Sometimes love is all you need ......
Diya opened her eyes , squinting , as the brilliance of the afternoon sun hits her glowing face turning it a pink shade that Albert so loved. She smiled, as he brought the book forward to block the rays that threatened to disturb her afternoon siesta. It was their favorite weekend routine. The garden bench, Albert reading out her favorite books as she rested in the warm comfort of his lap, her hands wrapped around her beautifully pregnant belly. A few feet away, Jiya bubbly and all of eight played soft ball with her friends.

She loved hearing him tell her stories. He loved narrating stories from movies and reading it out books to her. During their courtship days he could spend hours well past midnight telling her stories from movies. She loved movies and books. Back then it provided her the escape she wanted from the reality of her life. Back then she hadn't imagined the road of her life would take all those curves and bends and rough roads and even speed through hairpin turns without crashing over. Back then she had reconciled to a life that was centred around her blessing , her daughter , her life. Back then it was just the two of them and they were as happy as they thought they could ever be. Back then she didn't know there could be life happier than that.

She looked up at his face. He looked at her quizically. And then smiled before raising his thighs slowly towards his chest, her head moving closer to his. He bent over and kissed her. She closed her eyes. She was grateful, so grateful. Al was someone who was comfortable with her silences. She had fallen in love with someone who didn't need her words to know it was time to kiss her.

Jiya came running towards them at that moment. She quickly came and placed her little hand on her mama's tummy , her baby's home and asked " Did baby call for me , Mama ? " Diya slowly lowered her feet and straightened herself. She caught Jiya's hand and moved it over her bump , "Let's see if that happened baby. " And together they explored, anticipation rising up in both their eyes. Al joined in and just then the baby did twitch. Diya's tummy skewered to a side deviating from its perfect round mound. They all squeeled with happiness. Diya closed her eyes, resting her head on Al's shoulders - a precious moment, a blessing that had sought her out.

A year ago .......................

Al had asked her out for a beach date. They had met so many times there. Everyone had their place of escape. A place they went to escape the chaos of life. That one place that could give them the perspective they needed and untie all the knots in their mind or soothe all their problems for a while atleast. The beach was that place for her. She loved the feel of the smooth sand beneath her feet. She loved absorbing the rays of the sun and believe it transformed into energy in each and every cell of her body. The sounds of the ocean she believed could restrained all her worries. She knew today was going to be decisive. It had been a year since she had seen Al. It had been a year since she retraced her steps. She hadn't wanted to prolong the agony of indecisiveness. She didn't want to be in his way of a life he so deserved, dreams that he had carried in his heart. The past year she had been trying to find her peace in the fact that as much as she wanted him to be happy and content more than anything in the world , it might just be that she would never be a part of it.

Diya had always loved sunsets. She walked down the beach , climbed up the rocks. She jumped from one rock to another till she came upon the biggest rock and sat down. She decided to enjoy the view of the bright orange sun just as it was about to hit the water on the horizon. Those few moments as the ball of fire rushed to oblivion and the moments after that when the sky was coloured with an intense assortment of orange, yellow, red and pink quietened her palpitations. The ocean water now mirrored the colours of the sky. There was a small boat in the distance in the exact same path as the sun. She smiled for it did look like the sun was sitting on top of it like a cup on a saucer , even if for a brief moment. "Beautiful isn't it ? " , the voice that could calm her as well cause a storm in her jolted her out of her reverie. He sat down beside her. " Hey ", she said her eyes still on the horizon.

" I missed you ", he replied as he reached out for her hand. All storm broke out inside of her. The longing, the love she had tried to keep under covers, the tears, the confusions, the feeling of loss, the gap between them - the age, pressures from his family, stress of the separation from her marriage, the overwhelming feeling of being passionately desired for a few years but not being good enough to last a lifetime. She didn't want it to happen, but the tears flooded out as soon as he said those words. The words that echoed her emotions for the last one year. She kept looking at her hands as she fumbled with them. He came and sat in front of her and cupped her face in his palms. She closed her eyes. " Look at me ". he said softly.

" I love you. A lot. I realised that I love you enough to fight for you.. compromise for you and sacrifice myself for you if need be. I love you enough to miss you incredibly when we are apart, no matter what length of time it is for and regardless of the distance. I love you enough to believe in our relationship , to stand by it through the worst times, to have faith in our strength as a couple and to never give up on us. I love you enough to want to spend the rest of my life with you, be there for you whe  you need or want me, and never ever want to leave you or live without you. I love you that much. " Diya shivered as she opened her eyes slowly letting the words sink into each and every cell of her body and taking in the face she loved so much and had yearned for in the past one year. A tear rushed down her cheek at that very moment. His eyes conveyed his truth.

