[Short Story] Durga

“I AM IN TROUBLE. SENDING MY GPS LOCATION” screamed the message in Mr. Sharma’s cell phone. When a father receives such a message from his daughter, calling it as worst nightmare would be an understatement. Mr. Sharma felt fear punch him in his stomach. It then took form of fury.

No body harms my daughter! I will kill them! With these words running through his mind, he took his car and sped away following the GPS.

Fear and fury were waging a battle in his mind. Worst possible scenarios flashed before his eyes.

NO! NO! NO!

He screamed and tried to shake it off. He punched hard on the accelerator. His car zoomed wildly on the busy city road.

Soon he entered a secluded area. There were no street lights. It was surrounded with tall huge trees on both side of dirt road. There was an eerie silence.

Just then he saw a light coming towards him from far end of the road. As it neared he realized that they were headlights of a car. The car was coming with full speed.

Mr. Sharma spotted three girls in the car that sped past him. On instinct, he took a U turn and followed the car. The car slowed down and halted. The three girls got out and came running towards him. He recognized his daughter and her two friends.

Relief washed over Mr.Sharma as he noticed that apart from few minor bruises they were in good condition.

The three girls got into his car and screamed in unison, “GO! Let’s go!”

“But Durga tell me what happened?”

“I’ll explain later. We must get away from here as soon as possible!” begged Durga.

Once they reached home, Durga narrated her story:

“The regular cab driver was on leave today. The new driver didn’t seem right to me when I entered his cab. His cab reeked of cigarette and alcohol.

I was keeping a close watch on his every move, while pretending to be engrossed in my phone listening music.

He lit a cigarette, made some phone calls and took a wrong turn. I pretended not to notice but that’s when I sent the distress message to you, Laxmi & Saraswati.

His friend got into the cab. That’s when I knew I was in for some deep trouble. Though I was trembling with fear, I tried my best to hide my fear.

The driver stopped the car near the woods and opened the door near me. He snatched my dupatta. I took out my deodorant and sprayed at his eyes. Since the spray was highly inflammable, his face caught fire because of the cigarette in his mouth. While he was trying to put off the fire, I kicked him at his groin. He simply collapsed to the ground, squirming with agony.

I picked up the cigarette lighter which had fallen from his pocket and ran away. His friend chased me. He grabbed my arm. I turned and  sprayed my deodorant into his eyes, while holding the lit lighter. It acted like a mini flamethrower. I escaped from his hold.

As I ran, I noticed two more men had joined the driver and his friend. I slipped on loose gravel and fell. I thought now there was no escape. But suddenly I saw a dupatta popping from behind them. They were being strangulated by the dupatta!”

“That was us!” interjected Laxmi. “We were walking towards bus stop when we got your message. Since there were no auto we ran towards your location as fast as we could. I am glad we reached in time. Since you were in trouble, we gathered all our available weapons and attacked!”

“Weapons?” Mr. Sharma was astounded.

“Dupatta, pins, pepper sprays, keys, pens, any pointed objects we found in our handbags” explained Saraswati.

“We poked, we kicked, we sprayed, we screamed, we fought!”

“Though we were no match for their muscle power, we managed to tackle them using our wit” smiled Durga.

“Yeah! Durga’s mini flamethrower had blinded the driver and his friend. The other two suffered from pepper spray” said Saraswati.

“While they were squirming with pain we got into the cab and drove fast. We then met you on the way, uncle” smiled Laxmi.

“I am so proud of you three! You are so brave! I am glad you blinded that driver and his friend! They won’t set their dirty eyes on any girl now” said teary eyed Mr. Sharma.

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[Short Story] Lakshmi

“Lakshmi! What are you doing here? It has been such a long time!” beamed Gopal, looking at his ex-wife.

“Gopal! I am surprised to see you here…”

Before, Lakshmi could finish her sentence, Gopal cut her off.

