Karuna – A ‘special’ mother’s story

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Karuna had been up for hours that night, much before her morning alarm began ringing. The impending engagement of the day and the untold agony it entailed had kept her awake.

Karuna had a good mind to call up the authorities and say she wasn’t coming. Well, that wouldn’t be ethical. After all, she had a reputation to live up to! The IT woman, who had made in spite of all the odds, an inspirational divorcee, who had built up her work single-handedly! No, the role had to be played out!

Sighing deeply, Karuna quickly got ready, left instructions to the nanny and left without saying hello or bye to Ansh, her son.

Karuna had been invited as the chief guest at a medal ceremony of a famous school. She was to give a stirring speech, present the awards to the winning children and congratulate the parents while making adequate appreciative noises. Only she knew, how she hated that task.

Karuna managed to get through her speech with her trademark million-watt smile plastered across, after a warm welcome from the teachers. As the shining students started lining up for their medals and as the announcer waxed eloquent about their achievements, a stab of jealousy and anger shot through Karuna.

She felt like throwing the heavy cups and shields on the breathlessly proud parents who were filming every single rapturous moment. If only she could scream aloud at the unfairness of it all! Hiding her tears, Karuna quickly rushed through the ceremony, almost ran from the venue and hid in a nondescript cafe, quickly ordered a strong coffee and let her mind wander to her painful past.

Why couldn’t her Ansh be like these brilliant children? Intelligent, athletic, super smart or beautiful? Why did she have to be the chosen one for such untold punishment? It was incomprehensible that the breathtakingly beautiful and super smart she and her top grader husband Aman could conceive and birth Ansh.

Ansh was what they called nowadays, a special child. Pretty euphemistic, Karuna spat angrily. Initially, all had been good. Both the partners were earning well, investing in cars, a pad in an upscale part of the town, gold, stocks, in that order. And once into their thirties both decided to have a child. Ansh was conceived after much turmoil and multiple visits to the doctors. As an infant, he was doing ok, more or less keeping with the expected milestones. When Ansh turned two, Karuna began to comprehend something was amiss, something was wrong and Ansh wasn’t like others.

A visit to the doctor confirmed her worst fears. In her anger, she had rejected everything, shut herself away from the prying. But she couldn’t keep away from the loving boy.

Aman took the news very hard. He began to work harder and stayed away from home most of the time as if that would somehow obliterate the harsh truth. Whenever Aman entertained his colleagues, he would insist that Ansh be kept out of sight or put to sleep with the nanny overseeing. Out of sight was out of mind.

The stress, the pretenses began eating into Karuna’s psyche and it was a matter of time that Aman and Karuna separated bitterly. Truth be told, Aman did contribute generously monetary wise, but was that enough?

Karuna quit her job, started a home venture while looking after Ansh. The venture grew so did her knowledge about a special child’s needs. She refused to remarry because she felt if the own father couldn’t wholeheartedly accept his son, why would a stranger do so?

So the periodic bouts anger continued at the unfairness of it all, while she tackled life stoically, earning name and fame across the society.

But the scalding tears were shed in loneliness.

Presently Karuna paid up, confirmed with the nanny that Ansh was ok, roamed around the city, unwilling to go home yet, unwilling to face the home truths yet.

But eventually, she had to. Nanny opened the door and Karuna mechanically walked towards Ansh’s room. Ansh was dabbling with colors making bright pictures while having dinner.

As he saw her his eyes lit up, and he waved to her, beckoning her. As a listless Karuna sat next time, he tapped at his drawing and drawled, “Momma” and then offered a spoonful of his dinner. As the tears threatened to overflow, Karuna managed to gulp the food. Ansh then lay down in her lap.

As she stroked his hair, Karuna was stricken with shame.

How unadulterated was this love, untainted by societal goals or rules? She had this and she was rich. That was enough. What happened to the Karuna in her? Was it just restricted to her moniker?

Ansh was her extension, a part of her being and she would do everything to make sure, he had the best.

Agreed, every day was a struggle and the path ahead utterly lonely, but today was done and today’s lesson had been taught.

Love did heal wounds. For today!

Tomorrow? Who knew!

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!

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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!!

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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 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.

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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.

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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*/

Never Too Late

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

She sat on the bed caressing his pressed, crisp uniform, wiping away the non-existent tears. The tears had dried up but the searing, gnawing, ache remained like a permanent cloak, sapping all her energy and zest.

‘Is it already a year? Wasn’t it only yesterday, that the moment the informer had called, he wore his uniform and ran to attend the call of duty, promising to finish his favourite meal later, when he returned successful?’

He never kept to his promise. A definite first!

Only a dreaded call ensued, a casket clad in the Tricolor arrived  and a swarm of grieving people descended into her empty home.