" I promise to love you at 6 am when you wake up in the morning, when your hair is messy and your eyes are sleepy and yet to greet me with a good morning smile . I promise to love you at 8 am when we say good bye to each other for the day and you are rushing out the door with your lipstick, hair brush  and car key in one hand, three files in the other , your laptop bag and hand bag dangling on both shoulders each , yet stopping at the door for a moment to tell me you love me. I promise to love you at 6 pm when you are exhausted from the day, and people have worn you out and you feel like giving up and yet your eyes light up as soon as you see me and ask me how my day was. I promise to kiss your forehead then and wrap you in my arms. I promise to love you at 8 pm when we have finished dinner, whether it is one of those exotic dishes you cook from those innumerable recipes on the net or whether it is the pizza delivered home, and you look at me with those big eyes of yours letting me know what is to follow. I promise to love you at 10 pm when we are in bed , a human knot wrapped up in sheets and kisses. I promise to love you at 3 am when you are consumed by unexplained sadness, doubts or confusion, when you want to weep for reasons unknown to you. I will kiss your lips slowly and tell you you are the absolute best and that everything will be fine. " Diya had wanted to hear these words so much.  " I will love you when you grow old and I will love you after that. I will love you if I am no longer here too. " he continued. She put her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. She had missed this so much. Her Home.

He moved away and looked at her. She found strength to look at him too.

" Diya Rao ...

Marry me. Let's have the church wedding you always wanted.

Marry me. Let's spend our week nights eating chapatis on the floor even though there is a perfectly fine table with chairs behind us. Give me the chance to take you out for movies , every single one , where we sit in the back row and laugh our heads off or cry our hearts out.

Marry me. We will build our tree house as you visioned it. We will paint our walls and get more paint on us than on the walls. I will help you in the kitchen as you attempt those exotic dishes and I taste the delicacy you are and always will be. We can hold hands in public and I will proudly show you off to world. We can go to parties or we can end up drinking wine in the bathtub.

Marry me. Slow dance with me intou our bedroom, with an unmade bed and candles on the nightstand. Give me the chance to wonder at your blah blah after you have had a glass or two of wine or beer and let me love the innocence that is you. Let me satiate my never ending hunger for you with music in the background.

Marry me. Let me love you forever. "

365 days before that day ...

" I can't do this anymore Al. I love you too much. You are the second most important person in my life, second only to Jiya. Do you even know how it used to feel when I am with you ? It used to feel like I am safe. Like no one can hurt me. Your warm enbrace was all I needed to be relaxed. Your muscles around my waist, my body pulled close to yours. The feeling is indescribable. When people say its the best feeling ever, they arent kidding. Because in every moment ,when I am with you  when we are sharing body heat, there is no other place I would rather be and no thought crosses my mind that doesn't involve you. When you held me close you , so close I could hear your heart pounding against your form chest, I believed it was beating for me. I believed that heart was mine ... for always forever "

" I feel the same way Diya. " , he countered.

" No you don't Al. If you did, how can you even think of moving away from me and settling with someone your family choses. How can you tell me you will cut off all ties with me, all the memories of the last 2-3 years when you commit to someone you just met briefly before everyone decides you have to marry her. " Diya was hysterical and incosolable. " I know I am wrong for you in so many ways. Society approval is never going to be on our side. But for some time you led me to believe we could have a world of our own. I believed you didn't care what people thought and said. I believed age is just a number when you kept telling me it was so. I believed I could have a happier life.", she whispered.

" We can still have it Diya. Nothing in life is permanent. We do not know how long anything in our life will last. My marriage as decided by the family might or might not happen in the future. I cannot let go of my responsibilities to fulfill my parents dreams and desires. But that doesn't mean we have to give up what we have now. It is beautiful and rare. Let us be together for as long as we can. Don't give up on me now Diya. I love you damn it. ", he explained.

" I am sorry Al. Do you know how it feels when I am with you now ? Everytime I see you I do not see the Al that is mine. I see someone who belongs to someone else and someone I have borrowed. Well not even borrowed, someone I am stealing. I see someone who cannot chose me. I see someone who wants me till he finds someone else. I see myself as a temporary filling in a temporary gap. When I see young girls on the road, in shops, my mind goes haywire thinking one of these young girls could be the one for you. One of these girls will have your ring on their fingers. One of these girls will be your documented partner. You will raise a family with lots of children as you always wanted with one of these girls. You will make love as we made, with one of these girls. You will care for one of these girls as you cared for me. You will build your life and grow old with one of these girls. And do you know what hurts most ... you will do all this without remembering me. You are ready to forget me , erase me off  from your life , a chapter not to be revisited when you meet this girl. "

" Don't say such things. ", Al reached out to her.

