Darkness falls faster during winters before Bunty and Pinky realized, it was already late while playing in the park that evening. Bunty suggested, “Let's take the shortcut.” Pinky “But it goes through the cemetery.” Bunty “I am with you, don’t worry.” Halfway across, they saw an old man scraping something vigorously over a tombstone. Scared at first but soon relieved to see that it was one of their old neighbors. Bunty “Gupta uncle?? I thought you were not keeping well, what are you doing here all alone?” “Oh, those idiots,” said Gupta uncle “misspelled my name in the epitaph.”
My 5 year old brother asked me as he made a card for our mother, "Akka, how do you spell 'Laugh'?" Me, 7 years old then, "L-A-F" My brother, "Are you sure? I thought it was something longer." Me, giving it a serious thought, "How long do you want to laugh for?" Him, "two minutes." Me, confidently, "L-A-A-F then." Him, with eyes full of admiration, "Okay."
Radhika was struggling to make ends meet with her meagre salary ever since her husband died last year. She could not bear to see her children suffer anymore. After a long thought she came to the conclusion that she can afford to take care of only one child and decided, it must be Aryan, her son. She mixed the rat poison with the candy bar and gave it to the Ananya, her daughter. Only thing she forgot was Ananya has never eaten a candy without sharing it with her little brother.
"Harita, come hold my hand!" Harita, my baby sister, continued to run and chirp in glory of void; she knows no sun, no rain, no storm, no worries; that tranquil countenance! I caught up with her pace; her altruistic soothing smile filling me with gleeful vitality. My sister. If only I could hold her hand. If only I could show her to my friends. If only I could share my toys with her. If only she wouldn't disappear each time we would get closer to home from the forest. If only papa didn't kill her in ma's womb.
'Hello Madam, We have procured the material, will deliver in two days'. 'Good, handle it carefully'. After ten days, Vimla, the in charge of an orphanage run by an influential politician at a remote town, was waiting for her guests to arrive from Mumbai. She was busy since morning preparing the legal documents. Guests arrived and handed over an envelope to Vimla. She peeked inside the envelope and smiled with satisfaction. Documents signed and the guests left immediately along with the kid. Vimla sighed with relief. She will get a hefty amount as commission for her work.
Most people are like ostriches. They hide their faces in a dark hole, hoping that their predator would choose someone else. But, they were different. "I cannot believe that they accused us of lying." "Fools. Kids don't spin tales of abuse on their own." "Brother, this piece of rope has given me an idea." "Enlighten me." "We shall steal hallucinatory bath salts from father's laboratory and trick the serial abuser into hanging himself." "Blimey, don't you feel like Batman already?" More like Batman 2.0- more brain, less brawn", the young knight exclaimed, as her eyes sparkled with vengeance.
"Make a wish!" she squeaked as she carefully held the two twigs in a criss-cross fashion. "W-What?" stammered her brother. "Okay, I wish it rains. Now, your turn!!" she commanded. "S-Same" he added nervously. She started chanting dramatically as he waited with bated bath. Nothing happened. But she sure did feel pain as someone grabbed her by the neck. "How dare you hide and play while I do all the work!!" he screamed. "S-Sorry master" she sobbed as her terrified brother hid behind her. That night it rained heavily. Two broken twigs got washed away in the rain.
I saunter the streets, playfully, with air in my step, The world is my playground, cliché to sound, yet true, I am above the divisions, all that the world has amassed, In my thoughts there is no pettiness, no conditioning, I am special as the flower, as the mountain, as the sea, I am the divine creation like the other, worthy of special tasks, My care, my love unparalleled, unfathomable, unbridled, I am the creator, I am a girl, Yet a shadow lingers all the time, Appreciated, welcomed, wanted, And it is the shadow of a boy!
The splendid sunset crowned their picnic day. Their girl looked and sounded incredibly happy. “Anita, why do you laugh so hard?” “Jacob wants to steal my lady-bug and he tickles me.” “Oh, your imaginary friend again.” Coming here with their son to watch the sunrise was their favourite moment of the day. Especially that he smiled all the time. “Jacob, why do you wave?” “I tickle Anita. I want to steal her lady-bug.” “Oh, your imaginary friend again.” “Anita, why can’t they see us?” “Maybe because they are not children anymore.” “Do you want to grow up?” “No.”
