nicely.


She glided past Govindan's tea stall. Sharath did not even notice Madan and the other chaps standing there chatting away with Govindan. They too did not notice him. They were that engrossed in discussions about the oncoming festival.


He followed the girl into a courtyard. The girl turned around one last time and quickly disappeared into a house there. Then a lady came out.


''Yes, sir,'' she asked, smiling, ''What do you want?''


Awakened from his stupor, Sharath shook himself and realizing what he had done, hastily turned around and left. Then he headed straight for Govindan's shop. Everyone was still there.


''Govindan,'' Sharath asked, ''Who lives there?''


''I don't know, ''Govindan said, scratching his head,''They just came yesterday.''


That evening Vinaya told Sooraj, '' I don't know why. Sharath has not had lunch. Now he is refusing to eat dinner as well. Why don't you find out what is wrong?''


''Nothing will happen if he does not eat for one day,'' Sooraj replied, unperturbed.


''Sharath and not eat food! There is something seriously wrong here. Please do find out. After all he is your brother,'' Vinaya insisted.


Thus cajoled by his wife, Sooraj went into Sharath's room. Sharath was lying prostrate on his bed. When Sooraj enquired, Sharath retorted saying he wanted to be left alone and that he was not interested in eating.


'Okay, whenever you feel like talking to me, I am there,'' Sooraj said as he left. Something told him Vinaya was right. This was abnormal behaviour from Sharath. There was a serious problem here!


Even Madan was dumbstruck the next day when Sharath snapped at him. He was not well. He did not want to go. no, not today... Forget the temple festival and the elephant march and the big surprise because he did not care.


But later Govindan mentioned that he had seen Sharath loitering around his stall and when queried, he said he was waiting for Madan and the gang. This news reached Sooraj. Coaxed, yet once again by his parents and wife, he approached Sharath again.


What is it that was troubling Sharath, he asked him again. Sharath, who had recovered his appetite now, was open to discussion. He gazed at Sooraj with a dreamy look.


''I like a girl. I want to marry her,'' Sharath proclaimed.


''Whwho?'', Sooraj asked, taken aback.


''They are new here. She lives near Govindan's stall.''


So a deal was made. Sooraj would make proper enquiries and then along with his parents they would approach the girl's parents with the marriage proposal. Hopefully they would be of the same religion and caste. Sharath was sure they were.


That day, everybody waited with bated breath. Even little Arun, Sooraj's naughty seven-year old son, sensed the tension in the air and behaved himself. In the evening, as Sooraj entered through the gate, they all stood on the threshold, except Sharath, who remained in his room wringing his hands nervously.


But Sooraj's, ''Where is your great son?'' addressed to his father, sounded ominous. Their heart beat wildly, not knowing what to expect.


When summoned, Sharath came into the living room, timidly. Still standing at the door, Sooraj let out all his fury.


''You nincompoop,'' he yelled, and his mother quickly ushered little Arun out of the room, ''If you take up sanyasstick to it. I think you are fated only for that.''


''What is wrong?'' Vinaya enquired.


Exasperated, Sooraj sat down with his head in his hands. Father, Vinaya and Sharath waited anxiously, not daring to ask Sooraj anything more. Then Sooraj got up. He looked a little calmer as he told his brother sarcastically, ''Your dream-girl is a whore.'' Saying this he retired into his room, leaving everyone in a state of shock.



Sharath remained in his room for another three days. He told Vinaya he would rather eat his meals there. To say, he was heart-broken would be an understatement.


On the fourth day, his parents saw him leaving the house and did not stop him. Later Govindan, who did not have any customers to gossip with, saw Sharath pass by his shop and enter the girl's house.


When Sharath walked into the house, he was greeted by coquettish smiles from three very pretty girls who suddenly emerged from inside the house. Then the matron came out herself. She was the same lady who had spoken to him on the previous occasion. She quickly pulled a chair and asked him to sit. Then she looked at her girls proudly. Obviously, she was waiting for her customer to choose.


''Mother, why do you do such a horrible thing?'' Sharath asked her, suddenly. The matron's jaw dropped open. No one ever called her ''mother'', only ''chechi''(a term of respect for women who are slightly older than one). Too surprised to speak, she did not say anything. Misunderstanding her silence, Sharath went on, ''If these girls were your daughters, would you treat them thus? Imagine, what God is seeing sitting up there! Do you think He is happy with what you are doing?''


''Pah,'' the woman suddenly spat at Sharath, ''Who are you to come and give me a sermon. Take your preaching away from here, okay? You are lecturing me? Get out this instant.''


Saying this, she lunged at Sharath, who beat a hasty exit. Sitting in his shop, Govindan saw all the commotion. News spread like wild fire.


That evening when Sooraj came home from work, he strode straight into Sharath's room. ''Do you have any brains in your head? Why did you go into that whorehouse?''


''I felt like helping that girl.'', Sharath tried to explain, morosely, looking down.


''Don't try to improve the world. Start with yourself. Everybody in the village has come to know. They are trying to drive away that lady and her girls. There is a mob there. And next on their list would be you. People hate fakes.''


Sooraj seemed to be right. Within two hours, a big crowd approached their house, opened the gates and entered. ''Sharath, Sharath,'' they called out, loudly.


Realising that he would have to face the crowd one way or the other, Sharath stepped out, reluctantly. His heart was thudding loudly and he could hear it over the din. Among several others, stood Govindan and Madan who were right in front. They were all fuming. What would they do to him? Beat him up? Hand him over to the police?


''Sharath,'' Madan came forward and said, full of gusto, ''We've driven those people away. The police came and took them. Nobody gets away after insulting you.''


''Yes, Swamiji(Guru),'' Govindan put in, ''I saw that lady insulting you when you went there to advise her. Noone insults our Swamiji.'' Govindan normally addressed Sharath by his name having known him since childhood. Sharath thought he was going to faint.


Everybody in the village heard about it. How the great ''Swamiji'' took it into his own hands to save the reputation of their village. News even trickled into the nearby towns. Most newspapers had a tiny column reporting the incident.



The last and biggest day of the temple festival is finally here. Apart from the biggest of elephants marching down the temple grounds and some of the best musicians performing over there, there are rumours that there is going to be a grand fireworks session at midnight towards the end of it all.


It was eight'o'clock in the morning and it was Sunday. Sooraj was sitting on the verandah, reading the day's newspaper. Madan and the rest entered through the gate and approached the verandah.


''Where is Swamiji?'', Madan asked.


Sooraj looked up from his paper with an unsmiling face, ''Sharath,'' he called out aloud.


When Sharath appeared, several of them tried to touch his feet. Stepping back to avoid them, Sharath turned around to look at Sooraj, who conveniently stretched the newspaper higher up to cover his face.


As Sharath set off with his bunch of followers, a group of young girls dressed in their festive best passed by. The smell from the jasmine flowers adorning their black oiled tresses and the tinkle of their anklets and bangles distracted Sharath for a fraction of a second, but he quickly shook it off and got back to more important matters. After all, he now had an image to maintain!


Archived comments for Moksh II - IN LOVE
LenchenElf on 2005-06-27 14:08:41
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
What a wonderful story thanks for sharing it neice
all the best
LE

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-27 14:36:02
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Thanks for your comment and also for reading "MOKSH"(I), Lechenelf. And I am glad you liked the story.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-06-29 09:03:33
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
soman, Wednesday June 29 @ 0800 GMT

A hermit by default, making a virtue out of necessity! No dearth of such types in our society! A nicely rounded story, well told.


Soman

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-29 10:13:52
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Dear Soman,
I am glad you like this. A lot of people often mistake the concept of "Moksh". They feel it can be achieved easily like going to the market or something. Fortunately, things have been going too well for Sharath. He will definitely get his Moksh, have not figured out how yet but it's definitely not going to be easy.
Thanks for commenting.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-06-30 14:21:33
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Niece
Compared to the stories submitted here, some of yours are long. Me? I am happy if I can get 1000 words together and make it interesting.
What I am saying is that once I started reading this I did not stop until I finished. Litmus test for a good story.
Love
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-30 14:59:49
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Thanks, Chrisk. I am indeed flattered!Your comment means a lot to me.
I do try to keep my stories "asap"(as "short" as possible), but brevity is not one of my virtues.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

RoyBateman on 2005-07-03 18:15:07
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Oh, the eternal rift between asceticism and the natural urges of the flesh. It's only easy to be the first when the second isn't available, eh? Lovely, colourful tale, and thoroughly enjoyable. A breath of fresh (if hot) air!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-07-04 06:50:22
Re: Moksh II - IN LOVE
Dear Roy,
Many people in India become ascetics only to shirk their responsibilities. It's sad to see them live a false life. They become highly critical of people around them and in the bargain, they try to hide their own faults.
Thanks for your comment, Roy. Am glad you liked it.
Regds,niece


Author's Reply:


Yakshi Paru (posted on: 13-06-05)
Living in a huge bungalow on a lonely private estate in Kerala(India), Meenu had no friends. And finally when she did find a perfect companion, it happened to be the wrong one.

Yakshis are demonesses capable of changing their physical form. They are, supposedly, blood-thirsty and vicious.


''I knew it,'' Ram said, as he paced up and down the room, ''I knew this was a bad idea from the start.''

Janki sat quietly on the bed and stared at the floor. Unknown to Ram, she was not really listening to him. She was gazing at and admiring the sparkling red oxide floor laid by her great grandfather in this great big house. She had developed an irritating habit lately. When Ram repeated something, she would stop listening and start daydreaming. She had a vague suspicion that this was going to land her in trouble very soon.

''Didn't I tell you so?'' Ram asked, as he stopped next to her. Janki looked up, perplexed. She hadn't heard the question and did not know what to say to him. But fortunately, for her, he paced away again.

There was an urgent knock on the door before Ram could continue with his grumbling. It was Appu, their housekeeper, ''Meenu is missing.''

The whole house searched for her. They all knew it was useless. After all the warning and all the threats, they had not had enough faith in her. ''Stay away from the woods,'' they had warned her. But Meenu could not stop herself.

''It is the lure of the Yakshi,'' great granny said, sitting on her easy chair, placed at the corner of the verandah.

Ram ignored her. ''We need to find her. We have to leave here at 10.30, come what may. We have a train to catch.''

Ram's mother, Parvathybai suddenly spoke up, ''She will come back.'' Not being in a mood to argue, Ram retired to his room. Then turning to a worried-looking Janki, her daughter-in-law, Parvathybai tried to convince her, ''The Yakshi will not hurt your daughter. She only goes after men's blood.''

''Mother, have you also started believing all this nonsense?'' Janki asked. And then, as she looked towards the wooded area, that covered several acres of private property owned by their family and used to cultivate coconut groves, cashew trees and mango trees among many other, Janki's mind went back to the day when they had made the decision to let little Meenu stay with her grandmother.

Both, Janki and Ram, were busy doctors in the Indian army. Their life was tough and transfers were inevitable, but more often than not, they managed to get postings in the same place. Then Meenu had come along. Janki had two options open to her. Either she could give up her job or else make alternate arrangements for her 3-month-old baby. She opted for the latter. Ram and Janki were first cousins. So it had not been difficult for her to convince Ram that his mother could look after the baby.

