Freedom

She watched listlessly the evening sun making morbid patterns on the walls opposite. She also watched her husband’s chest heave up and down, barely though.

It had been a harrowing week for her.

For him too.

His fever wasn’t coming down even after five days, the headaches weren’t going and his breathlessness was getting worse by the hour. A slow panic was setting in both.

The children settled in the US, the attending doctor, all advised testing which took another two days to materialise.  There were just too many waiting for medical help.

The reports had come the previous evening and as feared, he had tested positive. He went to pieces and then clammed up, almost immediately embracing his impending fate without a whimper or putting up even the tiniest of fights.

It was so unlike him to throw in the towel so quickly and look towards her for guidance, having meticulously decided every single minute of her day without her say so and vote, through the thirty-five years of their marriage. She was expected to be the implementor of his diktats. A mere mute follower. Not following his diktats meant days of silent treatment with intermittent verbal outbursts from him. He ruled over her ruthlessly.

 The massive weight of her wedding band sat heavily on her hand because with time, dominance became normalized, in this aged marriage.  

The children, quick to sense the power dynamics of their household, did their best to play the honest referee, but then gave up when they understood what they were up against. Their father was not a very amenable man. He hated being corrected. So they studied hard and flew the nest as fast as they could, mouthing a silent prayer for their frail mother left behind, whenever they could.

Presently, she suggested to him albeit weakly, to follow the doctor’s orders and shift into a hospital to have a fighting chance. He refused point-blank saying a visit to the ICU meant certain death. He would rather spend his last few days in his home, which he had lovingly built with his sweat and blood.

She smiled softly at ‘his’.

She then religiously updated his situation over FaceTime to the children. The children after a virtual huddle left the decision on her. They couldn’t anyways come to help. Plus the intensive care came at a very steep price. They certainly weren’t flush with funds and they had families to take care of. Things were already dirt-messy back home. The parents had to fend for themselves.

She sighed.

The children couldn’t be blamed. They had their share of responsibilities and problems. Money always brought out the unwanted uglier side of one into full glare and also made one coldly practical.

But then her mind began to float unfettered.

Sure, they would save a lot, if home treatment continued, and eventually, when the inevitable happened, she would be left with the house and a tidy sum in the bank.

The children anyway wouldn’t bother about this small change, in their eyes that is. They weren’t coming back also!

She would be free to go wherever she fancied, do whatever she wanted, without any recriminations or the attendant violence, verbal or otherwise. She would be the master of her day, her thoughts, her actions without any fear or recriminations.

The whole wide world waited to be explored.

Oh to be truly free with an added bonus of money to spend! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But for that to happen, he had to…

She then crumpled and bawled away uncontrollably, cursing herself!

She the wife! 

Because she took the vow until death did they part.

********************************************

A couple weeks later, the vernacular press ran a curious story of an older man getting miraculously cured, entirely by home quarantining, when he was given up for dead.

His hale and hearty wife who had been attending to him developed severe complications, suffered a massive heart attack, and passed away within two days of his recovery.

The Awakening

selective focus of cow photo

I sit next to Gauri, the new calf, half mumbling, as she swats the flies off her back with her tail. “They are marrying me off Gauri! Already!” I whisper. “To a man who is as old as Amma.” Gauri nods. She understands everything I tell her. She also doesn’t think I am stupid like the rest of my family.

Amma says, I should be happy. At least I got an alliance. That too without much dowry. They wanted just a calf, to take me! Will you come with me Gauri?” 

Gauri nods again, this time softly. I think she is searching for her mother worried about the impending separation.

*********************************************************

I and Gauri set foot into an alien home, both alone and scared. We become each other’s confidantes. My new husband, though a man, turns out to be an animal in disguise. While Gauri, an animal by birth, is as humane as possible. As I often sit crying next to her, tending to my sores, I see tears in her eyes too.

