Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Cup of Chai, Her Majesty's Way

To all the chai lovers out there, have you ever wondered how that hot, steaming brew reached your hands? No, no. I'm not here to explain the process of picking tea leaves and drying, and processing them into what you find in colourful packets in your local supermarket. I'm hear to rant about a trip that I took recently to one of the many tea estates in Kerala.

I took a road trip to Wayanad on 27th of last month. There were four of us and the destination was a tea estate bungalow in Wayanad that belong to one of the biggest business groups in India. The estate was one among the many the group owned in India. One among us had a friend who worked as the manager in one of those estates.


The bungalow was in the middle of the tea estate, old style, with sloping roofs, common to every tea estate. It wasn't built by the British and the architecture declared it openly. A long, narrow, winding, stone paved path took one to the bungalow from the foothills of the estate. It drive was about one and half kilometers, but it would take one about 20-30 minutes to negotiate it and reach the top, especially if it has rained. 

                     

Surrounded by tall deciduous trees, the bungalow gives you a warm, cozy feeling. But the striking feature about the estate, the bungalow, and the need for this post is the culture being followed. It was the British who paved way for the development of the tea estates in Wayanad and Munnar. Even 67 years after the British left India, these tea estates still follow the British culture and hierarchy religiously. 

The estate managers are pampered in true British style. You've a full time cook, a house keeper, and a gardener to cater to your needs in the bungalow. Hot, steaming food is served round the clock. And you've people to cater to every need of yours - to make beds, to do laundry, provide you clean sheets, clean the house, tend to the plants, and what not! And they stand with utmost reverence and look up to their "masters". The managers are provided with an old Royal Enfield, company maintained and serviced. Add to that the fact that the official uniform for the managers is shirt/t-shirts tucked in with company issue half trousers complete with leather belts and shoes!

The final touch is added by the fact that the company still follows the system left by the British. We still find a lot of British Raj existing here openly. For example, the estates have a strict hierarchy system, and you've access to people only on a need basis. There is the manager, the assistant manager, the supervisor, and then the different classes of plantation workers. The managers are not allowed to mingle with the locals, or make purchases from any of the shops near the estate! All your supplies are to be purchased from the company owned store some 20-30 kilometers away!

                                       



Sometimes, we take things for granted. The manager of the estate tells me that there was an uprising among the estate workers recently that saw a lot of violence. As a remnant of the struggle, I had noticed two red flags on either side of the main gate leading to the estate. As you take a sip of the hot beverage and read this, you didn't know that there are a hundred stories to be told about that chai in your hand and how Her Majesty still influences the lives of thousands even after six decades of independence!

FootNote: The break was a much needed one and the drive was lovely. The Ritz came as a surprise with decent handling on the ghat road and a good mileage even though a good part of the journey was in first and second gears. The stay was awesome, the company was great, and the climate, lovely. I really wish I could spend more time in the estate.

ToeNote: The post was a long overdue one. The British feel intrigued me and left me uneasy. But due to my laziness, I couldn't find the time or energy to write it. I've always been a chai lover. I wanted to be a coffee lover, but it always ended up with the chai. And now, as I finish this post, I'm sipping on my cup of chai!

NailNote: The past week has been so phew! Hopefully, a post on it would be coming soon - The Week That Wasn't! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

One of Those Nights...

It is one of those nights when you feel like the whole world had slept, leaving you awake and lonely. Another bout of insomnia; you feel like your legs are warm. No. Not warm. They are hot. And sweaty. You get out of the bed and walk to the washroom. You take the health faucet and direct the jet of water onto your leg. You feel the coldness of the water hit you as you stand there with closed eyes, reveling in an orgasmic comfort.

You get back to the bed, your legs still dripping the water onto the floor with each of your step. You feel dirty. I'm going to get all the dirt on the floor onto my leg, you think. You tip toe for the rest of the distance to the bed and jump onto it. You pull the comforter over your body. You can't sleep without a blanket, no matter how hot it is. You've strange habits. You know it too. But you decide to keep you feet peeping out of the comforter.

You stare into the roof, into the darkness that forms an oblivion at the moment. You can hear the fan but you can't see it. You lie there for a while to see if your eyes will get adjusted to the darkness and you'll be able to see the blades of the fan churning out circles. You can't!

You take out your mobile and go through your list of "friends" and acquaintances. You wonder how you define a "friend". Strange! You hadn't thought of that one before. Naah. You were always too lazy to define your relations, weren't you. You see no one to whom you want to talk to.

Wait! There's X. You haven't talked to X in a long time, have you? You ping her and wait for a reply. 5 minutes! 10 minutes! She hasn't replied. But then, it's 1 AM. She might be asleep, you tell yourself. OR she might be talking to someone else, tells the devil inside you!

You fight the urge to call her and see if her phone is busy or on call waiting! You didn't want to sound desperate and lonely. And more importantly, you didn't want to hurt your ego! It was already bruised, wasn't it? No, you say. Scratched, yes maybe, but not bruised, you explain.

Today. No no. Today is Monday already. Yesterday. Yes, yesterday she had got engaged. Who's she? One of the people whom you knew. Someone from a few years ago. She had invited you to the function but you had already told her you wouldn't come. She didn't ask for an explanation either. Now that you remember, you send her a message saying "congratulations". Full stop.

The legs are warm again. And sweaty too. It makes you restless. You move your legs up and down on the sheets involuntarily. You remember the movie, where they would use this to let the audience know that there's love making going on! Love making? Really? You're surprised at yourself! Okay. Fucking! Happy?!

Where did it all start. Wasn't the engagement. A couple of days earlier, you had decided to ping another friend whom you "knew"! Funny thing that she's always online yet you both haven't talked in years. You ping her. She pings you back. The pleasantries are over. Congratulate me, she says? What? Really? You're married?! You say congratulations. You knew she had a steady guy for many years now. But still. *sigh*  Another one down! You're looking for the nearest exit. Finally, you say I'm happy for you. Really, she asks you. No, not really, you tell the truth. After all, you had nothing to lose. You find your exit.

The heat is unbearable. You throw the sheets away and get out of the bed. You strip yourself off your boxers and tee and walks straight into the bathroom, naked. You turn on your rain shower. The cold water hits you like realization and you stand there soaking it up, your hands resting on the walls and the water trickles down you hair, to your face, your body, and onto the floor. One of those nights, you mutter to yourself as you drink up the drops of water on your lips!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Because We Shall Never Have Paris...

My seat in the office is towards the back of the premises, in its farthest corner. No wonder it is called the back-office. I saw him talking to the person in one of the counters and she pointed towards me. He had a packet in his hand. I figured he worked for some parcel service and waited in anticipation as he walked across the room towards me.

