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The Ritual (A Short Story)

ritual

It was at one of the five star hotels, Marriott I think, the fancy one in Juhu. Thank heavens it wasn’t at his home.

The room was cavernous and daunting with creepy shadows all over created by the hidden lighting everyone is so crazy about nowadays. I was led there by two of my new husband’s giggly cousins. I’d have loved to smack their pretty faces but that’d have invited a ruckus. Besides, I was preoccupied. I was terrified. Terrified of doing it with someone I didn’t know anything about. What little I did could be googled on the web. But then was my lot different from other women. Examples were all around me–my mom, aunts, cousins, friends.

Maybe it was because everything had happened so fast; because I had no clue of the future; because the ghost of Rohan still clung to me like my own shadow. Because. Because. Because.

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A Life Worth Living Ch 5 (1): The Center of her World

solo man

Chap 4 (2)

It was close to ten in the morning. Last night I’d come back to the room quite late and had found both mom and baby fast asleep. It was tough to get comfortable on the recliner but somehow I’d managed to fall asleep and woke up just a few minutes ago. I’d chosen to remain in my position and watch the play of expressions on my wife’s face as she interacted with our little one. I found them delightful as they were all brand new.

“Don’t you think the bump is smaller today?” Ruhi asked when she realized I was awake. I tossed aside the thin blanket the nurses had provided and loped over to the bed. I caressed the little head with my hand. It did appear less prominant. I could feel the slight irregularity, it was soft, cushion like, as if there was fluid inside. It didn’t appear to hurt the baby at all. She was wide awake, her clear black eyes drifting around, coming to pause for a moment on our faces then drifting again. I wasn’t sure if she could see us, or make out our faces. If she could, (which was highly improbable) did she know who we were? Regardless, I was sure she knew she was safe. She was going to be beautiful, just like her mother, and brave and strong. I saw Ruhi was waiting impatiently for my assessment. “She’s going to be just fine, jaan, she’s her mother’s child afterall.” 

“And her father’s.”

“Yes, she’s our child. Congratulations my love.” I leaned forward and kissed Ruhi. It was a kiss of reassurance and love; a promise that we were in this together no matter what. For godsakes why was I having such morbid thoughts.

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A Life Worth Living Ch 4 (2): From 2 to 3

solo man

4 Part 1

The lobby was deserted. The automatic sliding doors of the entryway were locked. The Afterhours Exit is to your Left—a sign pointed toward the ER. I saw lights flashing outside and people running. Curious, I walked over to the doors. A helicopter had landed on top of the hospital. A few EMTs rushed out with a stretcher. I guessed they were ferrying someone to another facility. Someone very sick. It was one thirty in the morning. Just like babies, sickness too arrives unannounced. The thought left a bad taste in my mouth.

I turned to the vending machines and scanned the repertoire—chips, salted peanuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix, fat free popcorn, pretzels, power bars. They even had one dispensing hot sandwiches. Yuck!

I was engulfed by a sudden craving for homecooked food. Ruhi’s parathas; mom’s baingan bharta—If I closed my eyes, I could smell the aroma, almost. Mom–the word stirred a flurry of emotions. I felt my heart squeeze inside my chest. What would she be doing now, I wondered. Lunch would be almost over if things still operated as they did before. After I’d left home all those years ago. Of course they did. Why would anything change?

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A Life Worth Living Ch 4 (1): From 2 to 3

solo man

3: Okay

And so, it was. Never ever, even if I wished for it. But why would I? I thought, as I looked at her delicate little self, fast asleep, cocooned in her doting mother’s embrace. So tiny, yet so perfect. I couldn’t tear my eyes off her. What an entry she’d made. Her cry echoing through the halls of the labor and delivery unit making me smile and tears of joy sprout from her exhausted mother’s eyes.

