In The Dark Of The Night

In The Dark Of The Night
Mumbai has always been known as the city that never sleeps but it is snoring tonight, thought Richa as she walked the empty streets.
She had decided to stay back to finish work and tie up some loose ends before her annual holiday started on the morrow, not realizing how late it was when she capped her pen and glanced at the clock.
Locking the office took ten more minutes.
Her car was being serviced at the garage and since public transport was never a problem in the megapolis, she didn’t give it much thought as she stepped out of the building.
Looking for a taxi, she was surprised there wasn’t a soul in sight.
The roads, slick after the evening rain, stretched like a gleaming carpet and the only sound was that of her heels clicking on the road.
The silence seemed to make that resonant sound echo a bit louder.
“Strange,” thought Richa. Though she had never stayed back so late before, Mumbai always had some nightlife that kept it awake. Night-watchmen gossiping with cups of tea to warm their palms, the vada-paav vendors peddling their wares, cabbies waiting for fares to come along, were regular features. Tonight, however, Mumbai was like a ghost town. Even the mongrels weren’t prowling the streets.
An icy shiver ran down her spine as Richa quickened her pace, hoping to hail a taxi soon. She walked for a few more minutes and finally saw one cruising by. She waved her hands wildly and almost broke into a run, praying the cabbie would notice her.
“Bandra,” she said, even before the cabbie pulled up next to her. When she spotted an affirmative nod she hopped in, breathing a sigh of relief. “Double fare, Madam, it’s so late in the night.” the driver said. Richa agreed without a thought. All she wanted was to get home. She didn’t mind paying the extra fare so long as she could get home. The driver gunned the cab forward and with a sigh of relief she lay her head back on the seat to rest a bit.
She looked up with a start as the taxi seemed to stop abruptly. Had she dozed off? Was she dreaming?
“Where are we?” Richa asked.
“This is your destination, Madam. Please pay me, I have to leave.”
Looking around her, Richa didn’t know what to say. She was in a deep, dark forest, with only tiny streams of moonlight trickling in through the foliage. The rich fragrance of roses filled the air even though she couldn’t see any around.
“Where am I? Where have you brought me?” She asked the driver and turned around to realize he was no longer in the taxi. The cold hand of fear gripped her heart as she looked around for him. She got out of the taxi and circled it, calling out for the driver ,but he had disappeared into thin air.
She thought she spotted movement behind one of the trees and walked gingerly towards it, her heels hindering her progress. She peered behind the trunk and realized  that there was no one there. And when she turned around, even the taxi was gone! Were her eyes playing tricks on her, or was it her mind?
Walking to where the taxi had stood she looked at the ground intensely, almost willing the vehicle to materialize again. But there was nothing there.
Not even tire tracks. Richa was clueless about it all.
Worse, she was hungry, thirsty, disoriented and very, very scared. She didn’t know what to do. There was nothing except her own instinct to guide her.
She decided to walk towards the right, reasoning that it is always auspicious. Anything to make herself feel better. Heels were not the best footwear for a trek through the forest; she told herself, trying to smile as she gingerly walked towards God alone knew what.
Suddenly something gripped her feet and she felt herself meeting the ground!
When she finally stopped screaming and sobbing, she risked a look behind and there was nothing there. As she stood up, she realized it was the heel of one of her sandals that had snapped!
“Whew,” she breathed a sigh of relief. Removing both her sandals, she tucked them away in her handbag. Her eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness now and she could make out a lot of trees. Too many, even for a forest, she thought.
Making her way ahead, she prayed that she would find someone who would help her. Knowing in her heart that she was hoping for a miracle. She realized the ground was very soft; like walking on a plush carpet. Her feet just sunk into the undergrowth and she felt a moment’s bliss.
Walking on, she thought she saw a pinprick of light. Or, was it her imagination again? She walked faster and discovered that it was indeed light.
Then one pinprick became two. Then three. Then four.
Glow worms, Richa thought, as she neared them. She stopped in her tracks when she found what the lights were.
Eyes.
Just eyes.
Not attached to anything. Just strange eyes. Floating around and multiplying rapidly. Yellow eyes that shone in the dark. Dead eyes that had no emotion.
Muffling a scream she began backing off, as fast as she could, never taking her eyes of the eerie scene before her. As she ran backwards, she tripped and fell.
She couldn’t get up this time.
The ground wouldn’t let her.
Tiny tendrils materialized and held her down, tightening their grip on her as they rapidly multiplied. Richa didn’t know what was happening. She struggled to break free but to no avail. Her body was being engulfed by these.
And there was the smell of roses again.
She opened her mouth to scream but it was a silent scream.
The floating and multiplying eyes had formed a weird screen before her. They emitted  a blaze of light now and she could see the forest from where she lay captive. The trees were looking down at her like they had a life of their own. She looked down to see what was holding her down and let out an ear-piercing scream.
Tiny, little baby fingers were holding her down.
Each one with a life of its own. They held on to her like a needy child would hold on to its mother, and refused to let go. With each passing moment, their grip on her increased even as they multiplied.
With tears coursing down her cheeks, Richa was gasping for breath as she lay there, terrified and helpless. She looked up to the partially visible sky, imploring God to help her and felt a drop fall on her face from above.
Water?
Was it raining?
She prayed it would pour, and wash these horrible things away.
Plop.
Another one.
She looked up again, more intently and she sensed the trees had come closer than they were. Or had they? She was too disoriented to think by now.
But yes, they were definitely closer.
Plop.
Plop.
Plop. Plop
Plop. Plop. Plop.
It was some liquid, yes. A dark, vile, foul smelling liquid. Like dark molasses.
Each drop spread itself as soon as it hit the ground and grew rapidly.
Now it was like rain.
Rancid rain that just didn’t flow away. It fell, and fell, and fell.
By now Richa was firmly entrenched onto the ground and the only things she could move were her eyes. She was sobbing hysterically, not knowing what to do.
Plop.
A drop of rain fell on her forehead.
The smell choked her and she held her breath, as it grew and grew all over her face.
She couldn’t breathe anymore and let out a scream. And screamed. And screamed.
Till she woke up. At home. In her bed. Clutching a broken sandal.

