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Echoes (Chapter 1)

Saroja couldn’t help noticing his powerful forearms as he put out his hand to accept the cigarettes that she offered him. Like jackhammers, perfectly chiseled, power rippling through his shoulders as he picked up an old military issue canvas bag. Saroja shuddered, hands flying to her stomach. There was something about this guy; Man… all man. She sighed. The one she couldn’t have. She turned around and sashayed to her spot behind the boiler at Gibbu Kuttan’s tea shop. Her usual perch, from where she casually flirted with customers who hoped she could fit them into her rather busy twilight schedule.

He placed the bag at his feet and lit up the Malbaro Lights. The old sleek silver Zippo was the only luxury he would allow himself. At 5 foot 9 inches and a little bulk around his waist, he would pass for an average youth. But average was the last word you would use once you’ve watched him. He walked with the grace of a jaguar, every step balancing his bulk in perfect rhythm. His eyes, pools of liquid gold, shimmered as he let them take in the narrow lane once. Once was enough. Nothing escaped his observation. Nothing escaped John Hunai.

20 minutes into his walk, perching on a milestone,  he casually scraped the toe end of his shoe, the ancient authentic wooden Swiss knife scraping away traces of dark maroon, traces of Muthu Kumar – Entrepreneur, A-Lister, Leech…

Colors in the Dark…

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal”

My hands reach out to the familiar cool surface, running my hand over the letters, my blinds eyes know the stone is marble… Pale as death…

A hand rises up from the freshly turned earth and grabs my wrist like a vise. Swallowing the strangled cry in my throat, I realize, the hand is warm… I know that hand, I’ve missed it… 

With a jolt I wake up to the persistent hum of the Air-Conditioner. 

“You… have…to…let…go” Feeling dizzy and weak, I splash some water on my face. 

Neither an easy nor a short process, this kind of trauma can have lasting effects.There are millions of people in the world still struggling to ‘let go’. 

Letting go of the past, especially one that involves divorce, abuse, rejection, death, addiction and life threatening situations is a herculean task. 

It takes a lot of help, patience and support from loved ones. Unfortunately this is deterred because most of the time, you don’t want to talk about it. It is too painful or traumatic or just too personal.

It gets difficult when your family does not understand what is going on. No fault blaming them, how can they understand something that they haven’t been told. 

So here are some steps that might help you let go of the past… can’t say they have worked for me, but hey, it’s worth a shot! 

Letting Go of Your Past: 

  1. Honor your memories. Write about the loss, draw, paint it or talk about it with someone (your therapist can be an objective listener) 
  2. Walk back. Talk to the people involved. Overcome the fear of confrontation. 
  3. Accept your sense of shame or guilt for what happened and own up to it. Let go of pride and apologize to people who deserve it, open up to your family and tell them about it 
  4. Some people try the past. Let the same feeling wash over you. Try to understand that you survived it once and you can survive it again. Note: This should be done under supervision of a therapist lest it pulls you under  

The process of letting go is difficult and painful. But if you try hard enough your mind will start helping you. Your personal power will be harnessed and we can rise above our past. You decide what the future brings. You have a choice. Now you may choose not to turn on the lights because it is comfortable, just remember, there are no colors in the dark

Marhaba!

It has been five months since I left home to build a life in a different country. Don’t you think it’s about time I wrote something about it? Here goes…

Sharjah was a lonely place for me once I moved out of my best friend’s house. I missed home too much. For the first time in my life, I was crying myself to sleep every day. Office was a refuge where I met different people, different nationalities, some tolerant others indifferent, but people all the same. My only comfort was Pratheesh coming to meet me every day. He had to walk for close to an hour and a half and spend an equal amount of time on a bus… But he never failed to come. Every day… one day in the pouring rain, one day in the sweltering heat of the desert. Every day… my saving grace.

The move to Dubai was both smart and economic. Taxis were getting really expensive in Sharjah and there wasn’t any other way to get to office. Now, in Dubai a ‘car lift’ service, more like a car pool, costs me half the money. Staying in Dubai has a definite advantage. Not only do I get to meet Pratheesh every day, I meet his brother – in – law every weekend as well.  Joy Chetan seems more like a friend than a relative. His gentle assurance that everything will be ok, his dedication towards his family, his steadfast values and his non-invasive character make him a good role model. It’s also nice to hang out with Rajesh Chetan who always has a joke up in sleeve and has me in splits!

Pravi Chet and his family are wonderful people and I miss talking to Rency since I moved out. But, they are a little far away and yet we try to get together once a month.

The U.A.E, though comfortable, clean and expensive, can never be home… I miss the smell of filter coffee in the morning, books, the vendors hawking, the phone ringing non-stop, hurried plans, leisurely weekends, books, midnight chats with mom and cold war with bro… Monday blues, books, drive by the beach, road trips, practical jokes, concerts, plays, kids on the street, motor bikes, road rage, books, blogging, TV Shows, dinner with friends, Did I mention Books?