Ram himself was not very happy, initially, but gave in towards the end. After all Parvathybai was his own mother. For 45-year-old Parvathybai, the prospect of Meenu coming and staying with her was exciting. Living in an isolated ancestral house along with her mother was the last thing she had ever wanted from life. Married to a high-ranking army officer, she had enjoyed herself, seeing places, going for high-profile parties and meeting new people. But sadly for her, her husband died in combat when Ram was still in school. Having Meenu to care for would make a big difference to her boring existence.

As for little Meenu, life was beautiful. She never missed her parents and she thrived on the love showered on her by her grandmother and great-grandmother. She was the light of their lives. Meenu was free to do what she liked.

Great grandmother told her stories, as also Appu, who was like another family member. These stories revolved around the Yakshis, Gandharvas and the Chaathans that, supposedly, lived inthe little woods near the house. The Yakshis, hideous demonesses, could turn into breathtakingly beautiful damsels and then lure young men into the woods where they cold-bloodedly murdered them. Fortunately, great granny added cheekily, the only male member they ever saw in their house was Appu who was not attractive in any sense of the word. Appu would frown from where he was chopping firewood or watering the plants in the little garden. The Gandharvas were handsome male fairies who sang their way into the hearts of pretty girls and then ended up ditching them. Great granny insisted that one such Gandharvan had definitely broken her sisters heart. Soon after, she had leapt into the well and died. The Chathans were little mischevious elves. They could be naughty in a nice sort of way like they could hide your spectacles in weird places, but they also got nasty at times. Thank God, great granny sighed with relief, they had not taken a fancy to this house. Otherwise, they could definitely wreak havoc.

Kalyani, the maid, was the other person who would regale Meenu with stories about the ghosts she had seen on her way to work or back home. Her stories were very amusing with the ghosts coming up to talk to her, then suddenly disappearing or flying off into the tree with piercing shrieks. They did not harm her, she said, because of the holy talisman tied around her neck on a string.

Of all these, Meenu was most fond of the Yakshis. She made up her own stories which revolved around them. Appu often took her into the woods when he went to get some firewood or check out the crops. While Meenu acted out her little stories, Appu would finish whatever he was doing.

At the age of five, Meenu started school. Appu walked her there and brought her back, daily. Though extremely intelligent, Meenu was a loner. The other children found her a little weird.

When she got home, Meenu would quickly finish her tiffin and drag Appu along with her into the woods. There she played her own games and walked along the edge of the stream while Appu sat and watched. When she turned ten, Meenu began to stroll into the woods on her own. She never did feel any fear. An old abandoned watchtower built inside the woods was her favourite hideout. Surrounded by wild plants and trees of all sorts, it was a virtual jungle.

This happened probably after her thirteenth birthday, or so. As she sat one day near the stream, she heard a rustling sound. When she turned around, she saw the leaves move and then out of the blue there emerged a very pretty woman. Though, at first Meenu felt a little frightened, the lady smiled a beautiful smile and that put Meenu at her ease.

''Who are you?'', Meenu asked, ''Don't you know this is our property? They can penalize you for being here.''

''Property?'' the lady laughed,''Can any mortal own a property?'

''But who are you?''

''Yakshi Paru,'' she said, as she sat next to Meenu.

''Yakshi?'' Meenu giggled, disbelievingly and said, '' You are pulling my leg!'' Yakshi Paru shook her head.

Somehow that did not put Meenu off. She did have her doubts about the truthfulness in Yakhsi Paru's statement. At first, she did not tell anyone at home. Surprisingly, Yakshi Paru never made an appearance when someone was there with Meenu. Mostly, they talked for a long time. Meenu told her about her great granny, grandmother and her parents whom she met once a year and who sometimes took her to their current posts when she had holidays. She also told Yakshi Paru about her school, her teachers and unfriendly classmates.

Sometimes they took of their clothes and plunged in the cool waters of the stream. They would splash water at each other and chuckle away, gaily. If Meenu got late while returning, Yakshi always accompanied her till the edge of the woods.

''Better keep you safe from the Gandharvas,'' she joked. Meenu was a very pretty girl. But Yakshi was even more beautiful. Her long hair came down till her knees, her big eyes were bright, long-lashed and pretty. Her lips were red (from chewed betel leaves, granny would have said, because Yakshis liked it) and her body curved beautifully at all the right places.

After ten months or so, Meenu finally confided in great granny. She had met a beautiful lady in the woods. Great granny was surprised, ''No human being can come there. It has to be a Yakshi.''

The next time they met, Meenu asked Yakshi, ''Are you a real Yakshi? Prove it to me.''

Yakshi laughed. ''If I do that my friend, you will not remain one. Please don't ask me to show my true self.''

''But do some magic, like disappear or fly up, or something,'' Meenu said, remembering Kalyani's stories. Yakshi Paru refused.

One day, Meenu did have a strange experience. While walking along the stream with Yakshi Paru behind her, she happened to look into the water. She saw her own reflection, but Yakshi had none. Although, it scared her, she quickly forgot about it. She valued her friendship rather than some silly fear.

After two years, somehow, someone got wind of Yakshi Paru. Probably, one of the servants had heard her talking to great granny. Even the neighbours came to know and they protested. Nobody who was in their right senses would get acquainted with a Yakshi. Parents of other children complained that the girl had to be mad. They came down heavily on the school forcing them to expel Meenu. Now Ram and Janki had to return and sort things out. Meenu would never get into any other schools in the vicinity because the news had spread around. That's when they saw their daughter and her obsession with her so-called friend. If forbidden from going into the woods, Meenu threw a fit. The illiterate locals were convinced that she was possessed. Ram and Janki decided to take her away with them.

So that day, when Meenu went missing, she had actually gone there to bid farewell to Yakshi Paru. For quite sometime, Yakshi did not make an appearance.

''Are you angry with me or something?'' Meenu cried out aloud. Then she heard the familiar rustling sound. Yakshi looked very morose.

''When I get angry, I can't control myself,'' she explained her brief absence, then she held Meenu's hands with tears in her eyes, ''So you are leaving me''. Then brushing back the tears, ''Don't ever forget mebecause if I am not wrong, we wont be seeing each other again.''

They both hugged and cried for a long time. Reluctantly they let go of each other.

''They are calling you. You better hurry,'' Yakshi said, ''Please don't look back at me.'' Meenu could not hear a thing. But she knew Yakshi was right. She turned around and started walking, trying to hide the tears. She resisted the urge to look back at Yakshi because now she would surely see her true form. She wanted to remember Yakshi as the sweet beautiful lady who made her life happier.

For some reason, Meenu sensed that she was being followed. When Meenu reached the house, the luggage was being loaded into the car.

''There you are, '' her father said, irritated.

''You better go and freshen up or'' her mother said, but ignoring her Meenu got into the car, saying, ''Let's go.''

''Atleast bid your grannies farewell and,'' Janki said, but Parvathybai interrupted.

''Let her be. She will come back one day. Please let us know what happens there,'' she said.

''Yes, I will. The doctor's appointment is on Thursday. So we will know only after we meet him. He is the best psychiatrist one can find,'' Janki whispered, lest the servants heard. Then coaxed by her husband, she quickly got into the car.

As the engine came to life, an eerie sound came from the woods. They all heard it those that waited outside and those who were in the car. Among all the startled faces, Meenu's brightly smiling face stood out.

Though, initially, he did seem unsettled by it, Ram passed it off for ''the wind blowing through the woods'' as the car drove away.


Archived comments for Yakshi Paru
mandylifeboats on 2005-06-13 22:29:40
Re: Yakshi Paru
I liked this piece for its sense of time and place, but I'm a sucker for anything about Indian magic and goddesses.
Is this a complete story or part of a novel?

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-14 06:44:27
Re: Yakshi Paru
Hi Mandylifeboat,
Thanks for your comment. Personally, I am scared of ghost stories myself, which is why this one is not very scary.

This is a complete story, atleast, as of now. There were several tales told about Yakshis in the olden days. Since you like such stories here is an original:

A priest was on his way to the Chottanikkara temple which is dedicated to Mahakali(the goddess of destruction). On the way he realised he was being followed by a Yakshi. Not wanting to cancel his mission, he went to the house of a powerful magician on the way. The magician gave him a talisman which would keep him from harm. Enroute the Yakshi kept following, but dared not touch him. But as he reached close to the temple, the priest somehow lost the talisman. The Yakshi did not waste time and charged at him. The priest ran towards the temple calling out the to the Goddess. Now, normally, the doors of the temple are shut by 8 PM. The doors of the Chottanikara temple was also closed nicely. But when the priest screamed for help, the doors opened and Mahakali herself stepped out and killed the Yakshi. The trident which was used to kill the Yakshi was then washed in the bathing tank (all Kerala temples have one). The water is supposed to be red even to this day.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-06-14 13:55:12
Re: Yakshi Paru
niece
Nice story. There are many yakshi and odiyan stories in Kerala.
Congratulations, you got a great read nib! Wonderful.
Love
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-14 14:01:59
Re: Yakshi Paru
Thank you, Chrisk.I've not been lucky enough to hear too many such stories myself. But the one about the Chottanikkara temple is one of my favourite. I find the Yakshi concept itself fascinating!
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

RoyBateman on 2005-06-14 18:15:36
Re: Yakshi Paru
A wonderful exotic tale - maybe these stories don't actually change too much between differing folklores, such as the non-reflection being similar to the supposed qualities of vampires, but this had a great feel to it. No, it wasn't frightening at all, but it had all the necessary offbeat quality to hold the attention. Well-deserved "great read"!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-14 19:24:59
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear Roy,
Thanks for your comment. People in Kerala actually believed in Yakshi stories once upon a time. They are the ghosts of women who were once upon a time given a raw deal(could be they were molested or ditched by a lover. It could be anything!). Once they took their revenge, they continued to hate mankind.

Please note I have separated the believers and the non-believers. Ram and Janki, Meenu's parents do not believe in all "this nonsense" and they talk about taking their daughter to the psychiatrist.

Thanks once again, Roy.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

AnthonyEvans on 2005-06-15 21:42:51
Re: Yakshi Paru
niece, good to see you posting again, it's always nice to enter your universe. this one reminded me (though it is very different) of a very good 40s b movie called 'the curse of the cat people.' best wishes, anthony.

Author's Reply:

LenchenElf on 2005-06-15 23:24:20
Re: Yakshi Paru
A beautifully transporting tale, thank you so much for sharing this.
all the very best
LE

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-16 06:00:41
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear AnthonyEvans,

Thanks for your comment. This story itself has been inspired by two separate Malayalam(the language spoken in Kerala) movies. Like I've mentioned in my intro, the Yakshis are supposed to be very cruel and hideous. Yakshi Paru happened to be different.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-16 06:16:21
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear Lechenelf,
Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you enjoyed this.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Gerry on 2005-06-16 21:50:33
Re: Yakshi Paru
Niece, I thoroughly enjoyed this little tale, I agree totally with what Roy said. I had to smile when you mentioned 'Tiffin' we still have tiffin in England--well I do anyway...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-17 05:55:15
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your comment.

You are right. Tiffin is a big thing in India as well. I have a recipe book called "100 Tiffin Recipes". Also, trying to figure out what to give my son in his tiffin box is also a major exercise everyday. You see, his tastes keep changing unpredictably.

