Friday, April 25, 2014


Short Story  
‘Is this in the center?’ Riya asked aligning the ‘golden’ back portion of the throne with the seat.

‘Move it slightly to the right,’ Saahil instructed. He was sitting on the makeshift platform on the other side. ‘Yes that’s it.’

Riya fixed it with pins and fevicol. They were supposed to complete the set design today. The crisis demanded all hands to pitch in and complete the set for shooting to start the next day.

As Riya came out of the studio it was getting dark that winter evening.

She started to walk towards the bus-stop and heard someone coughing behind her. She turned around and saw a bald hefty man about ten paces behind her. He was looking at her legs, it seemed. He raised his deep beady eyes to her and smiled. His let’s-be-friend-gaze chilled her to the bone. The various newspaper headlines glided in front of her eyes. She regretted refusing Saahil’s offer of dropping her to the bus-stop.

She reached the bus-stop and to her relief found an old lady there. The man also reached the stop and waited at a distance. She gathered the courage to glance at him. He was still looking at her with that same smile. He grinned when he caught her stare. She tightened her lips and looked away.

To her alarm the old lady took an auto-rickshaw and went away. From the corner of her eyes she saw the man coming towards her. Her heart began to race in panic. Riya put her hand inside her purse and caught hold of the pepper spray Tina had given her a long time back.

‘Madam…,’ he said approaching her. Her heart thudded.

She went a step back. ‘Look mister… stay away from me.’ She frantically tried to bring out the spray, but the can got stuck in the narrow opening of her bag. She wildly pulled at it.

He raised his hands in the air. ‘No… no… it’s just that---’

‘I said stay away. If you touch me I will break your head,’ she yelled. She was becoming hysterical, the can was still stuck. To her surprise the man stepped back.

‘No… no… you have something at the back.’ He gestured with his hands.

‘Huh…’ She scowled, no way. She wasn’t going to listen to him and look back. It must be a ploy to attack her. ‘Just stay away from me or I won't be responsible for anything,’ she threatened.

He raised his hands, palms out and backed away.

She took deep breaths to control her racing heart. She twisted the can upright and brought it out of the bag. Now she was in control. She glanced at the man, he looked a little miffed and stared at the road.

She felt something was amiss and discreetly felt her back. She recoiled in disgust when her hand touched something coarse and hairy. She turned her head and saw a black thing stuck behind her. She took it off. It was a fake moustache-beard from the king’s costume. 

Saahil would be murdered tomorrow – she thought and smiled.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I am an addict!

It all started because of the stupid (my favorite word at that age) school library rule. We had to issue at least one book every week. Little did I know the stupid rule was about to change my life. The magic must have been in the air when I found Nancy Drew ‘The Mystery of 99 steps’. Though I don’t remember the entire story, but I can still feel the lingering euphoria when the mystery was solved. Nancy Drew was my first mystery/ suspense heroine.

The second wave of magic weaved its spell when I issued Georgette Heyer’s ‘The Reluctant Widow’ from the senior library, which was the only novel in the library apart from classics. With Lord Carlyon the handsome hero and Miss Rochdale a courageous heroine, I was hurled into the world of adventure, suspense and romance, in that order.

I was addicted!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Venom & Elixir

Short Story  

The little girl was standing at the threshold of the room, unable to understand the fuss around the two babies in the cribs beside her mother’s bed in the hospital. 

Her mamaji, was standing at the only window in the room, deep in his thoughts and her mother was sobbing with occasional hiccups. The little girl waited for her father to take them home so that she can have hot, soft and fluffy rotis, her mother was famous for. Today was their third day in the hospital and she was fed up of cold food coming from mamaji’s house.

Mamaji turned from the window. ‘What’s taking him so long, he should have been here by now?’

‘He will not come,’ her mother replied. One of the babies squirmed, her mother mechanically rocked the crib.

‘What nonsense is this? Children are a gift from God, how can he not acknowledge them! It has been two days and no one from his family has come to see the babies!’ He started towards the door and said, ‘I will go and call him from the reception again.’

Were they talking about her father? He wasn’t like that! He will come to take them home. He loved them. The little girl frowned.

Her mother started to sob again. She had been crying off and on since her two baby sisters were born. Sure they looked red and squiggly and cried for milk at times, but looked cute when they yawned or opened their eyes. She had been helping her mother for the past two days and had got a little attached to them.

‘He says, he is not going to take you and the girls home.’ Her mamaji came thundering inside the room. ‘He will send Neha also and wants a divorce!’ Saying so, he sat heavily on the only chair in the room with his head in his hands. Her mother stopped weeping and looked listlessly outside the window.

The little girl stood frozen at his words. That’s impossible! Her father was sending Neha here and would not be taking them home? But why? Her little eyebrows furrowed, she looked at her mother and then back at her mamaji.

‘Ma?’ She called out. Her mother continued to look outside without any change in expression. ‘Ma!’ she repeated, pleading now.

Her mamaji beckoned her and cuddled her in his lap. Her mother looked at her and started to cry again.

‘Papa will not do that, he will take us home. He loves Neha, ma and me.’ She reasoned trying to comfort her mother. To her chagrin, instead of smiling and agreeing with her, her mother burst into another inconsolable bout of crying. The eight year old could not understand anything and started to cry herself.


Night came and still her husband had not sent any word or message. Her brother and his wife had left, consoling her with the promise to talk to her husband the next day. But she knew nothing will come out of any discussion. Her husband and mother-in-law would not allow her to step inside the house. She was carrying twins. They had made very clear that if she gave birth to daughters again; she would have no place in the house. Her mother-in-law’s astrologer had predicted that there are only daughters in her chart and they wanted a son.

Dry eyed, she looked at Naina, sleeping on the couch and fingered the phial under her pillow. If she was not there, at least he would keep the daughters, even if he married again. Her daughters will have a roof on their head and food in their bellies. Will he take care of them if she was not there? Who will feed and bathe them? What if they fell sick? Who will look after them? She wasn’t sure? She wasn’t sure of anything these days? Was this the end? The final journey and her destiny. A tear escaped from her eyes and got soaked in the pillow. She took the phial out.

‘Ma?’ She came back to present with a jolt.

‘Ma…’ Naina was awake and stood beside the bed. Naina wiped the tears with her little fingers and said, ‘Don’t worry ma, don’t cry. It’s alright. I will take care of you all.  I will never leave you.’

The phial slipped from her fingers and crashed on the floor.

She pulled her joy… her pride on the bed, hugged her hard and started to cry. This time the tears were of hope and courage!