The River

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Haridwar 5th July 2009 147 Part One: The First Look

A slight way off the road, in Rishikesh, a set of stairs ran down to a secluded Ghat, waiting for us like an old man waits for wanderers, hoping that they have a few moments to spare. We did have those few moments to spare, and so we stepped away from the planned route, and went down the ghat. She was there, at the bottom of those stairs; one look at her majestic charm, and I knew why people respected The Ganga, and loved her so.

As was customary at all ghats, a few steps separated us from the gushing river below. Each step I took, the river seemed to sigh back, as if nothing pleased her more than having me beside her – like old friends catching up after a long time.

My friends joined me; an old man sat and lit a beedi while observing us; my friends took about a zillion pictures of each other, of me, and of the river – but I was so mesmerized by the indefinable attraction the river held, that I failed to notice most of it.

The silt from the river had been deposited on the steps, and the places the river had visited were all marked out; like familiar footprints on wet sand.

Soon, it was time for us to leave for Harki Pauri, another ghat on the banks of the Ganges. I didn’t want to leave this new friend so soon, but as my old friend put it very rightly, the more time I spent there, the more I’d want to linger on.

With one final look at the river, we left, while the murmur of the river followed us. I wanted to return, and desperately cling on to a few more moments, and was looking for an excuse to run back. In a flash, I had the excuse. I wanted the name of the ghat we had visited, and since I didn’t remember it, I had to turn back.

Telling my friends to carry on (of course, with a bit of resistance from their side), I turned back and ran to the ghat. Down the steps, almost slipping, I dipped one hand quickly into the ice-cold water, and a smile escaped my lips.

In my haste, I had failed to notice the old man sitting there, still smoking his beedi. He was observing me, and had seen the smile on my face that reflected the strange calm spreading inside me. He took a long drag of the beedi, exhaled, and said, “Haan beta, ek ajeeb sa sukoon milta hai.”

P. S. The name of the ghat was Sri Vishwanath Ghat, and it had been inaugurated in August, 1947. I knew this all along.

Part Two: The Last Look

Haridwar 5th July 2009 176 Harki Pauri is one of the most famous ghats of Haridwar. Thousands throng this place daily, and during the peak hour of the Aarti, it becomes almost impossible to see anything but human figures all around.

It was at Harki Pauri that I met the Holy Ganga again. I knew I was in love the moment I saw the river. Little green leaf-baskets, each of them decorated with rose petals, marigold petals, a single lotus, and one diya, floated downstream, gently rocking along rhythmically, dancing to the waves caused by the river’s flow.

One step down, two steps down, and the water welcomed my toes. I groped around in the murky water, and with my friend’s help, finally managed to go down two steps, and was knee-deep in the water.My feet were numb with cold, my jeans were soaked with the river, and I was standing in a strong current, and yet I knew I never wanted to get out.

Nightfall was coming, and we had to make our way back to the hotel. By this time, it seemed every one of us had somehow been infused with that intoxicating something this river held in great quantities. As one, we all sat down on the stairs leading down to the ghat, to catch the last few glimpses of the river before we left.

Finally, we got up to leave. The narrow lanes back to the bridge leading to the auto stand allowed a few flashes of the river I’d begun to adore. Between the buildings, through cracks in the walls, I could see her flowing beyond. A few final steps over the bridge, and we had reached the rickshaw stand. It really was time to say goodbye.

As the rickshaw slowly navigated the streets of Haridwar, the night life on the banks of Ganga greeted us from afar. Soon, however, these few sights were all behind us, and I had already begun to miss her.

We came across a bridge, a surprise the little town had sprung up for me. The river gushed on from below, and even over the hubbub of traffic, and the crinkle of the rickshaw chain, I could hear the river whispering three magical words to me. “Come back soon.”

I know I will.

A Little Change…

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something here, and I could see just how much you guys have missed me in the meantime. Thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog. Although I don’t have any stories to put up out here, I still wanted to come by and tell you that I haven’t crawled under a rock somewhere and died… I’m still alive and kicking!

