Saturday, December 31, 2011


She was mighty. She was feisty. She was the epitome of strength. She was gentle. She was fierce. She was the centre of peace. She flowed like an angry woman, like a Kali. But in her every splash, there was power. In her every sound, there was grace.


It was three days of hiking and walking. They were tired. They had shed their many layers but still felt warm in the 5 degree weather. There was something in the air that generated the heat. Some might call it passion. But I, I would call it love. Yes. Love. You know that feeling of togetherness and care. Well, they looked in love to me. Smiling, laughing, talking, joking, so much joy and peace in the others' company. It reminded me that love that pure still existed. They rested in my shade for a while. They were hidden from the world for a while. The path was deserted anyway. They had been walking, hoping to find a bridge to cross the river. They had strayed from the road usually taken. But none of them looked perturbed by it. On the contrary, they marched on determined.
Finally, they reached a place where the river was narrow. Sandra, dressed in a blue jacket and denims, said, "This might be where she is thinnest, ladies." Anne replied, "But I am wearing stockings woman. I need to take it out." Dressed from top to bottom in black, her eyes had an impish glint. She laughed as she said, "Wait, so are both of you!"
Karen said with a smile, "We better go take them out. The place where we rested against the mountains a while ago seems ideal. It was hidden."
They walked back to the isolated spot. They sat down, leaned against the rusty mountain and quickly took out their stockings and socks. They stuffed them in their backpacks and drank a sip of water before moving on.
"I feel like a bull ready to charge," Karen said as she pulled her dark pink sweater on.
By the river bed, they stood and watched her, the mighty Kali Gandaki. Her blue waters shone in the little sunlight. The cold chill around her gave them jitters. Her fierce splashes against the rocks made them stop and stare.
Karen advised, "The rocks will be slimy so watch out. Tread slowly and carefully."

Photo credit: Selene
All three of them took out their shoes, held them in their hands as they stepped in. The icy cold water sent chills up their spines. The tip of their folded jeans got wet by the force of the current. But they inched forward one step at a time. They even seemed to enjoy it after a while. When they were nearly halfway, Sandra slipped and almost fell in. She steadied herself and stopped.
She saw both Karen and Anne had stopped to check on her. They seemed to have shared a joke as they laughed right about then. In that pause, they must have felt the force, power and strength of the Kali being unleashed. But it only gave them the needed determination to walk on.

Soon they had crossed over to the other side. They had waded through icy cold water in high current. They seemed pleased with themselves as they wore their shoes back on. They sat down and looked at the river for a while. The obstacle they just crossed seemed to have not been disturbed by their presence. They walked on stronger, wiser and more together than before.

Their only witnesses were the Kali and me, the mountains. I have seen many locals cross the river each day. But there was something about them. The river seemed to empower them somehow. They looked happy to take on the Kali, they seemed pleased to have the others around while they did it. For once I felt, the Kali had met her match. The day she met the three feisty women.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dancing to our tunes.

