Deepawali Greetings!

god-ganesh-at-diwali-festival

Wishing all my friends near and far A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS DEEPAWALI!

Just as on this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasura and rid the world of fear, let the light of knowledge rid the darkness of ignorance from our hearts and minds.

 On an aside what I like more about this story is that Krishna took his wife Satyabhama along.  She was one stubborn woman and a bold one too. She helped Krishna kill Narakasura 🙂

narakasura2bvadh

Human After All Chap 21: Killing Me Softly

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chapter 20

21: Killing Me Softly

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Khanak couldn’t shake the feeling of unease as she wandered over to the dimly lit music section. She was concerned about Shantanu. Had she been too harsh with him? But then he had started it, and what was that about getting jealous of a poor fifteen-year-old, who was only going through a difficult stage in his life? Hadn’t Shaan been through it himself? Couldn’t he empathize instead of blowing his top? Hmmph!

But where was he now? What was he up to? Did he leave? How would she get home? What would she tell her Mom and Dad? She wasn’t used to lying to them yet at the same time she couldn’t bear to hurt them, Khanak brooded as she stared at a huge poster of Lady Gaga.

“I certainly wouldn’t want you to look like that.”

She shivered when the familiar voice rumbled in her ear. He had come as close as he could get without establishing physical contact yet had made the tiny follicles in her neck to stand on end. This habit of popping out of thin air at the least expected moment had totally messed up the integrity of her nervous system. In desperation, her fingers pressed against the side of her neck to quiet the strong pulse that had begun banging away, causing her ears to ring.

But Shaan as usual looked unperturbed, his eyes inscrutable in the dim light as he observed her with his arms casually crossed over his chest.

That irked Khanak. She tapped her foot furiously on the carpet then turned on her heels and proceeded to walk out of the store when Shaan grabbed her wrist and firmly pulled her back.

“Not so fast! I’m not used to playing catch me if you can with immature female doctors!”

“Nor am I used to being accused of leading on adolescent boys by so called mature men!” On impulse she stepped on his shoe.

“Ouch! You Vixen! No. Not again! Not before you hear me out!” His grip on her wrist only got tighter as he tried to overcome the shock of pain.

He pulled her toward the listening station which was fairly isolated at this late hour except for a lone young fella who looked ridiculously funny jamming to soundless music with his earphones on. Khanak was seized by an insane desire to laugh out loud. Shantanu was making her completely distraught.

“Put this on.” And when she protested he placed a headset gently on her head surprising her by his sudden change in attitude. Then, placing a finger on her mouth, he took her hand and held it over his heart. Soon she was lost as he mouthed the romantic lines from an old Hindi ballad.

Shantanu’s face broke into a smile when his paramour’s complexion suffused with shy color and she hid her face in his chest. He folded her gently into the protective circle of his arms. It was clear she had forgiven him. Yet, he wanted to be absolutely sure so he went down on his knees in front of her.  As Khanak gazed at him dumbfounded, the sound of clapping hands and shouts of “C’mon Forgive Him,” brought her rudely back to earth. A small crowd had gathered around them they were egging Shaan on. She wrenched her hand free from his grasp and blundered out.

“I am sorry Khanak! I really mean it, look at me, please! Do my eyes lie to you?” Shantanu pleaded.

Khanak closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “There’s nothing to forgive. I just wanted to see how much you cared for me.”

Cared? OMG Khanak! I don’t care about you, I’m mad about you! You drive me nuts but I can’t imagine being with anybody else. My life revolves around you and you alone can save me again and again and again. Don’t you dare doubt my feelings or I will…”

“Will what?”

“Lose my self-control and carry you away to some remote island and ravage you till you beg.” He hissed loudly in her ear making each word stick.

“Doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Khanak muttered under her breath. She was trembling like a leaf.

He traced her jaw line with his forefinger. “Khanak my love, I promise we will be engaged and wed within a week. Till then, we must try to find ways to distract ourselves, like this…”

He pulled her into a large shoe store and before she knew it had seated her on a padded stool. He flicked away her sensible moccasins and took both her feet in his hands.

“Shantanu, stop! This is embarrassing!” She said as some of the clientele had started to look.

“I’m doing nothing wrong, just admiring my girl’s hardworking feet. Poor dears, they need to be pampered,” he said, his voice oozing seduction.

Bewitched she watched as his strong and slender fingers expertly massaged her soles sending wildly inappropriate messages to her brain. Then after efficiently scanning the displays, he brought back a pair of shiny black jewel encrusted stiletto pumps which he slipped onto her feet before she could utter a single word in protest.

“Now walk!” He ordered.

“I can’t! These aren’t my style!”

“They are! They are my woman’s style. When she wishes me to know that she wants me as badly as I want her, she wears these.” There was a concealed threat in those fudge brown eyes and as she stared at him his pupils appeared to dilate ever so slightly making the message even more urgent.