This post is a bit different… instead of a story, I’m putting up some random photos that I’ve taken a while back, of my favorite subject there is – Delhi. I hope you like the photos here. There will be some more shots coming out here, along with some short stories too… haven’t really decided that just yet. For the time being though, enjoy the pics.

  

Taken at Chandni Chowk. A man lighting his kerosene lamp to prepare for the oncoming night. Business as usual.

 

 

Coffee Home at Connaught Place, New Delhi

 

Two eagles in the backdrop of a cloudy day. It rained soon after this, much to the relief of Delhi. I wonder what the eagles thought, though…

 

One of the many, many hawkers on the streets of Chandni Chowk. So preoccupied was he with his evening cup of tea, that he didn’t even seem to notice me taking this picture of his.

 

Connect the Pigeon Dots? Oh well, it’s already been done by that wire up there… a little inside story about this particular photo, I got a nice little drop of “blessing” from my beautiful models right after taking this picture, much to the amusement of all my classmates! I think somewhere, there’s a picture of me posing with a little white blob on the my jacket sleeve as well…

More stories and/or photos to come in future. In the meantime, you can head over to my Flickr account to see

some more pics that I’ve taken. That page would be (hopefully) updated quite frequently too.

Cheers to all.

… and she said, “I’m all yours.”

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The school bell rang, and finally the moment she had been waiting for had arrived. She was free from school, and she couldn't wait to be back home. To be with the one she had been thinking of, for so long.

“Have a nice weekend!”

“You too!”

“I’ll drop by at your place around five, ok?”

“Sure thing. It’s gonna be so much fun, you guys spending the night over.”

“We’ll stay up all night long!”

The conversations amongst her classmates surrounded her, yet she seemed far away from it all. She was lost the her own thoughts, lost in the memories of the long hours she had spent in the company of her one true love.

She got on the bus, and sat at her favorite window seat. She wished with all her will that the bus would start moving soon. Her impatience paid off in the end; the bus jerked to life, and slowly trundled off in the direction of her house. She felt excited at the thought of someone waiting for her. Her thoughts wandered back into the memories of the countless kisses they had shared, the warm feeling she got every time, the subtle high she experienced from it all.

The bus stopped in front of her house, and she hopped off it. In seconds, she ran into her room and locked the door. In the semi – darkness, she whispered, “I’m ready, my love.”

Cautiously, she took out the stock of ground marijuana she kept in her closet. Her lovestruck eyes lit with delight, as she took the drugs and rolled up a joint. With trembling hands, she lit one end of the joint, and kissed the other end. The warmth of the kiss travelled all over her senses; she took a deep drag, and whispered in the silence, “I’m all yours.”

***

Been busy almost the whole week, which is why there was a delay in the story. Wish I had a bit more time to work on this, it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to be. Still, I wanted to post something here, and so, here it is. Tried to take into account the many requests of a love story, but I don’t think this one quite qualifies to be a part of that category.

Image Courtesy fa73

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The Lake Lady

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Gulshan was a typical ‘US Return’, as they called him in the little village of Shantinagar. He had come over for spending the summer, but most of it had been a bust. There wasn’t really anyone with whom he could spend time. His cousins were just so different from him, and they all were at the age where acceptance is hard to give out, yet they were all seeking for it.

He wasn’t really accepted in the inner circles of his cousins, so consequently he spent a lot of time browsing around the crumbling village that Shantinagar was. The older side of the town always had a wonderful new surprise waiting for him, and equipped with his father’s camera, he found that he did have a good time in that bit of the village; the one place in the whole village that seemed to be his own.

It was at this eastern end of the village, that he had stumbled upon the green murky pond. He remembered the wonderful ponds that were there at the perfectly manicured parks back home. A part of him, thus, had expected something along those lines as he drew closer to the murky pond. He was in for a shock, though. The steps leading down to the pond were broken and worn. The whole pond seemed green, unlike the pristine blue clear watered ponds that he was used to. However, it didn’t seem that the water was that dirty. One look at it, and he knew that this little body of water was a world of its own.

“It used to be much more beautiful than this before,” said a soft voice behind him, “the water was clearer, and you could see the fishes zooming around in the water.”

