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CONVERSATIONS AT NIGHT

Mansi was sleeping peacefully in their two month old apartment. They had bought it together, a small yet a plush and polished apartment. Mansi had taken all care to make it look modern, yet cosy and comfortable. It had taken them months, from saving to buy the house, hunting down to find the right colony, the right home for them to move into.

Atul opened the door quietly. He just come back from the shift at the call centre. His usual time to reach home was four in the morning. He would not disturb Mansi and slide quietly into the bed beside her. Today she looked calm and peaceful. He kissed her forehead lightly, so as not to wake her up, and lay down and slept.

Mansi woke up, tired she looked out of the window, forlorn. Life seemed to have been sucked out of her. She felt the burden of her limbs. It required enormous amount of willpower to begin the daily chores. She dusted, cleaned the house and as she did she picked up a framed picture of her and Atul. It had been clicked on the trip to Leh. The picture was of Hemis monastery, tucked away in the mountains. For Mansi, peace here seem to have acquired a strong physical presence. She felt it was a palatable energy that surrounded her. How she wished they could go back to those times. Life however has its own way of taking you in its ebb and flow. She skipped her breakfast again and got ready for the long haul in the office, as it was the only means to keep her sanity alive.

Atul saw that Mansi had gone. How he wish he could hug her! He looked around the empty house. He remembered the excitement in Mansi’s eyes when they first came here. She had dance around, excitedly running around the rooms. It was their home, even though they had decided not to marry till both of them were steady with their jobs and totally ready to marry. They had decided to move in together.

Atul and Mansi, worked in the same company. What brought them together was the fact that both were introverts, and liked to plan everything down to the last detail. They sat at the same table eating dinner at the company. Even though it had taken them three months to say the first hello, they had connected instantly after that. They had planned everyday meticulously. How much they would spend on the meals, how they would spend their weekends, what would be the budget of their weekend binge, everything. When they started dating they decided they would not spend more than a night together. It moved to twice a month, then all weekends, until after year, they finally decided to move in together.

Atul look at the picture, the same Mansi was holding in the morning. They had taken the bike, which they had bought together and were paying the EMI for. They had planned to buy a bike and then a home, which they had planned to pay the mortgage for, in five years and then get married. Everything was planned. Atul usually left after Mansi came home. They spent four hours together before he left. Discussing, laughing, planning. Life’s little pleasures. These days however he left early. He did not like to see her forlorn, sad and lost. He hated when she cried and he was not able to comfort her.

Atul returned home around three a.m. It was still dark. He had developed a sort of ritual, since the past fifteen days, of sitting and talking with the night watchman of the society. Infact, as he had entered fifteen days ago, Sadhuram had called him and offered a cup of hot tea, that he sat sipping alone. Even though it was a summer night, Sadhuram liked to sip hot tea to keep himself alert. Seeing Atul, he had smiled broadly and and invited him for a cup. Atul was surprised at being called out, but he gladly obliged as going home wasn’t going to be easy.

Sadhuram seemed to be a big talker, probably because he rarely had any company. He was, after all, the night watchman. As they started drinking tea, Sadhuram would talk of his family. He had come from the village many years back. It was apparent that he loved his family. He had a big family, wife, five sons, all married and working. He even had grandchildren. Being inquisitive he easily pulled Atul into conversation.

Daily they would share a snippets and anecdotes from their lives. Sadhuram spoke nostalgically about his village and his marriage and Atul about the days Mansi and he were dating. Sadhuram fondly spoke of his sons and Atul was lovingly reminiscent of how beautiful Mansi looked and even now, a smile from her stopped him right in his tracks.

Today specially Sadhuram was particularly sentimental. He was full of emotions as he described how once he had a heart attack and his entire family stood by his side. He told Atul he had to be hospitalized. All his sons and daughters in law were keeping vigil round-the-clock. His condition got worse and he was on a ventilator, but his sons left no stone unturned to see that he got the best of medical facilities. When he was finally awake he saw how relieved everyone was. He expressed how satisfying it was and how he felt he was the richest man around. Today being the day he had been hospitalized, all the memories had come rushing in. He asked Atul if he had ever felt the same.

Atul was silent for awhile. Of course, he said only fifteen days back his office had given him a day off. Mansi was not aware of this, so he decided to surprise her. Both of them never deviated from their plans, as both of them disliked surprises. But today he wanted to reach home with flowers and chocolates for her. He thought he would explain the expenses later. He bought lilies and her favourite chocolate and was driving home. He was waiting at the traffic signal when he was hit from behind, by a car driven by unruly drunken, underage young boys. He fell of his bike and his head hit the pavement, and started bleeding immediately. They drove the car over his legs. He screamed in pain and they ran away. An ambulance pick him up and he was taken to the hospital. The pain caused him to lose consciousness and when he opened his eyes, he saw a bizzare scene. He saw Mansi and his parents sitting at home crying inconsolably. Mansi was telling them that Atul never ever acted rash. He always went according to the plan. He was the kindest person she had ever met in her life. How could God snatch him away from her when they had just begun their life together.

Deepika

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I – AM A WOMAN

I am a woman, a woman no less than the millions around me. Maybe not recognised, maybe forgotten, maybe not placed on a high pedestal, without a name, but I am a woman. I may not have borne children but I’ve nurtured one. I love her and I’ll narrate about it.

My day starts early, earlier than most, 4:00 am. I visit the temple near by before the crowd trickles in, to avoid the sneers of the masses. I come to what I have now accepted to be my home for I’ve lived close to three decades here. It keeps me well hidden, like people want me to be, hidden and silent.

I wear the mask after that, a mask I show to the world, it’s painted, painted bright and gaudy. I seek refuge in this mask, it gives me a new personality, a personality to survive the society that rejected me long ago. Wearing this mask I confront them, everyday, every minute, and then return home to my safe haven, to hide and remain hidden.

My unyielding unchanging burden of life was dragging on, when one morning I spotted street dogs pulling at something, dragging it out of the drain. I heard what sounded like meowing of kittens. Curious, I shooed them away to check if a cat litter was there and if I could save them before the dogs devoured them. As I went near I saw the black garbage bag torn at places and on closer scrutiny saw tiny little limbs of a human child. An abandoned girl child, my fears came true.

