Thursday, 14 November 2013

And then, Liebster comes visiting !! :) :) :)

Its Liebster Time !! :)

The birth of this blog has redefined many aspects of my life.
The thinking hats are being worn again, my creativity is plunging to hitherto unknown depths, and words are yearning to flow out, either in trickles or in a gush of rain !!

And the Liebster Award comes visiting !

Did I just say Liebster ? Then that’s the sweetest, nicest, beloved, kindest,valued, cute, endearing thing to say, because Liebster just means that !!

Out here in the blogosphere, so many blogs voice out for the bloggers. The Liebster aims at recognizing such blogs, which have less than 200 followers, as a boost to their blogging endeavours and spirit.

Thanks a lot to Maithili Bhatnagar , who blogs at one such story and Mrs Usha Menon, who blogs at Kuch Khatta Kuch Meetha, for having awarded me with the ‘Liebster’ Status !!

As the general rules go, once you accept the award, you must :

è Tag back to the person who tagged you
è Answer the questions posed by him/her/them
è Tag 11 ( some say 10 ) more bloggers , with no more than 200 followers
è Post 11 ( some say 10 )  Questions for them to answer !!
è And tell them that they have been tagged , so that they continue the chain !! :-)

Maithili has given an additional rule of  ‘Posting 11 facts’ about yourself :-)

As I’m taking up the Award from both Maithili and Usha Ma’m, I’m answering all their questions :-)

Firstly, 11 facts about myself…

1.      I love memorizing phone numbers. This has helped me many times when I’ve really needed the numbers and could recall them from memory.
2.      I love collecting pens and diaries. I may not use any or all of them, but they’ll still be a part of my collection.
3.      I’m a typical Gemini, with not just two, but multiple personalities :D 
4.      I’m a flipkartomaniac :D You know what I mean :D :D
5.      I get bored very easily. I told you already, I’m a typical Gemini-cusped-with-Cancer-ab-kya-karen types !!!
6.      Things which you think will irk me don’t, while things which aren’t irksome at all to many people annoy me :-) Haan Haan I know, too unpredictable !!
7.      I’m talkative. Goes without saying :D
8.      I’m becoming lazier day by day… F1 F1… ( See, I’m lazy even to type ‘help’ , I told you na )….
9.      Patience and I don’t go together…I’m learning it the hard way now :-(
10.  Decluttering the shelves at home is often a funny affair as nothing really gets out :) Its just an organising-the-clutter session for me :D I love keepsakes :)
11.  My trip to Dubai is my very first, outside India, and I’m loving it here, as it makes me miss my home more !!

Here are the answers to Maithili’s Questions :

1.      One relation you were responsible for ruining
                             Hmm, I guess I’m not yet guilty that way !
2.      The worst lie you told
                            That I’m learning Oracle, when I wasn’t even trying to :P :P :P
3.      One relative who is more of a friend 
                          My Sis-in-Law :D
4.      Your favorite story
                        Rendaamoozham by M T Vasudevan Nair ( Malayalam ) is my favourite, and the story of the Mahabharatha from Bhima’s perspective is enchanting. ( Translated to English as The Second  
                        Turn. A must read ! ).
5.      One habit you wish to do away with
                        Procrastination :D
6.      A movie date or a theme park with friends
                        A movie date :)
7.      The movie you regret watching in theatre
                        Jurassic Park ( I was too young then, and didn’t get a word of what was being said, and I sat petrified , staring at the screen in front of me :) )
8.      The best compliment you received
                       All compliments I get compete for this title :D
9.      Whose comments inspire you on your post?
                        Every single one. I mean it.
10.  Who do you think of when I say "angel"
                        My daughter and her smile ! Who else !!
11.  Have you experienced paranormal :P 
                        No….if you exclude telepathy from the definition ! But Telepathy, yes !!

And the answers to Usha Ma’m’s Questions are :

1     Why do you write?
     Writing is a window for emotions to flow out. I write because I love dressing up
     my thoughts :)

2     Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging as an outlet to the creative side of my mind. Blogging is a release and a relief. Any blogger would agree to this !!
3     What do you prefer, love marriage or an arranged marriage? Why?
How about an arranged love marriage ? :P

4     Does Politics interest you? Give reasons.
Politics as a  Science, yes. Contemporary Politics, not really. I would like to keep myself informed of what’s happening, but no discussions on the same. Not for me. It is no longer an art. It is so politically political !!