He turned around, and saw a beautiful teenage girl sitting a few steps behind him. She was wearing a simple white dress that seemed to glow amber in the setting sun. Her face glowed as the dying sunlight played its charm on it just before saying goodbye, and even the breeze seemed to smile at her beauty. She was covered from head to toe, and just her face was visible. She sat there, smiling slightly, while he just stood there gaping at her.

The smile eventually turned into a small laugh, and he knew she was waiting for him to stop staring and say something.

“Hi, I’m Gulshan. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you sitting there, I wanted to get a good look at the pond, and get a few shots before the sun went down.”

“I know who you are, I’ve heard about you. You’re Ranabir Babu’s nephew. My name’s Chhaya. I hope you’re enjoying the village life?” she said, with the same teasing smile from before.

“I don’t know how to say this, I’ve seen everyone is quite sensitive about the ‘precious’ little village of yours!”

“I promise, I’ll try my best not to judge you,” she answered. “So, what is it that you cannot say to everyone, that you’re so desperately want to say?”

“My vacation blows. I’m doing nothing here, I feel so completely out of place, and I miss my friends back home,” he thought aloud, and realized for the first time how much he missed everything back at home.

“Don’t worry, you’ll see them soon enough. Life’s very long, you’ll see,” she said, with that radiant smile again, the one that glowed amber with the sun, and he smiled along with her, in those final minutes of the day.

~~~~~

He was back to the pond the next day, and saw her sitting there again. Once more, he couldn’t help but keep admiring her beauty from the moment he had seen her, until she noticed of course. After that, he had a very hard time not to keep looking at her, lest she understand what was going on in his heart. He really didn’t want to scare her away…

“You know, there was a time when this pond was much more than that. It was a lake, a proper sized one too. See the other side of that ditch, where the fields are, with the buffaloes? That’s where the lake used to stretch to. I was a little girl when I first saw it. I’ve been hoping ever since, that someday, the pond would once more become a lake,” she said, with a faraway, wistful look on her face.

“Wow, you can hardly see till that side from here. Some sight it would have been too, in those days,” he wondered aloud, trying to imagine how wonderful the lake would have looked, in those last few beautiful rays of the sunlight, with Chhaya sitting on the bank, reflected in the clear water.

He couldn’t help but look at Chhaya once more, and this time, he didn’t really care that she had noticed. A tiny smile formed at the edge of her lips, and she asked him without looking at him, “What?”

“You’re Beautiful,” he smiled back.

~~~~~

They met almost every day after that, at that same spot. He would come to the lake, at that very specific twilight hour, and find her sitting there in the beautiful orange sunlight. He would rush every day to her, armed with the camera, and together they would sit there, and take many pictures. The gnarled branches, the birds, the pond, and the dilapidated huts they could see behind the fields, the lazy buffaloes.

He had brought a bouquet of flowers for her, but for a strange reason, he felt nervous giving them to her. He really wanted her to like him, and the flowers too. He had picked them out himself, spending two hours in the hot sun, choosing the best ones in the whole village that he could find.

When she gave it to her though, she couldn’t stop laughing. “Oh, I love the flowers! Sorry, but it’s just that – look around, Gulshan. I’m surrounded by the most beautiful flowers,” she said, with that familiar, beautiful smile back on her face.

“Wow, you’re right! How come I never noticed them before here?” he asked, although he knew the answer to that very well. In truth, he hadn’t noticed much around the place. It wasn’t really easy to focus on your surroundings when there’s as beautiful a girl as Chhaya in front of you.

“I got you a gift too, you know,” she said to him, with a hint of a blush on her face.

“You did? What is it? Where is it?”

“Well, it’s actually a silly little poem that I had written last night.”

“I want to hear it! Go on, recite it. I promise you I’ll like it,” he said, eager to hear the poem.

“Ok, but don’t laugh. Here goes.

“The hillside looking like an artist’s palette

The colors, the hue, the green, the blue

A freshly laundered day awaits

Two lovers walk, first steps in the dew

Hand in hand, heart to heart

They walk away from the eyes of the world

The look, the touch, the sweet promise

A gift of love, the flowers she yearned….

