Posted in Random Thoughts

Bee in My Bonnet

Not sure what I am writing today. But there are several stories in the edges of my conscience that I am unable to catch and yet unable to ignore, like an errant flyaway hair that constantly tickles me while I am trying to work, talk, cook, teach…

Some are great beginnings with no end in sight. Some are just middle like waking in the middle of journey realising you have come so far but with no recollection of where you started and where you want to go. Others are faint memories of dreams I wanted to turn into stories but never got to it.

I am also in the middle of looking for a publisher/agent for my second book. It has been 4 months with no traction, which keeps me awake at nights. I have mails from people who want me to give them money to publish my book. Why would I do that? I think the whole point of writing a book is to SELL it to a publisher. Or am I missing something? I haven’t even found a literary agent since Short Stories is, apparently, not a great market.

So, if you know a literary agent who might be interested in Short stories from a writer in India, please let me know.

As for the bee in my bonnet, I guess, I will have to deal with it myself.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Posted in Life and After

Status Quo

Author’s note: Thank you, Stevie Turner for providing the fist line to help break my writer’s block. I hope Pete enjoys it.

Pete would never have thought it could happen to him.

The day was just another rainy day that were so common in his village. It was a life of too much time on hand where weekdays felt like weekends with no deadlines in sight. Retirement was so relaxed, Pete sometimes wished for a little excitement–something…anything that would challenge status quo. The morning walk with his dog was squelchy and uneventful as usual.

They were on their way back when he saw something lying on the road–a small round surface reflecting the grey sky above him. He bent down to look at it. It seemed to be a small pocket watch, clearly an antique piece. It had too many hands and looked one of a kind.

He wondered who dropped it. They must be worried out of their mind. The piece was worth a small fortune. He mentally debated whether he should leave it there for the owner to return for it or if he should take it to the police station just in case the owner had made a complaint.

Still undecided, he bent further to get a closer look. The brass exterior was slightly worn by the years and his hands itched to pick it up and see up close if it really was as old as it looked. So, he picked it up and almost dropped it out of surprise. The piece was pulsing faintly like a state-of-art racing car ready for a ride. The glass front had a tiny latch to open the face. He wondered if it was meant for the visually impaired so they could touch the hands to read the time. Or may be it was meant to adjust the hands, when needed. None of the many hands had moved so far–may be the watch didn’t work anymore and the owner threw it out, not knowing the value of the piece.

He opened the latch to adjust the time, though it was difficult to guess which one of its many hands was the hour-hand and which one was the minute-hand. So, he just touched the most decorated hand assuming, like on all old clocks, it would denote hours.

He felt a rush of wind, but it died down as soon as it started. In fact, he would have sworn he had imagined it if the leash in his hand wasn’t still swaying in the aftermath of the wind. Suddenly gripped by a fear like he had never felt before and he let the watch fall on the road. He knew something was terribly wrong and all he wanted to do was to rush to the wife he had left behind an hour back.

So, he tugged at his dog’s leash to get going but his pet wouldn’t budge. It started barking, trying to pull away. Wondering what caught its attention, he turned to face it and found that his dog was gone and in his place was a dog of a much younger age.

He looked around and the neighborhood looked different; well, not exactly different but greener and sort of younger. The Oak tree on his right seemed to have put on much more leaves than it had in the past few years–

Maybe, he was hallucinating. Or may be it was all a weird dream, he decided. The dog was sniffing him now. Seeming satisfied with its enquiry, it gave Pete’s hand a quick lick and started tugging the leash towards Pete’s home. Pete would have liked to go back to the park where he probably switched his own dog’s leash with this dog. But he was anxious to see his wife. Something in his gut told him that he will not like what he finds there.

So, together they rushed towards his home. He didn’t meet anyone on the way which did nothing to assuage his fear. When he reached, it was difficult to believe what he was seeing. The house was brighter, as if freshly painted and the garden was a riot of colours with flowers growing all over the place. It hadn’t been like this for several years since he quit gardening because of his backache. It couldn’t be his house. He was certain he had taken the wrong lane. He moved backwards, lest he was charged for trespassing.

