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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

May You & Your Family Hear the Bells

Wish all our readers, friends and supporters a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2011.
Thank you for the fondness and encouragement, inspirations and criticisms.
We look forward to seeing more of you and sharing more of ourselves in the new year.
Warm regards and many thanks
My Little Magazine


By Pritha Lal
Springville, Utah, USA

Fear it, we do,  shudder at the very thought,
Deny the very word, and run amok distraught.
Finality it may bring, reality it jars us to
Is death only the end of life, to mortals like, me and you?

To live without laughter is akin to dying
To love without hope can take its toll
To know you were wronged can be hurtful,
But to know you were cruel can really kill one’s soul.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Desert Rose

By Pritha Lal
Springville, Utah, USA
I gently crushed a red rose in my palm,

To the distant dunes, I let the petals fly,

Desert wind, I said, Carry this fragrance far and wide,

Just leave the bloody thorns for me.

To which I heard a reply deep within,

As if the scorching wind now gently mocked me,

Petals and thorns are both yours to keep, it said,

Love and pain will both remain within thee,

To want one sans the other, is to ask for a night without a star

Know that even a wilted desert rose, spreads its fragrance from afar.

As the sun rises again

By Anindita Baidya
Anand, Gujarat, India
The bus took her through long trails in the woods, by the undulated roads, passing by some rickety wooden houses. Innocent faces of the village children, with sleep still stuck at the edge of their little eyes, looked at the bus curiously while some dust-clad little bodies ran here and there. 
In an hour, the bus halted by the ‘bus stand’, which was a structure made of four crooked wooden sticks roofed by a blue-painted shade. Village Daam, they said. She alighted from the bus and paused for a while to breathe the fresh air.

She was there, at last. After 12 hours of long journey, she had reached the little tribal village of Daam, nestled in the hills of Dalma.

Rehana was there to gather the broken pieces of her life. She did not want to repent later in life for not having tried enough. And what was the measure for ‘Enough”, she did not know.
She had found herself at the crossroads in her little life. Rehana was already about to be engaged to Rex. Her father was suffering from abdominal cancer. Since the past six long years, she had kept her parents waiting, along with herself, waiting for Aahaan to decide about their wedding. But in six years, things changed and they did not really take a direction which Rehana wished.

With her father in the death bed, she decided to put an end to the wait and decide for once and for all. And that is how she landed in the small little village of Daam.

While travelling to the place, her mind was cluttered but once she landed in the village the cold wind refreshed her mind and she was instantly at peace. Now she knew why Aahaan never wanted to leave this place and never intended to quit his work as a medical practitioner in the village. Aahaan had decided to spend his life at this place.

Rehana reached the terracotta coloured single storey building, the only brick one, in the neighborhood. A medium sized pathway lined with jackfruit trees led her to what was named, ‘Mariam kee aashish’: the hospital-cum-home-cum-guest house of Aahaan which housed one doctor, two nurses, some staff and million dreams and commitments.

No sooner did she knock the door, a young, merry lad came out to welcome her, “Aap Rehana didi hain naa?” So, this boy already knew about her. A ray of hope remotely shone in her heart. “So Aahaan has told them about me…is he…….well, decided about the marriage?” she thought.

The lad, who said his name was Shibu, led Rehana to a guest room which had a neatly made cot, a writing table, a prayer corner and enough drinking water. Then Rehana’s eyes fell on the small glass bowl with jasmine floating in water. Memories of past gushed in to fill the room with a familiar aroma. So Aahaan remembered how she loved jasmines and would always have the flowers in a glass bowl in the apartment she had in Kolkata, where the two of them had spent countless moments drowned in love, passion, dreams, smiles, sunshine and rainbows….Rehana was now sure that Aahaan still loved her intensely and could not let her go.
Shibu informed that Aahaan would return only by late afternoon since he had four faraway villages to visit. Aahaan had left very early with his team but had ensured that Rehana’s stay was comfortable. Her return journey was scheduled for early next morning.
Shibu supplied her hot water for a refreshing bath and by the time she was ready, her lunch was ready too. She took her meal in solitude at one edge of the big dining table in the large living room. Shibu had prepared some hot Chila (a dosa made of rice powder) and steaming chicken curry. While she enjoyed her refreshing hot meal in the winter afternoon, she looked around to observe the room which was an evident display of the neat taste which Aahaan had.

After lunch, she moved around the hospital and the neighbourhood. To Rehana’s surprise, she discovered that most of them knew her. It seemed Aahaan often talked about her.

By late afternoon, Rehana was actually beginning to imagine herself living in this secluded place; she mentally planned her future years, managing a comfortable home for two of them, raising children and she also planned that her Ammi would stay along with them, right here. Only if Aahaan agreed to all these, she thought and smiled to herself, mocking at her elusive thoughts.