Regds, niece



Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-06-17 09:04:54
Re: Yakshi Paru
by Soman, Friday June 17 @ 0800 GMT

Well done, niece. In our years of innocence, children of my generation were up to here with yakshi-chathan yarns, but mostly of the bloodcurdling variety. Nice to see it repackaged in a pleasant, palatable version, for a change.

Soman

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-17 13:20:35
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear Soman,

I wouldn't dare to write a scary story because the first person to get scared would be me.There are several occassions when people have asked me, "You got scared watching that movie?". Ten years ago, I've seen this scary Yakshi movie called "Kalliyinkattu Neeli" (meaning Neeli from the Kalliyin forest) There is this very scary scene where they try to exorcise her in the thick of the jungle in the middle of the night. The very thought of it still sends chills down my spine.

Anyway, thanks for your comment.

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

thehaven on 2005-06-19 13:27:16
Re: Yakshi Paru
Hi Neice,A truly wonderful tale.I enjoyed this very much,couldn't fault it and I'm glad its been nominated for next anthology.

More of these please.

Mike

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-19 19:05:02
Re: Yakshi Paru
Very kind of you to say so, Mike. Thanks very much. The nomination was a pleasant surprise though !
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Mala on 2005-06-20 11:00:05
Re: Yakshi Paru
niece,

Great fantasy story but why under drama. Also it is not that in Hindu religion cousins can't marry each other or have I got this wrong?

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-20 13:24:01
Re: Yakshi Paru
Dear Mala,
The Keralites actually believed in Yakshis and the rest of them during the olden days. So they were more real than fantasy. Moreover, the point I've tried to push is that Meenu could have been suffering from a psychiatric disorder. That's what her parents believed.

I hail from Kerala, though now I live in Mumbai. The customs that the Nair community of Kerala follow are very different. For one, we have a matriarchal system. Secondly, marriage between the children of a brother and sister is allowed, and in fact is promoted(division of wealth became easier). But not so between two sister's children or two brother's children.

Thanks for your comment, Mala.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:


The Frequent Caller (posted on: 06-05-05)
Some days, youd rather not hear the phone ring Edited....thanks Elfstone for your help.

When you call me up, You don't bother to think That I may be up to my elbows In dishes at my sink. You grumble and whine, And then grumble some more While I have to think about dinner And worry about the unmopped floor. You tell me some other friend Has bought a brand new car, Whilst I stand juggling the phone, A stirring spoon and a jar. You keep reminding me That you have a party tomorrow, And though I am not invited My cookbook you want to borrow. You always rub in the fact That so-and-so's kids are so cool, So why don't you bother her Instead, you silly fool? You chatter on incessantly About the errant plumber, I find I'm looking heavenward Wishing you had lost my number. You often cry your head off, When I am not in the mood, Or when I have a toothache And I'm not feeling good. But I just grin and I bear it And I hope that one of these days, You may listen and understand, When I have something to say.
Archived comments for The Frequent Caller
Elfstone on 2005-05-07 18:01:50
Re: The Frequent Caller
An interesting poem niece. I felt that the rhythm faltered in one or two places and it would be worth reviewing in that light.

I think we have all known the kind of person you describe here - take everything, give nothing back!
Perhaps some day she will appreciated what you have done for her.
Elfstone.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-07 18:13:03
Re: The Frequent Caller
Hi Elfstone,

Thanks for your comment.

I shall look into your suggestion and make appropriate changes, but I would be grateful if you could point out the exact places that need changing.

Thanx once again.

Regds,niece



Author's Reply:

Gerry on 2005-05-07 20:00:58
Re: The Frequent Caller
niece, I thought this was going to be about new kitchens or insurance. lol.
You did a good job here...

Gerry.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-08 04:27:49
Re: The Frequent Caller
Hi Gerry,
Thanks. I am glad you liked this poem. I do get a lot of calls from salespeople too. But it's very difficult to end a call from an acquaintance. And in fact, I've just realised how to do it. You just need to start chatting about your own problems and children, etc. That works like magic. Only a very very good friend would want to hear all that.

Thanx,niece.

Author's Reply:

Elfstone on 2005-05-08 13:10:49
Re: The Frequent Caller
Happy to help niece ((-: I've copied your poem into Appleworks and I will PM you with some ideas. (It might be tomorrow evening before I get this done.) Elfstone.

Author's Reply:

shadow on 2005-05-12 12:15:09
Re: The Frequent Caller
Yes, we've all had this kind of caller - why do they always pick the most inopportune moment? Very enjoyable poem - though I thought the last verse a little over-optimistic!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-12 18:27:35
Re: The Frequent Caller
Thanks, Shadow, for your comment. Over-optimistic? Well...I think you are right...!You can't expect anything more from such people. But there is no harm in hoping, I suppose.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-06-13 07:40:11
Re: The Frequent Caller
by soman, Monday June 13 @n 0640 GMT

I dont know how I missed out on this, but am just cathing up now. Glad to see you back in your element. I do feel that poetry is your forte.

Soman

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-14 08:55:02
Re: The Frequent Caller
Thanx, Soman. Late or not, your opinion is important to me. So I am glad you commented.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Lare on 18-01-2006
The Frequent Caller
Hi niece...boy oh boy...I've been there...you have really hit the target with this one...and like you wrote...I wished that those people that want me to listen to them would offer me their ear when I needed to talk...you point out the frustration of this situation so beautifully...very well done...

Lare

Author's Reply:
Dear Lare,
I hardly have time these days for a 15 minute chat on the phone...and I remember that I used to have so much time earlier I could have sat on the phone all day. And it is very difficult to make people understand that---they just imagine you are making a show of it. Somewhere deep inside also lies the knowledge that one day I may go back to having lots of time again and then there wont be anyone willing to listen or talk to me! Such is life!!!*Sigh*
Thanks so much for reading all these old(and almost forgotten) posts of mine.:)
Regds,niece
Regds,niece


The Clay Pot (posted on: 02-05-05)
The story of friendship between two unlike people.
The Clay pot is a sort of moneybox which has only one slit on the top to put in the money. To get the money out, one has to break it open.


She pushed the trolley hard. then she pushed it even harder. The damn thing just wouldn't move. Why, oh, why, doesn't the municipal corporation give better trolleys? she wondered. The four run down wheels on the little pushcart had all decided to turn in different directions and no amount of pushing and shoving helped. And then all of a sudden, it decided to move forward.

As she reached the end of the road, she saw him sitting there- long grey shaggy hair, scruffy collar, hollow cheeks and all. ''He looks uglier than me'', she thought. Sometimes he would just sit quietly in the same place. Some days she saw him dance or clowning around with the street children. She was convinced he was mad!

Mad people can be unpredictable. She had been at the receiving end, so she should know. So Manda had made it a habit, to wheel the trolley away from the pavement when she saw him sitting there.

At first, the ''beggar'' (that is the way she saw him because he gracefully accepted money or anything else anyone gave him) used to sit around quietly. But ever since he had realized that Manda was moving away when she saw him, he had started off with a new habit. He would start laughing, not a loud guffaw, but a gentle laugh as he watched her. And now Manda had one more reason to hate passing this stranger.

That day it was worse. Her back pain had been troubling her for quite a while. In fact, the previous night it got very bad! And here she was, pushing the trolley with all her might and filling it with filth from the roadside (that was her job, you see). A sweeper who came before her had gathered it into neat piles along the footpath. A dump truck stood waiting at the end of the street. The contents of the trolley were chucked into it before it drove off.

Manda noticed that each time she bent forward the pain got worse. And now she would have to put up with the mad man's laughter as well.

The man on his part did not disappoint her. The backache, together with the man's laughter behind her, as she passed him pushing her trolley, annoyed her. Then she came to the next pile of garbage and bent down to pick it. The pain that shot through her entire body immobilized her for several seconds. As it subsided, she sat down on the pavement for sometime, feeling faint and tired. Already? . and she had only just started. ''Hey, Ram(the Hindu God), why do you punish me thus?'' she muttered a silent prayer.

All her life Manda had been ridiculed. Born with a very plain face, she had been subjected to all kinds of humiliation. Her father would often unkindly and unthinkingly poke fun at her appearance and her mother would cry in her face that God had been cruel to her, for giving her a daughter (a daughter, mind you) who was this ugly. Then God gave Manda two attractive sisters to increase her pain. A young Manda had learnt to cope. Soon it was time for them to get married. Her father searched long and hard for a groom and when he could not help it, he got her married to a lunatic. You see, he had two more daughters to think of and no one would come for them if Manda were still hanging around.

Life with the lunatic was bad. He beat her and dragged her by her hair whenever he was angry or upset. No one was happier than her when, without any explanations, he hung himself from the ceiling fan one afternoon while she was away at the market. A free Manda decided to fend for herself and that is exactly what she did. Her job as a garbage collector was not very appealing but she didn't give a damn. She had her freedom.

She was startled from her reverie by the sound of the garbage being scraped up next to her. She looked up and saw the longhaired man, bent next to her, picking up the filth. He dumped it into the trolley and pushed it forward. Manda who was still in a daze watched as he pushed it further down the road and filled it up as he went along. When she felt she was strong enough to walk, she got up and followed the man, who had gone several steps ahead.

''I can do it now.'' She said. He moved aside letting her push the trolley, but followed her picking up the trash for her. When they came to the end of her allotted area, she fished out two rupees and gave it to him.

''No, no, don't want'', he said and went away.

The next day Manda was much better though slightly dopey because of the strong medication she was taking for the pain. Her doctor had told her she would have to rest in bed and do something called ''pisiothrapy''(physiotherapy). She told him, ''You give me a medicine that will let me do my work with less pain.'' So she was back on her feet again, pushing her trolley along the road and as usual she came to the beggar who was sitting there as he normally would. When he saw her, he got up and came upto the trolley taking charge once again of filling it up.

They didn't talk and when once again they came to the end of the road, she gave him the coins. He shook his head and started to go away.

''Hello, '' she called out since she didn't know his name,'' Take this, or else don't come back. I don't take any favours.''

He returned with a smile across his dark face, hair coming onto it. ''I get more than this just sitting over there. I only wanted to help.''

''I told you I don't take favours,'' Manda repeated blankly.

He took the two-rupee coin from her, then he flipped it, sending it tossing into the air. As it came down he snatched it mid-air and put it inside his pocket. Then he laughed his usual laugh. Manda smirked as he walked away.

It became a routine. The man would follow Manda as she pushed the trolley and he would pick up the filth. She paid him at the end of each session and they would both go their separate ways without so much as a farewell. The man had one nasty habit. Of breaking into songs from yesteryears. Manda did not particularly appreciate music. For her music caused more pain than pleasure, the words of the romantic ones reminded her of what she could never have, and the words of the sad ones rubbed salt on sore wounds. On some days, she snapped at the man and he would stop immediately, smiling. Other days, she just put up with him. They never spoke to each other. never.

About twenty days later, Manda asked him disapprovingly, ''Look at your hair. Can't you keep it clean?''

This was the first time Manda had said anything and the man looked surprised. He ran his hand over his head, smiling as usual.

The next day, Manda was taken aback when a younger looking man came and stood next to her while she did her work. Then she saw his smile. It was he. He had cut his hair, probably washed it as well. He looked clean and he looked nice ! He wore the same dirty clothes, but Manda was impressed by the impact her words had made. For the first time since they had met, Manda smiled back at him.