5     Which is your  favourite TV  programme?
Quiz Shows. Any. All.

6     Three things which are most important for you in life?
Love, Peace and Happiness.

7     Which is your favourite News Paper?
The Hindu ; Malayala Manorama

8     At what age a child can be given sex education?
I feel it is not something you can start imparting all of a sudden. Sex education can begin at young age, and the knowledge can be imparted slowly and pragmatically over the period of their growth, so that they take it in positively and gain  proper awareness without being misguided.

9     Which character has influenced you most in a novel? Why?
Again, Bhima from Rendaamoozham, as quoted for the 4th Question posed by Maithili. Bhima thinks from the second man’s perspective ; the man who has always had only the second chance to do things, the first one being his elder brother. While he respects the societal norms and his brother’s primogeniture, he often feels that the situations would’ve been a lot different if he had been given the first chance. Something which we all would’ve surely felt at some point in our lives !

10    Which country do you wish to live for ever?
Gar Firdaus rōy-e zamin ast, hamin ast-o hamin ast-o hamin ast. India. Anytime. Always.

Here are the fellow bloggers I’m tagging with the Liebster.

Kirti Nemani, who pens Verses from my heart.
Anu Dev, whose Pinch of Anuism , is her voice.
Jini Fernandez, whose Breath of Fresh Air, indeed what it actually is.
Animesh Ganguly, who is Penning down the mind, beautifully.
Satya, whose Locomente,  is her world !
Ramya , who says she owns a confused humanity !!
Jyotsna Bhatia, whose dreams and dimensions are simply cute !!
Seema, whose Endeavours are endearing ! 
Gayatri , who looks Outside the Kitchen window !!
Menachery, who talks the same old new stuff !!
Jayashree Srivatsan, who writes to us and for us, yes, JaishWrites
Most of them are bloggers whose blogs I’ve silently followed over time, many a time apprehensive about commenting, as I was quite new to the blogosphere when I chanced upon their blogs and started reading them.
This Leibster is one way of showing my appreciation for their blogs !
And here are 11 questions for them to answer :)
1.      Describe yourself in a perfect sentence of five words :P
2.      Imagine you are stranded in an isolated island. What’s the one thing you’ll miss the most ?
3.      What / who is the first thing / person you think of when you hear the word, “Intelligent” ?
4.      What’s your greatest insecurity ?
5.      Which quality do you admire the most in your parents ?
6.      Your favourite writer and your favourite of his books
7.      If you could become a cartoon character for a day, who would you choose to be ?
8.      If you are asked to change three things about the world, what would they be ?
9.      Love, for you, means….. ?
10.  What makes your best friend, your best friend ?
11.  What’s your take  - A forest trek or a Halloween party ?

Enjoy your Liebster !!


Sunday, 3 November 2013

I knew her.....

I pretended to be busy with my cooking, as Anusha got ready and packed her school bag.

" Ma, I'm leaving. Will be late this evening, have extra classes ", she said, as she put on her shoes and straightened her tie , glancing at the showcase glass.

" Ok, shall make the vegetable puffs as dinner starters, then. You wanted them na ? ", I asked.

She nodded, " Yeah, that's fine Ma."

I waited till her bicycle turned the corner. I went to my car, and then drove it out of the garage. She needn't know my mission. I knew where she would go.

I saw her cycle at a distance, waiting for the signal to change. My car was at a safe distance from her cycle. She wouldn't see me, even in her rearview mirror.

The signal turned green. But instead of turning left, in the direction of her school, she took the straight road, to where he lived. I followed, all the while maintaining the safe distance.

He seemed to have been waiting for her arrival. He hugged her, as she got off the bicycle and parked it under the big Gulmohar tree on the roadside. She took out a gift-wrapped box from her bag and handed it to him. He beamed. Clearly, he hadn't expected this from her. She stood there with a happy smile on her face as he unwrapped the gift and took out a book.

One thing that they didn't know was that they were being watched.

I drew in a sharp breath and let out a low whistle as the scene unfolded in front of my eyes.

I knew what book it was. It was the fresh copy of, ' Chicken Soup for the Brothers' Soul'.
I had bought it for her from the International Book Fair, at Pune last month. She had loved it when I gave it to her.
Somehow, the mother in me knew what she would do with it.