People too… Shopping with mom, Church with grandma, raging at Arun (younger brother), movies with Thomas (My best friend), catching up with Anu, FRIENDS marathon with Ashwin, hanging out with the gang (Gomz, Shannu, Jay, Yas, Kalps, Inder , Sang etc), Potluck with THE gang (the blogger gang, you guys are too many to list – check out my blog roll!), chatting with friends abroad…

However, Dubai is where I live now. Though this is not home, the people here try to make up for all the love and friendship I left behind. Rency and Prabhu Anna, Joy Chetan and Rajesh Chetan, Pravi Chetan and Jini Chetathi, Ajayan Chetan and Nisha, Francis Uncle and Molly Aunty, my lovelies Roxanna and Ponnus – You have helped thaw me out…you did it with grace and I am grateful beyond words for it.

Pratheesha… I must be insane to love you so much, but love is the only sanity left in the world, isn’t it?

Grandma’s tales – The legends of Deepavali

The festival season is upon us! I wished to share the Deepavali aka Diwali stories on my blog for my non-indian readers.

Just like Haloween, there are many legends that surround this truly unique festival – The festival of lights…

Slaying of the Demon King Narakasura:

Effigy of Narakasura

Effigy of Narakasura

According to the Hindu religion, there was this demon prince called Narakaasura (Nar-uh-kaa-sur-ah –> Yeah keep trying. It’s not that hard!).

Legend has it that he became so powerful that he conquered both heaven and earth. Having done so, he couldn’t resist abducting 16,100 women and holding them in his palace (Whoa! I know!) for many many years.

Lord Vishnu was born as Krishna and when he grew up, he battled the evil king. The epic battle was fought along side his wife and Lord Krishna rode on Garuda (A large Eagle-like mythical bird).

On this day, many years back, he defeated Narakaasura and rescued all those women. Boy did they celebrate! They had fireworks and singing and dancing in both the heaven and earth!

Coronation of Lord Rama:

Ancient statue of Ravana with Rama and Sita enthroned above him

Lord Rama was a great prince. Kind, just, loving. The strength of the bond with his brother Lakshman is legendary. Lakshman was loyal to a fault and his accompanied Rama and his wife Sita to the forest when they were banished by their father.
Now Ravana, was a great Pundit and ruler of today’s Sri Lanka. He kidnapped Sita. Rama rescued his wife, slaying Ravana in the process. Mind you, this was no easy feat, because legend has it that Ravana had 10 heads!

The return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya (his kingdom) and his subsequent coronation as King is celebrated as Diwali.

There are several other coronations to mark this day, but I don’t remember them all.

Here is how we celebrate:

  • We celebrate the festival by traditional lights all around the house.
  • An Indian equivalent of an oil massage and bath is customary at an ungodly hour in the morning.
  • People wear new clothes and dress all fancy before offering their prayers. Special ceremonies are conducted in temples and homes.
  • Golden Temple (Amritsar) on Diwali

    Golden Temple (Amritsar) on Diwali

    Fire crackers in every conceivable form and size are bought and people are happy watching their money go up in smoke!

  • Sweets are made and shared with neighbors. Presents are exchanged.
  • In northern parts of India, effigies of the defeated demons are burnt after processions.
  • The best part of all this is that it doesn’t matter if you are not a Hindu. It’s a festival for everybody.
  • Although I never EVER (not even for christmas) wake up at an ungodly hour or enjoy fire crackers (except the colorful rockets in the sky). I still feel very much a part of this festival.

That’s my India for you. We eat awesome biriyani for Ramzan, make cakes and cribs for Christmas, sweets for Diwali, sundal and doll shows for golu, pori and poojas on ayudha pooja and so much more that I cannot even begin to describe…

Being an Indian is an overwhelming sense of belonging regardless of race /religion / language (over 250 registered languages you know!). Yeah we fight here and there. But in the end we stick together. Just turn back in time… Kargil, Gujarat Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunami…

India is like coming home to a warm hug. I’ll always feel a part of her open arms and inexplicably ornate culture… Jai Hind!

Three-Legged spawn of Satan

I met an old flame on Tuesday night and we were sharing an ice cream cone on the way back to the car. We saw a half-starved little puppy begging for food. He promptly went back to the restaurant got some chicken, fed the dog and reported it to a blue-cross friend who promised to come and pick up the dog even though it was after-hours.

It was then that he referred to the fact that I’ve been around some interesting animals in my life (both lovely and horrible) and that I should blog about them. I promised I would.

Three-Legged spawn of Satan:

That’s what it was folks! A three-legged, fast-as-a-bullet, black and white blur, that sent my heart leaping out of my mouth every evening. Now this mutt would wait for my school bus to drop me off and then chase me all the way home. I was six and a half. Terrified!!

