Monday, September 29, 2014

The Sentence.





"My misplaced euphoria and that afternoon siesta and many more things that my growing up was made of. I never actually grew up, I remained the same, I just grew more knowledgeable. As the years passed I slowly opened every facet in me. Opening every door, every nooks and corners in the search of goodness but I never found one. The more I opened, the more dark it become. My search started when I first saw  my demon, the anger face to face. I was shocked because all I knew of me was good till that moment. I am a doer and I do not give up till I have done it, searched it and tried it all. So, in the search of goodness began my journey of discovering the darkness in me. Growing up was replaced by exploring my inner self.

I remained the same through out, I never changed. I just grew more knowledgeable. I just now know more of me than I used yo know before. Knowing is not a crime is it? Then why am I hanged? Pronounced dead before I die." Mira said pleading in front of her jury.

"What you say exploration is actually giving up to the vices. What you say knowledge is actually a spell of doom. You are not exploring but falling a prey to your temptations. Where you find solace is actually your funeral pyre. Look at the fire burning up the skies and is engulfing your soul in to the pandemonium. Whom are you deluding? Your innate tendency to love darkness is not harming anyone but you..

You didn't explore yourself, you did not gain knowledge of yourself, No, Madam you did not but you simply got drawn and wasted in the hands of those dark merchants of doom. You never bothered to open the doors that lead to the goodness in you. God created you and he filled in goodness in you. You did not open any doors as you claimed but you seal shut and locked all the doors of goodness in you." said the jury sitting right opposite to Mira with gaze, so, piercing that it could even make the blood in a dead body curl up with fear. Mira trembled a little, true she was feeding her soul with darkness but still she had a soul which felt.

"If God had created me then why did not he make me chose the so called goodness over the thing that you all call, darkness? Why has your God, the epitome of goodness shunned me. He has forsaken me and told me to find my own way and find my own peace and this is where I have found myself, I have found my own way. I am at peace now and I am peaceful at being what I am. Now why your God has to meddle with my happiness." said Mira gathering all the courage she had. Now that she had finished she thought there is more courage left to her than she originally thought. Another exploration, she was more courageous than the set threshold for her.

"Do not Blaspheme! You are harming yourself the most by choosing this road to doom. Your murderous and treacherous ways are murdering you and no one else. They are committing an act of treason on you and no one else." said the Jury as if the jury was now gathering the strength from Mira. It seemed as if Mira and the Jury were twin souls; deriving strength and weakness from each other.

"If I am being murderous to self and I am committing treachery to no one but my self then where does the problem lie. I am not harming anyone. I am at peace with me. You see by being extremely righteous, it is believed that people get peace. But here I am being extremely unrighteous, standing at the opposite flank and look I am at peace with myself. These are the two extremeties and at the both end you will find peace. it is the ultimate equilibrium. When you are extremly righteous you harm no one because you do not care for the world but you care for yourself and your purity and thus the detachment gives you peace. When you are extremely unrighteous you are again not concerned about the world and you are there all by yourself soaked in trechery meant for yourself and not others." Said Mira Softly but her voice echoed the hall.

"Enough! Now not a single word! I pronounce you guilty of your own murder and..."

"No! you will never pronounce me guilty and you have no right to pronounce me guilty. I, Mira hereby declare that I am guilty of murdering me and my goodness for just being at peace. I will not ask for your pardon because I will not accept any leniency. Your leniency, Madam shall break my peace and equilibrium. It will ask me to be somewhere in the middle of being Righteous and unrighteous. It is unacceptable, pardon is unacceptable in my case and I abhor and eschew pardon as I do not want this pardon to let me take my peace away. So I pronounce a sentence of Death upon me. May I be doomed in peace forever with no hope of return. The sentence is passed and the judgement is passed with no scope of return."

Mira turned back her face from her Jury and the Jury to vanished from the mirror. as Mira switched off the light and looked into the Mirror, her only Jury. she could see her as dark as she was. Darkness is indeed a great leveler.


(Being a Kafka fan and being into delirious righting you might find some similarities....My Tribute to Kafka)
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Unknown

I stayed in a hostel for my graduations....hostels are scary places......there are things going on which you cannot even explain. Things uncalled for.

