When Mary Met Gary…

Mary Smith loved to write songs. During lunch breaks, she often would escape from her clerical job to a nearby park and create heart-breaking songs.

One day, as she was writing a love song on paper, a naughty gust of wind blew it out of sight. With a heavy heart, she returned to her job.

Few days later, on way to job, she heard a soloist singing her song! She stood there nervously, clueless how to claim her song.

“May I help you! I have been watching you…you look extremely agitated!,” a young man, who had been filming the soloist, asked her. 

“Look, that’s my song he is singing. I had lost it, I don’t know how to tell him,” Mary cried.

“Wow…! Well, we can claim it back. I have an idea,” he smiled. “By the way, I am Gary…”

He looked familiar… but of course, he was GARY ANDREWS, the genius composer! And this is how Mary met Gary…

((This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the amazing Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Thank you Sunayana for the image. Please CLICK HERE for more.)

After Kangana’s Coffee with Karan….

Seething with anger, Mr Karan Johar sat in a luxurious room post his ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode with the arrogant actress Kangana Ranaut. He had been contradicted and slammed on his own famous chat show by a little actress, who was weaker than him in every way. She had no ‘godfather’ in the Hindi film industry, she was not the daughter of a renowned filmmaker or celebrity, she had far lesser contacts and connections than him, and less wealth in comparison to him.  Although, red faced after being called a ‘movie mafia’, Karan had tried to maintain his composure, making it all light and good humoured but the cracks had shown on the show…

Breaking his reverie, the phone buzzed! It was his favourite actress. “How could she, the shabby thing, speak to you like that Karan.You poor thing, I know you must be really mad….and did you hear her disgusting accent….what’s wrong with her….,” the actress purred. Karan spoke his heart out for the next ten moments. The staff in the next room could make out that the boss was indeed in a very bad humour.

“The down market thing, needs to be taught a lesson….,” another favourite whatsapped him. By this time, the media and twiterrati were having a gala time at the expense of poor Mr Johar. The man had been stumped at his own ‘masala’ show! The media sided with Kangana, who had chided Karan for his nepotism and tendency to act as the owner of Bollywood.


 The Hindi film industry is indeed brimming with actors and actresses with less talent and more contacts. All the top notch actors are sons and daughters of celebrities – Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff….to name just a few. Ms Ranaut had won this round of applause.

Mr Johar reacted subtly in his next episode of ‘Koffee with Karan’ with Kapil Sharma. “What would you do if you wake up as Kangana Ranaut?,” he asked the comedian. “I would delete my emails,” Kapil Sharma replied sheepishly. And then both laughed nonsensically, insinuating at Kangana and Hrithik’s affair! But the humour fell flat. 

By this time, more than half of the industry sided with Karan Johar, they needed to be in his good books. Ms Ranaut was always an outsider, a nobody, despite having talent. She had also dared to pick up fights with other prominent goliaths like Roshans and was said to be arrogant and rude. 

Karan struck again! While speaking on the sidelines of an event at the London School of Economics, he hinted that Kangana may not have understood the meaning of the word nepotism, that he was fed up of seeing her play the ‘woman card’ and ‘victim card’ and that if the actress had such a problem with the way  industry worked, she was welcome to leave.


That day, watching Karan’s vengeful speeches, Kangana smiled inwardly! She knew most of the industry people would refuse to work with her now. She had irrepairably damaged her career by being loud and clear but…what made her smile was…atleast she had managed to hit back in some way. She knew that she could be called names and dirty allegations might be made against her but she was here to stay! It was time for her to react again! She straightened her back and strided confidently albeit towards an uncertain future.

(Disclaimer – This is a dramatised version of the ongoing battle between Karan Johar and Kangana Ranaut. It is partly factual and partly fictitious. Images courtesy Google.)

The Family’s Tree

As I leaned towards the ground before my final fall, her anxious face peeped through the glass. I knew I would miss her smile.

The kids were there too – noses pressed against the patio glass, anxious to see their tall friend being killed slowly. “Mumma, look they are pulling our tree!”

