Anamika's Stories


"I'm in a toy-bus, in my mind. The world doesn't overwhelm me when I'm in my toy-bus. For I become a toy too. In my mind." She said you shall think of me when you become a mother. I remembered myself, instead. My childhood ditties, and dreams were released even as my daughter began to play with my toy-bus..


The alarm buzzed at midnight. Kamya and Kul were asleep. It had been a long day. Kamya had lost her examination card only to find it in her bag; Kul had a cold. My mind was throbbing. Having nothing new to imagine, I opened my diary, and fixed myself a mug of coffee. “Forget the kids for a week. This is your chance to get published!” My thoughts wandered and stopped at the acrylic painting on the mug – Kamya’s creation at 3. My ink was ready to flow, the next instant, “When the ant stepped out of the painting….” .


No one took Mrs. Chandrasekhar seriously when suddenly she started noticing one of her old students in the school playground! "Look, Jamila! There she is, as always. Avoiding Maths for a game of badminton!" "That can't be Jamila, Mrs. Chandrasekhar! She passed out twenty years ago! You're growing old!" I kept telling her. Until one day, I shockingly noticed a Jamila lookalike in Mrs. Chandrasekhar's room. "Look, my Jamila!" Only months later, I chanced upon an unopened telegram addressed to Chandra ma'am: False charges of murder. Escaping country. Daughter in your custody. Called Jamila too. Sd, Jamila Raichand..


उन दिनों, प्रेरणा की तलाश में, मैं केरल के बैक्वॉटर्स का आनंद ले रही थी। "लघुकथा की अंतिम तिथि: कल।" पवन का तीसरा पैग़ाम मोबाइल-स्क्रीन पर फ़्लैश हुआ। लकड़ी की नाव, और एक केवट। शीर्षक सूझा - "बहती नदी, बहता जीवन"। उसकी ज़िंदगी का अंदाज़ा लगा ही रही थी, की अचानक उसने मुझे मलयालम में कुछ बताया। शायद नदी के बीच उसका घर था। या शायद मैं समझी नहीं। वह अपनी ही बोली में मुझसे बातें करता गया, और मैं उसे समझने की चेष्टा करती रही। "कहानी का शीर्षक?" पवन ने दोबारा पैग़ाम भेजा। "शायद"।.

चाय की तलब

"एक ओर चाय, दूसरी तरफ़ सिगरेट?" "यार! लेखक हूँ, थोड़ा बहुत अडिक्शन तो बनता है! तुम बताओ, कुछ बना कल के समीकरण का?" "बायोफ़िज़िक्स है, बच्चों की कहानियाँ नहीं!" "तो फिर तुम मेरी कहानी लिख दो, मैं तुम्हारा 'इक्वेशन' बदल देता हूँ!" कैंटीन की उस टेबल पर बैठा, आज भी मानो राहिल ज़िंदा था। मेरे समीकरण तो उसने बदल ही दिए थे। बायोफ़िज़िक्स की विद्यार्थी आज कहानीकार बन चुकी थी - "क्रीएटिव राइटिंग" की शिक्षिका। शायद उसकी अधजलि सिगरेट, और कड़क चाय मुझे रास आ गए। बुझ गई थी तो बस, चाय की तलब! .

An Elsewhere Here

"Today?" "I'll have to convince mom. We're meeting too often!" "But, she knows we're 'best friends'!" "Soon, this tag would change to 'bridesmaid'!" I'd said the unspeakable. But, it had to be said at some point. We met again by the sea. "So, you're saying yes? For marriage?" I looked at the thick overcast, and opened my umbrella over both of us. Her anxious eyes spoke of the burden of difference that we both carried. But, we loved too, and were happy just like the other couples. "Let's go home." I said. "I'm taking you to meet my parents.".

आज रंग है

"आज रंग है!" उसकी उत्साहित आवाज़, और मैं। विवाह के पश्चात् मेरी पहली होली थी, और राघव का एक नवीन रूप सामने आया। वह संगीन मैनेजर बच्चों की भाँति शरारती हो चला था। भीड़ में मुझे पीछे से तकना, फिर पिचकारी की बौछार से डराना, और चिल्लाना, "आज रंग है!"... लो, राघव! रंग से लतपत, भीड़ में आज भी वहीं खड़ी हूँ। तुम इसी भीड़ में मुझे कहीं से तक रहे होगे, और अभी वार करोगे! आज तुम्हें आना ही होगा! पर, अचानक सारे चहरे धूँधले क्यूँ दिखते हैं? नहीं, राघव, रो नहीं रही। शायद भांग का असर है... .

