Anecdote – Lesson by my grandma!

My grandma is a grand old lady nearing a century. If you look at her, she may appear formidable in the beginning and then a ringing laughter would ensue, dismantling the image you had conjured up in your mind. The fact is, she is both formidable as well as light hearted. A unique, delightful combination!

Born and brought up in a royal family ( Kharsawan, Jharkhand), she has always had that regal bearing. She believes in maintaining distance from her kids, grand kids, great grand kids as well as recently added a great great grand kid. And we are all supposed to behave in her presence. We rise when she enters the room and remain respectful in her presence.

During my childhood years, we lived with her, so, we had the opportunity to observe her from the closest quarters. I discovered her lighter side later in life. Initially, I was apprehensive of her. She commanded and the household ran according to her. But as I grew up, I discovered the lighter, fun side of her personality. There have been many instances when she would have us in splits.

Here is one such incident. One of our cousins was going to meet a prospective bridegroom. In arranged marriages in India, girls and guys are introduced by their families, they meet up, chat and then a decision is taken unanimously. 

So, this cousin was both excited as well as scared before her first meeting. Our granny called her and said, “If you like this man, try to do little something to make him fall for you.”

We were seeing another aspect of our grandma. We all asked, “what?”. She immediately showed us how to woo a husband – “Look sideways at him and then look down… blush… look up again at him… look down and blush again. And then smile juuust a little.” We doubled up with laughter!

I don’t know whether my cousin looked sideways at the prospective groom or not but they ended up getting married!

(Sharing a picture of my grandparents)

I look up to my grand old lady because she always had the audacity to laugh at all challenges that came in her life. In her almost 100 years of life, she has seen many ups and downs. All her peers are long gone now, times have changed but she has remained strong.

I adore her because she is quite broad minded, child like and her booming laughter lightens the most serious of situations. A great devotee of Krishna, she follows what the playful God  says – to celebrate life as it is!

Long live my grandma!

In search of a story idea!

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Not far from where we live, there is a patch in the sky that holds ‘Thought’ clouds. You can call it the Thoughtland!

Whatever thoughts you’ve had today or in the past, travels to this place and sticks there. To be frank, it is quite a confusing world comprising of jet black, white, grey, orange and blue clouds.

Dark clouds comprise of sad or wicked thoughts while white clouds are inspirational. Grey clouds are filled with tragi-comic thoughts pertaining to ups and downs in our mundane lives. Orange clouds hold thoughts by people from the past while blue clouds, which happen to be my favourite, hold brightest ideas.

That day, like most thinkers, I unwittingly entered the ‘Thoughtland’ while looking for a story idea. I got carried away, flew and flew, and reached the cloud patch. It was totally chaotic there…as thought clouds flew past me whispering of bitter sweet things.

I found myself amongst the grey clouds first and read a few thoughts of a teenager – “Why do my parents keep finding faults with me? I will grow up and take up a job and live far away from them!” Then, there was a housewife’s thoughts – “Thankless job I have been doing! Since morning till night, I am working. Cooking meals, washing, taking care of kids. But no respect, no joy! I will have to do something about it!”

I steered myself towards white clouds and read a few happy ones. A girl was going on a date with the guy of her dreams and she was thinking – “May the fairytale I am living today never ends.” And then there were thoughts of a little boy who was going to Disneyland and he was dreaming – “Tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life”.

I read a few black thoughts too and felt revolted. Stopping myself from reading further, I attempted to catch one of the blue clouds because I intuitively knew they held the story idea I was looking for.

But the blue clouds were the naughtiest ones! The moment I tried to get near them, they vanished, and my own dark and grey clouds, blocked way. Some of the dark clouds screamed, “It is useless to look for ideas and inspiration. Get used to your mundane existence. It is stupid, tiring and hard to try. You are born unlucky. Just give up!”

It was difficult to breathe when the dark clouds started bombarding me with negative thoughts. The naughty blue cloud had floated away. I felt like being trapped in an ocean of depressive thoughts.

Somehow, a lone Orange cloud appeared out of nowhere and whispered – “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark. Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin; to say that you are weak, or others are weak.”

