Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ALTAR EGO

His head was splitting. It seemed like every nerve was revolting, ready to explode any minute. His heart had lost its mirth long ago, but today it seems to have given up its spirit. His purpose in doubt; his existence questioned. He felt pain no more. He had had enough of it. Numbness had engulfed his veins. He felt like a slaughter sacrifice waiting his turn at the altar. Only a little too desperately. He looked at his friend who was sitting right in front of him. What has life done to us, he thought?

We were so happy, vivacious, lived life by the minute and enjoyed every second of it. We felt invincible. We fought in the mud, got drenched in the rain, sang out of tune, danced like nobody was watching, screamed at the top of our lungs. We sat for hours staring at nothing, talked for hours about nothing. We went on a long drive to nowhere, ate and drank everything we could get our hands on, fished in the pond for hours only to get a shoe for a prized catch, fished for a few more hours in search of its pair without luck, roamed the streets in the night with carefree abandon, spent the very last ounce of energy in our bodies and came back to crash into our beds as if never to wake up again. And then we woke up the next day fresh and ready for another adventure.

And so life rolled on amidst chaos, excitement, fervor and charm. Day after day went by chasing nothing and enjoying everything. I wish I had never woken up after one of those days. But I did. And here I am. A changed man. A deflated man. A lost man. A man no more.

His thoughts brought him back to reality. He looked at his friend again who smiled casually. There was the same innocence and zeal that he had seen years ago. How could that be possible? When did we part ways? How does he not have any of life’s scars? Why has God been so kind to him? Or maybe was he too cruel to me? Is he even there? His blood started boiling even more. His friend still had his smile as he looked at him with even eyes. That made him even more livid.

“What is it that makes you so happy? Seeing me like this. Helpless, hapless and hopeless. Seems like life has been very kind to you my friend. If you had been me, then probably you wouldn’t even be here. Do you know how much I have endured? Do you know how it feels when your wing is ripped apart? Feather by feather. Do you know what it does to your self-esteem? Have you felt scrutiny? Have you experienced love? Do you know how it feels to yearn for affection and not receive any? Have you experienced failure? Do you know how it is to fail in the eyes of your friends? Your family? Your foes? And the coup de grace! Do you how excruciating it is to finally fail in your own eyes? The final fall!  

Have you ever thought how would after life be? Would it be more peaceful? It certainly sounds more mysterious. Do heaven and hell exist? Wonder where I would go. Will I be transported through space to get there? It would be cool to see some planets on the way. And be it hell or heaven that I reach, I probably will be better off than I am now. I wouldn’t have to work consistently to satisfy others. I won’t be judged. I would already have been judged. I can be myself. I won’t be a disappointment to the people I know as they won’t be there. Well at least I hope so.

Yes, I have considered death. I have no shame in admitting it. You may think I am a coward. Well heck, maybe I am. Isn’t it easier to just press the shutdown button? We can restart in a new life if there is something like that or be lost into obscurity. Isn’t that an interesting prospect? To myself and to the people who are tired of me? May be. But I can’t muster courage for that either. Will someone miss me? Am I disappointing them again? For one last time. Do I owe them to live? Do I owe myself a death? I can’t seem to decide. Like every other decision, I put this one off too.

Why don’t you say something? Are you deaf? That would be so cool actually. But I know you can hear me. The smirk on your lips tells me you are enjoying this. You think you are safe inside that mirror. You think it is cool to see me make a fool of myself in front of you. In front you, of all people? While you stand there majestically reminding me again and again of my glorified past!  

He looked at the man in front of him who was so calm and composed, so carefree and happy, so blissful and na├»ve, so simple and kind, so full of life and love. This was a man he once knew. This was a man he once loved. This was a man he once was. He wondered how long it had been since he left him inside the mirror. He couldn’t remember. That was the man he still wanted to be. Everyday! Or even just for one day! A wry smile came to his lips. He laughed it up. Life indeed does strange things to you.






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DADDY TALES


A few months ago, I had promised to come back with more fun stories about our cute little monster. Well, she has been keeping us busy and extremely happy with all her antics and there has never been a dull moment. That had kept me from penning my daddy tales for a while. But they are way too special not to capture and freeze in time and so here I am back with some more cute excerpts from the Maya diaries. Well, having said that, I actually wrote this a while back but I guess not much has changed.

For starters, our little one is not very much into drinking her milk (she is very interested in tea though). Well then, that is not really a surprise as I guess lot of kids don’t. She can yell and shake and move for hours and not get tired. You give her milk and she will start her fake cry. And then you take the bottle out, she will give you her cute smile. The little rascal! The only way to feed her is to pin her down like a chicken and arrest her arms and legs and keep the bottle in her mouth, let her complete her fuss routine and then she will start drinking. But thankfully we have a Plan B. We put her to sleep first and then feed her. We tag team this in a quick two step routine. One of us puts her to sleep while the other is ready with the feeding bottle and a pillow. If you have ever watched Formula One racing, this will remind you of a pit stop wherein the driver drives in at the perfect speed, bringing the car to a screeching halt and the pit crew expertly changes the tires and refuels at break neck speed. 

