Posted in Love

The Exile

The forest was full of early morning noises as Rishi Valmiki walked to the river for a bath before the daily Yajna. His hair, tied in a bun above his head, was white with the experiences of a life full of sin and, later, hard penance. His beard was long enough to trip him, but his agility belied his advanced years. A sound of someone tripping alerts him of a presence—not an animal, for sure.

He squared his shoulders, expecting a Danava or a Rakshasa. He called out, “Who goes there? Show yourself.”

“I am Sita, Sir.” A petite woman appeared around the thick trunk of an ancient Banyan tree. In the pre-dawn light, he could see that her clothes were torn in places. She had angry red bruises on her bare arms and face, probably from stumbling around in the forest all night. She seemed several months pregnant.

Concern filled his voice now, “Dear lady, how come you are alone in this forest full of wild animals, and bare-handed? Are you lost?”

“Exiled would be a better word.”

“Exiled? And your crime?”

“I have not been informed of the crime, just the punishment,” she said dejectedly.

“You seem to have a very unjust king!”

“Ironically, he is the best king the world ever saw,” she chuckled without humor.

That’s when the pieces fell together. “Are you the famous Queen Sita, the wife of King Rama Chandra?”

When Sita answered, her voice was hoarse, “I was that a lifetime ago. Or was that only yesterday? Time loses its significance when you are abandoned by the man you love. Now, I am just Sita.”

He was confused. It was all so different from what he had heard about the king—he was the perfect king revered and loved by his subjects, who keeps their will before his own; the perfect brother who handed over his rightful kingdom to his step-brother without batting an eyelid; the perfect son who had gone to fourteen years of exile to keep his father’s word to his step-mother. And when King Ravana had abducted Sita from the forest, he had collected small wild tribes, crossed the sea and fought the most powerful king of all times to retrieve his wife—the perfect husband…

He had always been in awe of that man.

Sita continued, “Last evening, his younger brother left me in the forest on his orders. While leaving, he’d hinted that Rama was following the will of his subjects who are against keeping a woman who had ‘lived with another’. Even though, after winning me back, he had made me walk on flames as a proof of my purity, it wasn’t proof enough for his beloved subjects. And, of course, he wouldn’t give up his beloved kingdom for me as I had once done for him.” The words left a bitter taste in her mouth.

He chose his words carefully now, “Do you wish to go to your father, King Janaka of Mithila?”

“My father? Who hasn’t checked on me since I returned from a fourteen-years exile? He probably believes I eloped willingly, like everyone else,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

He was completely at loss now. But he couldn’t leave the lonely woman on her own—pregnant and unable to defend herself, would be an easy target for hungry animals. Moreover, the forest was infested by Danavas and Rakshasas. God only knows what they would do to a woman who looked so beautiful, even in rags. 

He made a final effort. “Would you like to return to King Rama and plead your case? I assure you I can get you an audience with him. He will not deny the request of a Rishi.”

“Thank you! But I will not plead mercy in front of someone who punishes a victim of crime and her unborn child. Anyway, he would have granted me an audience if he had the courage to face me. He knows well that he’s wrong but did it anyway. He may forgive me, but I will not forgive him.

I was a princess, brought up in luxury, when I married him, but when he was exiled, I chose to accompany him to the forest. There were days, we did not have a roof over our heads. To make him happy, I picked fruits and vegetables in the forest, cooked meals, spun cloth, walked until my feet hurt and worked until I was sore all over, only to end up sleeping on the forest floor like a common woman. For fourteen years…

When Ravana abducted me, he had offered to marry me. I could have led a life of luxury in his castle, but I refused him and chose to live in a cottage like my Rama. And this is how he repays me?”

The fire in her eyes now turned to steel. “I’d rather stay in the forest like I’ve done it for fourteen years. My child needs no father.”

There was only one way to go from there, “Would you like to live in my humble ashram? I answer to no king.”

She gave a little smile, full of gratitude, “Only if you promise to raise my child as a fearless warrior and a better man.”

Author’s note: This story is about an unfortunate day in Ramayana, a revered epic in Sanskrit. It is said that King Rama Chandra grieved for his wife and never remarried. Many years later, his massive army was intercepted and easily defeated by two little boys in the forest. When Rama came to war, Sita finally stepped in and handed over the sons he never knew. However, she declined to return with him.

Photo by Ammpryt ART

Posted in Life and After

Mushroom Day

I had a good yield. Now, if only I could spot the right one.

This was the problem with magic mushrooms. They could camouflage as other mushrooms and spotting them would take a real witch–one that I clearly wasn’t.

So I had gone around the forest feeling around, trying to spot magic that wasn’t moving, and plucked any mushroom in the vicinity. The basket was now humming with magic, even though I wasn’t sure which one was ‘it’.