Yes, I was ‘their’ tree. Their only friend, after the family had migrated to this new land. Since the first day, they warmed up to me as I stood guard in front of their apartment. 

I entertained the kids by hosting squirrels, birds and insects on my barks. When spring came, I bore berries and flowers, cheering mom and dad. I adored them all.

Every morning, I waited for the lady to draw curtains. She would give me the sweetest smile before starting daily chores.

Today, she was not smiling rather frantically calling up someone in an attempt to save me – her dying companion! But it was too late now…

( Written in memory of a lovely tree that stood in front of our house when we moved to the US in 2013. It had to be cut last year due to maintenance reasons but we had spent some deeply touching moments with it. It had a beautiful soul.)

This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more.

My Grandmother’s Sakhi!

Generally, vanity and jealousy are two strongest negative emotions in women. But when two women, surpass such base feelings, and form a sublime spiritual bonding, then great friendship happens.

Such was the case of my maternal grandmother and her Sakhi (friend) – a lovely, charming woman who always stood by her. Also, making of their friendship had its roots in the noble Sakhi Tradition – an ancient ritual of female bonding, practiced primarily by North Indian ladies.

Now, a little about this interesting tradition which unfortunately no longer exists – According to ‘Women’s Lives Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition’, “The sakhi relationship represents a female-female union that imitates the marital bond, but may surpass blood or marital kinship bonds in terms of its professed meaningfulness in women’s lives.” 

The ritual would be initiated by tying a sacred thread or sending over some food or goodies to a lady with request to be friends. When the other party accepted, the ladies in question would take an oath to be a part of each other lives, stand by each other and actively participate in each other’s functions etc. 

They would promise each other – “Everyone including parents, spouse or kids may leave you but I will never leave you.” When such ritual friendships were formed, the bonding took on spiritual fervour. It was considered a great sin to bad mouth, cheat or betray a Sakhi.


It is said that this ritual had its roots in mythology – the relationship among Radha and her sakhis were very strong and they could feel each other’s emotions.

Something akin to this happened between my grandmother and Sakhi Nani (as we fondly called her). I don’t know who took the first step but they formed this sacred friendship. At that time they were young, beautiful brides in a village that observed strict purdah. They had to be meek and respectful… sort of stifled always. I guess, this relationship allowed them to be themselves – to talk and laugh freely. 

My grandma would cook special dishes for her Sakhi and send over to her house. Her sakhi responded with equal enthusiasm. My grandfather died when my mother was very young, Sakhi Nani and her family did their best to support my grandma during the worst phase of her life.

My grandmother later moved with us but she always missed her Sakhi. I never heard her mentioning one negative word about her throughout my life. She would keep aside little things to gift her special Sakhi. And it was fun whenever we went over to the village –  Sakhi Nani and her huge family always welcomed us with open arms. 

Sadly, both the Sakhis are no more but till date, even the little kids in our homes know the story of their great friendship.

This was a rare tradition of women-only participants in a male dominated society. We ladies have a private little world, filled with feelings, nostalgia and things that only a woman can understand. Wouldn’t it be great to share this with a lifelong Sakhi, who would not be judgemental!

These days when sacredness has left almost every relationship, I wish the beautiful tradition of Sakhi had lived on…

Images courtesy Google

From Mad Man to Mountain Man

Dashrath Manjhi sat viewing the mighty mountains surrounding him. They were the barriers, the hurdles, who had played with the lives of so many of his loved ones.

The mountains arrogantly stood between his village, Gehlaur and the nearest town blocking medical and other facilities. And not long back, the love of his life had slipped from one of these rocky terrains, leaving him alone.

He wanted revenge now! It was his will against the daunting mountains. Angrily, he took out his hammer and chisel and began to hurt the mountains. 

The villagers called him mad. But he just stopped listening. For twenty two years, he single handedly struggled against the mountains. 

Finally, he succeeded in carving a path 9.1 metres (30 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long through a hill 7.6 metres (25 ft). The distance between his village and the town got reduced from 55km to 15km.

Today, the world knows him as the noble Mountain Man!

