Posted in short story

Physics and Their Chemistry

He perched himself on one of the chairs opposite the Bistro Café and placed his laptop on the table across him. Being the bestseller author that he was, words were supposed to flow naturally to him. But, he just stared at the blank page on his laptop.

He stared and stared. What should he write about? Who was telling the story? And whose story was it anyway? The words fluttered and flew in the wind.

Sighing in frustration, he tousled his blonde hair, shut his laptop and walked till the shore a few feet away. Where was his inspiration? He thought. Currently on a break for a few days, he knew that he had to give his editor something to work on the moment he stepped back home.

He was standing at the popular Baga beach in Goa. A place where people of different countries and cultures blended together. An ideal place for a vacation and some stimulation as well. But, his mind was empty of all ideas. As the sun faded across the horizon, he jogged back to his cottage and decided to call it a day.

The next morning, he woke up groggily to the sound of his phone ringing.

“Hello, is it Nathaniel James?” A soft voice questioned.

He cleared his throat and said, “Yeah. That’s me.”

“Umm… I’m sorry to bother you so early, but I have found your wallet on the beach and want to return it.” The voice said.

“Oh, is it?” He wasn’t even aware that he had lost his wallet. He rummaged through the pockets of the shorts that he was wearing yesterday and was indeed surprised to find it gone. “So, where are you right now? I’ll come and get it.”

“Okay. I’m standing on the beach opposite Bistro Café. There are two flags here, one is a checkered black-white and the other is red-yellow. I’m standing in between the two wearing a purple t-shirt and black shorts. Please come fast.” She said and cut the phone.

Nathaniel splashed some water on his face before making his way to the beach. He reached in a few minutes and saw a young girl waiting exactly where she had described. He also noticed her long black hair flying in the wind and she was really pretty.

“Hi, I’m Nathaniel James. Thank you so much for calling me. I hadn’t even realized that I had lost my wallet.”

The girl blinked her eyes multiple times before she said, “Wow.”

Nathaniel quirked his brow before the girl blushed and said further, “Umm… I’m sorry. Actually, I had found your wallet last evening, but I was too scared to call you. When I finally gathered the courage, I called, not bothering to see the time. By the way, I’m Tanya Desai.” She offered her hand for a shake after handing him his wallet.

Nathaniel smiled, kept his wallet in his pocket and shook her hand, which he found to be cold and sweaty. She was really nervous. “Nice to meet you Tanya. May I ask, why were you scared to call me?”

Tanya gave a sheepish smile before saying, “I thought I wouldn’t understand your English. You all speak in a different accent and really fast. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But, the guilt of possessing someone else’s property won out. And before I could change my mind, I called you.”

Nathaniel broke out in laughter, but when he saw that Tanya looked upset, he stopped. “Sorry, but I wasn’t laughing at you. I’ll tell you why my English is like this. That’s because my mom’s French and dad’s Indian. We lived in Paris first. But, I have moved to London now.”

Tanya looked at him in awe. He continued, “Enough about me. What about you?”

“Umm… I have just finished with my 12th board exams. So we are all here for a vacation.”

They started walking along the shore and Nathaniel said, “That’s great. Wish you all the best for the results.”

“How do you know about our 12th board exams, Nathaniel?”

He smiled at the way she said his name, “You can call me Nate. And yes, I know that because I used to keep travelling to India with my dad visiting relatives during holidays. So, what do you want to do further?”

“I am planning to do a BSc. in Physics while simultaneously preparing for the entrance exams to enter the topmost colleges for astrophysics. That’s what I want to be, an astrophysicist.” She said enthusiastically.

“Wow. I’m in awe of you!” Nate pointed towards the café as he said, “Let’s have some tea. My treat. For returning my wallet.”

“Sorry, but I need to go back before my parents send a search party for me.”

Nate shrugged, “Alright then. It was great meeting you Tanya. And thanks again for making that call. I would have been in great trouble if that wallet would have fallen in the wrong hands, you know. It has all my credit cards and other personal details. So, I really owe you for this.” He smiled and added further, “Do keep in touch. You use Facebook?”

“I have an account, but not a regular user.”

“I’m going to send you a friend request and make sure you accept it.” He winked at her before saying, “My phone is either switched off or not with me, or else texting would have been easier. So, hope to meet you again sometime, Tanya.” With that they parted ways.

Back in London, Nate had started working on a story and he was checking a few websites when he had a friend request on Facebook. He usually had numerous friend requests but he hardly accepted any. This one was from Tanya Desai. He smiled as he clicked on ‘confirm’ and soon he had a message from her in the messenger.

‘See, I sent you a request first. Hope you remember me?’

‘Ah yes, how can I forget you? My wallet savior.’

‘You never told me what you do.’

‘I’m a writer.’

‘Wow. Okay. I’ll ping you back later. May be tomorrow. Need to finish a chapter in quantum mechanics. My break time is over. And it’s 10 pm here. What’s the time there?’

‘It’s 4.30 pm here.’

‘Okay, bye and take care.’

‘Bye, good night. You too take care.’

Nate smiled at the conversation he just had. He found her cute. Really cute.

He had random messages from her almost every day. Some days she spoke about the rains lashing the city and how much she hated them, while sometimes she told him about the new theories and formulae that she was learning in her physics class. She had topped her college in the boards and had secured admission in the college of her choice. Sometimes she would explain to him in details about the various theories on electromagnetism and particle physics. Initially, he would get bored with her constant yapping, but wouldn’t have the heart to tell her to stop. Later, he got used to it and in fact would look forward to her messages in his inbox. She had a fixed time; she would chat with him before she went to bed.

He would also tell her about his latest stories and what he was reading. The occasional party that he had been to. He was surprised that Tanya had never seen the interior of a club in the eighteen years of her life.

Six months passed. Nate was done with his first draft. He took way longer to complete it than usual. But at least he had something to give to his editor. And there was one more thing bothering him. He did not have any messages from Tanya since the last two days and he was beginning to miss her. He had left her a good night message, but she hadn’t acknowledged it.