We all know that infants like putting things in their mouth or licking anything that they can get their hands and tongue on. This one is no different. No object, animate or inanimate, living or otherwise, is exempt from the lick test. But this one gets very creative at that. She is one picky licker I say. She tries to compare the tastes of the things she has licked. For example, the other day she was busy licking her finger. Or rather fingers I should say as her whole hand was pretty much insider her mouth. As I was lying by her side, she noticed that I have fingers too. That got her excited. She grabbed my hand and started scanning my fingers. She took a while to pick her favorite. Index finger it was. She then slowly pulled it towards her mouth and started licking it. You should see her expression change. She was a bit confused I guess. Do I like it or not? Hmm… I have an idea, she thought. So with my finger still in her mouth, she inserted one of her fingers into the mouth. Parallel testing went on for a few seconds and then the verdict was out. She pushed my hand out and continued sucking her finger, until I finally pulled it out. She gave a short glare but then started searching for her next target.

Now interestingly, she has developed a special liking for my nose though. If that is available, she never misses a chance to have a bite. The other day she tried licking my nose but I guess it was a little out of grasp. But she is never one to give up. So she reached out and grabbed both my ears with her hands and pulled me close to her face and then started licking it. I loved it so much that I let her do that for a little bit before I gently pulled away. She gave me a shy smile. I guess that meant “yummy”. She is one hell of a prankster I tell you.

The little one is Miss Curiosity. She takes note of every single little detail around her. It is very easy to take care of her as she hardly fusses. We take her around to every room in the house and she spends about 20 minutes observing everything carefully. Once she is done with the room, she will give a little grunt which is a go ahead for us to move on to the next attraction. And she has her favorites as well. There is a world map in the living room that she just loves. We can stand there for hours and she would still keep staring at it in rapt attention. Oh yeah… Madam loves watching herself. Be it the mirror or the calendar with her pictures galore, she keeps looking on without batting an eyelid.
Recently she has taken to music. We listen to a lot of songs and she has been a victim of passive singing as well. So tired of all this, occasionally she goes into concert mode herself. I must say she maintains a fairly good rhythm (a aa.. a aa aaa… aa aaa.. aa aaa aaa a..). And boy… can she reach high pitch or what! Her decibel levels are frankly unbelievable and off the charts. And she does some hand gesturing to go along with that as well. Now once I got very excited and started singing along, not at her level of finesse but whatever I could muster (aa aa.. a aaa aa aaa aaaa aa..). Madam was not impressed. Smart ass she is… She takes her left hand and puts it on my mouth and then continues with her singing. Message delivered, I guess. I must say she is a little more considerate when she is about to sleep. She lets me sing along then as I rock her.

And if she is not singing, she likes to hear me sing. Or at least that is what I like to believe. Until she starts speaking and breaks my bubble. And no prizes for guessing, I am a very bad singer. I have a selection of five songs which I sing regularly as I walk around rocking her and often times she is probably asleep by the time I reach the fourth song. But of late, she has started listening more and I have to expand my repertoire. But the good thing is there is one song (which by the way is my all-time favorite) that she just loves and it manages to put her to sleep eight out of ten times. I know what you are thinking…. Why not sing that first? Well, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. So, the only thing I have to make sure is to never let my wife sing that song to Maya. Then she would come to know how bad I really am and I don’t want that to happen, just yet.

But it is while sleeping she gives us some of the best moments. Putting her to sleep itself is great fun. The moment I put her on my shoulders, she herself adjusts into a comfortable position and then does the cutest thing. She puts her arms around my neck in a cute puppy hug. This was one such occasion where I had just rocked her to sleep and then sat down in the sofa with her sleeping in my lap. She had kept her hands on my cheek, so softly with so much of love. Now as she was asleep, her hand was slowly slipping down. It made its way to my chin. Then it was slowly about to drop down. How could I let that happen? As her finger tips disconnected, I gradually lowered my chin. Now my chin was touching her hand again. Her hand was almost near her cute little tummy and my neck was almost at a 90 degrees. But her hand was still on my cheek and that was all I cared about. There was a sound. She stirred and my heart skipped a beat. I quickly wrapped my arm around her head to comfort her. My ear was near her heart and my hand was on her head. It was almost as if I could hear 2 beats: her heart and her brain. Another bang. This time I was sure she was going to wake up and cry. She just shifted a little bit and wrapped her arms around my arm and deposited her face into my bicep and continued sleeping. And that gentle smile when she sleeps…. Ah… that is something to die for.


Well, I guess I can go on. But I will stop for now to be back later. She is filling our lives with countless cute and memorable moments every single day. Every such moment is worth cherishing and reliving over and over again. And these memoirs will instantly transport me back in time and I can watch poetry unfold once again in front of my eyes. Sometimes we wish she never grows up. We think what if she stays this tiny little bouquet that we could keep wrapped in the warmth of our arms. But then… life writes its own script, doesn’t it? 





Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FIRE AND SMOKE


Death, I believe is the ultimate mystery. Life is known, at least for the most part. Death is not, again for the most part. Probably we can feel every other emotion that is out there to be felt. But death lurks in the dark. It is just around the corner all our lives, but we don’t live to see it. Yet it embraces each and every one of us eventually. When it decides to, depends on our luck or the lack of it. But even though we mostly don’t see our death coming or prefer not to think about it, we experience death more than we realize. What we understand from it will differ and will shape our eventual tryst with it.

As I sit there watching you sleep as peacefully as ever, I feel numb. I have lost a sense of time or place. I know I am going somewhere but I don’t feel myself moving. I don’t feel the sun scorching my skin. I have lost every other sense but sight. I see you in front of me, sleeping with a gentle smile across your lips just like any other day. But something is different. Today is not every other day. Although I want it to be more than ever. I don’t recognize the streets I have driven by for the last 35 years. I don’t realize how much time we were there together in that van, seeing each other like it was the first time we set eyes on each other. I don’t remember our first encounter. And you wouldn’t remember our last.