After that Manda became friendlier with him. His name, she learnt, was Raghav. He lived nearby, he said. Although he claimed he did not have a place to call his own, he was forever talking about his so-called ''friends'' who sheltered him and took care of him. He did not care if Manda was listening or not, but he would go on and on about them.

''They are very kind to me. What about you ? You never tell me anything about yourself.''

''My story is not worth knowing, Raghav. Here is your money.'' She dismissed him unceremoniously.

When she went home that day, one of her sisters and brother-in-law were waiting for her outside her one-room home.

''What is it ?'' she asked them, roughly.

Apparently, her sister's son had been accused of stealing money from his employer.

''Please, sister. I need five hundred rupeesor his employer will call the police.'' She wept.

''Who told you I have any money here?'' Manda replied. The rest of the day, she had various visitors. They all came, her father, her mother, her other sister. Only she could help, they said. She did not entertain them and she sent them all away with the same answer. That night, she spent a sleepless night. At age fifty-four, her only possessions in life were her tiny one-room home, four old faded saris and a mud pot into which she shoved coins or notes that she saved by the end of the month. She did not know how much it contained, but she was not willing to share the contents with people whom she disliked.

The next day she woke up feeling groggy. To make matters worse, she felt guilty as well. As luck would have it, Raghav seemed more jovial than usual, singing and dancing as he did his work. Then he began singing a romantic song ''Tumse achcha kaun hai?'' (Who is lovelier than you?).

''Oh, just be quiet,'' Manda rebuked him, ''I think you need to look at your face in the mirror before you sing such songs. It does not become you.''

Raghav fell silent. He did the rest of his work quietly and when she gave him the money, he took it and left quietly. The rest of the day was a nightmare for Manda. She kept remembering Raghav's hurt expression. Would he forgive her?

Surprisingly, Raghav did not come the next day.nor the next and before she knew it Manda realized that ten days passed without Raghav coming back. She was sure he had taken offence, but when she remembered his face and everything else about him, she knew he was not the kind to take it to heart. Yet, she had her doubts. Everytime she thought about him, there was a lump in her throat, a feeling she had never known before.

The following day, Manda sensed that someone was walking towards her. She looked up hopefully, expecting it to be Raghav. Well, it was not. The man, however, asked her, ''Are you Manda?''

''Yes, who are you ?,'' she asked.

''I am Puneet. Raghav has sent me,'' he said, ''He is in hospital right now and he wants to see you.''

As they traveled together in a taxi, Puneet told Manda that Raghav had once been entrusted to their charitable organization by a hospital several years back. In a bid to end his life, he had ended up wounding himself very badly. Since his family also did not want him back, the authorities wanted to ensure that he was in safe hands once his treatment got over. For the social workers, Raghav had been easy to like. He was fun-loving, easy-going and helpful. Soon they reached a stage where they could not do without him.

''If he was so carefree, why did he try to commit suicide?'' Manda asked, pointblank.

''Don't you know?'' Puneet asked ,''that Raghav is suffering from AIDS?''

It took sometime for the fact to sink into Manda's head. Manda knew a little about AIDS because of social workers who constantly came to their locality to educate them on the issue.

When she reached the hospital, Raghav was sleeping. He looked so fragile. When she met the doctor, he started giving her a lecture on AIDS.

''I know, I know, but how is he?'' she asked impatiently. At the back of her head, she also knew AIDS killed slowly, but surely.

''He is much better now. But you know there is no cure ?'' he asked.

Manda could only nod her head.

When she went back to Raghav's bed, he was awake. He looked happy to see her.

''Manda, my Manda. You have come. I knew you would,'' and he smiled his smile.

Two months later, Manda was working as usual with Raghav and eight-year old Murli walking alongside her. Manda did not want Raghav to work and he on his part agreed, but on the condition that she would let someone else do the bending and picking. Young Murli did it for the daily wages of two rupees. He was a boy from the street and was willing to deal with filth.

As they finished the job, Raghav suddenly said, ''Manda, have you been to Juhu Beach? ''

''No,'' she replied.

''Come on, then. Let's go there today,'' Raghav insisted.

''What has gotten into you?'' Manda laughed, paying off Murli

''You have to go.'' Murli put in, ''It is great.''

''Raghav, what about your health?'' Manda asked concerned.

''See! I am strong,'' he said showing off non-existent muscles. All one could see was skin and bones.

So that afternoon, both of them set out to the beach. Like giddy teenagers, they chatted and giggled as they ate pani puris(crisp hollow wheat balls filled with spiced cold water) and later, when they had finished, they slurped the water noisily. Topping that with nimbu (lime) sherbet, both of them sat on the sands watching the waves and other revelers, while sucking on ice golas(crushed ice balls soaked in flavoured syrup). Not very far, a bunch of kids were playing cricket.

''You want to play cricket ?'' he asked, getting up and dusting the sand off his trousers.

''No,'' giggled Manda. Raghav joined the group and he made everyone laugh with his antics. Manda also enjoyed herself laughing uncontrollably.

When Raghav came back he looked worried. Looking at Manda's red face, he asked, ''Manda, are you alright ?''

''Yes,'' she giggled again, her face blushing even redder.

Seven months have gone by after that day. Manda pushes the cart as she does every other day. Little Murli is walking along with her singing some new Hindi song. The words don't make sense to her. She'd rather hear Raghav's songs. As they pass the place where Raghav normally sits, Manda's heart aches. For the first time in over two months, she does not have tears in her eyes. Raghav had said, ''Crying is not worth itit does not get you anywhere.''

Raghav taught her many things.

He taught her to forgive. As a token of reconciliation, Manda had taken her father to an ophthalmologist and got him his much needed spectacles. She had bought pretty saris for her mother and two sisters.

Raghav taught her to share.

She first broke her little money pot when Raghav was in hospital. That is when she had realized that she had made more money than she would need in a long time.

She had always looked at everyone with unseeing eyes. But these days she saw little children and smiled at them. She bought them sweets and trinkets now and then. She feeds stray dogs biscuits everyday.

Young Murli is filling up the trolley as she pushes it. Manda's new blue sari has pretty pink flowers on it. That was another thing Raghav had wanted her to do. ''Love yourself, because if you don't love yourself, no one else will.''

Today she had promised to buy herself a red sari with big flowers on it. Raghav said it would look nice on her. He told her this, that day, as they sat at the beach and when he had caught her blushing.

These days she goes to movies alone, something she started doing with Raghav. She cries over sad ones, laughs and whistles loudly watching funny ones, like Raghav used to.

Today's her last day on this job. Her sister has introduced her to a memsahib(female employer) who wants someone to do housework and Manda has been appointed. But before that, she had promised Raghav that she would do the recommended one-week of physiotherapy. There is just a little more of cleaning up to do and then she would be done with this job, forever.

That's when Murli suddenly said, '' Can I go early today?''

''Why?'' Manda asked in mock anger.

''I told my little sister I would get a samosa(potato filled snack) for her. If I stay any longer she will start crying.''

Manda looked ahead at the leftover piles. There were just three and she could easily manage. ''Okay, okay, here take this,'' she said, paying him five rupees instead of the usual two.

As she pushed the trolley ahead, she did not notice Murli, gleefully, tossing the coin in the air. As it came down he snatched it before it hit the ground. There was a smile on his face as he pocketed the money and sprinted off to keep his promise!

Archived comments for The Clay Pot
AnthonyEvans on 2005-05-02 13:37:36
Re: The Clay Pot
niece, i enjoyed this tale from the streets. i think you drew the characters well. best wishes, anthony.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-02 13:53:33
Re: The Clay Pot
Dear Anthony,

The inspiration for this story came from two people I actually saw on the street one day. I still keep seeing the guy and his descriptions matches with that of Raghav perfectly. Thanks for your comment.

regds,niece


Author's Reply:

RoyBateman on 2005-05-03 11:04:58
Re: The Clay Pot
A fascinating story, with well-drawn, credible characters - it's a world of which, I admit, I know absolutely nothing. That made it even more entertaining. Thanks for such an enjoyable read!

Author's Reply:

Kat on 2005-05-03 14:58:06
Re: The Clay Pot
I really enjoyed your story, niece, which read like a wonderful fable.

I have an Etruscan money pot (made of clay) which has a fortune card and a wish (from me) inside. It was a birthday present from a friend.

When it is full with euros, I am meant to break it open and do something good with the money. It is bright pink with the number '40' (ahem) on the front. The broken parts of the pot can also be used as decoration after the 'ceremonial smashing' (which I plan) - perhaps as candle holders.

Thanks again for a lovely story.

Kat 🙂

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-03 16:09:56
Re: The Clay Pot
Dear Roy,
I am glad you liked my story. Thanks so much for your comments.
The characters of my story would be living in a Mumbai slum. So it is, truly, a different world out there. Most often, their living conditions are pathetic. But they survive. It's amazing!
Regds,niece.


Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-03 16:17:26
Re: The Clay Pot
Hi Kat.
I love the colour pink(all shades of it)...so I am sure your moneypot must be looking very pretty.

Though originally, I had not paid that much importance to the moneypot, somewhere along, while I worked on my story, I realised it signified the kind of life Manda lived. She lived in a world of her own, oblivious to things happening around her. Raghav got her out of it.

Thanks, Kat, for your comment. I am glad you liked "Clay Pot".

Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2005-05-04 00:28:15
Re: The Clay Pot
Well done hun. This piece is great. I enjoyed the read, very entertaining...

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-04 07:17:34
Re: The Clay Pot
Thanks, Claire, for reading and appreciating my work.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

mysticdawn on 2005-05-06 01:48:39
Re: The Clay Pot
A very enjoyable read niece, thanks

mystic

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-05-06 07:39:55
Re: The Clay Pot
Dear Mystic,
I am glad you enjoyed this. Thanx so much for commenting.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:


Lost in Time (posted on: 25-04-05)
Under some mysterious circumstances, Mahek loses his family and all

Year 2005-

''Mahek, don't go down, son,'' mother was saying, ''you don't look too good.''

Kamal Purohit, Mahek's seventy-year old grandfather looked up from his magazine on spiritual matters. ''Why are you stopping him?'' he grunted.

''He has just recovered, baba(father),'' Falguni, Mahek's mother covered her head with the edge of her sari respectfully while she replied, ''Look at his face. He looks so weak.''

''Come on, bahu(daughter-in-law),'' Kamal said, annoyed, ''He is a boy. You should not discourage him. If he wants to go, let him.''

Mahek smiled happily and looking at his mother, who appeared a trifle disappointed, he picked up his bat and ball, and ran down three stories, effortlessly. His friends were glad to see him.

''Kya, yaar? (roughly put means ''What, buddy?'') How are you?'' they all gathered around their friend, who had been missing from their midst for several days now. Mahek, who had just recovered from a bad attack of malaria, reveled in all the attention.

Soon they started their game. Mahek who had started off the game, enthusiastically, began feeling a little sick. But he did not want to return before he got a chance to bat. He also did not want to show his mother that she had been right. The huge grey structure, a new building under construction, coming up next to the playground, was the only object that cast a dark shadow. Everyone took turns standing there while fielding. Mahek had been given a concession. He could stand there as long as he was fielding.

Then it was his turn. He picked up his bat and took position. He was feeling very tired and he planned to quit the game as soon as his batting was over. Hence he needed to play well. Bending forward slightly, he made his first stroke. The ball went and hit the wall enclosing the ground. It was a four. Anything, which went over it, would be a sixer. Mahek played well. He struck many fours and sixers. Soon he had made close to fifty runs. His friends, who had been so pleased to see him, were not so happy now. Some of them complained that it was difficult to go after the ball when it went out of the ground.