Why is he so horrible to me Gauri? Doesn’t he see how young and frail I am? Why did Amma marry me off to this monster without any cross-checking? She used to call me her doll. Was I her burden just to be offloaded on any? He doesn’t even let me talk to Amma. I miss her terribly.

Gauri only moos in solidarity.

**********************************************************

Years crawl by. I’m an Amma now. Though I had to abandon my new-born girls, for that flag-bearer of a son. I was still sedated when the husband took the girls away. I shudder when I wonder what was done to them. I never had the courage to ask the husband. I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. Living in ignorance is safer. In hindsight, maybe they had it easier – rather than living in hell.

My routine is spectacularly simple. Rise in the morning, make food, feed the animals and the husband, send the son Shyam to school, work in the farm, wait for the night to fall, wash, cook, eat, wait for the husband to finish his carnal business and roll off while I grit my teeth and stare at the stars twinkling through the holes in the thatched roof, wash myself and fall off to a dreamless sleep.

This routine is so rammed into my barely registering system, that comforting tears have dried up.

Gauri has also become a mother. But in her case, the female progeny are welcomed with festivities.

I still talk to Gauri and she still moos, occasionally nods. But she has become busier and frailer tending to her growing flock.

Days roll by. Uneventfully. Heavily.

*******************************************************

One evening, the husband comes in agitatedly.

We have to safeguard our cows. Nothing is safe around here. We men, are teaming up and will be doing rounds of the village once the night falls. Give me my roti quickly.

As he takes a morsel, he throws the plate and beats the hell out of me.

Bloody woman, been married for so long, yet cannot rustle up a decent meal. Gauri is the only plus point of marrying you.

Taking his lathi he storms off. He doesn’t see that the lathi is blood tinged and that my forehead is bleeding.

After a while, I get up, wash my wounds, apply some turmeric on them and check on Gauri as instructed.

Gauri licks my hand. She knows. She understands.

Husband comes back after hours with his friends. They are all laughing and talking about teaching some wretched infidel, who was caught carting cattle, a bloody lesson. An example has been set and surely there wouldn’t be a repeat. Even if there is, this time there will be mayhem awaiting the scoundrels.

I shudder involuntarily.

The rowdy gang celebrates with Toddy. The friends leave soon. Husband demands freshly cooked food and sex.

I feed him broth and lie down. He hungrily attacks the food and me. This time I feel utterly violated and debased. I have slept with a murderer. That is a new low, if possible, in my utterly nondescript life.

As he snores, I pick up Shyam, my little satchel and run for my life.

Because the broth had a generous quantity of rat poison.

Before that, I cuddle Gauri saying “I have to leave you Gauri for I am just a wife. He will look after you well because you are the cow. This tyranny has to end now…I have tried to stop this monster from hurting more people. In doing so, if I end up dying, so be it. Just breathing, bearing, living is not enough…I have to do more. If I hope to live for some time I have to make a run for it. Destiny willing, we will surely meet someday.

She doesn’t moo. But she agrees.

What happens tomorrow?

That will depend on my catching the early morning train before anyone spots me.

I am Janki and this is my story…So far!

 

‘House-Wife’ Unplugged

promisesThe humble ‘house-wife’ has to be a pro at so many concepts to make sure her house runs like a well-oiled machine. Don’t believe me?

For example –

Chemistry

She can instinctively rattle off what spices go into which item and unnecessary condiments can ruin a culinary delight.

She easily manages to have a rapport with all the teachers and tutors or with the moms of class WhatsApp group

She can smell the chemistry or the budding romance of her brats.


Physics –

She very adroitly balances so many distinct personalities at home.

See-saws between twenty activities simultaneously.

She is the fulcrum. On the flip side, try applying force on her to get work done! You will just have to accelerate your way out of the tempest that could get unleashed.


Maths –

She knows what sells where at what rate.

Commodities pricing is her playground. Try beating her at this purchasing game.

Just watch her divide the food amongst family. No one remains hungry or unhappy. She also remembers every single mark her brat gets, using it to leverage as and when the situation demands.


