The Way Home

I had always wanted to tell this story. My story is an old one, as old as our country in fact. This means that it has been heard and told for years, passed on from one family member to another. I can say I was born into this story, like people are born into poverty or privilege as their fate demands, I inherited this fantastic tale, fed into me since infancy in bits and pieces till I was able to comprehend the whole of it. And what a gift of ancestry it is: dearer than precious stones or sprawling mansions, for, when the times turn dark and I find myself unsure, I turn to this heirloom and draw strength…

“For it is only when you find yourself face to face with Fear, it's menacing gaze reducing your insides to a churning liquid, do you discover the will and the means to reclaim yourself. And that is Courage.”
The marketplace was secluded and gloomy. Dev, the owner of a general cloth shop regarded the dreary scene with despair and sighed. He remembered the crowds that would throng the place at this time of the day but now those happy times were gone. Born the son of a Tehsildar, Dev had been forced to take up the command at a young age with the untimely demise of his father. Giving up his dream of pursuing studies in Medicine, he had established the shop and sent his younger brothers to Medical school instead. Being able to single-handedly support a family had made him into something of an achiever at a very young age and his character had prospered with the responsibility.
But today, Dev was sad. He knew that things would never be the same again, especially with the communal hatred that was spreading. The village of Mamukanjan, District Sialkot, was rapidly emptying itself of its non-Muslim population. Packing their bags and leaving for the new India where they said life would be prosperous for the Hindus under Nehru’s command. It was August and the air was damp and heavy. Dark clouds were prone to gathering without a notice to unload their burden on the ground. But the dark clouds that were threatening the life of the villagers were different. With the news of the Independence had also come the announcement of the formation of a new nation, Pakistan, a separate country to be chalked out for the Muslim population with Jinnah at the helm of affairs. Dev failed to understand why they needed a separate country. Hadn’t they co-habited peacefully all these years? Separation on the basis of religion! What difference did religion make, after all, they all ate the same bread, drank the same water and faced the same problems of an ordinary domestic household. ‘The only difference is that, in the evening, my neighbor goes to the mosque and I, to the temple…’, mused Dev as he closed down the shop for the day and walked towards his home.
On entering the house, Dev perceived an atmosphere of tension and fear. His wife, mother and sisters were all gathered in the courtyard, silent and still. All eyes turned to him as his made his way towards the cot. He looked searchingly at their troubled faces.
‘The Khannas have also left. They went this morning. Now, all my sisters have gone’, it was Nirmal, his young bride who was the first to speak.
‘Son, they are saying that once Pakistan comes into being, not a single Hindu will be left alive here. Pakistan is only for Muslims. No one else will be allowed.’
‘But, mother, how can it be so? Haven’t we been living here since so many decades? Father was the tehsildar of this village! Everybody knew and respected him. He has done a lot of work for this village. We have as much right to live here as the Muslims. Besides, who will ask us to leave?’, Dev retorted, splashing some cool water on his face.
‘The Muslims will want us to leave, brother. Yes, our very neighbors. I have heard that they have become violent in the cities. Talks of the new country has injected them with venom against us.’
‘Oh, that’s nonsense, sister! Absolute nonsense! What will our neighbours ever gain by driving us out? Let’s not fill our heads with such ideas. It is all propaganda to spread hatred. A departing move made by the British to upset us. Hindus and Muslims in separate countries! Why, there are much more Muslims on the other side of the border than there are here, how can they all come here?’
‘Dev, your sisters are terrified! Your wife is expecting! You must understand we have no way of protecting ourselves in these troubled times. What if the rumors are true? What if they turn us out? Oh, if only your brother was here! He must have news of what is going on there. Have you received any letter from him?’, Dev’s mother asked, referring to his younger brother who was at that time studying in Ludhiana, on the other side of the proposed border.
‘No, mother, I have not received anything from him yet. But we really must not worry. There is nothing to be afraid of. But, if you want, I will enquire about arrangements for a safe passage, if the need shall ever arise. Now, shall we have some dinner?’
Unfortunately for Dev and his family, the need arose too soon. It was September, the 4th, 1947. Raj, one merchant like him, came with the news.
‘Dev Bhai, you must leave. We must all leave immediately. I am leaving today itself’, he panted as he hurriedly shut down his shop. ‘What are you staring at me for? Run!’
‘Raj, what happened? Why this urgency all of a sudden? Won’t you tell me?’
‘No time, Dev. Just listen to me. These scoundrels are setting fire to every Hindu home in the village. They are looting every shop of ours they can find and hacking our women and children with their swords. Dev, you must go!’
He felt himself starting to tremble. His palms grew clammy and a cold wave ran down his spine. He rushed to Raj and grabbed him by the shoulders. Looking deep into his eyes, he said, ‘Swear to me, Raj, that everything you are telling me is verified. Is there no other way left for us?’
‘Dev, I swear on my family. Now, leave me, I have to go. Talk to a truck driver as soon as you can for passage!’, Raj replied before disengaging himself and rushing away. As Dev watched his retreating figure, terror gripped him. How would he arrange a safe passage on such short notice? They had not even packed anything like the other families. He ran down the streets to where the trucks were stationed and spotted Salim, one of his neighbours.
‘Salim Mia, we cannot find a way to escape. Will you take us?’
‘No, I’m sorry, you are too late. I am already taking one family and it will be too difficult to hide another.’
‘But there is no other way! We must leave now or perish!’
But the bulky Muslim continued to nod his head. Then, Dev did something he had never imagined himself capable of. He took off his turban and laid it down at the man’s feet.
‘Salim Mia, the life of my family is in your hands. Please, I beg of you, show some kindness to your neighbors.’