“I know it’s not much, and I know it’s a very silly, stupid poem. It’s ok if you don’t like it, really, Gulshan!’

“Are you kidding me? That’s one of the sweetest poems I’ve heard in a long time now,” he said, with all honestly. He really hadn’t expected her to have written a poem for him. “Although, there’s one little thing; how did you know that I was going to bring you flowers today?”

“I didn’t. I just hoped,” she said, locking her eyes into his, and smiling while the sun set behind them

~~~~~

It was his last evening in the village. He had never thought that there could be anything here that would make him want to stay on so much, as Chhaya. He knew that he wanted to stay here forever, to be able to meet her every day on the bank of the lake. He knew that he wanted to stay over forever, so that he could share the little joys of his life with her for the rest of his life. He knew that he wanted to stay on, so that someday, he could go up to her and say…

“I love you, Chhaya.”

“What?”

“I said I love you,” he said again, “and I really mean it. All I want to do is stay with you, right here next to the lake. We can have a house right here, and live on forever.”

“Go on,” urged Chhaya, with a look on her face that said that she had been waiting to hear these words for a long time now.

“We would live in this village, right here. I won’t leave. I’ll work at the fields, whatever it takes, to be with you. And someday, I’ll see the pond become a lake, sitting right here, with you. I love you, Chhaya.”

“Say it one more time, Gulshan,” she said, with that same hungry look from before.

“I love you.”

“Oh, it’s been so long since anyone has said those words to me. Gulshan, you’re so wonderful. Of course I love you too. I’ve been waiting so long, for someone to tell me those words again, so many years I’ve spent waiting for someone like you, on these tired, old and worn out steps.”

“Chhaya, are you alright? You seem a little weird. Should I not have said it? Was it too early?”

“No, no. You’re wonderful, Gulshan. You just reminded me so much of my fiancé.”

“Your fiancé? You were about to be married, to another man?”

“A long time ago, yes,” Chhaya said, with a tired look on her face. A look that didn’t suit her at all, and made her look mysteriously old.

“Were you ever planning on telling me this, Chhaya? What happened to him?” demanded Gulshan.

Chhaya turned around and faced him, and said, “He killed me. He threw me into that lake. I drowned that day.”

Gulshan couldn’t speak for a few moments. Then, his senses came back to him, and he laughed, “You’re winding me up right? This is a joke, right?” he said, wanting his brain to believe that he wasn’t scared by what he was hearing.

“No, Gulshan. I’m not joking. I was killed by the man I loved, the man who I was set to be married to. 213 years ago it happened. We had an argument, and he pushed me into the lake. I couldn’t swim, so I drowned.”

“213 years ago? How can that be? You’re standing here, right in front of me! Are you telling me that you’re a ghost, Chhaya?”

“I don’t know what I am, Gulshan. I really don’t know what I am; but I do know that now, we are in love, and we shall be happy together, won’t we?”

And she took her hand, and gently touched his cheeks – only now, her hands were not the same beautiful hands that Gulshan had seen for so many days. Now, they looked deathly white, and bloated, as though they had been underwater for days. When the hand touched his cheek, he could feel the cold, clammy wetness of the fingertips right to his bones.

Gulshan turned and ran back to the village, screaming like a madman.

~~~~~

Mahesh wanted a Love Story.

Sowmi wanted a Poem.

And I wanted to write a Ghost Story.

Another long one, I hope you guys had the patience to read it through. The second ghost story I’ve written ever; the first one was written back in 1993. I hope this was a better attempt at it.

Image Courtesy goodonpaper

The One That Flew Away

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The first time Randhir had heard about Michael Painter, it was from Shaina’s mouth. The same mouth she had kissed him with, so many times. Shaina was dead now, before Randhir had the chance of meeting Michael Painter.

The first time they met, it was in the disused basement of Randhir’s little house. Michael was tied to a chair, unconscious, while Randhir waited for him to wake up. Randhir had quit smoking a year back, when he met Shaina, but some old habits just don’t die.