‘He embraced death to give us a second chance at life’, they held her and shed copious tears as he was given the ceremonial send off.

The number of visitors reduced to a trickle as the cruel time marched ahead and she was left alone, tending to her permanent sores.

Public memory is ephemeral. If this were to be the harsh reality where everybody had moved on, while only her world had been devastated, why did he take this step? Not one remembered his sacrifice and yet he never shirked his duty. Did he even think about her or the repercussions, in his last minutes at least?

Why didn’t he leave the call of duty to others?

As the dark evening set in, the phone rang.

“Namaste Maam, we are having a service tomorrow in the memory of your brave husband. The very reason, we live…Could you please come?”

She smiled for the first time in the day.

They had remembered. It wasn’t all in vain.  It is never too late to remember your martyrs or to salute them.

She cuddled the uniform once again, feeling his warmth envelop all over her. She didn’t feel lonely now!

When you live for others…You live on…For ever

 

A dream to remember

 

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Author’s note :  It is actually surreal that this week’s Write Over the Weekend (WOW) prompt, asks us to tell BlogAdda, about a dream that has stayed on, in our subconsciousness. A dream to remember, that often makes us sit up and wonder about it’s mysteriousness. I had this dream about a year back.  I wrote this note to self, all about it, lest I forget the dream, with passage of time.

I reproduce the same  here-

It was one of the most difficult cars to navigate. A mother-of-pearl-white, gigantic Ambassador. That too for a person like me, who did not know how to drive! Against my volition, I was just thrust into the driver’s seat and asked to drive…Just like that!

The controls were all wired terribly wrong. A bus-like gear system, clutch else where, an accelerator in place of a brake and adding to this chaos was the incessant traffic. Enough to break a person.

To my utter delight, I coped beautifully. I drove slowly, avoided collisions and managed to park in a beautiful, lush green colony with happy faces and gamboling children.

Alas, the dark night came in sharply. It was time to head back. The evening traffic and T intersection seemed impossible to overcome.  I then realized with a start, that I was in the rear passenger seat.

A pristine-white clad man with the most benevolent smile, was in the driver’s seat. He navigated with dexterity and cautioned me about an open door in the front, next to the passenger seat, where my first born was sitting.  As I sat transfixed, able to comprehend the gravity of the situation but simply unable to take any action, the pristine-white clad man shut the door for me and continued cruising along.

I saw that there was a steering wheel, clutch, accelerator, brake, in front of me, attached to the driver’s seat.  I tried to use them, to no avail. As the dream ended, the meaning of this entire sequence, hit me with a startling clarity.

All along, I had thought, it was I, who did the driving but all I had, were the dummy controls!

It was all along He!  And Him alone, who steered, navigated the course of my life and who watched out for me!!

Especially when the troubles hit me, making me paralyzed with fear.

So I could hope to soar, with renewed spirit and vigor, with a strong belief that I wasn’t alone in this journey of life!

 

I shall go on

#Blogathon #ALetterToHer,

#AFightAgainstDomesticViolence  

 

Khaab ZNMD

Dearest AJ,

It is me, your long forgotten self-confidence. It has been a while since we last met, isn’t it?

Firstly, isn’t it strange to pen a letter to self? Sometimes, when the outer world smothers you, emasculates you, you need your dormant, deep-hidden, inner-self to find voice and tell you  to hang on, to inhale and exhale. To live beyond the simple day-to-day surviving.

Now, walk to the nearest mirror and take a long look at self. Do you recognize this tired, listless, lifeless reflection? Well I don’t!

Was this the same wondrous visage that went about chasing rainbows, spread life, laughter wherever she went? How many tears have those sunken eyes shed, to lose all their luster? Why are those dry, cracked lips curved down? Where has that sunshine smile disappeared?

Dig deep into your soul and pull out that lost ‘You’. You were the one who was going make the impossible, possible. Find the strength honey, to believe, to breathe, to move on and to march ahead.

You have to remember the promises you made to yourself. Now make them a reality. You owe that much to yourself.

Rise up like the Phoenix from the very ashes of your present, to soar high and paint a much brighter tomorrow.

The pain is searing I agree! The humiliation is beyond endurance and you blame yourself for all that has gone wrong in this relationship!

What will others say?

No dear, no one gets to have an opinion on your life, unless they are paying the bills. On hindsight, not even after that! 

So walk out before even you forget that you exist. No doubt, it is going to be a Herculean task to rebuild but we both are going to do so, brick by brick.

Do read Meena Kandasamy’s latest novel, When I Hit You  http://bit.ly/Meenabk2.  It is an account of an abusive marriage and it forces one to examine the notions of domestic abuse.

I will be waiting for your resurgence.

Till then,

Yours truly

AJ