This is my 6th post, for Week 3 of #MyFriendAlexa a Blogging Challenge set by Blogchatter 



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My Alter Ego and Me, in a tete-a-tete over a cup of tea

The world is such a wonderful place!
Things are just as they seem!
(Tee-hee. It’s the rose tinted glasses
that show her what she sees!)
People are honest
They say what they mean
(This statement is the best
it is such a scream!)
I’ve got true friends
Who’ll be there for me
(Did I mention the blinders
that stop her from seeing?)
I’m here to do my job
The rest I leave to God
(I’m sure He’s wondering
should I rewire her stupid thoughts?)
Every dark day ends
and arises a new dawn
(Gawd I’m so bored
I’m not even going to stifle this yawn!)
Happiness when shared
Generously multiplies
(Is she drugged or drunk
lemme check her glazed eyes)
Honesty is a virtue
that I hold very dear
( I can’t take anymore of this
I’m getting outta here!)

This is my 5th post for Week 3 for the Blogging Challenge #MyFriendAlexa by Blogchatter
 
I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter .
Current Rank (as on 1st September 2016) 
 
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Hot Shower

Seema liked hot showers.
She had invented the quote, “There is no problem in this world that a hot shower can’t solve.”
A hot shower, according to Seema, was the solution to any, if not all problems. Besides being such an ardent advertiser, she was a big fan of hot showers herself. She bathed under a stream of scalding water that fogged up the entire bathroom and had even caused the fire alarm to go off once.
After a shower, she liked to doodle on the fogged up mirror.
If currently in love, her favourite doodle was her name and the name of her present love in a heart. Besides this, the ‘Peace’ symbol was another. These days she was practicing the yin/yang symbol.
After she finished doodling, she would wipe the mirror clean. There was something about this ‘hot shower-doodling-wiping the mirror clean’ routine that gave Seema immense satisfaction. She didn’t know why, but it gave her a strange sort of peace.
Yes, Seema liked hot showers.
One day, after practicing the yin/yang, when she wiped off the mirror, she saw something that made her doubt her eyesight.
For, instead of her usual pink-as-a-shrimp face (yes, regular hot showers did that) she saw a street!
A street?! Hello! Wasn’t this her bathroom mirror?? She turned and looked behind her, and sure enough she was in her very own bathroom!
Seema wiped away furiously at the steam fogging the mirror again, and as it cleared she saw it was indeed a street.
A cobbled street that snaked through a row of houses on either side.
Her curiosity piqued, Seema decided to find out what this was about.
She stepped out through the mirror, like she would out of a window, and was on the other side, standing on the street.
She walked ahead, wondering what she would find.
It was a clean little street with flowers spilling out of window boxes of every home.
Walking further she saw people.
Beautiful people. Strange people.
People who were like porcelain figurines come to life. Delicate china-doll women with alabaster skin, a cupid-bow mouth and sapphire and emerald eyes. Golden ringlets of hair tumbling down their backs. Wearing exquisite silk dresses with matching parasols.
The men were perfect too. Handsome. Replicas of each another too. Wearing velvet clothing with hair as dark as the night.
They all went about their work silently. None of them spoke.
The animals on the street, regal black dogs with long, silky fur and plump vain cats with muted silver fur were quiet too.
No bark. No mew.
Cherubic children held on to their parents and smiled. They didn’t gurgle, nor did they cry.
They were silent too. Like everything else in this place.
Seema was fascinated.
Curious about the silence, she tapped a woman on her shoulder, wanting an answer about this mystery.