I held the child, few hours old, a , a survivor, just like me, in my arms and began walking home, missing my temple prayers. She could barely even manage to cry, with the plastic bag her sole covering. I quickly wrapped her in a shawl, while checking for injuries. Thankfully there were none. I warmed up little milk for her and fed her with the spoon. She stopped crying and I held her close to me, to let her feel warm. She fell asleep. I sat there with her in my lap. My tears wouldn’t stop, as hard as I tried.

Sensing my absence, my friends, colleagues if you may, came to check on me, all of them. Adversity has a way to create unbreakable bonds among people, bonds that go beyond words, bonds that understand silence. They saw me with a child, they understood, they were shocked, they were sad. It was a nemesis for all of us. All of us, who were counted among society’s bête noire.

We decided to keep her. She filled our lives with laughter, her cries, her innocence, made us all forget the masks that hid us. She loved us unconditionally. I was going to educate her. She was not to grow up to lead a life of ignominy or opprobrium. I was never going to let her grow up with guilt. Guilt of her birth, guilt of not being accepted, guilt at her own being.

I too had to change myself. I had to become stronger for my daughter. I had to fight the system that made me hide and feel ashamed of me. I had to rise above all the disdain and claim my rightful position. My first fight was to adopt her legally. I won the petition for adoption rights for transgenders. Thereafter I put her in a residential school to keep her out of the pervasive negative vibes around the place we called home.

She had given my life a new meaning and purpose. I decided to help others in similar predicament as me. I set up an NGO to educate transgenders so they didn’t have to go through hell like me.

I saw my daughter growing up in pictures and photograhs, for I was scared to go meet her, till she was sixteen and I got this letter from her:

Dear Ma,

I know you will not come, however hard I try. Principal ma’am wants to honour you on woman’s day but you believe “mother is beyond gender”. You are right. You are my mother and I love you unconditionally. I wanted to tell you this in person but I think you are scared of rejection. The society has let you down too many times. They have their own ideas of boxing people into male or female. Life with dignity is your birth right, but you were denied this right at birth, yet you protected mine. You were rejected at every step, yet you accepted me. You were unable to find love yet you opened your loving heart to me.

The world calls you many names, they shy away from your presence, your being, your clapping your hands at them, unsettles them, perhaps you touch a chord deep within them that they do not want to acknowledge. They keep you silent, invisible, but you have proved that you are a formidable force. You’ve chosen to be a woman, not everyone has the courage to be a woman, to raise a child with love.

I’ve seen you emerge, phoneix like- scarred from zillion battles you fought within.

Each scar a winning story, of love you embraced yourself in.

They called you sin, they called you bliss. Negating passion, emotion, beauty

Vulnerable yet serene.

Danger, darkness, fire brewing like a storm.

Undaunted Resolute Audacious A Goddess took form

I hope I can be a woman like you some day. I am coming home and I will be part of you from now on.

I was silent. She understood the woman that I am, the woman that she’ll be. I am a woman who never quit. I am a woman, who could love. I am a woman who believes I am a woman because I chose to be one.

This piece is dedicated to Shri Gauri Sawant whose petiton recognised transgenders as third gender and Laksmi Narayan Tripathi: who was the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008. And hundreds of other women who are silently fighting a battle against ignominy everyday.

Deepika…

This post is a part of ‘The Woman That I Am’ Blog Hop #TheWomanThatIAm organized by Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul #RRxMM. The Event is sponsored by Kraffitti.”

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THANK YOU

This post is to say my heartfelt thanks to the co hosts of my first blog hop. Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul, thanks a ton. I learnt so much being part of this amazing blog hop that saw participation of over 75 bloggers.

Winning it was even more amazing. I am at the top of the world.

Feeling happy and full of gratitude.

Deepika…

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THE ORANGE BASKET

“Time and tide wait for no one”, read Shahid, for the millionth time, as he sat drinking tea in his office once again. He had pulled an all nighter third time since he joined. This poster probably belonged to the previous occupant, and Shahid just let it be.

It had only been two months since he had moved to Mumbai from his native place Alwar. Life in Alwar was nice and slow. No mad rushes, no deadlines. It gave you a warm feeling akin to being caressed by a loversecure and loving.

Shahid was the third of the five children, all of whom had chosen to be doctors, just not him. He was not very ambitious to begin with. He wanted a small job in Alwar, anything that could feed him and Farida, a home and little children. Infact, he would have loved it if Farida worked and he stayed at home, looking after the daily chores.

Their families had lived in the same neighbourhood since, forever. They had grown up together, studied together- they were never apart. Shahid was madly in love with her. He surrounded himself with her pictures and her thoughts. Her beautiful black hair cropped short, mesmerising deep blue eyes and her tiny delicate frame, made him go weak in the knees. There was not a day they didn’t spend together, sometimes sneaking out even at nights for a hug or a kiss.

Both had opted for same stream in college. Criminal Psychology. Farida loved what she was studying. She dreamt of solving complicated cases, interviewing criminals, making case files, she was totally absorbed by what she was studying and Shahid was absorbed by her thoughts. He had joined only to be with her, look at her, listen to her, feel her next to him. His reverie was broken by the cries of a wailing mother who was at the police station, where he worked, to report her missing six year old boy.

The dawn had not even opened its eyes yet and another child had been snatched away. The circumstances being narrated outside were repetitive. Mother had gone out to the shop to buy milk, as she turned to pay the shopkeeper the child went missing. No eyewitnesses. All the kidnappings seem to be happening at the break of dawn, when hardly a soul is out on the street. Even the animals tuck in for a longer siesta before the first light.

As the winter was approaching these cases seem to be rising. Shahid and everyone else at the police station were racking their brains trying to find a pattern. They compiled the data trying to find a pattern:

  • AGE GROUP: THREE TO EIGHT YEARS
  • SEX: BOYS AND GIRLS
  • TIME: EARLY MORNING
  • AREA: ALL OVER THE CITY
  • STRATA: POOR FAMILIES
  • TYPE: STRANGER ABDUCTIONS
  • CASES REGISTERED:
  • AUGUST – 6
  • SEPTEMBER – 10
  • OCTOBER – 12
  • TILL NOV 15 – 5
  • TOTAL CASES REGISTERED: 33

The strangest fact in all these abduction cases was that, no one received a single call for ransom, so they were unable to make any headway. Not one eyewitness, and 33 children missing, 33 hearts shattered, 33 mothers praying, 33 houses gone silent. Something was wrong, very wrong and they had to move fast.

Shahid’s boss, Arvind, a genial middle aged man, a little taller than him and fit as a fiddle, as opposed to his stout frame, ordered him to go home and come back in the evening. “A fresh mind will bring in a new perspective.” Shahid was actually thankful. He wanted to go away from the wails that ripped your soul.