"Are you Manish?", he asked me.

"Yes." I replied and looked above on the wall behind my chair. My name and designation was displayed prominently in blue and yellow. He caught my glance and looked at the nameplate.

"You've a courier."

I took it from him and signed the acknowledgement slip he shoved in front of me. It was a small package and on it was a handwriting I had never seen before. I shook it to get an idea of what was inside it. Whatever it was, it was small compared to the size of the packet. I tore open one of the sides using a pen knife. Inside was a small, rectangular cardboard box, the kind that key chains come in, rolled many a times in a bubble wrapper. I unwound the wrapper and opened the box. Inside was a pocket watch in antique copper finish with the Eiffel Tower etched on it. To the right of the engraved tower were the words "Paris". The watch was placed carefully in the middle of the box, with wads of tissue paper stuffed alongside to cushion it from the possible jerking during its transit.

Lying in the bottom of the box was a note, handwritten on a small piece of paper, unsigned. It read, "Because we shall never have Paris???". I instantly knew the sender of this thought out gift.

**********
Have you ever met someone and instantly knew how it was going to end if you tried to get any closer to them than as a mere acquaintance? And then, in spite of knowing that it will, in all possibility, rake up your whole life, and the routines and the principles you've set for yourself, taken the plunge to get deeper into them? An year back, I did exactly that, and now, I am here, holding the pocket watch in my hand, pressing the little knob on its top to flip open its cover, and then closing it with a click, only to open it again, and again, and again. By now, the battery of the watch had died down and time had frozen at 11.19. Strange, I thought. Time seemed frozen when we were together too. But now, it had began to thaw and I could see through it, stark reality staring at me through a bluish haze. She was gone. Her last message to me was sent a few days back. In the wee hours of Thursday morning to be exact. Quite an irony that she chose that exact date! The day after our supposed first anniversary of discovering each other's existence.

**********
He often told her, "You're me with a pair of boobs!". And she would smile. So, he wasn't surprised about the fact that she was gone. It wasn't like she wanted to stay. Neither did he ask her to. But the fact remains that she was gone, for ever. She was bore down by the weight of small, golden band on one of her fingers, with a name inscribed on its outside, the way he wanted it

She was entangled in a web she herself had created, and he simply stood there, watching, as she writhed and squirmed, weighed down more with each attempt to break free. At times, he thought of himself as a superhero from the anime she loved. He dreamt of jumping into the web, one hand holding tight onto the rope, while he grabbed her in his other, ultimately landing on the antagonist, Herr Doktor, as the sheer force of landing pushes him over. But alas, if only he realized that life is no superhero movie, and that you don't wear your underwear over your pants in real life!

While she was still there, she shook the very foundation of his life, the principles he had set out for himself and his self centered ego. As days merged into nights and the first rays of light dawned upon the night sky, every turn was a surprise to them. She talked about far away lands, of charming princes, of wars fought with a vengeance, and he lied there, listening, a gleam in his eyes, mesmerized like the king from The Arabian Nights!
**********
It rained that day. It started as a drizzle and later it poured. But it didn't matter. He claimed it was meant to be a surprise. But she knew it all along. And she was waiting for him from the morning itself. What happened next wouldn't have crossed either of their minds. Or did it?! But how, when, why? It didn't matter then, it doesn't matter now. They did learn some valuable lessons that day:

#1: You don't wear white when it rains and when he's coming.

#2: The smell of blood lingers for long, and sometimes it does smell good!

#3: Stupid is as stupid does.

#4: If you've got a gut feeling, then it's probably going to be true.

#5: Sometimes, it's good to be spontaneous and simply let go.

**********
She was many a first for him, and she taught him a few things that were new to him. She taught him to express in hashtags. She showed him the difference between being a girl and being a woman. She showed him what depth meant. She made him realize what he had been doing all these years. She taught him all, because he was her M Boy!

All he has to say now is "We may never have Paris, but we shall always have The Valley!" #MissUs



FootNote: The works on this post was started months ago, but the words were hard to find. Finally, it was promised for the 11th of June. And as always, promises were broken. Better late than never. 

This post is special, and hence doesn't have a ToeNote or a NailNote

Sunday, June 08, 2014

How Old Are You?

On the onset, let me clarify that this isn't a movie review. It just happens so that Manju Warrier decided to return to the glittering world of cinema with a movie with a title similar to my blog post. But this post has got nothing to do with the movie. Or at least I hope so, since I haven't watched the movie and hence, am ignorant about what the hype about the movie is all about! Rather, this is in continuation of my previous post, a rambling about what Being 27 actually means to me.

Being 27 and Single: This is by far the biggest problem I've been facing since the past few months. Everyone's wondering why I'm still single. No no. They don't want me to have a girlfriend and flaunt her. They all want me to get married! Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, married friends, unmarried friends, customers, colleagues; seems like everyone want me to get married! Do I look like a social wreck that needs to be chained to shackles of marriage to undergo reformation? When I say I don't want to get married, they react as if they have seen a ghost! Oh come on. Give me this one. This is my life!

I can't blame them either. It looks like everyone has caught this new frenzy of getting married early. No, I'm not talking about my female friends and acquaintances. I'm talking about the darker sex, the men! Most of my dear friends got married a year or two ago. And now, when I call them to find out if they are attending some function, I get replies like, "No da, my kid had his vaccination yesterday and he might have body pain and fever. So I need to be here!" And I go, "Ohkay. Hey, you carry on. I'll call you later!" They are more than happy to keep the call.

When I tried to find out the reason for this sudden change in the mindset of my generation, I received some interesting replies too. Some claimed that they wanted to get married soon since it would give them some time as a cushion while they "settled down" in life. Some tried to bang their married-funny-bone by saying that if they married early and had kids early, they could probably enjoy their late 40s sharing a drink with their son! Duh. I personally think that the main reason would be increased number of love marriages.

One friend, in course of conversation, said, "You too get married. Then we can go on tours together, like our good old days!" Yeah right! Like old times. Except that we all would be "plus one"!!!

We, a group of bachelors, were sitting in our usual spot near Punkunnam. Seeing us, an Innova screeched to a halt and the driver rolled down his door's glass. It was one of our schoolmate. He had changed his car. We ask him why and he replies, "My wife had a second child last week and moving around in our old car was a bit clumsy. So, I decided to get a second hand Innova." And as he waited expectedly for our next question, we asked, "How much did you pay for the car?" !!! Probably not what the question he expected! Family Guy 0 - Bachelors 1.

Being 27 and Smart-ass: I commute to my office in buses. I rarely take my car. Hence, I've to catch at least two buses either way, every single day. Most of the time, the buses will be crowded and chances of getting a seat is a rarity. I prefer to travel by KSRTC and some of them tend to be almost half empty at times.