He decided to Skype her. They had shared their details a few days ago and this was a perfect time to make use of that. After calling her for the fifth time, she answered.

He was greeted with a teary face, swollen eyes, messy hair and snot covered nose.

“Oh God. What’s wrong Tanya?” He exclaimed.

“My life is wrong.” She started wailing again. “I’m going mad with this Statistical mechanics. I’m going to fail in this exam.” She said in between sobs.

Nate was feeling bad for her but at the same time he was controlling a chortle that was threatening to escape him. “I think you should take a break from it.”

“Break!” She yelled. “Are you out of mind? I have exams next week!” She said in exasperation.

Now, he burst out laughing.

“You are laughing at my state?” Tanya started crying louder this time.

Nate slapped his forehead and said, “Relax. What I meant is, go out for some time. Do something other than Physics. Trust me, it really helps. Sometimes, when I get stuck with my story that is what I do. Take a break. Enjoy. And approach the matter with fresh eyes. And then, you will see the magic.” Nate coolly explained.

Hearing all this, Tanya stopped crying and said, “Okay. So that’s what I’m going to do. Take a break. I’m going to bed early today. Screw the Physics. Good night.”

“Good night.” Nate laughed as he said that.

The next time when they had a chat, Tanya was done with her exams and she couldn’t stop thanking Nate for the tips that he had given her. Nate was beginning to like this girl a lot. She was naïve yet so smart, and she was beginning to grow on him. And he had absolutely no idea about what she was feeling. She only spoke about her love for physics so far. They had a good five years age difference, and he was a bit scared to broach the subject with her.

Another year passed. There were many changes in Nate’s life, like he moved to a better place, he was done with another manuscript and he was touted as the next big thing in the literary world. But one thing remained constant. His daily chats with Tanya.

They chatted for almost half an hour every day, sometimes even more, at the end of her day. Nate would postpone all his other stuff during that time. She would tell him about the basics of astronomy and her obsession with the TV show ‘the big bang theory.’ She loved that show so much that she had made its title song the ringtone and the caller tune of her phone. He had laughed like a maniac when she said that.

They spoke about their families as well. Nate told her about his younger sister who was trying her luck with her acting skills and Tanya told him about her older brother who was working in the States.

“What about your parents?” She had asked him during one of their Skype chats.

“Buried six feet under.” He said nonchalantly.

“Oh! I’m so sorry.” She said.

“It was three years ago. They knew we were capable enough to manage ourselves. So both of them decided to go together.”

“You sound upset, Nate.”

“I’m not upset, but I miss them really bad. You are lucky, you have both of them in your life.” He smiled.

“Yes, I know. But I end up fighting with them a lot. Specially my mom. She doesn’t approve of my career choice. Worries that I’ll go into space and never come back.”

Nate was laughing at that and she continued, “I’m tired of explaining to her that I just want to be a scientist with absolutely no intentions of venturing beyond the earth!”

And just like that both of them burst out laughing.

He doubted that she knew how famous he was. In fact, he had even asked her whether she had read anything other than physics, to which she had said, “Physics is my one and only passion for now.” He wondered whether she could feel the chemistry between them. Even though they were continents apart, there was definitely a spark which he felt when he heard her melodic voice. He wasn’t interested in the physics which she spoke about, he only wanted to hear her voice. Sometimes, he would Skype her instead of their usual Facebook chats just to see her and hear her voice.

Once, she had surprised him with a new haircut and highlights in her hair. She had them streaked blonde and brown at the suggestion of the stylist. She looked gorgeous, but wasn’t confident about carrying it off. Nate had convinced her otherwise.

Time flew. Tanya was graduating next week. Nate had three bestsellers back to back and he was at the peak of his career. Suddenly, he had an idea. He needed a much deserved break from all the chaos in his life owing to his popularity.

He flew to Mumbai to meet Tanya. He wanted to surprise her and managed to sneak out all the details about her graduation ceremony. And today, he found himself in the auditorium of the Mumbai University for the ceremony. He wondered how she would react on seeing him there.

After the ceremony was over, he immediately rushed outside to catch hold of her. He saw her in the open lawn hugging a middle aged couple, who he assumed were her parents. She looked even more beautiful. He went near them and cleared his throat.

Tanya’s eyes widened in surprise when she saw him and he beamed looking at her. She hugged him and began shouting with delight.

“I think my ear drums have burst.” Nate laughed.

“This is un-freaking-believable!” Tanya exclaimed. “This is going to be the most memorable day in my life.”

“Yes, it is going to be.” Nate said. With that he pulled her close and kissed her. Not caring about where they were, or who was watching them, he kissed her thoroughly and she responded back. They broke apart when they heard some whistles and claps.

Furiously blushing, Tanya looked at him and Nate felt himself drowning in her brown eyes.

“Excuse me? Umm…. Mr. Nathaniel? Excuse me?”

Nate saw someone snapping their fingers in front of him. He blinked his eyes a couple of times before coming to his senses and looked around.

He was still standing at Baga beach in front of the flags that Tanya had mentioned and she, herself was standing before him. What had just happened?

He nodded his head and shook himself out of the dream.

“I’m sorry Tanya. I think I just zoned out.”

“No problem. I thought I bored you with my physics talk.” She started laughing.

“No, not at all.” Nate said. “In fact, I just wove an entire chemistry from your love for physics.”

Tanya gave him a questioning look to which he said, “I’m an author. I’m on a break here for some inspiration and you just gave me one.” He smiled.

“Good to know. It was great meeting you. I’m going to leave now, before my parents send a search party for me.”

“Thanks a lot Tanya. And do keep in touch. You must be having a Facebook account, right?”

“Yes, sure. I’ll send you a friend request later. Good bye and good luck with your story!” He saw her retreating back in the direction from where she came from.