But before he could take more than a couple of steps away, someone ventured out. His wife? Has she done something to her hair? She didn’t have an appointment at the beauty parlour, did she? Her skin was tighter around her face and her hair were more blonde than gray, as if the several previous years didn’t happen at all.

And she was looking at him in concern, “Oh my, Pete! What happened to you?”

He pinched himself to bring himself out of this dream. When nothing happened, he swept his eyes across the yard to find something to read. He had heard that if stuck in a nightmare, trying to read brings you out. So, while his wife kept asking questions with a worried expression about his out-of-breath countenance and sudden wrinkles, he spotted the newspaper on the coffee table under the portico where he always left it. He opened it. The front cover talked about Donald Trump winning Presidential elections in the US and how he would replace the current President Obama. How was it possible? Joe Biden had become the President of the US last year. Another election wasn’t scheduled for another five years!

He checked the date on the new paper: 21 January, 2017. The paper was new though…not something that carried 7-year-old news. His wife was still asking the same question he had no answer to. The truth dawned upon him and he rushed back to where he had seen the watch, his wife in tow.

The watch was gone. He had just got his forever wish. His life’s adventure had just begun.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Sher | Lantern: Shazar


Khule asmaa me main kabhi udta nahi,

Shazar wo purana agar tootata nhi.

Translation (Lantern):


a sheltering

tree falls, you

finally see the limitless


Author’s note:

  • Sher is a form of Urdu poetry where a couplet explains a single idea. While rhyming and a certain letter count is preferred, it is not necessary.
  • Lantern is a form of Japanese poetry where words are added in the shape of a lantern (1, 2, 3, 4, 1).
Posted in Life and After

Bath Time

Author’s note: Thank you Theo for the first line to help me break out of my writer’s block.

The clock said it was bath time, but I was not up to the struggle this evening.Β 

Whoever made this rule about regular bathing must be tested by a doctor. It takes days to build up the cover of mud and dirt to keep those ticks away. And once it is achieved, you wash it all off for a splash in water? Sheer madness, I say.

And who would want to sit in water and wash their face ever? I shiver at the thought.

I uncurl from my bed and sneak a peak at Becky. She is still busy on her computer. Engrossed.

May be I still have a chance…

I quietly move toward the cat flap hoping Becky wouldn’t notice. When she doesn’t move or make an attempt to stop me, I quicken my pace, covering the last few feet in a mad dash, hoping to get out through the cat flap in a single jump.

But my head in stuck in the flap and I can’t move it in or out. I mew for help. Becky replies in an exasperated tone, “Not again!”

As she pulls me out of the cat flap and off the floor, I try to scratch and bite her. Resigned, she tries to bribe me, “Come on, Mama! Be a good girl and I will give you a can of Tuna.”

What can I say? Tuna has that effect on me. I calmly follow her to the bath. As Becky settles me on my bath chair, I hear her sob.

Posted in Random Thoughts


Author’s note: The first line of this story was offered as a prompt by Darlene when I had hit a writer’s block. I hope I did it justice.

She whispered, β€œHome at last.”

Last year, he had hit his wife in a fit of rage, as he had so many times before that. But this one became one time too many. She had succumbed to the injuries. He had his job cut out for him as he disposed off the body and dodged the authorities, trying to prove that she had, in fact, run away with her new lover. The case was finally closed and he was celebrating his new-found freedom with a new date when ‘she’ had walked out of the closet where he had once hid her body.

She had never been a pretty one and death hadn’t done her any favours–unmade hair, shrivelled skin, bloodshot eyes, the eerie air she carried around her and the rancid smell that accompanied her had made him shit in his pants. Weirdly enough, his date couldn’t see anything and she only smelled a faint flowery perfume! So, when he went berserk, she assumed he was a crackpot and had run for it, leaving him alone with a murderous ghost who wouldn’t kill him, just brought him close enough every time. She had promised she would make him feel every single scar he had given her in her lifetime; that she would make sure he regretted the day he had married her. She had made good of her promise ever since.