I love the seat in the very front of the KSTRC buses, the loner seat, as I call it. I love it for a multitude of reasons. First is the view; you get an unhindered view of everything before you as you travel. And then, there is no one budging at your arms and breathing down your sides. The whole seat is yours and yours only. Finally, no one could possibly put their head outside the bus and puke in such a way that it lands on you! But there's always the chance of ending up hurt or even dead in case of a head-on collision or getting completely drenched in the rain. Nevertheless, the seat is worth taking these chances!

But there are some days when you won't get your favourite seat and you'll have to compromise on your seating. In such cases, I always choose a two-seater seat since it is the next best thing. Sometimes, I feel like Sheldon Cooper and his spot when choosing the next best seat available. I do a lot of math and calculations before arriving at my decision. Now, there are some bulky males who always chooses to ignore the empty seats elsewhere and sit next to me, seeing my less than athletic figure. I squirm at such moments and see it as an invasion of my personal space. At such times, I ignore the fact that the bus is in fact a public utility and gets all too defensive about it. And then there are the equally aggressive ones among them who try to take up your space too, pushing you to the corner just because you're frail! So, what do you do then?

My solution is quite simple. Pick up your phone, dial a number and speak to your "friend" about the little boils that you noticed on your body this morning and how you're convinced that it's chicken pox and how someone you work with caught it a couple of weeks ago. While talking, it helps if you can manage to search your hands for any possible boils with a nonchalant face. Works every time. But there's always a risk of someone saying it aloud for others to hear it. But always worth taking the chance!

Being 27 and Still Being Mamma's Boy: I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that I've always been mamma's boy. Maybe not as per your cliched definitions of the term, but by my own derivations of the same. There was always one thing that I cared for and was careful of - not hurting my mother. I love her immensely even when she nags me about getting married. Or gives it an emotional twist by asking me who will take care of me when she's gone!

She isn't sad when you forget her birthday almost every year. She still wishes you in the morning, as soon as you wake up, on every single one of your birthdays so far. And even though it's 9 at night when you get back from office and she wouldn't be home then, she has made payasam and kept it for you just because it's your birthday. It feels good to be mamma's boy even at 27! There are some things in life that money can buy; for everything else, there's Mother!

FootNote: I celebrated my 27th year of existence with very little fanfare. The best thing about being absent from social networking sites is that you know who remembers your birthday in spite of not having some weird app that remind them it's your birthday. I got a few pleasant surprises. For all those who wished me, just wanted to let you know that it was really, really special!

ToeNote: After a really long time, I received a couple of e-cards and a real birthday card too. A special "Thank You" to both of you.

NailNote: Even when you claim to be mature and nonchalant, the silences of certain someones hurt. And in spite of claiming to know that expectations hurt, you still expect.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Being 27: The Pre-Birthday Random Musings

I turn 27 in a few days; June 4th to be exact. I've been struck with another phase of writer's block after a good streak and I feel creatively challenged. So I've decided to blog about 27 random things about me, my life so far, and the random things that comes to my mind during the next hour or so. So, here we go!

1.) I'm a rationalist and an atheist since the age of 15.
2.) I believe in the communist ideology but hate the communist parties in India.
3.) I love travelling and I've a huge list of places which I want to visit/backpack through.
4.) I still have a scar from the bike accident that happened 5 years ago. My parents want me to get it removed by surgery. But I want it to remain, as a reminiscent of my college life and my first accident.
5.) I've never written a blog post for partaking in a contest, howsoever tempting the rewards were. I believe in writing straight from the heart and not forcing myself to write about something because there is expectation of something at the end of it. And I write for myself, and no one else and when and only when, the words come out straight from my heart. I hope I do not change during the course of time.
6.) I don't like the idea of social networking. I don't have a Facebook account. Nor do I've an Orkut/Twitter/MySpace/Whatsapp/WeChat account. My only social face would be this blog and my LinkedIn profile.
7.) I used to be an old timer in the A Smoke Filled Cafe room in Rediff Bol Chat.I really, really miss those good old days.
8.) I wrote my first piece of creative writing when I was 10 (that's as far as I can recollect). It was a single stanza poem with four lines which I still remember it. And one of the girls, whom I didn't like at the time, read it loud to the whole class. I still disliked her. And a year later, she did something for me that I'd never forget and would be ever grateful for. Thank you Jerin. I really wish I had kept in touch with you when you left the school a couple of years later.
9.) During my yearly appraisal a month back, my office head asked me not to be too straightforward and outspoken but to be "diplomatic". I simply smiled.
10.) I'm a sapiosexual. The ignorant among you, stop grinning. If you have to Google it to know what it really means, it probably doesn't concern you.
11.) When I wrote sapiosexual above, Blogger didn't find it amusing or worthy enough of adding to its lexicon. Instead, it suggested homosexual!!!
12.) The first thing I did when I turned 18 was to apply for a driver's license. I love driving and travelling. Happiness is driving a red car!
13.) Talking about driving and travelling, I'm waiting to buy my own Royal Enfield.
14.) I almost got thrown out of college for something that had to do with sanitary napkins!
15.) I was the college debate champion for consecutive years. I'd a wonderful debate partner in Nanditha.
16.) I started blogging in 2005. I left the blogosphere and quit blogging in my first blog because one particular woman was keen on harassing me and shooting false accusations at me publicly.
17.) I cut my first birthday cake ever last year in my office. It was a pleasant surprise and special too.
18.) I window shop on e-commerce sites when I'm bored!
19.) I'm a perfectionist and feel quite guilty when I've to finish up for the sake of finishing up.
20.) My first crush was probably my classmate from kindergarten. From what I know, we even used to go to the toilet together! Years later, I tried to trace her whereabouts but was unsuccessful. I've no idea where she's right now.
21.) After completing my bachelors degree in electrical engineering, I shunned two IT jobs to take up my present job in the bank even though it paid me less than half of what the IT companies offered me at that time. I hated the IT life and wanted to be in the service sector and reach out to people. But four and half years down the lane, there have been quite a few times when I introspected my decision.
22.) A year ago, I met someone here on the blogosphere and my world was never the same. She is so much like me yet so different. It lead me to learn a lot and unlearn a few. And she taught me to express in hashtags! Thank you so much, Kuch Bhi, because there could only be one you! #TheSpecialOne #GoodTimes
23.) I tend to be introverted in real life. I take a lot of time to warm up to people and I don't do that quite often too. So, generally, people have the impression that I'm arrogant and conceited. Not that I bother. I was voted Mr. Jada during my first year at college!
24.) I love the colour black and the number 13.
25.) I'm a die hard Chelsea fan and dream of watching them play from the stands at Stamford Bridge.
26.) I used to be a die hard fan of John Grisham and have read almost all of his novels. I loved his novels so much that I wanted to take up law after my school.
27.) When I die, I want to be remembered as a storyteller.