He shook his head and sighed. He headed back to his room with a bounce in his step. He had a story to write. A story which he had just dreamt about. He did not know how the story would end, but it didn’t matter right now. He would figure it out on the way. The best part was that he knew what would be the title of his new book: ‘Physics and their Chemistry.’

Posted in short story

The Girl in High Heels

The incessant ringing of the doorbell compelled Avni to leave the half chopped vegetables on the dining table in a bid to open the door. She was pleasantly surprised to see Lakshmi, her maid.

“I thought you were on leave today. So, how come you are here?” Avni asked as she moved aside for Lakshmi to enter.

“Yes madam, we were supposed to go for a picnic as our kids’ exams got over yesterday. But one of them fell sick. So we had to cancel everything at the end minute. I then decided to come here.” Lakshmi started cleaning the kitchen table.

“See, be careful, and don’t throw those chopped veggies.” Avni turned around to close the door. She saw a young girl standing by the door. “Lakshmi? Did you bring anyone with you?” Avni asked over the banging of the utensils. But, she couldn’t hear the maid’s response.

“Hey, come inside.” She gestured to the girl. She asked her to sit and also gave her a glass of water that was kept on the tea table across the sofa. “What’s your name?” She gently asked.

“Smita.” The girl said.

“Nice name, Smita. You must be Lakshmi’s daughter, right?” Avni quizzed.

The girl simply nodded and sat there admiring her surroundings.

Avni was proud of her house. It was her creation. Being an interior designer, she had made full use of her talents in decorating her dream home. It was simple, yet elegant. Nothing was over the top. All the furniture and knick knacks in the house were carefully bought and placed in strategic locations to add an illusion of more space in the house. The walls were painted white and a contrast was added by the maroon curtains and a couple of gigantic paintings.

Now that Lakshmi was there to look after the kitchen and cleaning, Avni relaxed and decided to put the girl at ease. “How old are you?”

“Sixteen.” Smita said, still not meeting Avni’s eyes.

The girl was indeed very shy. So similar to her younger self, Avni thought. And she had a wonderful idea to break the ice and get her to talk.

“Would you like to help me in cleaning my shoe cupboard? Your mom is never free to do so. And I can’t do it all on my own.” Avni said.

“Sure.” Smita replied.

Avni took the girl near the main door, where the said cupboard was. “See, this is it.” She opened the door.

Smita gasped in surprise and Avni smiled. She knew it was the right decision.

“So many shoes and sandals?” Smita asked.

“Yes, I love shoe shopping. It’s a weakness of mine. Let’s get started then. You remove all the sandals from the top racks while I’ll work from the bottom.”

Avni kept talking about the various pairs of sandals that were removed from their wooden confines. She vividly remembered from where she had bought which pair and how often had she actually worn them. Smita listened to her in awe.

When Avni removed a pair of black peep toes with a three inch heel, Smita couldn’t take her eyes off of them. Everything that Avni said after that went above her head. She was mesmerized by those heels.

“Smita, you can keep these. They will not fit me now as these were bought when I was of your age. But, these were also my first pair of heels and so I really can’t seem to part with them. Now I guess I have found its rightful owner. Go ahead, take them. They are all yours!”

Smita couldn’t believe what she was hearing “Really, didi? These are for me? I can take them?” She hugged Avni in joy, “Thank you didi!”

Avni laughed heartily and said, “Come on now, wear them and show me that cat-walk baby.”

Smita giggled at that, but she was also nervous. She wore them, and they fit her perfectly. As though they were designed for her feet. She took a tentative step in them and wobbled a bit. And she immediately grasped the nearby wall.

“Yes, very good Smita. Walk slowly. You’ll get the hang of it. Keep trying.” Avni encouraged.

After a few wobbles here and there, Smita finally managed to walk properly in her newly acquired heels. “Promise me to take care of them for me, Smita.” Avni said. Smita smiled and promised. They then sorted the other pairs of shoes, discarded a few and kept the rest away.

In the meantime, Lakshmi was done with her stuff and as she was leaving she said, “Madam, I have cooked chapattis and a vegetable gravy for you. And I have cleaned everything in the kitchen too.”

Avni thanked her and waved a goodbye. But she couldn’t meet Smita, as the girl was so excited with her heels that she ran away before her mother.

A few days later, Avni went for a stroll in the park with her husband, Vishal. Both of them were lost in their own thoughts, when suddenly Avni spotted something.

“Vishal!” She nudged her husband, “look at that!”

Vishal was brought back to the present from his daydreams by his wife’s panicked voice. “What happened Avni? Are you alright?”

“Look at that Vishal! See, under the bench.” She gestured.

Vishal peeked under the bench and said, “What? Those are someone’s sandals.”

“Please get them, I want to see.” Avni said, her heart wildly beating in her chest.

She inspected the sandals and said, “These are mine, Vishal. I had given Smita, Lakshmi’s daughter a few days back. How come they are here? I’m getting very scared Vishal. Let’s go home.”

Back home, Avni immediately called Lakshmi and asked her to come over immediately and also get Smita along. The time between the call and Lakshmi’s arrival was spent pacing in the flat by Avni, while Vishal was watching the television. “Relax Avni. Why are you making such a big deal out of it? She must have not liked it. So she threw it away.”

“No Vishal. I had told her how sentimental it was for me. And she had promised me to take good care of it. How can she do that? And if she did not like it, she should have returned it back to me, right?”

Vishal resumed his perusal of the television. There was no point in arguing with a livid Avni. Exactly thirty minutes later, the doorbell rang. Avni sprang towards the door. She opened it and found Lakshmi alone.

“What happened Madam? Everything alright?” A visibly distressed Lakshmi asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. Where’s Smita?”

“Who Smita, Madam?”

“Smita, Your daughter Lakshmi. How can you forget that?”

“But, I don’t have a daughter Madam!”

On hearing that, Vishal switched off the television and joined in. “Come again Lakshmi? You don’t have a daughter?”

