Category Archives: Stories

Changes–Excerpt from ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree’

As a physician working in acute care I’ve seen many things that few others have and which are perhaps beyond a lay person’s imagination. Among these are few encounters that are etched in my mind. They have moved me, exposed me to my vulnerability and changed me permanently. I’ve learned so much.

I share a few of those encounters in my upcoming book ‘Under the Shade of The Banyan Tree’. Here’s one of them :–

Changes

Yesterday I met a young man in the hospital. I had seen him before, maybe a few months ago. He had an odd name, a name you don’t expect to forget easily, but I did somehow. I must be getting old, I think.

His name didn’t strike a bell when the ER doc told me about him, but I remembered his face.

“He’s a nice guy;” the ER doc said. “He really is,” he reiterated.

That had me curious. We don’t speak like that often. We physicians are a cynical bunch, you see.

I recognized the young man right away, and it was a shock. He didn’t look at all like he had just a month or so ago. He had shrunk. Literally deflated by several pounds and he had grown a beard to disguise his gaunt face.

He had been a young man in the prime of his life. Big, muscular, strong. Still hopeful and smiling, even after a heart attack at thirty-two. Still hopeful and smoking.

He was still smiling now, but it was a different kind of smile. There was diffidence in it and fear and uncertainty. There was also hope, but it was fading fast. It’s astounding how clearly I perceived it without him having to say a word.

Instinctively, I clasped his hand. It was perhaps the most spontaneous thing I’ve done. It was the best way I could express myself other than crying for this man’s life. That’d be a terrible thing to do.

He had given up smoking after the surgery. Ever since they told him he had cancer. We talked some more. I explained why he was here. The spots in his lungs could be pneumonia.

“Maybe they are,” he said and smiled. He’d become adept at dealing with bad news. He had aged beyond his years in such a short time. My heart wept for him.

#FreeKindleDownload! Get Them Before they’re Gone!

I’m offering ALL MY BOOKS (different titles on different days) for #FREE on #KINDLE over the next four days (October 21 through 24). After this period they won’t be available on Kindle anymore. So get them before they’re gone! And tell other bookworms too!

Please note the dates below:–

October 21 and 22– Inconvenient Relations and Now and Forever (Inconvenient Relations Book 2)

October 23 and 24 — The Accidental Wife and Milan

GET THEM HERE!

Milan (A Wedding Story) 3B: Yes!

 

3A

Chap 3 B: Yes!

—o—

It was late twilight. The Sun was about to set. The sky was awash with a plethora of hues that gave everything in sight a warm becoming glow, including the two young occupants of the far table close to the window.

Mili had pulled on a watermelon pink button down sweater, slate colored leggings and a scarf of the finest white pashmina, not realizing that she looked utterly fetching in the outfit. Ahaan,  in a deep navy pin striped shirt and tan casual pants was the picture of effortless elegance.

Mili tried to appear unperturbed, even as she felt Ahaan’s admiring gaze upon her. Both had barely touched their drinks.

Finally, mustering some courage, she began, “Ahaan..I…”

“Spill it out! Say it Mili,  that you can’t trust me enough to make you happy!”

“I didn’t mean that…” She said looking up, startled by his impassioned tone.

“Then what else was the purpose of this meeting?” He demanded, leaning forward in his chair, staring directly into her eyes.

Mili was shaken. Ahaan seemed to have a lot more vested in this than he had made her feel. It was not just an exercise to fulfill his mother’s wishes. The confident nonchalance he had displayed yesterday had disappeared, leaving in its place a certain raw vulnerability that had been a characteristic of the old Ahaan and it drew her to him. She tried to resist.

Continue reading

Milan (A Wedding Story) 3A: Indecision

Chap 2

Chap 3 A: Indecision

—o—

Continuing from where I left off 🙂

“Mili?…” Jai ventured at the dinner table, not having had the opportunity to converse with his daughter all day. For after the guests had left, she had locked herself up in her room until  her mother had finally coaxed her out for a bite. But she hadn’t tasted her meal…, just pushed the food around her plate for the past half hour.

She stood up, “I think I’ll turn in. It’s been a long day. Good night.”