''Mahek, next time you do that, you go get it, '' said one of the boys.

Mahek was tired. But he wished to stick on and he agreed, promising himself he would keep to single and double runs. The bowler bowled and the ball came at him.

He struck quite gently. The ball went flying over the wall and landed inside the new building. Normally, workers would have been there and they would have thrown the ball back at them. But that day being Sunday, nobody was there. Mahek's friends looked at him. None of them made any move to retrieve the ball. Sighing, Mahek put his bat down and ran towards the building.

Mahek walked into the building which was eerily silent, even for a Sunday. He looked around for about fifteen minutes. He was very exhausted by then. That's when he found the ball. As he approached it, it felt as if someone had given a blow to his head. He fell down, fainting.

When he came to, Mahek realized he was in a strange place. He was still lying sprawled on the ground and there were all kinds of strange dhoti(a cloth tied around the waist by Indian men)-clad people around him. They looked very rustic indeed. Even the place looked strange and as Mahek raised himself into the sitting position, he surveyed the area. The buildings were gone. All he could see were fields, fields and more fields.

''Who are you, boy?'' one of them asked.

''I amI am.Mahek,'' he replied, faltering.

As Mahek regained his senses, he heard the people discussing. He looked strange. His clothes looked strange. Even the way he talked was strange.

''Is he an Angrezi(English) boy?'', enquired one of them.

''No, look at his skin tone,'' replied another. Mahek was fair, but with more of a light beige complexion.

One of the men gave Mahek a drink of water. ''Be careful of what water you drink'', he remembered his mother saying.

Then the people led him a long way to the only big house in the vicinity. The rest were small huts. Seth Ramprasad Yadav who lived in the house came out to find out what the commotion was all about. The people told him. They had seen this young boy lying on the path. No one had seen him coming there. Ramprasad stared at the strange-looking fellow. He asked him his name and where he came from.

''Mahek.I don't know how I got here. I think I am lost, '' he replied, playing it safe and saying nothing more.

Ramprasad discussed with the others. It was finally decided the boy would stay with him, till they found out where he came from.

As the others left, Ramprasad told Mahek, ''Come into the house, young man. You look exhausted.''

As he entered the house, he saw a calendar on the wall. It was the year 1901. As he stood shell-shocked and staring, he did not even know whether to laugh or cry. Ramprasad 's wife who had been listening to the conversation from inside the house came to look at the boy. Then she turned around and told her husband, ''At least get him to change those outlandish clothes. He looks so very strange in them.''

''Dhurthi putr'' is what they called him, meaning ''son of the soil''. The people were surprised by Mahek's strange knowledge and his good grasp over the English language. He knew all about Gandhiji and the freedom struggle and predicted many of the things before it even happened.

Ramprasad, who himself had two sons and one daughter, doted on Mahek. He even sent Mahek to the local school which was held in the open. Children of all ages sat together and imbibed the same information. For Mahek, it was a great culture shock after the fast cars and mobile phone era.

Later, Ramprasad's own children got married and lived in the same house along with their spouses. Mahek chose to remain a bachelor. But when unknown to him, Ramprasad had approached some people regarding his marriage, they had said, ''Arey(An exclamation), Ramprasad! You don't know where that boy has come from. Who knows his antecedents? You have done enough for him by taking care of him.''

Mahek often wondered what had happened on that fateful day when he went to play cricket. Had someone really hit him on his head? What were his family members back at home thinking ? Did they look for him ? Did the workers find him lying inside the building the next morning? Did they all freeze like it did with the people in ''Sleeping Beauty's'' kingdom when she went to sleep? Questions, he wished he had answers to.

Fifteen years passed by. Then Ramprasad was cheated of all his money by an acquaintance. Dejected, he decided to leave the place along with his family. When he asked Mahek to join him, he refused. Mahek still hoped he could go back to the family he had lost fifteen years back.

Time went by. The Indian revolution was on. Then one day, it was all over the place. India was going to get its independence. Mahek stayed with a farmer named Manohar who lived in a small house close to Ramprasad's old house. Manohar and many others were quite surprised because Mahek knew about it long back. He predicted Gandhiji's death. That happened too. He said the country would be divided, and though initially they scoffed at him, his words turned out to be true.

Things started changing. There was a big brouhaha one day because one of the farmers had decided to sell his plot of land to a developer. Manohar censured the move saying, ''How can anyone do such a thing?'' Three years later, he was approached by a different builder. The deal was good and he agreed. Apart from a handsome reward, he would also get a place to stay. ''Why farm when I can live the rest of my life in comfort?''

A three-storied building came up.one that Mahek remembered seeing as a young boy of 15. But now it looked brand new with glistening white walls. Manohar permitted Mahek to continue living with him and his family. Mahek often went and stood at the same place where he had once ''lost'' himself hoping he would be sucked back in time againhoping he could see the happy faces of his family again.

1953-

Many buildings have come up. All of them are familiar to him because he has seen them since childhood. But the plot where the building, the one he used to live in with his grandparents and parents, stood is still occupied by a farmer who is refusing to budge. That November, the farmer gets an offer he can't resist. He moves out. The new building is being constructed. There are no concrete mixers or mechanical lifts, only manual labour. It takes three years for the three-storied building to be completed.

1956

Mahek stands watching the building. Everything is spanking new about it, not the way he knew it. He remembers the good old times he had there as a child. He remembers his mother's last words. What did she think when he went missing?

As he is about to move away, a car pulls up alongside the building and a young couple steps out.

''This is it,'' the man tells his wife.

''My God ! It's lovely,'' the wife comments. As she turns to look at her husband, she sees Mahek. She stands transfixed. The man follows her gaze and sees him too. Mahek and the couple stare at each other for a long time. Then suddenly afraid that they may ask him something, Mahek turns around and quickly staggers away. Tears stream down his wrinkled old face.

As the young couple climbed the stairs, the wife asked, ''Kamal, you know, that old man looked so familiar.''

''Yes, I know. Remember that portrait on the wall in my father's house?'' Kamal reminded his wife.

''You mean your great-grandfather's picture?'', his wife asked.

''Very strong resemblance, right?'' Kamal said, thoughtfully.

''Yes. What a strange co-incidence or is it.?'', his wife said, wide-eyed.

''Of course not, silly,'' Kamal said and they both laughed their way up the stairs to their brand new house.



Archived comments for Lost in Time
RoyBateman on 2005-04-26 11:05:28
Re: Lost in Time
Fascinating story, very visual. I wondered if the mysterious building had been a chemical works (Bhopal sprang to mind), which would have partly explained the effect, but I was wrong. Enjoyed it!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-26 13:50:31
Re: Lost in Time
Dear Roy,

I am glad you liked the story.Thanx.

I've once lost my way when I was very new to this place in Mumbai where I live. It almost felt as if I was in a different era altogether. This place has charming old buildings, but sadly they are all being knocked down to construct these horrible monsters.

Regds,niece





Author's Reply:


The Impulsive Shopper (posted on: 18-04-05)
Do you always need those things that you buy?

It's just the thought
Of what I bought
And what I didn't buy.

When I carry money,
It's just not funny,
In my bag, it refuses to lie.

And when I go shopping,
I am always hoping,
To keep firm hold of my purse strings.

But when I get there,
My resolution wears,
And I am grabbing up all those things.

Archived comments for The Impulsive Shopper
Sunken on 2005-04-21 18:25:43
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Hiya young Niece, from your lovely ickul poem may I deduce that you are female? Why do girls love shopping so much? And why oh why do you all have to look in every shop before returning to the first one you went in to? And another thing - Why do you all go to the toilet in twos? Weird. Nice little poem Niece, sorry you've not had much comment. Keep at it.

s
u
n
k
e
n

Take a book, I predict women shoppers.

Author's Reply:

Emerald on 2005-04-21 18:50:23
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Hi niece, I'm far too impulsive when I go shopping - I have a house of mistakes I have bought over the years. Enjoyed this.

Emma:-)

Author's Reply:

tai on 2005-04-22 01:24:05
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Hi niece, A good start at uka. Welcome and I have to say that the subject of your poem is a modern scurge many go through in different forms. Impulsiveness, I mean. We just have to fight it or stay in, I find that is the only thing that stops me.lol

8 from me

All the best

Tai

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-22 06:51:29
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Hi Sunken,
Thanx for your comment. I had really started imagining that I had written a lousy poem.

And yes, I am female. And though, I always prided myself at being a very controlled sort of person, over a period of time, I've started enjoying things like nagging, gossiping and then ofcourse, shopping. If you cant beat them, join them.
Regds, niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-22 06:52:12
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Dear Emma,

Wrote this after a particularly bad shopping experience. I almost embarassed myself. So I guess, the poem came straight from the heart.Thanks for your comment.
Regds, niece

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-22 06:54:45
Re: The Impulsive Shopper
Hello Tai,
Thanx for the comment and the welcome. Impulsiveness strikes when you least expect it. I can either be too careful or too extravagant. It's a pain becoz you dont know what to expect.I dont think there is a cure for this ailment, though.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Lare on 26-12-2005
The Impulsive Shopper
Right on, niece...right on. It truly is the hypnotic magnitism of the dreaded respect of the almighty shopping mall. May we all bow before its power...very well done, neice...very well done indeed...

Lare

Author's Reply:
How sweet of you, Lare! Thanx so much to your kind words. I wrote this poem immediately on my return from the mall. I felt so cheated and there was absolutely no one to blame but myself!!!
Regds,niece


Old Man Walking (posted on: 11-04-05)
Old Age

As you stumble along, There is something you seek. Your bones are still strong But your mind has grown weak. You are groping, Searching, as you move. That you are sad in your heart, We all know is true. You wobble, may topple You need someone with you. Whether you are coming or going You have no clue. ''What do you want?'' One may ask of you. You answer, not knowing what Or to whom. Your words- They don't make any sense. You say one thing And mean something else. At moments, I wonder, What you are looking for. But the clock ticks away, So I rush out the door.
Archived comments for Old Man Walking
niece on 2005-04-14 18:41:51
Re: Old Man Walking
Hi, Trevor. Thank you so much for your comment. Glad you liked it. I often think of spending more time with the "old man" in my house, but never get the time to do so. Shall take into consideration your suggestion for change. Thanks so much.
Regds, niece

Author's Reply:

Lare on 09-12-2005
Old Man Walking
Hi Niece...this puts me back in my time frame to remind me of what age bracket I belong...or...what age bracket I SHOULD belong...I like this very much...makes me reflect on just where/who I am and the truth I should abide by...

Just me, lare

Author's Reply:
Dear Lare,
The words in this poem have been inpsired by the old man in my house...84 years of age, his health suddenly declined after the death of his wife(my mother-in-law) of over-50 years. And just to imagine, he was up and about till about four years ago. It's almost as if he gave up---and sometimes, I feel his age has nothing to do with it. When I wrote this, he seemed to be searching for something, walking in and out of every room in the house.
Thanks so much for commenting.
Regds,niece


Exam Fever (posted on: 11-04-05)
A mother's version

Science and Grammar, Prose and Rhyme, Something tells me It's exam time! Time to work, No time for play. Better study, There's no other way. Turn that page, Read your book. Is that how you write? Take a look! Revise that chapter, Please be quick. Write neatly, Or you'll get the stick. Say those lines, Make it snappy. What do you mean? I am being crabby! Ten more minutes Then we'll be done. Don't tell me now You also have this one! Take your bag, Say your prayer. When you get your paper, Don't sit and stare. Bye, bye, son, Please do well. Phew! Thank God I'm done with this hell.
Archived comments for Exam Fever
admin on 30-11-2005
Exam Fever
Oh gawd, Jess has exams tomorrow - did you HAVE to remind me?