Arts (Dramatics/History/Linguistics) –

The stories she can spin at bedtime for the moppets can put a Shakespeare to shame 

Her recounting of all the past misdemeanors to win an argument can put the Gyaani Google, out of business.

Words? Words are all she has, to make the heart melt!


EQ – By god, she knows how to make the maids stick and tick. That itself a herculean task to accomplish.

She knows when to pamper the child and when to bullshit the hell out of her brat. Can see through husband’s tall tales uttered to get out of a sticky situation.

IQ – To manage the above said, her IQ has to be stratospheric ain’t it?

Still any doubts?

So, husbands, you have some very big shoes to fill in.

Time to ramp up your act.

Lady, time to flaunt that killer smile and walk ten feet tall!

/author’s note – it is just a funny write-up, no agenda involved whatsoever – Amen */

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Kahani Ek – Teen Endings

 

Kahani #1

“Neha, I’ve chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone deeply”

“Girl, Mine works in a Fortune500 company”

“Daddy, mine says I’m his good fortune, has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my Raj will take you for a cruise on the Thames, for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my Rahul will take me to Tirthan and serenade”

“Neha, think about your FB profile after marriage!”

Neha thought deeply.

After fifteen days NehaRaj updated her FB, Instagram with pictures of her honeymoon in Europe with hashtags like #soulmate #truelove

Love is also being practical!

*************************************************************************************

Kahani #2

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Nainital and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into a Grad-School with hashtags like #LoveCanWaitStudiesCan’t  #LifeGoals

Love is also about loving self! Deeply!!

*************************************************************************************

Kahani #3

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Shimla and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha Rahul updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into an Airbnb with hashtags like #LoveMakesTheWorldBetter #LifeGoals

Because Rahul completes Neha! Neha treasures Rahul

Because True Love is a difficult treasure to find and hold onto!

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When Hemoglobin Bani Low

Around mid-March, this year, I started feeling breathless when I walked short distances or climbed a few stairs. I thought this must be due to the pollution in NCR. Afterall I did have weak lungs, thanks to the TB of glands that I suffered in 2013.

On April 5th, 2018, my novel #WhenPadmaBaniPaula debuted on Amazon.in

This was a dream come true for me. A newbie, with no formal training in writing, no literary connections whatsoever managed to churn out a solo novel in a short span of 4 years. I was delirious with joy and somehow my breathlessness and niggling pains didn’t seem to matter. Almost all the forums that I wrote for were very generous in their support for my debut novel.

As I got busy with the promotional activities, I developed a severe ache in my right hand and my back. I could barely lift my right arm. Most of the time I was on pain-killers. I grit my teeth and tried to march along and soon I barely managed to get any work done.

A dear friend Amar suggested physiotherapy. The doctor checked me up and suggested corrective measures. Shortly, I left for Hyderabad to meet with my parents.

First four days were spent catching up and eating. Soon I met with my mom’s doc for increasing aches. The moment he saw me, he ordered a slew of tests.

And then the biggie was dropped via the test results.

My Hemoglobin level was at 5.6 g/dl.

Hemoglobin levels (7 – 8 g/dL), according to new clinical guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is treated as critical often needing a transfusion. Here I was merrily scamping around with a 5.6. Luckily for me, I tested negative for Sugar, therefore, Diabetes, Thyroid. My Liver and kidneys hadn’t been affected so far, BP was fine though pulse remained pretty high.

The Doctor said I now needed a Hematologist working with a reputed hospital for the next steps. But this new doctor had no appointments till July end. We called in another standby doctor who suggested immediate drip with a series of injections spread over 10 days. The whole thing was spiraling out. Panic was setting in. To think I had come to Hyderabad to chill, meet pals and do a round of bookshops selling #WhenPadmaBaniPaula!

As we were mulling our options, we turned lucky. Almost immediately, we received a call from the hospital. A slot had opened up as a patient had canceled his appointment.

