The queen

She was the queen.

Strong.

Beautiful.

Powerful.

Confident.

She was his world.

The kingdoms clashed and the war raged on.

Envy, jealousy, hatred, revenge….

Strung together on a single thread.

Separated the queen from his prince.

Rest as they say, history was created.

Lives were lost and battles were won.

Love, is the key, the doer and the reason.

Strange this emotion.

Unsolved yet so important.

 

 

Advertisements

shallow

 

It was a shallow sea,

the floor was visible, the fish could be seen,

the plants waved back.

Life imitated nature,

lacking depth, leaving nothing to imagination

clear, obvious, out there!

Shake out, or fall off on the wayside.

Nothing left to identify the mind, which once had clarity and confidence.

join the flow or get out of the way!

The message was loud and clear.

Small Celebrations!

It has been quite an upheaval, as I sought to move homes, countries and continents. In this journey as I stuttered and stumbled to find my own in a new place, I had to let go of many things old, some clothes, some trinkets, some fond memories and of course some fond places and spaces.

All throughout constant, was my desire to not let go of my online baby, my magazine Festive Riot. It was started as a part of a conversation, last year in October, and even though it was created as a platform to spread happiness and cheer, in this era of doom and gloom, it stretched out to touch humanity!

In this issue, it strives to do just that, making us a little bit aware, as we indulge in the spirit of celebration. A little way to give back to the world.

Here, I share the fifth issue of Festive Riot.

The path cycled!

cycle

J cycled to work everyday. She cycled everywhere mostly, ever since she learnt how to manage the two wheeler, which was quite late in her life, late by normal standards!

The distance she cycled to reach her workplace was no more than 10 kilometers, not too much, considering she used the traffic-free cycle paths.

The cycle path was lovely, shaded by trees on both sides, sometimes snaking under an overhead bridge , under archways and past green, open fields. It was the lovely part of the city, J loved it. As she cycled she heard birds chirping, saw squirrels crossing the path and an occasional house cat, out for its morning jaunt. When the sun shined through the trees, the whole place lit up! That path was used by pedestrians too, and so there were joggers, walkers and even dogs out with their owners.

However, in spite of all this, the path was relatively quiet and empty, sometimes there would be no soul for a kilometer, the emptiness was inviting, warm and safe. J never felt threatened, frightened, or even panicked when she never encountered another human being for a long time. This was a new feeling for J, she never grew up here, she migrated to this part of the world due to her work.

freedom

She grew up in a busy corner of the world, teeming with people, yet amidst so many, she never felt safe on the streets, in deserted stretches and pathways. A footstep behind would mostly imply someone was following her, the trees on the deserted path could be used by a person with evil intentions. Dusk and eventually night, would imply she had to hurry back home, as darkness gave the man power, to do or to be anything. The woman is never safe.

Ever since she had learnt to step out alone for her college, university or workplace, J observed and understood simple rules of survival in this crowded world. She dressed shoddily to avoid attention, she kept to group travelling after sunset and she always stuck to busy routes. This last one meant she had to factor in that time, to reach her destination. The feeling of insecurity pervaded everywhere, outside the four walls of her home.

J felt frustrated at times and she never understood the cause, just then her workplace shifted her to this new location. It was far away from home, from family, from everything familiar. However, it offered something new, J was always ready for some adventure, the spirit had remained dormant due to being born in that teeming world.

The new place was beautiful, less crowded and offered more. J discovered her new passions, she learnt cycling, she learnt to be herself and more confident. Fear took a backseat, freedom took the forefront, a world of possibilities opened up before her. J was exuberant, her joy knew no bounds.

J knew she was lucky, she had experienced freedom, something rare in the world she was brought up in. The path she took everyday made her realize that over and over again. In this world there are so few places where a woman could feel safe, the cycle path was a piece of heaven.

Sometimes all a woman needs is a small stretch of place where she can be, who she wants to be……………very few are lucky to get that! Most are drowned beneath societal demands, man’s hungry eyes, and prejudices in this world.

Holding hands

holding hands

I walk down the street and the sun is shining bright, I see them, their brisk walk, their grey hairs, but what I observe most is the holding hands! The hands are joined in a confident clasp, secured and yet relaxed, there is no tension. The hands reflect their relationship, the love and security in their autumn years.

