Author Archives: Simi K. Rao

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 8: Revelations

Chapter 7

It took some time for Ahaan and Mili to get out of the forest. The dense canopy, which almost completely filtered out the light, impeded their progress considerably, causing Mili to stumble several times. Finally at Ahaan’s insistence she accepted his arm and was nearly carried the rest of the way.

“Thanks.” Mili murmured detaching herself, once back on the road.

“My pleasure. We should do this more often.” he replied, grinning when he saw her cheeks blaze with color.

They strolled back, savoring this new found companionship–the lovely formative phase of a brand new relationship which was supposed to last a lifetime. Mili almost wanted to skip with delight. She curbed the instinct with difficulty. It won’t do for me to appear undignified and childish in front of Ahaan. Though he has probably formed that impression already, she thought, unhappily recalling the events from earlier that afternoon.

On the other hand, Ahaan was pursuing a slightly different theme. Good God! She is proving to be quite a handful; a very beautiful one though. I’ll have to keep my wits around all the time in order to survive.  Still, I bet I’m going to enjoy every single moment!

A surreptitious glance found her aiming a vehement kick at a pebble. His hands itched to reach out and pull her into his arms. He stuck them into his pockets instead. Damn this life!

“Ahaan…!”

Startled, he looked up. The object of his preoccupation was beaming at him.

“Guess where we are…”

His vision followed her outstretched arm. Of their own accord their feet had taken them down a familiar path, one which led to their old Alma Mater.

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Available Now! Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree

The wait is over! My new book Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree–Poems, Rants and Short Stories is Available Now in paperback. The Ebook will be out soon as well.

Synopsis: Life is not about achieving perfection, it’s about reconciling with your imperfections.

Poems are fragments of life. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is a unique poetry collection for women, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. The poems and prose pieces compiling the collection are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. This book will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages.

You will certainly enjoy this book as I’m speak here from the heart. Beautifully illustrated you will find in this book many of life’s truths, in the form of poems and stories. Here I share a piece of me and I’m sure you’ll find in it a piece of you.

Order your copies here!–

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Written Dreams Publishing

The Color of my DNA

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The color of my DNA is brown.  I’m conditioned to despise it and assign labels to it– including but not limited to- low status, bad character, poor hygiene and scant education if any. And this is how it all began.

My mother is fair complexioned while I’m not. ‘Tumhari ladki kaali hai’ or ‘your girl is black or dark’ was a common remark I came across which my mother rushed to correct; ‘no, her color is gehua’ i.e ‘wheatish’ as if to provide me solace. It didn’t. Not really. Because I’d been labelled and it was drilled into me from as long as I can remember. Over and over. not necessarily in an accusatory rather in a matter of fact manner. Yes, my color is dark, meaning I’m not fair, or pretty or beautiful etc. And everyone knows how important it is for a girl to be ‘pretty’ in our society. I don’t think the intention was to put me down as many members of this ‘color’ club were very dear to me including my own mother. But it had its effect. I began to believe I was lacking. That I was inferior to my fair counterparts. I used to compare myself with others all the time. Often, I’d align the back of my arm with my mother’s hoping to see a change. I did try a couple of creams and soaps but gave up soon enough as they had no effect.

Fortunately, this ‘anomaly’ of mine remained a mere irritant. I wanted to make something out of myself. I was good in both academics and extracurricular activities and generally I got my way. So, even though I was insecure about my looks I didn’t let it hinder my progress. I realized very soon that color has nothing to do with beauty or character or competence. Working as a physician in the west I also discovered how color segregates people and turns them against each other and negates all the progress that humankind has made. Today I feel enriched interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures and I realize how shallow and abhorrent it is to judge someone based simply on their skin color.

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Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 6: Nurture

MIlan cover 1

Chapter 5

This is the first day of the rest of our lives and I want to spend it with you. We need to begin nurturing our relationship. There is absolutely no time to lose.

Mili smiled as she read and reread  the note that Ahaan had handed her last night, OMG! He is so eager. Is he like this all the time, I wonder.

It is amazing that just a few days ago, he didn’t even feature in my thoughts and now… he is the only one! … Good Lord Mili! Hadh hai yaar (This is the limit.)

She burst into a fit of giggles, and pulled the thick embroidered quilt over her head. Thank heavens Ahaan isn’t here, or he wouldn’t hesitate to change his mind!

Then she sat up straight frowning. Really? Would he change his mind? And if so, would that bother me?  She fell back flat on the bed. Yes, it would…it would bother me quite a bit.

She grabbed a pillow and curled herself around it, “damn you Ahaan! Who asked you to come into my life and mess it all up when I was doing just fine by myself? Who asked you to be so charming and smart and cool? Who asked you to drop down from the sky like the perfect Godsend son in law?…Who..?”