 Salim regarded the helpless figure at his feet. That he would be caught if trying to help Hindus was certain, but he could not being himself to refuse the man.
‘Okay, Dev, I will be waiting with my truck here. You must come with your family in one hour at the latest. If you are not here at the end of the hour, we will leave’.
No sooner had Dev heard the words that he sprinted, as fast as his legs would carry him. Cries of ‘Allah-oo-Akbar’ were filling the street. He could discern an orange glow on the horizon which could not be the sun setting. ‘Oh God, it has started!’. He reached home and directed everybody to pack everything they could in two suitcases and leave. His wife and mother were appalled. There were way too many valuables in the house to be stuffed into two suitcases. But, it was either survival or wealth and they chose the former.
Dev knew that to expect a safe and uninterrupted passage was out of the question. But, none of his foresight could have prepared him or his family for the sights that unfolded in the streets. Mutilated, mangled bodies lay strewn along the roads, blood flowing down in small drains. Terrified, the family huddled together in a corner, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. They had forgotten everything about the shop, house and treasures they had left behind. Survival was the only thing on their mind, to stay safe and together till they reached India.
‘Who goes there? Stop the truck! Stop the truck!’
A mob of armed men had gathered around them, bringing the truck to a halt. A tall Pathan got up immediately and went to talk to who looked like the leader of the mob.
‘Yes? What do you want?’
‘We have information that there are Hindus in this truck!’
Dev’s insides went cold. The thing he had been dreading the most had occurred. He looked sideways at his mother, wife and sisters. Their faces were a deathly white. He could see his mother’s lips move inaudibly in prayer. Despite the blood pounding in his ears, he strained them to catch the conversation going on on the road. And what he heard was unbelievable.
‘We will not let you touch any person here!’, shouted the Pathan.
‘Yes, if you want to get to them, you will have to go through us!’, shouting another, brandishing a lathi.
Dev could scarcely believe the words that were being uttered by those men. They were willing to sacrifice their lives for them! Humanity was not dead, after all, despite the hate-spreaders. He tried getting up from his crouching position but was stopped by a man with a command to stay where he was.
The armed Pathan was glowering menacingly at the men below. Someone asked Salim to step up on the gas and slowly, they felt the claws of death release their grip from upon them.
Two months had elapsed since their escape from Pakistan. They had covered thousands of kilometers by every mode of transport possible to reach a small village near Amritsar, a township in the ‘Indian’ Punjab. As the days had gone by, the excitement of escape had been replaced by a deep sense of irascible loss. Fear for their lives had been replaced by fear for the days that were to come.
Dev often wondered how they would sustain themselves. This new country they found themselves citizens of, their new ‘homeland’, was completely alien to them. Yet, they would have to embrace the land as their own. Times had changed irreversibly. A few weeks after reaching India, their family had been jolted by news of their house having been completely ravaged by none other than their neighbor, Salim Mia’s family. Yes, times had changed irreversibly.
It was while travelling through Punjab that Nirmal had gone into labor. They had to halt immediately and seek help from the villagers. And thus, miles away from what they had once considered home, in an obscure village, after months of running to protect their lives, Dev and Nirmal were blessed with their first progeny, a daughter they chose to name Vijayalakshmi. Now, for a girl to be born in this country and that too in times of trouble would normally be a matter of concern. But, not to this family. To them, the female form was the embodiment of the power which grants and sustains life. The birth of a daughter was a definite sign from the Universe that a new life had been granted to them, a life which they must lead with sincerity and virtue to prosper. And hence, the name Vijayalakshmi: the Goddess of Victory…
From Punjab, the family set off for Kanpur and tried to establish an enterprise. But it failed and they had to leave the town. They then travelled to Agra where the leather industry was blooming. Dev set up a business of leather balls and goods but the chemicals used in the making gave him asthma and he had to give it up. Never the one to be deterred, he tried his hands at various other small enterprises before settling on a general merchant shop. A humble venture, in comparison to his business in Pakistan, but dedication to work enabled them to raise, feed and educate a family. Steadily, the venture grew and he was able to marry off his sisters and move to a comfortable, independent lodging. Throughout the tough ordeal, he had not given up his love for reading and writing and had inculcated the same in his daughter and three sons. Oh, and also, he was never one to put the blame on Muslims. Allah is great, he would often say, he is watching all our actions and his justice will be final.
So, this is how the story goes. It is not something very remarkable or extraordinary. But, then, no story is that way by itself. We lend greatness to the tales of our everyday lives by extracting from them a message, a moral to be learnt and imbibed. The astonishing thing about this account for me is the realization of the fact that my grandparents, great grandmother, grand aunts and uncles were, at the end of the day, very plain and simple people. Yet, they pushed themselves to get the better of a gargantuan task when the need arose. My grandparents were young, way too young to face the uprooting, the killings and the poverty. They portrayed a courage and sensibility way beyond their years. Stripped of all material possessions, cheated by the people they trusted, they were faced with the daunting task of raising and caring for a family. It was an uphill climb throughout. But, they made it. I shudder to think what would happen if I found myself in their situation. Would I have the strength? Or the valor? We cry and crib over every minute thing that does not go our way. We are so tied down by weight of our assets that every small loss upsets us. How, then, does one react to a complete wipeout? This is where these memoirs give me inspiration. The story of how my family came into being is testimony to the fact that it is not the wealth you possess but the ethics you carry that make you.