His house was in south Mumbai, a studio apartment in one of the toniest commercial and residential localities. From his apartment he could look across and see a flat in the opposite building on the ground floor, probably belonged to a family he thought. What caught his attention in this particular flat was an orange basket that was always kept outside. Morning it would be full of milk, bread, biscuits, fruits and vegetables, must have been ordered by them, by evening it would be empty. This orange basket, over the days came to have a significant meaning in Shahid’s life. It represented to him, love, family, warmth, children.

Everything he loved and dreamt of with Farida, those hot summer nights when they would steal away from their homes and meet at the children’s park. He missed her touch so much. The soft feel of her hand as they intertwined with his. The warmth of the hug they both had been waiting for even though they spent all waking hours together. This rendevous at night was special to them. They could be lovers not just friends. He missed the stolen kiss, its softness, its sweetness, as if nothing else in the world existed. A feeling of floating in the air, fireworks glowing inside.

He had to move on, he sighed. He was preparing to take Arvind at his word and find some rest, when his phone rang, which he ignored, but then it screamed, this time he had to surrender. It was a frantic call from the office. There was an attempted kidnapping. The child had escaped and run to the police station, finally they had a witness!

Shahid grabbed whatever decent clothes he could and drove his bike fast to reach the police station. The little girl’s parents were still being traced. She had stopped crying now, a little bundle all but five years old, wearing a yellow suit and two pig tails. Arvind was already there. Shahid absorbed the details. The terrified little girl had described the man in detail. He was tall, limped and had long flowing hair. He was thin and skinny, hollow cheeked. He resembled a movie star she said. He had offered her an expensive doll that she had been eyeing for long but her parents, both workers at a shop, could not afford. She said, he smiled sweetly and she followed him to take the doll. He had a big car. The moment they reached near the car he tried to kiss her and grab her by the waist. She bit him hard, kicking and hitting with all her strength and ran as fast as she could without looking back even once. She did not know if he followed her. She stopped only at the police station.

They got the sketch ready. They mapped the area of the crime scene, but they knew he wouldn’t come there again. The sketch was sent to all the police stations. Plain coloured policemen were spread out throughout the city.

As crime analyst, Shahid sat infront of the computer feeding the details vigoursly, trying to map all possible scenarios. He was praying all along that the children be safe. He did not even want to imagine what these kids must be going through.

Farida was with him in the park. Tears flowed from their eyes, his and hers. No. No. Don’t say goodbye. Don’t go. Let’s get married, you can study, work, anything you like. No! I don’t want to be tied down. I want to make it big. I’m moving to US. Please. How am I supposed to live, I can’t even breathe without you. Sorry. No. No. Don’t go. NO! And Arvind was shaking him. “You fell asleep on your computer. Bad dream, I guess. Go home and rest.” Shahid moved out without a word, too choked to say anything. Went to his empty apartment and from there he glanced at the house with the orange basket. Without thinking he ran towards it. He almost rang the bell. Right now he wanted the feel of a family, to be surrounded by happy faces and laughter, but he stopped, glancing at the orange basket which seemed to sympathize with him.

For next two days he sat analyzing the profile of the criminal and trying to think like him . He was definitely rich, did not want ransom and he did not want to return the kids either. What was he doing to the poor little kids? At 2 am the phone at the office rang. Someone had seen a man matching the profile lurking outside a shopping mall. This was the fifth sighting in two days. All previous reportings turned out to be a wild goose chase. They swiftly access the security camera footage and see a man with a “big car” move into the parking holding hand of a little boy and driving off. The policeman outside followed him. Arvind and Shahid and their team followed too. The man was driving fast given the thin traffic on roads.

Shahid realised they were moving towards where they lived. By the time they arrived the man had gone into his flat. Shahid was staring at the orange basket, he couldn’t believe it. The basket stared back at him, mocking him, making fun of his naivety. This time he did not hesitate to ring the bell, the house was surrounded. They all were prepared to see the worst inside. All previous cases were running through their minds. They waited long enough and were almost ready to smash the door open, when they were greeted with a smile, invited inside. They were flummoxed.

Inside, the flat looked like a scene from Neverland- the mystic land of Peter Pan- the boy who wouldn’t grow up. The children were all there, dressed up in weird costumes, they looked scared, but safe. They were quickly made to sit in a van and taken to the hospital. Peter Pan was taken for interrogation. Shahid moved around the flat looking for evidence. He found costumes, toy trains, statues, a mini pirate ship, battery operated cars. He seized the laptop and cameras.

The children showed no signs of abuse. On being questioned they said they were well fed, but never went out of the house. They slept huddled together as Peter Pan danced and sang in the house. He never slept. He called them his lost children. He would hug them and kiss them. He dressed as a girl to feed them, as a boy to play with them and as a pirate to scare them. He would shout and scream when they got tired, some days he would forget to feed them and keep singing. He loved playing most with the new children he brought. The older ones forgotten and placed in another room. He got wild with anger if anyone called him uncle. He said he was Peter Pan and that’s what they will call him. Shahid was relieved that the children were safe.

Peter Pan or Paras, in real life was a depressed young man who was not in a state to narrate his story. Shahid found no evidence of abuse, no pictures, nothing anywhere. It made him sad to think of the circumstances that must have forced Paras to run away from reality to Neverland. The interrogations would take long.

As the police removed the items from the flat, Shahid picked up the orange basket, for him it had represented hope, faith, optimism. The orange basket had been tangible, an anchor that held him from falling into the depths of despair. How he wished he had rung the bell that day and maybe, just maybe, he could have been able to show Paras the promise of the orange basket.

Deepika…

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My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

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THE DREAM CATCHER

“I am the deep blue river, bubbling and burbling, through the forest. I descended from the heavens, the liquid soul of the earth. I glitter like thousand diamonds, the sun shines on me glowing like gold I nurture and provide.”

Six-year-old Narayan, named after the Lord himself was river Ganga. He moved around with his grandmother’s blue saree. Extreme poverty and forced Narayan’s parents to move to Shimla for better opportunities. Narayan was left in the care of his grandmother at the native village of Dharampur. Short for his age and gruffy, with wild curly hair, Narayan had a vivid imagination. He lived the stories his grandmother told him. He was moving around imagining that he is river Ganga. Each story he heard set in him, a powerful emotional connect to a particular character or event. Ganga fascinated him and he would be Ganga, the purest river.

