There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Meet Annie the author

Feels a bit awkward to shout out for attention but am told, if I don't, I would be just foolish in an old fashioned way. So please spend a minute when you have one to stop by my author page and maybe the thumb therapy could work some wonders! Thank you so much for your "likes"! And if you share the link, I would, of course be very grateful.
Humbled again.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Patiala Peg

By Ananya Mukherjee
Singapore

http://amiananya.blogspot.sg/2015/11/patiala-peg.html


Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Cacophony that quietens me...

By Pritha Lal,
Springville, Utah, USA
Yes, that is the best way to describe my City of Joy – Kolkata. I have never been able to find a definition of what this city means, or has meant to me over the years. I was born here, spent the most beautiful moments of my infancy and childhood here. However I have never lived here for too long and currently this bustling metropolis, where several centuries coexist, remains more of a holiday destination where I come home to my parents every few years.

I welcomed 2013 in this city but was unable to find the right words for a status update for my FaceBook Timeline that could capture what I felt on January 1st 2013. The new year unfolded in my home town, where I was in the most beautiful company of the most important people in my life, my parents, my child, and my husband. I was slightly jet lagged and out like a light on 31st night by 8 pm and spent a good part of 1st at a place very dear to my heart, the Cossipore center of Ramakrishna Mission.
We had rolls from Zeeshan the previous evening and I had the funnest time confusing the kid making the rolls as I could barely contain my excitement while choosing between the “double egg mutton” or the “double egg chicken” and then finally settling for the “double mutton kathi kabab” or some such DECADENT blissful bit of heaven wrapped with extra “lonka and pyanj” ( chillies and onions ) in the ever familiar white paper that gets soggy with the oil but never gets stuck to the roll !!!
I digress, but I always do when I think about this city. Every road our car traverses, every little by lane I walk with mom when we go to the vegetable market, every cross walk, every sidewalk, every traffic light we stop at, every sight that greets me fills with a strange kind of calm even though at times the cacophony can be deafening. It is strange that I never seem to hear the honking or the car behind us or the auto rickshaws rushing past the buses that swerve through the streets to pick up the passengers at the bus stop before the next bus gets there. Instead my mind and my heart get lost in what my eyes see or rather, don’t see.
The slightly misty glass jars with blue tin covers that have “naan khatai” biscuits find their familiar spot on the road side tea stalls where the tea seller, is bundled up to keep himself warm in the slightly chilly Kolkata winter, in a coarse large checked woolen shawl. He has a big aluminum pot ready on the wood fire or a small burner. The Pakka chai (much boiled and spiced tea) is ready to be served in little earthen pots.
The car turns and one sees the colorful saris hanging on lines in balconies. You see a young couple walking with their fingers barely touching and you know they are stealing a few minutes off work, or college to catch a movie or just visit the food court at South City.
It is the faces of people that pass by outside the window of my car that fascinate me even more than the various artifacts. These are the faces I see when I am at an Emporium in Dakshinapan or dining at a mall. These are the faces at the bus stops and auto stands. These are the faces at Belur, Dakshineshwar and Kalighat. These are the faces of my city. A woman in her mid twenties or early thirties, without the familiar vermillion on her forehead or the “loha” in her left wrist. You know she is unmarried, probably taking care of various familial responsibilities and finding her moments of joy in being there for others rather than living a life she may have dreamed of. There is a peace in her face, a silent calm in her quiet demeanor, a steadiness in her gait that has come with time, maturity and the ability to hold her own through it all.
A middle aged man I noticed tried to get on to a moving bus but was unable to, as the bus moved way, I saw he had a cane. The pace was a bit much for him I guess. I was fascinated by the expression on his face as he patiently waited for the next bus, his tenacity intact, his brow furrowed with thoughts much deeper than his cane or his inability to make the last bus. He has a family to go home to it seemed like. He held a small plastic bag with the familiar cardboard packet of mishti, probably something he is taking home to his kids for an evening jol khabar.
No, my city is not about squalor or poverty, it is about life. It is about finding life and living it no matter where you are. The SUVs with the Rayban wearing owners stand side by side at the traffic lights with a couple on a bicycle. The bright orange shidur clearly indicating the newly married duo are residents of some district in Bihar. While the Rayban wearing and Coach handbag carrying couples speed off in their Fortuna, the biker babe and her beau meander into the smaller lanes, her bits of tinsel on her bright red dupatta resplendent in the evening sun.
There are too many images. There are too many memories. Every lane we drive through tells a story of the residents who live in that “para” or neighborhood. Every line on the face of an older man or woman, every giggle coming out of the school “van” rickshaws assure me that the stories of this city will live forever. Each time I come back to it, I will partake of this joy by being a mere spectator, or a listener or maybe sometimes I will have something to say. There is a cacophony of sounds around me, as the new Londonesque ” Trifala” street lights installed at “Didi’s” orders brighten up the streets. Yet in the midst of it all, there is music. These are not just the strains of Rabindrasangeets or Adhuniks at every large crossing or intersection. It is the music of joy in your own heart, the kind that only this city can offer in its own unique, inimitable way.
So do I have a new year update of resolutions for my timeline. No really, I donot. Kolkata and every nuance of this city teach me each and every time to live and make each moment count.
The “naan khatais” are not going up taste any different on the 1st of Jan. Nor will the lives of the maids who take the 5 am train from Canning to come make our homes spotless. The door man at the Taj will open the gates to you just the same and at the end of his shift will take the majestic uniform off, don his clothes and take the bus back home. No, nothing new and earth shattering will happen on the first of the year simply because the city renews every day. If you can feel your spirit do the same, there is your moment of quiet solitude amidst all the noise.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Afterwards