" It is true Al. I was in wonderland for the last 2-3 years. I refused to look at reality and practicality as what I had with you was what I had wanted all my life. Parts of me have died now ... knowing that inspite of me giving you the best of me, you will still chose someone else. The reasons may be many and genuine. But they do not cover for what I will go through. You have to chose between all your responsibilities, family, your parents, sisters ... Five members on one side and me and the love we have for each other on the other. You have to decide what you will give up and I know what your choice is. I know what you are willing to give up and put in the line of the speeding trolley.", she said sadly.

" I have been planning my escape from my marriage for ever since I can remember. There were times when I thought I was making a mistake. The time I separated friends and family shut me out. I was isolated. I had always been told that women are responsible for holding the family's honour . A woman living alone is a sin. A woman travelling alone is a sin. A woman who gives up on the sacred ness of her marriage in search of her happiness is devil incarnated. When every one around you says you are wrong , that your dreams aren't valid , you start to believe that. When you skateboarded into my life I was in one of those sinkholes. You put out your hand and pulled me up. You didn't have to, yet you did. For a very long time, I didn't understand what your role in my life was.  And then gradually your words and actions led me to firmly believe you were my life itself. I believed everything in my life led to you. All my pain, my choices, my regrets. And when we are together nothing mattered anymore, it was all worth it. Because I realised that if I had done one thing differently I would never have met you. "

" Al,  I have put you up on a very high pedestal. The last 2-3 years have been the best in my life. I can live with the memories of those years for the rest of my life. I can accept that you changed, life happened to you while I made plans for us in wonderland. I can crash land back to Earth now. But what I cannot bear is the thought that you kept me with you only because I was available. I was convenient. I wasn't going to hold you to any commitment. It kills to know I can never be your choice for life. I do not want to have any sort of negative feelings about you or us at any point of time. Right now  I feel like I am on that out of control trolley. I know it is going to crash land somehwere and I have to chose between staying in the trolley and crashing or hurt myself trying to jump out of it. Its a no win situation either way. I lose either way. I have to chose ... and I chose to jump now rather than prolong the agony."

" Sometimes Al , Love just isn't enough " , Diya slowly let go of the hand that held her and walked away.

( This is my entry for Week 9 of LJ Idol. The prompt given to us " Trolley Trouble" As always concrits and comments are always appreciated )

Soyons Amoureux
i'm fine                                                                     i'm just cold
please help me                                                                                                                                               please put your ams around me

i'm just tired                  i already ate
i Can't take this anymore        not feeling hungry

i'm better i promise never felt so bad before

you can go, don't worry
           show me you care enough to stay

i'm okay
this is

The flowers were carefully chosen
and woven into her long flowy dress
decorated with sunshine's golden rays
leaving sweet scent and warmth on the trails of her caress
Everywhere the girl went
she chased away the loneliness
out of every dark room
she ousted the sadness

A frozen heart she knew to thaw
she smilled and painted with bright colours
the sky that no one really saw
the night had changed to day
that seemed enough to be in awe
a world that snatches what it receives
reality that really is a flaw

No one thought to appreciate her
for the warmth on their skin
for the comfort of her smiles
for the protection she wove
for the demons she chased away
for the parts of her she gave away
for her heart her treasure trove
for the company she gave for miles
for the support that made them win

So she thought she was not needed
she could leave and they would not care
but she was just taken for granted
for light was always there
because you never thank the ground
until you know how it feels to fall
and you never express how much you need the sun
until it fails to rise at all.

And then she understood -

When they ask you if you are okay - they dont expect you to say no
                                                          so you must just smile and nod
                                                          while thoughts of jumping off a  building riot your mind

When they ask you if you need help with anything - what they have in mind is simply solved stuff
                                                                                   like project assistance and shopping guide
                                                                                   they don't want to touch your 3 am haunting demons

When they say they are always there for you - they mean if you need a ride home
                                                                          or if you need someone to hang out with
                                                                          they don't expect to be there when it feels like your world is crashing.

When they say you are too good for them - they acknowledge your goodness
                                                                     they appreciate what you have given
                                                                     but they need something better and that is definitely not you

And just this one time , when she gave her all , completely ,
when she opened her heart to love you when it was already broken
when she was brave enough to risk having her life shattered
she hoped you would understand that there is always -

some truth behind her ' just kidding '
some emotions behind her ' i don't care '
some pain behind her ' it's okay '
some knowing behind her ' I don't know '.

And just this one time , when she gave her all , completely
she hoped she was special and unforgettable
she hoped life didnt prove it was all about learning to say a better good bye
she hoped you would stay around to hold her and say ' I Know You '. And mean it.

But reality is flawed and pain is meant to be revisited

( This is my entry for Week 8 of LJ Idol where the prompt given to us was " No Comments ". I have used the prompt to comment on how we tend to walk the same path and talk the same words when it comes to love even when we know the end result is pain. We hope that the memories ae worth the pain ... But really is it ever so .... No Comments !!!