Soon he had to start school. Narayan went reluctantly, but he did like the stories being told by teachers. He would come home and relate these to his grandmother. He was no ordinary story teller. He would enact as he told his stories. His movements were fluid, his expressions flawless and he would become one with the character he liked. He began to live that character, the character was alive and ticking for him. As years passed, he was intrigued by the stories he read during his Hindi and English classes. He would pick up characters following their life, their emotions. He managed to dress like most. In school is teachers triec to get him to study which he did not. He went there to listen to stories.

He soon became an oddity in the village. Everyone looked at him with suspicion. Whenever his parents came home people would suggest taking him to a doctor, thinking he had some mental illness. Some suggested witch doctors, some suggested offering prayers at the temple. His parents too were not in agreement of his actions. They believed something was truly amiss. They blamed his grandmother for spoiling him. She tried to tell them that it was evident his interest lay somewhere else, but his parents were convinced that he needed some sort of treatment and something was askew with his brain. They decided to take him to Shimla for treatment. Narayan overheard his parents and ran away from his house deep into the dense pine forest below.

He knew the jungle like the back of his hand for he had been there so often to enact the characters he loved. He knew of a man who lived alone in a hut. He had told him once, that, he used to live in Mumbai and write stories for the movies. If Narayan wanted to listen to stories he was welcome. Narayan had for long been contemplating on going in search of this man with dreadlocks, long flowing beard, dressed in a hoody and worn out jeans. He looked tall to him, almost like Indra The king of Gods, that their teacher spoke about. His mind was made up, and he sauntered along to reach his destination. Once in the company of Indra, who did not judge him, neither for his looks, nor for his eccentric love for the characters, Narayan felt as close as possible to his true self.

Narayan was christened dream catcher. Indra reinforced the idea in Narayan that, life was like a dream, you can filter out the bad dreams and keep the good ones and you could be like a dream catcher living and loving what you like. Thereafter he began narrating his story to him everyday a story of a man young, handsome, sauve and rich. He was successful in every sphere, business and women. Narayan was fascinated not just fascinated he was infatuated.

A little beyond Dharampur, the village of Naddi, had become popular with the tourists, as it was the most picturesque place over there. During the summer months it was dotted with many eating joints and Narayan started working at one, he had to after all, meet his daily needs. This cafe where he worked, had a relaxed atmosphere. It was mostly frequented by young crowd who played guitar and sang and danced while enjoying their pizza, waffle and mojitos. Narayan liked the feel of the place.

Here, he spotted a beautiful young girl, definitely not Indian, tall, blonde, blue eyes and with a mesmerising smile. She would come everyday for lunch and he gathered that she had come for the yoga and meditation camp in the village. To him she embodied the heroine to his hero. He was drawn to her, watching her everyday but not going anywhere near.

It was a particularly hot day, of June and the cafe had been busy all afternoon. She hadn’t come and Narayan sat at the cafe stairs, staring at the cobbled path. The bright rays of sun, the opening and closing of the creaking cafe door, a song on the guitar. He heard the gentle breeze ruffling the pine tree tops. Everything was serene only his heart was not calm.

He was sitting in a black limousine, dressed to the best. The door of the car was open and he could see the red carpet rolled out. And he was running his hand through a girl’s hair, she was holding his hand and smiling at him. Oh! that smile seemed to pull him towards her, tugging at something deep inside him and now he was falling falling into the endless pit. “Wake up! Wake-up boy! You’ll get a sunburn sleeping at the stairs in the blazing sun.” She was giggling and shaking him awake. She had come walking out of his dream. Yes! Her only her had to be his heroine.

Eighteen year old Narayan, borrowed a suit from a shop and made a bouquet of wild flowers and decided to go to the village, years after he had run away. His hair wilder than ever before, but the constant labour added muscle to his short frame. His hands were gruff and his shoes were torn. He washed his face in the stream and try to tame his hair. He waited outside the yoga camp, for his heroine to come. The sun was now meeting the earth to bid farewell for the night. In the twilight she looked prettier than ever, the flowers in his hand had wilted, yet he went to her. She recognise him and smiled and then laughed at his audacious dress. He was nervous now. He offered her the flowers and she tenderly took them in her hands. He managed to say friends! She laughed and laughed. He looked at her confused. He said friends again. She said no, no, never. Returning his flowers and walked away.

Narayan could not comprehend what just happened. She is not supposed to say no. She is supposed to be my side. I am the hero. No! No! Maybe she misunderstood. But she had returned the flowers. He felt lost. How can the story change? Surely she missed out something.

He was alone, his mentor had gone to Mumbai to narrate the story for a movie. Narayan wanted to seek his advice. He was lost. The story cannot change, at any cost. He couldn’t sleep or eat. His story had to remain constant. After three long days when his Indra was back,he saw him haggard looking, in a dirty ill fitting suit, lying on the floor of the hut. Narayan sprang up as soon as saw him and asked whether his story script was accepted. Yes! He said. “You will no longer have to work at the restaurant”. “And the story? Was the story well received.” “Yes!” Narayan was told, but, “I had to make changes in the protagonist life to suit the movie makers.” And he narrated the new story to Narayan. Change! Narayan was quiet for the rest of the week. Silence seem to have engulfed him. Everything seem dark and unpleasant.

He had made up his mind. He went to the town and got himself a well fitted suit. Got a haircut and looked gentlemanly. Thereafter he went to the village. The summer festival was going on in full swing. Folk artists were performing on the stage. He could see his grandmother in the audience, he felt ashamed. He had not met her even once. He saw his mentor and the girl from the yoga camp. His teachers, classmates, and villagers many of whom he recognised. He had to take his chance today.

He hijacked the stage. There was a murmur of discontent, but he began his performance. His mentor recognised the story. Narayan was enacting scene upon scene and the audience was gripped. There was pin drop silence. He moved on the stage with such fluidity and grace. His expressions, his actions and his movements were all flawless. The story of a man who was rich and had everything in life, a beautiful house a beautiful wife and all the luxuries money could buy, but he could not buy love. His unfaithful wife stabbed him one day and he lay in a pool of blood, on the cold floor of his house.

The story ended. The audience applauded, a standing ovation. Only two people had tears in their eyes. Narayan’s grandmother and his mentor for the knew, Narayan had given the performance of his life. His heroine alas understood the meaning of friends… But it was too late. Narayan hadn’t stopped for a second chance.

Deepika..