I have never seen you cry. You have never seen me cry. Not for long I guess. I see my entire childhood flash in front of my eyes and the only thing that is constant in every frame is you. I sit there in vacuum as a single tear is resisting gravity in a last ditch attempt to prevent my defeat. All through my life, you have let me win every game we have played. I guess it is about time I lost. The tear agrees.

The lone tear slowly makes its way down my cheek as I sit there still in disbelief. There is a storm of despair stirring inside me as I try hard and resist every single tear it produces. Don’t they say one should cry his heart out? I don’t want to. Every tear is a memory. Your memory. I want to keep it inside me forever. This storm is never going to die. The tears are never going to stop. But I know I will never let you go.

The van stops. I see people around me. Nothing registers. They take you away from me momentarily. I hear voices in my head. I meander in a trance as I find you on a wooden bed. You seem comfortable. I am told to say and do things. I comply mechanically. The thought that I might not see your face again makes its way into my head for the first time. I shudder. I close my eyes. I see your face. It doesn’t exactly look like how you are now. It is not the very first one that I remember as a child either. It is a unique mixture of your face that I grew up watching and adoring all these years. It is your face just for me. I fear no more.

Several years ago, I lost something. My loss was painful, at first. I then got used to it pretty soon. I could never forget it, but I learnt to live with it. Or rather without it. But it took me several years to realize what that did to you. I have always known you to be such a tough guy that I didn’t imagine the extent my loss would affect you. You never told me. But one day I saw it in your eyes. I saw a different man. A man whom you managed to hide well from me. A man more endearing than you already were.  

 Fire and smoke engulf me. Your thought alone consumes me. I come back the next day. You are still there. Well, in pieces. They say you burned all night. I am asked to collect your bones. I want to keep one. I am told not to. Well, I don’t have to worry as you are in my bones. I put your remains in a copper pot and bathe you in milk. I am supposed to give you to Mother Nature. I am not ready to let you go. I reluctantly go to the sea and am about to open the pot when all of a sudden a giant wave comes roaring as she grabs you away from me in a flash. I stand there transfixed having lost your last physical remains. Looks like nature was so eager to have you amidst her. I am sure you will love her company. But I hope you will miss me occasionally and step out from wherever you are to see what I am up to. I will look out for you.  

I come back home. I look into the mirror. I see you. I reminisce of all that has transpired. It was a strange day. You wore my shirt. I wore your dhoti. I burned with you. And you will live with me. Forever!






































Saturday, April 2, 2016

TO DEATH AND AFTER (CONCLUSION)


Hania looked out into the canyon and took a deep breath. “He is standing right in front of you, my friend. And no, he is not famous. Nobody knows about him. Never knew!” For the first time, a shiver went down Jordan’s spine.

“I was one of those who didn’t fit in anywhere. I refused to accept the fact that this world has become incompatible to us. I tried very hard to prove guys like you wrong. I wanted to prove that this world is as much ours as it is yours. And in trying to do so, somewhere I started becoming one of you. I drifted away from my people, travelled the world, made new friends and embraced the new world I was seeing and feeling with open arms. I became a wanderer and in the end I forgot what I was searching for. In my attempt to study and understand and imbibe different cultures of the world, I slowly forgot mine; until I came back here to scale the mountain that had cradled my childhood!” Hania’s reminiscence filled Jordan with awe and intrigue. “So you came here and never went back?”

“Well, I almost did. I got through the Death Gorge. It took me 5 days. There was very little life left when I got to Hullu point. There I saw a mule. A lonely mule! It was freezing, hungry and dying. It had been abandoned by a hiking group as it was wounded and couldn’t carry them anymore. We were company to each other for the next 2 days. I nursed its wounds and fed her my food and left with a promise to come back. I returned with food and medicines after 3 days. She kept her promise and held her life for me. She died the next day. I never went back. Did you know every year nearly 10-15 mules are abandoned here to die in the cold. Now they have a friend to take care of them. They don’t deserve to die because of you people!” There were flames of anger and pain in Hania’s eyes.

“So it is you who makes these little dresses for these animals and birds! Very sweet indeed.” Jordan murmured. He looked at Hania’s little abode. “You seem pretty well stocked up, eh?”

“Well, I still visit your world once in a while my friend. Go up to the town and eat your food and try your new drinks, learn about the latest fashion trends, breathe your polluted air and come back amused. I always wonder how much longer will nature accommodate mankind! So I am trying to compensate for the sins you guys commit by helping these creatures as much as I can. Trust me, they are the best companions you can ever get.” Jordan smiled from his heart for the first time as a bird came and sat on Hania’s shoulder. Life was teaching Jordan an important lesson through Hania.

“Well.. you must get going now, my friend! Someone must be desperately waiting for you!” Hania patted Jordan’s shoulder in a fatherly affection.

“What do you mean desperately waiting?” Jordan was a little surprised.

“You will find out my friend. Well.. let me tell you a short cut to get to the top. You see that bush right there and a small alley behind it. Go through that, you will have to pass a tunnel and then cut through a sharp canyon turn and it will take you back to the trail and you will be in Hopi point in an hour. Now get going before the snow storm gets worse! It was nice seeing you, my boy!” Hania gave Jordan a huge bear hug.

Jordan’s mind was completely preoccupied during his mechanical trail back to the top of the canyon. Hania’s visage and his electric voice captivated and mystified him profoundly. He didn’t even realize that he was at Hopi point and all his friends were running towards him. Radhika jumped upon him and hugged him tightly as if she was never going to let him go. There were tears in his eyes. Hania’s words flashed through Jordan’s mind once again.