“Yes Sir. I only have two sons. No daughter.”

“Then, who was that girl who came with you a few days back when you had come late for work?” Avni asked.

“No madam, there was no one with me. I came alone only.”

Lakshmi then turned to Vishal and said, “Sir, I came late that day and proceeded to do all my work. I found madam by that shoe cupboard. She was removing all the shoes and talking. I thought she was talking on phone. Then suddenly, she removed one black sandal with big heels and placed it on the floor and started laughing. After some time she threw it in the dustbin. I got scared, but then I thought that she was letting go of some of her stuff, so I did not say anything. I quickly finished my work and left.”

“Oh God, Lakshmi, You should have told me immediately. You have my number also.”

“But, where’s Smita, Lakshmi? What did you do to her?” Avni interjected.

“Lakshmi, you go home now. Come in the morning.” Vishal ordered.

He went in the bedroom and got a couple of bottles. “Avni, you haven’t been taking your medicines regularly. Here, take this.”

Avni absent mindedly swallowed the tablets. She had changed a lot in the last six months post the accident. She alternated between depression and euphoria. “Avni, look at me.” Vishal said. “There’s no Smita, alright? You were hallucinating. Please take your medicines on time.”

Avni nodded in affirmation, all the while thinking about that girl in high heels. She was so much like her own self. A little shy, a little bubbly. A hard core heels lover. And then that accident six months ago! She could never wear those heels again.

Sighing and wiping the tears from her eyes, she turned her motorized wheelchair and went back to her room.

Pic courtesy : Google images

Posted in short story

The Missing Paneer

This is a short story depicting the daily struggles of an Indian homemaker living abroad with an interesting twist.

Happy reading!

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in the month of May and while sipping some hot coffee, Rachana could see the morning joggers in the boulevard across her house. It was almost a year since she had moved to Albany with Amit, her husband, leaving the commotion of her hometown back in India. They had rented an apartment in Grove Avenue in the Helderberg neighborhood. She had bickered a lot regarding his choice of housing. She wanted to settle in New York City, but Amit’s office was in the vicinity from where they currently resided and the middle class tenements also suited his budget. As she finished her coffee, she sighed and got back to making breakfast.

After she was almost finished, Amit walked in adorning his usual office attire. At 5’11”, with a 5 o’clock shadow on his chiseled jaw and gelled black hair, he was really attractive. Rachana raised her brow questioning him.

“I know it’s a Saturday, but you know how desperately I want that promotion. I need to work extra baby.” He said in his fake American accent. When Rachana stayed quiet, he pressed further, “Baby, you know we have to send some money to our parents every month and we also want to start a family right? We need every single penny.”

She was seething in anger, but calmed down when he played the family card.

Instead, she said, “I understand Amit. But, please be back early. We have to go for dinner at the Shah’s residence. Vyomi is making paneer tikka masala for me!”

“Oh my god!’ exclaimed Amit. “You have seriously become obsessed with panir. Every single day you want panir. Panir this panir that. I am sick of this panir. Make me some fish for God’s sake!”

Rachana was amused by his rant and said, “Oh but they don’t eat fish you know. They are pure vegetarians. And looks like you are obsessed with fish”, she said pointing her index finger at him.

Irritated, Amit turned around to leave, but stopped when Rachana called him again.

“By the way honey,” Rachana said, “It’s not panir, it is pa-neer.”

Feeling annoyed, he stomped his foot and slammed the door.

“What a brilliant start to my weekend.” Rachana thought. She missed him. The caring and loving Amit that had courted her during their engagement days had transformed into a workaholic one. They had moved immediately to Albany post marriage when he got the transfer. And Rachana being just a commerce graduate with no experience, did not have much to do. Amit wanted to save as much as he could so that they could have a better house and start a family, hence he wouldn’t spare a dime for her in order that she could study further. Hell, she didn’t even want to study, rather she wanted to start her own private investigator firm. She had a knack for it; she had extremely good observation and reasoning skills and she simply enjoyed the challenges. But no, Amit wanted her to do any job that would earn some bucks. There was nothing much here for someone with just a commerce background. And she was just not interested to immerse herself in books.

As Amit left, Anita came from her hiding place under the dining table and jumped on Rachana. Startled by that sudden movement, Rachana almost dropped the bowl of fruits in her hand but somehow regained her balance at the end moment.

“Anita, calm down!” she yelled. “Here, take your food.” She instructed the little cat.

She had named the cat in memory of her maid back in India. Oh! How much she missed her; here, she had to do everything right from cleaning the house to cooking to washing clothes, on her own.

As the clock struck 10 am, she realized she had an appointment with the dentist at the local medical center. Her tooth was troubling her since a few days, so she decided to get a checkup to be safe. She got ready and decided to walk till the center. Depending on the outcome at the dentists’, she may have to hire a cab back home and she could definitely use some extra bucks. Besides, walking was her favorite exercise. Apart from keeping her fit, it helped her to delve in her surroundings.

As she locked the door, she left Anita out and instructed her to stay around. On the street, she met Mrs. Gomes, the septuagenarian next door neighbor. She loved that old lady. Why wouldn’t she? After all, Mrs. Gomes had paid her a hundred dollars for finding her missing dog. That’s when she decided to take her passion seriously and after finding a couple more lost pets, she had made a few hundred bucks! And that is how she had met Anita about four months back. She found a little cat hovering around her door on that cold January morning. Taking pity on the poor little thing, Rachana had provided it food and shelter. Though Amit despised all four legged creatures, Rachana had insisted to keep the cat until they found the owner. She had named her just a couple of months back when she discerned that nobody would be coming to claim the cat.

As she waved goodbye to Mrs. Gomes, and passed by the Shah’s residence, a few doors down the line, she couldn’t help but feel excited for the dinner. She then met Holly, who had sought her help to find out whether her boyfriend was cheating on her. So, after tailing him for a week, Rachana had confirmed that he was a genuine fellow. Holly had then paid her generously. After a brief chat with Holly, she then rushed to the medical center to get the business with the dentist done.