FootNote: This post turned out to be much harder than I thought. After a while, the randomness got stuck in nothingness and I was left wondering what to write next!

ToeNote: I realized that age isn't in any way related to maturity and that people can still be real assholes even when at 75! #MyFirstCourtCase

NailNote: There is one particular post that has been in my draft for a long time now. I fervently hope that something/someone inspires me to finish it soon enough.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Incredible India - One Bottle of Water

I had decided to blog about topics which, according to me, are socially relevant under the title Incredible India way back in June 2012. But the only two posts under this tab were A Boy Called Irfan and Aam Aadmi Boards a Train. A third had been playing inside my mind for more than an year but it never came out as words. But today, something happened that made me realize that the post was long overdue. So, here it is.

Today, I was on my back from Haripad after attending my friend's wedding. It was a blazing afternoon and I was tired. Tired because of two reasons. For one, I had barely slept the previous day, courtesy of Chelsea's loss to Atletico Madrid in UEFA Champions League Semi Finals. Add to that the heavy intake of Payasams and Boli at the wedding feast. No amount of achchaars and buttermilk could tone down my tiredness and sleepiness. All I wanted to do was catch a KSRTC to Thrissur and doze off for 5 hours.

My wish was answered after waiting in the hot sun for 15 minutes. I got an direct bus to Thrissur. As it happens with all the long distance buses stopping at intermediate bus stations, there was a good amount of commotion to get inside it. After a good deal of tugging and pulling, I managed to get inside the bus and get the window seat in a two-seater row. But the seat would be facing the sun throughout the journey. I had no other go but to settle for what I got.

Soon enough, an old woman came and sat next to me. She was probably in her 60s or 70s and hailed from the lower middle class strata of the society. But I hadn't noticed all this until later in the noon. I didn't even know till where she had taken a ticket. Once the bus started, I slipped into a deep sleep. This was something I don't do when travelling alone. But today, I was too tired and sleepy to care.

After about 45 minutes, the bus pulled into Alapuzha (Alleppy for you non-Keralites) bus station. By then, I had woken up from one of my numerous bouts of sleep and was sweating profusely. The sun was beating down on the side of my face and I could feel my skin burning. But I didn't dare to pull down the window shutters because I knew that it would make me suffocate and sweat even more.

Men, women and children pleading for financial aid is a common site in this part of the country. The modus operandi is simple - they enter the bus through the front door, make a heart wrenching presentation of their plight from the front side of the bus, and then go about collecting their "earnings" and leave by the back door. I see a lot of this drama every day on my way to work and I never bother to look their way. I'm of the mindset that if they are healthy enough to roam around the bus station every day, from morning to evening, doing this same drill over and over again, then they are fit enough to earn their own livings! And because of the same reason, I never give them any money.

Today too, a middle aged man with some "problem" entered the bus. As usual, he did his thing and started going from seat to seat, collecting money. Soon, he came to my seat and my co-passenger gave him a coin. It was probably 2 or 5 rupees. It was then that I first noticed her. I gave him nothing and he moved on. Now that the bus was on a stand still, I was sweating even more. And I was longing for something cold to drink. As if reading my thoughts, a man came by the side of the bus, selling chilled mineral water bottles. As soon as I saw him, I bought one. It was then that I saw a sight. The man who had come begging for alms was standing a few feet away, at a small shop, smoking a filter cigarette and someone else was counting his "collection" and giving him currency notes in exchange for the coins.

I wasn't the only one who saw him at that moment. The lady next to me saw it too. She leaned forward and stared at him for a long, long time. What she figured would be a part of his lunch money was going up in the air as thin, blue fumes! She was obviously angry at the man. I smiled at myself, opened my bottle of chilled water and drank it to my heart's content. It felt like bliss! As I screwed the cap on the bottle, I heard her speak for the first time.

"Ithinu ethreya koduthe?" (How much did you pay for this bottle of water?), she wanted to know.

"Irupathu roopa." (Twenty rupees), I replied. It was then I saw that the price mentioned on the bottle was fifteen rupees only. The smirk on my face vanished. But I knew I'd have paid even fifty rupees for such a bottle at the time. It didn't bother me much.

"Ayyo." (Oh my!)

"Kurachu velam veno kudikaan?" (Do you want some water to drink?), I asked her. Even now, I'm not sure why I asked that.

"Venda" (No)

After a moment, she asked me, "Mon evideya irangunne?" (Son, where are you getting down at?).

"Aluva", I said. I had already changed my destination from Thrissur to Aluva due to some other reason.

"Enna mon irangumbo baaki undenkil enikku thanna mathi" (In that case, you can give me the bottle of water when you get down if there is still left some water left in it.)

I felt a flushing of a cocktail of emotions in my throat. I offered her the water one more time but she declined. Soon, the bus started and I slipped into another set of broken sleeps.




Now to the incident that made me want to write on mineral water bottles more than an year back.

I've a good friend who worked in the same place as my previous posting. She hailed from a typical middle class family, was married, and had two small kids. Once, during one of our long chats about nothings, she told me about what had happened that day. The reason why she told me it was that her kids were fighting in the background over a bottle of water.

Her house was 2 kilometers walk from the bus stop. That day, her older child and she were walking back home after running some errands in the town. Her son had agreed to walk the whole distance to home and not crib about it and ask her to carry him on the condition that she would buy him a bottle of mineral water! And of course, he was to share it with his younger sister when they got home which, he apparently had some issues with, and hence the fight in the background.

What bothered me then was the fact that while shifting from our house (there were three of us) of two years in Aluva, we had a hard time disposing off the empty bottles of mineral water which we had drank. Finally, when we could find someone, it amounted to three sacks of 50 kg size each and that was after crushing every single bottle!!! We never switched on the refrigerator since we didn't want to waste electricity over a couple of bottles of water. (Yes, we were energy conscious!). Instead, we bought bottles of chilled water and ended up creating a huge piles of empty bottles in the kitchen.

Hailing from a state where many a water struggles were staged in Plachimada and surrounding areas over potable drinking water, I felt so guilty at that moment. It felt as if I was taking away a huge chunk from the kids' future. Today, the lady in the bus reminded me of those two kids and their fight over a bottle of water. For someone who was ready to dig deep into her pockets to help a fellow human being, she found the bottle of water too expensive! What was a luxury to two small kids was merely a routine for us!