This went on for many weeks, until, that fateful day that I broke free of the curse. I had taken my baby brother (who was then one and a half), for a walk. We were walking on the pavement, and I was distracted for just a couple of seconds. Out of nowhere the dog had rushed my brother and had him pinned to a wrought iron gate. That was all I could take. Picking up a few stones and emboldened by the scream tearing out of my throat, I managed to chase the hound from hell for good. Whopped his ass pretty good too!

Now, I know that you blue-cross warriors are clucking your tongues and shaking your solemn heads.

Poor little handicapped doggy…

What a horrible girl!

He was just looking for some attention.

If it makes you feel any better, at least I didn’t make it any more handicapped than it already was.

If it had hurt my little brother I would’ve hunted it down and ripped its malicious little head off.

I will follow this up with sequels based on popular demand 🙂

Fibbin Photographer!

Thomas and I were at breakfast yesterday. The breakfast buffet has in years become a bonding – catching up ritual for us. He happens to be my best-friend and of-late we haven’t been able to spend as much time together as we would’ve liked.

So, we are at breakfast and taking pictures, goofing around. He kept stealing from my plate and I rewarded him by bawling my lungs out over an emotional incident sometime between the breadbasket and the cheese and mushroom omelet. My mood improved steadily as I worked my way through the sausages and by the time I was mulling over a ‘Chateau Gateau’ I was positively beaming!

The incident begins with a lady breaking into our conversation

“Hi! I have the same kind of camera” She says from the other table

We smiled politely at her, she was in her late 50’s, salt and pepper hair and a restrained smile.

“It’s a good Camera” I nodded

“I can take pictures of you once I’m done with my coffee. Give me five minutes”

Before we could protest, she was cleaning her baked beans and baked potatoes with parsley in one swoop.

Thomas and I exchanged a look, shrugged and I went back to the cake and fruits.

“You ready?”

“She’s just being sweet Thomas come on” With his smile confirming his agreement we handed over the camera.

For the next couple of minutes she scouted for a location and then, just when we sported our best smiles…

“You have to look at each other! Come on!”

We did, “Now that’s a sweet couple”

Our smiles froze to the likes of Chandler’s smile

She then proceeded to humiliate us, taking picture after picture… “Stand Here! Go there! You – Chin Up! I have Photoshop! I love photography!”

I could feel Thomas seething “I should knock her the fuck out” through the fake smile

I was thinking Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave

When she had her fill of crouching, tip toeing, and half-squatting acrobatic stunts, she gave us back the camera and walked off.

There were 23 photographs. We were recognizable in 3.

Never judge the book by the way it runs it’s mouth! Hmph!

Here is the one that we were recognizable in:

Thomas and I

Thomas and I

Archie… Bounty Hunter Extrodinaire! (part 2)

Img Courtesy: Fire-Designs.com

Img Courtesy: Fire-Designs.com

So this is where I die, bludgeoned to death by a Neanderthal off his meds.

“Ulle irukaanga” He grunted (they are inside)

In all this commotion I failed to notice a man by the door, watching us… Anger rose up inside me, like I was about to throw up lava.

Deepak Debnath, scum of the earth. In high school he had asked me out twice and had been turned down. This resulted in him exploiting his artistic license on bathroom walls, with anonymous paper copies of the same being left on lunch bags and homework books.

Ex-Nothing held out a hand I took it.

“ AJ? I don’t believe it! How’ve you been cupcake?”

“Don’t-call-me-that” I said gritting my teeth.

I’d made fists. He turned to Ex-Nothing “Leash your cat bro”

In a flash ex-nothing lunged for him only to be bodily lifted off the ground by mammoth himself.

“Inga no fighting” (No fighting here) he growled.

“Fucking mammoth” ex-nothing obviously didn’t enjoy being man-handled.

Suppressing a sudden giggle, I waddled in after them and found Silva* on the couch, wasted.

“She wants to stay with me.” Deepak Debnath, putrid dog turd.

“I want to hear her say it” “Then come back tomorrow cupcake”

I looked to ex-nothing for help. He was busy with mammoth’s X-Box. What is it with men and X-Boxes?

After a lot of argument and name calling,(Mammoth keeping Ex-Nothing from maiming Deepak or worse) he stirred Silva*. She sat up on the couch and promptly spewed her last meal. A few minutes and a glass of water later, she came to and sat cross- legged, groggy, swaying…

“Tell them you won’t go home” Deepak Debnath, gutter slime

“unh”

“Silva*, It’s Joycey, look, I’m gonna take you home to your mother now ok?” “No” She sulked like a five year old

“What? Listen your mother is worried about you. Call her. I’ll let her know you are safe ok?”

“I’m staying with Deepichoo… We will have parties and two dogs and three little girls…” Hacking cough. “We are a couple now.”

