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I’m trying something new here– narrating one of my stories.
A Cup of Chai—This short story was published in my newest book Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree.
Roma, is a recently married young Indian woman, who arrives in the United States. This story is about some of her experiences. Please do check it out. And check out the book too.
A Cup of Chai- Part 1 of 2.
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She lay in her bed unable to sleep yet again, but this time for a different reason; Khanak was excited! She was impressed by how Shaan had come through on his word and so quickly and efficiently had got both their families on the same page. He was as he said a man of action, not just words. Things had happened in such rapid succession, she felt as if she needed to pause to catch her breath but then he always had that effect on her. She blushed with embarrassment and hid her head in the pillow, when she recalled the lessons he had planned for her. The funny part was, she knew exactly what he meant thanks to her education but was a novice when it came to the actual experience. It frightened and excited her at the same time. She closed her eyes tightly trying to wish away the images forming in her mind’s eye. It was to no avail.
Drenched in refreshing moisture, earth bursts into colorful melody-
Simi K. Rao
Monsoon in India is a special time. The overcast black skies, the drumroll of thunder, invoke the thrill of anticipation in the thirsty heart. This is then fulfilled by the downpour. And what a downpour it is!
Extending from June- September, the monsoon brings welcome relief from the stifling heat of the summer. The happiness is visible not just on the faces of the citizens but also on the parched earth– the fragrance of the soil, the blossoming of the vegetation, the songs of the cuckoo, the dance of the peacock.
It wasn’t just a grove. It was a magical, mystical jungle of living, breathing giants that left Shaan awe struck. Neither of them spoke as they ambled slowly on the well-worn dirt paths and listened to the trees, some almost two thousand years old, as they related tales of times gone by. Of emperors, and kings and queens, and of battles fought for love and for greed.
A sudden transformation came over Ruhi when they came upon a fallen tree. She leaned against the dead trunk; her frame dwarfed by its girth, then closed her eyes and whispered in a voice rife with melancholy. “Who am I but a speck of dust this poor soul can’t even see?”
Shaan couldn’t keep his emotions in check. He hauled her into his arms and they wept together as they grieved for their mutual loss.
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
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.
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!
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.
The wait is over! My new book Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree–Poems, Rants and Short Stories is Available Now in paperback and eBook.
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!–
“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.)
“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.