Aahaan arrived at about 5 p.m. while Rehana was sipping some tea, sitting at the footsteps of the kitchen. The screeching sound of the wheels of the jeep Aahaan was driving sent untamed waves of excitement in her arms and down her spine. In another minute Aahaan was standing just in front of her.

Her Aahaan. Her tall, well groomed, neatly dressed Aahaan. Her Aahaan with million dreams in the deep black eyes. Her Aahaan with the most assuring smile in the world.

Rehana was holding tight, the reins of her wish to run into his arms. She had tanks of tears which would burst any time, she had questions more than her mind could hold, she had complains, she had doubts and more than anything else, she had love. Unending, unfathomable love for Aaahaan.

After tea, Aahaan found a calm solitude place for the two of them. To ‘talk’. They sat on a wooden bench near the hospital, overlooking the Dalma hills. Sitting at the lap of the mighty and beautiful Dalma, Rehana was ready with her questions. Strangely, her voice failed her when Aahaan took her hands into his…

“Look Rooh,” Aahaan started, “I know, I understand, why you are here. I also know what I am here for. My life belong to these people know everything about this place, you also know about what I feel about the people, about my life’s commitment. I have done enough injustice to you. For six long years, I have led you… nowhere. I am your culprit. You know where this relation is headed to….to nowhere. It is time we come to a decision. Rex is a nice person, I am sure. He will shower you all the love, care, affection and wealth which I cannot. He will also care for Abbu and Ammi and will build a comfortable life for all of you. As for your Aahaan, you and I will be forever friends for life’’

Rehana looked up at the Dalma. The evening grey clouds were hanging low by the hill side, as if they were trying to concentrate and keenly witness, whatever was happening in Rehana’s life.

They did not have much to talk. Aahaan continued for some more time but the words did not fall into Rehana’s ears. The cloud was getting denser and bigger.
“Will you say SOMETHING at least?” Aahaan insisted.
“Hmm? Well…no, can I have a cup of tea?” They had their dinner quietly at Aahaan’s co-worker’s house. A couple invited to dinner at a friend’s place? She thought and smiled once again. Her mind never failed to tickle her with deviant thoughts!
The wind was harsh as they returned after the dinner. Rehana spent the night in the guest room. There was a heavy storm followed by torrential rains which damaged the telephone and electric lines. So, as planned, she could not talk to her Ammi and Abbu nor watch her favourite , “Man versus Wild” on TV. In the candle-lit room, she was lying, in the cosy white bed. “What a gentleman Aahaan is, he let me sleep in a separate room!” the stray thoughts again smiled in her mind. It was raining very badly outside. She put off the candle and dived into a deep slumber.
The next morning, while they waited for the bus, Aahaan said, “You will be okay, happy and healthy, Rooh, promise me.” The cold foggy morning made her eyes so wet that she could hardly look up.
They could hardly spot the bus arriving in the dense fog. The bus driver and conductor took some time off to have a cup of steaming tea while Rehana and some other passengers boarded the bus. Aahaan’s voice was shaky and wet, “Goodbye Rooh, keep in touch please”. After she had placed her bag in the seat, she came down to shake hands. As she again boarded her bus, she turned her head to utter softly, “Aahaan, I can never be JUST FRIENDS with you. Goodbye.......!”

The bus left for the nearest town. As it moved through the u-turns in the valley, the sky became clearer. In another hour, the sun shone. After the storm yesterday, the clouds had cleared and the sky was much much clearer today. And Rehana headed homewards..

“Jiski aakhon mein katee thi sadiyaan
Usne sadiyon kee judaayi dee hai
Phir wohee laut ke jaanaa hogaa
Yaar ne aisi rihaayii dee hai”