The Hematologist suggested an immediate drip with an injection to absorb the medicines that would be pumped in. The top layer of my digestive tract was gone and hence I could stomach only barely seasoned food.

I still remember the horrible night after the drip. My system took time to this new medication. I had a fever, acute gas attack and my back had given away. I spent the whole night standing and howling loudly.  But in a couple of days, I was on a path to recovery.

All because of my family. My wonderful parents and my loving husband with the support of my Darling_Dotty (and Sonny’s calls). I couldn’t have recovered this fast otherwise. I owe it to them entirely.

Before I left Hyd, I met the Doc again with the tests redone.  My Hemoglobin level now was at 7.9 g/dl. I have to undergo tests every month for the next 4 and I am on medication for at least 3 months.

Now you might wonder dear reader why do I bore you with my medical troubles.

The good doctor said I had been functioning at 30% of my capacity. That boggled the living daylights of me. I could do more if I turned fitter.

Most of us Indian women have a terrible Hemo reading. It has become an accepted norm sadly. Our needs come last. Our health is tended to once the family has been looked after. A Healthy Us is paramount for the smooth running of our family and their greater achievements. Because we are the focal point of our tiny kingdom.

Take your tests today before it becomes dangerous. Invest in yourself. You owe it to self!

And today I climbed 6 flights of stairs and I was barely breathless. Very Happy!!

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Kadam Chhota, Change Bada!

Let me at the very outset confess that I wasn’t going to participate in this.

What could I add that hasn’t been said already? But the recent events in my own small sphere have been instrumental in my penning this post.

Scintillating_Sonny has been interning in a new city. A packed semester left him very little time to finalize a place to stay in his chosen city. Scintillating_Sonny was to stay with his seniors from college for a couple days and then move into his own quarters.

As parents of grown-ups, we are simply expected to stay back and watch the scary proceedings while flaunting a benign understanding smile, with tsunamis exploding in our stomachs. Plus transferring the money as and when required. The itch to set things right is so overpowering that your knuckles turn white because you are holding onto the chairs to control yourself and avoid saying ‘I told you! But you just don’t listen to me!“.

Thanks to GyaaniGoogle, we knew all about his trysts with destiny. I think my hotline with God worked because Scintillating_Sonny soon found a place to stay, where all the checkboxes were ticked. (Well Lord Supreme had to respond. I was buzzing him non-stop, 24/7)

During his stay with his seniors, Sonny made the breakfast every day. As luck would have it when he was vacating the seniors’ house, there were no flatmates present. My boy cleaned the entire kitchen, washed the dishes, restocked the fridge, cleaned up the bathroom too. Like a typical mom, I wailed away singing, “Badi nazo se pali Hamara Banna“. It was Hmm_Husband who brought back some needed clarity. “We should be proud of the way we have raised him. Self-sufficient and highly responsible. Take pride in that and stop moping! He is a survivor!

Bhale hi mere Kadam Chhota ho, yeh Change Bada hi hai!

Because Sonny is completely house-trained. Countless times he has rustled up food for the family while I was busy with my own work. Washed the dishes when the maid didn’t turn up.  Hmm_Husband has been the pusher here, saying everyone needs to contribute to the efficient running of a home.

Right now, in her summer holidays, Darling-Dotty is being trained to look after the morning routine of the kitchen.

As a family, we may not be bringing in the revolution. But we are making a small change in our own sphere, where there is no gender associated with chores and all four of us are equal entities making a beautiful whole.

In the FB group (SeniorSchoolMoms) that I admin, Moms query freely and frankly about the educational options ahead for their children and seek assistance for their teenagers’ troubles like cyberbullying, peer pressure, relationship issues.

 I am happy that I have been able to create a supportive and an idea-sharing platform where Moms could be free of harsh judgments.

My ‘Happy Hours’ are 5-7pm when I tutor teenagers of the condo. No topic is taboo enough. We discuss everything.

I often say that Rational Thinking should be the only religion because increased Misogyny is the vile by-product when misplaced machismo gets heralded as exemplary.