I entered the bar and hunted for her. The loud music made me cringe but I had to go in as I promised her I would meet her here. The place was packed on a lousy Wednesday evening and it smelt more of cigarettes than alcohol. I took a deep breath to calm myself down and continued looking for her. I finally found her sitting on a bar stool deep in conversation with a man. My heart sank. He looked dreamy and charming. Did I have reason to worry? I knew she loved me, cared for me and wanted to be with me. No man would ever be competition for me. I tried to not pay heed to that green eyed monster. Yes my jealous thoughts are cliché. Can you blame me? This feeling makes thinking very difficult.  And why did she have to look so hot anyway. I could imagine I was one of the few that found women in oversized clothes turning on. But the dark grey sweater, skinny jeans and black heels made her look delicious. The sweater even brought out her eyes, or is that expected from someone who is smitten. At that moment she spotted me. “S!! Finally love. I have been waiting. You look hot in that dress hon,” N said as she kissed my cheek. “This is Robert. I met him here. He brought us Martinis,” she added. There was a devilish look in her eyes. She knew her extrovert ways bothered me. But I knew my anxiety just encouraged her. We have been living together for eight months. Why does a man, who we will never meet again, cause me worry and unnecessary heartache? Beats me.
Her coy smile and tug at my hand brought me back to our reality. “S! Your martini must be on its way. We can sit at the back of the pub,” N said. “No love. We will sit wherever you want,” I replied holding her hand a little tighter. My grip made her a bit more comfortable. She waved bye to Robert and we wandered to a private spot. In that moment I realised how different we both are. She loved outdoor gatherings like such and an occasional dance night-out. I preferred avoiding human contact on most days. She ridiculed my ways but never with much seriousness. Such small things we never held on to as we were “in love” or as people would term it in "our honeymoon phase". I was just insecure as she was so obnoxiously attractive and supremely interesting too. I constantly felt the need to know she would stay mine. How very acquisitive of me.
We haven’t told our parents or our friends for that matter. We just have it lipsticked on every mirror in the house we lived in. I have wanted to tell everyone and anyone for a while. But I understand her need for time. Being together, living together worked fine for us. It was not going to go down well with our parents though. And sometimes I didn’t want to care. She did care and I learnt to restrain from ever bringing it up. After forty fights about the same thing, you learn quick.
“Oh S! You are in one of those moods today,” N said bringing my-not-suitable-for-pub thoughts to a halt. I then realised she had been staring at me and stroking my manicured hands with her petite ones. Something that usually made my heart skip beats. But I was buried in thoughts to notice.
“Sorry love,” I said noticing my drink had arrived as well. “I was on another planet. I am all yours now,” I replied giving her a soft kiss. She seemed pleased as she held me there for a few moments. The DJ right about then played “our song”. The song is called our song, we didn’t have a song picked out yet. She looked at me with a cheeky smile knowing I would want to slow dance. My legs were shaking with anticipation. She knew me so well. I stood up and led her to the dance floor. She looked breathtaking. Her eyes shone with love and her smile spoke of a superior connection we shared.
I pulled her close to me. She rested her head on my shoulder and we swayed in complete silence. Not the uncomfortable kind. But, the kind where volumes of conversation is exchanged. We stayed that way for a long time. Songs changed, the pace changed too, but we couldn’t get out of our world.
“S!” she said in a voice that was coated with concern. “Thanks for coming today. We have both been so busy. Our worlds don’t intersect too often on an everyday basis; with you and your confined writing and me with my obsessive consulting. But occasional nights like this make me realise I couldn’t be with anyone else. In all our differences, and we both know there are many, we have built our heaven,” she said. 
Credit: Getty images
I pulled her closer and her deep sigh brought our conversation to an end. We danced our ‘special’ dance to tunes that we had made, in the world we had written for ourselves. We didn’t notice the stares we got that night or any time after. We had found a place we could call our own, far away from the cruel judgments of the world. We danced our time away.

This is part two of a story. Read part one here.

Note to the reader:
I try very hard to not write cliche stories. But this one was one I was tempted to write. :) Hope you enjoyed it. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inking our magic


Dear N,

I can hear the raindrops hitting against my window. I sense an anger in their relentless patter, a frustration being released. An outlet for he, she or it above. I feel trapped inside this house. My negative thoughts loom at large and corner me in the dark. I feel far away from everyone and everything. I need a change of scenery N. Wish you were near. How are things at your end? Is the city treating you well? I am jealous of all those people who would enjoy the pleasures of your delicate touch and your genuine smile. To me, here, everyone seems too fake.
I find myself missing the sound of your laughter that lit up my dark moments. Tell me how you feel, N. Let these letters write our lives apart, together. I know the letter is short, but you have always read between the lines.
Smile N. For me.
Thinking of you fondly,

Eight days later.


Dear S,
I received your heartfelt letter today. I needed it. Your voice rings in my ears as I read the words you wrote. I miss our weekly outings. This separation from all things you is not very good for me. I imagine how you must look now. I picture that smile your face adorned. I crave that love which was visible in your eyes. The love that you never needed to put into words. I sniffed your letter today. It didn't really smell of you, but.
Everything seems so distant and cold here. I meet people, yet I am never present in their company. Work is painfully slow. Your letters take me to a place far away from the mundane.

Wishing you were here,

Fifteen days later.