I walk into a shop, the shop window had a dress which enticed me in, I see them immediately. They are shopping, happy in each other’s company, a day off from kids, maybe. They are a sophisticated pair, I notice all that, but foremost I notice the holding hands. The grip is firm, exuding power, exuding a sense of belonging, the fingers latched on tightly. The hands reflect their relationship, in control, successful and in the prime of their lives.

I sit in the park, tired after a long walk. Soaking in the quietness of the place, they walk  in, a happy walk, a giddy-feeling walk. I see them in their air of complete seclusion, they are there yet completely aloof to their surroundings, eyes dancing and all smiles, coy ones, seductive ones! They are holding hands, I notice that, the hands are loosely held, fingers interlaced casually, some are free, some are together. The hands reflect their status, young, free and life is calling!

I walk down a mountain, after a long climb onto the top, it was tiring yet exhilarating! The walk down is tricky, a wrong step and I could fall hard, suddenly I hear a shout ‘Help me!’, I turn around to see a hand extend, as a small hand slip into it and the words echo ‘Don’t worry, you will be fine!’. The hands are tightly locked, the small hand completely covered by the big hand, the hands reveal a bond of trust, complete and secure.

This is a saga of holding hands, hands which scripts a million tales and fingers which traces many paths! At each stage the hands clasps differently and each clasp is unique, definitive and so vital. The crucial thing is to have another hand to hold, always!

 

Homecoming

kevin-fernandez-37634

 

‘Home’, the word evokes a thought,

it brings comfort to your spirit and solace to your mind.

‘Home’ for me is where my ma and baba lives,

not because I am still a child but because they alone, live in the house which treasure my childhood memories, they are the only known keepers of little me, the real me!

Ages ago when I was a child too, laughed myself silly, played pranks and dissolved into tears.

‘Home’, where my thakuma lived, my loving gran, her stories shaped my life, her hands caressed every hurt and wiped away every tear.

She is no more but yet she is there, each day as I cook my meals and tell stories to my little ones, never very far away!

I visited my home, time stands still there until broken by a tug at my arm, as my little one wants my attention.

There is nostalgia, memory, little me and little them, there is a confluence of sorts.

There is home cooked food, prepared and served with care by my ma, who still knows what I like best. I get that nowhere.

There is peace and quiet, as slumber descends upon me every sunny afternoon. Something that I don’t do elsewhere!

There is the urge to retreat back into the haven of carefree childhood, not a care, knowing my parents are watching my back. Something I have to do elsewhere!

The mind connects with my heart and soul, and celebrates homecoming!

‘Home’, how much I miss this feeling, now again thousand miles away!

 

Holi

So there was a girl and she dreamt of a world….a world filled with colours and fun. She wanted to be the princess there, have her say, do her thing with no one to give orders and steal her creativity. Festive Riot is one such place , created to celebrate the joyous moments in life, it is already in its fourth issue and the girl is happy. Splashed with colours, this issue celebrates Holi!

What are you waiting for? Click on the link and enter this magical world, full of colours and nice things!

To be or not to be!

brooke-cagle-170002

 

Another Women’s Day and a host of messages flood my cell phone, my mail box and all social media sites. It is almost like wishing someone a’Happy Birthday’ and then forgetting her for the rest of the year! Well, that is how I feel exactly. What is it with all these messages? Women’s day is a time for all women to reflect on their achievements in this very male-dominated world, not simply to wish and smile and acknowledge another person with breasts!

The male stands as a force I believe, because we female cannot unite at all. If we are a mother to a son, our perspective changes from being a woman to being a proud creator of the male! In India, the mentality still persists today and I being a mother to a daughter, have often encountered statements from other women,’Now you must have a son!’…..hell no! Who am I to decide that? Where would the world be without its daughters?

In the office, you can be an efficient worker and very good at your work, but if you are a tough boss, God help you, you are the ‘Bitch’….women don’t want you, the men are ready to find faults! The glass ceiling still exists and a strong woman has to fight alone the entire male brigade, because we the women folk are not united.

We listen to our fathers, brothers, sons and even to ancient, obsolete customs and cultures but we do not listen to the other women! Their cries for help, their injustice, because that could be the reason why a relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is still so unnecessarily harped upon. That case is bizarre in my mind, if you have gone through a certain suffering and injustice, why do you want the other woman to suffer the same. This is because we women are not united.