Her rant was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Guess what came by special delivery bright and early today?” Kiran was standing at the door holding a bunch of fresh and colorful wild flowers. “I’m really starting to like Ahaan’s style of wooing!” She said seeing her daughter’s face light up instantly.

“Of course you would! You would like him even if he turned out to be Osama Bin Laden’s nephew!”

“What are you muttering about?”

“Tell me mama. Are you going to miss me or not?”

“Of course I am, Mili. We both are!”

“Then I’m not getting married and that’s that!” Mili said plummeting face down on the bed.

Kiran pulled her up and wiped her tear stricken face with the edge of her palloo, “My darling. Enough with all this fuss! I know exactly what is going on in that little head of yours and it bears no resemblance at all to what you say.” She smiled… “Now get ready quickly. Ahaan is waiting impatiently for you!”

“He is here?!” Mili exclaimed as her heart did a cartwheel in her chest.

“Yes he is!” Kiran laughed, “Who else do you think brought the flowers?” Placing a gentle kiss on her daughter’s soft cheek, she said. “my silly little Mili…” then abruptly turned and hurried away.

`

Mili stood at the entrance of the dining room, inhaling the aroma of hot spicy sambhar (a type of South Indian lentil soup) and fresh filter coffee and silently observed what was going on inside. It was a scene one may find in any normal household. Everybody was there, including both her parents, Ramu kaka and of course Ahaan and they were all doting on him.

She saw Ramu kaka blush with pleasure when Ahaan praised him and said that he wished he could kidnap him and take him to Delhi, when her father and mother screamed in unison, “No way!” and they all burst into merry laughter.

Mili was glad to see the smiles of happiness and contentment on her parents faces. At least I am able to give them something in return for what they have done for me.

And to say the truth, she couldn’t find anything to complain about either.  Ahaan seemed to value and respect her feelings and that meant for a lot.


“Mili!… her father said noticing her, “Beta, Look who’s here!”

Ahaan swung around in his chair…

“Yes, I know. Hi Ahaan.” She smiled, drawing herself to her full height of 5’7”. She knew she looked good in a simple flared sunshine yellow cotton kurta (long shirt), crushed scarf of forest green and tight leggings to match.

“Uh huh… Hi..Mili..”

Gosh Ahaan! Close your mouth. You look like a startled frog!

“Careful son!” Jai exclaimed with concern when he saw his future son in law dissolve into a violent coughing spell.

Working hard to suppress a giggle, she ran to his side. “Paani?” she asked with a straight face.

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‘Under the Shadow of the Banyan Tree’ available for pre-order!

Poems are fragments of life.

In this collection, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. These poems are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition.

Banyan Tree Draft 4

My book is now available for Pre-order. Reserve your copy here!

Once published it’ll be available on all platforms 🙂

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 5: Roka

MIlan cover 1

Chapter 4

“At last. The Dulhan (bride) is here.”

Dulhan.. Mili pursed her lips and concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other, gingerly making her way into the drawing hall of their bungalow, which was now filled to the brim with guests. If it hadn’t been for her mother’s firm grip on her arm, she’d have swung about and made a break for it; so desperate was her urge to flee.

For the past half an hour or so, she had schooled her mind into a state of detached indifference, while Kiran dolled her up. Closing her eyes, as she had so many times in the past, she had let her mind drift to a  faraway place , to help alleviate the jitters somewhat.

But they were back now with a vengeance. She was acutely aware of everyone’s eyes upon her, including Ahaan’s, as though they were seeing her for the first time. And why wouldn’t they be—her mother had insisted on dressing her up as a bride. “When will I get another chance?”

Mili was draped in an outfit she had bought for her sister’s wedding. She had forgone wearing it at the time on the insistence of one of her aunt’s, who had warned that it’d make her outshine the bride, which would have been taboo.

The dress was a light maroon lehenga  with a silver choli heavily embroidered with zari and studded with tiny mirrors. The jewelry was her mother’s own; ornate yet restrained, her luxurious midnight hair fell naturally lose around her shoulders, and it was all brought together by a touch of kohl to enhance her doe shaped eyes and a dash of maroon lipstick; she being blessed by a flawless complexion.

“Mrs. Sharma, your bahu (Daughter in law) is a Chand ka tukda (as beautiful as the moon)!” Someone exclaimed aloud.

“No, not the moon; the Sun!”

“When my bahu enters the room, everything fades into the background. Her beauty dazzles. So one could go blind if he stares too long.” Mili’s mother in law, in a white and black sari (white seemed to be her color of choice) said, with a bright smile while drawing her to sit beside her son.  “And these words are not mine, they are my Ahaan’s. You have made a poet out of him my dear.”

Mili raised her eyes to glare accusingly at her fiance and promptly turned crimson. He was staring transfixed at her, while looking outrageously handsome in a dark suit and tie. With a wry shrug of his shoulders, he admitted his guilt, though there wasn’t even a whiff of contrition in his manner. Rather he seemed to be relishing her state of inordinate distress.