When she wasn’t hitting him with things or strangling him in sleep, she would pleasantly discuss how she would torture him once she was stronger. She would often show up suddenly behind him in the mirror, in the car, in the grocery store and at work; and scare the daylights out of him. She would touch his back in the bath, leaving a trail of goosebumps, promising an eternity of pain once she was ready. He couldn’t tell anyone she was haunting him because saying that would mean confessing she wasn’t eloping and actually dead.

He tried praying, but his prayers only kept her mildly amused. Apparently, when you kill someone and they come back to haunt you, God declines to interfere and all bets are off. Eye-for-an-eye and all that. He had tried holy water, witchcraft…

When in a moment of insanity, he had begged her to kill him, she had smiled sweetly, “Killing you atones your sins. It frees you to go to heaven while I rot here in nothingness. I certainly can’t lose my only source of entertainment, can I? I want to finish what you started, very slowly, in the dragged out painful manner that you always loved…”

After too many sleepless nights with an overactive ghost trying to strangle him, always falling a little short of killing him, he had fallen sick. Hospitalised, he would wake up to find her sitting on his bed near his feet, smiling cruelly, waiting for him to wake up, so she could start over again…

He hated her now even more than he had hated her in life. He knew he had been right to kill her in the first place. But after too many sessions like this, he broke down. Assuming that gradually she would gather more power and hurt him worse, he had split his veins open, hoping to be finally rid of her. She had smiled at him sweetly then and whispered, “Running away, are we?”

When he left his body behind, he waited for the white lights to arrive, how it happens in the movies. But none came. Suicide was a sin. He realised he wasn’t going to heaven or anywhere at all. He finally understood what she had meant by once she was “ready” and “stronger”–that he had entered the same domain where she had been gathering power–when she had given him a twisted smile that promised an eternity of endless pain and whispered, “Home at last!”

Posted in Love

Shukran Allah | Urdu | Poetry

Tere ishq ki deewanagi

tari ho kuchh is tarah,

Wo deewaro me chunwa dein

aur hum kahein, “Shukran Allah!”

English Translation:

Lost in your love so,

When the world immures me

in the walls to kill me,

I wouldn’t know…

Posted in Random Thoughts


The food is never so enticing

as when you are denied.

Water never has such a hold

until your lips are dried.

But you wait for the signal

and a not a moment before

do you let it touch your lips

as you surround it

and yet ignore it,


waiting until you are free

to devour it.

Ah! Bliss!

Posted in Nature

My Neighbour: The Sullen

Authors Note: Our dear old delivery guy is grumpier than usual.

I hate these foreigners.

They swoop in, sully our lands, eat our food, and stutter around with their red heads held high as if they own the place. Sometimes I wish I could take them all aside and show them what we do with encroachers. But we have hosted them all our lives. I can’t get on a killing spree…

Not that I am afraid of them! I mean, I know they are bigger and stronger, and their group is too huge, and the raw power they radiate when they descend together on their huge black wings and too long crooked beaks held high is awe-inspiring. And our women “Ooh” and “Aah” as they pass.

Agh! I wish I could take a swing at that massive black one my sweety is pining for. Every time he is around, something comes over her. She has never been clumsy before but when he looks in her direction, she drops whatever fish she is holding and has to brace herself with both legs. You would think we never taught her how to fish.

Sometimes, she stands taller, ruffles her feathers, plumps them up and cleans herself too often, as if vying for his attention; as if this foreigner is going to fall in love with her and stay here forever or take her along with him. He won’t. He is here only for the winters. Come summers and he will fly away leaving her high and dry. Just the thought makes me want to peck him to death.