She hugged him again, kissed him and started back on her bicycle. She rode past me as I ducked in to avoid her seeing me. She wouldn't expect me there, and she didn't look at my car as she sped away on her cycle.

I started my car and drove back home, all the while thinking about how sensitive a daughter I had.

He was Kesar, the twelve -year old son of our house-help, Jaya. Jaya would tell us how difficult it was for her to raise her kids, with a drunkard husband and an ailing mother-in-law. Her work as a domestic help in many homes was just enough and she was somehow pulling on. We helped her as much as we could.

Anusha had heard and seen all this, so she had sort of 'adopted' Kesar as her younger brother. She would give him her old school books, and ask him to read. He was a student at the local school, and he loved to learn.
Anusha would teach him, on weekends.

Today was his birthday, so Anusha had chosen to give him the gift.

I knew of her involvement with him, but chose to keep quiet. I never let her know I knew her secret.

I would surely do my best to help all I can with his education. God has given us enough to be of help to others.

But not yet. I would wait for Anusha to come and initiate the topic , with me.

I knew my daughter. She would come to me, soon.

I smiled as I opened the garage gates and parked my car inside.

I had a daughter I could always be proud of.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out creative writing topics each weekend for Indian bloggers.

The New Dawn....

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 43; the forty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "LIGHT"
Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar
Ash-hadu an-la ilaha illa llah
Ash-hadu anna Muħammadan-Rasulullah……

The muezzin’s call vibrated across the morning air .

Noor sat up on her bed with a start, breathing hard, sweating profusely.
Shaking her head strongly, as if to throw off the last specks of the bad dream sticking on to her memory, she reached for the water jug and drank some water in big gulps, letting some water flow out of her mouth and down her neck, mingling with the beads of her sweat.

It was 4.15 , the time for the first prayer of the day.

It was a fine winter morning. Noor couldn’t help feeling excited, as she finished her bath and prayers.
Today, the 25th of October, 2011,  was indeed special, in many ways, wasn’t it ?

She would meet Abida. After three long years.

Abida was fifteen, and Noor was eleven, when they lost their Ammi-jaan to the cruel hands of fate.
Abba jaan had taken to drinking soon after, and he borrowed huge amounts of money from the local money-lender, Aslam Shah.
And he never bothered to repay him.
Whatever little Abida earned from her job as a domestic help was barely enough to feed them, but Abida was always her vivacious self, and a devout Muslim that she was, one could always be happy with her around.

They were literally pulling on, when the equation was re-written.

Shivers ran down her spine, as Noor remembered the day Aslam Shah had barged in to their kothi.

Arey oye, Abida, whoever that is, where are you?”

He came in straight to the kitchen where Abida was boiling the gruel for dinner, and pinned her on the wall with his right hand at her throat.

Abida tried helplessly to free herself from his tightening grip and hungry gaze sweeping the curves of her body.

“ Your Abba jaan…..the shameless pig ! He has taken money from me, and now I search for him, he’s gone missing. What does he think ? That I can’t get back my money ? Arrey, I have you…. I can get
back more than my money’s worth…you and your sister are enough for me !”, he bellowed, as Abida folded her hands in a plea.

Nahi, saheb ji…..leave her alone….you can have me, I’ll come …. But please, please leave her alone…”, she cried.

“ Then come , come to my kothi….NOW !”

“ Release me, saheb ji, I’ll come….”, Abida spoke in submission. Aslam released his grip on her, and stood with his hands on his hips.

She went to the kitchen door, behind which Noor stood petrified.

Between tears and smiles, she told her how she had known this all along, how she had overheard Aslam’s goons enquiring about their kothi when she went to fetch water the previous day, how she had mentally prepared for all this.
“They would kill Abba, Noor. Don’t let that happen, Noor. When Abba jaan comes back, tell him the debt is repaid. And ask him not to come in search of me. You too take care, meri jaan….Allah will take care of us…. I’m sure he’ll show you a good way. Study well….”, she had said, as Aslam dragged her by her hand, forcibly pushed her inside the tonga, and sped away.

Noor had tried running behind the tonga, which had vanished into a thin dot in no time, and she had fallen on the road and wept and wept, till the world went black before her eyes.