“You see that boy standing there. That is my son, Ram. He did his MBA and now he is the manager here. He has worked hard and has a very good income. He has purchased a 2BHK flat in Andheri and has a car” spoke Gopal with pride.

“I am happy for your son” smiled Lakshmi.

“He is my son after all. So, how are your daughters doing?” asked Gopal looking at his son with pride.

Lakshmi noted the words “your daughters”. Of course he never considered them as his daughters, thought Lakshmi. Memories came rushing back at her. He wanted a son. He was upset when Bhagya was born. Girls are a huge burden, he would say.  He badly wanted a son the second time.

When the nurse told him, that he had fathered twin girls, he was devastated. He refused to even look at his daughters. Lakshmi knew he was upset. She thought he would get over it and come back to take her home.

He never came. Instead, she received a divorce letter. Her father tried to convince Gopal. But he wouldn’t listen.  Lakshmi’s father slipped into depression and soon suffered massive heart attack. Her father’s demise shattered her. She had lost her mother when she was little. She didn’t have any siblings. She felt distraught. She had three little girls to look after.

She turned her despair into a burning desire to succeed. She wanted to give her daughters good education and raise them as responsible individuals. She partnered with her friend Anita and started selling sarees. Since her daughters were little, she couldn’t go out much, so she handled all book keeping stuff of the business while Anita did most of the outdoor work. To support her income Lakshmi started stitching saree blouses.

“Papa! I was looking for you. I want you to meet my boss” Ram came near them.

Lakshmi came out of her reverie. She watched Ram taking Gopal with him towards his boss.

“Ma’am, meet my father, Mr. Gopal, and Papa, meet our CEO, Miss Bhagya Lakshmi” Ram pointed to a tall dark girl standing next to him.

Bhagya was stunned as she recognized her father. She quickly regained her composure and smiled. In cold business like voice, she said, “Nice to see you Mr. Gopal. Thank you for attending our 5th Anniversary celebration.” Gopal was too shocked to utter a response.

“Our managing directors, Jaya Lakshmi and Vijaya Lakhmi are currently in London to finalize a deal. They would have been happy to meet you Mr. Gopal” smiled Bhagya and walked away.

Ram spoke excitedly, “Papa, Shree Lakshmi Textiles is going global! Jaya ma’am and Vijaya ma’am have been working hard to take the business to the next level.”

“Are Jaya and Vijaya twin sisters of Bhagya?” mumbled Gopal.

“Yes! But how did you know?” asked Ram.

Gopal didn’t utter a word. He was in state of disbelief.

“I have some work to finish. You can have some refreshments at the canteen. I’ll be back in few minutes” Saying so, Ram walked away.

“You asked what my daughters were doing” said Lakshmi.

Gopal jumped. He turned around and saw Lakshmi smiling at him.

“I think your son answered that question. Anyway, I always wanted to thank you!” said Lakshmi.

Gopal was perplexed. “Me? Why?”

“For abandoning us. If you wouldn’t have left us we would never have achieved all this. While you saw my girls as a burden I saw them as Goddesses of prosperity.” Saying so, Lakshmi walked away, her head held high.

 

[Short Story] Saraswati

The colorful books of her brother always fascinated little Saraswati. She didn’t understand why her parents disliked her fascination of books. They either scolded her or snatched away the book from her. They always made her brother Sunil to read books even though he disliked reading.

Saraswati waited till her family went to sleep at night. She tiptoed into Sunil’s study room and retrieved one of his books. Under torch light beneath her blanket she flipped the pages of the book slowly with reverence. The pictures of A for Apple B for Ball intrigued her. She noted the curve of B the slant lines of A. She liked the picture of cat. She always loved kittens and played with them. She memorized the letter C of her beloved Cat. After an hour of studying the mysterious letters and fascinating pictures she used to carefully place the book at its rightful place.

The magic hour in the nights didn’t last long. Her mother soon discovered her covert midnight  mission. Saraswati didn’t forget the thrashings she received. Her bruises didn’t let her forget that dreadful night for a long time. 