Hopi Point – Hermit’s Rest:
There was no doubt it was one hell of an adventure. But they were sad it was coming to an end. Jordan was calming his senses and resting his sore legs at Hermit’s rest as he recounted his adventures to Steven and Ming. He was scared to mention about Hania though. Meanwhile Radhika was looking for keepsakes in the gift shop. Soon she came back with a bag full of goodies and started flaunting them off. “Here take a look at this bird here. This is vintage Hopi art work! Isn’t it cute?”

“What is it in its wings?” Ming was curious. Radhika was worked up. “Oh.. this is the hand made replica of the famous fashion bird that has been spotted occasionally in the canyon. How it gets its dress has been an unsolved mystery! There are several stories around it. You see that lady over there. She knows a few such stories if you are interested!” The lady looked real spooky! Ming said he would rather pass.

Radhika turned her attention to Jordan who was already looking bewildered. “Hey.. check out this new book I got. I am sure you would love reading this one. It is about the Death Gorge. You must have been somewhere close to this for sure, right. Am so glad you didn’t find it. Otherwise they might have had to revise this book again to accommodate you as well!” She gave him a naughty wink and everyone burst out into laughter.

Jordan grabbed the book from here hand. “Oh.. wow.. Sounds fascinating! what is it about?”

“Well, it is an exclusive account about the hitherto never ventured and suicidal stretch from Skeleton Point through the Death Gorge up to the safety zone near the Hullu Point. Apparently 10 people have ventured into this death trap and none of them ever returned.” Radhika rolled her eyes in fear.

This was getting very interesting for Jordan now. “Are you sure none of them returned?”

“Well, they say that they found the bodies of 9 of them down in the Canyon; 4 of whom washed up on the shores the Colorado River. Nothing was ever found about the tenth guy. Here take a look at his picture here. The guy went to Harvard, can you believe that! Seems like a damn interesting fellow! He was a scholar and a world traveler apparently!” Radhika was going on and on while Jordan’s eyes were fixated on the picture of Hania. Yes, it was him. Only he was much younger!

Then, at that moment, he saw something written at the bottom of the picture that brought his heartbeat to a stand still and drove a shiver through his spine.


“PICTURE TAKEN AT THE GRADUATION CEREMONY OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY – CLASS OF 1825!”



                                                                                                              - A SHORT STORY BY RAJ

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TO DEATH AND AFTER

Kaibab Trail - South Rim, Grand Canyon:

Nature has its own unique and unfussy way of imposing itself on human beings. It didn’t take too long for Ming, Steven and Radhika to understand that. In a span of 6 hours, they had encountered almost everything at the Grand Canyon, which they had fondly nicknamed as “The Greatest Hole on the Earth”. Thunderous rainstorms and lightning had left them stranded and shell shocked for hours in the middle of a treacherously strenuous trail that had slowly started showing its chameleon-esque nature. They already had to deal with loose footing and rock fall that came unannounced while an encounter with wild life was always a scare even though they had met only the friendliest of creatures so far. A heavy snow fall shut them off completely as the rain had started to thicken and its successor, ice was more incisive and cruel. They had overstayed their welcome at the trail and hunger and dehydration slowly set in as they ran out of all supplies. But clearly nature was not done with them as it landed its final and most lethal blow. Jordan, the fourth and most experienced hiker of the group was missing for the past 3 hours.

Radhika was fuming. “He should have come by now. He said he will meet us at the Hullu point. The idiot always does something crazy like this. What was the need for that maniac to explore that new route all alone? God knows where the hell he is now!”

“Relax Radz. Trust the man. He is a pro but remember he is a psycho as well. It is one deadly combination. He will make it all right. I am sure he is going to sneak up on us from somewhere and freak you out totally!” Steven was still optimistic about his best buddy.

Ming had other things in his mind. “Yeah.. I hope so too. The dude is totally nuts but he is a tough nut. But hey.. we can’t stay here for long. We will starve ourselves to death if the cold doesn’t kill us before that. I say we head up to the Hopi point and wait for him up there.”

“Yeah, let’s do that. Guess I could do with some hot chocolate at Hermit’s rest. “Radhika’s voice was trembling behind the brave smile she put up. She felt something strange inside she couldn’t understand or explain!

Unknown Location – near Death Gorge, Grand Canyon:

Jordan was a daredevil. His passion in life was to do things most people would only dream about. His life was one big adventure and he had loved every bit of it. Until now!

Nature was capable of breaking even the hardest of men and today it looked like it might succeed in overwhelming the gritty Jordan. He was clearly cheated by this perfidious new path that had taken him far away from the trail and into the canyon which was transferring its chill through his spine. It was beginning to break him down!

He was breathing heavily, clasping his hands together, partly to warm himself and partly in a small prayer to God. He was completely lost! At that moment he saw a strange thing. He saw a bird that flew past his ears. But there was something strange about it. It was wearing a dress. He rubbed his eyes again to make sure he was not hallucinating due to dehydration. But there it was. It had 2 small flaps covering its wings which looked like wrist bands. And it had something in its legs that looked like tiny little socks. Was his mind imagining things? A strange feeling of fear and death started to engulf him.

“Lost your way perhaps?” He was petrified by the suddenness and shrillness of the voice that came from behind him. It was a man. A man in this God forsaken place! That could not be true he thought. The figure that stood in front of him was tall, strong and slightly inhuman. It was a man alright. A man who seemed to have borne the brunt of both nature and life! A man who looked strong and wise from age and experience! He had a look in his eyes that intimidated Jordan.   