Dear N,
I wait for your letters eagerly. I know I can always tell you what's on my mind. I slept with someone, N. I needed to feel comforted by a man's touch. I needed to feel less like an outsider. It was just a one-night stand you know. But I feel worse after it. As always, I know you will understand. You will never judge. I remember when I told you about my first 'escapade'. We were lying on your bed at home. You fell off laughing. Idiot. Sometimes, I wake up and I can hear your laughter.
Turning 25 is not suiting my parents very well. They are looking for a man for me to marry. How will I ever tell them that I am not interested. Marriage seems like a bond I can never uphold. It seems like the farce can't be taken so far.
My work, too, seems snail paced. I am either at work or holed up reading. I think life is passing me by N. I think I am watching my own life flash before me. I found a picture of you in those tiny hot pants of yours. Yes, those that you never liked getting out of. I miss the addictive smell of cigarettes around you.
I miss you, N. Everyday.
Come visit me here soon,

Six days later, Nina sat in her living room with a letter in her hand. She had tears in her eyes. She called her office to take emergency leave for ten days. She made up her mind to go visit Sandhya. She decided it would be a surprise. She would just land at her doorstep she thought. She went to bed smiling that night. She would be seeing her dear friend Ssandhya in two days.

Two days later, she rang the bell of Sandhya's house at 8 in the morning. A voice bellowed back at her, "Who is it? Are you worth waking up at this ungodly hour?" Nina did not respond and silently chuckled to herself. The door opens and there Sandhya stood in a skimpy nightgown, frowning. But the frown changed into a look of surprise as she said, "What kind of weird dream is this?" Sandhya screamed. Nina inched closer to her and hugged her for what seemed like forever. Five minutes later, Nina replied, "So I can't want to see my angel huh?"


For the next five days, Nina and Sandhya spoke, laughed, relaxed, ate, drank and fell deeper in love with the other. The dependency was always what brought them back to the other. Their relationship had always been more than just friendship. They both always knew. It had been unsaid but understood. On their last night together Sandhya said to Nina, "Maybe we move to the same city and live together? I think it's time. I am not afraid to admit it now."
Nina smiled. In response she leaned in and gave Sandhya a kiss. The timing was right. The moment was set. Right there on the floor of Sandhya's room in a corner of the world, Sandhya and Nina sealed their love with a kiss.

Long after Sandhya went to bed, Nina sneaked out of bed to make an entry in her diary that night. She wrote...


Dear N,
"I kissed your lips and held your hands. Shared your dreams and shared your pain. I've been addicted to you."
Why should our love story be any different from every other love story.

Nina switched off the night lamp and crawled under the sheets. The raindrops played a soothing background music. Nina slept holding Sandhya and the rainy night suddenly felt warm. She was soaked in the warmth of their love, after all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

50 word fiction


It was a cold winter's night. I reached over to check the time. The time seemed right; right to end my life. I stood on my balcony ready to jump. Just as I climbed over the grill, I heard her voice. 'Stop,' she said. I did just that. For now.


Her eyes welled up. 'It's a girl,' she told me. I walked in to hold her. 'She has your eyes,' I said as I gave the baby back to her. "You don't need him child. We'l be fine,' I said. She broke down one last time. For ever more, she put her brave face on.


He stood there. Sorry knelt there, eyes filled with love. 'Will you marry me?' he asked. She wanted to. She would love to. But she couldn't. She opened her mouth to respond. But he knew the answer from her expression. He didn't need to hear it. He didn't need to know why.


I needed to keep moving. Change was indeed my constant. Six years, five cities and I don't know why I move. However, it's time to move again. New beginnings excite me. Yet, I fail to find what I am looking for. Will I ever find it? Too early to know.

Note: This exercise was a fun one to help me get back to writing fiction. Writing short stories like this is supposed to help break the writer's block.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passing me by.

