The Rush

I hurried down the platform, the train had been delayed by an hour and half because of the fog and now I was going to be very late for work. I was out of breath and the back pack felt like a rock dragging me down. I couldn’t help but curse myself for not leaving the previous day. I had already sent a text to Vicky sir. I was apprehensive about the response. My phone beeped with his reply. Nervously I read it, “Nandini this is not acceptable! How can you be coming at all? You’re still on leave.”

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Amigos del alma

The alarm shrieked in the Malik house like a war siren and in the room across the hall, little Akash buried his head in the pillow, trying hopelessly to drown out his mother’s voice asking him to wake up. Another school year had begun and it was no different, school was still dreadful.

After the daily wrestling, Akash was finally ready. Mrs. Malik handed him his lunch-box and planted a kiss on his forehead and said softly, ”My darling boy. Be good in school and study nicely. Finish your lunch, I have packed your favorite sandwich. I’ll prepare Rajma-chawal for you in the afternoon.” His eyes sparkled on hearing his favorite dish.

Akash wasn’t really a troublesome boy, he just hated school. He was now in the third grade and has been studying at Carmel Convent since first grade. He was amiable and smart. So, he was liked by his classmates and teachers. The only trouble was he couldn’t make good friends. He would make friends and then after some time they would drift apart. He was not really a loner, but he always felt like he didn’t belong. The kids of his age were interested in video games and phone games, whereas he liked reading, sketching and his most favorite pastime was imagining.

He dragged his feet to the bus stop and waved at some of his classmates. A few minutes later his bus pulled up in front of them. Akash got into the bus and looked around for an empty window seat when suddenly his eyes met with a nervous pair of eyes. It was a boy of his own age, with freckles and oversized ears. His eyes were big. “He must be one of the new admissions this year”, thought Akash. The new boy looked lost and lonely, so he went and sat on the free seat beside him.

Akash stretched out his hand and said with a warm smile, “Hi, my name is Akash. What is yours?”

“My name is Mayank. Which class are you in?” he replied and shook Akash’s hand.

He answered, ”I’m in 3-B and you?” Mayank’s face suddenly lit up.

“I’m in the 3rd too, but I don’t know my section. I will once I reach school.” He said softly. Akash was silently praying for this shy boy to be in his class; this surprised him.

Once they reached school Akash showed his new friend to the office and then waited for him outside anxiously to know the section. The door opened and a beaming Mayank came out, “I’m in 3-B.” Hearing this Akash happily grinned.

They both were inseparable that day. They sat together and shared lunch too. For once, Mrs. Malik was going to find a completely empty box.

The teachers were surprised to see a very talkative  and interactive Akash. They both complemented each other perfectly. Few things were similar between them and few things were contradictory. Like Mayank was bad at Maths but good in Science, Akash was the opposite. But they both loved English.

As Mrs. Malik waited for Akash she saw a very rosy faced and sparkling eyed boy coming towards her, she realized with a surprise that it was her little Akash. Akash couldn’t stop talking about his new friend. As she heard him go on and on, a stray tear trickled down her face. She had never seen her boy so happy about school. She already liked this Mayank kid.

Akash was a little scared that they might drift apart, but he liked Mayank more and more every day. They would fight and then sort things out. And their friendship was so deep that you could tell that they would finish school together, go to the same college, fight over the same girl, fight for each other and stand by each other through thick and thin.

Akash had finally found a friend for life.

Tobermory: A cat with a tale

My name is Tobermory and I am a “talking” cat. This is my story.

Few months ago, my life was like every other cat. But then, Lady Blemley’s house guest, Mr. Appin happened. He was considered insane by everyone. He was; he wanted to teach me to talk. Finally a few months later he was successful. But Mr.Appin made me promise that I wouldn’t speak to anyone except him until he asked me to. So as a faithful protégé I had kept the promise.

Then one day, Lady Blemley was having a tea party which was joined by all her house guests. I was having my nap after my meal. Suddenly I was woken up by Mr. Whitmore’s cracked voice “C’mon Tobermory, Mr.Appin says you can talk. Let us see” I opened one eye and replied calmly,”You can go and tell everyone I’m coming.” A look of horror spread on his face, I chuckled and he hurried out.

I slowly got up and walked in to the living room. The smell of delicious food drifted towards me but I ignored it and walked towards my cushion and flopped onto it. Every pair of eye, spectacled or not, was looking at me. I felt a little conscious.

Every face looked curiously at me, so, everyone knew my secret. I slowly said, “So why did you wake me up from my slumber? I hope you have a good reason.” The eyes grew wider in shock. I was gloating inside and the sly smile on Mr.Appin made it obvious that he was too.

Mrs. Prickle regained her speech, “Ah! Lady Blemley has a fine taste. Only she can own an intelligent cat.”

“I thought otherwise because once you were complaining to Mr. Prickle that Lady Blemley had the most ridiculous taste in the world and that he upholstery in the house looked awful.” I said.