"We were really upset and worried about Seema's health. Post-accident she had gone in a state of shock; lying awake at night murmuring to herself. It’s tough on a kid to lose her parents and brother like this. The good news is she is recovering now. Look at her play; all by herself. Strong girl." Out in the garden Rahul was telling Seema; "Look Di; Doctor Uncle is talking about us. Always remember don't tell him or anyone about me. It’s a secret." Both brother and sister crossed fingers and started laughing.
As ten year olds, Surinder and I played Marbles, Statue, Hide and Seek. Sometime we would invent games. We lived in a lane off Motiram Road in Quetta. One day at dusk, Surinder put his hand out and I clapped it. He said Tarha Mosha and ran out of the courtyard. I chased him: out of the lane, to the Road, into another lane. We ran like the wind. He turned and ran homeward. We both stumbled into the courtyard and hugged. We were children then. Then Partition happened. But Tarha mosha never happened again.
Promise me, says Karan as he tries to clutch his arm tightly to impede bleeding. He whines in pain, the twinge of the bullets-injured body seemed miniscule compared to the worries reflecting from his eyes. “Chintu wants to join army like me, Chinti says papa I would be a doctor to serve injuries of soldiers” Karan murmurs in pain, as he passes me the photo from his wallet, before he closes his eyes. Five years thence, having breakfast with the kids, I see the framed photo in my hall, as I take the kids to school, feeling blessed.
Out of all her childhood memories, this was her favourite. She had treasured this picture since long. He was her first love. Raj, her only friend in the neighbourhood with whom she had spent the entire childhood. They were inseparable. He was a big man now. He went off to the city to complete his studies and was returning home this summer, after 10 long years. She hurriedly finished all the chores, and was about to leave the house, when she saw her drunk husband return home. Destiny always had other plans for her, and today was no different.
"Here it is", he said as they jumped into a pit, tiny enough to accommodate both of them. They dug up as fast as they could, with their little hands working like a spade. She wept as she tried to handle the coins, as she knew it was their fault again, this time. Finally, they found the box they were looking for. The box had money which they had saved after they lost their father. The money they stole from random places. The money they needed to build their broken house. The only dream their father had ever seen.
She glanced up to spot the blossoms, He whispered “What’s so extraordinary in that?” She uttered “The circle of life”, “What scorches must rebuild to survive,” He cried “Nothing is exquisite when it’s desiccated,” She replied “Attempt to regard the various possibilities”, He spotted the grass ashen, parched it appeared, But she saw the tiny sprout that was anticipating bloom, He shouted “What’s so special in that bush with no beauty”, She revealed “Observe how it intensifies existence of life,” He declared “You are a sucker, who appreciates grandeur in every fold,” She smiled at the ignorance he clutched.
He gazed at them. Oh, how he wished they could keep giggling like that forever. He laughed remembering how Munniya took care of her school uniform, not even letting Raju touch it. "Baba, I will take my school frock to Dilli too!" she shouted. He smiled back weakly. He felt weak near his heart as if something had clenched it. It was Munniya's unfulfilled desire. "Baba, when will Raju come to school with me?" He remembered Saheb's words. "Arre, what will she do in school? She can work at my sister's to earn money for Raju beta's school."
Lie down under the clouds, Watch them change & flow. Feel the breeze as it brushes, Over your face like a caress. Give yourself to the feeling of love, happiness & laughter. Life was meant to be spectacular, Go with it, flow with it, Enjoy every moment. The new bloom of a flower, The butterfly as it takes flight, from its cocoon. The laughter of the children, Running through the daffodils, Treasure each moment, Like a delicate piece of porcelain. Life is short, life is grand, Enjoy what you have in this Moment And each new moment That comes.
For over three months, the production team were after the perfect children's cast, for a tricky role about children trafficking during natural calamities. With age and changing factors, chemistry between the lead brother and sister character was the need. And out of the blue, Samrat one of the assistant directors, convinced his house help to get her only two kids for auditions and they fit in like a glove.
The Taj Mahal was sold by a team of two con artists brother and sister Bunty and Babli to a rich foreign businessman, but this is the only picture that the cops have of them.
“That shining leaf, Pluck Sudha, pluck it too!” “I’m trying to locate some soft, blossoming flowers for mother, Dumbo!” “But where has the moon gone, give me a piece of rope, I’ll fasten up the sun, wrap it into silvery clouds and gift her” “You can’t do godly things, Kiddo” “Then I’ll give her those glistening pebbles” “Do you want to hurt her or what?” “I won’t return until I too get something for mother’s birthday.” He pouted, flattened on muddy ground and sudden spark bloomed in his mischievous eyes. “Don’t Dumbo! Don’t dare to touch those Red-Velvet-Bugs.”