Quite like some memories. And some people.

Michael stirred a bit, and Randhir slapped him on the face. “Wake up, Michael. You’re late already. There’s much to talk about.”

Michael wasn’t scared actually. He hardly ever was. He opened his eyes, and looked around. The crumbling shelves, the old guitars, and in the corner stood the untouched canvas.

“You know, my name says I should be a painter. I’m not though. I’m an engineer by profession. Can you lend me a cigarette?” Michael’s raspy voice broke the silence that had crept in.

Randhir slapped him again. Michael smiled.

“You’re a fucking murderer. You killed my girlfriend. Why?” spat Randhir.

Michael was still laughing. He gazed longingly at the cigarette that was hanging from Randhir’s hand. After a long time, he said, “You should have seen her with me. She wasn’t as happy with you as she was with me. So what if it lasted just one night. Most people don’t experience all that in a lifetime, what she experienced with me in that one night.”

Randhir didn’t want to believe that. He didn’t want to hear the words that Michael was saying, because he knew that it could be true. Shania had said those things herself.

~~~~~

The party had started late, and by the time they came out of the pub, the streets were quite empty. That’s the way Randhir liked the roads to be, for what better way to impress a girl than to take her for a quick spin in a fancy car?

Shaina Naazneen was no ordinary girl though. She had the glitter in her eyes, the one that comes when you dream about making it big. She wanted to be a movie star, and she had run away from her home to the city to realize that dream. She had escaped her village, the boundaries of her old life, and even her old name. Now, in the city where no one knew her, she was known as Shaina Naazneen.

She was a dancer at a popular bar in the heart of the city. That’s when she met Randhir Jaiswal, a straightforward Chartered Accountant, decently handsome, and a perfect blend of all those things that made Shaina’s heart skip a few beats when she saw him. Right then, she decided that she had to take Randhir to bed with her.

When Randhir saw her, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He felt like he was in love, with the way she moved, the rhythmic taps of her feet. He wanted to hold her in his arms, and keep looking at her forever. But that doesn’t happen ever. The music stopped, and she disappeared behind the curtains.

Randhir had had quite a few drinks for that night; he was, after all, out to celebrate. That’s why, in his half-drunken state, he didn’t quite realize who it was walking towards him, till she was right in front of him.

Hi, I’m Shaina,” she had said, with a beautiful smile.

Randhir Jaiswal, Chartered Accountant,” was all that he could manage to mumble in the wake of that dazzling smile.

~~~~~

“I was born with the name of Michael Painter. I loved painting since I was a child, but I always wanted to make something much more tangible. That’s why I became an engineer,” said Michael into the silence.

“What makes you think that I’m even remotely interested in what you want or do not want?” asked Randhir.

“I just thought you’d want to know a little bit about your girlfriend’s murderer. I think I assumed too much.”

Randhir just stared at the face that had gone silent again. ‘I’m looking at a murderer, a cold blooded murderer, right now,’ he thought.

“Why’d you do it? Why did you kill her? Why the fuck, were you acting like the devil?” he fired at him, before he could stop himself.

He allowed himself a small smile, and then he spoke. “Why do I do it? Because it’s essential, to keep the men – and women – in line. Why did I kill her? Because, you know just as well as I do, that she deserved it. Why was I acting like the devil? Oh, I’m not. I’m just a regular guy who thinks that sins should not go unpunished. And what greater sin is there, other than infidelity?”

“You coerced her into being unfaithful. You seduced her, you got her into bed! Now you’re saying that you killed her for those very things? You have the audacity to term it as your own brand of justice – what sort of justice is this?”

“I never asked her to come to bed with me. I was just testing her. She failed the test, and so she paid the price.”

Randhir couldn’t believe the power with which Michael held his stare. He couldn’t believe that the man who had killed the woman he loved, could look him in the eye and talk about it so confidently. Yet, that was exactly what Michael was doing.