We studied late in the night four of us and slept around 1:30 am in the morning. I went out once in between to the washroom. My hostel had a long corridor. My room was on one end and the washroom at the other end the corridor had rooms on one side and on the other there was a open area. As I moved on I saw something from the corner of my eyes. I ignored it then it again happened I looked back but there was nothing. I went to the washroom and when I came out I saw the girl who had the room next to me.

"Were you behind me?" I asked casually washing my hands.
"No, Why do you ask? By the way were you behind me?" She said
"No."

When we retired for the night none of us could sleep. After some time, in the dark, I heard someone walking up and down the entire width of the room. I did not bother to look up as i thought it was one of my roommates so, I decided to sleep.

The next morning:
"Datta Ghosh why were you roaming around the room entire night." my bestie Tanu said to me half laughing.

"I was not, I thought it was you. Parul and Divya were you people walking?" I said

"No." said both in chorus.

"We thought....you people were..." said Parul.

We went to the college early that day as no one spoke much.

This is not the first time it happened nor it was the last....alarm clocks sprang to life without any reason in the dark, switch on the light you hear it no more. A sudden gasp of air came with its scents, you could hear people running at the terrace and their were no stairs.

Our favourite pass time was Qija board. We had learned how to make it on papers and I was an expert "Spirit Caller."

The Hostel was old and older than the Hostel was the History. I lived in Agra. In the Mughal Period it was a Jungle and many people were secretly massacred there. So, it was a normal daily routine for us to experience the super natural. We took it with a pinch of salt.
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Years back when I was five or six years old. we were returning back from some family friend's home. We took a shortcut through the ground at the back of our house.

I was as usual counting stars or engrossed on my own and was walking one to two steps behind my mother. I was walking alongside the big boundary wall of the Boys' Secondary School. It was dark and the only light source was the light coming from the back garden of the guest house. I saw the shadow of three extremly tall bearded men dressed in a long cloak or shroud kind of thing. Their shadow was just behind my little shadow walking or floating in a single file. I looked away from the wall and towards the direction of the guest house and found no one whose body could have created the shadow I resumed walking and the shadow next to my shadow raised his hand and ran it gently across my shadow's head. This was a bit odd for me but not scary so I decided that I better leave these shadows and join my mother and her shadow.

I do not know what it was till date. I am searching answers for them. If you all are wondering about my memory, then I can recollect events from the time I was 2.5 years or 3 years old. As a person I am logical and sense reason before believing. I am leaving this to you, the readers to conclude what these are.

As per my views, ghosts do not exist, souls exist. We are driven by energy. The moment this energy leaves the body our body starts to rot. Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed it can only change from a form to the other. What I believe that these energies which are bereft of the bodies roam around and sometimes manifest their existence by breaking the inertia in our physical surroundings. They either do this to make us aware that they exist or there is a point of time they unknowingly breach the inertia to such a level that we sense the resultant diversion due to the break in inertia.

Interesting thing to note is that these energies have a memory. So, can energy be used to store human consciousness even after they cease to exist?

Written in Response to the Indispire Edition 32

Click Here for more stories.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mahalaya- The Homecoming


Mahalaya: The homecoming of the Goddess, of our Mother. Today is the day our Mother comes to her Earth. This home coming is abrupt and uncalled for and so, it is also known as "Akal Bodhan".




The ritual, as the legend says was started by Lord Rama to obtain blessings during his war wit Ravana.Commendable Lord Rama calls Shakti (Durga) to fight Ravana who is a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, Ma Durga's Husband. Ten Hands, Fiery Eyes, Half Opened Third Eye and all equipped Mother for me was the source of Awe and inspiration. She always said to me "If you want it to be done then do it yourself, put your 1000% and let it happen."




While growing up outside my native place, my Durga Puja was not a typical saga of the Pandal making and shopping in the streets of Kolkata but it was the Durga Puja which signalled my home coming, our home coming to our home. Do not get me wrong here, I am a Human first and then an Indian but then it is hard to resist the pampering of our Grand Mothers and Uncle and the delicacies which are cooked with 100% love and lots of  pampering. It was that time of the year where my otherwise strict and perfect parents became children. My Father never woke up before 8 am on holidays but now he is all up at 4 am and following his Mother, my Grandmother wherever she is going. My mother is a workaholic, you never find her sitting but this time of year my Mother became the daughter who can chat all day long with her mother, brothers and sister-in-laws. As far as me and my brother were concerned, we had a gala time getting spoiled for a week.