Not that he is interested in her. For all the attention he gives her back, she could be a mouse in the field. He just flies around showing off, his eyes only for the woman he brought along–never even sparing a second look for my pretty girl. Every time he passes without looking at my sweety, I can see her heart break in the way her face drops, and that too makes me want to break some wings.

I want to peck him to death or, at least, want him to leave the place before my sweety loses it. I wish she would choose a stork who would love her or, better still, stay away from all the storks forever so I don’t have to kill them all…

Sigh! I am not sure anymore what I want anymore. I just wish being a father was easier.

Posted in Random Thoughts


I open mail and I see

my bank trying to reach me

offering a loan I didn’t ask for.

Then there are recruiters

mailing me

on a 10 year-old resume

offering me a job

that I needed when

I was still growing teeth.

People are begging me

to take half of their bank account

to get them out of their country.

I have won competitions

I didn’t enter,

and I have won enough lotteries

to make jealous the Arab emporer.

And then, there are

WordPress notices,

and subscription mails from world over…

What I sought and didn’t find

was a single mail

seeking me as a person

(not as a user or a bank account).

No one misses me…

Posted in My life

Slaying Our Personal Dragons

We have just faced the worst fear of parents–children stepping out of their control zone! Our daughter has finally joined school. For 5 hours, she is out of our sight and very much on our minds. I can only wonder how parents send their children to hostels or marry them off. We can’t breath properly if until we see her again. It is like a part of us leaves with her. The house is too quiet and weird without her chatter.

And then, there is the fear for her well being–we know she is in safe hands. (My husband visited the school multiple times to ensure that.) But still the days and nights before the first day at school were filled with instructions.

  • Never keep hands on door threshold or some one might close the door and crush it. (Sure!)
  • Never close the classroom door. (Sure!)
  • Never let others close the classroom door. (Sure!)

Note that there are no doors in the classes of this school to ensure children don’t shut them, but still our daughter indulged us.

  • Never jump from benches. (I never do!)
  • Never run on stairs. (I never do!)
  • Clutch the railing tightly when going up and down the stairs. (I always do!)
  • Don’t stay alone in a classroom. (What if I am the first child in the class?)
  • Don’t leave your classroom unless accompanied by a teacher. (What if I have to use loo?)
  • Don’t play outside classroom. Someone might push. (Okay!)
  • Don’t play inside classroom. You can get hurt with all the benches. (Where will I play then?).
  • Don’t enter a class that is not yours. (Why would I do that?)
  • Don’t leave the school until Papa arrives. (Okay!)
  • Don’t stay alone inside school until Papa arrives. (Where will go then, if I am the last one?)
  • Don’t talk to strangers. (Papa will drop me and pick me up! When will I get a chance?)

And then there was more serious stuff about good touch-bad touch and self-defense heirarchy with increasing severity. If someone corners you or you don’t like their touch:

  1. Say No. Tell them to leave you alone. (What if they don’t?)
  2. Shout (What if they cover my mouth?)
  3. Bite and run (What if I can’t bite?)
  4. Kick (Not tall enough!)
  5. Fingers in the eyes, nose and throat, and run (My fingers are not strong enough!)
  6. Pencil in the eyes, nose and throat, and run (What if I don’t have pencil?)
  7. Anything in the eyes, nose and throat, and run (Fine, I’ll try.)
  8. Never use self defense against children. (What if a big boy at school hurts me?)
  9. Complain to a teacher. (What if there is no teacher?)
  10. Shout…

And so we go again…

In the end I was afraid that I had converted my daughter into a walking landmine, ready to explode at the touch, and I had to calm her down, reminding her that most people are nice and generous. They don’t hurt people and usually take care of children. I am wondering whether I have done a good job.

Even after all these preparations, on the first day, after walking her to school, my husband went back there to check on her after an hour and would have gone again if it wasn’t against the rules. He reached the school half an hour early to bring her back home.