One day Sunil saw Saraswati scribbling in the mud with her finger. She had managed to write her beloved C. This triggered a wicked idea in Sunil’s mind which was going to be a blessing for Saraswati. Sunil secretly taught Saraswati how to write with pencil. He made her write his homework. Saraswati was delighted. This continued for years without their parent’s knowledge. Even though Saraswati never stepped into a classroom she had more knowledge than others her age, thanks to her lazy elder brother.

Sunil’s class teacher Miss Sharada, knew that the homework was being written by Saraswati. She could make out from the handwriting difference. While Saraswati wrote in clear legible handwriting, Sunil’s was illegible. She didn’t object to this as she was happy that Saraswati was getting education.

One day while checking Sunil’s homework book, a piece of paper dropped from the book. Sharada picked up the paper. She identified Saraswati’s handwriting. It was written in hurry. The letter said:

“I am being forced to marry. Please help me.”

Saraswati hoped that the teacher would help her. However, as the minutes passed by and the Baraat came nearer, her hopes faded away. She was barely 15 and the groom was a 60 year old drunk. Her parents didn’t seem to care. They just wanted to get rid of me, Saraswati thought glumly. She was always reminded that she was paraya dhan. Tears trickled at first then started flowing in torrents.

It was a strange wedding. The groom’s cousin put forth a condition that they had a tradition of marrying at their ancestral home and bride’s parents were not allowed. The kanyadaan would be done by the priest’s relatives. Saraswati’s parents didn’t object. They gave away Saraswati without a second thought. Saraswati couldn’t see the groom’s face as it was covered in sehra.

Once they reached the ancestral home, the groom removed the sehra. Saraswati was shocked to see the face. She had expected an old wrinkled masculine face. Never did she imagine that she would see her teacher’s face instead. Sharada explained that she convinced the old drunk that his would be bride was a handicap. He felt cheated and went back to his village. Saraswati thanked her teacher.

Sharada took Saraswati to the city and helped her with her studies. Couple of years later, Saraswati completed her graduation and started working as a teacher. After working for 5 years, Saraswati went back to her village with a desire to teach the uneducated girls.

On the way she spotted her parents begging on the streets. She was shocked and appalled when she came to know that her brother had thrown them out of the house. She rented a house and took her parents in. Her parents realized their mistake and asked forgiveness. They helped Saraswati in convincing the villagers to allow their daughters to study.

With her determination and hard work Saraswati helped the girls in her village to get education. Sharada felt proud of her student’s incredible feat. It was the best kind of Guru Dakshina she could ever receive.

[Short Story]: Vignaharta’s Woes

“Aaah”, Goddess Gauri wailed in agony. Lord Ganesha was deeply saddened to see deep bloody wounds all over His Mother’s body.

“How did this happen, Ma? Who did this?” asked Lord Ganesh, his voice shaking, on the verge of fury.

Goddess Gauri looked at her son with tear filled eyes and gave Him a feeble smile. “You were being immersed in the river… the lake… the sea… the ocean… I had come to welcome you! I am the water who embraces you… I am the fishes who lick you… I am the plants who tickle you… I am Prakurti (Nature)… Earlier your idols were only made of clay and natural colors. Now, it is made of toxic substances. I died a little when I swallowed the toxic paint as a fish. I died some more when I couldn’t breathe as a plant with all the garbage being dumped. These wounds signify the deaths of living beings due to toxicity…”

Even though Ganesha didn’t speak, his face spoke about the intense anguish He felt seeing His Mother in agony. Goddess Gauri could sense that her son was already thinking about how to solve this problem, however, He was finding it difficult.

Just then one of the deep gashes on Goddess Gauri’s forehead healed.

Lord Ganesha was surprised and looked at His Mother for answers. Looking at Lord Ganesha’s questioning face, Goddess Gauri smiled brightly.

“It looks like a seed germinated somewhere…” said Goddess Gauri.