It is not in the nature of Life to be fair. It is your reaction to the obstructions it throws in your way that decide your destiny. And there isn’t any mountain high enough that a man with will and vision cannot climb. 

In Troubled Waters: Nocturnal Adventures of the Delinquent

Akash, Amrita and Sanchit stared at the empty abode of the Old Monk lying in front of them.  They had just finished singing cheesy Bollywood numbers accompanied with dance moves to suit the occasion and put many a Khan to shame and were, understandably, exhausted. The air had just recovered from their cacophonous assaults on it and was settling heavily into a calm, forcing them, in turn, to ponder.

‘So-o, my warriors, what’s next on our menu? A game of charades, is it, my lady?’ Akash had not yet bid goodbye to the Monk.

‘So, this is it, then? This is how it is all going to end, isn’t it?’ Sanchit had, well, bid goodbye to a lot of things.

‘What are you talking about, Dodo?’ replied Akash, mildly perturbed with the disturbance to his sweet farewell.

‘I’m talking about our careers, you idiot! There are less than twenty four hours remaining for the Thermo Final and look at us! Look at what we’ve done!’

‘Roop tera, Mastana… Pyaar mera, Deewaana…’, ventured Amrita, smiling to herself, no doubt imagining herself to be a Bollywood diva.

‘Come on, guys! It’s 9 PM already! Let's get the heck out of this lab and back to our rooms.’

‘Bhool koi hum se na…’ Akash joined in, never one to disappoint when the demand for music arose.

‘Guys! 9 PM!’ Sanchit held up his wrist for emphasis. Then noticed that there was no watch on it.

‘Wait, what? 9 PM? Christ, I need to go back to the hostel or they will chuck me out!’

‘No hostel-wostel, Amrita. You stay here, who will teach us?’ Akash’s pragmatism had started its return journey.