“What brings you here, my friend? I am afraid you should not be here!” The man’s voice was hoarse and Jordan despised its tone which had a hint of calm arrogance.

“I know who you are. You belong to one of those ancient tribes, aren’t you? The Havasu or Huala something!” Jordan tried to gather himself as his mind was scrambling to assimilate all that he was seeing.

The man stroked his long beard and looked impressed. “I am happy somebody still knows about us. My name is Hania and you are almost right. I descend from the Havasupai clan.” He extended his hand and Jordan shook it very skeptically. An Incredible surge of warmth flowed from Hania’s body through Jordan and he felt quite rejuvenated.

“Oh yeah.. you guys.. I have read about you. You have been calling the Grand Canyon your home, isn’t it? Still a few of you left, trying to survive in a world that has become incompatible to you! Well, guess what, you don’t control this place no more, fella!

Hania gave him a profound smile. “Nobody can control nature, my friend. And you, right now, would know that more than anybody. Lost, tired, hungry and angry amidst ruthless mountains and a devastating cold that can rip your soul out and freeze it to death; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, nothing to embrace, no one to hold on to! Tell me, who is in control, my man?”

Clearly Jordan was getting irritated now. “Oh come on! I have been hiking for 10 years now. This is just a strenuous hike, not an impossible one. Stop scaring me, will ya?”

Hania was his composed self. “Of course. It is neither a deadly hike nor or impossible one. But only as long as you are in the trail! You are way off it my friend. Probably drifted off around the skeleton point! You have no idea where you are. I call it the “Near Death Gorge!”

“Hmm… Never heard of it dude. What do others call it?” Jordan sneered.

Hania’s response was icy cold. “The Death Gorge!”

Jordan had a smirk on his face. “Well.. tell you what! You are doing a pretty decent job of scaring the hell out of me. Now what is it that is so deadly about this passage?”

“I am just telling you the truth my friend. In the 800 years of history that has been recorded, 10 people have wandered into this place losing their way on the trail, and attempted to get back to the top through this narrow pass. Only one of them survived!”

There was something about Hania that Jordan could not understand. “Whoa… That is something. Must be a pretty famous guy! First man in 800 years and all. Who is he?”


Hania looked out into the canyon and took a deep breath. “He is standing right in front of you, my friend. And no, he is not famous. Nobody knows about him. Never knew!” For the first time, a shiver went down Jordan’s spine. 


                                                                                           TO BE CONCLUDED (NEXT WEEK)…. 


Saturday, February 27, 2016

MY SECOND FIRST LOVE LETTER

Five years ago, I wrote a love letter. To the most beautiful woman I know. Now, I write another letter. To the most beautiful girl I will ever know. My life is constantly changing from “good” to “great” to “couldn’t be any better”. And that is because of these ladies in my life. As the little one continues to grow at break neck speed, I have decided to just sit down and assimilate all the love and beauty around me and imagine how she will be and what she will say and do as every other day goes by. And as my mind always likes fantasizing things, let me push the fast forward button and see where we go.

First of all, whenever you read this, DON’T LAUGH. Though I can’t wait for you to look at this letter and give me the look. I know you are right now busy drinking up your milk but soon time will slow down and you will stop outgrowing your clothes faster than I get my next haircut. There will be several such moments where time will stand still for us to cherish each other. And I look forward to them oh so eagerly. But for now, here is me, just wondering and imagining things on your behalf. Don’t worry… your time will come soon. Allow me to humor you for now!

This is a random letter with no rhyme or reason, no end or purpose. It is just an outpour of my mind and heart. It is all the things that I want you to do in life and all the things that I want for you from life. You will be surrounded by so many wonderful people and you will meet many such more. And make no mistake you will face a lot of tough circumstances and people as well but I am sure you will be strong enough to come off unscathed. I want you to take everything in your stride and march along and not for once turn back circumspectly. For I have always got your back.

I don’t want you to be the best in everything. I don’t want you to try either. I want you to figure out what you like to do, what makes you happy, what satiates your inner hunger, what burns your fire, what compels you to wake up every morning with a big smile on your face. I want you to find it and give it your best. I want you to fail. I want you to fall. And I want you to get right back up. I want you to dream. However simple, trivial, complex, weird, lovely your dream is, try your best to live it. Hold on to people who encourage you to achieve that dream and egg on others to achieve theirs. Life will be simple but happy.

I want you to explore music. If you have your mother’s genes, you might become a star one day. If you have mine, well, don’t worry. I will build a bigger bathroom in our house. And probably get you drums. Not related in any way to the bathroom, in case you are wondering. You are a smart girl. I am sure you will get it.

I want you to learn lots of languages. If I had a chance to pick, I would at least do: Tamil, English, Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish and French. With the first five, you will be able to speak with almost everyone in this world. The last one is just for fun.  And then I want you to travel the world. With us. Alone. With someone else. However you want. Just be a wanderlust for a while. Soak in all the fresh air, the diverse cultures, scenic pastures, breathtaking vistas and most importantly the enlightening human interactions. That will teach you a lot more than classrooms and books will ever do. Now I know what you are thinking… you little devil. You are still going to school by the way. You are allowed to bunk the occasional class and go to movies with us.

I want you to find your love. A man or woman who will love you more than me. Err… let me rephrase that… who will try to love you more than me. Don’t go looking for it. But if you find it, don’t let it go. You will know when it is for real. Or if you want to go it alone, you will have an old man and woman giving you company as far as life lets us to.
I want you to enjoy the little pleasures of life. I want you to walk with me in pouring rain and then enjoy some delicious ice cream. I want you to finish yours faster and fight with me for a bite of mine. I want you to play with us in the snow, hurl snow balls with a cute ferocity and then sit by the window sipping your mother’s refreshing tea.