Returned home with a missing tooth, she thought whether she would be able to have dinner. But she waved the thought off thinking that she would only have paneer, which was soft. Oh! How her mouth started watering just thinking about that!

She rested on her bed with a bowl of ice cream and was binge watching a few reality shows on her laptop, when her phone rang.

“Mrs. Basu, Aniket here” there was an urgency in his voice that made her gut clench.

“Aniket, please call me Rachana. What happened?” she asked.

“The dinner is cancelled.” Oh no! My paneer, she thought. But before she could say anything, Aniket continued, “Please can you just come over? Please.”

She swiftly changed into a dress, tying her shoulder length wavy hair into a pony and after a quick glimpse into the mirror, she left. She saw a police car parked outside the Shah’s, and with her heart hammering in her chest, she entered the house.

She saw Aniket answering a few questions that the policeman was asking him and another one was inspecting the house. They questioned her presence in the house to which Aniket mentioned that she was a friend and he had called her for moral support. He then handed a picture to the police man and they left. Aniket had tears in his eyes by the time Rachana approached him.

“What’s wrong Aniket?” she enquired.

“I’m sorry to bother you Rachana, but I really didn’t know who to call. Amit was not answering his phone. I had left Vyomi in the house to go to the mall and get some stuff. When I came back she wasn’t there! I thought that she must have gone out to run some errand, so I tried calling her, but her phone was switched off. So I waited and waited. But it’s been almost three hours now. And I’m really worried. So, I had to call 911.” He sat down on the sofa clutching his hair and sobbing.

“She will come back, don’t worry.” It was all that Rachana managed to say.

The Shahs had shifted here about four months back with the start of the New Year. Rachana wasn’t very close to Aniket as much as she was to Vyomi. She really couldn’t understand how to console him. But considering the time that had elapsed since Vyomi disappeared, Rachana felt fear creeping up on her insides. They were relatively new in the area and she had hardly seen Vyomi loitering around except meeting the neighbors.

“Do you mind if I look around?” She asked him.

Aniket nodded in affirmation and Rachana’s detective instincts kicked in. As she was about to enter the kitchen, Aniket said, “She was boiling milk and was getting the ingredients to make paneer when I left. But when I came back, she wasn’t there and so was the paneer.”

Before she could start inspecting anything, she heard Aniket sobbing uncontrollably. Rachana thought he was over reacting, but nevertheless she pushed him into his room and asked him to rest.

My husband would be happy if I went missing. She regarded sadly. Putting all those thoughts aside, she decided to snoop around. First, she went into the kitchen. There were remnants of paneer in a dish near the sink, but other than that she couldn’t find the remaining ingredients for the recipe. ‘Looks like Vyomi made the dish and ate it all by herself and then decided to disappear.’ She silently mused. Where could she have gone? The Shahs dint look like they were billionaires unless there was hidden treasure in the house for which Vyomi would be kidnapped for ransom. She also noticed that there were very limited things in the kitchen; hardly any herbs and spices, a few cereal packets and a couple of milk cartons in the fridge. It all looked very suspicious, like they were ready to pack and run.

Rachana quickly looked over in the drawing room for anything suspicious, but except for bare shelves, she found nothing. She had come to their house probably just for the second time in the last four months as she and Vyomi would meet at her place often when Vyomi would bring delicious cooked paneer for her. She went near the dining table that was adjacent to the kitchen and suddenly she felt a shot of pain in her left foot. She bent down to find a small, round and sharp object. She gasped at the sight of it. “Oh my God! It’s a diamond.” She whispered. After inspecting it thoroughly she left it exactly where she had found it and went to meet Aniket.

She wanted to inspect his room as well, but couldn’t, as he was wide awake when she entered the room.

‘I think I’m going to head back. Amit would be home soon. Don’t worry, I’m sure Vyomi would be alright and she’ll be back.”

He mumbled his thanks and Rachana left. As she entered her own house, her phone rang.

“Hi, baby.” Amit said.

On hearing that tone, Rachana understood that he was going to pull an all-nighter again.

“Don’t Amit,” she hollered. “You always do that. Always.” She was on the verge of breaking down. “All I need is to spend a little time with you, but no. Your work is more important.”

“Rachana, please understand. I’m doing this for our future.”

“Cut the crap Amit. You have been telling me this since the last six months.”

“A few months more, baby. Please baby.”

“Don’t ‘baby’ me! Are you so bored of me now? You are not even home on weekends! Is there someone else?”

“Oh! For God’s sake Rachana, don’t start with all the accusations again!” He yelled. “Screw you and your perverted thoughts. I have better things to do.”

“Now, I’m accusing you? Really?” She said. When there was no response, she realized that Amit had unceremoniously cut the phone again.

Mouthing some cuss words for her husband, she opened the freezer and started gulping ice cream to calm her nerves. She then headed up to her room. So much for having paneer for dinner, she thought. Amit wouldn’t be back until the next day and after their bitter argument, she doubted he would even come back. She was getting sick of being holed up in the house even on weekends.

But right now, her mind wouldn’t stop pondering about the bizarre things that she found in Vyomi’s house. A diamond, the missing paneer, the bare essentials in their house; she kept ruminating about all of that and didn’t realize when she fell asleep.

She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse.

Squeezing her temples with her fingers, she got out of the bed and saw that it was almost noon. Her tooth was lost forever, but her spouse should be back soon, she thought.

She went into the kitchen, quickly gulped some milk and cereal and then took paracetamol for her headache. She couldn’t reach any conclusion regarding Vyomi, the diamond and the missing paneer. Sighing, she removed the fish from the deep freezer and left it to thaw. Time to treat Amit, she thought. She showered and changed into a loose t-shirt and yoga pants. As soon as she entered the kitchen, the doorbell rang.