All this started with "Mahalaya". The frantic preparations, the last minute shopping spree, the train PNR checking and rechecking, The extra caution regarding our health so that we are fit for the journey. The morning 4am broadcast of "Ya Devi Sarwabhuteshu...." was an alarm clock to wake us up and start doing these activities.


My memories with Mahalaya is special, we used to wake up an hour before than usual, 4 am tuned in to the All India radio and listened to the Mahalaya, with the family, sometimes others also used to join (Bengalis who were bachelors or newly married) and then half awaken we used to hear our mother come, with hope filled eyes. That day no one could make me concentrate on my studies. I was elated as always.



This day is the Chaksudaan, giving the idol the eyes and thus now the idol is a step closer being the frame for our Mother. All the work, all the dedication coming to fruition.



Today is the day we pray for our departed parent(s) and elders and thus it is a special day with a whole new dimension for the past seven years as this is one day I reconnect with my Father again.

This day is bundled with so many memories and hopes and on a personal front it is the day of the year which I wait for most eagerly.

Bards Of the Blogosphere:Week-2 Chapter 2 -.The Evening Before #Celebrateblogging





Please Note: This is the second chapter for week 2 in the "Game of Blogs" for the team "Bards of the Blogosphere." #CelebrateBlogging


Read the previous part of the story here



“…And what a day it was! Our Honourable Minister is yet to come; I guess his arrival tomorrow can spice things up.” Jenny mused to herself as she got out of the Hotel and the conference. With hands on her hip and head thrown up in exasperation, it had been a tiring day. All of a sudden she searched her pocket and took the schedule for tomorrow. “The Honourable Minister arrives, his speech, discussion…more discussion….umm….wait Cyrus Daruwala’s speech….whoa! Cy is important stuff here….umm….let’s call him up and take some idea on what’s brewing  tomorrow.” said Jenny to herself as she quickly took out her mobile and called Cyrus.

“Hello, am I speaking to Cyrus Daruwala?” she said controlling her fits of laughter and sounding serious.

“Yes, this is Cyrus. Who is this?”
“Moron you didn’t save my number?”

“Oh…Jenny…Jenifer…I am so, sorry….my mobie has a problem it doesn’t show names, it just shows numbers. I memorize numbers but since you called for the first time I didn’t notice it’s you.”

“Buy a new mobile, buddy.”

“Buying a mobile is such a pain.”

“Come out, at the Gate One of the Hotel.”

“OK”

 Cyrus was lazing in his room when Jennifer called. This phone made his heart jump so fast that he thought that it might come out of his mouth. Jennifer Joseph; the name, the face which was with him for the three years in his college, starting from the day one when he saw her wearing yellow, hair all mismanaged beads all over. She was definitely not the most beautiful lady he had ever laid his eyes on but then it was something beyond appearances. She was his first crush, his last memory of his long forlorn innocence. It was for the first time that he had felt something for a girl. In all the three years he could not muster the courage to say a word to her. They were friends and he didn’t even bother to search for her after three years. He was always into career and was ambitious and passionate about his aim in life Somewhere he knew that Jennifer was also the same, after all they were so common in so many ways internally. His life moved on, he didn’t look back and Jennifer Joseph just became one out of billions in this universe; unknown to him and now after years they met and he felt the rush, the same rush he felt when he saw her years back. Over the years he fell in love with many, slept with many but then she was something else, not in his list of flings. He never remembered her but then never forgot her.

He looked into the mirror, somehow arranged his hair and put his spectacles on and rushed downstairs to meet Jennifer, standing at the Gate as she had told. No, he was not nervous anymore. It was as normal as meeting one's own self.

“Hi Jenny!” he waved his hand from some distance, still panting.

“Cy, you are panting! God! When will you change?” Jenny said smiling

“Tell me what it is?” said Cyrus coming to her.