FootNote: As I was getting ready to get down at Aluva, I offered the bottle of water to the lady. It was still half full. She was hesitant for a moment but took it when I insisted. I didn't look at her face to see her reaction as she took it. I didn't want to. I just gave it to her and moved towards the door. Now, I've no face to remember her by. I didn't want that either.

ToeNote: I made it three posts in the month of April. That would be a new record on this blog since its inception. The new year starts on a new hope. For those of you who are wondering if I'd gone berserk, for us bankers, the year starts in the month of April! And in all probability, it has got something to do with the 1st being April Fool's day!

NailNote: The past week and month have been full of surprises and twists, most part of which were pleasant. Here's wishing myself that the rest of the year follows on a similar high note! Good night.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The One Time in the Bathroom

A typical day (or night) in YOUR life! 

Warning: This post has been rated X. It contains graphical descriptions of nudity, obscenity, and violence that could scar your minds for ever. Read this only if you're above 18 years of age. If you're below 18, I request you to close this page immediately and clear your cache memory.

******

It is a few minutes past 8.30 PM. You have just arrived home after a grueling day at work. And the long travel? Oh even worse. You enter your room. This is the one place where you're the ultimate boss. This is your kingdom and you're The King. Errrr. Wait a minute! Let's make that The Prince. The King is probably downstairs, siting on the sofa, snoring away to the rhythm of the soap opera running on the television. The Queen, on the other hand, stares unblinkingly into the idiot box, engrossed in the woes of the abala naari, the reincarnation of Sita Devi herself, the epitome of selflessness and sacrifice, who loved one man, married another and gave birth to another man's child! She is quite oblivious to the snores of His Highness. A sigh escapes her nostrils. Poor woman, what did she do to deserve all this in her life?! The sigh reverberates through the house and finds its way to your room upstairs. A sigh escapes your nostrils too. Polyamory, extra marital affairs, and the comforts and security of a marriage, and she's still the abala naari! Welcome to the world of soaps!

Errr. Where were we? Ah yes, you're in your room. Okay. Now, the room feels stuffy. The summer is at its peak but the nights are cool, and you sleep like a baby, thanks to the air conditioner that works hard to spit out cold air into your room. So, that means a strict no no to open windows. No wonder the room felt stuffy. Wait a minute! Why do they use the phrase sleep like a baby when most babies, in actual, wakes up and cries a lot during the night?! Strange! You decide that it is time for some fresh air to enter your province. It had rained yesterday night. Who knows? Maybe the atmosphere outside is cool. You forget the fact that you had just walked half a kilometer from the bus stop to your house in this very same atmosphere! You draw the curtains to either sides. Click! Click! Click! Click! And lo and behold, two windows are open. You stand in front of the open windows, waiting for a gush of chilly wind to caress your face. A moment passes. Two. Three. Nothing. The atmosphere outside isn't as Shimla-like as you imagined it to be. You feel like an idiot and decide to take your evening shower.

You strip out of your formal clothing and dump them in your laundry bag. You tie your Turkish towel around your waist to cover your loins. You see your reflection in the almost full-length mirror in your room. Not bad, you say to yourself! You try to do a little Saawariya in front of the mirror! Jab Se Tere Naina, Mere Naino Se Lage Re. Suddenly you realize what you're doing and stops yourself. You hear the Russell Peters inside you say, Be a Man! You think he's right. It's macho time, baby! And then, you begin to show off those little pecks of muscle that you have. Ding! Ding! And here comes your hero, weighing a 130 pounds, from the God's Own Country, and the current heavy weight champion, The Yoooooooooouuuuuuuuu! You can see Salman Khan in the mirror, rolling on the floor, laughing his ass out and peeing all over himself. You quit your antics and walk into your bathroom.

You strip to Adam state and hang your towel on the towel rod. You switch on the new vaporizer you had bought a couple of days ago. You've a bad cold since the past week. Sneeze! You take in the steam for a good 5 minutes. Wow! That's the longest stretch by far! If your Regional Head had seen this, he would instantly send an email to the region group. Good Job, Team You for using the vaporizer for five minutes! Kudos! Who will be the next one? Another sigh escapes. The steam has formed a layer of mist of your bathroom mirror. You write your name on it with your fingertip. Y-O-U

Wait a minute! What's this? Your eyes fall upon the tube of clarifying mud pack on the shelf next to the mirror. How did this get here?, you wonder. You don't remember buying it. Yet, it is half empty. You must have bought it long time ago. But why didn't I notice it till now. You're baffled. After all, you stand in front of the mirror twice every day, brushing your teeth. Okay. Now now! I agree that on some days it is just once but come on, give me the benefit of doubt! You plead for your cause. After all, you wanted to be a lawyer, didn't you?

Anyways, you decide to try it now. You read the instructions on the back of the tube. Apply evenly over cleansed face and neck, avoiding the area around the eyes. Allow it to dry for 10-15 minutes. Remove with a wet sponge and wash the skin with cold water. Okay. You know it all by now. You open the cap and squeeze the tube. A gush of air comes out with a sound. It sounds like a fart, you think. You realize that it was more empty than you imagined. But you're no loser. There's no going back now for you're The Prince! Having lived in a hostel for 4 years, you know more than well how to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of a tube that's so thin and beaten that you could tie a string to it and fly it as a kite! You start from the bottom and gently work your way up towards the neck until you get what you wanted. It reminds you of something else. Something you did the same way. What was it? What was it? You try hard to remember. And then it strikes you - Women! Silly me, you think!

You have enough cream on the insides of your palm. You begin to apply generously of what was left in the tube. You didn't want to keep anything more for later. Suddenly, you start feeling a tingling on your face. Okay, this is funny!, you think. You check the tube for the expiry date. It is still in its safe usage period. You're half relieved. Then you see it, in tiny italics - May cause a tingling sensation due to herbal active ingredients, which is normal. You smile to yourself. Silly me!

You sit on the crapper and relaxes. You look down and smile. That's my boy! Who's your daddy?! Who's your daddy?! The smile turns to a grin. But the boy looks uninterested! Suddenly, you hear your intestines calling out to you, Hello! I'm trying to work here! And you're not helping the cause! You're embarrassed and decide to postpone the boy-man thing to later. You lean back onto the flush tank and close your eyes.

You're brought back to reality by a strange noise. It is like something stirring against something. And then, it stopped. You can't place either of these somethings. As an instant reflex, you lift your legs from the floor and look around the toilet's base. Nothing. You keep your feet back on the floor cautiously while your eyes still search for the source. Clear! You look up on the roof of the bathroom. Clear! A third sigh escapes you. You throw a are we done here? look at your intestines. It nods back in denial. You lean back onto the flush yet again.