‘Must be Amit’, she anticipated. But, when she opened the door, there was no Amit. Instead, a brown paper bag was placed by the door. She peeked around to see who had left it, but on finding no one, she shrugged, took it inside and closed the door. Before the door shut, she caught a glimpse of a sleek black Audi passing on the street.

She placed the parcel on the dining table and sat down to open it. She found an air tight container and a letter inside the bag. Curious to know who had sent it, she opened the letter.

Dear Rachana,

I must say that you are a really smart and honest investigator. You saw the diamond but left it there itself. Hats off! But you see, you need a little more training to excel. And I know that you are short on resources, so that’s why I have sent something to help you. Hope you make good use of it.

P.S.: The ‘missing’ drama was fake just to divert the attention of a few people who had caught onto our shenanigans. It bought us some time to plan our next move. Anyways, you may never meet us again. Good luck to you and Amit for your future!


Aniket and Vyomi Shah.

Rachana kept the letter back and proceeded to examine the contents of the container. She was astonished at what she saw.

There were five mouthwatering pieces of her favorite paneer tikka. Below the pieces was a sticky note on which the words ‘enjoy the missing paneer’ were written. After internally debating whether to leave a couple for Amit, she decided against it.

As she began to chew a mouthwatering piece of it, she felt something crunchy and spat it out. ‘Ouch!’ She cried. There was a diamond in the paneer! Finally realizing what Vyomi meant, she removed another four pieces from the remaining paneer. Now, she was the possessor of five glittering diamonds that would change her life forever.

She already started dreaming of her new house with an extra room that she could convert into her office. She couldn’t wait for Amit to come home and give him the good news! And so she went on a cleaning spree and cooked his favorite fish curry.

A few hours later, when Amit came home, he was surprised to find his otherwise badgering wife in an extremely cheerful mood. And after he learned about her weekend adventure, he relished his fish curry even more and showered her with a passionate lovemaking.

All the while, there was just one lingering thought at the back of Rachana’s mind. She would never know who the Shahs were. If that was even their real name. Except that the lady made delicious paneer. She would never know whether they were conmen on a heist or undercover cops on some secret mission. But they did give her five beautiful diamonds. So, who they were didn’t really matter, or did it?

At the same time, somewhere on the streets of Albany, a couple was heavily making out on the back seat of a black Audi.

“We did it Aniket! I can’t believe that we ravaged a hundred diamonds from that old woman’s hidden basement!”

“Ninety five sweetheart. You gave away five of them to your friend.”

“But, she deserves it. She’s taking care of our Fluffy after all. Can you believe that she has named her Anita?” Vyomi said.

“I thought we had lost her.”

“Yes, me too, but then I found her happy with Rachana, so I let her be. Besides she would make us too conspicuous in the long run.”

“Imagine the headlines. ‘A couple with a white cat on prowl. Beware’. Aniket burst out laughing.

“Why the missing drama?” Vyomi quizzed.

“It was a perfect cover. I suspected that the Morgans who live across saw us leaving Mrs. Gomes’ house. I didn’t want to take any chances.” Aniket pecked her on the lips and said. “So, what’s our next plan?”

“I think we should take a break. We deserve it. Let’s go to Seychelles. It’s my dream destination!”

“To Seychelles it is then!” they both said. And sped off.

Meanwhile, Rachana was fast asleep with the missing paneer now rested in her gut. She dreamt about solving new mysteries and embracing exhilarating challenges that included motherhood as well.

Posted in Married life, mom's life, Personal, relationships

Hope and a few dreams…

I was merely twenty three years old when I got married. And I felt like I had suddenly been transported to a different world altogether. Being in courtship for almost a year and half, I had the feeling that adjusting to my future home shouldn’t be difficult. But then reality struck.

Staying with a family that is almost like a stranger to you was really tough. My in laws had a very laid back kind of lifestyle. And I was totally the opposite. I was literally struggling to get all the work done before I left for college (I had a few months of my internship left), but it just wasn’t working. That’s when Hope held my hand and told me, “You are more than a wife and a daughter in law in this family. Don’t worry about everything so much. Relax, let go. Things will be fine.”

Those words were like a breath of fresh air. I instantly felt lighter and happier. I concentrated on completing my internship and finally got my degree.

It was a dream of mine to study further. But, I was in a dilemma. Whether to study further or start a family. Husband had left the decision to me. He would support me in whatever I decided. I was stuck. That’s when Hope stepped in again. She said, “Live your dreams dearest daughter. Do what your heart desires.” Those words motivated me further to complete my post graduation.

Then my husband and I embraced parenthood. Each day, since then, has been a roller coster ride. I have my moments, some days happy, some days irritated to the core and some days I’m just in a la la land.

Hope has always been with me during my entire journey and she always encourages me to do more, to be more. When I was at home for a few months post my second baby, she encouraged me to do something that I love instead of moping around. That was when my dormant passion of writing got activated. And it has been blooming ever since.

Over the last few years, I have become aware that there’s so much more to my personality other than being a mother. Every day I see a new facet. Today, I’m a doctor, a home maker, a blogger and most importantly, a dreamer. I dreamt and tried my best to live my dreams. And I can’t thank Hope enough for that. She supported me enough so that I could live my dreams. I feel really blessed to have Hope in my life as my mother in law.

Now, it’s my turn. I always encourage her to do things that she loves. It’s not too late to do that either. There’s more to her too than just being a mother, a mother in law and a grandmother. She wants to be a fitness enthusiast and take up her hobbies of crochet and stitching more seriously. And I keep telling her, “It’s better late than never!”

What is your #MoreToMe facet? Do share in the comments section below.

Author’s note : This post first appeared on momspresso.