(The picture reminded me of the poor labourer Dashrath Manjhi from India, who spent his entire life doing a noble task. His life has inspired many documentaries and films as well as stories.  In August 2015, a Hindi movie Manjhi – The Mountain Man, based on his life got released and was well received.)


(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Grant for the image!)

Remembering Jasoosi Duniya by Ibn-e-Safi

My grandfather was a big fan of Detective Colonel Vinod of Vinod Series by Ibn-e-Safi (pen name of Asrar Ahmed). And my father and his siblings would compete with each other to be the first to lay their hands on those thrillers, that arrived every month by post.

Colonel Vinod (Faridi in original Urdu version), the main character of Jasoosi Duniya was huge at one point of time and almost as famous as James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. My grandparents, uncles, aunts, everyone loved him.

 For me it was different. I was born after Ibn-e-Safi’s death. As I grew up, titles of the books – ‘Tijori ka Geet’, ‘Khooni Pathar’, ‘Pahadon ki Malika’, ‘Baraf ke Bhoot’ –  intrigued me. And the pictures on the covers were fascinating too. One day, when I was in my teens, I just picked it up from a big box of books and read it at one go. That was the beginning. I soon got addicted to them.

Thankfully, my parents were not very strict about my reading those ‘kind of books’ because they knew that the series did not have sub standard or cheap material in it. Every member in the family could read it. However, they warned I may end up paying more attention to the thrillers rather than course books. But I managed to strike a balance.

After Devkinandan Khatri in the 19th century, it was Ibn-e-safi who set the beat of detective novels in the second half of the 20th century in Indian subcontinent. His contributions to not only Urdu but Hindi literature was immense. The books were published in Bengali, Tamil and Telugu as well. 


Wikipedia says about Jasoosi Duniya series – “Its first novel, Dilaer Mujrim was published in March 1952. In the following 27 years, Ibn-e-Safi wrote 127 books in the series with his last Jasoosi Dunya novel, Sehra’ee Deewana appearing in July 1979, a year before his death.” He was from India but migrated to Pakistan in 1947, post independence.

It is said that some Safi’s books have been inspired by English novels but the much-loved characters, Vinod and Rajesh (Faridi and Imran in original Urdu version) are his own creations.

My favourites were Colonel Vinod and his feisty aide Captain Hamid (akin to Dr Watson). As I read him more and more, I felt Ibn-e-Safi was well informed about the political situations in the world. He wove a glamourous and dangerous world in 1960s India that enchanted readers.

 I think Colonel Vinod was very much like Howard Roark of  Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’. Both of them had super integrity, both were brilliant at their jobs but appeared to be rather heartless (Colonel Vinod was nicknamed Father Hardstone by his friend Hamid). Both had lofty ideals. Infact, it was said that Ibn-e-Safi wrote very carefully about Vinod as people sort of worshipped him and would not tolerate anything untoward related to him.


Ibn-e-safi’s other lead character Rajesh (Imran in the Urdu version) was equally popular. A fool by the day and secret service chief by night, Rajesh’s unpredictability always left me in splits.
It should also be known that Safi’s works were widely plagiarised by writers who enjoyed limited fame but could not match his popularity. His books were often sold at black market prices in and around India. 

A big reason for the charm of the novels were the minor and comic characters Qasim, Black Force, gilehri jaan ( in Vinod series) as well as servant Bholu, Jolly, Madan (in Rajesh series). The master storyteller had the knack of drawing readers into the world of ensnaring beauties, night clubs, fancy locations, Lincolns, Tommy guns, poisonous needles and lethal enemies. 

Back in India, I always wondered about Lincoln – Colonel Vinod’s car and excitedly called up my father when I saw one in the US. 


The Hindi version of – Jasoosi Duniya series are hard to find in today’s world of Ebooks and downloads. I yearn for the crispy touch, musty smell and excitement that preceded reading the thrillers. It was heaven to read it in a quiet corner of my house, munching guavas and wondering what was going to happen next.

Gone are the days but who knows…I might still find my younger self somewhere inside one of those nail-biting books…!