So, as you wish each other ‘Happy Women’s Day’, girl, do you really mean it!? If you do, support her in the office, at home and even on the street. Be a proud mother to a daughter, be a happy mother-in-law to the love of your son, be a cooperative coworker in the workplace. The male can make all the digs they want, but if we are united then nobody can pull us down so easily. Little steps go a long way.

Time

veri-ivanova-17904

To Ria, there was never enough time. Since the day she could recall, she was always running out of time. Whether it was getting late for the school bus, or getting ready for the dance class, or finishing her lunch in school! So much was the impact that finally hurrying, became Ria’s second nature. She was gobbling up her food fast, reaching venues some 20 minutes ahead, making holiday plans months ahead. Last minute decisions never worked for her, she was at her flustered best. Some might comment, that she was a good planner. Well! she did make plans and followed most through, yet she always rushed, checked clocks twice over and was always in a mad dash. Ria, forgot to relax. Sleep was her only time of the day when she was at peace with her surroundings.

Then Ria met Sam, a wonderful person. Sam was everything Ria wanted in her life partner, except for one glitch. Sam was laid back, he left everything to the last moment and was never ever in a rush. Sam worked in a bank and had achieved a lot professionally, at a young age. To Sam, Ria was a woman who had good career goals and  meaningful hobbies, apart from being a good human being as well.

Finally, they got married one day and embarked on the adventure called ‘Marriage’. Sam and Ria had big expectations from life and were equally ambitious. Sam was the voice of reason in the union and Ria was always surging ahead with her ideas. They both worked equally hard, and loved each other passionately. Within a year of marriage, Ria declared that she wanted to have children. Sam was reluctant but yielded to Ria’s wishes. In the course of the next 5 years , they had 2 children, 2 years apart. By then, Sam was in a senior position and working long hours, Ria on the other hand took a break from work to raise her kids. As the kids came along, they got their own house and their car.  Responsibilities doubled, the priorities in life shifted and life became a challenge. Both of them were not ready for this, they felt thrown headlong in the ocean and they had to learn to swim. They were ill-prepared for parenthood.

As the children grew up, Ria felt the pressure again to rush. She rushed with her household chores, her children’s homework, school and activities. A day felt short for all the work she took upon herself. Ria’s life became a frenzy of routine chores, she was too exhausted all the time, to indulge in her hobbies. To have a work life balance she did not go back to working full time. In short, Ria changed in many ways. The change was gradual and the powerful, happy woman transformed into a person always under pressure, hardly smiling much. Her children meant the world to her but everything else faded away! Sam, could hardly relate to her, gone was the assertive, passionate woman.

As days went by and Ria dashed from one chore to the other, the distance between her and Sam widened. There were no obvious reasons, they argued a lot, yes! Romance had fizzled out and they had just transformed into parents of their children. Ria, was sucked deep into her commitments involving her children and her home, while Sam got rapidly busy with work.Holidays were forced times taken out to enrich their children’s lives, and trying to put their own back to normal. They failed miserably. By the time the children had started high school Ria was a miserable wreck, always depressed and harried. Sam was indifferent and a workaholic.

There was never enough time for them to sort out their issues or give their relationship space to recover. Then one day Ria felt a sharp pain shoot up from her chest, it was agonising and lasted a few seconds. That day, Sam came back from work, exhausted. He quietly sat down and after a few minutes, said softly to Ria,’I want a divorce.’ Ria was stunned, they were having regular arguments and sometimes she did threaten to walk out of the marriage, but she never meant it. She had taken Sam for granted and believed that he could withstand anything she threw his way!

ben-white-194220-1

The next few days Ria tried talking it over with Sam, but he was in no mood to listen. He has had enough, his patience with Ria and the relationship had ran out. Ria, still loved Sam, however, the intimacy between them was lost, a long time back. The pain kept coming back as Ria was heart broken with the situation at home. The children were still unaware. Sam offered to split everything with Ria equally, there was no other woman in his life, he had felt hopeless with the situation at home.

Ria’s eldest was due to graduate from school and had to sit for her exams shortly, it was a crucial time for her. Sam had made up his mind and Ria simply requested him to stay put for another fortnight, to tide over the exam period.

Exams over, Ria broke the news, their children were devastated. The older one was anyway due to move away for her university degree, and this rapidly speed the process, she refused to choose between them and moved to the university dorm sooner. Sam, left the house and moved away, with a promise to spend every weekend with his younger child.