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Watch “Credence is Lord Voldemort? | Fantastic Beasts ‘The Truth Revealed'” on YouTube

Do watch the video to encourage the little boy. My son 😊

Thank you.

Deepika….

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A REVIERE

As I reflect on the cumulative experiences of the past decade, I’m thankful that I was blessed with an understanding to accept the lessons that I learnt and not wallow in my mistakes.

For me personally, what changed me most was the loss of my father. He wasn’t even seventy yet. Many people treat death of a parent as a natural order, but believe me, no matter what your age is, you are never prepared for it. It will be my forever torment that I was not by his side when everyone else was.

My father was a simple man and he had his own set of rules. He never trusted technology specially after the ATM machine swallowed his card and he did not know how to regurgitate it.

Right after my daughter’s birth he suffered a major heart attack. He was shook beyond belief. More than his physical health we were worried about his mental well being. He had always been fit, hence it took him months to accept he had a heart attack. If this wasn’t enough, three years later he suddenly lost his appetite and weight. A scan revealed a tumour in his stomach. He needed to be operated immediately.

For reasons beyond my control and as much as I wished, I could not be with him. He promised to meet me once he got home. He never did. For the first time ever he didn’t keep his promise.

Grief when it comes is nothing like we expect it to be.

Joan Didion

I reached Shimla in the wee hours next day. Even though I had been thinking about it throughout the journey, I was not prepared to see what I did.

Him lying on the ground with people sitting around him and my mom sitting in a quiet corner with my sister. I was hit by a tsunami of emotions. I felt guilt, shock, anger, sadness, fear of coping with the loss, fear of powerlessness at seeing him go. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to be near mom, but all these people were embracing me, telling me not to cry, to be strong.

Preparations for funeral began, and the same realtives and people who were supporting me a while ago, began whispering as to why the girls (not daughters) are being “allowed” to do all this.

Between us, my mother and panditji, this had not even been a point to discuss, because it was the most natural thing to do. Who else would perform the last rites? The whispering was now a murmur and then a roar. People suggesting how even a neighbour’s son could do it.

We were not trying to break any norms here nor were we trying to prove anything to anybody. My mother, who had not stayed alone since she met my father almost forty years ago, was too distraught to sit for puja. So naturally the daughters would do it. It never crossed our minds that it could be any other way.

Why did this even come up for discussion? I was amazed. We never thought about it. We were not trying to break stereotypes or regressive taboos, we were not trying to stand against tradition. Performing his last rites, lighting the funeral pyre, was something his children should do, just that his children happened to be girls. He never pined for a son. All this left a jagged hole in my heart. I looked at my mom, whose silent look told me that papa wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I’m not discussing whether what we did was right or wrong. I’m sure there will be a zillion interpretations. We did what we felt was right, what we wanted to do for our father who loved us dearly.

Acceptance was the only way to deal with this loss. After the whirlwind of emotions settled, I found I did not feel malice toward people. I’m sure their intentions were good. What did worry me was the fact that we become inexplicably stubborn when it comes to tradition and customs. Just because something is old doesn’t make it right. I became more open, more accepting and more forgiving. I feel empathy and pity for those who refuse to change for the better, but I’m also sure and hopeful that 2020 will bring freshness to our minds.

Deepika..

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BROKEN MIRROR

I jumped the bandwagon of looking at the past decade only after I became part of this amazing blog hop. Hope you all like my take on the decade, with a short story. Thank you.

Vanessa picked up the Vogue magazine. She smiled. She was on the cover page again, for the eighth time in a row. She was leaning against the bay window of the opulent penthouse in suburban Mumbai. The stunning panoramic view had to compete with her beauty. Her face was perfect, almost ethereal. She was photogenic and drop dead gorgeous. She was tall with beautiful Auburn hair. Most women envied her perfect figure and would gladly give an arm and a foot to look as attractive as her, at 28.

She could not believe it had already been a decade since she first stepped on the ramp. A decade of being a model, a decade of living a dream. She looked at her home. The lavish architecture, the pools, the garden and the stunning interiors were a far cry from where she had begun.

Vanessa Barbusse picked up the script for the interview sent in by Harper magazine. The questions were always the same, nothing different, nothing remarkable, yet she sat herself infront of a small mirror which had cracked in places. The mirror meant more to her than her life. It was like the mirror in Snowwhite. It never lied.

She would read the question and look in the mirror and answer the question. This was her only way to remember her past which she kept well hidden. Also, the mirror was the only souvenir left of her father, mentor, guide, God, Louis Barbusse.

Question 1 (Q): How does it feel to see yourself on the cover of Vogue for the eighth time?

Answer (A): I’m grateful that I’ve been chosen. Vogue is very close to my heart and I’ve been associated with it for long, almost a decade.

Mirror (M): It feels great. I love the attention, the glamour, the glitz. I was greedy for it and still am. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q: You call Louis Barbusse, the greatest designer our country has seen, your God?

A: Yes, Louis has been the father figure for me. I’m not overtly religious, but if there was God he would be like Louis.

M: Mirror smiled. That was true. Louis Barbusse is my God. He helped me live, when many years ago. I was lying naked on the streets of Mumbai. He picked the thirteen year old me and gave me life.

Q: You lived in Goa before moving to Mumbai. How was life in Goa?

A: Goa is a beautiful place. The beaches, the people, the festivities, naturally would be the happiest time for any kid. It gave me security to be who I am today.

M: Mirror was sad. Growing up was wretched and glum. My parents, sisters, teachers, classmates hated me. I was an outcast, right from the age of three. I was always deviant, an outsider, a rara avis, a black swan.

Q: You don’t talk much about your family?

A: There isn’t much to say really! Louis Barbusse is the only family I have. My birth family was killed in a plane crash, and I’ve been with Louis since then. I don’t really have any memory of them.

M: Tears welled up in Mirror’s eyes. My family ostracized me. At 3, they hated me for playing with my sisters. At 6, they detested me for stealing a skirt from my sister’s wardrobe. At 8, I was loathed and abhorred for wearing lipstick, a string of pearls and high heels for a birthday party. “Are you a whore? A slut, to dress up like this.” I was screaming for them to let me be, to understand what I want, but all I got in return was scorn. I was turned out of my house at 11. My soul was ripped and torn. I was trapped in blackness of despair. I had to survive. I was living in the streets begging for food, but was given drugs, drugs to numb my senses. It felt great to be relieved of all the agony. I felt free. By 13, my body was giving up. I was in a ghetto in Mumbai where I was beaten to a pulp, because I did not conform to the oppressive norms the society laid for me. I was smothered with desperate terror, a soundless agony of being silenced.