I want you to try your hand at cooking. I want you to forget to add salt and look at me with a sheepish grin. I want you to add too much spice and wonder if I am crying out of joy or of the chili. And then I want you to perfect the art and cook delicious delicacies for me. And if you want to sleep in one day, don’t worry. I will get you breakfast in bed with some hot filter coffee.

I want you to be humble. I want you to be bold. I want you to be gentle. I want you to be strong. I want you to be kind. I want you to be expressive. I want you to be passionate. I want you to be level headed. I want you to be rational. I want you to be eccentric. I want you to love. I want you to be loved. I want you to be creative. I want you to be happy. I want you to be: you.

I can go on, but hey, this is not my last letter to you.

Parents more often than not, tend to dream through the eyes of their children. They try to correct their life’s failings or accentuate their life’s successes through the burdened shoulders of their kids. I am most certainly aware of that fallacy and have no intentions of committing that mistake. If we eliminate “Expectations” from life and from others, we will be a lot saner and happier. And so will others.

So by no means, this letter is a “to do” list for you. By the way, I have always hated those. This is just a jobless father fantasizing about some lovely moments for and with his daughter. I won’t be sad if you didn’t do the things that are in this letter. I am sure you will figure out other cool things to do and your dad and mom will be there with you or watching from a distance.



Friday, February 19, 2016

CRUZING WITH TRUMP

The other day I met up with our good old friend, Mr.C'mon man. He was a little miffed with the fact that I had featured Cheeky Chuck and ignored him for a while. It took a while to convince him that there was nothing like that and asked him if he had any funny tales to tell. He immediately filled me in with a hilarious encounter with a reporter who had recently stumped him with a tough question about the flamboyant (yeah right...) Republican Presidential Candidates. 

Who are they you ask? Who else I ask! Ted Cruz and Donald Trump! The top cartoons right now in American politics (among several others if I may add). 

So do you think you can solve Mr. C'mon man's conundrum?










Sunday, February 7, 2016

STILL LIFE

This post has been selected for BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Picks


http://blog.blogadda.com/2016/02/13/spicy-saturday-picks-february-13-2016-indian-boggers-blogadda




It is a frosty afternoon. I am numb though. I try opening my eyes. They are glued to each other. There is a lot of buzz around me. I muster all my strength and my left eyelid flickers. I can’t see anything. Blurry objects dance their way across kindling my curiosity. I try to listen intently. The sounds make no sense to me but they are amusing. Fun and frolic fills the air around me. Something important must have happened. But I feel reluctant to get up. I pop my head out. My bed seems too small for me. I feel drowsy. I am bored. My eyes fade away slowly as instinct brings the curtain down for the day.

I wake up again, this time my eyes cooperating a little faster. I have no idea how long it has been. I don’t seem to care. I hear a few voices around. No more celebrations though. Guess it is just another day. I smell something really good. It is a new feeling and I seem to like it. I exercise it until I get bored of that. Food is ready. I have not been a big fan of it until now. I take a nibble. Something is different. It tastes different. It tastes better. I flush it down my throat vigorously. I look around with curiosity. Lots of things have changed. I devour the views. Lots of inanimate objects made to look meaningful. I don’t understand their purpose. I look outside. Lots of animate objects wandering aimlessly! This kindles my interest.  

I walk outside. I feel the sun pinch me mischievously. I amble around and let my feet lead me. It may seem ironical but it feels very natural. I discover a garden. I meander aimlessly along inhaling all the freshness and beauty it has to offer. What a jackpot. Breathtaking color, brimming life, unparalleled magnificence, poignant tranquility! Heaven does exist. A rabbit looks at me curiously. After a little hide and seek, it tip toes towards me. We have a long distance conversation for a moment only to be interrupted by a sprightly squirrel which bisects us on its way to a lilac tree. The rabbit leaves me for the squirrel. The sun seems to have gone for a nap. Clouds engulf the sky and wet me. I seem to enjoy it. I walk past the rustling leaves towards a sprawling orchid tree. Rain seems to have stopped but there are water droplets hanging on desperately fighting a losing battle against gravity. I observe one such beauty which is slipping down from a branch. On its way down it magically clings on to a leaflet. But unfortunately the leaflet lets it go and it slides down a breakneck speed. But it is miraculously caught by a black skimmer that transports it seamlessly to the nearby lake. A poetic journey comes to an end. I am tired. I see a bench. A fluffy dog is resting on it. It scoots in, inviting me for some banter.

I have lost my carefree abandon. Monotony has engulfed me. I feel suffocation. I seek adventure. The dog gives me company. I enter a jungle. I don’t know what lies ahead. The dog does. Still it follows me.  I hear a roar. The dog leads me to safety behind a tree. I see a majestic lion. I am not afraid. Yet! I yearn to be him one day. I am hungry. My lips haven’t felt the cool touch of water in days. I collapse under the shade of a tree. The dog eggs me along. I refuse to budge. A deer stops by. It pities my plight and leads us to a river nearby. I thank her profusely as the dog barks its gratitude. The dog grabs a fish out of the running water and proudly displays its catch. I make fire and dinner is served. The deer opts for some fresh grass instead. Life is good. For now!