By Ankita Chatterjee
Singapore



Starry nights, fairy nights,
Trivial to rationale, to the maverick it is divine nights,
Beads of experience adorn eyes in a flush,
Often transform in smiles these flowery nights.

An oft-heard lullaby formed crevasses of delight and dreams in a room that opened to towering condominium buildings, half obstructing the calm, moonlit waves of the China Sea. Aaliya lay on her side, patting her two year old son to sleep. She could hear boisterous laughter across the three barbeque pits downstairs. In her apartment ten levels above that she struggled to see the entire galaxy of stars, bumping into sights of concrete and granite and withholding the narrow getaway between buildings that spanked the jewels of nature.

Infinite was your potential when you set foot on earth,
Infinite is the ocean from its birth,
Infinite the journey of the cargo ships whose start and finish is invisible in that narrow crevice,
Infinite your dreams, without demise.

 Aaliya’s eyes kept closing in a stupor, then barged open.
“Are you awake? May I sit with you? I know you are displeased. I know I am regretting. But my hand and chest pain badly. I think it’s still bleeding,” the man at the door spoke in whispers. Aaliya sprang up. “Is it? Arpan slept off a while back. Why don’t you sit here? I might try doing a first aid while we register at the hospital.”

With a wry smile, he glared at her. “Do you think it is needed? Do you think that will help?”

“Why will it not help, Shubhra da?  At least the bleeding will stop. Oh my God! Look at your shirt!”

Aaliya jolted up to fetch the medical box…and stopped. A stream transpired from her eyes in form of that divine gush that purifies the heinous sin… and she broke onto her knees. She embraced him, sobbing perennially as her grasp of him became tighter.

“I’m sorry, Shubhra da. I’m sorry that I let the distance between you and me, exist. I know it was you, my eldest and closest sibling, who built the wall. But I could have broken it. So, what if you pained your parents and married out of choice. So, what if you spilled me out of your circle of confidantes like a speck! So, what if I longed to talk to you on phone, a call that never came. So, what if the colour of our blood suddenly changed!