She rocked back and forth outlining her dreams… She seemed so vulnerable.

“Err… Boo… your mother is more important, go home tonight. We’ll talk tomorrow” I turned to Deepak, was he sweating? Ex-Nothing and I exchanged an amused look.

“What’s the rush?” Guess Ex-Nothing will get to land a sucker punch after all.

“We’re leaving. Dogs and kids sound lovely” I pulled ex-nothing away and realized he was half-smiling. Obviously enjoying the way things were turning out.

“You can’t leave. Her mom’s worried about her, get ready boo, you have to go home” He shot us a murderous look “can you wait outside?”

“You can’t force her to do anything against her will dude” Ex-Nothing faced him squarely.

“Wait-the-fuck-outside” he was sweating and profusely at that… Debated with himself and added “Please” through pursed lips.

I pulled Ex-Nothing outside and we flopped down on one of the stairs leading up to the terrace. My eyes felt like they were filled with sand and a thousand trolls swing danced in my head.

“My neighbor’s cat is an FTA. Wanna take up the case Ms.Bounty Hunter?”

“Shut up”

Raised voices inside the house. Silva* high pitched and obviously crying… Deepak Debnath, pimple on the… well, I hated him and everything he stood for. MEN!

“Wanna get some dinner once this is over?” “I’m not hungry” He took out his mobile phone and got busy. Watching his ever familiar features I had a moment of what the Japanese call… Satori

There are men in my life that I love and despise with equal fervor.

Arun, who is talented, predictable, irritating, loving. Thomas, mature, silly, respectful, trustworthy, reliable, annoying, the look in his eyes when he picked me up bloody and disoriented in the accident said it all. TK, silly, lazy, affectionate, funny, and sweet, putting up with my phobias, he sets my heart racing conveying more in his “take care” and “you too” than in our entire conversation. Sathish, struggling between two extremities, of having to be human and his call to be super-human. John who is nothing short of a miracle…

Men, whom I respect, men I love, men I’m friends with, men I simply hold in awe…and then there are the Deepaks , freaks of nature, rude, ill-mannered, despicable, perverted, virulent, no respect for self / others…

“How about if we skipped dinner and went to that Donut place by the beach. Two friends talking over a…a…Strawberry Glaze and a Mochachino if I remember right… How about that?”

Damn, “Yeah… How about that?” I met his eyes and smiled.

On Stalkers…

Stalker: someone who prowls or sneaks about; usually with unlawful intentions 

In English that translates into: Pain in the ass, bee in the Brain, spider on your shirt…

A lot of friends have told me that I’m exaggerating… I believe her exact words were: Over exaggerating (WDF?!)

I beg to differ… Mr.A H, as is the name stored on my phone (but in the full form) is a fully mutated form of the vilest species to call this planet home…

Day 1:

Imagine you are curled up in bed, the rickety AC’s serenading in a flat monotone, the sheet is tucked just beneath your chin and Hugh Jackman is just about to say something in your ear… When the phone rings elbowing it’s way through your near prefect dream…

Me: yeah

AH: Archana… My name in #$@% and I want to be your friend deeyar

Me: click

 Harsh and insistent like a colicky child. In time, you learn to ignore it.

Day 8:

52 Missed Calls and 44 Messages…

Day 12:

SMS1: Dear I’m waiting under your house. Please come a meet me.

ROFL WDF LMAO WDH HOLY SSSSS LOL!!!!

This charade goes on for days, in time it morphs to threats, saying “I will suicide and write to the police that it is because of you”

Besides getting annoyingly close to my family and me, he is also a genuine health hazard.

Read his texts and you will be overcome with violent retchinosis . His parents say he is on medication, his doc thinks he is obsessive compulsive, his friends say he’s heading to doom lest we play along.

Why in holy hell would I want to? Why does the world expect more from me when I’m the victim?

Note to Stalker: If you can’t stop popping pills, check into rehab, It’s the ‘in’ thing these days… don’t play Silas with me. I don’t know you and I don’t owe you. I probably would’ve taken a bullet for you even if you were a stranger, but, you remind me of the time I got that pink gum ( Boomer)stuck in my hair.

Besides, you tried to steal a bag of vegetables from an unsuspecting old lady. I understand you mistook her for my grandmother and were trying to win her over, but man you should’ve let go when she tried to pelt potatoes on you.  

You harass old women, stalk younger women, you have no respect for people’s privacy, you pay no heed to someone’s emotions, you have strange people calling me from around the country asking me to patronize you and threaten to rape/kidnap/murder me if I do not fall head over heels in love with you.

I feel sorry for you coz you got issues, but to hell with all those cuckoos who want me to help a ‘poor lost soul’.

 Yes, I’m mean, I’m a bitch, but honey, I ain’t Oprah.