“I loved her,” whispered Randhir.

~~~~~

“Go to hell, Randhir. I can’t believe you can be this insensitive. All these days, I’ve just been nothing more than a small town girl for you?”

That’s not what I meant. Would you please, stop misconstruing everything I’m saying?”

Well then, what exactly did you mean when you said that I’d understand, since I come from a small town? You think I’m just as narrow minded as the fools that I’ve left behind in the village?”

Shaina, that’s not at all what I meant. Why are you screaming, we just made love, for god’s sake!”

Oh, so now I can’t even speak my mind when I want? Really, Randhir, go to hell!”

Shaina! Please, relax, would you? We love each other, don’t we?”

I don’t! What the hell made you think that? I thought you knew that, I thought you knew I’m just in it for this!”

Shaina, what? You mean, you’re just in it for the sex?”

Yes, Randhir. I told you, I’m not like the other narrow minded village girls. I’ve got this one life, and I intend to live it just the way I want to! I won’t let you, or anyone else, run it for me, you hear?”

Randhir couldn’t stand any of it anymore. He jumped out of bed, flung her clothes at her, and bellowed, “Get out! Get out of my house right now, you bloody whore! Get out, and don’t ever dare to set foot in here again!”

Fine! I don’t even want to stay with you anymore. You’re no better than the shallow folks I left back home when I came here. Michael Painter is so much better than you.”

Michael who?”

Michael Painter. He’s the guy I’m sleeping with on the side. Satisfied?”

She stormed out of the door, and at the moment, he was happy that she had left his life.

~~~~~

“She came to me that day, telling me that she had dumped you. It was at that moment that I knew she had failed the test. I decided that the time for her punishment had come close. She had always wanted to fly. That night, I pushed her off the roof. Ironic, isn’t it – she had to die, living the very wish that she wanted since she was a little child.”

“It was just a fight. We could have solved this one. I know we could have, if only we had talked it over, things would have been alright.”

“No Randhir, things wouldn’t have fallen into place. She really didn’t love you anymore, she just wanted to sleep with you. That was the extent of it. I’m sorry you had to find out like this. Now you see, why I think she really deserved what she got? She lied to you, she played with you.”

A little bit of sense came back to Randhir, and he looked back at the man who murdered Shaina. “That still didn’t give you the right to kill her! You had no right to kill her! Who do you think you are?”

“I know I didn’t have the right to kill her. You remember the gun you found in my jacket? There are two bullets in there. Those bullets are meant for me. Now you understand, Randhir, why I called you to meet up? If anyone has the right to take a life here, it’s you Randhir – you alone.”

Randhir got up, and walked to the jacket that had fallen to the floor. He bent down and picked it up, and found that the left side was unnaturally heavy. He removed the black pistol from the pocket, and felt the cold gun in his hand.

Slowly, Randhir walked back to the place where Michael was sitting. He turned around to face the man he had brought to the room and tied to the chair. He loathed this man sitting there, and he loathed the girl because of whom this man was sitting here. The hatred seemed to shine on his face, for Michael recognized it and smiled at it.

“Look into my eyes Randhir. You will hate me, I know that, but when you look into my eyes, you will know that this is exactly how I wanted things to turn out between us. This is exactly why, there was no need for you to tie me to this chair.”

With the heavy gun in his hand, Randhir found that he couldn’t talk. All he wanted to do was to rid all the people who were involved in the incidents that had happened in the last few months. This man was the last link to that episode.

Randhir looked into Michael’s eyes, and knew that he wasn’t lying about anything that he had said. But behind the honesty, he saw something else in Michael’s eyes. Something that was brought out by the last words that Michael said. “I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”

Randhir aimed the gun on Michael’s forehead, and Michael braced himself for the two shots that were coming his way. A shadow of that scared smile still remained on his face.

***

This post is my attempt at a series that Annie started – Grey Shades. This one was actually brought about because of two reasons. Firstly, Annie wanted me to write something related to Infidelity, and that’s something that I’ve never really been comfortable to approach. Secondly, someone commented that they wanted a murder story from me again. I tried to combine the two, and this was the result. I hope it was acceptable.

Apologies for the length of the post, as well as the strong language used. I really couldn’t make the story what it is without either.