Anyway, it was essential that I got the recipe ready and right, for I was close to my 39th birthday, a day every witch dreaded…the day we started turning into old hags if left unattended. The recipe was fairly simple: Cook the Batwings and powdered Crow’s toenail with White Wine in a Dragon scale cauldron on the full moon night from Moonrise till Moonset. At moonset, pour in a Deer skull, sprinkle the magic mushroom, wait until it turns pink, and drink.

Everything else was easily available on The magic mushroom, however, had to be freshly picked by the witch herself, meaning me…

So, even by moonset, my cauldron ready and bubbling, I hadn’t spotted the correct mushroom out of my lot and decided to go with Plan B–poured the Wine in 17 deer skulls I had ordered from WitchSupplies (my apologies to any animal lovers, but my only other option was to call in another witch for help and admit I wasn’t a witch enough.)

Then I sprinkled one mushroom in each Wine. But they ALL turned pink!

Now I had only one option left. I drank ALL of them! It didn’t work, but if nothing else, it made me a very happily drunk witch for a week.

Now, since I am turning into an old hag anyway, I’m planning to use an abridged version of this recipe (white wine with magic mushrooms) every full moon at the same scale.

Any one else who’s game to take a shot?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After



She was returning from the river after a bath when the news reached her–her son had returned…

Her youngest and favourite with curly hair and almond eyes…

The one every one called a hero, giving him dreams taller than his stature in the society…

The one who had run away long back to become an actor and had never written back…

The one she and his father had cried for many years and presumed dead long back…

He was back and waiting for her at home.

The neighbour, who had run all the way to give her the news, had said that he was too quiet, with a drawn face and deep shadows beneath his eyes, a skeleton of the man he once was; that he seemed to have left his will, dreams, confidence behind in Mumbai–the city of dreams; that it might take her months, may be years, to get ‘him’ back.

But at least he had returned.

She ran all the way home, panting, for she was too old for running, out of breath and out of patience, dying to see once again the apple of her eyes; planning on the way…

His favourite food, wondering if he’d still eat out of her hands as he always did..

If the girl next door would make a pretty pair…

If he was still single…

If they could buy a shop for him to run or whatever he would want to do next…

Finally, he had come home. She would ensure he is happy again…

She reached home to find her husband trying to break down the door. A packet of jalebis, her son’s favourite, spilled on the floor. The neighbour’s kid, who managed to reach the ventilator fell from his perch. He was mumbling about a rope and a fan before he fainted.

Free photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Scholar

The lockdown has brought an array of unknown neighbours to the fore. This guy is only one who comes without expectations.

This guy is the quietest I have ever seen. I never saw him with another Barbet. Sometimes, I wonder if he’s a bachelor by choice.

The serenity of his ways, the way he tinkers around the wood quietly for hours, the lost-in-thought look, the marks of sleeping with glasses on, and the salt-and-pepper feather on his face are inspiring.

Often, he knocks on my windows, never expecting a reply. He just sits on the tree quietly, looking away beyond the horizon, like a Scholar thinking of ways to improve the world. I can almost hear the cogs of his brain whirring frantically to solve world’s greatest concerns, like global warming and third world war, or may be the best way to lure out wood lice.

Will let you know once he’s ready to talk…

Posted in Nature

The Avenger: How far would you go for lost love?

A couple of months back, I wrote about one of my Neighbours–the Avenger–a lapwing the size of a pigeon attacking our local queen, Athena the Eagle, for killing his mate. The drama still continues.

The day before yesterday, I woke up at the crack of dawn, at the shrill cries (more like war cries) of a lapwing. Athena was sitting on a roof railing looking for her next prey as she does everyday. This wee birdy was attacking Athena over and over. She had to rush for cover in the nearby trees to save herself. The lapwing continued until it was too tired to fly.

It felt surreal. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have declared it a lie.

Last time I questioned if a bird can hold a grudge. Now I wonder how long? It had been more than a couple of months.

And if this is a different lapwing, whose mate was probably eaten (at least not that day, considering Athena was out for a hunt), is it normal for lapwings to avenge their dead or die trying?

I checked on Google on any information about behaviour of lapwings around their dead mates and enemies. The information was always very impersonal. Their height, weight, mating rituals, but nothing about dying for love.

What about other birds?

I know that Crows mate for life. Do they grieve for their soul mates?

It is said that Rishi Valmiki, the man who wrote Ramayana (one of the most revered epics in India) spoke his first verse when he saw the grief of a swan losing his mate to a poacher–that the cries of pain over the loss, and eventual death of the other swan because of heartbreak, wrung his heart and the verses spill over his lips. So far, I had thought of it as just another myth…but what if…

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Dragon

This lockdown has acquainted us with a lot of neighbours. Some of them have moved in, against government measures.

One of them is a Dragon with a forked tail and ability to change colours. What’s worse, she moved in with her entire family!

Meet Hariya, our resident dragon. She has a forked tail and ability to change colour from a soft pink to dark patchy commando-style grey in a flash.