She sat by the window scribbling in her tiny notebook with a pencil. She looked disturbed and deep in thought. Each time I passed her house I saw her in the same position. Day after day, doing the same thing. Scribbling. She always looked upset too. What a whiny head I remember thinking, on most days. She looked up from her notebook nearly always. But our eyes never met. That day, almost on cue, she picked up her head when I was walking past. Her brown eyes were glistening, with tears perhaps. I went on my way, as always.
Seeing her by the window was now a routine for me. One that I liked, for reasons unfathomable. It was not that she was beautiful. It was that expression she adorned every time I saw her. It was a familiar look. Despite what I told myself, I knew that look. It was one that I recognised as my own; a river of varied emotions mixed in some cup that was overflowing into that book. Maybe.
Much to my disappointment, that tearful sighting was the last one I had of her. For nearly a week, she was not by her window. I was worried, like I knew her. She had just probably found better things to do. But that didn't stop my worry bubble. Slowly, steadily, I tried to forget her. Soon, I stopped looking out for her. Eventually, I changed my route to work and I no longer passed her house. I got used to another routine. One that didn't involve a face like hers.
Until one day, I saw her again. But not by her window. She was on a cycle and she looked happy. I recognised her instantly. In fairness it is not easy to forget a face like that. I couldn't refrain from smiling at her. It seemed but natural.To my shock, she smiled back. It was a fleeting, hesitant smile but she smiled back. At that moment, that was all that mattered to me.
That was last time I was to see her. Again. I probably never will see her. But I don't regret it. I don't regret the words we never exchanged. I don't regret the relationship we never had. Sometimes I wish I had gone up to her and said all that I wanted to. But I would have come across as a creepy stalker. I wasn't going to risk ruining that wonderful moment we shared. Yes, I was scared of all the possibilities and all the nothing that could have been. Yet, I will always have that moment; one filled with a strange sense of knowing and comfort. Like we had met before, like we knew each other somehow.
I sit by the window as I write this and I think of her fondly. I am willing to accept that some relationships are not vocal or epic love stories or childhood friendships. Some relationships end as quickly as they begin. But they leave you feeling a special kind of feeling that you associate with them. I now believe that she and I had something in common that brought us together for some abstract frame of time. I don't want to make it something it was never. Our relationship, the one that never existed, was never meant to be after all.
"Sienna.. Come down girl," a voice called out in the background. "Coming ma," I replied. I put my pen in my book, left it by the window and went to help my mom. She was just a visitor, passing me by. Thankfully, she smiled before she walked on by.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Untold Truth

He leaned back on an uncomfortable plastic chair in his grey bedroom and stared overhead at the fan spinning. He counted every rotation it made, in the time frame it did. He saw his phone lay lifeless on his bed. He checked it anyway, again. Where was she? It was unlike her to not respond to even a single text for over 12 hours. It made him doubt if he should he have never told her. But she needed to know. Instantly, he was engulfed with memories of how her big eyes used to gleam with love; the feel of her warm palms in his cold hands; the way her eyes had a small twinkle when she smiled. He remembered it all; He recollected it with ease. Did he throw it all away by letting her in? He genuinely hoped and wished that was not true.
His phone buzzed right then. He unlocked it to read the message in a hurry. It was Ravi asking if he wanted to meet. He said out loud, aware Ravi couldn’t hear him, “No, not today Ravi.” He flung his phone aside without replying. He couldn’t talk to anyone else but her right now. He didn’t want her to feel sorry for him. He just needed her to understand. He took a couple of deep breaths and forced all thoughts of her out of his head. He picked up his short stories book from nearby. He opened a page at random and occupied his mind space by reading. Slowly, the words took over him, replacing his thoughts with the exquisite new world of the author’s. He fell asleep holding the book in his hand; eventually becoming oblivious to his phone and it’s ringing.
She called again and again. Surrendering to his absence, she left a message that read, “Call me Shawn. I need to see you.”
She stared at her phone for long moments after the text message showed the delivery report. She pondered if his kindness would melt the resistance she had built. She had to hold her ground; she repeatedly muttered to herself. She was compelled to go through with this. It was inevitable now.