Aaliya’s nose snuggled in the crease of Shubhra’s shirt and fresh, greasy blood smudged onto it. Shubhra shrugged a part of his hand that looked dismantled and continued, “Pain is a small word, Aaliya, the one you are talking about. Weren’t you my closest always? How could I beseech you! The parents you debate for are my God. How did you believe I would desert them! Yes, the day I married my wife, I cornered myself. I left you, my pride. I shut the world to me.”

Aaliya stared at his eyes. They were small as ever; a notch not more expressive than they always were. The mole on his left cheek was blatantly black and scary.

Fear deceives prudence
Fear of loss and acceptance.
Fear drills a pit of pain,
Fear struggles to hide in vain.
If pain is what you thought I gave you,
Look deep in me how I hid you,
Touch my breath and feel how I heave you.

Vague expressions met Aaliya yet another time. She wouldn’t dismiss their meeting this time. She carefully lifted Shubhra’s hands and placed them on hers. Slowly as she wiped some blood stains from upon his trouser, Shubhra stiffened.

“Couldn’t you ever call me, Aaliya? Didn’t you ever want to know why and how I back stepped in my life? Weren’t you surprised this couldn’t be me? I waited for long. I waited for your phone call. I was scared you might never forgive me. I told my wife every night how precious you were; my tiny sibling, my compassionate compatriot of crime, my once only dream. Why didn’t you reach me? I didn’t betray your friend to marry my wife. She perhaps didn’t want me anymore. I held so much in me, secured and untold in my heart. But Aaliya, now I can’t. My ribs are broken. A couple of them split my heart open. I’m bleeding. I cried for help, but see it’s bleeding still. Everything is rolling out. My heart cannot hold anything. It is empty.”

Aaliya snatched his dismantled fist, pulled out a pillow case and pushed it against Shubhra’s chest. “The blood will stop. Does it hurt?” She lisped and fumbled, pushing in an entire pillow to his chest.

“Let it go, Aaliya. Let it go. It hurts me no more. My grudge I held for so long streamed out a while back. I love you. Always have. Like that every drop you shed from your eyes, these droplets of blood take me closer to infinity. I shall soon enter that narrow getaway between buildings. I shall soon be the immortal cascade in your mortal world.”

A concoction of moments
Question your integrity.
How complex your perceptions were.
I swept a corner in my heart,
It is all in simplification.

Aaliya opened her eyes slowly. She felt her eyelids heavy and her heart light. The narrow getaway shone under the light of a huge cargo shipment. The splitters of the sea made a reclining noise. Her son tossed on the bed and the alarm clock was yet to beep. Aaliya would begin another banker day of hers and her husband shall soon join them after his business trip. Aaliya watched the cargo ship pass, not knowing where it embarked from, sailing into infinity.

Two years after her eldest brother met with a road accident and all her dreams crashed, she was finally begotten of the haunt. Sudden answers transpired in an abrupt introspection that subconsciously began that fatal day when after a lapse of three years of miscommunication and distance, a cruel reality dawned on her.

Aaliya smiled in her pain. She knew now that time was lost; that introspection could fetch the clarity that was so oblivious earlier; how a part of her shall always remain indebted to this night and how she would never stop missing Shubhra.

Times when droplets of water roll into a steady rush,
Drenching into a synthesis,
How impregnate Earth is with a bounty of untouched thoughts,
Ones that etch divine experiences.
In this ethereal cascade I often immerse to be enlightened.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

That Year

By Kunal Sen
Goa, India

There was a night when we lied besides each other
And our lives changed
But before that
In a colony of refugees
Our love was just another thing we had in common
Like a shared clothesline

You had nothing but your blessed good looks
Your boxer's nose and your Mousumi Chatterjee teeth
Even your shadows were beautiful
Your lashes gave you away
We owned a song
We tainted a room, and a town

You had tried to put me together
Piece by piece by piece
And I was flattered and scared at the same time
Not because you were a stranger
But because by then
You were not

You had given names to my fingers
"This one is Benimadhav
The little fellow is called Eravath
Then this here is Tommy-Tit-Tot ..." you used to say
Kissing the tips
As though baptizing all the children we never had.
 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blue Oblivion

