Posted in Random Thoughts

To New Beginnings…Yeah, Right…

Happy New Year, Readers and Co-blogggers!

If you are wondering why I am late by five days in wishing you all, rest assured I wasn’t drunk or nursing a hangover or dealing with an LSD side-effect. I was busy vacationing…

Of course, vacation now means a car trip from my place to my parent’s place, and binge watching cartoon movies and Harry Potter on TV. Gone are the days when people went to beach for sunbathing or to hills for watching snowfall. Earth’s smallest organism has ensured that we are all inside our pigeon holes, never daring to poke our heads out.

Well, I made new year resolutions: rising early and daily exercise, which I have already broken on the first day. It is a norm, of course. I have made that resolution every 31st December night for the last 19 years and broken it the next day. It is sort-of a private joke now.

I remember my first time clearly. I slept through it, of course. After five months, when my parents could clearly see that I needed help waking up, they voluteered. They woke me and my elder brother up on a cool morning in May. It was 5 am. We walked sleepily with them to the closest park and sat down. When they forced us to walk around, we slouched for a few metres and sat down again. My parents left us there and began walking along the diametre of the park.

My brother, with his charming and respectable personality, was in a traditional kurta-pajama that day. He was sitting on a bench and I was down on the grass in a traditional salwar suit. Not sure what inspired him. My brother began preaching me in pure traditional Hindi about ‘Nidra Devi‘ (the godess of sleep), which was a beautiful construct of his overactive imagination. Like a true Swami, he preached me that sleep was a way to being close to God. I sat at his feet with my hands joined like a true follower, crying out intermittently in a loud voice, “Swami ji satya kehte h. Swami ji amar rahe.” (“The Great Preacher says the truth! Long live, Great Preacher!”) Together we sang a bhajan in praise of this newly-discovered goddess. His language and my acting was so impressive that people began to come close to hear what the wise man had to say. By the time, my parents had done two rounds of that park (around 1 km), we had shamed them enough never to bring us along again.

I tried again some years later when I had joined office gym, but that meant bathing and breakfasting in office. After having heavy breakfast (exercise makes you hungry) with a bunch of friends (laughter helps gain weight), I gained even more weight in that month. So I stopped.

Well, now the first resolution is broken, I made new New Year Resolutions: I will try to remember when to take medicine; I will try to eat healthier, if not less; I will try to spend less time on laptop and more with real people…Of course, the promises were broken the same morning when I forgot to take my calcium tablets, ate gajar ka halwa and potato sandwiches for breakfast while watching a movie on my laptop.

I am unsure if I should make more resolutions or ‘re-resolute’ myself to keep these old ones.

What do you say?

Did you make/break any new year resolution too?

Posted in Random Thoughts

Where Do Lost Peanuts Go

I had long wondered why my family had the tradition of eating peanuts on long winter nights while sitting on the bed, preferably, inside the quilt. It is certainly warm but considering that peanut shells and their inner pink foils tend to stick to the quilt cover until washed, and makes them look dirty and forces us to wash them more frequently, it seemed like a lot of work for a little bit of warmth.

Hence, I tried to break out of the age-old tradition and eat peanuts at a table yesterday. I began to break open the shells using my fingers. That’s when it happened…

As soon as I would turn my head to talk to my daughter, who talks non-stop, peanuts would jump out of my fingers, land on floor and dive for cover. I would look around, meaning to find the lost bounty, to wash and eat it anyway. But to no avail…

The peanuts would just vanish in thin air. Frustrated at defeat and adamant on finding them anyhow, I moved the furniture and everything within three feet radius, even sweeped the floor using a broom so that, at least, we won’t step on them. But somehow, they managed to avoid me.

That’s when I realised why we eat them on the bed and inside a quilt–to trap them…

That’s what I am doing tomorrow too–I will wash the quilt covers later!

Posted in Random Thoughts

Accidents

Maybe they had been a little rash

and stopped a little too late.

Do we throw away people with driving accidents?


A bad choice of date,

a rape,

an indulgence in drugs with shared needles

at an age when life seems too short

to go slow and think twice,

a blood transfusion,

a used needle,

isn’t it all an accident too?


AIDS patients are victims,

not criminals.

