March 24, 2014

New beginnings

It's going to be a new slate once again. The fourth house in seven years, but with a big difference. With the tag of it being 'ours'. It's a ticklish feeling of entering your own abode. The 'site' that I had been visiting for the past several months, the brick and bare house that transformed bit by bit in front of my eyes, the house that no longer will be alluded to as the 'site' but our 'home', is finally ready-to-move-in and we are busy packing our belongings.

Does it feel euphoric? Do I feel like doing a small jig in the air, curl up my nose in pride to people who ask and say I'm going to my 'home'? Actually, no. This, and all the previous homes that I lived in was ours too till we decided to move out. You invest something more than money in every house that you stay, making it yours. Each time we moved out of a place, a home, we left behind a set of memories, collecting more nostalgia as we moved on.

The very first house after marriage was special for me in every sense. I was truly on my own, making small and big decisions for myself and for the home that was my husband's and mine. Every little item added to the house gave me a sense of pride and there is a lot of memory associated with every nook and corner in that house. The second house was where R was born into, where he first started to crawl and where I first learned to handle a baby, a house and the whole new dimension of motherhood. 

But, of all, this is one house I'll miss the most. This has been the one that gave me wings; a place that let me discover the mother in me and then re-discover myself after motherhood. Some lovely friends, a vibrant community, cultural events that I've been a part of, all of these added many rich layers to my relationship with this place. 

A major part of R's growing up has happened here. I still remember taking him down in his stroller, itching to make adult conversation, barely being able to nod and smile at someone before R's patience ran out and heading back home. A few months later it would be me running after R, still itching to make adult conversations but ending up exploring the empty vast parking lot of the complex and learning the car models along with R. Then, finally, the time came when R decided to play with other kids and when I actually could hold a conversation with fellow mothers for more than a while after a nod and smile. Our respective friendships blossomed, as a sub-set initially and then as individual entities where mothers of his friends did not need to be my friends and vice-versa; a long way we have come.

The routine also has a way of anchoring you to a place in many ways than one. The familiarity of faces, the genuiness of some, the quirkiness of some others, the feel-good factors, the irritants, all of these root you emotionally and sooner than you realize you relate yourself to a place with such parameters, not wanting to let go.

It's not easy saying good-bye. It's not easy to let go. But, let go, I must. To let me enable myself to anchor once again. To find the familiarity in the new, to discover new quirkiness and embrace some genuineness; to make a new routine and let in fresh emotions. To begin a new story on a new slate.

March 16, 2014

If only...


Sakshi was packing her bags for her week long business trip to Germany. Being on the advisory board of a multi-national firm her work involved a lot of travel all over the world. Normally, Ajay was very supportive of Sakshi’s work and the amount of commitment she needed to give it. Somehow, this time, for reasons he could not place a finger on, Ajay was not too keen on her going on this particular trip. 


“Do you have to go? What’s Varun doing? He can go instead.” Ajay argued. Varun was at the same level as Sakshi in the firm and they often collaborated on many projects.


“Oh, come on. He’s busy with the upcoming management event this week. Besides, his wife is expecting and is due to deliver anytime now. She needs him more.” Sakshi reasoned logically. As always she was right. 


They were as different as chalk and cheese. She was the cool-headed logical person and Ajay was the temperamental emotional fool. Yes. Quite contrary to the typical man-wife combination. Even their colour preferences defied the typical sampling but matched their personalities. She loved blue and he preferred red.


 An architect and designer by profession, Ajay too held a high-profile job that left them very little couple time. Their work-assignments always clashed. Yet, they made sure they were there for each other at all times. A quick call during the day, a SMS, or even over Whatsapp, they’d remain connected. 


Ajay loved Sakshi for the strong-headed, independent woman that she was.  Ace at her work, she was well-respected among her colleagues and seniors and had risen to a high position in the company within a short time-frame. He was proud of her and her achievements.


Yet, this time Ajay sulked. Being an emotional person, it was sometimes difficult for Ajay to argue his case with his highly rational wife who’d be amused at how much importance he gave to his gut feelings.


“It’s our anniversary next weekend. What if your trip gets extended? You know that’s a common occurrence with your kind of meetings.” he tried to play the emotional card.


“I’ll be back just in time for that, Honey. You know how much that day means to me too. Plan something.” said Sakshi with a twinkle in her eyes and left with a quick goodbye. 