Hariya in a soft pinkish grey girly look

Hariya in a soft pinkish grey girly look


Hariya in her commando assassin dress

Hariya in her commando assassin dress

Recently, when I saw several new additions to her family, I asked her to begin paying her share of rent. But then, I saw Hariya in action preying on larger insects (moths, grasshoppers, winged ants) and I realised the potential and made a deal with her.

Once she grows up to her optimal size, (Anybody knows what is optimal size of a dragon?) I can rent her out for hunting expeditions–a new form of danger sports. She can fly ahead as a scout (I hope she grows wings once she reaches her optimal size), catch animals for the people and roast them with the flames (I hope she develops that handy quality once she grows to her optimal size).

I know its a lot to hope for…

But, if done, it will be a hit for those seeking adventure. Imagine the demand! It can provide employment to her entire family, so that they can buy a house and not scrounge around for food…at least not their own food…

Any one game for it?

My daughter got inspired by the idea and built her statue for marketing once she reaches…

Posted in My life

Claws: Update

Lately, I wrote about the stringent diet I began last week: Claws.

Just wanted to let you know that I have managed to tame the lions now.

The entire Pride has shrunk to the size of mice thanks to week-long starvation. They still frequently scratch my stomach but I drown them in water and milk and protein shake to tell them who’s the boss.

Though, I still don’t see any weight loss…Fingers crossed!

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Tunnel



Shadows are lengthening every minute and it is time to make a decision.

The entrance of the tunnel is hidden beneath the forest floor, visible only in the front. The darkness inside is complete, as if no light ever penetrates those open gates. Has the other end caved in, shutting off any rays of light? Is there another end at all?

Moss and fern cover each inch of the penetrable surface–the stone walls, the sides of the walkway, the spaces between rocks on the walkway…The air around the place reeks of dead things. The barks of the trees around the place has been stripped with claws–a clear warning for anyone who ventures too close.

But still the walkway holds grass that someone crushed underfoot a few minutes ahead of me. Could it be she? With her group of bird-brain bounty hunters? Could even they be foolish enough to enter this tunnel–a place clearly marked by death? How could they completely ignore the local stories? That this tunnel was the door to afterlife… That no one who entered the place had ever returned to the world of living…

Her favourite shoe marks adorns the wet mud. Why would she risk it all? She has enough inheritance to last her four lifetimes…but then this is what she is and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

The sun is behind the trees now. Either I enter or turn back right away. There is no point waiting outside till the morning, for no one knows what lurks in the tunnel. If facing a deadly foe, I would rather be awake. On my skin, I can feel its cold stare measuring me, giving me goosebumps.

Do I enter after ‘her’?

Can I ever leave her behind?

With answer, I braced myself and stepped inside.

Photo by Anna Gru on Unsplash

Posted in My life


Lions are clawing me inside out!

Okay, I am on a diet–a high protein, low carb, no fat diet–a healthy diet that involves loads of milk, protein shake, fruits and nuts. What it lacks is everything I love–Breads of all kinds, rice, pasta, noodles, patties, pastries, even porridge! Chapattis (Indian bread) with veggies and pulses once a day are its saving grace. You see, I am a foody with a very low hunger threshold. I eat every three hours and I love variety in food. Hence most of my day is spent creating or planning that variety. So, dieting is beyond me.

But my husband could see my love for food was creating tires around my waist, and now these car tires were aspiring to become truck tires soon. Worse part, I was unwell with joint pain and body ache, thanks to the fast reduction and, then, adoption of weight in the past one year, thanks to Hypo-Thyroid and it’s medication’s side-effect. So my husband finally put his foot down.

11th July was the first day of the torture. My diet has been split in 3-hour schedule with smaller portions that provide me with only what I need, which means no fat, low carbs. I could feel lions clawing me inside out–I guess, they had always lived there, eating my food. Now with the famine, they are reminding me of their existence. I was techy, angry and on the verge of crying all day. But nothing would move my stone-hearted husband to give a hungry wife a few morsels of bread (with butter and jam).

Next day, the clawing had mellowed down slightly, at least I wasn’t crying. Or may be, I was too busy with laundry and other household duties to notice them too closely. I survived.

Today has dawned with the old clawing back. While I work on my computer, I can feel the desperation in this clawing. I think they know they are going to die of starvation soon. I hope this entire pride dies soon, for this diet is here to stay for a while.

Please pray for my safe return…

Colin McQueen, earlier you had talked about the hazards of running. I will take that any day as compared to this.

Free photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Posted in Blogging

Woohoooo! 200 followers!

I just found out that I have 200 WP followers and it means the world to me. These people aren’t my family. But they ready stories and liked them enough to give me a second chance! Thank you, All of you, for that!

My stories have a comment section. If you feel that the story could have been better, let me know that. This blog is my Sandbox. I am open to suggestions as I play with words.

Thank you, once again. Here are some sweets for dessert! 🍧🍨🍦🍩🍫🍬🍭🍮