Q: Being beautiful is a gift. Do you feel privileged? Isn’t it the reason for your wonderful life?

A: Thank you for appreciating. Yes beauty is a gift and I’m thankful for it. It did help me open doors which would have been difficult otherwise, but I’ve worked for my better life. I’m definitely lucky.

M: Mirror felt choked now. Beauty? Privilege? Louis brought the 13 year old me into his home that ugly night. It was the blackest night. It was pitch dark, the thunder seemed to rip open the heart of heaven. Even the skies were conspiring against me. There was not a shred of cloth on me, only bruises and blood which refused to stop even in the incessant rain. He nurtured me back to health. Asked my name. Victor, I said, feeling ashamed. I was trapped, trapped in the wrong body. I knew it at 3, but boys don’t play house with girls. At 6, boys don’t wear skirts. At 8, boys never wear lipstick and high heels. You are devil incarnate. At 11, stop growing your hair, stop wearing makeup. NO. I’m not a boy. I’m a girl. I’m not Victor. I’m Vanessa. Leave the house now. At 13, Mumbai, dressed as a girl, performing at a bar. Found out by rouges, beaten, molested, raped, left to die. Louis Barbusse hugged Victor. You don’t need to feel trapped anymore. We’ll transform together. Louis took Victor to a room and directed him to pick any dress he liked. You are Vanessa from now. Louis did not have the courage and killed his desires when he accepted his fate, but Vanessa shall live. Not just live, she shall conquer the world.

Mirror says let go, understand, forgive. Vanessa, having risen from Victor’s ashes, only wants to proclaim to the world: I SURVIVED !

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organized by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored byBeyond The Box, Wedding Clap, The Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”

DEEPIKA..

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ROOTS

NUH

This is a story from a small village called Nuh in Haryana. Given the nature of my husband’s job we frequently change places and are able to visit corners many wouldn’t have heard of. Some places are difficult to locate on the map, not Google map, but a good old Atlas. During one such tenure we found ourselves living in rural Haryana in the village of Nuh. Now I hadn’t heard of Nuh even though I belong to the neighbouring state of Himachal. Nuh was unique in so many ways as I was about to find out slowly. To give you the location, it was about seventy kilometres from Delhi, but still remote, the climate too was extreme, from zero degree in winters to forty-five degrees in summers. People here were predominantly farmers and mostly of Meo ethnicity. The place had a rich history and had seen many rulers.

Being the rural development officer my husband was given, what everyone referred to, as a bungalow. I was eager to move into my bungalow and reached there one hot sweltering June evening. The dust storm had just subsided and it gave the evening sun an uncanny halo of orange and diffused my bungalow in the same to hue. Sand had claimed my bungalow which turned out to be a house with two rooms and a kitchen. Why in God’s name would anyone call it a banglow, giving me false hopes of living like the memsaabs of erstwhile British era,with its bungalows, like you find strewn all over Shimla, my hometown. My husband was quick to admonish me. He said, “You have a pucca house, as opposed to the mud huts in the village, and you even have a lawn to go with it. How is this any less than a bungalow?” Oh nevermind! I thought, let’s turn this into a bungalow, and began unpacking. In an hour I had my kitchen ready to host a party. My husband returned, a little later with the caretaker, who would be assisting me and helping me along. I went out with a glass of water to offer him. He drank and thanked me, in a very pleasant manner. He told me his name was Shankar and would be living in the quarter attached to the house. His family had only an eight year old daughter call Indriyani.

Shankar’s six feet plus frame seemed to dwarf me, not that I am tall to begin with. He seemed to be a warm person, somewhat fatherly even though he must be the same age as me. A sort of person you would want around if you were ever in trouble.

It has been a week since we move in and Shankar had been of greatest help. My home transformed into a bungalow. He even began planting flowers and mowing the lawn. I hadn’t seen Indriyani anywhere. Whenever I asked Shankar he would dismiss it by saying she is around.

INDRIYANI

One fine morning after a sudden shower, much to the relief of everyone, I decided to look around the village. The air was ripe with the pleasant dewy petrichor of the post-rain morning, enticing me to walk around. The village had many monuments across its length and breadth. Many tourists thronged the place. It was here I noticed Indriyani, a bubbly girl,wearing a red suit, selling postcards to the tourists. Well there were many little children like her,all from the village, but what was unique about Indriyani was the many languages she was speaking. She would listen intensely to the tourists to hear what language they work conversing in, and then would go rushing to them and plead them to buy her stuff. Her greetings would in French, Spanish, Hindi, Urdu English and she even managed Russian. Her diction and syntax was amazing. I almost believed that she had formal training in all these languages. The tourist too were attracted by her unique ability and many bought articles because they found her irresistibly cute. I went to her too, and she recognised me immediately and was the first to introduce herself. “Namaste”, she said cheerfully, “You are Iyengar aunty right ! I am Indriyani I’ve seen you in the banglow.” “Pleased to meet you Indriyani,” I said. Oh ! Forgive me. I forgot to introduce myself. I am a Himachali, married to an Iyengar from Karnataka. I have often been asked how we came together, because of a rolling pin I say laughing. Anyone who visits Shimla definitely goes to a ubiquitous little market that sells all things wooden and the rolling pin is the star. Apparently the wood used here is just right to make the rolling pin required to roll out around perfect roties. Here I spotted this confused, chubby, slightly darkish by North Indian standards, looking soul glancing at rolling pins like they were some sort of meteors fallen from the sky. Bemused I helped him buy one and that’s that. Let’s get back to Indriyani.

I was drawn to Indriyani’s cherubic little face, big eyes with a shining bindi in between, and curly slightly blond hair. “Bonjour,” she shouted to a French tourist passing by, and off she scooted to sell her things.