“Nothing, let’s walk along the beach.” Jennifer had thought she would talk business but she was surprised that she said this.

As they walked side by side they started off from where they had left the last time.

“Do you know Miss. Sharma has retired?” said Cyrus.

“Oh! Finally she has! Thank God! Now students would not have to bear her enormous lectures on righteousness whenever someone was found having an affair.”

“How does that affect you? You never had a boyfriend, at least not any we knew of.”

“As if you had girls flocking around you.” Jenny giggled as she gently rammed sideways into Cyrus, making him go off balance.

“You were her pet.”

“So, were you!”

“Yes, whatever.” Cyrus said as he slowly tapped his hand on her head.

“So…..did you have any one…..you know a crush or something?”
“Yes, I had.”
“Really? Who?”
“You.” Cyrus said as a matter of fact looking straight into Jennifer’s eyes.
“I knew it.” Jennifer returned his gaze and smiled. “You were looking at me from far off, girls notice that you see but I must say I enjoyed that ’ the handsome nerd’, Cyrus Daruwala noticed me.” she winked and laughed a little.

“Hey! What do you mean?” said Cyrus.

“I mean, well…. you had quite a few fan following, sir.” She said bowing down to him.

“But you didn’t like me.” said Cyrus faking disappointment.

“That’s me.” Jennifer said raising her nose up and then both started laughing.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“I just want to sit under a sprinkler.” said Cyrus

“What?”

“Yes, I mean it’s not raining, the sky is clear so, I want to sit under a sprinkler.”

“I am hungry.”

“The Elephant speaks.” 

“Whatever!”

“What to find here, its 12 am already.” said Cyrus. He realized they had been talking and walking for the last six hours.They just walked along the beach never stopping for once as if they were in a trance.

“Let’s go to your room and eat something!” Jennifer said and started marching towards the hotel.

“Wait! You need me to enter my room! Who will give you the keys? They need to see this face.” said Cyrus smiling and pointing at his face.

They ran towards the reception and Cyrus took the keys and then again started running.

“The one reaching last is a rotten potato.” said Cyrus running up the stairs.

Jennifer ran furiously and somehow managed to snatch the keys from Cyrus and somehow reached the room fast.

“Cyrus is a rotten potato!” She claimed her victory climbing up the bed and pointing her both hands straight at right angle from the ground towards him.

“Everything is not a competition.” Said Cyrus Stoically.

“Says the loser!” Jenny said sitting with a force on the bed.

Cyrus came near her and they sat close. There was a tension building all of a sudden in Jennifer, as if in that moment Cyrus was no longer a friend but she didn’t move. 

Cyrus slowly held Jennifer’s hand. “Sometimes it is all right to lose Jennifer.”

“Yes, but I hate to lose.”

“But from where I see you have lost it.” Cyrus whispered in her ears and Jennifer froze at Cyrus’s breath touching her neck.

“No, I have not.“ whispered Jennifer looking down.

“You have lost weight, definitely you have lost weight.” Said Cyrus earnestly

“Cyrus!” Jennifer gripped Cyrus’s neck with both the hands and Cyrus feigned asphyxiation. They grew closer and their lips almost brushed past each other, Jennifer suddenly grew conscious and smiled, feeling embarrassed, Cyrus smiled back and at that moment the dinner arrived.


Jennifer devoured her food off her plate; she didn’t mind using her hands. She was hungry and that is all that mattered but Cyrus was in a world of his own, he calmly looked at her, she was precious to him, his last memoir of his innocence and this time he didn’t want to let her go. He always knew that she was his mirror image or to put it correctly he was her mirror image. Both were passionate and did not care what the world think. He felt so much in peace when she was around but now he was feeling a tremendous storm brewing within him. It was as if he had met his twin soul, soul mate, maybe no, but he felt they were an extension of each other.