Concrits and comments are ever so appreciated )


Every woman in the world or Me
Diary Entry , 21st Century , Present Day

" I am not meant to be alone. I am destined to be with you. One of the most beautiful and particularly lovely design feature of being human ... we fall in love. When I loved, I grew, I flourished, I fell, and I learnt. Relationships can bring out our best or bring out our worst. And sometimes they’ll do both before breakfast. I know you are my best yet, best ever, because you inspire me to explore the way I am with people and the world, in a way that’s safe enough to own, experiment with and change if I want to.

Being with you feels a bit like magic and a lot like home.

I have had my share of relationships before you came along. Nothing lasted and now I know why. I actually met you a good three years after I knew you. What is this if not destiny ? After those first few meetings and talks it seemed like we had travelled across the oceans of time and depths of heavenly dimensions to be together again. It took us 2 weeks to forge a bond which was beyond understanding and any good sense. The feeling of safety and trust built up in far greater proportion than the time we reached out to each other. A sudden feeling of familiarity of knowing each other at such depths far beyond what the conscious mind could know. Our heads interfered, but our hearts knew. The hearts remembered holding each other in the moon filled river side of Macedonia and the ancient plains of Mongolia. We might have lost each other to the armies of forgotten warrior-generals and might have lived together in the sand covered caves of the Ancient Ones.

After I met you I have felt bonded , a bond strengthened through eternity and ever since I have never felt alone.

I do not understand the circumstances surrounding our meeting. Life as I know it today does not make sense. The head keeps interfering while the heart remains unwavered. I do not know what future brings us. I know as of today it is nearly impossible that we be together as we should be. And it scares me ... will I have to part with you in this life time to search and find you yet again in another. I know my soul mate and I do not know what to do. "

19th Century, A day in a year

Maria was in her 70's now. An elderly woman. Her weathered skin told of a story on the streets, living in shelters, and foraging for what she could. Her grey hair had been falling out, but there was a pattern to it. She wore a cap or hat most of the time. What was left of her hair was matted and knotted.

Her body was frail, a small hump in her upper back, just below the neck. Arthritis more than likely, her hands also showed signs of it, the fingers becoming curled and painful looking.

Her clothing was layers upon layers of shirts and sweaters. It had been long since she touched her skin under those layers. Too Long.

She looked down at her feet and picked up the small bag that contained her belongings. Most of the contents made little sense. Rocks, thread and yarn. Twisty ties. A cough drop wrapper.

Between all the nonsensical things, however, was a locket.And at the deeper end a note book. Maria picked up the locket carefully. She looked over the frail chain, opening the locket. Inside was a single picture. It was old, cracked and faded.

The picture was of a ballerina. The woman seemed almost unrecognisable. A stranger , perhaps a woman from another life. But Marie knew better.

She was a beautiful young dancer with the Russian Ballet. Dark hair and light blue eyes, skin so white like cream. She was a crown jewel. Loved by all. Her fluid grace enchanted theater goers. She headlined several ballets.

She remembered how matters soon became bad in ways of politics.The performing arts kept the young ballerina quite busy, for a while until things went out of control. She fled the country with her manager. There was no chemistry , no love atleast on her part. He pressed to deepen the relationship, to have sex, to make commitments.

She gave in - she wasn’t the crown jewel anymore. The competition for headlining performances was too strong.

She was failing. No longer the Princess Ballerina.

He drank too much. He became violent. He was selfish and she cursed the marriage. But she lived with him. She had no one else. He beat her once in a while and then regularly. She winced , tears streaming down her lined cheeks.

He died in a fight, stabbed in the chest with a long knife was what she was told. It must have pierced his heart. She had been told there was blood everywhere.

She then met John. She fished the tattered diary out of her bag. The story of her life as she wanted to remember it. The only memories she wanted to keep. She opened to the page , the day John had died at war. Love story for 4 years, that would last her for the rest of her life.

" I love him so much. I've never met any man I could love like that. And he loved me back the same way. And without that love how can my life ever be complete ? How can I ever be happy. "

She closed the book with a sigh and opened the locket. She removed the picture and underneath was his picture ... hidden from all and safe just for her. She closed her eyes , put the chain around her neck. It was time ....

13th Century, Long Long Ago ....