SHANKAR

As I returned home after my slightly long walk, it was almost late afternoon when I returned. I wanted to tell Shankar I finally met his daughter and went exuberantly towards is room. I could hear words akin to a prayer being said and from the slightly ajar window I saw Shankar offering namaj. It was the first time I saw him wearing skull cap. Not wanting to disturb him, I retreated to the house not fully comprehending what I saw. Few minutes later he was with me and had guessed the most obvious question going on in my mind. “Madam, my name is Shankar Khan,” he said. “I am a Muslim Rajput, most of us in this village are.” “Muslim Rajput!” I said, trying to suppress the surprise in my voice. He explain gently without malice, like speaking to a little child. We are Meo. Our ancestors converted to Islam between the twelfth and seventeenth century but we maintain our distinctive cultural identity. We practice Islam, but haven’t left our Hindu roots. Names like Ram Khan and Shankar Khan are common here. Many of us even use Singh, like Fateh Singh. We do not marry in the same gotra like most of Haryana and the marriages are solemnized after nikah and Hindu rites have been completed.” “So your daughter is Indriyani Khan,” I said. He stiffened at the mention of his daughter and left. I processed the new found information. I was smiling, remembering these lines I read long ago:

क्या बनाने आए क्या बना बैठे

कहीं मंदिर बना बैठे

कहीं मस्जिद बना बैठे

हमसे तो जात अच्छी है परिंदों की

कभी मंदिर पर जा बैठे तो
कभी मस्जिद पर जा बैठे

Nuh indeed was unique. Wish I could tell more people in India about it. Next day Shankar came in with a request. He asked if I could tutor the little children of village in English and Maths. The school in the village educated the children well, but these two subjects are lacking. So on Shankar’s suggestion I became a volunteer at a nearby school.

INDRIYANI’S WORLD

The classes were held in the evenings due two basic reasons, first it was too hot during the day to study and second most children were out working and doing different chores. I was introduced to the group of little children whose age groups ranged from six to ten years. I had gone thinking I would find more boys, but was pleasantly surprised to see a homogeneous group. The school register had only the first names and no surnames and this was done, I was told, to keep the secular nature alive. Indriyani was easily the most talkative girl in the class. She was quick on uptake and loved to learn. She warmed up to me quickly. Started visiting home often. She insisted that I come to her home and take a look at her collection. “Collection of what?” I asked. “You’ll never guess,” she said. Curiosity rising high, I went to the room and she showed me her collection of cheese. “Cheese!” “Yes,” she said, jumping up and down. “I love cheese. A Spanish tourist had given me one and I loved it”. “How did you manage such a collection?” I asked. “I ask tourists to lend me if they have and I give them discount on the goods. ” Where is Shankar?” I asked. Her face fell. “Abba doesn’t talk to me. He doesn’t like me.” “Why?” “Ammi died when I was born. He never even picked me up ever. I heard him saying my face reminded him of Ammi and how I was the reason she was not here.” I hugged her instantly. She was still smiling. “It’s alright,” she said. “I know he loves me but is annoyed he couldn’t save Ammi. One day he will be proud of me.” It had only been a month since I had arrived and I already felt that I had been living here for ages. At the end of my class we kept fifteen minutes for stories. They had so many things to say and ask. I introduced Geronimo Stilton books to them and they were thrilled. Indriyani, strangely did not want to read. Only after I told her that Stilton was also a cheese company, did she excitedly pickup the book.

SEPARATION

It was humid August evening and the fan in the school seem to have given up on keeping anyone cool. It’s blades rotated humming a slow lullaby putting all of us in a sort of lethargic slumber. Suddenly there was commotion outside. A huge luxury bus was park outside our little school, a kind of novelty in a village where bullock cart was still the means of transportation. It belonged to a French couple and Indriyani was leading them inside. A little consent from the couple was enough to let the children go scrambling into the bus and examine it’s cushioned seats, TV, air conditioner, curtains. The couple had come to talk to me as they could commute a little in English. They had been meeting Indriyani and saw a lot of potential in her. They wanted to adopt her. We went to meet Shankar and apprised him of the situation. He looked at his daughter and nodded in consent. Indriyani was overjoyed, and so were the French couple. After all the formalities were completed it was the day for Indriyani to leave. No tears, no emotional goodbyes, instead warm wishes and smiling faces. Indriyani stayed in touch with me first through letters, then email and then through various social media. We too moved to the next place after spending an educative two years in Nuh.

ROOTS

Life happened and I got busier. Nuh would cross my mind ever so often, specially after the night of December 6, 1992, when, Babri Masjid fell. I thought how the people of Nuh must be keeping their identity and the close knit cultural structure together. I felt sad thinking how their distinctive cultural identity must be under threat of being torn apart completely.

My phone pinged in a message one early morning and it was from Indriyani. She was in Nuh almost ten years after she had left. She requested me to come there to meet her. Even though I was neck deep in work at the time, I could not help but book a ticket to Nuh. I informed what time I would reach and sure enough she was there to receive me, with a young man next to her, who, I assumed was her boyfriend. She took me to her home, a hut in the village, with all modern amenities inside. “I stay here,” she proudly said, “with Rahul Khoshoo, who studied with me in France.” A Kashmiri pandit, I thought and it seems he read my mind and smiled at me impishly as if saying it doesn’t matter. “I’ve a gift for you,” she said and took out a big jar of Stilton cheese and we both started giggling at the sight of it. Nuh hadn’t changed much and I was happy to see it that way. During dinner Indriyani explained, she had studied world history and that made her realise how distinctive her unique heritage was. Rahul was of the same opinion too, and together they were here to chronicle this extraordinarily remarkable cultural identity. “Abba is helping us collect all the information,” said Rahul with a smile and as if on cue Shankar entered holding old records and photographs in his hands. His pleasant manner was still there and he smiled at Indriyani as he handed everything to her. As Shankar left, Indriyani winked at me, “I told you he will be proud of me.” I spent a week in Nuh and was happy to see that it remained unaffected by the happenings around. It had presented itself as a live example of what our nation was all about and I was proud of the young couple who had taken it upon themselves to show it to the world. The evening before I was to leave we went to to check some Meo monuments. A hot June breeze carried the sweet scent of mangoes and the setting sun resembled a burning diya in the sky. As I looked back I saw the young couple lost in an amorous kiss giving me hope that when the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind.

Deepika….

Thanks for reading

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THE MISSING MAN

It has been eighty two days since Arvind went missing, reflected Niti as she drank her morning coffee in peace for one more time.

There was no rush or madness, just peace as her little daughter Ruhani slept. Niti went to check on her mother-in-law who needed help with her daily chores since she suffered a brain stroke. She too was sleeping. Niti was fond of her mother-in-law as she never had parents growing up.

Niti had lived all her life in an orphanage. She never knew of her real parents and never felt the need to go looking for someone who could leave a new born girl at the church door.

She had always been a bright child even in her early years. She loved the little children she lived with. She had violently protested against being adopted, “This is my home, don’t make me go away.”