Pic courtesy : Google images

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Posted in mom's life, Parenting, relationships, short story

The perfect mother (a short story)

It was a routine day for Pooja, who worked at an old age home in the heart of the city. She worked at the reception for six hours and also helped in the accounts and inventory later. It had been a month since she had started working there, and she knew all the forty five residents of the home pretty well. She had just finished her graduation and wanted to do something in her free time. This old age home was a perfect work place for her. Within walking distance of her house and flexible working hours. She liked it’s architecture too. It was an old brown building with ground plus two floors with a small garden on the backside. Each floor had fifteen rooms with an attached bathroom. There was a mess on the ground floor adjoining the garden. There was also a TV and a carrom board kept in the mess. They had enough nurses and care takers to look after the residents. They also had a doctor visiting them every week. Although the place was in the heart of the city, there was a sense of calm when she entered inside. It felt very homey. Her desk was directly in front of the entrance which was flanked by rooms on either side. .

She was particularly fond of Jaya aunty, an octogenarian, who would talk non stop and entertain her from all the gossips of other residents. Jaya aunty had voluntarily left her son and daughter who had settled abroad and made this place her home. She always said that she could never fathom the western culture and so she came back to her motherland and decided to stay here as it was difficult to stay all alone at this age.

Then there was Sudha aunty, Ashok uncle, Joseph uncle, Laxmi aunty who were other gossip mongers; and others like Sarika aunty, Pradeep uncle who preferred to keep to themselves. There were many others who were in their late seventies or eighties, some of them came voluntarily whereas others were forced to. They all stayed like a big happy family.

Pooja had noticed a particular man called Sagar, who would come everyday even before she came and he would leave by 9am. He was always impeccably dressed in suits and always carried a laptop bag. And on Saturdays, a woman whom she assumed was his wife would accompany him. They would spend a good two to three hours with Sarika aunty, who was staying in the last room facing the small garden on the ground floor.

Being new to the place, she did not know the health problems that any of them had, but the ramblings of Jaya aunty had kept her updated. Today, curiosity got the better of her and she thought she would take a peek at what Sagar was talking to Sarika aunty. As she stopped by her door, she heard Sarika aunty laughing at something that Sagar was showing her on the laptop. Then he turned to her, took her hands in his and told her, “Aai, mi aahe, Sagar. Tumcha Sagar. Mulga tujha?” (Mother, it’s me, Sagar. Your Sagar. Your son?).

Sarika aunty looked at him and said, “Ha Sagar, majha mulga, tula kasa visarnar?” (Yes Sagar, my son? How can I forget you?)

Pooja felt that she was intruding on a very private moment and she decided to leave. As she was about to leave, she heard Sarika aunty saying, “Aapan kon?” (Who are you?). Pooja was frozen in her tracks as she thought Sarika aunty had caught her listening to their conversation. But when she turned around, she saw that she was asking the question to Sagar. A stray tear escaped Sagar’s eyes, but before he could say anything, Sarika aunty started laughing at something she saw on the laptop. And Sagar’s eyes met with Pooja’s as she mouthed ‘sorry’ and went back to her desk.

When Sagar came out to leave, he was met with the curious eyes of Pooja. She din’t want to sound imposing, and so she did not ask him anything. The next morning, Sagar came with a cup of tea and instead of going to meet his mother he sat with Pooja in the mess.

“She’s my mother.” He began. “Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years back. It’s worsening with each passing day. We used to stay together, all of us, my wife, my twin sons and my mother until last year when it was too risky to keep her alone. She would lock the main door from inside and forget how to open it. Sometimes, she wouldn’t let us inside our own house as she wouldn’t recognise us and think we were theives. At times, she would keep my car keys in the refrigerator and we would end up searching the entire house. So, for everyone’s safety and more importantly her’s, we decided to bring her here. She’s been here since a year and sometimes she recognises us, sometimes she doesn’t.”

Pooja’s eyes had turned glassy on hearing his story. She said, “She’s a very quiet lady. Hardly talks to anyone. I was surprised to find her so happy when you come. I’m sure deep down she knows that you are her son. It’s not your fault that she doesn’t remember you.”

“I know it’s not my fault. But every single day, I feel sorry for myself for the way I have always treated her. She wasn’t very fluent in English, and when I grew older, I have always ridiculed her for that. I used to be embarrassed when she would come to school. I used to tell her that she’s not my perfect mother. She doesn’t know anything. I used to yell at her, tell her to leave me alone. But she would always smile at me and still cook me my favourite dishes. I was never thankful to her. I hardly expressed my love for her. But when my sons were born, I saw my wife struggle raising them. I would help her, but not that much. My mother stood by her, and we sailed through. But I was too busy with my career to even acknowledge her for that. And by the time I realised that how difficult it is for a mother to raise her kids, it was too late. Today, when she doesn’t recognise me, I feel broken, but then I think that I probably deserve it for the way I have treated her. I visit her everyday for a couple of hours, I show her videos on my laptop of whatever place she wanted to visit but now cannot. I show her videos of my sons growing up. I feel very happy when she recognises me even for a few minutes. I tell her everyday that she is my perfect mother and how much I love her! And she smiles, she always does.”

With that Sagar left to move on with his day.

Pooja couldn’t grasp the emotions she was feeling. She just started sobbing, but realising where she was, she went back to her desk. Later in the evening, when she went back home, she hugged her mom and told her, “You are my perfect mother. I love you. Always remember that.” Her mom laughed at that and told her, “I love you too, you are my perfect daughter”.

There’s a perfect mother in spite of all the imperfections.

Dedicated to all the mothers

Author’s note : This post first appeared on momspresso.

Pic courtesy : Google images

Posted in Married life, Personal, pregnancy

Confessions of a pregnant woman

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was bombarded with numerous tips and advice from my friends, relatives and other well wishers. Some of them were really helpful, whereas others were downright hilarious and a few even offending. I used to end up arguing with a few of them when they would tell me about what I should do and not do. The end result being an upset friend/relative and an upset me.

So, when I was pregnant again, I thought that the tips and advice will stop as I was an experienced mother. But no, it didn’t. So I chose to keep my mouth shut and rather thank them for their wonderful advice.