The era of the Sung Dynasty Rule is widely considered to be a high point of classical chinese civilization. The Sung economy, facilitated by technology advancement, had reached a level of sophistication probably unseen in world history before its time. The population had soared to over 100 million and the living standards of common people improved tremendously due to improvements in rice cultivation and the wide availability of coal for production. The capital cities encouraged vibrant civil societies unmatched by previous Chinese dynasties. As land trading routes to far west were blocked by nomadic empires, there were extensive maritime trade with neighbouring states, which facilitated the use of Sung coinage as the de facto currency of exchange. Giant wooden vessels equipped with compasses travelled throughout the China Seas and northern Indian Ocean. The concept of insurance was practised by merchants to hedge the risks of such long-haul maritime shipments. With prosperous economic activities, the historically first use of paper currency emerged in the western city of Chengdu, as a supplement to the existing copper coins.

The advances in civilization during the Sung dynasty came to an abrupt end following the devastating Mongol conquest, during which the population sharply dwindled, with a marked contraction in economy. Despite viciously halting Mongol advance for more than three decades, the Southern Sung capital Hangzhou fell in 1276.

A year that marked a great transition for Empress Ai, concubine of Emperor Xian chosen to be wed at age 13 by her parents, and mother of successor Emperor Tong. With the annihilation of the empire the young widow and her baby was forced to surrender to the barbaric mongols. She was kept in prison and used as the leaders pleased. Her baby was snatched away and she never knew what became of him.

She had shut out that dark phase of her life after being rescued by a Samaritan nomad NaranBaatar. He had taken her to his home among a group of nomadic people who hunted and raised cattle. His parents were leaders and he was a string and skilled horseman and hunter. She stayed as a daughter to his parents and life turned around once again. She slowly learnt to put her torments behind her and at the same time accepted the new way of life. Everyone was more than pleased when NaranBaatar professed love to her. He had taken his time and given her time to heal as well. She was silently grateful. Time blessed them with a beautiful daughter. Life had come full circle.

The quests for new land brought some ruin to the clan. Families were separated and chaos, destruction and ruin prevailed. Her ethnicity made her a prime candidate for captures , taken away for the rest of a life time , never to be held in the strong arms of her Mongol husband. All he had was a letter she wrote to him on books introduced by the traders instead of the scrolls. He kept it safe as the sole reminder of the love they shared.

She had written " I do not think a day can pass by without being able to see your smile. Without telling you things and hearing your voice back. Even though I am unsure of most things in my life, I am certain that I love you and will love you till forever. "

330 BC .... A very very long time ago

Lady Helena loved her play time with her maidens by the river Jhelum. It was fate that brought Rana Udayapratap to those parts. He was mesmerised by the Greek Beauty and fell in love with her instantly. He sent her messages through pigeon carriers. Though she had not seen him , she had formed his image in her mind through his letters. It was his thoughts , views and outlook that eventually won her heart and she started developing feelings for him even though she had not seen the mighty emperor. The emperor expressed his desire to take the Greek Princess as his second bride. His minister advised him to wage a war against the macedonian empire and thus put pressure on the King. As expected the famed Indian warrior won the war he declared and when he asked for the princess hand in marriage the King refused and offered parts of his kingdom captured in war. After all Udayapratap was a heathen , a person who neither followed the greek religion nor acknowledged the same. Helena however was so besotted in love that she managed to convince her father to the union.

The Greek empress loved India and the marriage made her happy. She learnt classical Indian Music and started taking classes to learn the Sanskrit language. However their story was not the forever kinds - 4-5 years after their marriage when she was 8 months pregnant the King converted to Jainism , took sanyas ( hibernation ) from active politics and died in the forests soon after.

Historical Scrolls have recorded Lady Helena as saying " I loved him with sincerity. We do not give people we do not love the power to destroy us. He had wrapped his warm hands around my cold waist and assured me that I would be safe in his arms, that he loved me too much to let me fall. One day he let go and I was left there wondering where the warmth had gone. "

Back to the present day ....

I knew John, I knew NaranBaatar, I knew UdayaPratap. And I knew YOU. I also knew where I was from. My soul was riddled with Toska.

There are no coincidences in love and it is possible to love and lose across lifetimes. Love stories such as these happen every now and then ... silently ... stories of hope and destiny. This is one such story.

( This is my entry for Week 6 where the prompt given to us was " Where I am from " I have explored the possibility of reincarnation and soul recognition. As always concrits and recommendations are appreciated )