Image Courtesy Auraelius

The Entertainer

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The shower was one place where she just couldn’t resist singing. Her melodious voice danced over the notes, with the flowing water keeping the rhythm. Her voice obeyed her every command, and the song itself seemed to bring life into the world. It was a wonderful way to start a wonderful evening.

All except…

“Would you cut out your singing and hurry up? You’re making both of us late!” screamed Anuradha from the other side of the door.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m almost done. Give me two more minutes,” said Samaira, while her reflection looked at her accusingly.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my voice. Why doesn’t anyone get that?’

The evening was slowly turning into the night, and she was ready to take on the world. With the song still singing itself in her head and her heart, she walked to the Prakash Photo Studio. She needed some glamour shots for work, and Prakash (as it was fondly called in that locality) was the one place to get them from.

She spent an hour at Prakash. When the shots were done, she looked at them. The gentle hint of Kohl in her eyes, the black waves of her hair, the heart shaped face, they all told her that she was, indeed, beautiful.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my beauty, with the ladylike grace that I possess. I wish someone else would see that for a change.’

On the street, she heard the sound of ghungrus coming from the local Dance School. She remembered how she used to go there as a child. The long hours she spent, dancing to the wonderful music. She remembered how wonderful and free she felt at that time, to move like she wanted to.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my graceful movements, and the gentle taps of the ghungrus on my feet. I wish I could have that stage, once, where people would appreciate that in me.’

She reached her “Office”, her place of work, and met Greg. She didn’t know Greg’s real name, and he didn’t know hers. In the “Office”, she was Sam.

“Sam, your client’s waiting for you upstairs. He’s a Russian man, with big bucks, lots of it. Make sure you entertain him well tonight.”

She looked into the mirror, and the reflection spoke to her.

‘I am an Entertainer. I charm people with my body, and the things I do with it. In here, I’m Sam, and I fuck for a small fee.’

***

Image Courtesy pericomart(busy.. excuse me)

A Brand New Family

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A little over a year into her marriage, and Rupal had exceeded all her expectations towards herself – she had actually become a wonderful cook. The Pulao and the Shahi Paneer were giving out the most mouth watering aroma, and she should have been proud of herself.

Only, she wasn’t. It’s not easy to be proud of yourself, when you’re all alone at home, waiting for a husband who’s late. It was the third successive night that she’d been waiting for Himanshu to turn up, but he said he was held up at work for yet another day. She knew it was for the best, and yet she didn’t like it one bit. The fact that all her efforts at making the exquisite dinner were slowly turning cold was something she didn’t want to come to terms with so easily.

She heard the key turning in the lock. A moment later, Himanshu’s voice boomed in from the corridor, “Honey, I’m home!”

“You’re late again! Why do they have to make you work so hard?” she asked him the moment he came within her line of sight. Her arms were crossed over her tummy, always a bad sign.

“Sweetheart, I told you on the phone. You know the VP, if he wants a meeting, he wants it now! I’m sorry it took so much time,” said Himanshu.

Rupal wasn’t impressed by what she was hearing. Something inside her was not ready to accept the things that Himanshu was saying to her at that moment.

“Is it too much to ask for a husband to be back home at a decent hour, so that we can have a proper meal together at the end of the day? You know how hectic my days are, and you know how much I look forward to the dinners that we share.”

“I know honey, but this was something  I couldn’t avoid. I’m sure you understand…”

“Oh sure! You would always expect me to be the one who’s understanding, right? As if it’s never going to be your job to try to understand what I want, ever!”

Two fat droplets of tears formed at the edge of her eyelids, and she couldn’t stop them from rolling down her cheeks. Himanshu, noticing this, rushed forward and held her tightly in her arms.

“What is it sweetie? What do you want? You know all you have to do is tell me, and I’ll do anything to make sure that you have it.”

He could feel her heart beating against his, could feel her wonderful warmth in his arms. And then she looked up at him, and said, “I just want the three of us to be together, and happy, and to love each other, forever.”

“The three of us?” asked Himanshu, noticing her smile mingled with the two fat tears rolling down her cheeks for the first time.

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