When we raise sorted, rational, fair children, unburdened by the narrow schisms of society, we would have contributed to nation building.

The change begins with me.

Let us keep walking.

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

When Padma Bani Paula – The background Story

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What do you do when a seemingly harmless email pops up, asking your permission to publish your story?

First, you check the date. Nope, it ain’t April 1st. Then you pinch yourself. Having screamed out aloud, you then trawl the emailer’s online presence. Once satisfied with the credentials, you then succumb and open the gateways to the dreams, that you didn’t know existed!

Five years back, if someone told me, that I would be a story-teller one day, I would have wryly remarked, ‘that’s a tall story’. After all, I’m not trained in the subtle nuances of this tricky language nor did I harbor any dreams of getting published. Ever! Mind you, I had even declared Florence Nightingale to be a promiscuous one! Well, I thought, that was a terrific adjective. 

But when Readomania gave a new direction to the meandering Moi, I started moonlighting seriously as a tale-spinner. Taken up by my giddy new avatar, my mater and pater took their roles of direction-givers very seriously. I would often get FaceTime lessons from them on sentence formation and grammar intricacies. I finally drew a line when my daughter threatened to do the same.

I learnt early on in life, ‘either you like it or lump it’ and the easiest way to cope with life is to laugh at it. I started dabbling in funny pieces, as they resonated with others.

Readomania ran a couple of story-contests where the requisite genre was humor. I wrote a small story based on the ladies around my condo.

This time the Gods and their Goddesses were solidly on my team, though I hadn’t promised them any special services of 100 laddoos or 10 coconuts. This story struck a chord with Readomania and a germ of a novel was born.

And a meeting with the head-honcho, Dipankar Mukherjee, was set up at a happening coffee-shop.

I still remember the first time, I was going to meet Dipankar. I was figuring out mentally, ways to sound intelligent. This was a novel idea you see! I had to assimilate so much and I was barely equipped.  Meanwhile, my excited young daughter came running and offered me her school notebook (with the school logo, picture, and postal address) to take notes. My husband sagely suggested taking my red pen along.

(I also moonlight as a tutor! I tell you, it is all about confidence! With a straight face, you can pull off so many fast ones on the unsuspecting public 😀 )

If only I had recorded Dipankar’s absolutely nonplussed reaction for posterity! What violent churn of emotions went through his mind as he saw me plot-plotting with a red ink pen in a school notebook! Must have had a second thoughts about the whole deal surely.

Now that the story was progressing well (on paper that is), a laptop was the next natural acquisition. I wanted the best ( My dear Mac-Air, my partner in this writing journey) and I wasn’t settling for a gift. After a slog at work, with my husband playing the Santa, on a cold Christmas afternoon, we brought her home.

The setting was ready, yet there was barely a skeleton of a plot.

How much could you stretch a 200-word story? Stretch I did!

Having wound the story up at 22k, I felt I had arrived. Dipankar was patience personified and it was back to the drawing board. Apparently, I had to add more 😀 So I took expert advice.

Deepti Menon and Vasudha Chandana Gulati read the first draft and gave their inputs. Arpita Banerjee was extremely supportive during the initial stages. Indrani is probably the nicest editor one can ask for. I’m sure Gods were remembered by all of them, at various stages. (My dear supportive fellow Readomaniacs )

It was a tremendous learning experience. Multiple layers were added and characters with enough back stories surfaced. Slowly the story began to stitch itself seamlessly.

During these iterations, for a while, my magnum-opus remained just that.

‘A work in progress’! (just like me)

While the rest of the world zoomed ahead brilliantly, inflicting me with those eternal existential dilemmas.

What is the worst emotional hara-kiri an author can do to self during this waiting period?

Get those very colorful and lyrical invites to the book launches of friends, foes, and countrymen, just to add some gravitas ( more like filling the seats actually ). Talk about rubbing salt on the wounds!

Vexed, I continued to attend those book launches, looked wise, picked up a copy, made some noise about how well my 9th draft was coming along (if someone asked, that is) and dragged myself home.