*wails*

Author's Reply:
Oops! I'm so sorry...! All the best to Jess and you, admin...
Regds,niece

Lare on 18-01-2006
Exam Fever
Ahh yes, niece...I remember those days...oh how I remember those days...only...it was my parents that went through it with me. I will probably never have a complete idea what I put them through...but you said it perfectly...one step at a time...one step at a time...

(smiling) Lare

Author's Reply:
Lare,
I wrote this about a year back...We mothers have started calling the exams "my/our exams". Because we need to do half the work. Such is the Indian educational system. I am very happy to inform you that my son's exams are on and they are almost getting over now.Atleast this year he is more cooperative. He is only 7 years old!!!
Thank you for reading and commenting, Lare.
Regds,niece

PS: Don't know why I keep doing this...posting my reply in my own comment box. I just wanted to say that i am thinking of a new poem on the same subject...you, see it is eternally on my mind!!!

niece on 19-01-2006
Exam Fever
Lare,
I wrote this about a year back...We mothers have started calling the exams "my/our exams". Because we need to do half the work. Such is the Indian educational system. I am very happy to inform you that my son's exams are on and they are almost getting over now.Atleast this year he is more cooperative. He is only 7 years old!!!
Thank you for reading and commenting, Lare.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:


A Coup of Sorts (posted on: 04-04-05)
If Shantidevi has her way, no one will dare to taint her familys reputation. But Generation Next has a mind of its own.

A conspiracy was afoot. How did I know? Well, for a household where three out of four middle-aged sisters manage to meet on a Saturday morning when there was no occasion calling for it, is the surefire give away. The hush-hush tones and the grim looks on each one's face was also another sign.


''Tara auntie and Shanti auntie are coming?'' I asked mother that morning, barely able to contain my excitement.


''Who told you?'' mother snapped and Kamalabai, our maidservant, signaled me from the kitchen to keep my mouth shut.


''I heard you tell dad,'' I lied. For a while, mother looked doubtful and then left it at that, presumably to attend to more pressing matters.


''By the way, Anita,'' she turned back to face me, ''you have your tuition classes in the morning, right?''


''No,'' I replied nonchalantly, ''My teacher has gone to Goa for the week.''


''Goa?'' mother asked, visibly upset.


''Yes,'' I said, getting a little worried, ''What's happened?''


''Oh, nothing,'' mother said. She seemed to be making some mental calculations. ''Is your friend, Priya, at home?''


''No, she is visiting her aunt,'' second lie of the day.


''Sanjana?''


''Gone fishing with her family.'' Actually that one was half-true. She had gone to the fish-market with her mother and would return in one hour's time.


''What about that school project you were to complete with Seeta?'' The annual project work for our eighth standard(grade) was due for submission the coming week. Seeta and I had decided to work together on it.


''Seeta has a throat infection. It's contagious according to her doc. Her mother told me she is in bed.'' Seeta was anyways not an early-riser. So that was also half a lie. The doctor's statement was completely cooked up.


You see, I had smelt a rat. Tara auntie and Shanti auntie were coming home and mother was trying to get rid of me. There had to be something exciting going on


! ''Oil bath!'' my mother said, sounding as if she had said ''Eureka.''


''Oil bath?'' I queried. ''Yes, you can have an oil bath.''


"But I have oil baths only on Sundays.'' I retorted ,''Moreover, I think I am getting a cold.'' I sniffed loud and hard.


''That's all right. The cold must be because of all the pollution in the air, and we need to go to Gupta's house for lunch tomorrow, hence you wont be able to have an oil bath. So I want you to do it today.'' That, no doubt, was an order and I had no choice in the matter. The verdict had been delivered.


The oil-bath, per se, was okay. I could live with it. But the fact that one had to sit for forty-five minutes before washing up was the unbearable part. What a waste of oil, water, soap (you need lots of it to stop looking slimy) and precious, precious time! But mother always insisted that oil-baths made your skin soft, and girls need soft skins. Going by the smoothness of my forty-plus mother's plump limbs, I think she did have a point there.


So when my aunts and my mother were gossiping over hot vadas(a very oily snack) and tea, an oily me would be doomed to sit in the bathroom. How terrible !


And then it came. The greatest idea of the century!


After exchanging the normal pleasantries with my aunts, I bounded off happily into my room, locking the door securely behind me. I didn't want to be caught in the act, you know! Then I pulled out some old newspapers which I had kept ready. When mother questioned me earlier, I told her I was doing research for my homework. Spreading the papers across the floor, I made a fine path for me to move from the bathroom to the bedroom door which was close to the sitting room, so I could listen to the sisters in conversation. After oiling myself I would sit for forty-five minutes, listening to what they were keeping such a secret. Great ! I had never applied oil with so much zest. It still took me a good twelve minutes before I tiptoed across the neatly laid out newspapers.


''Can you believe it ?'' someone seemed to be moaning and it had to be aunt Tara. Only she could whine like that !


''Did you speak with her ?'' that was my mother.


''No, noI haven't even told her father yet.'' Tara auntie cried.


''You have not told Mohan ?'' the stern voice of Shanti auntie boomed. She sounded very annoyed.


So that was it! Now I had some idea as to what they were talking about. Mohan uncle was aunt Tara's husband. So ''her'' must refer to their one and only daughter, the haughty and pretty Varsha.


''Imagine what he would do! He would throw both Varsha and me out.'' Tara auntie's voice was almost whimpering now. No one liked to upset Shanti auntie.


Now here's something more about the four sisters. (Apparently their mother was desperately trying for the much-desired son and gave up after her fourth attempt). They were from a very traditional and conservative family. Their father, who it is said had tiny traces of royal blood in him, brought his four girls up on huge doses of rules and discipline. Even after they married, their father seemed to hold a sway over his daughters.


Although she was the second child, aunt Shanti, after her father's demise, had taken over the onus of ensuring that all went as per his dictum. Aunt Shanti was the toughest of the lot. On the other hand, Tara auntie was the one that wilted under the slightest of pressure. Surprisingly, the most horrible things happened to Tara auntie. According to her, people took advantage of her innocence. She got cheated at the grocers, or robbed on the train, or her worst enemy tripped her at that social do. Even Nature did not spare her. It rained when she was not carrying an umbrella and the crow had to answer nature's call on her new Benares(a district in North India known for its temple and textiles) sari. Dad always maintained that aunt Tara overreacted. Emotionally and otherwise, I would rate mother and her other sister, Madhavi, somewhere between these two. They were similar is many other ways, as well. In fact dad was fond of aunt Madhavi and called her the most non-controversial of the lot.


So going back to their discussion, Shanti auntie was now discussing the pros and cons of not mentioning the entire thing to Mohan uncle.


''Yes, yes, how would he react if he heard from someone else?'' my mother chipped in.


''I am getting so worried now. It was Premila who told me and that troublemaker keeps running into Mohan ever so often. You think she will?'' Tara auntie's voice died off as she broke into a series of sobs.


Soon it transformed into a full fledged wailing session. I could imagine aunt Shanti waiting for her to cool off, with an impatient look on her face, and mother offering tissue papers by the dozens. After about seven minutes ''Talkingabout Premila, I saw her at the Iyer's party last week.'' Mother was trying to lighten the mood, I guess.


''Don't talk about Premila. She has the most horrible dress sense. I saw her in a terribly gaudy sari. Doesn't she know the difference between a party and a wedding?'' aunt Shanti said, disapprovingly.


''Oh, she is pregnant, don't you know ?'' Tara auntie's cheerful voice leapt out, suddenly.


''Pregnant? At her age?''


For the next fifteen minutes, the sisters discussed the inappropriate red tint on Premila's hair and her daughter's new tattoo and pierced belly button. They also discussed the authenticity of her claim that her husband had ''quit'' his job and her son's having broken the windowpane of the second floor apartment in the building where Tara auntie lived.


''Oh, just leave her. Let's get back to Varsha, '' Shanti auntie suddenly bellowed and I could imagine the other two sisters suddenly sitting up in attention, ''First, you talk to Mohan. Then decide what you will tell her. Convince her of the need to abandon such thoughts. Restrict her, if need be. ''


''Mohan might hit her,'' Tara auntie said. She was one of those mothers who raised neither her voice nor her hand at her darling daughter.


''I will tell Vijay to speak to Mohan and make him understand before you speak to her. Oh, I just remembered, Vijay is going out of town.'' She stopped talking. I guess she was thinking up a solution. The other sisters sat quietly as the thinking machine was at work.


''Asha, there is no point telling your useless husband,'' she was talking about my dad. I wonder why mother never protested! ''By the way, why didn't Madhavi come?''


''Madhavi has gone to help Sujata select a sari for her daughter's wedding.'' That was Tara auntie.


''Sujata's daughter is getting married?'' Shanti auntie obviously disapproved, ''She is so young.''


For the next twenty-five minutes the three of them discussed almost everything from what Sujata's daughter's sari colour should be (she being dark-complexioned) to her make up and even her honeymoon destination. They also discussed why my dad was the way he was, what mum could do to improve his behaviour and why Kamalabai was making so much noise in the kitchen. Not a word about Varsha, or whatever it was that troubled Tara auntie so much. I was just dying to know and here they were, Tara auntie, Shanti auntie and mum discussing every other triviality under the sun. I could not believe it!


''Listen,'' Shanti auntie once again interrupted, though she was the one who had digressed from their discussion, ''I have to leave in ten minutes, so let's decide what is going to be done.'' There was silence and then, '' Tara, Varsha is too young to even think straight. And no girl in our family ever does something like this.Think of the shame it will bring us all.''


''Yes, Tara, ''mother agreed, ''Children from our family shouldn't be..''


And then it happened. Dear old Kamalabai decided that that was the right time to turn on the food processor. The kitchen being next to my room, the loud whirring sound muffled out even what aunt Shanti had to say. God only knows what she was grinding, but when the food processor came to a stop, I heard aunt Shanti adjourning the meeting, ''So that has been decided. Let's meet up next week. Tara, you do as I said. I need to leave now. I have to go back and pack Vijay's suitcase. His flight''


I had stopped listening. I could not believe it. After all the effort, here I was left with hardly any information. What had Varsha done? I could have strangled dear old Kamalabai. Put her into the food processor for a change. Kamalabai whom I had always considered an ally! Kamalabai who intervened when mother was going to punish me! Kamalabai who made my favourite food, almost always! Kamalabai.wait a minute..Kamalabai who had been listening to all that was being said all along!


Cheering up, once again, I danced my way into the bathroom and took a nice long unhurried bath. ''Kamalabai,'' I asked later that day, when mother was happily snoozing post-lunch, '' what did Tara and Shanti auntie discuss today?''


Kamalabai, mother's right-hand woman was ironing our clothes. ''I don't know what you are talking about!''