By Ananya Mukherjee
Singapore


Aaditya Singh Chauhan had not been keeping too well, of late. He was touching seventy-five this March and these years of struggle of trying to keep the kitchen fire burning against all odds, material and spiritual, had drained him completely. I had always known him to be a strong man in the past, but I saw him withering slowly with each passing day, his weak bones giving in to the realities of age and unable to cope from the harshness of nature, Aadi, the fighter with the Rajput bloodline was unwillingly yet eventually succumbing to acceptance and withdrawal.
 
It started early last summer when Aadi, still considering himself an energetic artist, spent an entire afternoon restoring a mural near the portico facing the lawn. It was the blue fa├žade that could be seen directly from the street corner of the neighbourhood we lived in for over forty years now.  Not much had changed in this sleepy quaint county in the north of England over the years, except that the neighbourhood, once bustling with the shrieks of cars horns and bicycle rings, the peals of childish laughter and the aroma of freshly baked food from country kitchens had submitted to an evitable acceptance of old age and solitude. The once wide streets had become narrow and unfit to hold the dreams of the young and most of them had moved south, leaving the county quieter than usual or desired, only for the aged parents, the immovable structures and the immobile associations. It was only during thanksgiving, Christmas and the Easter weekends, when life would rewind to several decades and the sleepy county would suddenly rise up from its pervasive silence. The homes would spring to life with children and grandchildren.

During such a visit last Easter, Joyee, our first born, an established designer in this part of the world now, raised her eyebrows to the blue mural in the middle of a family lunch in the garden. The exact words she used were “Such a shame!” as her eyes inspected the mural that once defined the identity of the home we had built together. And that pointed criticism was directed at no one else but her own father. Unlike his feudal background, Aaditya was an esteemed artist who specialised in murals, one of the best of his times and his work of art could be seen all across England and other parts of Europe and Asia. For a man whose creations were celebrated over the continents, having a worn out mural on his own county home was perceived discreditable in the eyes of his own children.  
Joyee was harsh, but she was right. The mural had peeled off in places, the colours had weathered too many storms and in its present state, the once brilliant piece of art looked like a sad caricature of its lost glory. Aadi had taken the criticism a bit too strongly and started working on restoring the mural with a speed and vengeance I dreaded. He toiled through the afternoon suns, without food or sleep for days, recharging the dead wall with an energy that seemed to take every breath out of his own old lungs. My protests fell on deaf ears. He was not ready to listen. 

"I need to finish before the rains come back and wash away my first strokes,” he was determined. 
And just when the last corner of the top right was ready for the first stroke of paint, Aadi slipped, fell from a shaft and broke his back. That moment in our lives left the mural unfinished yet finished the man forever.  Aadi got back on his feet after few months in bed and long painful hours of physiotherapy, but the strength in his body was gone. He could move slowly and after much effort, the exercise of a mere physical movement would tire him so much that he chose to sit quietly by the window doodling on a scribble pad or listening to Bach, his favourite since he was in school. 
Then one night, when the wind was whistling through the backyard trees, and the temperature had suddenly gone down a few degrees, just as I was cleaning up after dinner, a car pulled up into our driveway. On any other night, I would not have opened the door to any visitor at that hour but the tempest brewing at my doorstep led me to do the unthinkable. I opened my home to a stranger. 
The first things I noticed in him were his deep blue eyes. He must have been in his mid-thirtees, well-built and of average height. His Asian features were well crafted. I must have looked curious for he started immediately in crisp British accent. “Sorry to be bothering you so late but I need a shelter for the night. The storm would not let me drive any further and all the motels that I have crossed so far have no room. Yours was the first house that I could see from the street corner as the lightening shone on a mural on that wall.  You are not obliged to help me, but if I can park my car here and stay till the storm passes away, I would be grateful.” I stood at the door with suspicion written all over my face. Aadi was hardly in a physical shape to protect me, and I was an old woman anyway. What if this strange man with the second most sparkling pair of blue eyes I had even seen turned out to be an imposter?   He perhaps analysed the expression of doubt on my face and flashed out an Identity card. “Look, I am not here for burglary if that is what you are scared of. I am an architect and I have a site to view in another location, hence I am stuck in this county. I have no interest to rob you of anything.  The moment the storm stops, I will leave. If you believe in me, you could let me in, or I will find another shelter….” “Wait,” I stopped him in the middle of his sentence gaping at his identity card.  “What did you say your name was?” 
“Aakash. It’s an Indian name. You are Indian too, are you not?” 
“And your full name?” I probed returning the card to him.  
“You are quite an investigator. Well…if that helps you, my name is Aakash. I have a surname but never used it.” 
Aakash! My mind was going into a timeless retreat…scenes unfolding one by one, drying my throat and pushing a canon of tears into my tired old eyes. 
“Come inside, Aakash.” This was the second time in over three decades that I called out that name. 