Being a bright student she was soon tuitoring all the little kids around her. She did good for herself too. She was able to pursue MBBS, to become a doctor. Again, she refused to move out of the orphanage, infact she taught students in her free time and helped her orphanage with the money that she earned.

Life in college was splendid. It opened unknown avenues for her. Nobody asked her about her parents and those who did, did not seem to be bothered by the fact that she was an orphan. She was amongst the top students in her class. She loved the course she was doing and Anatomy or Anat, as they called it, was her favourite subject. Many students flinched in the Dissection Hall or DH, but Niti had the best hand there. Even her teachers complimented her, they saw a future surgeon in her. Everyone admired the way she conducted herself. Amongst her many admirers was her senior Arvind.

Niti noticed Arvind when she was being lauded for her marvellous work in DH. He was neatly dressed and was being breathtakingly handsome, he walked confidently into the hall. She watched intently at this boy whose body seemed as well sculpted as his face. She was acutely conscious that she was staring at him yet she could not take her eyes off. On his part Arvind too was as smitten as she was.

What followed was a whirlwind of romance. Arvind showered her with presents and most of all his love and attention. He even began helping her with the work of the orphanage.

She loved the way he told her to keep her hair tied as she looked more attractive. She liked it when he was jealous and told her to stop talking to her friends. He suggested that she should stop wearing jeans and skirts as he found her irresistible in suits, and her heart just melted. Slowly Arvind had taken over her completely and she loved all the attention. She spoke to his mother over the phone several times in his presence and on her urging him, he took her home once. She appreciated the way he never left the side of his mother who was on a wheelchair.

It was Arvind’s suggestion to get married soon. He had just completed his degree and Niti had one more year to go, but he asserted that he could not stay away anymore. Niti and everyone at the orphanage was very happy. Even in college everyone envied Niti’s luck, though by now she hardly had any friends left as Arvind was always around. They decided to have a small ceremony in the orphanage itself, one winter evening. Niti had never been this happy. She was finally going to have a family and a home of her own.

Niti, Arvind and his mother reached home late night after the wedding. Arvind took his mother to her room and then guided Niti to his. Niti was tired after an entire day of ceremonies. She wanted to quickly change and rest. To her surprise Arvind would not have any of it. He told her rather coldly that it was their first night together and he wouldn’t let her just sleep. She laughed and said they were going to be together every day and night. But, Arvind told her in no uncertain terms that he wanted her here and now. She still thought he was joking till, to her horror, he forced himself on her. Rape, like Death happens to others. Niti was broken beyond measure as she saw him turn into this monster. The pattern repeated itself the next day too. He did not let her out of that room. She was to numb to even react. She lay on her bed like a corpse.

By evening the demon in him seemed satisfied and he let her go out to eat for the first time since she entered the house. She went to the kitchen and he observed her every move. She looked around for her mother-in-law deseperately seeking some relief, but could not find her anywhere. He told her to get ready for he would take her to the movies.

She felt intense hatred rising inside of her but did not know what to do. He had taken her phone, and she realised that he had over the course alienated all her friends. She thought of running back to the orphanage, but he never let her out of her sight. She realised he had married her because he knew she would have nowhere to go and no one would come asking about her well being.

While outside he was the same Prince Charming she had met in college, and now it hit her hard the real meaning of his jealousy and possessiveness. She did not want to enter that house of horror again, but seems she had no choice left.

Once home she looked around and rushed to her mother-in-law’s room and saw her crying and shivering. Arvind came following and pulled Niti out. The night of horror began for her once more.

It was almost after a week that Arvind left home to join back at the hospital. He stopped Niti from joining back. Infact he locked her along with his mother in the house.

Finally she got a chance to speak to his mother. She told her that she could only sympathise with her as she was in no position to help her. Niti asked her about the sudden change in Arvind. Her answer shocked Niti. She told her that Arvind had been like this since he was a teenager. He never had any friends and he never went out of the house either. His father had left them when he was young. Arvind sat in the living room watching lewd movies all day. He even touched himself right in her presence. When she tried to correct his obnoxious behaviour he hit her so hard that she lost her ability to walk.His regressive behaviour took a turn for the worst when he started bringing random women home.

She told Niti that the first time she spoke to her she hoped that love might change him. The very fact that he wanted to get married made her believe that Arvind had changed, but it seems that the barbarian was alive and ticking. He had just changed his ways. She said she felt sorry for her but could not help her.

Niti cried till her tears dried up. She didn’t know how to escape this hell. She was a prisoner in her home, a slave to the demon.

Soon enough she was pregnant but that changed nothing. When she was to give birth to her daughter she left home after months. In the hospital everyone envied her luck at finding such a handsome and considerate husband who never left her alone. He even assissted the birth of their daughter. Only Niti knew the reason why he never left her alone. He feared she would run away or tell someone the truth.

Niti wanted to feel happy at the birth of her daughter, but all she felt was pity for the little child. She wanted to leave her at the orphanage door where she would be safe. For the first time she forgave her mother thinking, maybe she too was saving her from a similar devil.

Coming home was beginning of a nightmare. Arvind had made sure that all means of communication were closed for Niti. Locked up in the room she could hear her daughter crying in the arms of her mother-in-law. She could not let Ruhani grow up in this hell hole. She had to stop Arvind for the sake of her daughter.

Arvind came home one day and announced that he is calling his colleagues from the hospital home as they have been insisting on a party. He said he would give the grandest party so no one bothered him again.

Niti saw this as an opportunity to do something for her daughter who was only eleven days old. She started planning. She had to escape from here come what may.

As the day of the party came near Arvind got busier. Finally the D day was there, guests began arriving bringing gifts. Niti had prepared everything just as Arvind had asked her to.

But Arvind was no where to be seen. Doctors said he had not come to the hospital either. Niti was surprised as well, she said he had left at the usual time. Maybe he got caught up at some place. The guests thanked Niti for her awesome hosptitality and congratulated her on having found the perfect husband and home. Arvind hadn’t arrived.

Niti began clearing and picking up the garbage. She told her mother-in-law that she was going out to the garbage dump to clear everything out. She picked up huge bags of garbage and as she burnt them, she cried and cried. She was finally free of Arvind. She had afterall, been the best student in her class and anatomy had been her favourite. Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.” Yes it was Niti, she had to fight against this evil and she did. It was for her daughter for her mother-in-law but most of all for herself.

Next day she went to the police station and reported Arvind missing.

Deepika…