''You were there. Did you not hear them?'', I asked. ''Listen, child. I am here to do my jobnot to listen to what the memsahibs(a female employer) talk amongst themselves.''


''Please, please, Kamalabai, don't let me down.''


Kamalabai eyed me thoughtfully for sometime. ''You know, Anita, this dress is missing a button. Do you think you will wear it again ?'', she asked lifting up a pretty purple dress, the one she was ironing right then, ''I don't need to iron it then, you see.''


The purple dress had always been my favourite, so when the button had fallen off while playing ''cops and robbers'' with my friends, I had carefully retained it wanting to use it again.


Now Kamalabai was not a greedy sort. She was paid handsomely and she had been working for the family long before I was born. I was always very fond of her. But like all human beings, she also had her little quirks. Kamalabai never coveted what was brand new, but older things, which had slight flaws, soon caught her fancy. It could be a one-eyed doll or a hair clip which was missing its pair. With mum, it was mostly faded saris and worn-out quilts. And she never asked for them directly. She always threw subtle hints and if we didn't mind parting with the fancied item, we gave in.


''No, Kamalabai. In fact, why don't you take it for Meena?'' Meena was her daughter. At that moment, I was willing to part with anything to get the information.


''No, no, I am sure we can stitch a button and then.''


''Kamalabai, take it,'' I ordered and she immediately folded the dress with a smug smile on her face, ''So what was it you wanted to know?''


That evening, I went to Sanjana's house. Sanjana who was back from her ''fishing'' trip was watching television. I watched it with her for sometime and then under the pretext of calling home, called up Varsha.


''Yeah, what is it?'' Varsha asked gruffly when she came online.


''I have news for you.'' ''Well, be quick, honey. I have no time.''


Well, to cut a long story short, in less time than it takes to say ''Shantidevi Vijaykumar Thakur'', Varsha had turned putty in my hands. She was crying and begging and asking me what to do. Now you can't let down one's own cousin, can you? I gave her some advice, suggestions, et al.


One month later, the entire family was scandalized. The four sisters went into mourning. Even the ever-resilient aunt Shanti was caught crying.


Ananya (a.k.a. Varsha) and her body gyrations were on top of the charts on every Hindi film song countdown. In fact, my friends told me you could see her on television all the time. At home, it had been banned after Varsha's entry into film industry as an item girl had shocked the entire family. What happened to Varsha after that is another story!


I happened to watch her on television at Sanjana's house the other day. She was .ergood!!?!!



PS: Item girls are the in-thing in the Hindi film industry these days. A young starlet does these sexy and suggestive body movements, most often in skimpy clothes. They may have exactly five minutes of exposure in each movie and fade out after the fourth or fifth film. But they do get their few minutes of instant fame(short-lived though it may be), easy money and not to forget, a prime place in all the young (and not-so-young) men's hearts !


Archived comments for A Coup of Sorts
thehaven on 2005-04-04 08:43:24
Re: A Coup of Sorts
This is a fascinating and vivid portrayal of life.I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Mike

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-04 12:10:42
Re: A Coup of Sorts
Hi, Mike. I am glad you liked the story. Many houses in India still stick to rigid norms and the elders just refuse to budge from it.
Thanx, niece

Author's Reply:

Emerald on 2005-04-04 12:34:26
Re: A Coup of Sorts
Enjoyable, I liked the intricate details you put into this story. A good read.

Emma:-)

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-04 12:46:00
Re: A Coup of Sorts
Hi, Emma. I am glad that you enjoyed my article. Thanx so much for commenting.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2005-04-07 15:53:12
Re: A Coup of Sorts
An interesting read. I thought of several things Varsha might have done, from prostitution to be a lesbian. You had me hanging there for quite a while.

Author's Reply:

shadow on 2005-04-07 16:44:23
Re: A Coup of Sorts
That was rivetting - I was as anxious as the narrator to find out what was going on. And the details were fascinating - other people's ordinary life is so strange and exotic!

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-08 12:21:32
Re: A Coup of Sorts
Thanx, Claire, for commenting. That was much ado about nothing, right? I guess, Varsha was trying to take a short-cut into the film industry, but unfortunately the older family members didn't approve. And had it been prostitution or lesbianism, one or more of the sisters would have suffered a heart attack for sure.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-04-08 12:24:27
Re: A Coup of Sorts
Hi, Shadow. Thanx so much for your comment. I guess, it is human tendency to blow things out of proportion, especially if it is happening in your own house, providing that little excitement in an otherwise mundane existence.

Regd, niece

Author's Reply:


Flying free (posted on: 21-03-05)
Sometimes help comes when you least expect it. And by the way, the suggestion for the planes came from my six-year old son.

Two bright kites stuck on a tree. Two bright kites struggling to get free. Both looked down And saw a big town. They saw crowded pavements, heavy feet, Big broad buses with no empty seat. Worried faces, hurried paces, Most clutched black or brown briefcases. People scurrying all around. Something seemed to keep them bound. Said one kite to the other, ''Just wondering, dear brother, but do you wish to be there?'' "No way!'' replied the other getting a scare. ''Let's remain,''they finally said, Between them this pact they made. But one day a tyrant wind did blow. His strength to them he wanted to show. So both fell, drifting to the ground With people walking all around. ''Brother, brother, what shall we do? I am afraid even to move.'' Along came an old man With a smile and a tan. He picked them, he mended, he folded, he ripped, He twisted, he painted, then he snipped, snipped, snipped. Two bright kites were once stuck on a tree, Now two paper planes fly free. free. free.
Archived comments for Flying free
Sunken on 2005-03-21 20:10:42
Re: Flying free
Aww, its kinda cute isn't it? This would be good in a kiddies book - This is a compliment by the way young Niece. I have a habit of saying the wrong thing, I think it's a bloke thing, though having said that - I know many women who have said the wrong thing too. Like, 'No you can't' and 'oh... not very big is it?' Pff. Anyway, nice piece. Bought out the child in me. I'm off to buy an ice cream now and get my mum to make me some jelly'
Thanks (-;

s
u
n
k
e
n

Oh - welcome to uka by the way.

Take Beyonce, I predict Destiny's Child.

Author's Reply:

mynci on 2005-03-21 21:40:38
Re: Flying free
i agree with sunky,
this would be a good kiddies story with some work. Thake care,
Mynci!

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2005-03-21 22:44:53
Re: Flying free
Lovely indeed. The only thing I would change is to take away one free at the end so there are just three, sounds much better to me that way.

Unfortunately, I agree with sunken, I hate agreeing with men, this would be canny for children.

Author's Reply:

Kat on 2005-03-22 00:45:46
Re: Flying free
I think there's a lot of depth to this. It's very clever. Enjoyed!

Kat 🙂

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-22 05:48:20
Re: Flying free
Thanks all, for your comments. Hi Sunken and Mynci, I guess, spending almost all my day around two young boys makes me think and write this way. Thanks, Claire. I shall take you advice. And Kat, I am so glad you felt the thought was deep. I believe in "the light at the end of the tunnel". It's always worked out for me. Bye all, and take care.
Luv,niece

Author's Reply:

Emerald on 2005-03-22 18:41:48
Re: Flying free
Really enjoyed reading this

Emma:-)

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-23 07:44:29
Re: Flying free
Hi Emma, thanks for reading and appreciating my work.
🙂 niece

Author's Reply:

BlueyedSoul on 2005-10-05 04:21:50
Re: Flying free
Hi niece

What a cute little story. I so miss those days when my little ones were about my feet and we would sit and read stories and poems together.

Very sweet poem.
~Cindy

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-10-05 06:17:32
Re: Flying free
Dear Cindy,
It's a beautiful feeling, isn't it? Reading for kids...I love it too and like to change the intonation of my voice as the character or emotion changes. But I know these days aren't going to last forever...
I am so glad you felt my poem is sweet, Cindy. Thanks so much.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply:

Lare on 23-12-2005
Flying free
Ahh, niece...this is precious...just precious...a rare chance at a brand new beginning...this rings with the sheer joy of expectancy...this is so well done...beautifully thought out and written...neice, you've done it again...well done...

Just me, Lare

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Lare...this was the first poem I posted...and one I had written after a long time just after I started writing for UKA. And my 7-year old son helped me with the conclusion as I was stuck for a proper ending. I've mentioned it in the introduction. Thanks once again for taking the time to read this poem and commenting on it.
Regds,niece


Moksh (posted on: 14-03-05)
Moksh or salvation from worldly life is something that few people achieve. People in India revere such people or sages. But it sometimes happens that the whole concept is misused and some persons end up using it as a way getting away from responsibilities and commitments.

Sharath had been sitting in padmasana(the lotus posture in Yogasana)for the past 92 minutes. That was a record for him. Not that he realized ! With his eyes shut, right then, all his attention was focused on the sounds or lack of it from the kitchen. No clinking of spoons! No sounds of vessels while they were put on the stove or lifted off it! No whistling sound from the pressure cooker!


Sharath was an early riser. A sound sleep every night ensured it. Once in a while, his five-year old nephew, Arun, would wake up crying in the neighbouring room. That upset his schedules a bit. After waking up, for one hour he sat on the verandah of the house with eyes shut and meditated. Guruji (spiritual teacher) whose teaching he had once followed had told him that it only required one to concentrate on a single vision, or a sound, or a mantra( a spiritual chant). It would be difficult in the beginning. But as you improved, you would be able to meditate better and better.


With hardly a care in the world, he found meditating very easy. His life revolved around food, sleep, some books and long contemplative walks, exactly in that order. These days he was managing one whole hour of meditation, with a few disturbances when people around the house woke up and started moving around. At around six'o'clock, his sister-in-law, Vinaya, would enter the kitchen. Then it became impossible for him to go back into a trance. He would find himself listening to the sounds and trying to figure out what she was cooking. On weekdays it would mostly be idlis(steamed rice-pulse cakes) or dosas( fried rice-pulse pancakes) with spicy coconut chutney. On a whim, or maybe because her husband, Sooraj, had demanded, she would make puttu(steamed rice flour cakes) with kadala(small black chick peas) curry. Yummmmm! On weekends, it got very exciting. It could be anything from appams(fermented rice flour pancakes) with stew to noolpittus(rice noodles) to poori masala(fried wheat bread eaten with seasoned and spiced potatoes) or other things too. Vinaya had only to enter the kitchen and he knew it from her footfall. From then on he thought only of what was happening in the kitchen. Sometimes he felt guilty. But he took this as a pleasant reward for all the hardwork he had done. Also his guru had said concentrate on something. He was now concentrating on the process of the creation of breakfast.


But today surprisingly there was no sound from the kitchen. Though Sharath had no clock around to show the time, he knew pretty well that it was long past that time when Vinaya should have gotten into the kitchen and gotten down to business as usual. He felt quite annoyed with her. Expect women to do these things ! She must still be sleeping, or maybe their alarm clock had failed to go off. As these thoughts floated through his mind, Sharath opened his eyes.


Almost immediately, sounds started coming from the kitchen. He got up and walked past the place casually, looking in as he did so. Swollen eyed and looking disheveled, Vinaya stood near the counter starting her routines for the day. She didn't appear too happy to see Sharath this morning. That was unusual! She always managed to force a smile on her face. Also the fact that she would be bathed and dressed in her mundu-vesti(a two piece attire worn like a sari) rather than the washed-out old nightie she was wearing right now, pointed to the fact that something was amiss. Sharath decided that it was better to make himself scarce for the time being.