‘Are you nuts, Akash? How can we stay here? It's dirty, dark and creepy. Besides, we would be breaking a gazillion rules.’

Amrita jumped to her feet and started looking around for her stuff. Her stuff, having a mind of its own that night, attempted to spin out of her reach, thereby making her come in contact with Akash’s shoe and embrace the ground in a resounding thud.

‘Shut up, Akash! Oh lord, I’m in no condition to go back. One look at my face and they are going to have my parents on the next flight to Delhi!’

‘There, there, you see? I told you, Akash, we are doomed. Doomed! Thermo Final tomorrow and unlike you geniuses, I only had an eight on my mid semester paper. And just look at us now, cannot even walk straight, unbelievable! Frigging incredible! Who’s idea was this, anyway? I must say it was stupid in the extremes, I have never heard of a dumber thing, I…’, rambled Sanchit, on and on and on, hardly stopping to breathe, his hands gripping either side of his head.

Amrita and Akash regarded each other somberly. An unspoken idea was exchanged. Together, their heads turned to look at Sanchit’s pathetically blabbering figure.
‘Tanhayeee… tanhayeee… meelo hai phaili hui tanhayee…’
The monologue hit a roadblock.
‘You rascals!!!’ he cried, flinging a shoes in Akash’s direction.
Such is the power of Bollywood music, it takes only a carefully selected track to flip the atmosphere of a room. The clouds of despair and desolation lifted from the chemistry lab and the three offsprings of trouble looked upon their situation full of smiles and optimism. Donning their thinking caps, they tried working out a favorable solution to their situation.
‘So, here’s what we will do. The night watchman comes in once at 10 PM to check the locks on these rooms. He is an indolent fool. He will not approach the doors but only regard them from a distance to confirm the presence of a lock-like object. So, I think it is safe to stay inside, provided we are very, very quiet.’ said Akash.
‘Okay, but, we will need the lights on, to study…’
‘Hmm, Sanchit, we will keep them shut till 1030 at least, just to be safe and then we can switch them on. We can study quite comfortably here, too. Look, there are textbooks on that shelf. Who knows we might find a copy of the paper or something, here’.
‘Okay, Akash, but how will we get out of here in the morning without getting noticed?’ said Sanchit.
‘Ah, that is the tricky part. Hey, but why am I the one doing all the thinking here, huh? What kind of engineers are you dumbasses?’
‘Engineers, yes, we are very able ones indeed and the answer to that lies in the noble Art of Jugaad, which we must practice when the hour calls for it’, replied Amrita wistfully.