I became an expert at grinning and bearing it. ‘Someday I shall prevail!’ was my clarion call.

Destiny was with me. And just like that, one fine day, the editor sent a cryptic mail – ‘This is good to go’.

And that’s When AJ Bani Author!

A long cherished dream was finally a reality. I made it!

I don’t know what tomorrow holds nor do I want to unduly worry about it. I want to savor this moment, cherish and lock it up forever. Right now, I feel at the top of the world.

I keep my fingers crossed and pray that the world embraces ‘When Padma Bani Paula’ like Shah Rukh welcomes his heroines – Dono Bahein Poora Phelake :D

WPBP – my second chance at acing Karma!

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My labour of love has reached many homes

Now please utter those three super magical words.
‘Bought Your Book’ 😀

Please click on the link shared below 🏵

https://www.amazon.in/dp/9385854615

#Readomania

When death comes calling

love3I had been very restless since afternoon.

Apparently, one’s sixth sense warns you when something terrible is about to happen. I couldn’t quite put my finger to it, but I knew, all I had to do was to wait for the Tsunami to unleash its expected destruction.

I haven’t made my introduction yet have I?

I am…Why go into names? I am one of those thousands of brides whose husbands have gone back to the war front to guard the nation or to war-torn nations to earn some much-needed moolah, after impregnating us.

So that I’m not alone in his absence. I have someone to tend to, attend to.

How many tearful and sleepless nights had been spent clutching the cold pillow for comfort?

How many festivals went by praying for his safety, while every inch of my core pined for his smile, the twirl of his moustache whenever he saw me eyeing his broad back surreptitiously?

One fateful day, he became a mere statistic for the government. They declared him, ‘missing in action’.

And my reality came crashing down and an ambivalent paradise became my escape.

The rest of the world got on with its business while I oscillated between prayers and pathos!

Was he there or not? Am I a wife or a widow? With every turn of the calendar, our memories together started getting hazier. A vigil was all I had. I barely remembered the timber of his baritone. He even smelt and looked different in my dreams.

I was angry with myself. I wasn’t even loyal or devoted to the idea of my missing-for-long-husband.

What had I become?

The mounting debts, growing kids, whining elders and reducing income had robbed me of my softcore.

************************************************************

And the Tsunami came as silently as possible but with an unforeseen vengeance.

A clinical declaration by the powers-to-be said, my husband had been shot dead. And the body hadn’t been found yet.

But the mourning by all had started almost immediately.

The depressing wailing was soon seeping into the muddy crumbling walls whereas I just wanted to sleep.

A painless sleep. A dreamless sleep. A contented sleep.

I sat with the wailing mob, watching them beat their chests, watching the evening shadows make patterns on the closing-in-walls.

I thought of running away from this morbid courtyard but I still participated in the proceedings wordlessly.

My eyes were totally dry. Why wasn’t I crying?

My aching breaking body gave out a huge sigh of relief.

I realized I didn’t have to tend to his memories anymore.

I could exhale. I could breathe. I could restart from where I had paused my life. I could move on.

Oh, Lord! Why was I turning out to be this monster? Why wasn’t I grieving?

I then understood, because I loved him so, his death shouldn’t be my sentence.  He was in a better place and I was too.

I had punished myself enough by vacillating between hope and despair. Now I had a closure.

It was time to let go. It was also the time to cherish him and grieve too.

And I crumpled up and bawled away.

****************************************

39 lives!

And so many interconnected dependent lives

Pregnant Dreams and Hopes on pause

Now a mere mirage of 4 years of relentless, restless wait

Cruelly wiped off with a mere declaration.

Will there be closure? Even peace?

When you have a family to come back to You are one of the luckiest on Earth!