In what might be a time span of a few seconds or eternity Cyrus moved forward and held Jennifer’s face and kissed her forehead, Jennifer breathed deep and felt contented. All the time she was near Cyrus there was an unrest but now it was all gone. She knew this moment would come and was not shocked. He moved and landed a gentle kiss on her lips, he looked at her for a second or two, eyes closed, waiting in anticipation, excited and yet so contented. He again kissed her on her lips but this time went a bit deeper. The fire within him was burning at its peak as he felt her mouth with his. He softly gripped her hair from his one hand and pulled it slightly to tilt her head backwards. “The food smells good if tasted from your mouth.” They both laughed a little and then Cyrus slowly kissed her neck, while tracing her fingers to her collar bones. He paused to remove the bead necklaces off her.

 “They are heavy; wonder doesn’t your neck drop.”

“That’s why I have a vast appetite just to support their weight.”

They both giggled and Jennifer quietly brushed off the tear. Cyrus noticed this.

“Hey! I am sorry if I hurt you, please relax lie down.”

He made Jenny lie down on the bed while he quietly arranged the pillows and started to run his fingers down her hair.

“Sleep.” whispered Cyrus in Jennifer’s ear and slowly lied down facing her.

“Though I am not at all sorry for what I did but still Sorry if I hurt you.” Cyrus said gently kissing the top of her forehead.

“Don’t.” Jennifer said.

Cyrus smiled and kissed her again on her lips while embracing her in his arms. Jennifer slowly got the confidence to embrace him back.

Cyrus slid his hand in her top and caressed her back and drew her close to his body and kissed her with all the passion in him. 

He traced his fingers down her chin to her throat and then to her collar bone and kissed them gently along the same line. 

“You are beautiful.” Cyrus smiled and held her and she rested her head on his chest, all contended, all fulfilled.

The laid their talking sweet nothings to each other for the rest of the night.

They were brutally honest and laid their souls naked in front of each other. They had never in their lives confessed so many things in one go. They now knew each other soul to soul.  

They didn’t realize when the morning came and the sky cleared. 

“Good Morning.” Jenny said in a husky whisper.

“I love you.”  said Cyrus smiling.

“I know.” Said Jennifer “and also I am hungry.” said Jennifer with guilty eyes.

“I will order breakfast.” he said kissing her forehead.

Cyrus moved out of the bed and dragged himself to the intercom all the while he was parallely thinking about the task he would complete today. He met his life and that too so many years late. He wondered why was it always that he met Jenny at the wrong time? Back then, during his graduation he backed out and never expressed because he knew that she would make him lose focus and now he is on the verge of losing focus. Cyrus sighed 

"Let it be till the time comes...."


Read the next part of the story here

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Dialogue






Me: I am fed up Dad....I mean all these quotas and all.....They disgust me a lot. I mean I never got an extra chance. I studied hard and you, Dad  had to go through many sacrifices to make your children get a decent education but look at these people who are having cars and all are touted as OBCs and are getting benefits whereas the poor so, called High Caste suffers. Look at the Pandits in the temple, ready to be your Brahmin and read "Shlokas" on your behalf just for a paltry sum and the boy is just fifteen . I am sure he cannot go to the school, but he won't get help. Why? because firstly he is a "General" secondly he is technically"Above Poverty Line". Look at Shakuntala's Aunty's kids (Our House Help's Kids) they are so bright and technically they go to the school but learn nothing from the government school. Where is the benefit reaching Dad? It is not reaching to the masses.

Dad: What do you mean? Do you want extra benefits? Are you jealous? Why are you so negative? See just because someone is getting an added advantage you cannot grow bitter. By growing negative you are harming yourself the most. You are just complaining. These people were subjugated for years now the government is giving them a chance by the charity of the Reservation system. What do you mean that they will continue to live in the darkness while we grow. It is not possible and not right.

Me: Father look I am not saying that the people who are really in need should be in the dark. We see people in our country still being discriminated. How has charity help them. Even the NGO's help them through money which lasts them only for a certain time and then they again plunge into the darkness. They are not evolving. Growth is just like a forced operation, a revolution and this growth is useless. Growth should be an evolution, it should be in the DNA of the nation. It should be natural. Charity disrupts the regular flow of the growth.

Dad: Elucidate with examples?

Me: Suppose a dear is running to save its life from the Tiger. Charity is when we kill the Tiger to save the Deer or we catch the deer and place it in a "safe environment" which sounds good after all the deer is safe but did it actually help the deer? No, it actually made it more dependent on external factors, it in a way made it week because now when in trouble it won't think to save itself but simply look in the direction of the help. Empowerment on the other hand is selecting the Deer, now this deer has a potential to run so, we focus on that and teach it life skills and tactics to learn and leave it in the jungle.So, now when it faces the tiger it knows how to save itself and doesn't need help. The deer is empowered and will surely pass this knowledge to its calves. The entire Deer clan is empowered and knows that if the Tiger scales up you too have to scale up as The Help Lies Within You and it won't come from the outside.

Dad: OK so, you want the rule of the jungle?

Me: No, I want this reservation to be eradicated. I want a system:

1. Register all those who are poor and cannot afford quality education. Poor doesn't mean BPL but people who cannot afford good schools.
2. Take the children to the schools or ensure that they are taught at par with the same quality as we, "The Creamy Layer" is taught. The Bright of the lot, segregate them and give them scholarship and newer challenges to sharpen their skills. Aptitude Test every year. The average, well there are no average. They are good in some other work focus on their strength and for the week focus on a skill set they are good at.

3. Now let them sit for the entrance, now let them crack the test without any reservation. The reservation is no longer needed because they are no longer week, They are empowered with an education at par with "The Creamy Layer". What about those who couldn't make it. Well there are people who from the "General" category who couldn't make it to the top because others were better than them. Simple "Survival for the Fittest". But since their skills have been recognized early on they will be a quality human resource in their field.

4. Now when they come out and are ready to work for the Nation we know for sure that these are the products of empowerment and not a product of charity. They deserve to get the High paying Job because of the degree and education earned through merit and hard work and quality and not due to some qouta bias.

5. The caste discrimination will end. No, one can grumble of being discriminated. All will be  "The Creamy Layer."

But the Vote Banks will suffer massively. The NGOs have to work and strategize more that is the only flip side. We won't be worshiping Mediocrity any more that is a big loss. We will be focussing on excellence...Oh! the poor politicians! But then every medicine has it's side effects and so, I guess we can bear it.

Dad: You have answered your own grudge.

The alarm bell rings and I see my husband by my side and realize my Dad has been long dead but then his DNA always speaks. So, much for the empowered DNA to whom Charity was never an option.

Submitted In Response to Indispire Edition 31

Ridhima Bhandari

Charity or Empowerment? Are charitable donations to feed and house the poor really the way out of the mire of poverty or do NGOs need to focus more on skill development? Should we as donors be more proactive rather than merely donating money? #CharityorEmpowerment

For more great blogs in this topic click here

In Delirium




In my moments of insomniac delirium, I often toss and turn around in my bed. Waking up in between to scribble or draw something. As a student my parents used to buy the thickest of registers for me. My registers just finished and if you stack the registers one over the other I am sure you will find a lofty loft thing overreaching me in height (Though I do not have a great height to boast of). My parents believed I was doing maths, solving equations in physics and meanwhile they were true to an extent but half of my register was dedicated to scribblings and drawings.

These registers; half reason and half insane were so, me. I am defined the best by these registers. Half Logical, half insane. Half righteous, half immoral. Half slave to the norms and half rebels.

Staring at the mirror, me
The Apparition
I am saint, I am Devil.

Hanging by a thread where insanity meets sense or vice versa I have lived my life. I have used a force, a tremendous force so, that I can just be not myself because there are problems when you do not know but then there are problems when you simply know too much. They say do not peek in too much into that depth that you cannot handle but then I had to open every closed door in me and see the best and worst of me.

Time elapsed and with that time I grew more silent and more content. I looked into me and was at peace for being righteous but then when I speak and bridges are build to reach the island called me. All hell breaks and I open the doors ajar and fish out all the goodness and all the blackness in me.

Gods had foretold so, ages back
Before the Elixir
The Venom dances on the pyre.
The innocence all lost and then all tired I return back to sanity but then my sanity, my righteousness all scared and my soul all numb due to the continuous battering. I am happy somewhere finally to be myself, to breathe in this air just being what I am.

A strain of thought is now seeping into me. Innocence is being what you are, knowing what you are for real and acknowledging it and being happy for it.So, I am in a vicious cycle if I am innocent by the book then somewhere I am not being myself and if I am being myself then I do not take myself as innocent but then I become truthful and thus have an inherent innocence in me. I do not know my position in this world but yes, this much that all is well when i peep inside me and the doom I brought in by being me never actually happened.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Bards Of the Blogosphere: Chapter 2 - The Weekend Brunch. #Celebrateblogging









Please Note: This is the second chapter in the "Game of Blogs" for the team "Bards of the Blogosphere." #CelebrateBlogging

Read the previous part of the story here

As the phone rang Tara looked at it and let out a sigh of exasperation. It was a busy day at the office with news flying like paper rockets, zooming from one corner to another, made by the people and hitting people. There were the usual scams, murders, rapes and the news of a minister's death. Tara sometimes; in her lonely wantonness, thought what was wrong with the world but then the face of Shekhar flashed in front of her and she smiled subconsciously and felt that all was well with this world. She remembered Roohi growing up in the posh flat of Nariman point and she remembered her childhood in the lanes of Hedua, Kolkata where the colonial charm refused to fade away and the love of "Ma" along with "Parar Mashimar" (Neighbourhood Aunt) increased every year. She sighed and remembered bargaining on the footpaths of Hatibagan for the 'kurta' she just wanted to have to flaunt at her alma mater, Bethune College.

"Hey Tara! It's Jennifer. How are you doing and how is your princess?" As Tara picked up the phone this was the first thing she heard. A clear, confident voice of a lady and Tara could not recognize her. She was in her office and being the workaholic she was she was it was probable that she would not  be able to tell her own name if someone asked her while she was working.

"Sorry, who is this?" said Tara, giving up the attempt to recollect.

"Hey it's me Jennifer. The lady who photographed you and your family at the aannual function the last week, remember?" continued Jennifer with the same enthusiasm. The fact that Tara had not recognized her did not act as a deterrent to her zeal.

"Oh! So, sorry Jennifer! I was so tied up in office work that I couldn't recognize you." said Tara, in earnest.

"It's OK. It happens. In fact I, myself should be sorry for disturbing you. Anyway, cutting a  long conversation short, your photos have come out amazingly. They are so life like. True, happiness and love shows. I would love to share the photographs with you people. So, if you are OK with it I can either mail the soft copies to you or can courier the hard copies, if you provide me with the address."

"Why dear, that's so sweet of you! You don't have to do either of the two. You can join us for a weekend brunch on this Saturday, if your schedule permits you; at our place or any place of your preference and do bring your daughter along with you."

"That's a wonderful gesture Tara, but then,  I do not want to trouble you people on a weekend where you intend to spend some quality time with your family."

"Please, Jennifer, trust me, it will be our pleasure to be your host and my two kids are quiet a handful so, you, my dear, will be a welcome infusion in our weekend brunch ritual." Tara said, with a tender laugh.

“Tara , wow! you have another kid? Great! How old is....Oh, I got it...your husband."
And they both had a short laugh before hanging up and fixing the Saturday meet.

"Good job Jennifer, Decent first impression on the lady of the house." said Jennifer to herself and smiled after she hung up.

Later that day Shekhar called up Jennifer and gave her, a formal invitation for the 'Saturday Brunch' as the 'Man of the House'. It was a ritual in their little household all those who came as guests were always doubly invited.

That Saturday, Jennifer reached to the Duttas' resident. Dressed in a casual jeans and kurta with her trademark beads as neck-piece and armlets. and holding a basket of chocolates. It was 11 a.m. on a relatively laid back Saturday breathing easy in this Ciy of Speed.

Mr. Dutta opened the door he was wearing his crisp white cotton kurta, he brought when he last visited Kolkata and a pair of blue jeans, this was an exception from his T-Shirt and Track Suit routine. Tara met her in the drawing room, wearing a parrot green kurta with beautiful Lucknow Chikon embroidery and white churidar. Jennifer rushed to her and touched the corner of the kurta to feel its texture.

"Beautiful embroidery! Where did you buy this from?"
"From a sale in North Kolkata." said Tara taking pride at her bargaining skills while stealing glances with Shekhar who started to whistle turning his face sideways and looking at the joint of the wall and ceiling.

"North Kolkata Raiders..." said Shekhar as if singing a song.

"South Kolkata Oh-I-am-so-trendy-at-Gariahat intellectuals." said Tara in her best mocking avatar.

"What's all this?" enquired Jennifer half laughing, half confused.

“Don’t worry Aunty it is a regular thing over here. You come in and see my car collection." chimed in Roohi while running towards Jennifer and pulling her by hand to take her to her room.

"Wait, Princess, look Aunty has brought something for you." Jennifer said as she put forth the basket of chocolate.

Roohi was about to pounce on it when Jennifer removed it from her reach.

"Roohi will get the chocolates only if she says sorry to Mamma and Papa for speaking in between." said Jennifer playfully.

Roohi turned to her parents and said "Sorry Ma. Sorry Pa" bowing each time as a ballerina.

"She is such a drama Queen!" said Tara in an apologetic but motherly tone.
"This part of her is completely your gene." said Shekhar.
Tara glowered at her and Shekhar glowered back which made Tara giggle.



“What was the need for the basket of chocolates” said Tara earnestly.

“Oh yes, it was such a trouble to bring it and I am so hungry because of it. So, where is the brunch? I can only smell delicacies and can’t see them.” said Jennifer in good humour giving the basket to Roohi.

“Oh please do come in, I must say my wife is an excellent cook, my choice afterall.” said Shekhar preparing himself for a tender punch on his arm which lands right at the spot.

“So, how did you two meet?” asked Jennifer while sitting at the chair.

“Well Her Highness was bargaining at this footpath in Hatibagan, Kolkata and I was there just chilling with my college mates from St. Xaviers and when she turned we bumped into each other and my glasses fell and broke. She apologized and promised me to pay for my loss but I said it can be compensated only by a cup of coffee at the Coffee House in Kolkata. She said that is not possible as she studies in Bethune and then she just walked away with her friends, giggling.”

“Nice, what happened then?”

“Nothing, I just bunked my classes and roamed in front of her college for two weeks and on Friday she comes to me and asks me whether the attendance is compulsory in my college or not to which I say yes and she scolds me saying then do not bunk classes like a fool and stop waiting for her here, instead tells me to be there at 3 pm on Saturday at the Coffee House.”

“Then, what happened?” Jennifer leaned forward placing her elbow at the dining table and her palm resting at her cheeks with curiosity in her eyes.

“Then, my friend. all is history, and I am the prisoner….oh no pinching please!” said Shekhar moving sideways to save himself from the expected assault.

“What about you Jennifer? Where is your Princess, you could have brought her here.” said Tara.

“My Princess, well, she got into a boarding school in Shimla. We were trying it for her from the beginning of the session. We had given all hope of her admission there, but then, the second list came out last Monday and she got selected. I left her there last Tuesday and came back on Wednesday because I had some projects over here. My husband stays in the Middle East and I, being a photographer roam around the country. So, we took the decision to put her into boarding.
My husband and I were childhood friends and all in the family knew that we would marry one day.” Jennifer grabs her back pack and fishes out the photographs. She has a photograph framed in black ebony. "Here you go! Moments captured in the lens!"

“Oh, this is precious! Thank you, so, much!” said Tara squeezing Jennifer’s hands softly with tears in her eyes.

It was 7 p.m. when Jennifer finally left.

“I told you she is a nice lady Mr. Snob.” Said Tara to Shekhar who was doing the dishes.
“A genius can be wrong sometimes.” Shekhar winked.

“Yes, whatever.” Tara rolled her eyes as she dried the plates with a towel.

“So, Jennifer ebony always does the trick...” thought Jennifer entering  the dark room where she lived.

She switches on the light and fishes out another bigger back pack. She closes all the doors and windows tightly.
“Enough of fooling around and now, we get back to work.” Jenny says as she sits, takes out her camera and tripod and the lenses and puts them in the back pack. She hurries out of the room, locking it, leaving the lights on, rushes on the road hails a cab and gets in,  “To the railway station.”

On reaching at the station she buys an unreserved railway ticket. “My ticket to stay anonymous, no reservations made, no names flashed...” she thinks as she rushes towards the platform.  

Read the next part of the story here

 


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