“If stating the simple truth makes you color so prettily, then I will have to make a habit of it.”

Flustered and thrilled at the same time she looked away and tried instead to focus on her future mother in law, though it proved to be far from an easy task. But it seemed important because she was going to play a big role in Mili’s future, almost as big as Ahaan and it made her nervous.

She wondered what kind of person Mrs. Sharma was—stern or lenient, compassionate or spiteful. By the looks of her she seemed quite pleasant and it was obvious that her world revolved around her only son.

“Open your mouth, my dear!”

Mili obeyed and almost choked on the date that was placed in her mouth. Her eyes filled up with moisture, but she composed herself and solemnly accepted the gifts which were piled into her lap.

But the worst part of the ritual was when she was directed to feed her fiance laddoo (a type of sweet). Still quite rattled at him, she reached up blindly, and missed the target by a mile. While everyone present burst into amused laughter, he caught her wrist and guided it to its destination.

“Perhaps you should feed me dinner. It might be fun.”

Not on your life, Ahaan! Mili’s eyes flashed fierily.

We shall see about that, Mili. His retorted with the utmost calm.

This visual argument was interrupted when their parents urged them to offer prayers together at the household shrine and then seek the blessings of the elders, by touching their feet.

“Mili…I…”

“Dinner is served!” Her father announced gaily and led the party into the yard. She marched after him paying no heed to her fiance, knowing fully well that it made her look like a willful child. Perhaps she did so because it reminded her of the past; when she’d almost always exercised the upper hand or simply because she enjoyed irking Ahaan. Nevertheless, she didn’t pause to figure out.

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A Life Worth Living 1: Turn

solo man

Prologue

It’s amazing how quickly life can take a turn. It really doesn’t take a lot to do.

Life is chugging along smoothly. Things are falling into place. Love is blooming offering you the most pleasant of surprises and unsurpassed joys. Don’t you dare hit the pause button. For, if you do you’ll realize something’s wrong. You’re a sinner and karma will get you sooner or later.

One moment you are running a fifty-mile marathon without breaking a sweat, you’re on top of the world gallivanting with the best and the greatest. Nothing, absolutely nothing can stop you. Yeah right! Because soon, before you can say hallelujah, you crash land at the bottom of the deepest darkest hole.  I know because that’s where I am right now, in that hole, watching helplessly the ravenous monsters as they feast away at my limbs. Their ugly furry bodies quivering with excitement in their feeding frenzy.

They are enormous these beasts. Enormous, nasty and mean. I cry and plead with them to go for my jugular and bring an end to this horrific tale but they won’t. They want me to suffer. They want me to live through hell and tell the tale.

And then, how quickly and easily we forget these bad days. I don’t think it’s healthy. Because bad days have a tendency to recur and it’s better to be prepared.

tbc

PS: The rest of the updates will be in a private blog. This story is the sequel of my best-selling novels ‘Inconvenient Relations’ and ‘Now and Forever’ with your favorite protagonists Shaan and Ruhi.

I invite readers familiar with the above to follow along this work in progress on condition you will comment not just read. If you’re willing please respond here with your email so I can send an invite. Thanks!

 

Announcing my New Blog @momspresso

Hello readers,

In order to take my stories to a wider audience, I’m expanding my footprint. I’m spreading my wings so to speak 🙂

I’ve started writing a new blog @Momspresso — a platform that provides content for multifaceted woman of today (in their own words). I’d like you my dear readers to also be able to read the wonderful content offered there. So please visit their site and while at it kindly check out and follow my New Blog @momspresso. Thank you and keep reading!

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 4: Coming to Terms

MIlan cover 1

Chap 3B

The Sun announced the dawn of another glorious day outside Mili’s window. But it wasn’t just another day—today was the day of her Roka (unofficial engagement) with Ahaan.

Sitting on the bed, her arms wrapped snugly around her bent legs, she watched the Sun play hide and seek with the clouds.

To her surprise, she had slept well last night. Perhaps it was because her conflict had been resolved. There were no more concerns, questions or doubts of what lay in wait for her in the immediate future and that definitely was a relief.

Then reality sank in. She was about to lose her single status and become someone’s wife; someone’s daughter in law. But to her amazement, she didn’t feel terrible about it. Rather she could sense an undercurrent of nervous excitement. Yes, it was going to be a learning process; a new life of responsibilities and compromises. But knowing that Ahaan would be by her side made it tolerable…more than tolerable.

Damn it! She blushed. All of a sudden her legs had turned to jelly. She wanted her mother badly.

“Mama!”

Mili ran into the large living area and saw that it was already abuzz with activity. Workers had arrived to spruce the house up for the big event—cleaning, painting, repair work which would be followed by lavish decorations just like 4 years ago during the occasion of her di Sheela’s wedding.

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