All these years, we had waited for the day to come when our daughter would go to school and we would have some quiet time. Now, all we can do is look at the clock slowly ticking away the time until she returns home and fills our day again with her constant chatter.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Returning Guests and Action Sequence

I wanted to write about this for past one month but either I didn’t have time or the will or energy… So, our area is in temperate zone, around one kilometre from the river–half a kilometre by flight… of course planes don’t fly for such short distance, but birds do and that’s why we often see a lot of water birds here. Also, there is a small farm–I mean, really tiny farm–across the road inside what once used to be a government park. Which means that we get lot of birds around harvest and tilling. And there are trees, quite a lot of them where bird’s nest.

In short, it is a bird watcher’s paradise.

Every year, during winters I and my daughter spend an incredible amount of time on the rooftop, taking in the sun, watching birds and feeding birds. Several birds visit the rooftop on a daily basis and others we see in the overly large trees closer to water and larger fields close by.

We have gray and black Crows, Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Peacocks, Rock Pigeons, Wood Doves, Orange-black Mynah, Yellow-brown Mynah, Pied Mynah, , RufousTreepie, Babblers, Barbets, Cuckoo, Parrots, Magpies, Sunbirds, Sparrows, Tailor Birds, Kingfishers, Egrets and Lapwigs as a usual fare.

We also get guest birds during winters: green pigeon, Indian gray hornbill, black Ibis, brahmini starlet, speckled finch, black and white finch and others unnamed but awaited birds that grace us with their presence every year.

Out of all these birds, Gray Hornbill and Green Pigeon are the most difficult to take pictures of because of their colour and reclusive behaviour. They choose the densest tree and the shortest flight route. They move from trees to tree, hardly ever crossing more than a few feet at a time. A bunch of them is nesting in a tree that is just far enough that my phone never captures their picture. The only way is to either befriend the neighbours who live close by (not my cup of tea) or climb to the highest branches of the 60-feet tree (What are you even suggesting?!). So I had send out a prayer to God to let me take a pic and they started coming to a tree closeby so I and my daughter can look at them properly.

I took a few pictures. See if you can spot them.

first pic: At least 5 hornbills in the tree along with starlets

second pic: what horn bill looks like

third pic: Black Ibis

Fourth pic: at least 8 green pigeon.

Let me know if you see anything in the first and last pic. πŸ˜„

Posted in My life

Fond Memories

I ran across

the empty school

to reach the bus stand

before the bus left for home

without me.

I was late.

I was eight

and scared

and too far from home.

I didn’t know the way back

or simply, how to go.

My heart ran faster than me.

My feet were jelly

as I wondered if I’d have to

spend the night at school.

I heard your voice

as you called my name

from the second floor corridor

where you were searching me.

All of a sudden,

the world righted itself on its axis.

You ran down, scared for me.

I don’t remember what you said,

just that I hugged you

and you hugged me.

I wasn’t scared anymore.

You were here–

my eleven-year-old hero.

Neither of us are much of huggers

but it has been too long

since you hugged me, big brother.

I miss you

and I hope you miss me too.

Posted in Life and After, Nature


It was just out of reach. I stretched on my feet, balancing against the counter but I just couldn’t reach the damned tin. It was a tease if I ever saw one. He knows well how I crave for them, and right now, I had the mother of all cravings.

I looked at him for help but he was smiling dazedly at his laptop. The only thing I hate more than lapdogs is laptops. They are invaders who encroach into other people’s territory taking away their jobs and rightful places. Right now, I wanted to throw this one on the ground and grind it into tiny pieces. It has made my John it’s slave until he he wouldn’t remember I was in the room trying to get his attention.

I looked at that tin once again. I have to get it somehow. Either I will reach it or it will have to come to me…Having lost the battle against the former idea, I decide to go for the latter.

So, I pick myself as gracefully as I can and walk towards John like the models do on TV, making demure noises. He looks around at me and smiles. Good! I have his attention now. I walk closer, circling him, rubbing my shoulders against him.

Finally, he gets the message. He moves that blasted laptop to the table, gives me a heart-melting smile and gets out of his chair.