Then you hear it again. This time it lasts longer. It is from outside the bathroom. There is something outside that door and it is clawing at the bathroom door. It must be something fairly big by the sound of it. Mouse is your first guess. No way. It is a new house and there aren't any here. What if it came through the window? Ah! Could it be? Whatever it is, it couldn't come inside the bathroom through the narrow gap between the door and the flooring. But then, it will still be in your room, waiting for you to come out! The thought is somewhat creepy. You usually don't fear such small rodents or insects. But the fear of the unknown is inexplicable. 

The thing is moving again. This time, you can see a black, long thing protruding from underneath the door. Now two! What is it? Tentacles? Legs? Was it a scorpion?, you wonder. After all, it rained yesterday and the Earth had cooled down a bit. Or a cockroach? No. It wasn't as small as a cockroach. Besides, a cockroach, no matter how big, would have easily made it to the inside by now. Wait a minute! Is it what I think it is? I had thought it was just mythical. That Lilly and Marshall had simply made it up. That Robin had given in to it to make them feel good. Then it wasn't all cooked up, was it? Is it really the Cockamouse that is waiting for me outside??!!! 

You start to hyperventilate. You quickly grab the health faucet. Later honey, we've got a situation here, you tell your bowels. It is a now or never moment. There is no escaping. This is when you face the worst of your fears. If Robin could do it, so could I, you decide. You grab hold of the long handle of the bathroom floor cleaner brush. As soon as I open the door, hit it on its head, you tell yourself. Open, hit; Open, hit. No delay. You sigh again. This is the fourth for the night. But this is different. This is a war cry. I don't know what I've been told. If I die in a combat zone. Box me up and send me home... 

And the door swings open. There it is. Huge and black. You hit it but misses by a few inches. But it falls onto the bathroom floor. And you get a good view of it. Thank goodness, it isn't a Cockamouse! But this is worse. This is a huge wood borer beetle, the size of your palm. Okay, now that was an exaggeration! Fine! Half the size of your palm. Happy?! Before you get a good view of it, it decides to test its wings to see the level of damage suffered in the surprise attack. And it flies straight at your boy

You hardly have any time to realize what is happening. You are still busy staring at the beetle as if you could tell his scientific name by doing that. The beetle had attacked you at your most vulnerable spot. Maybe it could see that you were standing stark naked; both of you on equal playgrounds; no armors. The moment you realize what has happened, you shriek. Your shriek is muffled by the exhaust fan running at full speed. War fields are not for cry babies. You hit at beetle with your limp hand, forgetting for a moment where the beetle was resting. Ouch!!!!! The beetle fell to the ground so did you. You hit your elbow on the walls in the process. Luckily, your head is safe. You can feel fire burning inside you. Vengeance. It really hurts! 

You decide to forget your pain for the moment and stands up. You arm yourself again. You search for your enemy. But the view is blocked by the tears that has formed in your eyes. No room for pain in the war field. You wipe off the tears with the back of your hand. There he is. He is pretty shocked too, it seems. He is lying on his back, unable to move or launch his next attack. Everything is fair in love and war, you remind yourself. You beat the brush in the general direction of the beetle again and again. And again. Tears and vengeance have blinded you again. By the time you regain your composure, the beetle is in a bad shape. Alive but hurt pretty badly.

Vengeance is such a bitch. You don't kill it. You leave it like that - injured, maimed, and begging for an quick death. You lift it by one of its legs. You are still a bit scared of a spring attack from his part. Your first thought is to flush it down the toilet. But then, you decide against it. You have seen a lot of Hollywood movie to convince you against doing that. What if he gets mutated and comes back for revenge at your vulnerable worst, when you least expect it?! Don't forget, vengeance is a bitch! You decide to throw it out of the ventilator. You open the ventilator and swing out the beetle. It falls two storeys down, into the lap of Mother Earth, where we shall all return one day. Sigh the Fifth!

You decide to complete what was interrupted earlier. You return to the throne a.ka. the crapper once again. You lean forward and hum a tune. It is the victory song. I don't know what I've been told. I know a girl dressed all in black. She makes her living on her back...

And then, out of nowhere, something huge lands on the bare back of your body. It lands with a thud and you can feel it crawling on your back. You're so taken aback that you jump forward and collide head on with the wall. Bang! You vigorously shake your body and swing your hand over your back. Something falls on the ground. It was him again! You can't believe your eyes. Yes! It was definitely him! You could see his transparent blood oozing out of the part where you had broken him into two. And still he managed to fly two storeys high. But how did he get in? Remember the ventilator you opened? You were too proud and busy celebrating your victory that you forgot to close it. Vengeance is definitely a bitch! But you realize that it was all he had left in him. He couldn't launch another attack even if he wanted to. It was time; time to go, you tell yourself. You take out your sword and swooooosh! One blow is enough. He dies. A brave, warrior's death. You step back and give him a salute. It was an honor fighting you! You pick him again and return him to Mother Earth yet another time. But this time, you make sure that the ventilator is closed afterwards.

Those of you who thought that the story is over by now, brace yourself up. Because it isn't. You are quite happy with the final win but the bump on your head is growing. You realize that you need to rub a little water on it lest it grows huge! And you did exactly that. But you forget the fact the face pack is still on. And it drips onto your eyes. Oooouuuucccchhhhh!!!! *clattering sound* What did I break?!

FootNote: This has been an absolutely fantastic month for me, creatively and otherwise too. And with this post, I concede to the requests from a few dear friends to shed the serious crap and write something humorous in the lines of The Barber Shop Story. I'm not sure how much humor you found in this one, but I must say some serious crap was definitely shed throughout the story!

ToeNote: For all the die hard animal lovers, fanatic advocates of culture and heritage, and other self proclaimed "minorities" who were offended by my post, I present to you The Bird!

NailNote: To all those kids below 18 years of age who are still reading this, I'm sorry to disappoint you. But then again, if you actually "stumbled" upon this expecting something else, then you don't deserve what you were searching for to begin with! Kids!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Three Wishes

The afternoon was hot and humid. The sun was blazing on the tarmac covered parking area of the church giving rise to a mirage. It was completely empty. On any given morning, Sunday or otherwise, it would have been packed with cars. I pulled up the car underneath the lone tree that stood in the vast expanse of the courtyard. It looked as if the tree signified faith that stood the test of the sun, proclaiming aloud "O Come, Ye Faithful".

Both the doors opened at the same time. The first rays of the summer sun hit me like piercing arrows. We walked hurriedly towards the church's entrance, she led and I followed. The air inside the church was no different. It was hot and I instantly felt sweat forming inside my shirt. I felt an ease knowing that there was no one else inside the church.