And then ....
I promised myself I wouldn't love again
And then I met you.
It is 4 am - the time when my thoughts work hard to keep me awake
And then we were talking and chatting.
I was happy for the first time in a long time
And then I knew I had fallen deep.
It ought to have been difficult with my life a scattered thousand pieces
And then you showed me every piece need not be in place to be beautiful.
I didn't even know if my pieces were all there
And then you made me believe love can be found in imperfect, lost and broken people too.
It was a lonely island this life of mine , where ships were forbidden to touch the shores
And then you crash landed on the beach.
I had fought so many battles with pirates that everyone seemed to be one
And then you appeared as an adept sailor.
It was an instant feeling of inevitability when I met you
And then we crossed the threshold from friendship to love.
I believed you were destined to know me better than anyone else ever did
And then our lives conspired to converge into a cosmic dance.
It was not easy to hold onto me with all the scattered thorns piercing my heart
And then you carried me in your arms oh so gently.
I was quiet so many times and kept tripping over my own feet so often
And then you gave me the look that stole my heart and dragged me out of the labyrinth of my weeded thought.
It was beautiful and magical that of all the people in the world your soul met mine
And then it happened we were one - mind and body.
I had finally found the love that I had waited for all my life
And then you let me believe we could make it even against the odds.
It was ironic - you were my sunshine, my joy, my dreams , my cure
And then you were also my darkness , my tears, my fears and my illness.
I was found shattered and you took time to patiently fix me
And then you turned around to break me.
It isn't easy to love someone who the world doesn't approve of
And then you realised you couldn't kiss me on the streets or show me off to the world.
I knew you were someone I couldn't be with forever
And then you spelt it out that our time was now and limited.
It wasn't easy with the brain telling me one thing and the heart another
And then I wished circumstances were different.
I wanted your last name, your lazy sunday mornings, your laughs, your arms around my waist, your belonging
And then I wanted to do your laundry, cook romantic dinners with scented candles in our tree house and discover the world with you.
It was my dream that the other side of my bed belong to you , our fingers intertwined
And then you loosened your fingers and made way for my hands to slip away slowly.
I was reminded that I had a past that didn't have you
And then you remembered you had a future that couldn't figure me.
It was the best phase of my life and would always be
And then it wasn't meant to be.
I was the ocean with stunning mystery and deep secrets
And then you were just a boy who loved the waves and knew he couldn't swim.
It was true love I knew and believed you knew it too
And then suddenly it wasn't that simple - it was Ephemeral and had to end.
I knew he was my head
And then he had to turn heel.

( This is my entry for LJ Idol - Week 6 where the prompt was Heel Turn. As I always say concrits and comments are always appreciated. )

Fear is the Heart of Love ....
Love is what we make of it. Nothing more and nothing less. Having said that my theory of love goes like this - we ... all of us people ( well atleast most of us if we want to get a bit argumentative ), only fall in love with three people in our lifetime. Anything more ... well needs to be studied further and anything less ... you are damn lucky I say !!!! And yes each of these loves are needed in our lives for a season for a reason.

Most of our first love happens when we are very young , too young even. High School Love - the idealistic love that is so very often just what floats into our life from the pages of a fairy tale book.

Most of the time this is the kind of love that appeals to what love should look like and what we should be doing. We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.

This type of love is mostly based on curiosity about the opposite gender, need for diversion from the the then real pressures of studies and building up a future, the necessity for an outflow for raging hormones that break out every now and then , the firm belief that no one understands us except for this one person we have found or has found us.

Because in this type of love what matters is not what we feel but what looks right. It's a love that most of us out grow.

Our second love is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts. The kind of love based on who would be acceptable to us, our parents , the society even probably.

So more often we think we are charting a course different from our heart breaking first. But in reality we are still making choices out of the need to learn lessons.Isn't that what life is all about. Our second love can become a cycle, oftentimes one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than the first time. After all we are no longer giggling , awkward , inexperienced youngsters we were back then. And yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.

This type of love will most likely entail high levels of drama. And this perhaps is exactly what keeps us addicted to this storyline - the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.

With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should. It’s the love that we wished was right.

And then our third love is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes crashing in so easily that it feels almost surreal and impossible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.

The soul mate theories would blend in perfectly in this type of love. This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are.

This is kind of love that gives us the awesome feeling of simply being accepted for who we are already—and it shakes us to our core.

Maybe we don’t all experience these loves in this lifetime, and perhaps that’s just because we aren’t ready to. Maybe the reality is we need to truly learn what love isn’t before we can grasp what it is.

Of course there are those love stories that didn't have to pass through all these stages. The first time that took their breath away passionately lasted till their last breath.

When we talk of love we have to talk about monuments of love. Atleast I have to because I finally reached that stage where my theories on what love ought to be have been proved in practice. And so I finally made the trip to see the most famous monument for love in the world ... The Taj Mahal at Agra in India.

The Taj Mahal is a dedication of love by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The story goes thus - Like many of his predecessors, Shah Jahan married several wives over the course of his adult life. Although Shah Jahan spread his heart around, none of these ladies found quite the same favor as his third wife (but first love), Arjumand Banu Begum, more famously known as Mumtaz Mahal. History says he was so enamoured by her that he killed her first husband in war to take her as his bride. She was his wife , friend , lover and companion. It is said she was by his side at all times. Their union lasted 19 years and led to the birth of 14 children. Complications during the birth of the final child led to Mahal’s untimely passing at the age of 39. Shah Jahan was so stricken by the loss of his longtime companion that he decided to memorialize Mumtaz Mahal with a spectacular tomb. Construction on the Mahal and its surroundings began in 1632, one year after her death, and continued for just over two decades. It was completed in 22 years and involved effort and labour of 20,000 men and 1000 elephants at an astronomical cost even by the standards of those times.