I remembered reading this quote somewhere. I guess it was by the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda! His lofty thought had stayed in the universe to inspire people like me. I chanted the thought like a drowning person holds on to a branch.

After a short while , I felt something wriggling in my hand. The tiny blue thought cloud was resting calmly on my palm. It had come to me on its own! I understood! The idea got pulled to me when I was chanting a positive thought. A bright frame of mind attracts great ideas!

I came out of the ‘Thoughtland’ holding the precious tiny blue cloud. An interesting story idea was already taking shape in my mind. I resolved to work upon it as soon as possible…because guess you know, great ideas often vanish quickly without a trace.

Cinderella in the Metro!

 Mr Charming tried hard to fit the footwear into her feet. Was she the girl in the metro?

He had fallen in love when he was 20. He was travelling by a metro while she slept right across him with her face hidden under jacket. But what had caught his eye were her lovely legs which rested on the seat.

At one of the stations, she woke up with a start. And before he could catch a glimpse of her face, she ran out of the train leaving behind her stilettos. The crowd enveloped her. He lifted the footwear and kept it.

Life did not move on for him, though. Professionally, he became the proud owner of a chain of hotels. But he stayed single, in search of the gorgeous owner of those stilettos. 

Occasionally, he would request a guest to try it on. They would do it willingly, but he never found the right legs.

This time, the stilletos fitted perfectly! He looked at her finger… no ring!  Elatedly, he asked her to join him for dinner.

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. For more information, please CLICK HERE. Thank you Barb for the image!

She Walks in Beauty

  
I saw her approach. She stopped and looked at my direction for a heart throbbing moment. Then, looked away. The perfumed breeze played with her long dark hair, integrating her with the colourful autumn landscape. Her flowing floral dress matched her peaches and cream complexion while red roses seemed to bloom in those cheeks. 

I was overwhelmed by the sudden brightening of the world due to her presence. The clear sky, blue lake, vibrant foliage, provided a fitting background to her supple form. Could such beauty exist? Was she a figment of my imagination? 

I started to write. It had been long since I wrote a word inspite of my self imposed exile in this cottage. Day after day, I had struggled with the dreaded writer’s block. But she appeared and my whole world changed.I needed to immortalise her in my work. 

A gentle knock jolted me out of my reverie. I put my pen down and peeped through the window. The damsel stood at my door…the evening sun formed a halo around her lovely head. I couldn’t believe my luck…!!

( The title has been borrowed from Lord Byron’s famous poem “She Walks in Beauty”. The great romantic age poet wrote this poem to celebrate virtuousness and beauty.)

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. For more information, please CLICK HERE. Image courtesy pixabay.com

Birju’s Misadventure!

  

Birju watched his three friends climb after him as he stopped to catch his breath. Happily, he whistled at the thought of going home that night.

Six months back, he had travelled a long distance from his village in Bihar to Jaipur to look for employment. Luckily, he had got renovating work at this historical site.

He knew things had not been well at home. Their house roof was leaking and his father was in deep debt. They needed money urgently.

He felt the sling pouch tied around his waist and couldn’t resist the temptation to feel his hard earned cash once again. His folks would be proud of him, he thought as he took out a few notes to have a look.

But before he knew, the notes slipped from his fingers and flew away with the wind. He almost jumped…!!! His friends yelled at his stupidity!

He tried to pull himself together. But stubborn tears kept falling from his eyes as he climbed down in search of the dear, dear notes…!

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. For more information, please CLICK HERE

After Twenty Years…

  

He felt disoriented on seeing the picture. After rubbing his eyes, he looked again. Yes, there she was…prominent in her white bag and blue jacket, studying something.  

How could this be true? His mind was probably playing tricks on him. When he had clicked that picture, there was no one  around.

He was aging and she looked just the way she had looked on their last day in college. 

Twenty years back, they had parted, ready to pursue their separate careers, fully aware that they would never ever meet again. 

But she had surprised him by extracting a promise. They were to meet exactly twenty years later at this favourite haunt to celebrate their friendship.