She walked awkwardly down the aisle, trying her best to appear nonchalant while her heart thudded hard and fast, knowing that not only had she become a spectacle for the shoppers in the store, but him as well.

“They look great! We’ll take them!”

She watched with some trepidation as he paid at the counter and boxed her old shoes and walked out, his arm possessively around her waist.

“What was that all about?” she asked. “I don’t want new shoes, especially of this kind!”

“Well, I know that very well, in fact nothing about you is hidden from me, remember I told you that your eyes never lie?”

“Then why? Why this coercion?” She was confused.

He turned to her, “My darling, I want to dress you from head to toe, indulge you, spoil you. This was just a sampler. You don’t have to wear anything to please me, pun not intended. Be what you are. But humor me on occasion; it will hurt if you refuse.”  His eyes twinkled with mischief.

Khanak retorted, “Why don’t you shut up your dirty mind sometimes! You are just…”

“Too impossible? Irrational? Unbelievably crude? Well that’s my way, just get used to it.”

Khanak began to feel dizzy, she couldn’t understand if it was due to emotional hyperactivity or the lack of nutrition. “I.. need to sit down. Please don’t carry me!”

“Oh, my sweetness, I’m so sorry! You must be starving. How inconsiderate of me! And most of the restaurants have closed too.” Shaan looked genuinely concerned.

“Just get me a drink of some sort and I’ll be fine. I can eat something at home.”

He led her to a bench. “Sit here and I’ll get something from the coffee shop. Here, read your book in the meantime. Me Rochester to your Jane Eyre.” He smiled handing her the copy of Jane Eyre that he had bought at the book store, leaving her flummoxed.

After several minutes of restless waiting, Khanak walked over to the cafe to find him laughing loudly with the teenage attendant at some private joke. Irritated, she marched up to his side and dragged him away.

“Hello! Possessive, are we? Nice. Here’s your ice cream float,” Shantanu grinned.

“Hang yourself from the nearest tree! What’s with you men? Did you forget I was waiting?” She said fuming.

“Sorry, but she asked me if I was single. Man, times are changing fast!” He shook his head.

“You!” She pummeled his chest with her fists then ran out of the exit.

“Hey hold on to your horses! Won’t you ask what I told her?” He yanked her around.

“Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know!” she cried averting her face.

He forced her to look at him. “I told her I was married to the most beautiful girl in the world and I have no intentions of looking elsewhere for as long as I live.” She knew he was telling the truth when his lips descended hungrily on hers. A few moments passed before he said, “Let me take you home before things get out of hand.”

tbc

Loneliness

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Introducing Loneliness

Your constant companion

You lie if you say you don’t know me

I’m the one who sits beside you in the empty passenger seat

I’m the stranger who smiles at you at the mall

I’m the blanket you wrap yourself in every night

I’m the clock you hear ticking in the hall

I’m the breeze that ruffles your hair on a cold winter morning

I’m the scream that reverberates through your lonely frame

I’m the earth who cradles you in the grave

‘Now and Forever’ is now Available! This time for real!

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Thanks for your patience. I sincerely apologize for announcing the release prematurely. But this time I’m not kidding! The sequel of Inconvenient Relations– Now and Forever is now available for purchase on Amazon, in both kindle and paperback formats. 

Can Shaan and Ruhi face their biggest fears and unite together?

Shaan and Ruhi Ahuja, very much in love Indian newlyweds, discover each other in Simi K. Rao’s Now and Forever—the sassy and sexy sequel to Inconvenient Relations. After getting the scare of their lives while traveling in the Grand Canyon, Shaan and Ruhi go back home to one dilemma after another. Shaan’s job is in jeopardy, and one of Ruhi’s closest friends, Sunshine, needs her. How will Shaan and Ruhi handle life’s hurdles, while still trying to get to know each other as husband and wife? Will they be able to forsake all others and consolidate their relationship?

To know the answer to all these questions read ‘Now and Forever’ — an all out fun and intriguing sequel to Inconvenient Relations!

PLEASE FIND BELOW SOME OF THE BUY LINKS

US

UK

IN

DE

FR

AU

CA

I hope you will read and enjoy the book. If you can please do post a review on Amazon and Goodreads and tell your friends 🙂

Thank you!

Human After All Chap 20: Blow Hot Blow Cold

Chapter 19B

20: Blow Hot Blow Cold

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“KHa..n..aK!”

Khanak watched with fascination as Mrs. Bak Bak’s eyes grew wide and round as saucers, and her eyeballs popped out like a constipated frog though Khanak hadn’t ever observed a constipated frog. She stopped struggling, instead put her arm casually around Shaan’s waist, who responded in kind by tightening his hold.

“Hi Aunty! This is Shantanu! And Shantanu this is Mrs Ba…er our neighbor.”