Two hours, four minutes and 28 seconds later he woke up with a start and came crashing back to reality. He groped around his bed for his phone. It was playing hide and... He finally found it. “Oh shit,” he said aloud. “Three missed calls!” She had called. He read her message before dialling her number. He hesitated before pressing that green call key. Did he really want to know what she thought? As he fiddled with his phone he reminded himself that it was too late to have that thought. He pressed “call” and waited impatiently for her to answer. A calm soothing voice that he instantly recognised as hers answered. She said, “Hey Shawn.” He replied, trying to allow her voice to calm him, “Hi Lena.” “Can we meet this evening?” she asked. It was typical of her to get straight to the point. This conversation was going to be so hard to sit through. He was most vulnerable around her yet she was the only one who could save him. He told her that he would meet her at her place in an hour. She agreed and hung up instantly, awkwardly.
He was positive she had not smiled even once during that conversation and that, made him very uneasy. She was not taking this well. It was very unlike her to be so serious. He rummaged all my memories of her, over the past few years, to find one where she wasn’t all smiles. She was a vibrant and energetic person, who rarely let her sorrow surface. She was so positive and caring, he felt warm inside simply picturing her face light up with her perky smile. She wasn’t entirely innocent, yet there was some innocence in those brown beady eyes; a lot lingered that the cynical world had not conquered and wiped out.
She was mature for a 23 year old. Often he forgot that he has been in this world for six years more than her. Six extra years of nasty memories and broken dreams, of shattered hopes and real nightmares; of being engulfed into that trap and of never finding the strength to let go or live through it respectably. She was finally everything he needed to assuage those deep rooted fears. She was his anti-thesis. Her heart was in the right place despite her share of terrible experiences. She put faith in him and his ability to be kind. He wondered what she would say about this new revelation of his. He can imagine she will be foul for a while; he deserved it too.  After all these years of working with her, he had never let her see this side of him. He told many lies and hid many truths; he restrained from imagining the extent of her fury when she acknowledged this. He knew already never to offend a woman, for the wrath of her fury was to be feared and dreaded. He knew he would not survive very long with her angry at him. Her opinion meant too much; she meant too much. He finally got out of bed, spread the sheets out neatly, and cleaned his mess to calm his nerves. He changed into blue denims and a loose grey tee and still lost in thought hunted for a pair of socks. He picked up his lighter and stuffed it into his pocket along with a pack of cigarettes and walked out of the room, straight into the only other room in the house. He grabbed his keys from the kitchen table, drank some water before pulling the door to a close behind him. He decided to walk over to her house as he had another 40 minutes in hand and she lived just 20 odd minutes away. If he walked, he could clear his head before hearing her out. He stepped out of his gate to be welcomed by the sounds and sights of a hectic day. He pulled out a cigarette from his pack and lit it.
He walked casually, taking in the surroundings, and let his nerves relax with every puff he blew out. Cars sped by, bikes race past and people scurried along, all quite unmindful of the others. Some did so cheerily while on the phone, others hummed to the tune that played in their ears, and some others stayed occupied by the voices in their heads- all headed in directions respective to their usual path. The trees stood in their typical positions, as they witnessed each day, the rush of people and vehicles alike. The birds perched themselves atop them singing their own melodies. Dogs lay casually on the road, oblivious to the commotion around. The beauty of the evening and the noise of the hurry blended, creating sounds unique to the rush of that day.
Three cigarettes later, he was as calm as he could hope to be. He was near her house when his heart began to race and he lost all sense of calm again. He settled himself on the footpath outside her house before sending her a text that read, “I reached.” She knew well he would be waiting for her outside. It was where he picked her up for all the times she told her parents about them going out, else she picked him up. He could manage a smile at the thought of all their fond memories together. A few minutes went by before her reply revived his phone. “Give me five.”
Right then he realised, this was going to be worse than he thought; she was more upset than he knew or he could fathom. Several minutes later he heard her front door open and close gently. He took a deep breath before he peeped through her gate to see her walking towards him dressed in black shorts and a faded blue tee-shirt. She looked casual till he locked eyes with her. There was nothing casual about the puffiness hidden behind those kohl lined eyes. There was an ache in her eyes, one betraying the ‘cool’ look she portrayed, one that spoke of her sorrow.
He was stumped, words failed him. Heck, thoughts failed him. She sat down next to him without saying a word, without even a smile.  He didn’t count, but at least five minutes went sluggishly past before either of them said a word. “I’m sorry,” he remembered having thought. But he couldn’t pull himself together for that or anything else. She made the first move; she put her hand on his and said, “This is not easy for me. But I have thought this through. This is what I need. This is what is best for you, me and us.” Those words hit him, as dynamite would square in his face. He moved back instinctively as he imagined an actual slap and sure enough, that hurt less. Those words were the famous foundation of she-doesn’t-want-anything-to-do-with-you-anymore.
She didn’t continue; he didn’t urge her to. They both appeared to be in inexplicable pain. They sat on the foot path, their hearts weighing down with the impact of what was about to hit them; or already had. She finally found her voice and said, “You have been my friend for a long time. But I can feel you getting dangerously attached.” She bit her lip, to fight back her tears. “I can’t be your new addiction. You need to know this is not about your cocaine addiction. I just know if we continue this way, I will replace it, which in my view, is worse. I am no angel, Shawn. I have my weaknesses too. I am not sure I can be as brave as you here and bare myself to you. This is not only the right move but the only one I can make,” she finished with her voice heavy. He still didn’t find his voice. There was so much to say; yet he didn’t say a word. She squeezed his hand and leaned in to give him a peck on his cheek. She whispered with her cheek pressed against his, “Goodbye Shawn. I will miss you.” She got up and left; she left him sitting there. He didn’t have the heart to even watch her leave. He couldn’t move, or think. All he knew was she was gone and her absence overcame him, taking with it his sensibilities. He looked up at the skies and it was a clear summer day; no chance of rain either. If cars, bikes or trucks passed by now, he wouldn’t have noticed. He finally got up, unaware of the time, walked aimlessly allowing instinct to lead him back home. He played the conversation back in his mind, this time voicing all that he should have said.
He was living a nightmare; he didn’t care where he was anymore. The streets, vehicles and people passed him by like a blur. The sounds were all just a ringing in his ears. He dragged his feet straight in to his house and stepped right into his bathroom. He needed to regain control over his mind and body, to calm it down before he did something stupid, something he would regret.
In that dazed mood, he didn’t take off all his clothes; he stood under the shower, doubling over in grief, weeping, aching, and contemplating. He tried to imagine how she would handle all of it. Soon enough he was done standing under the shower, he undressed and dressed again. He sat at his table with an open book and a pen in hand, attempting to put this uncomfortable feeling into words. Then, words flowed and he let them.
Invisible tears wet my pillow,
as I lie down,
Tired and hurt,
Yet another fall, way down below.