Saturday, December 4, 2010


By Ananya Mukherjee
Here, your turn,” said the man in the black cloak, pushing a file across the table. His voice was as cold and dispassionate as it could be. Maybe his livelihood had made him that way, Rhea thought. She looked into the purse for a pen and her fingers touched the hair of an old paintbrush. The sensation left a numb spell on her fingers as she desperately tried to look poised and in control.
“Take this one.” Aadi slid a pen at her. An ordinary black pen with a golden nib, but she knew it was his favourite.
Rhea held on to the pen, nervously reading through the checklist their lawyers had meticulously drafted. But words were getting jumbled as she skipped paragraph after paragraph, unable to concentrate or comprehend the legal jargons and their implications. She was losing focus on the words. Actually, Rhea was losing much more. Her world was falling apart.
Aadi was looking away, his eyes were on the phone; he was impatient and was hoping to pack up the ordeal as fast as he could, or perhaps, he was simply awaiting an important call. His eyes caught Rhea looking dazedly at him or maybe beyond....and he raised an eyebrow as if to ask..”What?”
Rhea managed a smile, a very fake one and nodded her head. It meant “Nothing” and signed on the papers. Unintentional as it was, the nib broke with her signature. A strange metaphorical semblance.... .yes, it was as good as signing on her death sentence.
 Divorced. Signed, sealed and delivered. The verdict was over.
“Thank you,” the man in the black cloak took the papers back handing out copies of relevant documents to either of them.
“How long will it take for the banks and all other institutions to recognise this and get the records straight?”  Aadi asked picking up the documents.
“As soon as you hand over a copy of this paper, sir,” the man replied, and with a gesture as businesslike as only he could manage, Aadi shook hands with the lawyers, thanking them for expediting a long and painful process of legal separation.  Rhea didn’t have the heart to hear anymore of the conversation. She dialled a number.
“Hello Mamma.”
“Rhea, is that you? Are you okay?” She heard her mom’s anxious voice at the other end of the line.
“Yes, Mamma. I am fine. Mamma, can I come home?”
“Of course you can, my baby. What do you mean? What happened?” Rhea’s mother’s voice was restless. Then she sensed the discomfort in her daughter’s voice and immediately asked, “Is it over?”
“Yes, Mamma. It’s all over.”
“Come home immediately. Take the first flight you can get out of that wretched country.”
“Yes, Mamma. I have booked tomorrow’s flight.”
Okay. Good. Wait wait, let me take down the flight number.”
“It’s Air India IX 812.”
“Fine then.  Your papa and I will be waiting at the airport.”
That night Rhea decided not to go back to her temporary new home. It would feel terribly dark and lonely, knowing that she was alone again in a foreign land. Her three years long marriage had ended bitterly. She had caught Aadi cheating on her and she had caught him red-handed. Yet, as an expatriate it was difficult to know where to turn for advice and reassurance. Laws in Dubai were not the same as elsewhere. In addition, Rhea spent days and nights delving into bouts of conflicting emotions such as betrayal, guilt, anger, sorrow and above all vulnerability.
“No, I am not going to give up on life, not yet” she told herself. “I am going to make my last night memorable in Dubai.”
Rhea checked into a small hotel at the outskirts of the bustling metropolis, overlooking the desert. She reclined on the low majlis in her room with a mug of khawa, a traditional Arabic coffee, and looked at the miles of endlessly pristine desert and red gold dunes in the distance. “So empty, yet so beautiful,” she thought packing her essentials in a trolley suitcase. Her flight was at 1.35 pm. Rhea checked her ticket and passport and ran through a quick list of necessary items on her mind. The exercise left her feeling very incomplete. What was the use of carrying anything from Dubai when she was leaving the most beautiful part of her life behind?
The flight was on time. As unemotional as she could get, she went through the immigration formalities and boarded the aircraft. Generally a quiet person, Rhea didn’t want to interact with anyone. She had specifically requested for a window seat and as the flight took off leaving behind the trails of a past she couldn’t carry, she thought of her parents. Mamma and Papa, who were so against Rhea marrying Aadi. They never liked him. Her father, a retired Colonel in the Indian Army was a strict honest man. In contrast, the bohemian ad film maker Aadi, who artistic acumen was too vague for the Colonel was a misfit in the Coorgi family tree. After his service to the nation, the Colonel had chosen to settle down in a beautiful seaside cottage along the port town of Mangalore. She would be home by evening and if all went well, would start another life from tomorrow. Bound by the Arabian Sea and Western Ghat Mountain ranges, her parental home was like a painting that perfectly blended with the city’s landscape of rolling hills and freshwater streams, coconut palms and red clay tiled roof buildings.
The first few hours like always were full of food and entertainment, regular in-flight shopping and tempting duty free offers. Rhea’s mind was too cluttered to enjoy these services today. She kept looking at the watch, hoping she would be landing soon. There were clouds floating by, lightweight released cotton balls that looked so carefree but could hold such tears within, such that when they broke down they could flood a whole city. She could see the red tiled roofs dotting the green swaying palms along the coastline.
”Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. Thank you,” a mechanical voice announced.
Rhea sat upright on her seat and missed Aadi for the first time since she left Dubai. She hated flight landings. The pit of her stomach roared and made strange noises as the aircraft descended. In other times, she would cling to Aadi’s shirt sleeves, and say her prayers. Today, she dug into her purse and clutched Aadi’s paintbrush...his first gift to her and closed her eyes tight.
Then there was a deafening noise like a tyre burst and a complete curtain of enveloping darkness.
With jet speed, the Boeing 737-800 Air India Express IX 812 flying from Dubai to Mangalore on a normal summer evening landed beyond the touchdown zone, overshot the table top runway and crashed into a ravine, killing 158 passengers on board.
From the debris, they found the charred remains of a body thrown on the tarmac tightly clutching on to the only meaningful possession she had. It was a worn out artist’s paintbrush.