Couple of months flew by and Sam and Ria never met face to face again. Ria’s health had deteriorated much, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had few more days to live. She never divulged the information to anyone. Then one day, as Sam came to drop a letter, he found her on the floor, in pain.

Sam was heartbroken with Ria’s condition, he was sad that they could not make their marriage work. He was sad that Ria had only a few days more to live. There was never enough time.

To be happy each moment takes effort, if only he had tried harder. If only they had stopped rushing around and renewed their intimacy. If only either one of them had taken a step backward and reflected. All these thoughts ran through his head as Ria finally passed away. He grieved, he realised that he was still in love with her, that there really was no one else in his life. He grieved for all the lost moments of what could have been! Of what could have been a dream. Life had given them many chances but time was what they had to make for each other. ‘There was never enough time’, as Ria had often said.

Pihu

twins

 

 

Pihu, took out her clothes from the cupboard and packed them in. She was going on a holiday, a much awaited one. Her busy life as a teacher on weekdays and a volunteer at a old age centre on weekends, filled up her time. Not that she was complaining, she loved her job and she liked the time that she spent in the centre, interacting with older people. Pihu, lived alone and she was in a good space in her life. Her relationship status had been ‘complicated’ for a long time. However, she missed companionship and easy banter. She had changed cities and houses, and currently in the name of friends she had a few colleagues. Pihu, did not want to mix personal with professional relationships and so even though she did socialize with them, she guarded some chapters of her life from them too!

After familiarizing herself with this new place, Pihu planned a holiday for herself. She had taken six months to plan out this trip. The schools were on a mid-term break and she requested leave from the centre. She was to take a train and then a cab to reach this resort, set up high in the mountains. The place was touted much on the web as ‘secret escapes’.

The next day Pihu reached the station in time and got onto her train. The journey was picturesque, with green fields, changing into meadows, up the hill, past colourful cottages and quaint villages to finally stop at this tiny station. Pihu, checked the name, ‘Aston’. The resort was only 2 miles away from the station but Pihu had booked a cab ahead, as she was not sure of the surroundings.

The cab dropped her off in front of a wooden log cabin marked ‘Reception’. Pihu had just one suitcase and a handbag. After initial enquiries, Pihu found out her accommodation. It was a beautiful one bed cottage, right next to a gurgling stream. If she stood near her window, she could see the hills beyond and also the cute hanging bridge straddling the stream.

It was evening by the time she had arrived at the resort, dinner would be served in the dining hall in an hour’s time. Pihu, quickly freshened up and went to the hall to have her dinner. She was looking forward to a sumptuous meal, a break from instant noodles or sandwiches that she made for herself, mostly.

The dining hall was spacious and there were some people, mostly families, having an early meal. The buffet spread was good and she picked and chose the food that she wanted to eat. Two tables away, she noticed another solitary person like herself, a dark haired, tall man, with his glasses on. He looked to be in his late thirties. Pihu, could not help but smile at the thought of a ‘holiday fling’!

After dinner Pihu retired to her cosy cottage. With a book in her hand, her pajamas on, she curled up on the bed, from where with the curtains apart, she could see the distant mountain, tall, dark and imposing! Her eyes fluttered shut and she was elsewhere, on another mountain, playing with snow.

They were nine and full of life. Inseparable as two peas in a pod! On a vacation with their parents, during the school summer holidays. Kuhu would approach Pihu with a snowball fight, they would run and shout, they had ventured out too far. None had noticed. Mom had instructed them to stick close to the hut. The snow was thin here, Pihu chased Kuhu as they ran after each other. Kuhu ran ahead, very fast, she was always good at running, then she disappeared, right where the hill sloped.  Pihu ran up to find that the snow had given away to a sharp ledge and a steep drop. Kuhu, was nowhere to be seen. Pihu was drenched in tears and sweat, she was scared, ‘Kuhu’ she shouted again and again and then shivering she blotted out. Later she remembered was a grim funeral, Kuhu’s body was found by the mountain search and rescue team. The dream ended…..Pihu woke up drenched in sweat.

It had never been the same for her ever again, after all Kuhu, was her identical twin. Even after 15 years, her soul was not there, she abused relationships, nothing lasted! For her ‘Life was unpredictable’! Her job was her solace.

Pihu packed up her bags and left the resort, this holiday lasted briefly, too briefly!