Her poor mother, my wife, was beat. After almost 24 hours of ineffective pushing and perspiration, when our baby girl began showing signs of distress, Dr. Shepherd didn’t like the way her heart was reacting– speeding up and slowing down; so, she decided to force matters. She talked us into something called a vacuum device, to pull our baby out. I had my doubts, it sounded quite medievel, but there was no time for questions or research. It worked like a miracle. The baby slid out in seconds, but she had what looked like a big bump on her head. The doctor assured me it was nothing. “It’ll be gone in a couple of days;” she said. Ruhi, though, was oblivious to this slight inconsistency. The little bundle in her arms had hijacked all her attention. I don’t think she was even aware she was bleeding. The blood gushed out of her like a river. The doc had to stitch her up. I doubt anyone realized how much she’d lost till they sat her up in the wheelchair to transport her to another room and she promptly passed out. They had to give her two pints! Continue reading

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 10: Closer

Milan-cover (2)

chap 9

Mili was uptight. In fact, that had become quite the usual for her nowadays. Anxiety, confusion, sheer nervousness when she was in Ahaan’s company; agitation, restlessness, a maddening confusion when she was not—for sure she was becoming irreversibly unhinged, she had no doubt about it.

She contemplated herself in the mirror; having lost count on how many times she had changed her outfit tonight. Nothing seemed to fit the bill. It was going to be the first time they would be seen socially together and she didn’t want to let him down, rather she wanted to impress him, make him puff up with pride. But how—she worried as her eyes ran critically over her shapely frame enhanced to perfection by the charcoal dress with a silvery sheen that shimmered each time she moved. Was it too revealing? No, she didn’t think so; it did cling but not too blatantly, with the scoop neck revealing just the right amount of silky skin. But would he think so too?

Oh Ahaan! How much do I not know about you!

“But I don’t care! Let him think what he wants to! After all, it was his decision to marry me, not mine!” She defiantly addressed her reflection.

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You Will Always be My Mother

 

Our bond transcends Time, Worlds and Space. 

Our relationship doesn’t need a ceremony, or an oath, or witnesses, or a piece of paper.

It doesn’t need a special day, a reminder, or a note on the calendar. 

It doesn’t need talk, work, gifts and or constant reassurances. 

It is there when I need it, and I know it’ll always be there.

I can count on it at any time, I can make demands of it.

I can ask you to lay down everything else for me and you will

Because

I will always be your daughter and you will always be my mother.

Thank you, Mom!

 

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 9: 4 Weeks..

Milan-cover (2)

Chapter 8

Chap 9: 4 Weeks..

—o—

Mili woke up with a start. It took awhile for her to get oriented. Sitting on the bed, her limbs entangled in the mussed up sheets, she waited for her pulse to slow down, while watching the tiny fragments of dust float in the rays of the morning sun.

It had been a restless night; of memories and dreams, real and unreal; of realizations; of flights of fancy, the very notion of which made her burn with mortification.

Why had Ahaan told her all that he had? How would she be able to face him now, without imagining herself in his arms? How would she be able to dispel such thoughts from her head? He had completely upset her equilibrium and she hated him for it!

A loud knock at the door made her jump.

“What is it?” Mili called out irritably. She was just getting settled into an imaginary argument with Ahaan.

Kiran stepped in, “beta (child), what’s going on? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Maa…I…I,” Mili’s eyes sought the clock as she tried hard to shield her agitation, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize…I must have overslept…”

But Kiran was shrewd. Little escaped her doting mother’s eyes, but whatever she saw pleased her. Sitting on the bed, she pulled her daughter gently into her arms, “I have news for you…”

“`
4 weeks…

Mili stood in front of the floor length mirror, and contemplated herself. But instead of an image of a beautiful young woman on the brink of life, she could only see a tangled mess of nerves. With trembling hands she drew her muslin scarf  over her head and was suddenly startled by the sound of something heavy scraping against the window sill.

It was Ahaan holding a medium sized terracotta pot.

“What are you doing here?” She demanded, quite rattled.

“Since I wasn’t able to go hunting for wildflowers today, I chose to pick something from your own garden. I hope you don’t mind,” he said with a rueful grin.

“But why the whole pot and not just a flower?”

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Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 7: Sugar and Spice

MIlan cover 1

Chapter 6

“Mili!.. You can’t do this. You can’t just run away and leave me high and dry!” Ahaan complained aloud when after searching up and down several narrow streets of the small hillside town, he came upon her standing casually at a relatively large crossroad.

She didn’t say a word, nor did she look at him.

He smiled, understanding the cause of her irritation–herself, and decided not to pursue the topic any further. “Lunch? I’m sure we can agree on that.”

She glanced up at him. He had uttered the right words. “Fine. Where do you wish to go?”

“Hmmm…” He glanced at his watch, “I think La Belle Vie is 15 minutes or so from here. Sid recommends it. Shall we give it a try?”

“Have you made reservations?”

“No. Anyway we should be able to get in. Don’t expect much of a crowd on a weekday.”