Mrs. Bak Bak chimed in eagerly, “Hi! I am Khanak’s bestest well-wisher and fan. My name is Kamini, Kamini Chatopadhyay and you are?”

Shantanu was all smiles, “I am Khanak’s favorite patient, in fact I am her…”

“Shaan!” Khanak interrupted. “Get in the elevator honey. We are already running late for the party. Sorry aunty maybe some other time.”

Shaan looked surprised but he shrugged and followed the smiling Khanak into the elevator, leaving a shell shocked Mrs. Bak Bak behind.

But as soon as the elevator doors closed Khanak pushed him away.

“Ouch! What’s this? Blow hot, blow cold? Or is it that time of the month? You know, when you female folk see red?”

“No it’s not and it’s none of your business. Are you tired of me already?” Khanak retorted with a coy toss of her mane.

“Not at all.” Shantanu grinned. “I knew from the very beginning that dear Doc Khanak has an unstable side to her psyche but least did I know it would be this unpredictable.”

“You think I’m crazy?” His paramour inquired fiercely.

“Just a little, like me. Not to worry, I can handle it perfectly fine. Now come here, let’s get on with our business.” He said crowding her into a corner.

“Hey Khanak! Wow you are looking hawt!”

Shaan turned his head and saw that they had company— a pimply teen of about fourteen or fifteen who was staring at his sweetheart with ill-concealed admiration and he wasn’t paying any attention to Shaan.

Immature Twit! How dare he call her by her first name! And how dare she let him? Shaan riled.

“Oh hi Sameer! Thank you!” Khanak blushed. “Shaan this is Sameer. Sameer…Shaan.”

Shaan gave a grumpy nod but the kid continued to gawk at Khanak.

“This ancient beast is so bloody slow. We should have taken the stairs!” Shaan couldn’t keep the irritation out of his voice.

As soon as the elevator stopped, he grabbed Khanak by the elbow and almost dragged her over to his shiny new Porsche Boxster.

“Shantanu please! What is wrong?”

“Just get in the car Khanak or do you want me to dump you in?”

She didn’t argue.

Shaan felt a certain element of control when the powerful engine of the sports car responded to the slightest pressure on the accelerator. It was like an extension of him; smooth, sleek and sure. But the grim set of his jaw line said otherwise.

Khanak had never seen Shaan like this before and wondered at the cause of his sudden change of mood. “So whose wires are crossed now or is it that certain time of month for you too?” She said in an attempt to make him laugh.

His reaction took her by surprise. “Stop it Khanak! This isn’t funny! What were you doing leading on that…that confused pubertal mess back in there?”

“What do you mean by leading on? I wasn’t doing anything like that. And if you mean Sameer, he’s just a kid Shantanu,” she protested.

“He’s not just a kid! I saw the way he was ogling at you. The fact is you are too naive and gullible!” Her companion hissed from between clenched teeth.

Khanak’s voice shook, “I’m neither! It’s you who is acting insecure and jealous. I can’t believe this! Let me out, I am going back.”

“I won’t. You are coming with me, whether you like it or not!” He locked the doors and speeded up quickly, causing Khanak to fall back into her seat. She eyes sparked with fury but prudence made her maintain her silence. She turned to the window and gazed out blankly while trying her best to not let the tears fall.

Shaan felt let down when she didn’t come flying back at him with her rebuff. Therefore, in order to drown the loaded silence, he turned the volume of the radio to full blast and was callously satisfied when he saw her flinch. But then he immediately retracted his step ashamed at deriving pleasure from her pain.

As they idled at a traffic light, Shaan’s racing thoughts and emotions gradually wound down. Music, particularly good music always had that effect on him.

Sting was singing–

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly 
Was it something that I said
Lovers walking along the shore, 
Leave their footprints in the sand
Was the sound of distant drumming 
Just the fingers of your hand

 

Shaan glanced at Khanak. She had withdrawn into a cocoon. Her eyes resolutely turned away in an appearance of aloofness. Her slight figure in profile looked fragile and vulnerable. The tension evident in how she held her shoulders stiff and nervously fidgeted with the metallic clasp of her purse.

He thought of what they had been through so far. Their chance meeting in the flight, then again, thrust together at the hospital. Her taking care of his responsibility Megha, and then being there when he needed her the most. How she had become an obsession that he had pursued relentlessly till she had acceded to his sentiments and made him feel on top of the world. They had accomplished so much in so little time and yet here he was behaving like a bully, trying to establish his turf, picking up a petty quarrel. She had done no wrong yet was bearing the punishment.

Looking at her almost cowering in her corner, trying to unsuccessfully pull the edge of her skirt down over the top of her knees, he felt overcome with remorse. He wanted to fall on his knees and beg her forgiveness for his shallowness and sheer hubris. He reached for her hand but she withdrew even further away.