He had remembered the promise and had gone to that spot. But how could he expect her to be there? He knew she had long been dead… soon after she left college! 

(This is a tribute to ‘After Twenty Years’-a lovely short story by the great O Henry)

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. For more information, click HERE

The Lovely Lady on the Bench

  

I see her everyday on that bench. It is curious that I have never seen her face. Her wrinkled hand rests at the back of the bench as she sits still, statue like. I am sure she would make an excellent model for a sculpture.

She has the bearing of royalty. Her dress, although plain, looks neat and a scarf covers her head. I don’t know what thoughts run through her mind as she sits there from morning till midday and then leaves unseen. Nobody accompanies her, no one takes her hand and sits by her for a while.

Today, I wanted to have a good look at the mysterious old lady. Also, I wanted to be of some kind of help.

I went out to meet her. She was crying. But the tears were not of grief but of gratitude. She was in deep conversation with God. She was with God! She needed no one!

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. For more information, click HERE. Thank you Andy for the picture.

Be Well Barbara! In memory of a special friend

  Remember to be well! ^..^ 

This is the last line Barbara Beacham wrote in her blog ‘Life in the Foothills’, before cancer took her away from us.

The lady was one of my first blog friends when I started blogging in January last year. Time constraints did not allow me to write long posts so I thought of taking up some 100-150 words story challenges. And then I came across ‘Mondays Finish the Story’ and her highly creative hostess Barbara Beacham. It was a fun challenge and helped me overcome my writer’s block. She ran two blogs – first was ‘Life in the Foothills’ and second, ‘Mondays Finish the Story’.

I would look forward to the story challenges every Monday and would peep at posts of other story writers and wonder at their creativity. I learnt a lot in the whole process. With time, I developed a strange kinship with the lady… I admired her story telling skills and loved it when she wrote ‘Be Well’ at the end of each comment.

What I didn’t know was that she herself needed the wish more than anyone else as she was battling cancer all this while. She did reveal to us about her illness at a later stage and expressed the hope that she will strike back…

One morning there was no ‘Mondays Finish the Story’ challenge in my inbox. I asked Priceless Joy… she sounded hopeful that BB may strike back but I think we both knew that her end was near! 

She could not make it. With a heavy heart I accepted the fact that I will no longer look forward to Mondays as I did since last year. 

There will no more be ‘Mondays Finish the Story’ from now on… The only thing is…it was too abrupt an end for me.

What I admire is the fact that cancer couldn’t defeat her optimism and creativity… She wrote and encouraged us to write wonderful stories till the very end. She showed rare courage and wisdom all this while! I miss Barbara. I miss the challenge.

One thing I know for sure – I had grown to love her. Be well Barbara, wherever you are!

This post is written in memory of Barbara Beacham – FfAW-Special Challenge for Barbara Beacham – hosted by Priceless Joy. To read other entries please click here.

Yes, I believe in Ghosts!

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The crisp autumn season has given way to cold winters and it is time for some fun, some magic on the occasion of Haloweeeeeen!!!

All around I see orange pumpkins ready to be carved into scary Jack o lanterns, scarecrows grinning from balconies, giant spiders hanging from roofs and ghosts ready to prowl from trees. The stores are cashing on the Halloween spirit…costumes, masques, wigs are on display everywhere. Nobody can remain untouched from this feisty occasion.

At this time of the year, it is said that the undead and humans intermingle freely. The line between this world and the underworld blurs. Witches and vampires move all over the world disguised as cats and bats. People hear whispers of goblins and high pitched songs of zombies. Ghouls, goblins and scary characters abound…magic happens everywhere.

And if you would ask me – Do I believe in magic and ghosts? I would emphatically say ‘yes’, simply because I believe in a life of supernatural and magic. It makes life so much thrilling, colorful and vibrant. I believe in God so why shouldn’t I believe in ghosts?

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As a matter of fact, my belief in ghosts stem from childhood days. The stories of Indian ghosts and witches, which were an intrinsic part of our childhood, have stayed with me somewhere in my consciousness. Huddled together around a vessel filled with coal embers during cold winters, maids would relate to us the stories of fantastical and horrifying creatures. We would scream our guts out but would want to listen more. They sounded so vivid and real.