“OMG Ahaan! Are you out of your mind? No reservations means no food.” Mili exclaimed. “They won’t even let you hang outside and wait for a table. Annie and I made the same mistake last week and were turned away very rudely!”

Ahaan frowned irritably. “Then the only option left is the Taj…”

“Which is at least 2 miles uphill…”

He let out a frustrated sigh.

“We could certainly go home…Ramu kaka could whip up some…”

‘No way, Mili! I’d rather go hungry,” Ahaan interjected vehemently, “not that I have anything against Ramu kaka…”

Mili smiled,  observing him as he cast his eyes into the distance with arms folded across his chest in feigned nonchalance. His earnestness to spend time alone with her was sweet to behold.

“Then there is only one way out. I know of the perfect place where the food is great and there is no wait whatsoever!”

“Then why didn’t Sid tell me about it?”

“Because it’s my little secret and he won’t be caught dead there!”

“Why…? Hey wait up!” Ahaan had to give up on his inquiry, because Mili had already taken off downhill at a fast clip.

`

He flashed a dubious glance at her when she led him into a tiny strip mall and his heart sank to the pits of his stomach when she came to a standstill in front of a tiny nondescript mom and pop eatery called Marwari Bhojanalaya (Marwari Food Joint.)

“What the…”

“Hush! No cursing in public!”

“I wasn’t… but this is…” Ahaan’s downcast expression said the rest.

“I know but looks are deceptive. Wait till we get in. Besides I have a terrible craving for Daal Baati (lentil soup with wheat dumplings) and this happens to be the only place in Coonoor that serves it.”

Ahaan looked doubtfully at the sizable crowd which had formed a queue outside, “I thought you said that there’d be no wait…”

“I said right. Follow me.” Milli replied with confidence, then marched calmly ahead. After jostling aside a few annoyed customers, she barged into the joint, where to Ahaan’s surprise, they were immediately directed to a table with a plastic ‘Reserved’ sign.

“You had it all planned!”

His fiance managed to look sheepish but only just, “My cravings started in the morning, plus I didn’t get to eat any breakfast. You gobbled up all the idlis (steamed rice cakes)!”

Ahaan glowered at her while reluctantly taking his seat. All he wanted to do at the moment was to rush outside, but incredible hunger overwhelmed his instincts and the aroma in the place fanned it even further. His hopes for a romantic  tête-à-tête were completely destroyed for not only was the tiny tavern packed to the gills with noisy customers but their table was also situated in the dead center of the room. He wondered what had caused Mili to bring him over here. Was she afraid to be alone with him?

“Eat your food. You have been frowning at your plate for the past 5 minutes.”

He woke up from his unhappy reverie to discover Mili beaming at him while slurping the thick yellow daal (lentil soup) from a katori  (small bowl). She appeared ecstatic, floating in some kind of culinary paradise and the vision brought an indulgent smile to his lips.

You lose some, but then you also gain a lot.

He chose to indulge her, but no sooner had he placed a sampling of the spicy wheat baati (dumpling) in his mouth that they were inundated by a flood… a flood of people—the same ones who had been staring unabashedly at them for sometime. Perhaps they had been biding their time, waiting for the appropriate moment.

Mr. Sundaram, in a starched white shirt and dhoti, ventured to be the initial player. First he asked Mili to be introduced to the young man who was accompanying her. Then turning to Ahaan with a bright smile, he volleyed at him a barrage of queries about his life in the capital, his father’s death, his job (including his experiences in dealing with foreign governments,) so on and so forth.

Ahaan, to his credit maintained his cool, and replied in the most succinct and businesslike manner. But matters didn’t end there, for Mr. S was followed by Mr. M, who was followed by Mr. L, then Mrs. V, all wanting to know the exact same information. Ahaan had never been interrogated by so many people before. Soon he was assailed by profound claustrophobia.

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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!

Musafir #Descanso Gardens

 

Musafir (the heart is a traveler) recommends– Descanso Gardens 🙂

DG is a 150 acre botanical garden located in La Canada Flintridge. It’s an ocean of peace in the concrete jungle called LA. Do check it out to reconnect with yourself once done with the maddening sensory overkill of Hollywood. Besides the usual trappings it has two unusual vertical gardens or green walls (a technique to grow plants on a vertical panel using hydroponics) that force us to think about nature and perhaps ourselves in a different way.