“But beta (child) we have to talk…” Jai’s voice trailed off when he saw Mili disappear down the corridor without even a glance back. He looked askance at his wife, who was watching the proceedings with a discerning smile on her face.

“Kiran…we really do need to talk to her…”

“Our daughter is confused. Consider it a good sign.” She said, placing a reassuring hand on her husband’s.

`

Mili turned the TV off and tossed the remote away frustrated. Watching documentaries usually helped her fall asleep but not tonight. Her mind refused to distract itself from the topic of Ahaan. He had made it all so difficult.

She was indeed quite confused.  It was not black and white anymore. She couldn’t just pick up the phone and say no to him.

Why? Because she didn’t want to hurt him? Because she cared about how he felt? Did it mean that her feelings for him had undergone a drastic change or was it because they had been silly and unrealistic to begin with… A product of an immature adolescent mind. He had never really done anything to incur such animosity from her. His behavior had always been exemplary.

Perhaps mother is right. I victimized him because he was different and his silence made him easy prey. I acted like a cruel child, and he took it all quietly. Even now he bears no malice towards me whatsoever.

Mili was overtaken by tremendous guilt. I should apologize and tell Ahaan that I am not worthy of him.

Swinging her legs off the bed, she walked up to where her sitar rested. She picked it up and began playing absently. Her fingers flew up and down the instrument effortlessly, playing a favorite tune of their own accord.

‘I dabble in a little guitar myself…’

Mili smiled… ‘Dabble’ in Mr TOI’s vocabulary would equal a significant degree of proficiency. She could picture Ahaan strumming expertly on his guitar. Perhaps we could even do a Jugalbandi together, a musical east-west fusion.

No! What am I thinking? That could never be… A frown of distress marred her clear brow.

Placing her beloved instrument aside, she picked up the phone and dialed her elder sister’s number, but then changed her mind immediately.

No.. Sheela di (elder sister) will tell me to be obedient and submit to whatever mama and papaji decide because they know best,  Mili mused, recalling the events of four years ago when her sister had complied with Grandpa’s wishes and wedded his best friend’s young nephew, just because he had given him his word. She had quit her studies and had not uttered even a single word of complaint just because the family honor was at stake. It was a different matter altogether that Rohan Jiju (brother in law) had turned out to be the perfect match for her.

She opted to call her best friend Annie instead.

Continue reading

Rhythm and Blues Chap 31: Make-believe

Chapter 30

31: Make-believe

-0-

Diva stood at the entrance of the studio and watched his two friends like a proud mother watches her high achieving kids and pride swelled his chest.

They were doing what they did best–dancing. And when they danced they were in their element. Two gorgeous individuals in perfect synth—a condition so infectious it spilled over to the rest of the artists and made them give their very best.

The dance was a slow lyrical  number; a song about the triumph of love with plenty of lifts and intimate moves giving Shaan ample opportunity to romance Khanak and he made the best of it repeating certain steps over and over in the pretense of correcting other dancers’ mistakes, in the process making Khanak go red with embarrassment.

“I think everybody’s got it Shaan. We should let them work on their own now.” Khanak said breaking away when she found him on the verge of kissing her which was certainly not part of the routine. He let go of her reluctantly and though he tried hard, couldn’t cover his frustration.

That is exactly what happens when you bottle up your feelings, bachaa! Diva thought with a smirk. He sashayed up to the pair, “C’mon little ones….lets go home.”

“Home? Whatever for?” Shan had to work hard to control his scowl. He was in no mood to listen to anybody at the moment, particularly Diva with his far fetched ideas.

His friend’s false eyelashes went aflutter as he pouted, “For a photo shoot. An intimate portrait of two lovers which I feel should be documented for posterity… to inspire future generations.” He sighed. “Just like Shakespeare did with Romeo and Juliet even though they were fictional characters. But both of you are very much for real and the world needs to know don’t you think?” His sly wink enveloped both of them.

Continue reading

Romance Chap 5: The Inevitable

Chapter 4

5: The Inevitable

-0-

A few days passed without event. I was outside on our tiny terrace garden, a watering can in my hand, exchanging notes with my young neighbor while her good-looking bhaiyya hung around in the background and pretended to ignore me. I was in a great mood having received a very good offer from a renowned local clinic. Plus mom had made my favorite idli sambhar for breakfast which I took as a peace offering from her side.  