This time it was not you or him or her,
It was me, my experience,
That tainted soul,
That heaviness I bore,
Weighs me down,
Despicable, me.

Questioning the contours of mine,
Doubting all that appears, here and thine.

Imagining the past that was,
The person I could have been,
Those that could have stayed,
Here and mine.

The sights, the sounds that didn't become,
the future that forced me to succumb.

Dreaming about you, me, the world,
Illusions of our times, as they were,
Petals, leaves and stems,
Dried, forgotten, gone.
Perhaps we were.

As I look up from darkness,
Aware, scared and still,
You, me, the world that would never be.

Me floating in that moment,
When I did believe,
You, me, the world did exist,
But you and me, have ceased to be.

Impassive and silent,
I lie in this darkness,
Unseen, Unchained,
Despicable me.
He set his book aside and crawled lifelessly into bed. He had drained himself in those words. He could not change the past or the present. Soaking in self pity and self loathing, he just let go. He allowed himself to dwell and live in that misery.


Back in her house, she felt numb; she felt estranged from the world, from reality. A single obsessive thought inhabited all the space in her mind. She opened her cupboard and threw her clothes out in a reckless fashion, while guilt clutched her heart. She knew it was the right thing to do. He wouldn’t find out. He should never find out. She finally found what she was looking for and held it in her shaking hand like her little baby. She tightened her hold; unwilling to let go, yet. She steadied her hand to unscrew the bottle. She recalled the psychiatrist’s tone when he told her, “Only two Lena. That will do.” She let some pills drop in her quivering palm. First four fell, and then she edged the bottle for another pill to fall out…five. Finally, she stopped at six. She had her own dirty secret; a secret she wasn’t willing to part with.
 I could see how dangerous my dependency was, yet I was reluctant to divulge. Not today, not yet.

Note: This was an entry in the Urban shots competition. It didn't make the shortlist. :)