You can stay till the storm passes away.” I mumbled in submission.
He smiled and thanked me for my kindness. I looked away. Those two blue eyes and the name were too much of a coincidence to happen all at the same time. 

“It is really safe for an old lady to live alone here?” He said examining the living room and settling down on the couch.
“My husband and I have been living here for 40 years. He is not keeping too well but we can manage fine,” I replied. “Would you care for some tea?” 
“Oh, that would be fantastic, thank you.”   
"I did not know we had visitors so late in the night,” Aadi was leaning against the living room door. 
I hurried to support him and he waved his hand, signalling me to stop. 
“Yes, young man, what brings you here?” He asked with undeniable authority.
Before the stranger could speak, I stepped in, “Aadi…his name is Aakash. He was caught in the storm and is here till the storm withers away.”
“Oh, I see. And were you so caught in a time warp to be taken by a name, my dear, that you allow a stranger to come in at the middle of the night?” Aadi looked at me straight in the eyes. I felt injured just where only he knew the scar was and left the room.
The night that I had buried along with the blue mittens, the toys, the bottles, the tiny pairs of overalls, towels and memories in the backyard several winters came back in a flash....
 “Mrs Chauhan, you have a baby boy. His eyes are as blue as the sky. He looks like a prince,” the nurse had said beaming. The Woodlands Hospital down the road had registered his name as Aakash Singh Chauhan. 
Tired after a difficult surgery, I had barely had the chance to hold his tiny body close to mine and nurse, but those eyes like sparkling sapphire glistened even as I embraced him and repeated his name…”Aakash.” Yes, he was a prince, my little prince. Little had I known that it was the last time I would see him….
On that fateful night, a fire broke out in the Woodlands Hospital nursery charring all new borns and young children to death, marking it as the saddest day in the  history of this peaceful country. For several of us, like me, it scorched their souls beyond repair. 
“Can we have some more tea?” Aadi had begun a conversation with the stranger in our house who had the same name as my dead son.
“Which part of India are you from?” 
“Well, I am from the North but my family has lived in England for many years.”
“Ok. Where you born in England?”
“Oh yes. Here…actually…er..somewhere around here. You know some place called Woodlands Hospital?”
“Ah…all our children were born there too till it caught that miserable fire. So did your parents live here?”
“Well..ah..I am not sure.”
“You seem very young. You could not have been born too many years ago. What’s your birth year?”
“Look…are you not getting too personal?”
“No, why can’t you tell me when were you born?”
“Of course I can tell you when I was born. 80…. Erh.. 8 August 1980.” He stammered. 
“Impossible! You are lying…and what’s that you are hiding behind you?”…Aadi’s voice was rising.  “I will call the police. You are a bloody imposter..” 
“Nothing…” he shouted back…”Stay off…..”he pulled out a gun.
 I stood frozen watching the two men in my living room. This man, who I had given shelter in a storm, who had the same blue eyes and name as my son, was born on the same day, same year in the same hospital as my Aakash, and was pulling a gun at my husband?
“But my Aakash is dead. He is lying cold and dead buried in that little garden facing the blue mural. He has been dead for almost 30 years.  How can you be him??" I wailed letting out a scream….collapsing on the couch.
“Jesus!” he said and dropped his gun. His entire demeanour changed with that word.
He paced a few steps across the living space, and stopped to look at Aadi.
“Look, I am not who I said I am, but I am not an imposter. I am an officer of the Scotland Yard. Here’s my true identity card.” He handed out an identity card from his shirt pocket. There was a photograph of the stranger in police uniform.
Aadi looked away, holding me firm in his arms.
“For security reasons, we often pick up names of the dead, registered names of children such that we can operate incognito.  It is not the best idea but it protects our identity for a bigger cause. I am really sorry, I did not know that Aakash was your son. I was given his name because his eyes matched mine. I am really sorry.” With that, he picked up his car keys and left.
The wind was still whispering through the trees, the tempest lashing at our doors, as we held each other staring into the darkness, and catching glimpses of the blueness of the mural as it shone in the occasional lightening, reminding ourselves that the death of a child does not kill the fearless protectiveness of a parent….they continue to be parents, in life and after…