On hearing those words, Lord Ganesha’s face lit up. He said, “I know what I must do, Ma.” He touched Her feet and left.

“Where are we going, Master?” asked Mushaka.

“To plant some seeds”, smiled Lord Ganesha.

They came across a child who was sleeping. Lord Ganesha took the form of a dream and entered the child’s dream. The next day when the child woke up, he told his parents about the dream he saw. He said that Lord Ganesha requested him to immerse His idol in a bucket instead of the river and to plant a sapling in the bucket once the idol disintegrates into mud. His parents obliged and felt immense happiness which they hadn’t experienced before.

“Now I get it!” exclaimed Mushaka. “We are not planting plant seeds but seeds of an idea!”

“Yes, dear genius” smiled Lord Ganesha.

“But there are so many children and so little time!” said Mushaka.

Lord Ganesha simply smiled and took the form of a thought this time. He entered the thoughts of teachers. The teachers asked students to volunteer for cleaning up the rivers in order to get bonus marks in their exams. The teachers and students from various schools collected the garlands from the devotees so that they are not thrown into the river. The garlands were buried to form compost. The students cleaned the river banks. The schools which participated in the clean-up drive were rewarded by the government.

Lord Ganesha came across a sculptor who was placing plant seeds in the idol he was sculpting. Lord Ganesha remembered how the wound had healed on his Mother’s face when one of the seeds in the immersed idol germinated. He knew that it was this sculptor who had helped in His Mother’s healing. Lord Ganesha took the form a cute little boy this time. He went and asked the sculptor for some water. Even though the sculptor was busy working on the intricate detailing, he stopped his work and went inside to get water. When he returned, he brought a bowl full of Modakas along with a glass of water. On seeing His favourite sweet, the little boy’s face lit up with joy! When the sculptor looked at the boy digging into his sweets, a deep sense of inner peace engulfed him. For that one divine moment, he felt no worries… only pure joy. He had never felt such happiness in his life.

“Who are you?” the sculptor asked.

“I am Vignesh. Thank you for the Modakas. They were very tasty! Your idols are most beautiful.” smiled the little boy and ran away.

The happiness of the sculptor started reflecting in his work. His idols became popular. In addition to the seeds, he started placing fish food within the idols.

Lord Ganesha was pleased to see this. He returned to Mount Kailash. He was welcomed by His Mother. Most of her wounds had healed.

“I know… I know… you are hungry… the Modakas are waiting for you!” beamed Goddess Gauri.

Lord Ganesha chuckled and ran towards his beloved Modakas.

Why traffic jams can be good for you!

While travelling back home from office in bus, my brain has this habit of wandering and coming into some weird conclusions. On one such adventure my brain came to this conclusion: since we mostly spend two hours a day (back & forth) in office commute, we spend approximately a month in a year on road. This time is mostly unproductive, however, there are some who manage to put it to effective use.

I have few friends who have managed to complete the entire Harry Potter series while they were on road and now they are onto Game of Thrones. And then there are some of us who simply enjoy company with our favorite songs or online games.

Those of us who drive, end up spending a month in a year, avoiding potholes/ idiots/ cows/ processions and so on.

But if you get stuck in a traffic jam on daily basis then obviously you spend more than a month on road in a year.

Traffic jams usually have negative impact on us. So my brain, in its quest for doing something unusual, tried coming up with some positive impacts of traffic jam.

Here are its discoveries:

  • It tremendously increases your patience: What can you do anyway? If you do, you’d either end up in hospital or prison. Either ways it’ll be a costly lesson on having patience.
  • It makes you an expert in finding alternate routes: Those of us who drive, would rather risk driving on footpath than wait patiently on road.
  • You can have a power nap: This is not recommended for drivers (You can attempt it if you are sure that you’ll be stuck at least for an hour). For others: Sweet dreams!

  • You can catch up with your old friends: Text them or call them. Talk about good old times. Chances are they too would be stuck in traffic and would be glad to hear from you!
  • Set your brain free: Let your brain wander. Who knows you might get a billion dollar idea!