Before you judge,

remember, you could be one too…

Posted in Random Thoughts

World AIDS Day

As a lot of you would know, today is World AIDS day. It is unfortunate how we have to create a day to spread awareness about a disease.

Out of all diseases, AIDS is the most unfortunate because of the stigma associated with it. A COVID patient, at least, recieves government aid, society’s sympathy and family’s emotional support but an AIDS patient, at least in India, is thrown out of the house for being infidile and bringing shame to family–as if those not infected have not been doing exactly the same things. AIDS patients are simply unfortunate to have received the disease that someone else had either hidden or carried unknowingly.

Shabana Azmi was India’s first actress to openly support the cause and come on television and say in a public service ad, “Chhoone se AIDS nahi failta.” (Touching doesnot spread AIDS.) That someone had to say that out loud on national television in an ad that was repeated everyday speaks volumes about how AIDS patients were treated then. Unfortunately, they are still treated the same way.

Virginity before marriage is the first demand for social acceptance in India. AIDS shatters that mirage. If an average Indian meets an AIDS patient, they jump to conclusions regarding their character without accepting that it could have been a mistake, true love, or simply blood transfusion or infected needle.

When Phir Milenge, a movie on AIDS with big starcast, was relesed in India in 2004, it only recieved critical acclaim, not box office success. People were afraid to be seen outside the movie hall that showed such a movie.

Even with laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person with AIDS, it is sad how AIDS patients are still treated the same way. It doesn’t just kill them, it kills their wish to live.

Let’s remember, we are all humans who err. Let’s be humane…

Posted in Random Thoughts, Twisted Tales

Pre-judice

Recently, my daughter asked me to check whether it was really Johney Flynn 👦 who drowned the cat 🐈(Ding-Dong-Bell-Pussy-in-the-well fame). All of a sudden, I started wondering how we can be sure of certain facts told in Nursery Rhymes.

I mean, the cat 🐈 could certainly not tell who threw her in the well and this Johney Flynn 👦 doesnot seem like a I-cannot-tell-a-lie kind of person. So, it is simply Tommy Stout’s word against his. Yet, through the centuries of this rhyme’s existence (first recorded in 1580 AD), we continue to blame him for being ‘a naughty boy who drowned a poor pussy cat’. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was bullied as a cat drowner and grew up to be an emotionally defunct serial-cat-murderer, seeking revenge for the unjustified blame.

Similarly, people speak of Humpty Dumpty 🥚 as a careless egg who sat on a wall and fell. Nobody cared to explain why king’s horses 🐎 and men 👮 were involved in trying to put it together. Was he a kin of the king? Was he a victim of a conspiracy? Did someone push him off the wall?

And what about Jack and Gill 👫? How did they fall? How can we merrily sing about someone breaking their head 🤕?

All these questions have taken away my faith from all the nursery rhymes I have ever read. I fear a conspiracy behind every story now. I am scared someday someone will tell me that Santa Claus 🎅 doesnot exist…

Posted in Random Thoughts

Dressed Up To The Nines

I really had to share this. Please read the entire series.

Sammi Cox

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


This is the seventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.


‘So what you been doing for two hundred and fifty years?’ Damon asked his brother.

Crispin shrugged. ‘You know…stuff.’

‘What sort of stuff?’

‘You know,’ Crispin repeated. ‘Same old, same old.’

Damon was about to sigh, when he realised he wasn’t particularly interested in hearing what Crispin had spent the last two and half centuries doing. No doubt it was nefarious. No doubt some of it at least, was criminal.

They fell once more into silence, though it could hardly be described as companionable. Yet it wasn’t too long before the sound of rattling could be heard somewhere amongst the gravestone to their right.

Damon halted and peered into the gloom and a moment later the cause of the noise became apparent. ‘Oh no,’ Damon whispered.

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Posted in Random Thoughts

Recycling Stories

Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle is the rage of the day. It is fashionable to paint stained T-shirts, cut old socks into mittens and carry the old, ‘vintage’ bag your grandmother received on her wedding day while sporting the latest shoes (that needed a home loan to buy) to eat out in restaurants that were once aeroplanes. I am supporter of recycling old stuff to save the environment.