Mrs. Prickle’s face went a deep crimson color. Milady glared at her.

I continued,” Not that Lady Blemley thinks much highly of you. She was telling Maria the other day that you are the most spiteful woman she has ever met and that it is no wonder Mr. Prickle stays away for work most of the time.”

Mr. Whitmore cleared his throat and tried to lighten the awkward situation by saying, “So Tobermory what would your favorite phrase be?” “Hmm… that would be ‘Poor Mr. Whitmore would like a bit more’. That is one of Lady Blemley’s favorite one for you because she says you are greedy and it’s never enough for you.” I replied coolly.

Poor Mr. Whitmore looked horrified and now it was Lady Blemley’s turn to go crimson. Ms. Turner was trying very hard to stop her giggle, I turned towards her, “You do giggle like a school girl. Maria is right you do lack maturity and like she says if you had enough maturity you would be married by now.”

“You are a very bad cat”, snapped Maria.

I glared at her, “I say what I feel like, and unlike you I don’t speak behind the back…”  At that time a yellow canary had sat on the window sill, I leaped towards it, ignoring the gasps. It flew away and I fell into the bushes. I could hear a serious discussion going on in the room. I heard ‘Tobermory’, ‘kill’ and ‘poison his milk’.

That was enough for me. I looked at the house one last time and ran till I reached a faraway town. I’ve never spoken since as I have concluded that humans hate the truth.

Walking home

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As the sun sets in the sky,
The birds return to their abode,
I too walk my way home,
After a day of toiling at the mill,

Its a long road, dry and bare,
My feet aches and my stomach growls,
But I keep walking steady,
As I know I’ll be home soon,

The leafless branches creak slowly ,
As the cool autumn wind blows,
The leaves that had held on bravely,
Fall from their last hope,

A little cottage at the end,
Yellow lights lit up the narrow path
Laughter of the children fill the air,
I rush forgetting my sore feet,
I was home at last,
Ah! Dear god i was home at last!

Monsoon in the ‘Bagh’

The thunder growled in anticipation of the storm. The shadow of the dark clouds had already spread over the red marbled courtyard. A cool breeze blew, bringing in the scent of rain. It had already rained somewhere. The cool breeze was a treat after the heat of ‘Delhi’ summer.

 Looking around, I could only see a few people; almost everybody had left for their classes or had hurried home seeing the weather. While I waited for the clouds to pour, the vehicles honked impatiently at each other on the road outside. The tall buildings looked longingly at the lazing courtyard, tired of its tedious routine. Maybe it wanted to break its window and let the cool breeze in!

 Every time I see this place it reminds me of an Italian Piazza. A rectangular area with a fountain in the center, around it is stone benches. It’s nice sitting there at times; the splashing water would send a cool breeze towards me which was always welcome in this heat and scattered around the courtyard is wooden picnic tables. People come here to have lunch, to chit-chat & to write. This is a good place to daydream as it was away from all the chaos and confusion of the outside world (at least it was mine!).

 At the other end of the rectangle there is an extension, a raised platform with pillars which was utilized as a stage during various events and on other days it’s used as a place to sit. And that’s where I was, sitting on the stairs leading to the platform. I was so preoccupied that the warm stone below didn’t seem to bother me much.

 On the other side of the platform was a face, the most interesting element here, a giant face that seemed to be deep in meditation. Its eyes could see the world, lips that could speak wisely, ears that could hear it all and a nose that knew all the beautiful scents. It seemed as if it was communicating with the ‘soul of the earth’.

 Suddenly, something moist and cold fell on my forehead and then trickled its way down. The clouds had finally given up, it was drizzling now. As the drops of water fell on the stone floor I could feel the heat fleeing from it.

 Ah! It’s raining. My soul was ecstatic. I breathed in the scent of wet earth, my mind was put at peace and unconsciously I smiled. Slowly the drops grew bigger and faster. I raised my head and let the rain fall on my face, welcoming the good old friend. Lost in the beautiful pitter-patter music of the rain, I was oblivious to my surroundings.

 In the distant my phone began to wail; pulling it out, I saw Nandini’s name flash. Knowing the obvious, I got up as I answered, “I’m in Charbagh…Coming in 5…”With a quick glance at the piazza, I dashed towards my class through the now heavily pouring rain.

Dream

“Dream is my breath of air,

Like wings in the open sky,

Like diving in a deep wide ocean,

Like a song, like a dance,

Like a tune on the guitar,

 Like a wish that my heart makes,

Like a smile on my mother’s face,

Like a story that my soul loves,

Like a whole new universe,

 Like the sparkling eyes of a child,

Like falling in love with a stranger,

Like a drop of sunshine in winter,

Like a haunting ghost, like a shadow,

Like a dozen vodka shots,

 Like a hope to live, a destination,

Like home on the meadow,

Like a script of my movie,

Like a wand with phoenix feather,

 Without dream, a life is not lived,

Like a colonel without badges,

Like a hero without strength,

I shall dream till the very end,

No offense, my dear friend.”