“Let’s go to a movie. How about you Manas?”

“I’d love to come. How about this Friday? I’m free after five,” Puja’s brother said catching my eye and I felt something akin to an old familiar excitement.

“Yes it’s a date!” I turned and skipped back inside, already thinking about what I was going to wear.

“Aanchal…!”

My hopes were dashed.

My mother confronted me again but this time she had company… my Dad.

I haven’t yet talked about him. There’s a reason. Because Dad and I shared a relationship which could be best be described as uncertain. Mom and I got along quite well. At least we had so far despite her many faults and likely mine as well. We usually found a middle ground. But it wasn’t the same with Dad.

To everyone; family, friends and neighbors included, Krishnakanth Govindrao Bhatt was a wonderful person. He was solid, hardworking, honest and reliable. And he was generous to a fault ever ready to lend a helping hand. But he had a vice that dismissed everything. At least it did for me–his love for drink. The bane of many families. It was what drove my brother away to join the army and make a life of his own. My mother’s years of sitting up late into the night waiting for Dad to come home and then having to deal with his drunken meanness with my assistance.  It is still as clear as day. I remember wrestling with him while he rained slurred curses on mom. Him telling me I was good nothing, the vile stench of alcohol on his breath. There were times he would retch up blood and we would rush him to the hospital. He always recovered. Always; only to return to his ways. I was traumatized. Perhaps that contributed to my anxiety and eternal self doubt. Perhaps it was the reason I could never open up to anyone because I couldn’t trust them. How can you after being betrayed by someone so close to you? Perhaps it was also the reason why I hadn’t confronted Rohan.

Dad did come around finally. I got him into a treatment program. He had been sober for almost five years though even now the fear would always haunt us when he didn’t return home on time.

I couldn’t forgive him. So I pushed him to the background. He didn’t mind. Rather he liked to remain there and let me do whatever I wanted. Maybe it was his way of saying sorry. Therefore I think it must have taken mom quite a bit of effort to have him back her today.

Continue reading

A Cup of Tea (Excerpt From Romance)

 

The flames in the fireplace flickered making the shadows dance across their faces as they regarded each other. A single thought occupied both their eyes. They could hear it as if it was being said loud and clear—Why, why does life behave this way?

Why did it have to them together at such a time?


Why did it brew this attraction? And he expressed it without any hesitation throwing her in confusion at first. She, who for sometime now had not considered herself attractive or for that matter even in the least interesting to the opposite sex. Then she realized it was for real and he was oh so sweet.

Why?


Her hand shook as she offered him the cup. She withdrew it right away and dug it into her pocket as if it would give her away. Her cold immune self.

Want to read more???

Romance Chap 4: They Like You

Chapter 3

4: They Like You

-0-

Mita’s wedding entailed a long weekend in Pune. It panned out to be quite a pleasant waste of time rather than the embarrassing ordeal I’d anticipated. The foremost reason being that I was saved from an inevitable run in with Suraj.

“He had to fly back to the States since he had used up his paltry two weeks of vacation,” Mita informed me with a morose droop of her pristine painted lips. “I begged him to stay, after all I’m like a sister to him, but he wouldn’t. He said his job was at stake. He has a tough boss.”

Thank heavens for ruthless capitalism; I thought trying to maintain a straight face. But then another provoked renewed anxiety. “How about his mother. Is she still here?”

My almost cousin shook her head. “She too had to leave. Kokila aunty dreads flying alone.”

I engulfed Mita in a bear hug and bid Suraj and his mother a gleeful goodbye.

Now, feeling slightly more in control of my future, I settled down to entertain myself. The birds of paradise were out in full plumage, each one more resplendent than the next. The carnival that was the marriage venue was a perfect setting for them. I floated by with a chilled glass of kokum sherbet in my hand, and watched from what appeared like a safe distance. I caught snatches of conversation, exchange of news and gossip, punctuated by the tinkle of merry laughter. But when I attempted to look closer, I witnessed a different scene altogether. It was filled with envious, lonely and unhappy hearts that yearned forever in silence. I turned away disgusted with myself. My profession was making me feel like an intruder.

Continue reading