A tragic story unfolds when he reminiscences his memories so old, she used to be torn in a conflict of he loves me, he loves me not ! While his heart discreetly belonged to someone else. She waited patiently till she couldn't bare it no more; she left him shattered to Settle the Score.
Adi was traumatized; all of sudden, he was the subject of ridicule amongst his peers. Everyone was of the opinion that, he was the one at fault, given he used to bully Parth. This being surely, the doings of a depraved mind, never seemed to cross anyone's mind. He won't tell a thing as to who was behind such kind of a wrongdoing. Finally the guilty party was put behind bars under the POCSO Act. Two of the school staff was involved. That day the bullied and the bully became fast friends, taking occasional stroll in the garden.
Just as other ardent, ambitious girls, bored by the monotonous hues of her life, she decided to take a break. She gets down from the bus by the dusty road at that village. What caught her sight next had some impacts on her life - better or worse, she didn't know at the time. There, where those kids played after their school, time stood still and innocence glistened in colours long forgotten. Her DSLR seemed too petite to capture moments like that! Two years later, she now runs a school of her own there, capturing moments like those – everyday!
They were two. And one. It had always been that way, and always would be. If he saw dragons and sea monsters in his nightmares, she would dream up fiery angels to vanquish them. If she scraped her knee, this would hurt more. It was nothing short of magical. Until the day she disappeared. Simply, suddenly! And he had, on top of his own grief and fear, her share of pure terror to bear. He routinely heard her faraway whimpers in the dark. Years rolled by. She wasn't found. They were both broken, but the twin connection wasn't.
Meena opened the envelope to find a photo of her kids and a letter. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as she read it. “I was to abduct your kids and demand ransom from your husband. But, just a day before the planned abduction your husband was arrested for money laundering. I cursed my luck and dropped the plan. As your sob over the fate of your husband for his misdemeanours, let this letter remind you, that your life could have been far worse than it is today.” Meena, though paled, couldn’t help but wonder games fate plays.
It was Radha who triggered me to get out of bed after 3 months. “What kind of mother am I?” I thought, as I called Radha and Vishnu to follow me. I took my kids to a small meadow near our house. They were fascinated by the blooming flowers that covered the hills. I watched as they played in the meadow and thought, “how naïve am I to live in the memory of my 2 year old son Krishna and forgetting to live for Radha and Vishnu. What kind of mother am I?”
I saw a picnic trip of a convent school and a government school to same garden. While the children of convent school were finding the shelters under trees, I saw two kids of government school busy looking at and appreciating the beauty of flowers and plants, running behind butterflies. They didn’t care about shining sun or dust. They were happy and enjoying their day to the fullest in the lap of Mother Nature.
"The Peshawar Army Public School has been attacked by Taliban, with the children forming the major casualties." Alfaz stopped scrolling down, fingers struck on the very headline. The school backyard had given him his favourite shot of two school-children playing innocently, elevating him to fame early in his career. With their faces swimming in front of his eyes, he called a known source and fifteen minutes later, sat down with a thump. He looked upward and whispered a regretful prayer. Islam doesn't propagate any mass-killing spree, least of all children. 132 children, Allah!
Boy: Hi! Girl: Please come to the garden with me. Boy: Why? Girl: Let’s go no. Please. Boy: Okay. 20 minutes later.. Girl: Help me make 2 garlands with these flowers. Boy: Why? Girl: Please. Boy: Okay. 15 minutes later. Girl: Nice garlands! See. Boy: Yes. So nice. Girl: My friend will be here soon! We will play “shaadi shaadi”. Boy (Heartbroken): Oh. I should be going now. Girl: No. You stay. Boy: Why? Girl: You play the priest. Boy: What! Girl (Blinking eyes faster): Please. Boy: Okay. (Thinks: “So this is how it feels.”)
Girl (thinks): Yay! My doll’s ready. It’s just like Grandma’s. God! So many new things I’ve learnt and done for the first time here at grandma’s place. I’ve learnt Swimming, tree climbing, making things from rope, watering crops, drawing water from a Well, and doing Rangoli. I learnt new stories, new poems, discovered new birds, new vegetables, new relatives and new friends. This has been the most amazing vacation. I’ll tell everything to my friends and teachers, once we go back to Mumbai tomorrow and school reopens. I’m so excited! Boy (thinks): School from Monday? Vacation over? NO! Mummy!