Then he opens the tin of tuna. I run to my dish. Oh, how I love this man.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Harry meets Sally

The Hungarian horntail πŸ‰ guarding a clutch of eggs πŸ₯šπŸ₯šπŸ₯š, one of them golden, between her feet, throwing flames πŸ”₯ at Harry Potter πŸ‘¦πŸ» while he flies around on a broomstick 🧹 with a huge smile on his face.

My daughter is five-year-old and she is a Harry Potter fan. She is not old enough to read the book on her own but she has been eating it up in large doses since last year, thanks to her mother who has read the entire series 7-8 times already. She has reached the Goblet of Fire and Harry has just finished his first task with flying colours, and my daughter is celebrating with his portrait with the dragon. I think they both look handsome.

Or rather, Harry looks handsome. The dragon is pretty with her open blond hair.😊 

And then, there is the unicorn…

Posted in Life and After

Wherever, Whenever, Forever

You walk across the street

holding my hand tightly,

running slightly,

avoiding the crazed traffic

thinking about the next treat.

I follow as fast as I can go,

giggling all over the road,

chasing the wild plans

we cooked together, all along

knowing half of them

wouldn’t come to be.

Not sure

where you are steering me,

nor does it matter to me,

for my hand is in yours,

in this knowledge, I am secure,

that you are with me…

Wherever I go,

however far I go,

in my half-cooked plans

and crazy schemes

and far-fetched dreams,

you were…

you are…

you will be with me…

Wherever, whenever, forever!

Author’s Note: For Manpreet

(For no particular reason, missing my bestie yet again)

Posted in Random Thoughts

Happy Republic Day!

Happy Republic Day!

This is the day when India truly became independent because it was now that it adopted it’s new Constitution and shed the laws forced by British Government. It was the day when India declared itself as a Democratic, Secular, Socialist, Republic and hence created the foundation over which the new India rests now.

It is not perfect but it is mine! Like all of us, it is a work in progress. Let’s make our country great.

Posted in Life and After

Dark Alley

Moving in the traffic,

bodies pressed tight

in the train subway.

She returned home after

surviving another day.

Refusing to take from the good,

hungry in a world full of food,

wondering how she could get used

to the gnawing pain.

Her steps were slow

as she walked down the row

of alleys dark and dreary

in a blacked out haze.

A hand shot at her

out of a dark corner

and dragged her away.

The next day the priest

said last words on a grave,

“We lost a good man there.”

“Yeah, he was good,”

she smacked her lips,

looking in dark streets

for her next prey.

Posted in Life and After


“There isn’t enough yarn left for him and you know it well.”

“But they have requested an extension. Maybe you could stretch a bit farther, say another six months?”

“Six months? He doesn’t have enough for six hours.”

“Then add a bit? Weave in another yarn. Jake here can help.”

“And then what? Once this one runs out, they will request an extension again.”

“Well, he’s a good man. You can’t blame them for wanting him around longer.”

“And how many times are you going to add to the yarn? And for how many of them? You know the drill, don’t you? Every time it is time for someone, everyone gets down on their knees and starts asking for an extension.”

“Well, it’s their first time and I can’t deny that. I have an image to uphold, you know. And when I say an extension is in order, you do as I say. I am supposed to be the God around here.”

“Well! You are the boss!” The Fates gave in and motioned Jake, the angel, to help them weave in the additional yarn.

An old man woke out of coma in the hospital, coughing and wheezing, as his grandchildren began shouting in celebration.

Posted in Random Thoughts

I hate rain!

Raindrop splashes

On my face

Running off makeup

That I hide myself behind–

Eyelashes thin,

Patchy skin,

Wrinkled eyes,

Lips dried,

Cheeks hollowed,

Darkening shadows,

Age creeping with all its might.

With brushes I fight

The unforgiving world

That expects perfection

In nails and shoes

And hair dos.

I wish I didn’t have to.

I wish I could just stand in rain;

So droplets would fall on face;

And let the facade slide.