But my daughter has taken the ‘Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle’ phrase to another level. I had once shared her story where Lambert, the Sheepish Lion was repurposed to be Lamabert, Hippoish Hippo.

After creating several versions of the story (Lambert, The Sheepish Crocodile, Lambert: The Wolfish Lion, Lambert: The Sheepish Hippo), she stopped and I sighed with relief. I am not the one for plagiarism. Now, she has taken a similar approach for a Hindi kids song, “Aaj Mangalwar h“.

Original plot: A mouse gets ill on a Tuesday and goes to doctor. The doctor gives him injection and he cries in pain, “Ooi, Ooi, Ooi”.

First day she asked me to replace the story with another animal, I got creative, using a Giraffe, I built a story where Giraffe, being too tall, could not find shelter on a rainy day and fell ill. His mom took him to the doctor. The doctor tried injection but it broke. So, he gave him a medicine and Giraffe became well.

Big mistake! Now my daughter asks me to build stories around the same plot, using:

  • Different animals: Rats, Rabbits, Giraffe, Lion, Sloth, Elephant, Beaver, Crocodile, Fish, Swan…∞ (infinity)
  • Different relations: Mom ill, Baby ill, Father ill, Sibling ill…∞
  • Different diseases: Fever, runny nose, runny stomach…∞
  • Different causes for the diseases: Bad weather, playing in rain, over eating, stomach infection, swimming too long…∞
  • Doctors of different species
  • Different forms of medication

The idea is superb since the combinations are endless but it is a blow to my creativity.

Once, when I retaliated and declined to honour the request for these stories, my daughter decided to humour me by telling me the stories herself. In one of them, she gave 100 injections to a lizard baby.

I feel for the lizard baby and wonder if she survived the wrongful detainment and the horrific treatment. Nobody deserves that, even in imagination. As the diseases and their treatments become more graphic, I am praying this fetish passes soon before we get a notice from PETA…

Posted in Random Thoughts

Little Things | Shaily Agrawal

Hey All! My piece was published on Whispers and Echoes eMagazine.

Whispers and Echoes

I had always been like that–

Building shrines

For dead butterflies,

And visiting

With the freshest flowers.

You had been like that too,

Loving me for little things,

Until you grew up

And I didn’t.


Shaily Agrawal is a small-town Indian and a working mother. Her skewed perspective is apparent through her stories on her blog: https://fishinthetrees.home.blog/ You can read her first short story collection, The Forest Bed on Amazon Kindle.

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Posted in Random Thoughts

Am I Evil?

Last night around 11, we heard a hair-raising screach of car tyres in the narrow lane outside my house, followed by a loud thud. We ran towards the windows facing the main road. The car had ended against the electric pole across the road.

My first thought was, “Is that a learner who pushed the accelerator too hard? Is he even an adult?”

Smell of burnt tyres filled the air and a whiff of smoke rose from the car front. No one stirred out. The next thought was, “Is he dead?”

As I itched to run out and help them, the family of the car’s passenger (who live at the end of the long lane) ran into the scene. The shouting that ensued confirmed my worst fear–the driver and co-passenger had been drinking in the car. My will to help died right away.

That pole could have been me or my child!

Of course, they have the right to risk their own lives–they can hang themselves from a fan if they want. They don’t have the right over my family though.

The policeman in the area alerted the driver to remove the bottles of alcohol and go home before the police car arrived and checked him for a breath analyzer test. The owner will get his insurance money and buy a new car soon for a repeat performance. Apparently, he’s not new to all this and this drunk driving will go on until someone dies. I hope it is him.

Does that make me evil?

Posted in Random Thoughts

Lantern: Hope

Storm

rocks my

paper ship–

drenched, not drowned–

ever.


Author’s note: Lantern is a type of descriptive poetry from Japan that follows the syllable structure of one, two, three, four and one syllables per line to shape a lantern when the words are centered to middle.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Little Treasures

One of my favourite writers, Pete Johnson from Beetley, recently wrote about his tin box and the memories within it.