Let me take you through my journey of the three trimesters and the ‘wonderful’ tips that I received in the course. What I wished to answer them (but chose to go mute and smile) are in italics.

First trimester

‘Oh my God! Pregnant again? Congrats anyway. Why so fast? You should have taken more rest.

Yes, why not. Why don’t you make all my life decisions? A burden less for me, eh?

Look she’s sleepy and drowsy all the time. Looks like you are having a boy this time too!

Ah, here comes the old wives tales! Try looking after my older one while puking your guts out. Then we will see who is sleepy and drowsy! Ha!

Second trimester

Start eating more dear. You need to eat for two. We want a chubby baby!

I had heard this one last time too. How about you let me swallow my own saliva first?

Your elder one is so naughty. I think you should take as much rest as possible now. How will you manage otherwise? It’s going to be really tough.

Thank you for your ‘encouraging’ words. It won’t be tough. You don’t worry. You stay right next door, I’ll send my older one at your place for some time everyday. I’m sure you will help. Right?

Third trimester

You should start looking for a full time maid now. Things are going to get difficult as soon as the second one pops out!

Sure, the position is open. Are you interested?

I think your water broke. Your dress is wet from below. Let’s rush to the hospital. Hurry!

No, that’s not my water. There’s still a few weeks left. Don’t look at me like that. You din’t let me go to the bathroom on time. Sorry, I couldn’t help it!

Post delivery

Oh my God! Your second one is also a boy. Now what? You always wanted a girl. Are you going to plan for a third one again?

Oh yes, I will. But not ‘Until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east’. What? Don’t stare at me like that. You’ve never heard it? Duh! This is a very famous dialogue that Daenerys Targarean tells her husband Khal Drogo in the Game of thrones. Go binge watch it now and don’t claw on my brains!!

Have you too received such pieces of advice in your pregnancy?

Do let me know in the comments section below!

Àuthors note: This post first appeared on momspresso.

Pic courtesy : Google images

Posted in Married life, mom's life, Personal

The weekend fear

 It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and as I get up, stretch myself and look at the clock, I’m happy to see the time. It’s thirty minutes past nine, and I feel that it’s an achievement itself; I’m able to sleep so long without any interruption. Kids and husband are in deep sleep too! As I freshen up, I find a steaming cup of tea ready (courtesy mother in law). What a wonderful start to the weekend!

As husband and kids wake up, we settle for brunch with some parathas and pickle. Post that, we watch a movie as the kids are busy playing on their own. Then late afternoon, we take the kids to a nearby park, where they have their share of fun. This is followed by watching the sunset at the beach and then proceeding to a restaurant for dinner.

The same thing happens on Sunday, except the menu for brunch is different and for dinner, we order in instead of going out to eat. I’m so happy and content after a wonderful weekend that I’m looking forward to Monday morning and the week ahead. With those thoughts in mind and with a smile on my face I slip into a deep slumber.

How I wish my weekends are like this! All of the above only exists in my imagination! 

Here is what happens in reality.

It is a beautiful Saturday morning indeed, just not beautiful for me, as I feel someone pulling on my hair. I wake up groaning and look at the time, it’s thirty minutes past six! I look at my smiling toddler still content in pulling my hair and tell him, “Couldn’t you wait an hour more?” No matter, how thick the curtains are, a single ray of light is enough to wake him up! He says something in his toddler language and moves on to the next interesting object. There goes my dream of sleeping more! I then proceed to freshen up and as I emerge from the bathroom, I find my preschooler awake too, courtesy toddler. 

My cup of steaming tea is ready, courtesy mother in law. She’s an early riser, so she makes tea for everyone almost everyday. After managing to make a quick breakfast and feeding the kids, there’s a quick discussion between me and mother in law. What to make, how to make, etc etc. I really want to order something, but husband always insists on home made ‘exotic’ food atleast on Saturdays. It never turns out to be exotic. That’s a different story altogether. 

As I’m almost done with the food preparation, I take a peek in my room and find my husband blissfully sleeping. The clock reads 9.30. Now, my face turns green and I can feel smoke coming out from my ears and nose! I call my preschooler and put the toddler on bed and ask them to jump. The effect? Husband is awake in five minutes! I mentally hi-five myself and decide to do it at 7 am next time! I can be cunning sometimes!

Later in the day, as husband watches some thriller on TV, kids are busy playing with the grandparents, I decide to take a nap. The moment my head touches the pillow, the maid wants a half day. Ofcourse she wants to celebrate the weekend too. So, off she goes, and as the kids now decide to play with me, my dream of a small nap goes down the drain. And then, when it’s time to go out to the park, they doze off! And later, husband demands something different for dinner too! I want to tell him no, but when he shows me his puppy dog eyes, I cave in. Five days a week, he usually eats out and skips dinner half the time. So I can try to give him an ‘exotic’ home made meal for a day.

Sundays are more or less the same, except I refuse to cook dinner. We either go out or order in. The only good thing is we rarely have guests coming over. All our relatives are in the same city and anyone coming from outside, don’t prefer to stay with us as they have to  climb four flights of stairs with their luggage without any lift! (I do it three times a day, that’s the secret of my fitness). And add to that, two small boys who take the house on fire and create so much noise that even the airplane would be put to shame! 

Sometimes, I feel my weekdays are better. Even though I’m a working mother, I atleast get to spend time by myself in the mornings. I get to do things that I love doing, like reading the newspaper. Weekends are so hectic, I can’t even read the newspaper in peace! I literally fear weekends!

Very very rarely, we leave town on weekends. But we do go on impromptu picnics for a day. By Sunday night, I’m dead tired but in spite of all that, I  look forward to the coming week. And hope that maybe my next weekend would be slightly better in terms of mental peace and physical rest! For all the other things, I’m very thankful!

So moms, how are your weekends spent? Do let me know in the comments section below.

P.S: This post first appeared on mycity4kids parenting platform. 

Pic courtesy : Google images