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) 

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

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.

Scared To Death

Rakhi looked up in awe at the huge billboards forming the façade of a brand new mall. Bright colors and well-dressed people dotted the entrance and compound circling it. Sitting, standing, laughing, eating, holding hands, everyone looked happy. How much everything has changed, sighed Rakhi  
Just as she was about to move forward she thought she saw a familiar face. Was that Raghav, son of her former neighbour’s, the Makhija’s? The boy had his face bent, intently concentrating on his mobile as he waited to cross the road. Why doesn’t he look up so I can confirm it is Raghav, fretted Rakhi.
As if he’d heard her, the boy looked up and stepped forward to cross the road, when from nowhere a garbage truck came hurtling towards him. The boy was flung in the air, and fell to the ground with a thud. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and time stood still. Till blood began seeping out from under his head and started forming a puddle. That is when a girl screamed. No one had realized that the garbage truck had sped away.
Rakhi was too stunned to react. She stood still. She couldn’t absorb what she had just witnessed. Was that really Raghav, or someone else? After all she had seen him as a little boy last. She too wanted to scream like that girl but no sound came out.
Rakhi walked into the house. Her mother-in-law looked at her and they silently exchanged a conversation. In another lifetime, Rakhi and her mother-in-law had never got along. Her mother-in-law had troubled her endlessly and Rakhi had borne it all. But they were in a different space now, where they understood each other well.
Rakhi started into the distance. Her mother-in-law came and stood beside her. She knew enough to let her be, till Rakhi could not hold back and a torrent of words spilled out of her. After a while a tear rolled down Rakhi’s cheek, others followed suit immediately and soon turned into great big heaving sobs. Her mother-in-law looked at her with compassion in her eyes, she knew exactly what Rakhi was feeling. That look increased the sobs, which had now turned into hiccups.
Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law were standing side by side in silent solidarity when Ravi walked it on the scene. He looked at his mother’s somber face, and his wife’s tear stained one and gritted his teeth.
‘Again, Rakhi?!’ he spat out.
‘Let her be, Ravi’ answered his mother
‘I can’t, Aai (mother)! I am fed up!’
‘Ravi…I saw him…I saw him being hit…by a vehicle…’said Rakhi, between sobs
‘So? So what? When will you stop reacting like this?! When?’
‘I…I..’ Rakhi could not complete her sentence.
‘You know how she has always been, Ravi. Extra sensitive. Don’t be so harsh and impatient with her.’ chided his mother.
‘Harsh? Impatient?Which world are you living in?!’ Ravi let out a sarcastic laugh
‘Ravi…I can’t forget…that…boy’ Rakhi tried to explain
‘It reminded you of our accident, didn’t it?’ asked her mother-in-law, making Rakhi start a fresh round of sobs, as she replied with frantic nods, unable to speak anymore

‘Oh Rakhi!’ Ravi’s face softened, ‘will you ever accept that we are no longer mortals, after all three of us died in that road accident 10 years ago?’

Book Review : Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I have been a huge fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ever since I read her first book of short stories, Arranged Marriage. Sister of My Heart and The Palace of Illusions have been amongst my constant favourites among all of her books I’ve read so far.

When ‘Before we visit the Goddess’ was released I looked forward to reading it, the title intriguing me especially.

The book spans three generations of women from the same family, connected by blood but disconnected by distance and misunderstandings.
Sabitri, a strong woman who fights all odds and emerges a winner, or does she?
Sabitri’s daughter, Bela, a problem child who resents her mother and blames her for all the wrongs in her life. Is Bela justified in doing so, or not?
Sabitri’s grand daughter and Bela’s daughter, Tara, Daddy’s Girl who knows nothing about her grandmother and does not want to know her mother. Will Tara regret this distancing?
The men is their lives who keep them apart, knowingly and unknowingly.
From a small village in West Bengal all the way to distant America lives are shattered and the jagged pieces cause wounds that leave scars.

The story and writing seem haphazardly put together, like a patchwork quilt. Sadly the pieces are mismatched and don’t form a pretty picture. The story left me confused, dissatisfied and wondering if CBD had actually written it, or had it ghost written. I could not connect the title to the story either. This book lacks CBD’s trademark eloquent prose that connects you to her writing.

Here’s hoping that CBD was having a one off, after a constant string of best sellers, and is going to be back again with a bang. Soon.

Made in China

I have subscribed to an App on my phone that would send me daily prompts to interpret as I please, and blog the result. Todays prompt was;

Prompt :
 You pick up Chinese food from a local restaurant, but when you get home you find something unexpected in the bag.