Chetan Singh strolled down the empty corridor leisurely. He had just treated himself to a juicy paan and the flavor had begun to dissolve in his mouth. Swinging his wooden stick as he walked, he tapped at the closed doors, merely to hear the sound reverberate in the empty space. It was the same monotonous story every day, so he had taken to inventing little games to keep himself entertained on these night wanderings. For instance, today, he was looking for an unmarked expanse of wall to decorate with a delectable cocktail of betel juice and saliva.
The laws of the Universe dictate that when you really, really want something, all of the mystical forces around conspire to make you obtain it. Little did Chetan Singh know that his need for excitement was to be answered generously by the Universe that very evening. Having reached outside the Chemistry lab (where else?), he had just prepped himself to propel the paan projectile when he heard a low, soft, hardly-there sneeze. On any other day, Chetan Singh would have just pretended not to have heard anything and left the scene. After all, who wants to go messing around in dark, empty rooms? Who knows what creatures might be lurking around the corners. Chetan Singh never flattered himself with any notions of bravado. He did not like surprises, they made his heart flutter. So, Akash was right about his indolence as a security guard, but, tonight was about the mystical forces messing around with their lives and shuffling things up.  Hence, Chetan Singh had no option but to let Destiny guide him to the majestically worn out door of the Chemistry lab and beat at it with his stick.
*thud* *thud* *thud*
‘Who’s there?’
*thud* * thud * *thud*
Three pairs of paranoid eyes widened in fear inside. Slouched in unflattering positions on the ground, they dared not bat an eyelid for the predator was in such proximity. It was Akash who had sneezed, as a reaction to some evil smelling concoction stored in one of the many beakers lying around. He reclined curled up on the floor, his head between his thighs, trying with all his might not to let his nose betray him again. But it did. And then, again. Amrita had given up breathing, she was praying to the gods to convert her into an inanimate object.
Chetan Singh mentally calculated the risks involved in opening the door. At best, it could be just a dog, having missed the closing bells and forced to spend the night inside. There could be absolutely no possibility of it being a robber or something similar: you don’t get those folks in labs, the staff rooms are the places of interest for them. Whatever it was, man or animal, it had to be a product of the college itself. Unless, it was some phantom. But ghosts didn’t sneeze, did they? There is only one way to find out, said Chetan Singh to himself and unlocked the door.
Sanchit’s heart beat so furiously it would have made Bolt reconsider his pace. A measly wooden desk separated the predator from the prey. His cerebral muscles were on overtime, trying to figure out the best excuse to extricate themselves from the situation. ‘We are being pursued by Dawood. This was the best place to hide.’ Or, ‘we were spying on the teacher and the lab assistant. We think they are having an affair’. He could just make the faint profile of his foe,  fumbling around in the dark, trying to locate the light switches.
Chetan Singh had just realized that he had hit gold. Hidden inside the lab was no normal man or animal, but a bunch of students and, judging by the combination of aromas in the air, it was a couple, an inebriated, mischievous couple taking advantage of the college premises. Oh, his colleagues were going to be so jealous of him tomorrow. Now, if only he could find that damned switch…
Amrita realized the risk she was exposed to if she allowed herself to be caught in this position. The guys would face action too, but for her the consequences would be excruciatingly painful. She needed to act quickly. Reaching in to the back pocket of her jeans, she took out her can of Mace and leapt forward to spray it into his face. His cries confirmed that she had got his eyes, as intended. The sudden burst of activity spurred Akash to his feet too and, finding no weapon around but the wooden stick, he struck it across his head and had him collapse to the ground, unconscious.
For what seemed like an eternity, no body moved. Time stood still. They looked at the motionless figure on the ground and tried to grasp the significance of what had happened.
‘Is he dead?’
‘No, he’s breathing.’
‘What do we do now?’
‘I have no idea’.
‘We have to get out of here’.
‘We can’t just leave him here’.
‘Let’s dump him in the car and get out of the campus’.
‘Yes. When he wakes up we can plead him to let it go. Give him the exam speech or something’.
‘Money. We will have to bribe him’.
‘Let’s get out of here’
‘We will never get out of the gates with a girl in the car’
‘Hide the girl in the boot’
‘Excuse me?’
‘You heard me. You are hiding in the boot’.
‘And him? They are going to recognize him in that uniform.’
‘Oh, I know, hide him in the boot’.
‘That doesn’t solve anything, Amrita! We only have one boot and two unwanted passengers’.
‘That is a problem…’
‘Unless what?’
They say Man must be careful of what he wishes for: they come true alright but not always in the form expected. Chetan Singh was being subjected to something similar. Observing the ‘oh-so-fly’ demeanor of the college ‘studs’ and the way girls hovered around them, he too had visualized himself clad in trendy denims with tee shirts bearing motifs of popular bands, enjoying the attention of the opposite sex, but only expressing the relish ever so subtly. Tonight, his wish had come true, in a way.
‘If he is wearing my clothes, what am I supposed to wear?’, asked Akash, stepping out of his jeans.
‘His clothes, obviously’, said Amrita.
‘You must be kidding me! I’m not wearing those! Who knows when he had his last bath? He stinks.’
‘No room for a naked hobo in our car’, said Sanchit.
‘Not like your clothes smell of sweet perfume. Just when did you bathe last?’, said Amrita, holding Akash’s jeans away from her body as if it were a dead insect.
So, Chetan Singh became one with the hip college crowd. After all, clothes maketh a man, don’t they? As for his general appearance, the beard, moustache et al, the guys reasoned it would make no difference. Being exam time at the university AND no shave November, even a Neanderthal would have felt at home in the campus.
The next hurdle was getting their illegal accomplice and accidental victim in the car. The victim was easily seated on the back seat. Akash re-arranged his hands and feet to give him a nice contemplative pose indicative of deep intellectual activity. Amrita tried hard to avoid the dark comfort of the car’s boot, suggesting hiding under the seat instead, presenting her relatively petite figure as backing to her case, but in vain.
‘Now, remember, not a sound from you. No movement.’
‘Be a log.’
‘Yes, be a log’
Amrita resignedly dragged herself into the trunk and adjusted her body inside.
‘I wish I could just stupefy you’, murmured Akash.
‘Petrificus Totalas’, exclaimed Sanchit with the appropriate hand movement.
‘This seems to be a situation straight out of a Potter book, isn’t it? Trouble, trouble everywhere’, Akash said to Sanchit as they closed the door down on Amrita and made their way to the front of the car.