The woman didn’t turn.
Seema tapped again.
Still the woman didn’t turn.
“How rude!” thought Seema and walked around and stood facing the woman.
“Excuse Me” she said to her.
No response.
Strange.
She waved her hand in front of the woman’s  face but the woman’s emerald eyes looked through her like Seema was a piece of glass.
Now Seema was really angry.
“I’ll show her” she said to herself!
She stuck her tongue out at the woman, crossed her eyes, flapped her palms on either side of her forehead like they were ears and danced madly in front of the woman letting out a ear-piercing Red Indian war cry.
Seema generally went crazy.
Yes, Seema liked hot showers.

Seema also liked L.S.D.
 
This is my 4th post, for Week 2 of #MyFriendAlexa a Blogging Challenge set by Blogchatter 
 
I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter.
 
Current Rank (as on 1st September 2016) 

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Colour

I came across a quiz on facebook. The question asked was ‘What colour defines you’. 
I took the quiz and the answer was ‘Red’ which happens to be my favourite colour. 
But the question, ‘What colour defines you’ stayed in my mind, and inspired a blog post 🙂

Can one colour define you?
Does one colour define you?

I wouldn’t agree.
Emotions and feelings within us are momentary and ever-changing and just as we keep evolving so does our choice of colour.

I would have to say ‘White’ is me, and no not the ‘White’ you are thinking of.

I wonder how many people are aware that White is an amalgamation of all colours. When the colour wheel is spun, the only colour you see is White.

So at times…

I am the Crimson of passion
The calm of Blue
The abundance of Green
Yellow when all things come through
I am the Black of fear
The solid assurance of Brown
I am the Pink of a Blush
Though at Orange I have always frowned

Strangely, I have never associated my most favourite colour, Red, with its conventional adjectives like aggression, anger, danger. I always associate it with being alive, being joyous, passionate, and a celebration!

I have noticed my choice of colour does change with the phase I am going through.
Right now my colour is Silver.
Think Silver and Quicksilver comes to mind.
Silver is shimmering, alive, arousing curiosity, mysterious, always moving, never still.
It’s not surprising that your choice of colour says a lot about you!

So what would be your colour? Share?

This is my 3rd post for Week 2 for the Blogging Challenge #MyFriendAlexa by Blogchatter

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My Rank, as on 8th September 2016
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Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 
Ella Rubinstein is a 40 year old stay-at-home mother and wife with a beautiful home, 3 children and a prosperous husband. Outwardly, Ella has everything one could wish for, despite which she still feels an unnamed sense of discontent.
 
Agreeing to a part time job as a reader to a literary agent, Ella’s first assignment is to read a debut novel by an author called, Aziz Z Zahara.
 
The novel, titled Sweet Blasphemy, is set in the 13th century Anatolia and Ella finds herself reading about the fabled poet Rumi, whose life and views were transformed by the whirling dervish Shams of Tabriz and his forty rules of love and life.  Both characters so diverse from each other that only a miracle could have brought them together.
 
Along with Ella we discover Rumi and Shams, and the journey of their friendship and love, peppered with Shams Forty Rules and various characters, all diverse from the other, who come together to form a tapestry that reveals itself in the end, leaving you overwhelmed at the beauty of it.
 
As Ella’s reading of Sweet Blasphemy progress, she starts an email correspondence with the author. What begins with innocent emails soon turn into intimate exchanges, deepening Ella and Aziz’s bond.
 
Much like love, this book is many layered and requires patience and acceptance to be understood. Much like love, it will make you smile and bring tears to your eyes. Much like love, it will also be understood and interpreted differently. Much like love, it will simplify itself when you stop trying to understand it. Much like love, it will show you facets of yourself you never imagined you possessed. Much like love, you will realise every lesson comes for a price. Much like love, it will leave you humbled. Much like love, reading The Forty Rules of Love was a spiritual experience. One that can only be felt and one that must be felt.
 
 
P:S: The Forty Rules of Love wasn’t an easy book to read. I lost patience many times during the first 60 pages and also set it aside. But friends who have enjoyed reading it asked me to be patient and read on. And I am glad I did.

Twin Book Reviews – The Last Queen of India AND Nefertiti

Book Reviews:

The Last Queen of India AND Nefertiti
Historical fiction is not a genre that would interest me. Or so I thought, till a friend introduced me to Michelle Moran’s books. I was reluctant to start reading the first book but when I did start I couldn’t put it down!
The reason I am reviewing 2 books together is because, I read them back to back and all that I may have to say and share about one could be said for the other too. So here goes!
Jhansi ki Rani or Rani Laxmibai and Nefertiti are not names you may have not have heard of. Both were Queens who were known to have been adored by their people.
Strong women who took decisions that changed the course of history, and their lives. But what were they behind closed doors? What made them take the decisions they did? How did their decisions affect their family and loved ones? What were their insecurities and strengths, what kept them up at night and who did they trust, or not?
Rani Laxmibai had 6 personal, female bodyguards protecting her day and night. These guards had to go through various tests before they were chosen, sever all ties with their past, friends and family and promise a lifetime of loyalty to the Queen and crown. The guards were skilled in handling and using weapons, martial arts and some also went on to become confidants of the Queen. Sita was one of the Queens Guards and also her confidant, and is the narrator of The Last Queen of India.
Nefertiti was born to royalty and promised to it too. When the crown prince she was supposed to have been betrothed to dies under mysterious circumstances, Nefrititi sees to it that she is married to his successor, his younger brother. And as his Queen, she comes into her own, to the extent of shocking her countrymen and creating history by crowning herself a Pharaoh, a title akin to that of a King and only the privilege of men. Mutnodjmet, Nefertiti’s younger sister, who was always regaled to the shadows of her elder sister’s powerful aura narrates the tale of Nefertiti.
Michelle Moran loves history. And her writing assures that you will love it too.
Detailed research and painstaking attention to details weave stories that pull you in and transport your imagination to the places and people you are reading about. You become part of the cast of characters and feel the emotions they are going through, empathizing, sympathizing and even cheering them on!
Moran also seems to be pro-women, as the male protagonists in both the books I’ve read seem to come across as flawed.

But Historical Fiction is a genre you can take liberties with, and Moran seems to have taken the right ones, which enhance the story and leave a long lasting impact much after you’ve turned the last page.

This is my 2nd post for Week 1 for the Blogging Challenge #MyFriendAlexa by Blogchatter

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter .
Current Rank (as on 1st September 2016) 

2,828,055 –  Alexa Traffic Rank

132,802 – Traffic Rank in India

Curlies

‘Rex said I was fat!’ exclaimed Alice, ‘…am I fat, Jojo?’ she implored her sister
‘Yes you are.’ replied Jojo, as she flexed her limbs
‘And you’re mean!’ exclaimed Alice, again.
Jojo shrugged nonchalantly, as she looked into the distance
‘Look at Tina there,’ pointed Alice, ‘and look at Rex looking at her! Do you think he likes Tina?’
Jojo turned to look and made a face, ‘How does it matter?’
‘I think he does. And he likes her because she’s thin!’ spat out Alice, even as she started flexing her limbs.
‘If only you concentrated more on what you are supposed to do…’ Jojo started a slow jog on the spot.
‘And what is that supposed to mean, missy?!’ asked Alice, even as she started jogging.
‘That means practice, practice, practice, so hard that you don’t even notice Tom has eyes only for you!’ Jojo increased her speed and then started rushing forward.
‘Why you! Really? Truly?’ asked Alice, blushing and speeding towards her sister.
‘Yes! Truly! Now race you, FATSO!’ grinned Jojo as she gathered momentum, and both the waves rushed gracefully to meet the shore.


*This story is the result of my Goa Vacay hangover:) One week of living on the beach and looking at the water and waves for hours on end, I wondered what would go on in their minds as they went about their business. This story is the result of one such thought:)))) *

This is my 1st  post for Week 1 of the Blogging Challenge #MyFriendAlexa set by Blogchatter

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter .
Current Rank (as on 1st September 2016) 

2,828,055 –  Alexa Traffic Rank
132,802 – Traffic Rank in India

Ray of hope

You know, Ray, I hated your mother. I thought she was pure evil. There, I finally said it!’ exhaled Rita. ‘Surprised, huh? Or maybe not?’ Rita continued as her husband listened. ‘I am sure you aren’t surprised that I hated her. You must be surprised though that I’m telling it to you! Aren’t you?
You know, Ray, I bought a red coat today. A bright red. The color you said made me ‘look like a whore.’ It used to be my favorite color, but you never let me buy it. I’m waiting for winter, so I can wear it.
‘This Ray Nicolas! One lucky bastard!’ said Max as he exhaled a big puff of smoke and passed on the cigarette to his friend, Fred.
You know, Ray, I do know you aren’t listening to me. You never did. You never do. But I am still going to talk. I like hearing all that has been trapped inside of me spoken out aloud. It is, what is the word, liberating…no, not liberating…therapeutic. Yes. It is therapeutic.
‘Why?’ asked Fred as he took a deep drag.
‘Rich father left everything to Ray. Mother spoilt him silly. Got a beautiful and devoted wife…that one there…’ Max pointed towards Rita with his chin.
You know, Ray, I think I finally know what love is. I see it for me in all that your friend, Roy, says to me and does for me. Say something Ray, don’t just sit there stone-faced’ chided Rita as she brushed away an autumn leaf that fell on Ray’s tombstone.
‘…she’s never missed a Sunday since Ray died a year ago. Comes to his grave, cleans it, and talks to him like he’s listening…’

Looks are deceptive

Looks are deceptive
Looks are deceptive, aren’t they, thought Malathi as she pulled out a golf club from her husband’s golf kit resting behind the door. The smallest club seemed to be the heaviest, she smirked. What all could it do, besides hitting a ball, she wondered ? Kill a cockroach? Crack a skull, perhaps?

Looks are truly deceptive, she smirked again. After all who would have imagined that her veshti wearing, burping after meals, and napping whenever and wherever possible husband would turn into a smart trouser wearing, energetic, English speaking and Golf playing gentleman overnight?

He had now started subscribing to a famous English newspaper (no regional paper for me, Malathi, they write rubbish!), had stopped eating rice (not good to eat everyday it seems, she rolled her eyes each time she thought of that statement) and spent more money than she did on the household expenses for a month, on just a few pairs of clothes!

When she asked him how much the golf kit had cost he had laughed it off, adding ‘Don’t want to give you a heart attack, Malathi’ As if she was that weak! When she had survived his mother, his aunts and his sisters, what was the cost of some stupid game accessory going to do to her, she harrumphed!
As she went about her chores, she could hear his soft snores coming from the bedroom. Rain had forced him to cut short his game of Golf and he had returned unexpectedly.

Disappointing Malathi. She wasn’t prepared for him being home early.

After being abandoned for Golf, Malathi had set her own routine. As soon as her husband left for his game Malathi finished her chores. She then called up her best friend and they both discussed everything they couldn’t discuss with others, for an hour. Then Malathi watched her favorite serials as she lunched. A short nap later she was ready and refreshed to wait on her husband, who left a trail of mess and rattled off a list of demands as soon as he stepped into the house. For the first time in her life she was doing what she wanted to and had time to herself. And it felt good.

She turned angry now. Why didn’t her feelings ever matter? Why hadn’t her wishes mattered? Her children too didn’t care for her, and her grandchildren were following their path. All anyone ever looked forward to was her cooking. ‘Amma make this! Amma make that! Paati make me this! Malathi make that!’ That was all she was remembered and needed for.

Anger and hurt vied for the No 1 spot in her brain.

Malathi tiptoed towards her sleeping husband, golf club in hand. He was snoring away. Should she? Shouldn’t she? She clutched tightly at the handle of the club as she felt the sweat from her palms making it slip a little.
She took a deep breath. And Malathi swung up the golf club, and swung it down with all her might. 

Thwack!

The skull split in two. 

And Malathi picked up the twin halves of the coconut, as she brushed away the twinge of guilt for bruising the golf club.