Breakfast was laid out, and somebody seemed to be at it. Sharath knew, although he was engrossed in his spiritual books, something he did after the meditation and till breakfast time. He dared not enter the living room. Somehow he knew he was in some way responsible for the charged atmosphere today. Even Sooraj and father had not exchanged any words all morning. Mother's voice as she spoke to her little grandson convincing him about the importance of going to school, Vinaya shouting at him for being difficult, were all missing. Any kind of communication was done in hushed tones.


It had all started the previous night. Vinaya and Sooraj had their frequent arguments. But they normally made up pretty soon too. Last night it had been different. Sharath also remembered with some misgiving that his name and talk of an ironed shirt had come up too often for comfort in their discussion last night. He was not the kind to eavesdrop, but like I said earlier, he used the room adjacent to the one which belonged to Vinaya and Sooraj.


Good sense prevailed and although, famished Sharath decided to resort to some more spiritual books and magazines, and lots of sleep to forget about food for that moment. Sooraj had gone off to work, a little earlier than usual. After that mother and father's voice could be heard more often than not. Vinaya too sounded chirpy by afternoon, so Sharath gathered enough courage to hop out of his burrow. Lunch was just delicious. There was nothing extraordinary, but Sharath had remained hungry for too long. He gorged himself on large helpings of the hot steamed rice and sambaar(a coconut-based spicy dal curry) and upperi(a dry vegetable dish). Then he sat along with father on the verandah and chatted for a while.


All was not well, was something Sharath sensed. His father was not saying anything, but he could decipher a tinge of disapproval.


Now this is what had actually happened. Vinaya like all other women in middle-class Indian households did most of the housework. With a post graduation degree in political science nicely tucked away somewhere, she slogged it out in the kitchen, swept the house, washed clothes and vessels, and did much more, unquestioningly. But everyone has their limits.


The previous morning, she had ironed out a shirt for Sooraj.one of his best ones. Sooraj had told her the night before that he had an important meeting. Unfortunately for them, Arun had missed the auto-rickshaw(a three wheeler used to transport three passengers besides the driver) that took him to school and she had gone to drop him off leaving the well-ironed shirt on the bed. When Sooraj who was in the bathroom got out, Vinaya was gone and so was the shirt. He quickly ironed his second-best and oft-worn shirt and since he was not as good as Vinaya at ironing, the results were not too good. So Sooraj had left in a huff thinking his wife had disobeyed him. When he returned, he let all hell loose on an unsuspecting Vinaya. Well.one thing followed another, and it was discovered that the real culprit had gone off on a nice long walk wearing his brother's best shirt.


Unknown to Sharath who slept like a lamb after his heavy lunch that afternoon, Sooraj and his wife had finally agreed that he was turning out to be quite a burden.


Afternoon was the time little Arun returned from school. Sooraj came back in another two hours. Obviously his mood was not any better. This Sharath sensed sitting in his room where he had confined himself to self-exile. Once again everyone went silent. Sharath dreaded giving up one more meal. The morning's ordeal itself had made him miserable.


Then there was a knock on the door. Without waiting for an answer, Sooraj opened it and entered.


''Haven't seen you all day. What have you been up to?'' he enquired.


''Oh, nothing. Thought I would do some reading and.''


''Sleeping.'' Sooraj completed the sentence for him, ''Good for you, Sharath. All you need to do is eat, sleep and enjoy when there is someone doing all the dirty work and slogging it out.''


Sharath's worst fears had been realised. Life had been too goodfor too long ! He stared at Sooraj wordlessly. What was he getting at ?


Then quite suddenly Sooraj threw several sheets of papers clipped together onto Sharath's desk.


''What is this ?'' Sharath asked dubiously.


''Guess?'' Why was Sooraj being so difficult? ''If you've never seen one before, it's a job application form. It is perfect for you with your educational qualifications. You don't have experience. But I can speak with my boss and arrange that.''


''Work is not for me. I want to take up sanyas(renunciation).'' Sharath said, uncertainty weighing his words.


''You don't take up sanyas and then eat the best of food all the time, Sharath. Sanyasis(a hermit) eat the simplest of food. They give up every kind of sense pleasure.''


''I said I want to be one. Not that I am one.'' Protested Sharath.


''Well, you better make up your mind. It's now or never,'' Sooraj said.


''Who are you to say that ?''


''I am the one who does everything for you. I pay for your electricity, I pay for your food, I also pay for your clothes.,'' retorted Sooraj.


Sharath was stumped. For ten years now, Sooraj had been working. He had risen in the ranks at least two times.results of his hardwork. Father had retired soon after Sooraj got his job and his pension money being very little, Sooraj had literally taken over from him. Sharath was still in college those days.


''I've chosen my path. I want to become a sanyasi,'' Sharath persisted.


''Come off it! A sanyasi does not need a freshly ironed shirt, the one which his brother is to wear to work, does he ?''


''Oh, so that is it,'' Sharath quipped with an all-knowing look.


''Don't give me all that nonsense,'' Sooraj was now losing his temper.


''What do you want me to do?'' Sharath shouted back.


''Oh, go jump into the well.'' Sooraj shot back and left the room in a huff.


In all their years together, the brothers had never had such an ugly exchange of words. In an instant, Sharath picked up one of his books and left the house. His mother called after him, his father sat with his head lowered in his easy chair, but Sharath soon disappeared out of sight.



He must have walked on for at least two hours. He went on and on, walking along roads which he knew. Somehow he did not have the guts to leave known territory. Every once in a while, he tried to take a new road or lane, but quickly turned back. Finally tired and exhausted, he sat down under a tree. He sat for sometime with his head in his hands. He couldn't believe this had happened to him. Sharath remembered his guru. He had been a wise man. His advice had helped Sharath along the right path. Then one day Sharath had gone up to him and said, ''Guruji, I want to take up sanyas.''


''You are not ready for it, my son,'' He had replied.


''But why not?'' Sharath was indignant.


''First you learn the meaning of responsibility. Do not confuse giving up responsibilities and duties with sacrifice. You have a long way to go, my son.''


Sharath had been offended. He stopped going to him after that. How he regretted it! Should he go back to him, he wondered.


Then he looked up and saw a well at a distance, something he hadn't notice earlier. Sooraj's words played in his mind. ''Jump into the well.'' On a whim, Sharath moved towards the well. He looked in. Boy, was it deep ! It was twilight. He kept looking in, wondering whether he should take his brother's advice.


With a kind of sinister satisfaction, he thought of the looks on the faces of each of his family members, how they would react once the news reached them. ''Sharath had been driven to suicide.'' As they grieved, Sooraj would repent, living the rest of his life in guilt, and mother and father would curse him for being so merciless with his own flesh and blood. As he looked in, Sharath saw far away in the water his tiny reflection. So small and insignificant he looked. He remembered his Guruji's words ''we are just tiny drops in the Mighty Ocean''. In the fading twilight he saw a frog and some tiny fish swimming around inside the well. As the sun went down and all was dark, Sharath saw stars in the water. It was a very clear night.



Dinner was a quiet affair. Not that anybody was normally very chatty, but today it seemed even quieter with only the monologue of little Arun filling up the air. Then realizing nobody was listening to him, or maybe because his mother pinched him from under the table, he quieted down. The simple meal of chapattis(Indian bread) and kurma curry (a coconut based vegetable curry) was consumed in silence. Finishing his dinner, Sooraj was the first to rise from the table.


''I've achieved self-realisation. I've seen the Universe.'' Vinaya choked over her food and went on a coughing spree. Sooraj froze as he wiped his hands dry after washing it. Mother and father looked at each other with a look only they could understand.


Sharath was not in the least bit flattered by the reactions his announcement had generated.


It was little Arun who spoke up after a short while, ''I've also seen it on TV.''


Vinaya, who had just recovered from her bout of coughing almost let out a chuckle but then realizing that noone else was in a jovial mood picked up Arun and left for the privacy of her bedroom to enjoy the joke on her own.


The application form for the job lay on Sharath's desk for three months before it was sold alongwith the old newspapers And, oh yes !. Sharath still meditates on the sounds from the kitchen every morning.



Archived comments for Moksh
shadow on 2005-03-17 00:14:33
Re: Moksh
I enjoyed this very much. It was a glimpse of a completely different kind of life - and yet some things are universal. (And the food sounded delicious.) I liked the quietly humorous tone - very well done.

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-17 07:09:12
Re: Moksh
Thank you, Shadow, for you comment. I am glad you liked it. My story would be based either in a small Indian town or a village which is why it sounds so alien. Life in Indian cities are pretty much similar to that of any other city in the world. And believe me, the food is out-of-this-world (if you can handle all the spice).

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2005-03-17 09:25:17
Re: Moksh
Niece
Long but a nice story. May be I will follow his technique to get out of the household chores my wife imposes on me every hour. Lol ( Kidding)
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-18 05:14:56
Re: Moksh
Hi, Chrisk, thanks. Married men usually prefer to move away from the surroundings (in short, disappear) when they take up sanyas. Probably they are worried about the "belan"(read "rolling pin") that may fly above their heads since most wives are not good at aiming well.

Author's Reply:

thehaven on 2005-03-19 07:39:22
Re: Moksh
Hi Niece,Welcome to UKA.This is an excuisite piece of writing which shows that life is the same in different cultures we just give it different names.

I really look forward to reading more of your work...and soon.

Mike

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-19 09:46:51
Re: Moksh
Hi, Mike. I hope to send in more articles regularly. Thanks for the welcome and the encouragement.

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-03-20 02:51:41
Re: Moksh
by Soman Sunday, March 20 @0155 GMT

Hello niece, most happy to welcome you to the fraternity. With your sharp observation and succinct presentation, I am sure you will go far in the UKA. Here is wishing you all the best in your
literary career!

Soman

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-20 04:05:35
Re: Moksh
Dear Soman, let me tell you, it feels great to be a part of UKA. Thanks for your encouraging words. I hope I will not disappoint.

Author's Reply:

soman on 2005-03-20 06:36:59
Re: Moksh
by Soman Sunday March 20 @0540 GMT

I forgot to add that this land of ours, India, abounds in Moksha specialists. Especially during months of April to August, when it is too hot to venture out and too sultry to stay indoors. You just switch on your AC, relax and meditate for all you are worth. Of course, the essential prerequisite is a spouse who is blessed with the patience of Mother Earth!

Author's Reply:

AnthonyEvans on 2005-03-20 09:50:17
Re: Moksh
dear niece, really enjoyed this piece, look forward to reading more of your work. best wishes, anthony.

Author's Reply:

Kat on 2005-03-21 05:28:06
Re: Moksh
What an enjoyable read - very well-written.

Kat 🙂

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-03-21 07:14:27
Re: Moksh
Dear Anthony and Kat,
I am glad you liked my work.
Thanks and regds, niece

Author's Reply:

LenchenElf on 2005-06-27 14:18:13
Re: Moksh
Out of the mouths of babes :-).... a delightful piece, much enjoyed, thanks for this and part ii 🙂
all the best
LE

Author's Reply:

niece on 2005-06-27 14:30:10
Re: Moksh
Dear LE,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Though the second part is a complete story in itself, this should give some idea as to the background.
Thanks once again.
Regds,niece

Author's Reply: