Drawn to Fear

Like moth is to flame, metal to a magnet. Like bee is to flower, Voldemort to Harry.

Fear crept up on her, drew her in and held her prisoner.


Within her Heart

It was gloomy outside, rain pouring and pelting against the windows.

Inside, snuggled with some tea and a hug, it was sunny within her heart.

Deep Beneath – A Love Story

This is my parent’s story. The first time I heard it, I couldn’t bring myself to believe it. Even now, when I recount this tale of love to friends, I am filled with wonder about the enormity of the gesture.

Theirs is an arranged marriage. The girl was just a little over 18 and the boy was 3 years her elder. Grandparents from both sides pronounced the judgement that they wanted the bride/groom to be a part of their families. The boy and girl didn’t get a chance to see each other. The wedding was a lavish and much talked about affair.

The newly – weds first saw each other properly in the many family games that traditionally follow a Hindu wedding. It acts an ice breaker, between the bride and groom’s family. There, surrounded by the cheering family and relatives, taken by the each other, they fell in love.

A few weeks passed. The girl returned to her parent’s house to continue her studies and the boy turned back to his books. With no phone or internet to connect them back in 1982 in India, they kept in touch through the more time taking way – letters. They wrote long letters of their well-being, life and love, enquiring after the others life. They met once every few months.

In a few years, quite a lot of letters had been written, back and forth to each other. When it was time for the girl to leave her parent’s house, she didn’t forget to carry along the bundle. They settled into their new life together. They also had a new-born baby girl to take care of.

Not far from their dwelling, there was a temple that the boy frequented. Lord Hanuman is his special deity. Right in front of the temple, workers were digging the road. They were making way for a new footpath. In the days to come, the street will be one of the busiest in the city – never sleeping, never resting.

The guy had a plan. He went home, collected all the letters the couple had. Along with one of their spare wedding invitation cards, he packed the bundle into some waterproof material, finally packing it in a box. He carried it away, like a treasure.

He got his wish, after a round of requesting the construction workers around. He might even have had to bribe a few to get his way. He carefully placed the box in the hollowed pits, right in front of the temple. He stood there and saw it getting covered with fresh granite.

The way my Dad puts it, while my mom lovingly watches – After many years, when the road is re-laid or dug up, they will find that two young people, so much in love, survived so many odds to tell their story. They will believe in the instituion of marriage. God will always be watching over us – quite literally.

Inspired by Daily Prompt 

It’ll Always Work Out Between Us :)

She put the key into the hole and coaxed the lock into turning. She breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally home. She put one tired foot after another over the doorstep, swinging the door closed behind her. It had been a really long day and it seemed to go on forever.

As she flicked on the lights in the doorway, she mentally corrected herself – it had all begun last night. She and her husband had disagreed over some trivial matter. Last night, the disagreement, fueled by a long distance relationship, had turned into a nasty shouting match, over the phone.

He rarely got angry. If he had raised his voice, it meant he had been pushed over the edge.  She wondered if she could have handled it differently. Her forehead creased and she absent-mindedly tucked a lock of hair behind her ears.

She had to make it right, she thought. Nothing in the world was worth this silence on both sides. She should probably drive down to his apartment. Surprise him. It was only a couple of hours away.

As she walked towards her dining table, she noticed a huge bouquet of her favorite flowers. Smiling, she walked towards it. No tags, no cards. Touching the petals of one flower, she reflected how another set of flowers accompanied by a box of chocolates awaited her husband at his doorstep.

She felt happy tears roll down her cheeks. It will always work out between us, always – she thought gleefully, before sinking down into the couch, feeling much lighter.

Inspired by Daily Prompt

For the Love of Books!

While the music blasted away in my ears, I noticed humongous black clouds in the sky. Within minutes, it started raining cats and dogs. Even after repeated reminders from my room-mate, I never carry an umbrella in my bag. Today, I cursed myself for this blunder that I love to repeat.

To my respite however, a row of shops were in sight at a stone’s throw. I dashed into the first shop, without caring to check the hoarding on the facade. Once safely inside, I stopped for a second to catch my breath and shake off whatever water possible from myself.

My eyes surveyed around, to familiarise myself with the surrounding. I noticed a small, stout balding man standing behind a low counter. He smiled – a full- fledged genuine smile. It was an antique store that housed vintage- classic books, old artefacts and a lot of dust.

Books entice me. We connect instantly. I glanced at the nearest bookshelf and took a few steps in the direction. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the owner smile and settle down with a newspaper. Reassured, I moved with determination and made contact with one of the shelves.

Sure enough, the books were lined with a thick layer of grime, but I was past caring. Picking them one by one, I scoured for the one that piqued my interest. My hands fell on a book of Greek Mythology. I felt my lips break into one happy smile.

I saw one withered old armchair near another tottering pile of books. I looked over to the counter and the owner was watching me. I pursed my lips and pointed towards the armchair. He nodded. I made myself comfortable to devour the whole book. The time flew by.

Soon, it was evening and the downpour had settled into a slight drizzle. I went upto the counter to bill the book and continue my romance with the words. The owner however was very kind. He asked me if I wanted to keep the book for further reading and return it back on a later date. I assured him that the book will be safe with me and I would return it back.

As we were talking, the door of the shop tingled to announce the arrival of another customer. I turned to look back. I squinted to look at the figure silhouetted against the light in the doorway.

And there I was lying on the floor in my bedroom, awakened by an almighty fall from my bed as I tipped over the edge. I recognised my roommate standing over me with a puzzled look.

What a rude awakening!

However, the weather outside brought a huge smile to my sleepy face. It was raining cats and dogs.

It was a Beautiful Dimpled Smile

It was a beautiful Saturday evening. After lounging the entire day around, I decided I should stretch my legs and haul my lazy weekend ass to a long walk. I put on my walking shoes, plugged some music in my ears and started off.

Not far from where I put up, is Cafe Coffee Day. It is one my favorite cafes, has earned quite some fame in India. I found myself a small table in a cozy corner, plonked down to relax with some cold coffee and a sizzling brownie.

Within seconds of settling down, I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around and I see a person sheepishly smiling down at me. I removed one of my ear plugs and raised a politely inquisitive eyebrow. She pointed down to my shoes and paid a nice complement.

I mumbled a small thanks and gave a swift smile in return. I made to plug my ear phone back. I like some alone – time, once in a while. By the looks of it, this stranger was not yet finished. She looked on with a half hopeful smile with pursed lips. Tiny bit annoyed and sighing slightly, I unplugged both my ears.

She smiled again. A smile that flashed her dimples. I felt my irritation ebb away. I am partial to the smile that is accompanied by dimples. She gestured to the chair in front of me and inquired if she could join me. I gazed all around the café to reiterate to her that there were a few unoccupied tables that she could use. She flashed those dimples again, shifted her weight from one leg to another. It took a moment for her to answer, finally saying that she was looking for some company. I gave a small laugh and straightened up in the chair that I was lounging in. Uncrossing my legs and with a resigned smile, I waved in the direction of the chair.

She looked relieved. She quickly made herself comfortable. We introduced ourselves and made small talk until her order arrived. It was then that she really got talking. We talked for hours – about movies, politics, India’s socio – cultural problems, finance, photography, relationships. There was something about her that was quite uninhibiting and the fire soon caught on to me.

It went on. Over three more cups of coffee each and not – so – small bites to eat. We exchanged numbers and promised to stay in touch. It was such a random but a meaningful conversation.

Have you ever wondered how random strangers seem to understand you so much?

Stay With Me

He walked in into the driveway of his home.

“That after game discussion took unusually long today” he mused.

Wincing slightly as he climbed the stairs on the porch, he cursed under his breath. The leg had started troubling again.

He walked into the dimly lit sitting room of his cozy little house. He squinted until his eyes adjusted. And there he saw, sitting on the comfortable leather sofa was the woman he loved, his partner for last 53 years, his companion in the journey of life. His wrinkled face automatically broke into a smile which was reciprocated from the other end.

He walked to the sofa, to her. He bent to kiss her lightly on the cheek as she inclined her face towards him. “It still makes her smile affectionately” he thought as his hand lingered to caress her hair for a second.

She shifted a little, so that he could sit next to her. He sighed slightly as the weight on his knees shifted in the process of sitting. He settled next to her and put his arm around her.

She pressed the play button on the remote in her hand. She gave him another happy look as if to say “Stay here with me”. The collage continued in a myriad of frames and colours. It was familiar, he had seen it before.

On the screen, it was them. Younger. The scene was from their wedding. All smiles, laughter, little bit of teasing. Next up, the screen played the moments when they bought their first car. The frames kept shifting to depict the timeline of their lives – together. Their kids, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation days – small clips from all the important events.

He looked at her. He saw a tear escape from the corners of her eye. He immediately took her face in his hands. He hated to see her cry. She sniffed. And continued to smile up at his face, lovingly.

He shook his head, forbidding her to cry. She gave a small laugh and turned towards the screen again, this time holding his hands in hers and resting her head on his shoulders.

He spoke, “What do feel, when you see yourself, us in those frames?” “Happy” she said. “I feel happy, I have lived a full life, had amazing companion in you. I am satisfied with everything in life. We have great kids, who have great kids. They respect us, care for us. We have lived respectfully. Life has been good with you”.

She raised her head to give him a light peck on his check. He smiled. “His smile is still so beautiful”, she thought.

Inspired by the Daily Prompt

The Ball and the Lizard

All of us had troubles with our siblings; many of us have looked for it. Those are probably one of the best memories of childhood. But we always knew just when to get them into trouble and when to stand by their side and see the trouble cool down. Here’s one such story from my family fold from ages ago.

Once upon a time (yes, long back) there was a happy family. The family lived in a huge estate of a British India style house, replete with gardens. The house had a veranda where the family had dinner during the hot summer nights, soaked scarce sunlight in chilly winter afternoons and the kids played.The couple had five children, a girl being the eldest. Four brothers followed her. The parents worked hard to provide for their needs and at the same time give them a nice upbringing and instill good values.

So, this one day, the four boys were playing a game of cricket. The father was yet to return from work. Mom and sister were out grocery shopping. After about half an hour of game, one of the boys hit the ball hard and it traversed the boundary of accepted playing area. All of them watched in slow motion as the ball kept flying to hit the tube light on the wall. As the glass broke to shreds and splattered over the floor, sweat started breaking on the boys foreheads. Everybody looked up to the eldest brother for directions. Before anybody got back home, something had to be done. They set off to task. All of them cleared up the mess, cleaned themselves up and set to study. Meanwhile, the eldest concocted a story to relay to all the three elders.

Mom and sister arrived and were astonished to see the boys at study. As is the custom at our homes, the house has to be lit during the dusk time of the day. The sister switched on the ill-fated tube light of veranda, which was now deceased. One look at the guilty nervous faces and she got the whole story. All of them waited for dad’s return from office. He did return and not in a good mood. He discovered the same thing as his daughter. He turned on the boys, called them to his room and gave them a dose of importance of discipline, money and time-table. He dealt with them strictly and asked them to name the person who broke the tube light. He tried asking them all together and then asked them separately.

But there were only different versions of one story that he got to know. “While these guys sat watching “news” in the TV, they heard a crash outside. When they filed one by one at the place of the incident, they noticed that a lizard was running away from the scene and that the tube light had been broken into shards.”

Frustrated of hearing the same story from all the four, the father called back the youngest son who was 9 years old. He beckoned him to sit on his lap. The poor kid must have trembled at the thought of punishment. He sank into his lap. Meanwhile, the rest of three boys were sure their secret was out. The father tried to lure him into telling him the truth about the tube light. He offered him treats. He hugged him close. He kissed his forehead. He scolded him hard. He raised his hands to scare him in to telling the truth.

Next day, the father went to office with a heavy and proud heart. He still did not know who had actually done the deed. But the incident told him that these kids will stick around with each other, no matter what. He knew that he had good kids who will carry on his family name to greater heights. He was proud of his family.

And his faith holds true till date. Though all of them have their own separate families and have settled in four different parts of India, they are more connected than most of the families that I have ever seen.

I Have Been Waiting

She was a beautiful girl. Flawless skin, smooth and shiny, voluminous black tresses, that shone when the sun struck them, doe like innocent eyes that sparkled in response to kindness and politeness and flashed at rude behaviour, pink soft lips that had a permanent glow and a soft pout.

She was sitting next to a window pane with her forehead on it. The morning had seen a slight drizzle and the glass still had the remains. She had washed her hair and the waves were left to natural means of drying. Her perfume mixed with that of her shampoo was just the right mixture of a heavenly whiff. Her slender fingers traced the patterns of the cotton dress that she was wearing and sometimes swayed to the softness of her hair. By the looks of it, she was waiting and nervous.

Suddenly, she jerked her head to the left. She had picked up some distant flicker of noise. She jumped up from the cushion that she was resting on. It was earlier than she expected. She would have to hurry. She does not want to appear “not ready”.

She marches straight to the bed where a frill frock lies. She takes a minute to admire it brushing her fingers along the soft layers of cloth. She puts in on, slightly fumbling with the zip. Then she brushes her hair and adorns it with an accessory already kept aside. A puff of powder and a dab of moisturizer. On her way out from the room, she brushes her hand on the fresh bouquet of red roses that still nurtured dew drops within their womb. She reached to the knob on the door and turned it open. Her face does not betray the tumultuous waves of emotions she felt inside, she would have none of it.

There right before her, was the person she had yearned to see. It had been such a long time. She had longed to see the handsome face, the eyes twinkle, the lips curve into an honest smile and the forehead crease. She had longed to hold the fingers and go for long walks in the garden. And when those came, it more than made up for the lost time.

Her brother was home. The 15-year-old little girl couldn’t believe that he had been away from her from last 3 years. And what more, he had come back on her birthday! There could be no better gift. She was so happy. She hadn’t felt so overwhelmed with emotions in a long, long time. She dashed into his waiting arms and he hugged her close. She felt a tear or two fall on her neck but she assumed they were tears of happiness. They could not let go of each other. She did not want to open her eyes –  it was so good, it could have been a dream.

She heard her name being called out. She ignored it for the first few times. But when the voice grew sterner and louder, she opened her eyes just a bit and relinquished her hold on her brother.

At first she could not place herself with the surroundings. Why there were people dressed in white and peering over her anxiously? She could distantly make out two sincere faces that were shrivelled with age and agony. She wondered how she got onto that bed as she had stood a second ago. And where was her beloved dadu? She had just got him back in her life. He had held her close so lovingly. And then she screamed. A scream that weighed heavy on pain, loss and death. A scream that told anybody that heard it that the person was suffering not a physical pain – but an emotional one.

It was too much for the parents to bear. They had seen the same sight for the past decade and half. After the loss of their son at the age of 22, their ageing eyes and emotions had been subjected to this sight almost every month. The father prayed that the girl be relived of the pain. This was her birthday after all.

The 28-year-old girl screamed and screamed. And then suddenly there was silence. A silence that was painful to bear. She had been sedated. She would sleep for a few hours before she took on her usual routine of visiting every room in that hospital in search of her dadu.