 

/* For those who lost their loved ones in the line of duty. A loss is tough to deal with but the uncertainty is even tougher*/

Pavan – My Bro

We, as a family, are currently undergoing a little rough weather as far as health parameters go. Mom had to undergo an emergency corrective surgery while my sister-in-law stares at a terrible situation where, in this immediate year, both her parents may…My brave Sister-in-law has been in India, tending to her ailing parents while Bro has been gallantly been managing his home and office, single-handedly.

So far he has been doing splendidly.

He has learnt to braid the daughter’s hair 😀 by looking at the youtube videos.

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He has managed to set the curd 😀 My bro hates the very smell of Dahi but for the sake of the apple of his eye, learnt the Nuske to make sure the curd doesn’t curdle. He can now cut and cook Bhendi, and fry Aloo to a crisp nicety. He has rustled up Methi Aloo, Dal, Schezwan Tofu with Sriracha sauce.  Dinner is a fantastic one-pot affair.

In a nutshell, Bro manages home, picks and drops his kids and also attends to office affairs, from home, while the kids splendidly horse around. Laundry is sorted.

Just as we denounce bad behavior by an uncaring spouse, when a man stands by his woman and steps in, it is also time to heap praises.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Pavan – My Bro! Extremely proud of the great work you are doing now.

God bless you Sis-in-law.

Keep walking Tall!

Padmavati – The Queen tells her story

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Take a break, read something nice and enjoy a whole new world of literature!‘ Thus exhorts @Readomania.

I did so and read ‘Padmavati – The queen tells her own story‘.

This epic tale has been superlatively penned by Sutapa Basu, who has a thirty-year old professional career as a teacher, editor,  author, poet and publishing consultant. Sutapa Basu describes herself to be a compulsive bookworm and an irrepressible story teller.

Most of us have read this story in our childhood. When so much is known, yet unknown about Padmavati, how far can a spinner stretch the same, within the fettering limitations? That too, without letting the readers’ interest sag? Sutapa Basu manages this difficult feat, adroitly.  Her infinite writing experience, comes to the fore, in making this literary outing, a tour de force. The tale is peppered with intricate details. With its vivid imagery, the setting almost becomes a fourth protagonist along with the loving king and husband Rawal Rattan Singh and the depraved Khilji.

For example: ‘An oval emerald, snugly nestling in tiers of frothy white lace, floated in the crushed silk of turquoise seas. It was the enchanted island of Singhaldweep, off the eastern coast of Bharatdesh.’

‘The fort of Chittor was laid out on its escarpments. Roughly oval in shape, it looked like a fat fish.’

The sensitivity with which Jauhar has been handled, gives the reader, an ample hint of what to expect.

In the centre of all the chaos, only one figure remained serene and motionless. As the gold, saffron and blue blaze made rings around her, rising higher and higher, slowly enclosing the New Queen, she was like a sculpture, absolutely still. Nothing seemed to touch her; not the torment, not the grief, not the fear. It defied all principles of logic. Where did a girl find such strength, not garnered even by the meditation of ascetics, to tolerate the torture of being burnt alive? Her dark silhouette, in lotus pose, palms folded, was a sublime sight.

Though Sutapa says her novel is a work of fiction,  Padmavati’s psyche has been explored so deeply, that she breathes out as a gentle and thoughtful soul.

We live in troubled times, where anything and everything could be termed as offensive and an affront to dignity. That’s why it makes more sense to read this, where the writer stretches at her creative horizons and yet remains true to the saga, adding a veneer of intellect, blended with divine grace to Padmavati.

Therein lies the beauty of this tale.

As Sutapa Basu says,

‘The jauhar took hardly a few minutes to extinguish Padmavati’s living mortality but gifted her with indelible immortality; a significant niche in the history of India. Time could not dim her charisma nor age wither her stunning beauty. For centuries to come, the supreme sacrifice of this legendary Queen of Chittor would attain a place of undying pride and honour in the hearts of all her country’s people.’

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The tale is narrated to Mrinalini, a cynical journalist who doesn’t believe the stirring saga – Will she come away convinced?

This question forms the crux of this absorbing tale. 

Wouldn’t you want to do the same? Find the Answers?