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sweet Melancholy of Love

By Kartik Arora
India

Life starts with birth
I started living it only after you came.

I led a simple life
each day no different from the other
Because till that day
God would never bother

One fine day
When my turn came
Fate got mischievous
She played a small game

She got you in my life
And then it was never the same

She put you somewhere high
Where my arms would just reach
I would jump high to touch you
And then take the fall

I tried, I jumped
To touch you strong enough
I tried to cling to your outstretched hands
Finally you pulled me up

Life had never been so vibrant
Full of so many colours
Yes, It would now never be the same
But I didn’t know, that this was just a game

Lightning struck
And our hands separated
I tried to hold on
But you pushed me away

I fought the storm
And found my way
Your heart had outplayed fate
I saw you waiting for me
And now were to stay

Fate was beaten
She couldn’t accept the affair
She had sworn now
She wasn’t going to play fair

It was her game
She made the rules
With the universe at her disposal
Death just one of her tools

You had already been played
I was to played at dawn
I went in acceptance as death came
Unaware, he is just a pawn

The final move had been played
I realised, when he went for you instead

I begged, I cried
to take me along
I watched you rise from my side
As death sang his song

It hurt too much to be alone
And I said now no more
I punished myself again and again
causing pain to my soul

I was to go and on
Force death to show some pity
Make him pull me to its side
And take me to your Heavenly city

But Death didn’t come
To take me on the ride
For this was a game
There were rules
And I had to abide


I lost all faith in Him
I was about to turn my back

When,

“Wait” God said, “ For I have a plan”
I believed, I hoped.

I kept looking through the door
I saw you go further
Each day a bit more
I would think of you and wonder
Is life worth waiting for?

Finally the time came

I set out on the magnificent Journey
Holding hands with Death
I let go of all the agony
As I took my final breath

I came face to face with the Divine
I felt wronged for he had lied
He had promised to save me
To send some sunshine
I was kept waiting till my tears dried

I yelled at him and asked him

“You took her away from me
Was this your brilliant plan”

He replied with all the calmness of the eternity

“It was a game fate played
one I always despised
Matters of the heart
even leave me surprised


Death brought her here alone
He told me you still had time
“He can’t do it himself” he said
“It’s not in his time
But if life was too hard to live
Ending it won’t be a crime”

I had to make up for what I did
You had to be together
I had promised

I ordered Fate to let the dices roll
As I now took control
I asked it to set the wheels in motion
To keep you there
To push you to the hole
Fate was puzzled
It had no notion


I explained

To push him to the limit
And to pull him beyond is my plan
A mistake has been made
which needs to be set right
I have to bring them together
As soon as I can”

We may not have lived our lives together,
But the end is still right,
After death, my love, we unite.