She walked slowly towards the altar that stood empty. Her heels made a tapping sound on the wooden aisle, the sound resonating in the thick air of the empty church. Again, I followed her lead. She chose the second row of seats to the left. She knelt on the old, mosaic flooring of the church and drew a cross. Her hands automatically reached for her shawl and pulled it into a veil over her head. The non-believer that I was, I chose to sit on the wooden bench behind her while she got engrossed in her prayers.

The heat was getting to me now. I could feel the sweat drops forming along my collar line, later rolling down my chest, over my tummy and finally settling on my tucked-in shirt. I wondered how she could remain so oblivious to her surroundings. But then I knew the answer myself. She was a faithful, a firm believer. No amount of cajoling or reasoning could shake her faith. Boy, had I tried?!

I watched her as she stood kneeling, deep in her prayers. I looked at her lips. They weren't moving. But I could sense that a millions prayers were being chanted by her in the inside. I thought I could hear the hum of those prayers leaving her heart. Little beads of perspiration had started to form on her upper lips. The moment and her, both felt pristine.

I heard a sigh escape her. Tears were rolling down from her closed eyes. I was worried but knew it was best not to disturb her. Or ask her about it later on. She drew a cross again and opened her eyes. She wasn't looking at me. She stood and sat next to me, her eyes fixed on the figure high above the altar in front of her.

"Is this the first time that you're coming here?" She broke the silence in a timid whisper. I don't know why she whispered. Maybe she was afraid her voice would break the sanctity of the place.

"Yes. Even though I've been here on a few occasions, I had never entered the church." I replied in a whisper. What was I afraid of, I wondered! Being an atheist, I thought of myself as the equivalent of what the church called Satan. Shhh. I didn't want them to know that I was here! I think I had a smirk on my face then.

"Anyone who visits this church for the first time should make three wishes. They say that it will come true." 

I looked at her face. It reflected the purity of her heart; her innocence, and faith. I didn't want to make fun of it.

"What did you wish for the first time you came here?" I was curious.

"I don't remember it. It was long ago, when I was still in school. It was probably about the exams or something similar. But I do remember that they came true."

I smiled.

We both returned our gazes towards the altar again. We left the church after spending some more time in total silence.

As we walked towards the car, she asked me, "Did you make the three wishes?"

"No." I replied

She didn't pursue the matter anymore.

                                                              *** *** ***

It was later in the afternoon. She was waiting for me by the curb as I bought cotton candies for both of us. She wanted pink, I wanted the white one. The mini truck swerved to the left. It was its outstretched rear view mirror that hit her arms from behind. The shock and pain made her swing, causing her to hit the metal advertisement board by the pavement.

She fell down on the pavement. The mini truck screeched to a halt. I stood transfixed to my spot seeing the sight unfolding before me. Another moment, and I regained my senses. But everything was like a mirage. I screamed her name. I ran towards her. I pushed the people away from her and lifted her head into my lap. She wasn't bleeding. She wasn't conscious either. I felt a faint heartbeat. I screamed for some conveyance. I shook her to wake her up. I fought the people who tried to separate her from me.

And then it happened. It took her in my arms and held her tight and close. I didn't want to let go of that embrace. Here we go. I wish I could hold her tight in my arms. I felt a strange coldness on her body. I was becoming hysterical. I was screaming, shouting, crying. I pulled her closer and kissed her on her forehead. Secondly, I want to kiss her. Two pairs of arms took her from my fold forcefully and carried her to a car. They lifted me into the rear seat. Her head rested on my lap.

There were voices around me asking me things - Name, Phone Number, Address. I couldn't hear them. It was as if they were screaming from afar. I was in a haze. Oh, I had forgotten to collect the cotton candies! What will I tell her parents? Was the mini truck driver detained by the people? Who will call the police? I needed cash to pay the hospital. Is there an ATM nearby? And then I passed out.

Third wish, third wish. I want her to be mine, in every sense, in every way. Pause. I'm such an ass, ain't I? Okay. I will change it. Hmmmmm. Let her have a smile on her face and be at peace, always. She was in the comma for 33 hours. She had a severe brain injury and had suffered a concussion, I was told. There was heavy internal bleeding and tissue tear. 

I stood there as prayers were chanted in the background. My friend received her last rites. I stood leaning against the pillar in the porch. I hadn't showered or changed in two days. I probably looked like a disheveled lunatic. There were faces everywhere. Some I knew, some I didn't. But I didn't want to look at them. The eyes, they were piercing at me, I thought. He is the one who killed her. I could hear them saying to one another. 

I felt a hand on my shoulders. It felt heavy. I looked up. He nodded. I slowly walked into the front room of the house. In a moment, the cries from the inside of the house rose to a heart breaking shrillness. I felt my feet collapsing underneath my body. The hand from earlier still held me. It was as if he knew.

I took one look at her, draped in white satin. She hates satin. And silk. Didn't they know it? Idiots! She looked happy. She had a smile on her lips. And she looked at peace with herself. And the world. And they closed the coffin, preserving her smile for ever.


FootNote: This post is written exclusively for someone, in remembrance of the afternoon and the Three Wishes that were made.

ToeNote: Considering the dry spells during the past few years, I feel like I'm approaching the prime of my creative self. I sincerely hope that it last.

NailNote: During the past few days, I've fell in love with Thrissur more and more. It will always be on my Top 5 Destinations to Live In!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Vulnerability

Have you ever felt vulnerable? Stupid question, isn't it? Everyone would have, at some point of time in their lifetime. I too have, time and again. But it never dawned upon me that vulnerability  was multi-faceted until today.

Incident 1: It was around 10 in the morning. I was with my friend at Sree Kerala Varma College ground in Thrissur. Our bank's inter regional sports finals were being held here. On the eastern side of the ground stood a few old, time-worn buildings that housed the men's hostel. The path to the canopy put up by us was through the hostel compound. As he and I walked towards our colleagues, I saw someone coming from the hostel's direction. There was something different about him. As he came closer, I realized it. He was blind.

He had a bag across his shoulders and was dressed to go out. What struck me the most was the fact that he was without his walking stick. As he heard our approaching footsteps (or was it our conversation?), he asked us whether we would help him get to the road. Without hesitation, I volunteered. The main gates were closed since the college had closed after the end of the academic year. Hence, we had to take the side entrance which had a swivel gate and would take some effort to get past.

I never had any previous acquaintances with people with any forms of disability. So, in my eagerness to help, I grabbed his hand so that I could lead him towards the gate. To my surprise, he hurriedly freed himself from my grip and to my even bigger surprise, grabbed my hand instead. It took me a moment to realize that blind people held your hand when seeking guidance and not the other way around. I felt embarrassed at my over enthusiasm and felt painfully aware of my surroundings. Even though there was no one else around in the area, I felt like there were a hundred eyes piercing into me. And it left me wondering - who was really vulnerable here - him or me?