I like the forest. I decide to make this my new home. I cut a maple tree; gather some wood to build a small house. A sparrow is left homeless. I make the house pretty, the dog gets its own room, the deer visits often. Life treads along smoothly. One day I get a surprise visitor: the rabbit from the garden. I am happy to see him. He is not afraid of me anymore. Somehow that bothers me. Life is peaceful. The four of us tread the jungle in the day, swing by the river for some food and then hang out in our house during nights. Winter arrives. The biting cold freezes my spine. I don’t get out of the bed. Hunger scorches me. The dog is not around. The rabbit gives me company. I look at him. Evil intentions take over. Suddenly the rabbit looks delicious. I was not wrong. It tastes delicious. Guilt knocks the door. I don’t answer. I see the dog staring right at me, a fish between its teeth. I look away.

The winter runs deep. Light rarely penetrates into the house. I rarely permeate out of the house. The dog still brings me fish and the deer still visits. Coldness is not just in the air outside; it is between us as well. I decide to step out to feel the icy mist on my skin. I see the lion lying rather timidly at a distance. I shiver from the inside and outside. But I hold my ground. I see a jackal sitting next to the lion. I wonder why. Days are darker. Nights are lonely. I see the lion and jackal regularly at night. Food seems to elude them and the winter is not kind. They don’t intimidate me anymore. The jackal approaches me. I grab a stick. It grabs my attention. I say yes.

The deer has been tied to the lonely oak tree outside my house. It looks at me with teary eyes. I look at my feet. They are dirty. The lion feasts on the deer. The jackal scavenges the remains. He is generous enough to leave me some. I sit next to the deer’s corpse. A tear starts to trickle. I wipe it clean. A vulture looks to pick up the remains. I drive her away. I take a bite of the deer’s leg. I feel ashamed. I gobble up what’s left of it. The dog cringes. I burp.

Winter is finally over. The sun is a little more generous. Life is not. My communion with the lion and jackal continues. The dog rarely leaves the room. I don’t know why he hasn’t left me yet. He does not bring me fish anymore though. I never liked fish anyways. The lion dies. The jackal has promised to find another one. I don’t seem to care. I feel asphyxiated. The presence of the dog haunts me. He will never leave me. I should.
I have walked several miles without looking back. I can’t see the jungle anymore. I miss the dog. The deer haunts me. I decide to rest. I see something green. A park, maybe! There is a small bench. I decide to lie down. It is too small. I crouch. I close my eyes. The rabbit smiles! The deer smirks! The dog weeps! I open my eyes. I smell rotten earth. I feel cold. I feel numb. I hear a gong. Will the dog forgive me?


                                                                                                              - A SHORT STORY BY RAJ


  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

ZOMBIECALYPSE


These days, ghosts and zombies are the most popular creatures around and they seem to be having a lot of fun at the expense of human beings in television and who knows may be in real life too (for all those believers out there). Piqued by this trend, one celebrity took it upon himself to turn the tables on zombies. That man is none other than Donald Trump, who is possibly one of the greatest (pun highly intended) Presidential candidates in the history of America. He devised a novel idea wherein a group of people will have to work together and in the process play some games with a tied up zombie. I wonder why he has the urge to deal with another zombie. I thought he was already having fun with Jeb Bush.

The creative team has designed a great concept to bring this idea to fruition. They did extensive research to come up with an exciting list of celebrities to join Mr.Trump in this endeavor. They have set up a huge room with several artifacts and props. This is the room where all the celebrities have been locked up for this fun act. On one corner of the room, a blood thirsty zombie is chained to the wall. Now all these distinct personalities have to find a way to coexist and work together and escape from the room. Every 10 minutes, the chain will be loosened a little and the zombie will be one step closer to its prey. The group has 60 minutes before they are toast. They must solve a series of puzzles and find clues around the room that will ultimately lead them to the key to exit the room.



Now without further ado, let me reveal to you that list of crack pots who are locked together in that room. Of course there is the incomparable Mr.Trump. He is joined by his Presidential rival Hillary Clinton, Korean numero uno Kim Jong-un, Mr. James Bond, “Mocking Jay” Jennifer Lawrence and the one and only Thalaivar Rajinikanth.

Let us get right into the action where the participants are engaged in a heated debate as to what the plan of action should be. Well, except for Rajinikanth who is sitting quietly in a corner and enjoying a cigar. Kim Jon-Un tries to approach him to make an alliance.

KJU: Hello sir, I am not sure who you are but you seem very familiar. I will have a tough time understanding these idiots. I think we should team up. Do you know English?

Rajni: Kanna… I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English!

Clinton: Who is this guy?

Trump: Is he Mexican?

KJU: Don’t know. But he is very famous in Japan.

Bond: Are you guys kidding me? He is Rajini freaking Kanth. He can do things even I can’t do.

Bond regrets making the statement instantly as the ladies in the room immediately turn their attention to Rajini who blushes in his trademark style. But Jennifer realizes that they have a job to do, so she tries to bring the discussion back on track.

Jen: Well guys, I have quite a bit of experience in games like this. So here is my 2 cents. We should work as a team and never turn on each other. That is exactly what the zombie wants. We should be very quick and resourceful as we don’t have much time. We have already wasted quite a bit trying to know each other.

They hear the first gong. The zombie’s first chain is released. It starts to stir.

Trump: Well, look here lady, whoever you are. I think you didn’t get the memo. I am the one who always runs the show. And it is a real shame that you only have 2 cents to offer. I, on the other hand, have billions of dollars to waste.

Clinton: You are already doing that by running for President.

Trump: You will have to eat your words very soon. The first thing I will do after I become President is deport this Zombie.