Ajay ignored the uneasy feeling, putting it down to his own work pressure. He plunged into working on his pending assignments. This worked both ways-a happy client and a mind free from unwanted thoughts.


Despite her logical persona, Sakshi believed in lucky charms. A pair of blue earrings was, she believed, was her lucky mascot and she’d never leave for any business trip without those. However, just a couple of days before she left, she misplaced one of the earrings. 


“Was it a sign? She wondered aloud her pretty face knitted in worry. Of course, she couldn’t have been bothered for too long by things like these and within no time her practical side took over.


A couple of days after she left, her missing pair of earrings emerged magically from underneath a pile of papers when Ajay was looking for his missing file. His face broke into a smile and he felt the signs were good after all.


A week flew by. Ajay wanted to surprise Sakshi the day she arrived. A bunch of sweet-smelling roses were placed in the vase. He’d ordered for her favourite butterscotch cake with a tinge of blue icing-just the way she loved it. The upcoming weekend was to be spent at a lovely quiet beach resort - his anniversary gift to her. 


“We both need the break and time together” he mused thoughtfully.


Ajay checked his phone early that morning for his quota of news feed and any new messages. His twitter feed left him gasping for breath. Nothing in the world could have prepared him for the news that greeted him. The plane on which Sakshi was travelling had gone missing. The aircraft had lost contact with the radar a few hours ago and the fate of the passengers and crew was now hanging in mystery.


“If only I’d trusted my instincts this time. If only I’d managed to convince you to stay back. If only…..” cried out Ajay in deep anguish.
 




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The unfortunate event of the Malaysian airline has had me disturbed and the post is a result of it. Wish and pray for the lives of the innocent passengers aboard.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. It's a picture prompt this time.

March 15, 2014

Two sentence horror stories

Inspired by this, I decided to exercise my creative juices towards some horror stories. Hope you stay spooked enough :-)

The revelation

I laughed at my friend who claimed to be able to see and talk to ghosts. The laughter stopped at my throat when I glanced upon my garlanded photo on the wall.


An eerie connection

The mobile rang shrilly in the dead of the night at the musty, dark cottage. Preeti grabbed the phone fearing the worst, only to see a 'No network coverage' sign on her screen.


The encounter

As she sat on the couch, her back facing the lone window, waiting for her husband to come home, she felt a tap on her shoulder and looked behind to see her husband grinning to see his usual trick having the desired effect. Just then the doorbell rang and she opened the door to find her husband standing outside.

Noises

"A household with kids", mused Aarti on hearing myriad sounds of tiny feet running around, furniture moving and a swing creaking from the floor above. Being the new tenants of the two-floor apartment, she decided to befriend the upstairs neighbour, only to find the stairs end at the opening to an empty terrace.


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March 12, 2014

Book review: The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Publisher: Fingerprint (Prakash Books)
Pages: 352
Price on Flipkart: Rs.205


A debut novel by the Jewish-American author, this book tells a story from the eyes of a Palestinian boy, Ahmed Hamid, the eldest of 7 siblings, who lives with his family on a land that is laden with strife and hatred. The back-drop is that of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. A story told to convey the message that we need to rise above hatred and contempt to be able to bring about a peaceful co-existence.

Here's the blurb:



Ahmed Hamid, a is a gifted and very intelligent 12-year-old boy. Everyone in the village admires him and is impressed by him. Living on occupied land, his family lives with the constant fear of losing their homes, jobs and belongings. On his twelfth birthday, this fear becomes a harsh reality. Ahmed’s father gets imprisoned and all their possessions and their home gets confiscated. What will Ahmed do to save his family? He embarks on an inspiring journey using his intellect to rescue his family.

Now, I don't have an in-depth knowledge of the Israel-Palestine history, hence wouldn't be in a position to validate or critically evaluate the portions of historical significance. My review is  purely of the fictional story that is woven around the premise.

The pluses:

The story-telling is very engaging. In some ways, it did remind me of "The Kite Runner". The first few chapters left me disturbed as Michelle delved into the details of the brutal manner in which Ahmed loses his little sister and the hopeless situation in which Ahmed and his family live. The story then rises to that of hope and positivity when Ahmed, who has a natural talent for math and science, is shown to rise above all the desperation, killings and abject poverty and achieve academic and material success. 