Our ancestral house was said to be home to many kinds of ghosts. There was this headless but harmless mother-child duo that was seen by many. Then, there was this ghost, whose stomach was always lit with an earthen lamp and he prowled in the fields. There was another ferocious, tall witch whose feet was inwardly turned and she was very dangerous.

Those stories introduced us to various kinds of ghosts and spirits of rural India – an intrinsic part of our folk culture. Here is a list of 10 prominent and deadliest types of ghosts that we became familiar with in our growing up years:

Kichchin: The lust-hungry women die and turn into Kichchin. They look like normal women except for the fact that their feet is generally inwardly turned.

Shakini: Women who die right after their marriage due to an accident become Shakini. These are believed to be dangerous.

Dakini: They are akin to Shakini, they tempt innocent passers by and kill.

Pandubba: The souls of dead people drowned in river become Pandubba.

Chudail: Prevalent in northern India, they are dangerous souls, who live in banyan trees and kill passersby.

Mua Pret: They are those who have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life.

Kudra Bhoot: They are short creatures often mistaken for kids. Kudra Bhoot steal things from other houses and help house owners make a lot of money. They are said to be lucky ghosts.

Betaal: They are akin to zombies and were popularised in a series of 25 stories named “Betaal Panchvimshati”.

Jinn: They reside in dirty and dingy places and are often used by magicians and Tantriks.

Pari: They are femme fatale and usually a lovely odour announces their arrival. They are deadly and love to possess the spirit of their lover. Other ghosts include Bahira daak, Abdin, Dokain etc.

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With age and time, the story tellers and the ghost stories faded away. Besides, my worst childhood nightmare never came true and I never happened to meet any of these deadly creatures in person.

But even today, I suspect that they always lurk in shadows behind me. They visit me in dreams and I always think of them in lonely, dark and windy nights. Perhaps, I never grew out of those stories. Yes, unabashedly, I declare that I am enchanted as well as scared of ghosts!

As for mingling with the ghosts, this Halloween… God forbid! I like them restricted to my imagination. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Have a grrrreat Halloween friends!

Images courtesy Google

Trapped in the Forest

  

“Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.” His psychiatrist had advised him to visit this forest. Being close to nature helps, he had said.

As he entered, the queer forest disturbed him. He felt as if he was being watched. Everything seemed unnatural.

He cursed the psychiatrist and looked for an exit. His phone had been taken away near the entry so he was helpless. The hand map had no exit sign. He was trapped!! Luckily, he found an old dusty hut with tidbits.

As he fought for survival everyday, struggling to eat and live, his depression took a back seat.

Three months later, he suddenly found an exit route.

Outside, lights and cameras greeted him. All this while, he had been the star of a reality TV show. Viewers had feasted on his misery. All including the psychiatrist had benefited from this. He got a huge sum too.

But was he a victor or a victim?

(This flash fiction is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here – MFtS)

The legendary caretaker of the hidden castle!

  

“Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island.” But whoever visited it marvelled at the history and architecture of the place.

Almost everyone noticed him too. A grand old man, busy cleaning and polishing the floors. He looked a part of the setting – cold, dark and mysterious.

He knew more than anyone else about the untold secrets of the past. But he chose to be quiet for the sake of his masters.

His young masters had migrated to a foreign land and he was not expected to work anymore. Yet, he continued doing what his forefathers did centuries ago.

Locals spread all kinds of stories about him. The scariest one was that he had been long dead and his loyal soul was serving the castle!!

He never reacted to any claim or story, he just worked!

(This story is a tribute to Satna, the caretaker of our ancestral home in a village in Jharkhand, India. He was a short, dark man who spoke very little. Since boyhood to old age, he served our family. He was a loyal and dutiful person, who reported daily to work come what may. He embodied the very essence of Karma Yoga – to attain perfection in action to live a fulfilled life! He passed away a few years back but we will fondly remember him always.)

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here – MFtS