It reminded me of my own. My treasured tin box holds:

  • Old coins from my late grandmother (1 paisa worth around 10,000th part of a pound, 3 paisa and 5 paisa) that went out of circulation before I was born and have no materay value;
  • A couple of leaves that were birthday gifts by friends with “Happy Birthday, Shaily” and “We Miss You!” written on them in red paint, gifted by two of my friends who were in a village with no access to birthday cards at the time;
  • Beads of a broken bracelet from my oldest friend;
  • The dollar my brother gave me when he returned from Texas;
  • The 1″ X 1″ Philips music player that my parents gave me as a reward for excelling in my MBA first semester (doesnot work anymore, but…);
  • My pen drive that holds my MBA research project (doesnot work anymore, but…);
  • A pair of beloved, well-used and, now, broken earrings that one of my best friends gifted me on my birthday, right before he got down on one knee to tell me that he loves me;
  • A single earring (well used and now deviod of its partner) sent by mail by the same person two years later on our first Valentine’s day apart; and
  • Five capsules, each one stuffed with a miniscule handwritten notes, saying “I love you” from you-know-who on the same day.

Some treasures I am unable to fit inside a tin box.

  • A couple of birthday post cards from Manpreet, my bestie, that have handmade paintings with 100+ “I LOVE YOU” hidden inside the design
  • My copy of Three Men in a Boat that I read too often to bother hide it inside a tin box, only to pull it out the next day
  • The invitation card of my marriage to you-know-who
  • Our daughter’s countless pictures

All of these treasures, except the coins, were acquired after I became an adult. What, do you think, does that say about me?

Do you have any treasure boxes of your own?

Posted in My life, Random Thoughts

Social Distancing

Lately, I went off the social grid for a couple of weeks due to the new mobile I had bought.

I am scared of new technology and keep each of my phone until it almost dies. The last one was with me for 4 years and was a birthday gift from my husband. After four years of constant nagging from my over-indulgent husband, I agreed to let it go. It was still in a good shape. The only item I ever had to replace was the charging cord. The adapter was still good as new. I wouldn’t have given it up but the carrot my husband had hung in front of me was the much-superior camera quality. So, finally I took the bait.

Now, I have the new phone, but am scared to touch any button for the fear of triggering… something… Not sure what that something is but the fear of the unknown evil far outweighs the excitement of discovering something new. Hence, I haven’t downloaded the Whatsapp and WordPress applications.

Initially, it was weird to have nothing to do. I thought it was the end of the world. How would I exist without Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram…how would I connect with my friends and family? How would I live without checking WordPress comments every free minute I had…

Well, I survived.

Here I am–a new person who has more time in her hands than ever. I have painted, watched movies, created storage boxes for toys, mended clothes, resized old dresses, taken active interest in daughter’s home education…anything to kill time! I even need less sleep, I get up erlier than usual and don’t feel loopy all day.

And I made real phone calls to people–not just texting on Whatsapp but actually dialing the number, waiting for them to pick up while listening to the caller’s tune and talking to real people who mean something in my life! And I visited relatives who live in the same city–real people in flesh.

I know! Weird…

Posted in Random Thoughts

New Phone Fiasco

Hi All,

I’m getting a new phone tomorrow and will not be able to connect with you until I have figured out the WordPress app on it.

There will also be other things to deal with, like apps and security details for office, and moving pictures (2000 of them) and videos. And I’ll have to deal with my daughter’s excitement who will ensure to get one thousands pics clicked by the phone and with the phone. And then, she’ll demand to figure out You Tube first…because that’s next to breathing…

I hope to get sorted by this weekend. So, if I don’t reply your comments, you know why. 😁

Posted in Random Thoughts

To Slay A Dragon

A tale worth telling…

Tiny Tales

No sword or arrow or poison could slay the dragon. It came like a storm from the north, rushing on the wind and raining fire. The land turned to ash under its breath, and when the village had emptied, the dragon dug out a nest with razor claws and draped its scaly coils over the charred remains.

A field of crude tents now spread along the edge of the nearest city, and from that city, perched between the forest and sea, men waged war with the dragon.

The sun was spreading a dark shadow at the forest’s feet when soldiers and archers came through the trees, bloodied and blackened, hauling carts of the dead behind them. Ahna stood among the tents, a hand resting on her swelling stomach, watching them come.

Roderick, a tall man with a sword and an army and a hall of stone, led them. He stopped…

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