Abba had returned the next day, and on hearing the news, had accepted it calmly, whispering ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar’…

Noor had wanted to scream out, spit out her frustration at him, that he was the reason for the fate that had befallen Abida, she had paid the price of his penury…..but his inebriated state discouraged her.

She had quit talking to him ever since.

She hadn’t heard from Abida for long. She had contemplated going in search of Aslam’s home in the next town, where she thought Abida would be, if she was still alive. But her efforts to find out his whereabouts had been in vain.
That was till she received the letter two days back, addressed to her.

Abida had written to her, that she was at Aslam’s home, with three of his other wives, and he was treating her well. She was now in the ninth month of her third pregnancy,having lost the first two in the initial months itself. She wanted to see Noor, she had written. She had invited her home, and had written down her address.

Noor hadn’t been able to believe it! Aslam, treating Abida well ? He was cruel, wasn’t he ? But she would soon know.

She had decided to go the very next day. She had a secret stash of money which she had saved from her job as a domestic help in the village, which she had taken up in Abida's absence, to survive.

Abba jaan needn’t know, she had thought. He wouldn’t bother anyway.

It seemed the night had arrived very soon. Noor’s heart thumped excitedly as she alighted the bus and walked in the direction specified by Abida in her letter. She spotted the house at a distance, judging by the small shop next to it, as Abida had said, and this increased her pace.

She froze as she neared the gate. She knew the gruff voice when she heard it shouting at someone. Aslam.

“You haraami… can’t you cook properly ? How many times have I told you I need the proper amount of pepper on the mutton ? And the gravy ? What other job do you have here, other than cooking ? Tell me”.

Someone whimpered an answer inaudibly.

“ You stupid ! How dare you talk back”, he shouted.

A shriek, the tinkling of bangles, a thud.
And silence.

Noor hid in the shadows as Aslam stormed out of the house.

She crept to the gate, stealthily to check if she could find who the victim was.

What greeted her was a small rivulet of blood. She followed the trail to its source.

There, in the faint light cast by the yellow bulb in the room, lay a woman, her head against the wall, with a heavy stomach, the salwar turning red-wet with the blood that was forming a puddle between her thighs. She was writhing in pain. Apparently the fall had caused her labour.

Noor didn’t have to see twice, to know who it was.

“Abida, yaah Allah, Abida”, she yelled, running inside, and taking Abida’s head in her lap and trying to calm her down with a hand on her stomach, trying to soothe her.

“ Noor, my Noor…have you come ? I’m so happy Noor”, Abida said, writhing in pain.

Noor sobbed and helped Abida as freed herself from her dress. She didn’t know what else to do.

“ Take my child, Noor. Take my child…..I’m sure it’s a girl, name her Duniya…she’s my world….take her away….I don’t think I’ll live to see the morning light…”, Abida spoke in halting tones, clenching her teeth in pain.

“Yaah Allah ! No Abida, you’ll be fine…..”, Noor sobbed as she helped Abida with her labour.

“ No, Noor….No…do as I tell you,” with a final loud shriek, Abida’s body went limp even as a new life announced its arrival with a piercing cry.

A baby girl, as Abida had said.

Tears clouded Noor’s vision as she tried shaking Abida. She knew Abida had left. She looked at her brown, lifeless eyes, now dead, with a smile in them.

Smile of happiness, or of having escaped the trauma...Noor would never know now...

But Abida had left her world behind.

Noor picked the baby up from the puddle of blood around her. She cleaned her with her dupatta and draped her in a towel that was lying on the chair.

She took her in her arms , took one long final look at Abida’s lifeless body and turned and walked into the night.

She knew what she needed to do.
She remembered seeing a hospital on her way ,some time back. She would go there first. She would get the on-birth check-up done for Duniya. Once that was done, she would take the next bus to some far off town.  She would take care of Duniya, her sister’s world. She would be her mother. She would raise her sister’s world in her memory.

Aslam needn’t know. Her Abbajaan needn’t know. No one would know, in fact. And none would care.

Noor walked , with the baby sleeping peacefully, in her hands.

The breaking dawn would soon cast a light on the sleeping world, and the country would wake up to the 26th of October, 2011 to Diwali, the festival of lights.
But there would be one girl who would have lived the life her name signified.
Noor. The Light.
Duniya ki roshni.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 02