चार प्याली चाय

कॉलेज में ऐन्यूअल-डे की तैयरियाँ चल रहीं थीं। अचानक चाय की तलब हुई। कैंटीन पहुँचे तो देखा कि मुन्नू-रामू चेस खेल रहे थे। उनकी साधना देखते ही बनती थी! ऐन्यूअल-डे के माहौल का असर निराला था! "काका, चाय बनाएँ!" मदन ने पुकारा। "मुन्नू, रामू! खेलना बंद करो। मदन और राहुल भैया को चाय पिलाओ!" खेल क्लाइमैक्स पर था! बच्चों ने हमें बेबसी से देखा। मदन का दिमाग़ ठनका। "काका, हम इतना कुछ सीखते हैं, कम-से-कम, चार प्याली चाय तो बनाएँ! चलिए, राहुल और मुझे चाय बनाना सिखाइए! हम मुन्नू-रामू को भी चाय पिलाएँगे।" .


Secluded street. Late night. I'm walking home. Alone. A middle-aged man on cycle catches up. "Let me walk you home. I'm dreaming of you." What!? I want to rush, but, his cycle! My grandfather's cycle!? The man describes my childhood cycle-rides with Daadu. "Who are you?" He never responds, but narrates anecdotes of my childhood. When we reach closer home, he vanishes into the thin rays of morning sun. His silhouette resembles a younger version of Daadu. Suddenly, my phone buzzes. "Guddi, are you fine? I had a nightmare. This is Daadu!" ...So it was you, Daadu! .

Love Story

“Claim me”, she said. “Seal it with a kiss.” “I can’t. I exist only in your imagination. Release me.” he said. “Let me liberate you through a story. Find me there, and lead me to a happy ending, a lifetime of love”, she offered. "Don’t make it real, but an image of reality. A dream to be pursued, yet a dream pursuable.” “Then, find us a world unlike the one you inhabit, but like the one I do. Your imagination.” "Will you seal my story with a kiss?” she asked. “Yes. A long, lingering one. To last a lifetime…" .


I was gaping at a framed picture of my father and me - a young lad standing by the side of a crawling infant. Could I sacrifice my life in such a way for someone, I mulled... "Sir, may I come in? I can't differentiate tortuous from torturous, or deride from derive. I'll flunk my entrance exam tomorrow!" "No, let's plan five practice sessions, and two tests. Be prepared to stay back till late evening. I'll give you a practice exercise, while I go for my next class..." "But, Sir, your lunch?" "...And, what time is the exam tomorrow?".

American Revolution

"Fire on the mountain! Run, run, run!" This History period is so boring! The kindergarten kids outside seem to be having an extended sports period. "Run, run, run!" And, I'm running at full pelt. "Pay attention in class! Why are you smiling?" I'm running. In my mind. In my uniform. To catch a flight. To go to America, and live with Perry Aunty-Sundar Chacha. So that I can choose my favourite subjects in school, and reject History. "Bina! What's wrong? What are you thinking?" "Nothing, Sir... Thinking of America and, revolution..." "And?" "And, imagining the immediate causes!".


It’s a recurring dream, Ma! A frame of dense foliage. And, blurred image of a man going away. Stop him! Bholaratan, isn’t he? My only companion at Granny’s house. My first teacher. He taught me alphabets when you all were too busy to play with me! Why didn’t you stop him, Ma? Why didn’t you tell Granny that I had picked her pearl choker, and inadvertently dropped it in garbage? Why did you burden me with this guilt, Ma? The guilt of deceiving my lone companion, when I didn’t know deception, or guilt. Or, the baggage of recurring dreams..


याद आता है। कल इसी सड़क पर भागा था, घर से, माँ की डाँट से। आज वहीं पहुँच गया हूँ, जेल से भागा हुआ एक मुजरिम। कैसे पहुँचूँगा दोबारा, माँ की डाँट तक?.