The Taj Mahal being the dedication and homage of Mumtaz Mahal, it has calligraphy all over the interior and exterior, which, among other patterns and holy inscriptions in a variety of precious and semi precious stones fixed on the immaculate white marble structure, also has calligraphy on the tomb that identifies and praises Mumtaz Mahal. Another interesting fact is that there are 99 names of Allah found on the sides of the actual tomb as calligraphic inscriptions. After all, Shah Jahan did envision Mumtaz’s home in the paradise, and Taj Mahal was that imagination coming to life.

The Taj Mahal is any obsessive’s dream, with meticulous symmetry across its long and wide diameters. The sole exception to this otherwise uniform aesthetic scheme lies, again, in the gravesite. Taj Mahal was not originally designed to entomb a second person other than Mumtaz Mahal. Aurangzeb, son of Shah Jahan, instead of building a new mausoleum, buried his father next to Mumtaz Mahal. So while Mumtaz Mahal’s casket is located in the exact center of the palace crypt, it is Shah Jahan’s grave — introduced to the mausoleum following his death in 1666 — that rocks its artistic equilibrium with a west-of-center resting place. This is the only part of the entire complex ( including the gardens / mosque ) etc which is not in symmetry.

The Taj Mahal takes on different colouring at different times of the day, from a pinkish hue in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden at night when lit by the moon. They say the changing colour resembles the changing mood of females - in particular the Emperor's queen.

My first view of the monument from so far .. at the first gate. It is often said that hype creates over expectations and that over expectations often kill the joy of our own experiences. But the beauty of the monument left me overwhelmed inspite of my huge expectations. Right from the moment I laid my eyes on it from a distance there was magic that left me stumped.

The makers employed an optical trick in the construction of this monument. As you move closer to the main complex, the Taj keeps getting smaller.It seems to grow bigger as you walk away. The guides here say when you leave,its impact on you is so big ... you take the Taj with you in your heart.

My lesson from the Taj Mahal - Even with all its beauty and depth, true love can seem inappropriate to many. The circumstances bringing two souls together maybe conventionally unromantic or unacceptable. But it can't be ignored. Even as we strive for perfection and acceptance in all our relationships - a pure union can be imperfectly perfect.

And this then brings me to the reason for my visit to the Taj Mahal. I have personally lived through and loved all three stages as theorized by me earlier. I had deemed myself unlucky to find or unworthy to experience the love that I thought I deserved. That was until he crashed in as my third love, the perfect for me love. I had promised myself I would visit the Taj when I found love or vice versa.

Love as I now know calls me or messages me the first thing in the morning
Just to say Good Morning
Just to hear my voice.

Love as I now know asks if I have had my breakfast,
If I have gulped my mandatory 4 glasses of water,
Knows how to make me the perfect cup of black tea that wipes my frowns away
Asks about my Lunch and Dinner too
Knowing very well I have the tendency to skip them more than occasionally.

Love as I now know does not hesitate to hold my hand,
As we walk into a room of people we do not know.

Love as I now know has helped pick up and fix my broken pieces,
Is persistently healing my wounded soul,
And never tires of building up my person.

Love as I now know has convinced me to choose growth
To not be held hostage by the person I was yesterday
last week, last month , last year, 20 years back.

Love as I now know encourages me to make art, pursue my dance,
follow my passions, listen to my heart and bury my fears
Travel alone and see the World through my eyes - my lens
With assurances that his heart will always keep open
the arms that give me the warmest embrace ... My Eternal Home.

Love as I now know listens to everything said and unsaid,
His attention span being longer than the last word that exits my mouth

Love as I now know appreciates the beauty on the surface of the ocean that is me
He doesn't shy away from riding the waves that come along
He dares to dive down to discover treasures that are so deep under
Treasures he believed to be there,
Treasures I didn't know existed.

Love as I now know is open like a clear blue sky.
And understands that most of me
Is in the stars shining through the dark sky that is my past.

Love as I now know loves me in the way I always dreamed of
in the way I had stopped hoping I would ever find,
For the love I had before now found, were on shaky ground
that fell beneath my hopeful feet.

Love as I know now is a heart that shines so bright
that the sun blushes in admiration
And the moon repents having moved to the other side.

Love as I now know has made me come face to face with another phase -
Emotions that hold me back ...Urge me not to move ahead so fast
Fear that recalls childhood wounds, doubts of worthiness,
And threatens to drown the pedestal of self esteem under construction.