The drive to the first check post was pretty uneventful, much to the relief of the trio. The security guards patrolling the exit were used to students panicking and hovering around in the night during these crucial months and paid no heed to the quiet and contemplative gentleman in the back. The second check post was the final obstacle separating them from freedom and peace. Also, it would not be enough for them to jump on the pedal and go whooshing past the gates; they would have to stop and make an entry into the outgoing register recording their movement.
Akash was getting nervous. His hands, in spite of the cold, were starting to get clammy on the steering wheel. He switched on the radio and then switched it off on account of his heart beating synchronously to the rhythm of Honey Singh’s latest pop number.
‘Alright, Sanchit, this is it. I will park the car at some distance from the security desk. We will get out, make some story about him… we should give him a name, don’t you think? Hmm, who’s that nerd in our section, the one with the uni-brow?’
‘Yes, so, Champak is gravely ill and he can’t come out of the car and we need medicine, okay?’
‘Okay, let’s do this. May god be with us.’
Akash and Sanchit got out of the car and exchanged the customary fist-bump. They had never experienced such bonding before. The walk to the security desk took a considerable amount of time, each step being a task in itself, requiring a handsome supply of courage and self-confidence from the repository the guys had only recently discovered inside them. Also, they had independently decided on theme music to accompany them on the challenge and syncing their steps with the beat required considerable effort. Akash was the first to reach the desk and immediately took hold of the register. Meanwhile, Sanchit faced the security guard (let’s call him Ram Babu) and, looking him straight in the eye, took out his cellphone and had an urgent, imaginary conversation with his mother. Akash could barely conceal the admiration he felt for the bravado displayed by his friend. In fact, his hands shook with pride.
‘Hey, what about the boy sitting in the car? Call him, he has to sign the register too’, said Ram Babu in a sleepy tone.
‘No, sir, actually he is very ill. We are going out to get medicine for him. He can’t come out of the car. We will sign for him’, Akash tried his best ‘we just want to help a sick friend’ face.
‘Is he too sick to even come out of the car?’
‘He is resting, sir, we do not want to disturb his sleep. Exam tomorrow, na’.
‘Hey…but…’, the guard was cut mid-sentence by a loud rattling noise coming from the car.
If there is any such thing as the soul relinquishing one’s body out of pure trauma, the boys experienced it, rooted to the cold pavement. Chetan Singh alias Champak had woken up and was beating at the car windows like a mad man. Ram Babu was on his feet when Sanchit did something his parents would be proud of till their last breath. He grabbed the guard by his arms and, locking eyes with him, told him, ‘Sir, he is crazy. He needs psychiatric help every now and then. Out of respect for his family, we have not told anyone about this condition of his, not even the college authorities. But, please, let us go now, sir, or else he will keep up with his destructive activities all night and not take the exam tomorrow’.
‘Do you think I’m a fool? I can see what you guys are doing here. He must be one of the sincere students of your class and you just want to spoil his career! Scoundrels!’, Ram Babu detached himself from Sanchit’s grip and started advancing towards the car.
‘Sir, I beseech you, stop! You know not what you are doing. If you let him out, he might turn violent on you. Last time, he almost bit a boy’s thumb off. Who knows what part of your anatomy he would aim for’.
Ram Babu halted and considered the anger ridden face of the guy. He thought he could make out crazy eyes. His thumbs tingled. The mad man was pointing his finger at him and shouting now. Ram Babu cursed and turned to face the boys.
‘Boys, deposit your identity cards here and be back by 9 AM tomorrow morning. I will confirm the well-being of your friend and only then let you take the exam, understand?’
‘Yes-sir, thank you-sir’, and they were back inside their four-wheeled heaven in no time. Akash stepped on the gas while Sanchit wrestled with their crazy co-passenger.
They say flattery can get you anywhere but they really were talking about money there. Having calmed their new friend down, they had made their way to a Dhaba and were discussing the terms and conditions of their impending separation.
‘Five thousand rupees each and a month’s liquor supply’, said Chetan Singh as he sipped on a masala chai, the requisite accompanying beverage to every important business transaction in North India.
‘That is too much, Chetan Bhai, we are only students, after all!’, Akash, though immensely relieved with the turn of events, attempted negotiation.
‘Oh, yes, innocent students, are we? Do I need to remind you what the consequences of your actions tonight could be if I take it to the authorities?’, retorted Chetan Singh.
‘Alright, Chetan Bhai, drink your tea’.
‘Oh, and one more thing: I get to keep these clothes’, said the guard, hiding his smiling face in the tea cup.
Akash, Amrita and Sanchit looked at each other’s tired faces and burst out in the carefree laughter only youth is capable of. They had just beaten up and abducted a man, broken at least half a dozen University rules and had an extremely important exam the next day but, for that fleeting moment of pure joy, everything was just as the way it should be, perfect. 