A Major Mall in Malad W, Mumbai:

Shaan skipped the valet and drove the Boxster into the basement parking lot himself so as to get a chance to talk to Khanak. But she jumped out and disappeared even before he turned off the engine.

Silently he scoured the crowd for her lovely face but knew his task wouldn’t be easy. Khanak had seemed determined to evade him. Not being overly fond of crowded places, he usually preferred to shop in free standing shops for his clothes and other necessities. The constant bustle and hubbub of these huge brightly lit spaces made him feel alone and isolated. He wanted to find his Khanak as quickly as he could.

Where had she gone, where would she be?

He spotted the mall directory at a distance and headed over for some inspiration, oblivious of the several looks of admiration directed his way. His above average height and singular look of quiet determination added mystery and allure to his already handsome figure. He scanned the listed categories quickly and ticked them off one by one.

Jewelry?  He closed his eyes and pictured Khanak in his mind. Her ear lobes were usually adorned with tiny studs except today they had been replaced with hoops. Around her neck Khanak always wore a simple chain of gold with a tiny Ganesha pendent which she had exchanged today for a delicate silver heart necklace. Her wrists and fingers were always sensibly bare. No he couldn’t imagine her in a jewelry store.

Clothes? An image of Khanak in her usual work attire of crisp cotton saris drifted across his mind except for the occasion of Megha’s birthday when she had come dressed as a living doll, one that almost had made love to (Shaan felt his heart speed up). Though he’d rarely seen her other than at work, he couldn’t imagine her checking out the latest fashions and styles. She didn’t gel as a shopping freak. He dismissed the clothiers.

Meanwhile Khanak was pacing the aisles of the second floor aimlessly. There was still a lump in her throat and her vision had started to blur again. She leaned on the railings for support and tried counting slowly to 10. Her complete unawareness of her beauty and state of mental upheaval made her especially attractive to the opposite sex leading to a few low whistles which she ignored or didn’t hear.

Her mobile beeped an SMS.

Where the hell are you? I’ve been looking all over!

She chose not to respond.

It’s getting on my nerves. Stop behaving like a child!

Are you alright? I’m worried. Sorry. Forgive me?

Shaan was getting edgy. He racked his brain again. Where would she go? Where would he go if he needed some comfort? An idea struck him and he raced to the stairs.

Khanak entered the massive Citylights bookstore that occupied all of three floors. She wondered why it was called as such when it catered to a variety of interests such as toys, music, movies, video games and other novelties. She overlooked the distractions and made a beeline to the literature section and began to slowly scan the dust jackets for her favorite titles.

Shaan was randomly flipping over the pages of the latest edition of The Economist when his nose detected a subtle scent—Khanak’s perfume. What had she called it? Beautiful.  Excited he looked around and spotted her distinct frame with her shiny black hair disappear down an aisle.

He checked his immediate impulse to follow her instead entered into the neighboring aisle. He almost felt like a voyeur secretly watching the object of his desires. Her sweetheart lips shaped into a pout of concentration then relaxed into smile when she found something she liked. The gesture repeating several times as she picked up a book, lovingly flipped the pages, before placing it back.

Khanak smiled when she found a new edition of her favorite book, her copy at home was dog eared with repeated use. It was an old story, but very forward in its outlook. She was very fond of the plot which was far from prudish, in fact it’s heroine did everything with considerable passion despite several odds. Maybe she should buy it. Then abruptly she changed her mind and returned it to its slot and walked away.

tbc

PS: Am expecting my new novel ‘Now and Forever’ the sequel to Inconvenient Relations to be out soon. Will keep you posted.

Happy 70th! What ails my country?

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I wish A Very Happy 70th Independence Day to all my fellow Indian brothers and sisters 🙂 On this momentous occasion I’d like to briefly discuss about what ails India and Indians in general. It is not meant as a criticism but as an opportunity to reflect.

Its inertia. 

Yes that’s what it is. We are so used to a life of drudgery that we have no desire to get out of it. Its become a way of life for us. We are so used to corruption and handing out bribes for every little thing that we can’t envision a life without it. Like my father (rest his soul) used to say whenever he happened to visit a government office armed with a few thousand rupees and then proceed to dole them out incrementally starting from the peon to the officer in charge: “You have to or the job won’t get done.”

People are lackadaisical. They will stand around and stare at a dying man on the street and observe a helpless girl as she gets harassed by a bunch of goons but they won’t step in to help. Why? Because its a tamasha. A spectacle like that which unfolds in a movie theater. Why buy trouble?

And we have lost our voice that independence provided us. We feel empathy, shake our heads with regret but we don’t speak when we need to.

But all is not lost. Right now I feel a new India in my veins. We are waking up and perhaps realizing that the bonds that held us down for so long are old and rusty. They can be broken. Freedom is not a fairytale. It is a reality. Jai Hind!