Here is my story for it

                                                                     Made in China
Sushant Gupta shut his computer, stretched his hands above his head, cracked his knuckles and let out a mighty yawn. He looked around his empty office and realized that once again he was the last one left. He slid his laptop inside his bag, added two files to it and slinging the bag across his chest and walked out of the office.
Stepping out of the elevator he stepped into a pleasant evening. Hands in his pockets he started walking the short distance from office to home. Twice a week he looked forward to his indulgence of beer and a takeaway Chinese meal, both of which he which he picked up on the way. A short walk led him to the local food joint he favoured.
It was funny that even after eating the food for more than a year he still didn’t know what the dishes were called. Gestures worked as he pointed out his usual’s on the pictorial menu. As he casually waited, his eyes darted around anxiously into all corners of the tiny 4-table restaurant and the open kitchen, and he was relieved to find out she wasn’t here today.
Within minutes a bag full of steaming deliciousness and a cold bottle of beer were his accompaniments to his apartment. As he let himself in, he was thankful for having a flatmate whose work saw to it that he was traveling almost 20 days a month, leaving the flat to Sushant.
After a quick change he started unpacking his meal. The fragrance of the Pork curry made his stomach rumble. He inhaled the Beef dish and his mouth watered. What would his parents think if they found out that their son, who grew up in a God-fearing, no-onion, no-garlic, pure-veg household had become a habitual carnivore. His hand dived in for the steamed rice when he felt another box tucked away at the bottom of the bag. Puzzled, he took it out. He didn’t remember ordering anything other than his usual menu.
It was a takeaway box all right, but sealed. He shook it and it made a muffled sound. Opening the box he found tissues wrapped around an object inside. He looked at it for a moment, wondering if he should just discard it. But curiousity got the better of him and he removed the object.He gingerly felt around it, it seemed hard. Should he open it, or not, he wondered again. He unwrapped the tissues with trepidation, to find a rattle inside.
A rattle? 
Turning it around in his hand he shrugged. What was a baby’s rattle doing inside the bag? What did it mean? How had it got here? His conscience nudged him with a gentle reminder of Li, but his mind hastily pushed it away.
He turned the rattle in his hand again. It looked liked a usual rattle, but he was missing something. He kept staring at it till he realized that the rattle didn’t make any sound. From some unknown reason that sent a chill down Sushant’s spine and he abruptly threw it away. As it lay on the ground he kept staring at it and let out a nervous laugh. He couldn’t believe that a stupid item like a baby’s rattle had unnerved him. He picked it up and re-examined it, wondering what to do. Should he go to the restaurant and hand it to the restaurant owner, old man Mac, or just throw it away. He was confused, and scared.
His conscience nudged him once more, stronger this time, and he remembered Li. Young and innocent Li, the old mans daughter who helped out at the restaurant after school. Li, who blushed every time she handed him his takeaway. Li, who used to lookout for him and pat her hair and straighten her dress when she saw him approaching. Li, who thought he looked like an Indian film star. Li, who thought she was the luckiest girl alive, when he started giving her attention. Li, who agreed to meet him away from the shop. Li, who trusted him till he made her regret it.
He shivered, remembering his last meeting with Li, where the tears flowing down her face made it difficult for her to speak and how he had pushed her away and walked off, threatening to tell her father everything if she didn’t leave him alone. He was being cruel, he knew. But that was the only way he could get rid of her, he assured himself. Then, and now.
He wondered what to do, and what was happening. Li hadn’t been at the shop this evening, he had checked. Then who had put the rattle in his bag, and more importantly, why. Was Li trying to tell him something, he swallowed nervously. And if yes, then what?
A loud thudding on his door made him snap out of his reverie.
More thudding followed. He knew no one here and had no visitors, ever. He was careful to never invite Li home either. As the thudding got louder and more frequent, Sushant found himself sweating. How had his pleasant evening changed so soon?
Now someone was pounding at the door, screaming out in a language he didn’t understand. From the voices outside he realized there was more than one person. Now someone else began pushing on the flimsy door, while another continued pounding. 
Sushant didn’t know what to do. 
Suddenly the lights went off, filling him with icy dread, and the pounding got more insistent. He looked around helplessly, but darkness enveloped everything. The door finally gave way and by the faint light that spilled in from the corridor, he saw three men enter. He started stepping back, but tripped on something. The men walked in, talking loudly amongst themselves and shone a flashlight around his house. On the floor, Sushant tried to curl himself into a ball, an invisible ball hoping their beam of light would miss him and they would leave. Silent sobs escaped his throat.
From underneath his hands that covered his face he saw the light, and the men saw him. They lunged at him, pulling him up, slapping, punching, kicking at him from three different sides. He screamed, they hit him some more. He screamed again. They continued raining kicks and blows. He was in agony. 
They paused abruptly and one of the men shone the flashlight in his eyes and Sushant blinked. Before he had time to react he was being punched in the stomach again. To his right he heard a faint hiss, and the beam of the flashlight was turned to show a knife being slid out of its scabbard. Sushant screamed. And screamed some more, as the knife was plunged into his stomach, again and again. And then he woke up.