The circle

The circle


As I climbed the stairs to my refuge on the terrace, it did not immediately occur to me that this quick run to acquiesce one of Carey's whims would actually be the last time I'm climbing these steps. I heaved a sigh and looked at my old companion. This is it, dog. The next time I'm here, we'll be at a new place. I took in the smell of the light breeze as it brought the green fields to my nostrils and gazed at the sunset scene I'd started depending on for creative fuel. Well, might as well seal it with one last game of fetch with the dog, I mused and sure enough, Carey ran to get in position. So I flung the ball and she ran. And fell. Now, our old girl has been limping off late, the hip is troubling her and I could see the fall had got her right at the weak spot. I rushed to her as she tried to get up. She couldn't put her foot down and was looking at me helplessly. Oh, but she had got the ball. The thing with my lady is, she's a tenacious fighter. Just when you think she's going down, she'd be back up with a punch. And sure enough, as the pain subsided, she put her foot down, walked a bit and got into position again.

So, you see, the house is indeed getting too old for us now. To a new place and more adventures.

Au revoir.

Sent from my Windows Phone

Welcome me Back

It's been a long time since I had a blank page staring at me, waiting for an imprint. I do not know what caused this delay- I always had an idea or two to write about and also the time for it but the motivation was lacking. I was pre-occupied, among other things, by an idea that at first fuelled the creative spirit in me to bring about a huge change in my approach towards writing, only to leave me disillusioned in the end.

I have often been prodded by friends and family about what I wished to make with my flair for writing. Was I practising for a book, perhaps? Or did I desire to be featured in magazines and newsletters? Or, maybe, to just make that extra pocket money, sitting comfortably in front of a screen? My answer has always been woven around different connotations of 'I like writing'. Then I took a look around and wondered about the many possibilities pointed out to me. It won't be too bad getting my work published somewhere, wouldn't it? Neither would the extra pennies hurt, I reasoned. Have a skill, I'd be better off using it to my advantage.
This new found purpose lead to me an online content writing internship and a shot at getting a piece of work published. Which eventually lead to me distancing myself from my blog and all forms of writing I did exclusively for myself. I started to loathe writing: instead of being an outlet for to my emotions and views, it became another source of stress on my work-laden shoulders. As the frustration grew, I realized that I had reached the fearful place we've all been warned about when pursuing a passion: turn it into a form of work and you may find you cannot tolerate it any more. I'm not saying that this is a necessary outcome for any one walking down these roads, but, for me, the stress was quite binding. Also, I've started to feel that though there may be a lot of story-telling and prose-wielding inside me, the books will just have to wait till I am ready to have them, till I am ready to express through them.
And so, it ia back to looking for rainbows and acting on my whims. And, if my readers would still have me, back to being a simple-minded blogger.

Medha Kapoor




Pluck words to capture the essence
And in your head
Spin them around in rhythm
With a dash of secrecy
And some selected memory
Mix them with an emotion
And churn them in the cauldron
Of soulful contemplation
A phrase or two include
For the surrounding view
As garnishing to the stew

So shelve it out
For the world to see
Here I am: This is me
In the garb of carefully construed poetry

<< For a better view of this note, tap the attached file. >>

Sent from my Windows Phone