The minuses:

There are some flaws and inconsistencies in the narration and there are times when you feel that the side-characters could've been given more shades. The protagonist hogs most of the story-line, but his character has been etched well. While Ahmed chooses to follow his father's advice and path of seeking goodness even in adverse conditions, Abbas, his brother, seeks refuge in hatred. It would've been nice if the author could have elaborated a bit of Abbas's side of the story too. That way it would've been a more balanced portrayal.

For a debut novel, it is pretty good. I'd recommend it for the some insightful advice given by Baba, Ahmed's father. 

My rating: 4/5

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This review is posted as part of Book Review Program by The Literary Jewels.

March 9, 2014

Will the witness speak?

This got selected by Blogadda as a WOW post!


This happened a couple of years ago during my tenure as a police officer in a small town near Guwahati, Assam. Sometimes what seems true is far from it and only a deep investigation will lead you to the core of the crime.

It involved a twenty year old girl, Arunima, who had gone missing suddenly. There was no suspicious trail of events. Involvement of a possible boy-friend was also ruled out as per the testimonies of her classmates. She belonged to a lower-middle class family and was apparently a studious girl whose life revolved around classes, college and home. She also did not seem to have many friends in college. 

The family was distraught. She was their only child. The father was a retired teacher who earned a measly income through tuitions and the mother pitched in by sewing embroidery work on hand-woven cotton fabric. They had put in all their hard earned savings to educate Arunima. She was about to start earning in a year's time after graduating from college and they had pinned a lot of hopes on her.

According to the mother, Arunima did appear a little worn out since a few days. Upon asking she had dismissed it as being preoccupied with her upcoming exams. The mother found no reason to worry further as Arunima had been a good students and a little anxiety was anyway natural before an exam. 

That fateful day was no different from any other normal day for Arunima. She had woken up early as usual and left for college. But, she never reached her college. Arunima always took a bus to college. The bus-stand was about 2 kms from her home and she travelled by foot to the bus-stand. The road to the bus-stand was not a busy stretch and also had a small lake that was equidistant from the stop and her home. 

Police dogs were set hot upon the trail. However, the dogs lost the scent near the lake. It had rained the previous night and it was quite slushy near the water body. We reached a dead end in our investigation. It did seem like Arunima could have slipped and fallen into the lake. The search team was set to fish out a possible dead body from the lake. It seemed like a open and shut case. Somehow, I felt that we were missing something. It did not seem plausible that Arunima could have slipped so much from the main path into the water. Unless she had chosen to be near the lake at that time and then had a accidental fall into the water. Why would she go near the lake at that time and hour?

I began my independent search near the lake-side in anticipation of some other clue. As I walked by some thick bushes just a little away, I heard a faint beep of a mobile phone. It seemed like the noise came from within the thicket. With the help of a few constables, I scoured the place and sure enough there emerged a phone. I looked for clues.The call registry showed two calls placed and one received from the same number in the last week. It was however the message history that nailed the case for me. The trail of messages read as below:

Sent: Meet me at 7 same place. 

Received: I'm not sure I want to.

Sent: Pls, you've to. Let me explain.

Received: K.
Date: 12th Jan 2011
Time recieved: 6.00 a.m.

Meanwhile, the search team found the dead body of Arunima. The autopsy confirmed the cause as death due to drowning

It was not difficult to then put everything together. The SMSes were exchanged with the same number that appeared more than once in the call registry. The time stamp of the last received message and the time of Arunima's disappearance were not too far apart. We confirmed Arunima's number from her family. It only remained to catch the culprit.


It was a case of one-sided love. The boy, Gaurav, had apparently expressed interest in Arunima a month ago but she was not interested. He'd wait for her near the lake everyday and tried to talk to her and convince her. Through his other friends he managed to get her number and called her a few times. Arunima had called up once to express her displeasure and threatened to tell her parents and the police. This explained the number trail in the call-registry. The trail of SMSes was exchanged on the fateful morning. 

Gaurav was nabbed and charged with murder. He admitted to having met Arunima at the place and time. However, pleaded guilty citing that the fall was indeed accidental and he panicked and ran away and lost the phone in the bush in a hurry. Whether she fell accidentally or was pushed we don't know yet.

The sole witness was the calm lake.

Judgement is still pending.


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Linking this to the write over the weekend theme at Blogadda.