“You’re sure you don’t want children?” “I have children babe.” She said hiding the melancholia in her voice. “Will they recognize you, when they grow up? Let’s have our kids.” They had discussed this before. He had said he wanted nothing more than her. But that was before she left her husband’s house for the last time. He backed off as she leaned in to kiss him “So your love for me has died?” “Maybe not tonight” He said impassively and left the room. Her only resort was the photo. “Mommy loves you’ll. Always remember that.”
A child born in the family will always have precedence over child adopted into one. That’s human nature. My parents, desperately, wanted to avoid this behaviour. I was the darling of my parents – poor grades were forgiven, tantrums well attended to, but my brother got the rough end of the stick. This, slowly caused fissures in the family and my brother became rebellious. This photo reminds me of the fun times we had together – contrast to where we are today. Few will believe, my alienated brother is the own child of the family and I am the adopted one.
I look at her ,her eyes; Her radiant eyes, Sparkling with dreams; Dreams of flying high, So high in the clouds; Just like a butterfly, With colours so mesmerizing. And the sun's luminous rays, Adding wings to her dreams. Bringing along with its rays, Thousands of ways, To fulfil her wishes. And here I am, just wishing; She attains all that she dreams of.
"Grandes sueños"- This was her secret word. A word she always chant when tough moments lay ahead of her. And to quench my curiosity I used to ask her what that phrase meant. To which she would give a mysterious smile and with a twinkle in her black eyes say-" You'll see". And today after graduating as a Paediatrician she comes to me with the very same smile and says,"I fulfilled my Grandes Sueños that is my Big Dream".
My brother and I, grew up together with so many happy memories. He was always the quiet one. Later we got busy with our own lives; I can't imagine how we grew apart due to one small misunderstanding. Ego stopped both of us from making the first move and it's years since we spoke to each other. But today, while watching the news about the disastrous earthquake in Nepal and the agony of the survivors, something snapped in me. What a fool I have been! Why carry the baggage when it feels so trivial now? I dialled his number.
"So, what game do we play today?" "House?" "What's it with you and these games? House, Family, Life. I want to do something new. Lemme see, we have finished hide & seek, catch, dodge-ball, jinx, and treasure hunt." "He loves me; He loves not; He loves me." "So what was the nature's verdict finally?" "You knew? Finally! The frame had to hang on for dear life, a good seven years for you to bother!" "Who plays with shards of grass, like that, every single day? Yes, I knew." "Then you already know the answer."
Ravi (in his office) was reading some important documents suddenly his eyes lit up, when he saw his childhood picture with his friend Mihika. He felt very nostalgic, a wave of emotions hit him. He said: oh dear how can i forget you. You helped and supported me in my toughest of times.How can i forget you? I don’t know where you are and how you look. Knock knock Ravi: come in!! "I am really sorry to disturb you sir, but i left a photograph of mine here have you seen it sir? " Girl asked.
“Are you going to take us home?” The sun set in the background, radiated tears on my cheeks. “Here, hold this, and never lose it.” “A watch!?” There was a sparkle in her eyes as she playfully snatched the time machine from my hands. “Do you know where father is?” I shook my head and tried to dodge the quizzical look in his eyes. “Whose watch is this?” “My father gave it to me, when he went away.” “Where did he go?” I smiled. “A beautiful place, where all fathers go, to take care of their kids. Forever!”
“Wait, why can't I remember this?" " Cause we don't remember any of it. " " Is this us?" " Can't really say." " This lifetime seems very different, it’s ancient. So much of greenery and colours. And we are wearing something." " Clothes they called it. I liked that time when we were robots. No clothes hassle. " " I liked the lifetime where we were Elephants. You were most beautiful as one. " " The best part is we are here together, watching all our seven journeys." "Assurance baby, we were together. Hope you are happy now."
Many years have gone by since I saw her, not that this was her, but she reminded me of her. The summer days we used to spend walking around, exploring and satisfying our curiosity. Why did we grow up? "Honey I’m home, what are you looking at?" Nothing love, just an old pic. "Good god it’s been such a long time since that pic huh" 28 years or so. Can't believe she is no more.(I sarcastically smiled) "You meanie" I pulled her close and kissed her, letting her know that she was, is and will be my everything.