Incident 2: The cafe was on the third floor of the mall and overlooked a busy junction of Thrissur. Even with the air conditioner on and the fan running at full speed, the heat outside was getting to us. The menu card on the table proclaimed "the food, the view, the people". True I thought. The food (at least the cold coffee) sucked, the view was of cluttered traffic but the person was special.

It had been a year since I saw her last. Even now, she made me skip a heart beat!Things had changed drastically since our last rendezvous. The prelude to today's cold coffee were long spells of silence and general chit chat. And would you believe it, we actually made small talk about the weather! Finally, the blazing sun warmed up our cold coffees and the conversation. And in a matter of moments, we were talking, unaware of our surroundings, enjoying each other's company.

Here was someone to whom I could talk anything and everything. She had seen me at my weakest, when I was truly vulnerable. This realization gave a totally different dimension to our whole conversation. And I believe that it was mutual. Very few people know me by my vulnerable side. It is something I rarely open up before someone. But here, I didn't care. I could talk about everything - my plans, fears, apprehensions, problems, people in my life, to her. Sometimes, vulnerability is a good thing.

Incident 3: I was back in Sree Kerala Varma College ground for the afternoon session of the day's events. It was close to evening. I was in the small shop next to the hostel's main gate when an auto came to a halt and someone stepped out of it. It was the same blind person whom I had helped in the morning reach the gate and get an auto. He was back after his errands in the city. He was asking the auto driver if he had got out in front of the shop itself.

I went and offered him help and he gladly accepted. He asked me which year I was in. I told him that I wasn't a student and explained why I was there. Again, it took a moment for realization to strike me. I told him that I was the same guy who had guided him in the morning. I slowly took his hand and placed it on my arm. He held it in a firm grip and I guided him to the shop, all the while observing each and every one of his movements. This time, I felt like I was seated in a balcony, overlooking the scene that was being played before me. I went from my earlier vulnerable state to a dominant, shielded state. Later, I walked him till his hostel's entrance leaving me with a dozen unanswered questions.


Similar situations might have played before me scores of times before too. But I hadn't realized the depth of the situation unlike today. Maybe I was too oblivious. Maybe I chose not to acknowledge it. Maybe my moment of truth was slotted for today. Whatever be it, it had given me enough food for thought for the day. Or the next few days to come.

FootNote: This post is dedicated to you, Jinu. Thank you for supporting me through yet another period of writer's block and for showing faith in me. This is for you dear. You're a wonderful person. Things are going to brighten up. There is a rainbow after every shower.

ToeNote: My first real experience with a blind person left me wanting to know more about how to interact with one. Looks like I made more mistakes than one! I humbly urge you to read this for starters. You never know when this might come handy. If it does, let's show them that they aren't anything special!

NailNote: As I finish up my blog post, vulnerability strikes yet again. This time, it is yet another facet, leaving me.......vulnerable.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Man at Midnight's Stroke

She had been reading when she had slowly drifted to a light sleep. Her head was at right angle to the rest of her body, a horizontally propped pillow supporting her head. She still had her glasses on but they had started to slip on her oily nose and had reached the tip of her nose. She was woken up by the stirring under the blanket next to her. She slid further down and placed the pillow properly beneath her neck and head. Her hands reached backwards and switched off the bedside lamp. Her neck was paining due to the prolonged period of her acrobatic position.

The covers stirred once again. She turned her head and took a look at the timepiece on the night table. The radium illuminated hands showed ten past midnight. It was time, she thought to herself. The turning back made a few breaking sounds inside her cervical spine. God, how much would I love to get a neck massage right now, she thought to herself. She was no more sleepy. She stared at the fan on the ceiling, churning out slow circles with the blades. Should I go back to reading, she wondered. Or a shower maybe?

She was procrastinating her decisions, whatever it would be in the end, when she felt a hand reaching out from underneath the cover. It touched her waist. He is awake, she thought to herself and smiled.She turned on her side, facing his side of the bed. The hand climbed upwards and rested on her left breast. Men, she thought. In broad day light, they couldn't read street signs and find a bistro but at night, in the pitch darkness, they could find whatever they sought even without opening their eyes! She smirked.

The hand once again came down onto her navel. This time it went right underneath her night dress and began to run on her navel. She was feeling ticklish. A head propped out of the cover. It still had closed eyes on it. Half asleep, she thought. She slid down further on the bed. The hand again climbed up to what it sought, as always. As it went up, the top too rolled up. She felt the chill on her exposed upper body and it gave her goosebumps. With one hand, she removed her top and while she pulled the cover towards herself with the other and slid underneath it.

She could feel his breath on her chest right now. Her bra had hooks on the front. It just took her a couple of seconds to unhook them. A sigh escaped her as she undid them. The declaration of freedom. Instantly, she felt a warm wetness on her breasts. He had one of her breasts in his mouth and was sucking hard at her nipples. Her body arched towards him in response to the onslaught. She embraced him and pulled him closer to her. His breath was a panting gush of warmth on her body as he drank hungrily from her breasts. His hand, meanwhile began to play with the small crucifix locket she wore that rested in the cleavage. He did that every time, she thought to herself. Habits die hard!

Moments passed. Her neck was paining more now and she was straining herself in this position. She wanted to switch positions. But he was still half asleep and she didn't want to wake him up. She weaned him for a moment. She crossed over to the other side of the bed, balancing herself on her hands while she did it. She made room for herself on the other side, pushing him a little towards where she had been a moment ago. He was awake now. She could see his two big, burly eyes even in the darkness. She instantaneously felt guilty for breaking his rhythm. Women, she thought this time! Guilty for a man's insatiable hunger! But she loved this man with all her heart. He meant the world to her. Even when she knew that eventually he would leave her for some other woman.

No more thoughts. She had something to finish right now. And before she could initiate, she felt the warmth seeping onto her, again, this time on the other breast. But it didn't last long. He withdrew himself from her nipples, which had turned dark and swollen. She could feel the circle of saliva he had left behind slowly drying on her; along with the bite marks which had started to burn now. He lay on his back, a satisfied look on his still sleepy face. He had finished his job, she hadn't. She slid her arms underneath him and took him in her arms. She put him on top of her, his head resting in her cleavage, and began to pat his back. And then it came. Burp! Now she was done. She put him back on the bed and put an arm around him as he drifted off to sleep. She slid out of the bed, her bra and top in her hands, and walked towards the bathroom. She looked herself in the mirror as she washed herself - his saliva, her milk off her bosom. Motherhood, what a bliss, she thought!


Dedicated to A, for her story and for her celebration of womanhood and motherhood.