What is your way of surviving traffic jam? Let us know.

P.S.: This blog post has been written while stuck in traffic jam. 🙂 

When my Nose goes for a date with Common Cold

It is the season of love and my nose has a huge crush on common cold. After every ice cream or cold drink date my nose falls head over heels in love with cold. Sometimes even dust plays cupid to this made-for-each other pair.

And me being the villain in this love story, I employ all sorts of tricks to get rid of the cold. My trusted tonsils, whose only goal in life is to keep an eye on these roadside romeos, are the first ones to notify me about the upcoming stormy affair.

So I employ the first weapon in my armoury- gargling with hot water containing salt & turmeric. This works when the cold is really not that into my nose. But if it is one of the fight-till-the-end types, then I have to employ an assorted combination of weapons.

I drink hot water just to irritate the cold. I also trust my old commanders- Ginger & Pepper for their experience in dealing with these kinds of affairs. I rely on Tulsi to convince my nose that the cold is not the right guy.

The battle rages on for two three days. The white blood cells properly allocate the resources provided by Ginger-Pepper-Tulsi to ensure victory. They mostly win the battles for me. However, there are times when they lose the battle.

At such times, you can rely on medicines which convince my brain that the battle will be won (even if the tablet is useless like placebo). Once the brain is convinced about the winning then the cold never stands a chance.

Of course the cold doesn’t give up that easily. It will brainwash the nose in such a way that both nostrils get blocked in the middle of the night, forcing you to gasp for air through your mouth.

And the worst part, with your nose blocked you can’t even differentiate the taste between karela ki subji (bitter gourd) and gulab jamun. Everything becomes tasteless.

Sometimes I feel nose courts cold just to make us aware of its importance. Breathing happens so naturally that we usually take it for granted. Smell plays an important role in tasting food. Without smell you can never enjoy food. Try eating something with your nose closed, you can experience the difference.

Our ancient scriptures have always insisted on breathing the right way. One of the meditation techniques is to focus solely on our breathing. It is a powerful way of clearing all that noise in our minds & helps in building strong immunity system. In short, take care of your breathing and it will take care of you!

My tonsils are now poking me with “Invasion alert” signals. I need to get that hot water for gargling…Oh no.. AAaaa…. Aaaa… AAAAAAAACHOOOOOOOOOO! And so it begins…

A Single’s Love Story

Fortunately (as per my married friends) & unfortunately (as per my relatives) I am single. Every valentine’s day, like all singles, I wonder when my Mr. Right would turn up. This valentine’s day, instead of brooding over the absence of roses on my doorstep, I decided to celebrate other kinds of love.

Love need not always mean roses, chocolates, gifts or candlelight dinners. It can also be a gentle pat on your back by your father or the heavenly aroma emanating from mother’s kitchen. It can be giggling on a private joke with your cousins or fighting with your siblings. img-20161202-wa0015It can be the cutting chai with your bunch of crazy friends on a lazy afternoon. It can be the hot steaming pakodas made for you by your neighbor.

Love need not be expressed only through love letters, poems or songs. It can be through your mom’s scolding. It can be through your father’s scary silence or your sibling’s punch in your face. It can be through your brother’s concern: “Ghar pohunch gayi na?” It can also be the extra star on your notebook given by your school teacher.

Love need not always mean long drives on an exotic location. It can be sharing the ear phone with your mom while listening to music on long journey. It can also be gossiping with your friends in a fully packed local train or fighting with your sibling for the window seat of bus while visiting relatives.

Love has many forms. It has different meaning to different people. Some people in spite of having many friends & relatives feel lonely or unloved because they keep waiting for the love from that special someone, ignoring the love that is already around them.

I am grateful to all the love showered on me by all the lovely people in my life. I may not get roses this valentine’s day but I will cherish the fragrance of good times shared with my loved ones.

Happy Valentine’s Day!