Rajini: You don’t have to do that. If you go and talk to that zombie for 10 minutes, I am sure it will leave the country.

Everybody lets out a chuckle as they wait for Rajini to say something else but he goes back to his cigar.

Clinton: I certainly don’t agree with this. We must find a way to give this zombie a legal path to citizenship.

Bond: You are “Hillary”ous.

Donald Trump: Come on, She is ugly!

Hillary rushes to slap Trump but is pacified by Jennifer.

Another gong sounds and the zombie’s chain is loosened a little more. It starts to move forward.

Trump looks to Kim Jon-Un to get some support for his deportation proposal.

KJU: Between you becoming President and this zombie eating my brains, I would certainly prefer the latter. At least I get the satisfaction of seeing the zombie feasting on all of you idiots, especially you.

Bond: Guys, we are losing focus. So,Katiniss Everdeen… what do you think we should all do?

Trump: She is ugly.

Bond: Are you blind?

Clinton: He is Trump.

Jennifer gives him the finger.

Clinton: We need to come up with a detailed plan to neutralize this zombie. Let us discuss some ideas.

Bond: Well, there is no time for that. The zombie already has a detailed plan of eating your brains and burping your eye balls out in the next hour.

They hear the third gong go. The zombie claws its way a little further.

Jen: Enough of talk, guys. Let us look around the room. We should see our first clue somewhere.

KJU: Got it, got it. I found a note on the trash can at the corner.

He hands it over to Jennifer who reads it out loud. “You can find your next clue perched on an item whose name sounds like the capital of Libya.”   

Jen: Does anyone know the capital of Libya? Make it quick guys.

Trump: Is it in Mexico?

Clinton: Oh God…. What is with you and Mexico! I think it is Benghazi.

Jen: We are looking for the capital, not the only city you know. How about you James? You must have had some adventure in Libya.

Bond: We are doing our next film there. But I haven’t read the script yet. God damn it!

KJU: Come on Trump and Hillary. One of you should know the answer. Didn’t you guys bomb that place?

Trump: No, but I intend to. After I am done with Pyongyang!

Jen: You are all good for nothing. Let us apply reverse psychology here. What all do we have in the room? A couch, two chairs, a telephone, a radio, a TV, a safe, a tripod stand and a camera! I got it. It is Tripoli.

The fourth gong echoes across the room. The zombie has a smile on its face now.

Bond rushes to the tripod stand and presses on the camera perched on top of it. It opens up and there is a small piece of paper inside it.

Bond: Well done Jen. But we are running out of time. We must act fast. Now let us see what our next clue is.  “Solve the cross-word puzzle in the newspaper. 14 across is your next clue.”

Jen: Oh God. We are doomed. You guys can’t even solve one clue. How can I expect you to solve an entire cross-word puzzle?

Rajini: Ha ha… chellam... Why fear when Rajini is here! this is jujubi for me. Here... take it!

Everyone looks at him shell shocked as a mesmerized Jen takes the newspaper from Rajini who lights up another cigar.

Jen: You are a genius. Okay… what is the clue in 14 across! It says “NEWS”.

Bond: Well, it has to be related to either the radio or the TV.

KJU rushes to switch on the radio. They hear nothing but the fifth gong. The zombie is halfway across the room now and looks to have picked a favorite. Hillary switches on the television.

They see a documentary about the World War II playing on TV.

Clinton: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

KJU: Can we watch it? I don’t really know much about World War II.

Trump: Sure. You can see what your fate will be if you ever go to war against us.

KJU: I can nuke your ass off any time.

Bond: Shut up you clowns. Let us think what does this mean? The clue must be in the video.

Jen: Look at this. I found this note under the TV stand. It says: “This is your last clue. What is playing on the TV will lead you to the key that will unlock the front door of this room. Good luck to you and bon appetit to the zombie.”

Trump: Did you look under the TV thoroughly? May be the key is there as well!

Clinton: Why don’t you check your pocket? Even a rabbit will have more IQ than you.

KJU: Let us think where can we find a key? Must be somewhere obvious. Aha… Got it! It should be inside that safe.

Bond: Brilliant. Now all we need is the combination. And it is somehow connected to World War II.

Jen: It could be the year the war started.

Clinton: Or the year it ended!

KJU: Good job. Does anyone know these dates?

Clinton: I know it started in 1939. I think it lasted for 4 or 5 years.

Bond: Yes, it ended in 1945.I remember that from the script. Let us go and try both. One should work.

Jen: Yes, and let us get the hell out of here.

At that very moment, they hear the final gong. The zombie is fully free and is standing near the safe with a wide grin on its face and a twinkle in its eyes.

Jen: Oh God. We are doomed. Bond, do something. You always find a way out of these impossible situations. If you get me out of this, maybe we can do dinner tonight.

Bond: I wish. But do you really believe all that you see in my movies?

There is complete panic in the room as the zombie is inches away from its favorite prey and no prizes for guessing that: Mr. Trump. I think it likes his hair.

Suddenly they hear a loud thud and the door is broken into half. Rick and Daryl from “The Walking dead” enter the room. Daryl puts an arrow through the zombie’s skull while Rick blows its brain with a bullet. They shake hands with Rajinikanth.

Rajini: Kanna, I could have finished this game in 5 minutes. But I wanted to have some fun and see what you guys do. But I was pretty sure you will mess it up. So I had my Plan B. Anyways, I had a great time. And if you want to have some more fun, you can tie Mr.Trump up and play this game once again. Merry Christmas folks!”

Rajini walks out with Rick and Daryl as the others look at each other in bewilderment.





     







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