Love as I now know makes me predict an uncertain future
Search for probability that I will be alone again
Try and find methods for self preservation in the wake of a storm that
may or may not come
Fear that is building up several layers of self sabotage and confusion
that covers the heart that is beating for him.

Love as I now know still convinces me to choose moving beyond fear.
Love he says is on the other side of fear.
He says he doesn't have all the answers right now, but neither do I
And that he says is perfectly alright
Love as I now know doesn't make sense for its crappy timing
and for being so unlike the picture I had painted in my head.
But he forces me to trust our feelings are valid
And that to understand it,
We have to surrender to it. Accept it.

Love as I now know is the once-in-a-lifetime kind of love
It is dancing wildly around me and tempting me with promises
That I have to believe is fated
Love as I now know still remains just far enough out of reach
But not elusive ... and it is worth the fight.
Love as I now know can be my new beginning,
This moment is important not how things might play out in the future
All along this was where I was being led
Love as I now know has shown me to trust in my destination as much as the journey

Love as I now know tells me there is a reason for everything.
A season for everything.
Love as I now know tells me it is the season to listen to my heart.
A heart that should give up

( This is my entry for week 6 of LJ Idol - where the topic given to us was Fear is the Heart of Love. Concrits as always are welcome as also suggestions for improvement. )

200 years and we still go where the puck has been .....
The year 1799 - The setting Rajashthan in India - The image Kings, Palaces, War Heroism , Courage & Chivalry

The local tour guide says " Yeh Mahal Raniyon ke liye banaya gaya tha " ( This palace was made for the royal women ) and the pride in his voice cannot be missed. Hawa Mahal- the palace of winds- is a palace in Jaipur built by SwaiPratap Singh in the year 1799 . In fact, Hawa Mahal was a continuation of the Royal City Palace and extends to the " zenena " ( women's chambers ). It was built on the edge of the City Palace at the heart of the city.

The first question that came to my mind was why this palace is specially built for the queens. I asked the same to our guide and the answer from him increased my respect to SwaiPratap Singh. During that period, Rajput women, including the royal ladies, had to obey a strict Purdah system. A Purdah system prevents a woman from going out or see outsiders specially men. Being a woman, I felt their misery immediately. The royal women of that period were unable to see the daily life outside their palace rooms; even they couldn’t see colorful royal processions in the street. In one word, they missed all the fun out there.

But here was something different. Purdah at that time was a common fact. What was uncommon was a king felt and understood the restrictions, the sufferings which were created only for his queens. What was commendable - The poet-king SwaiPratap Singh not only built this palace for the royal women he also took care of their comfort here. The articulately created " Jharokhas " ( Home Windows ) provided Royal ladies view of the day-to-day life of the city while unseen from the public outside on the street. It is also a Palace which is airy even in hot summer days. The framework also allows cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through the complex design creating an air conditioning effect to the whole area during the hot and humid summer days.

Most of the Rajput kings in that era were unaware of their queens’ sufferings. Standing at that time it was a revolutionary work of the Poet king to give a change to his queens to view the outside life.

The facade of the palace ( Image Source - Google )

A view of the Interiors of the palace ( Image Source - My Camera )

One of the innumerable windows that let the air from outside come in - the relief to the inside world
( Image Source - My Camera )

One of the many windows that let the eyes inside go out - the escape to the outside world.
( Image Source - My Camera )

# NOT ALL MEN - # Some didn't follow the tide - # Some thought to stand apart

The year 2017 - The setting - The so called cosmopolitan city Bangalore, India - The Image New Year's Eve Shame

Bangaluru (Bangalore ) is traditionally thought of as one of India's safer cities for women. The southern megacity—sometimes known as the Silicon Valley of India—is the epicenter of India's technological revolution. Young, educated professionals from all over India and surrounding countries have moved to Bangalore to work in the rapidly growing IT industry, causing the city to double its population in the last 15 years. As a result, the women of the city have long enjoyed a degree of freedom not afforded to their sisters in other cities.

All this makes the events of New Year's Eve more shocking. The events began to unfold at around midnight. Women out celebrating on a main street at the heart of the city's festivities, MG Road, Brigade Road, have reported being groped and sexually assaulted by groups of men forcing some of them to literally take off their stilettoes and run for help. Photographs showed visibly distressed women being comforted by female police officers; in another, a group of men were seen surrounding a frightened woman.

And thus New Year began on a horrifying note for many women. Now what sparks outrage is the comments that followed where politicians and moral police continue to blame everything and everyone." These kind of things happen on New Years Eve. What do you expect when people follow the Western Culture not only in mindset but in clothing too. " , " Women wearing short clothes are 'naturally' inviting trouble. They must not create situations that force men to attack them "

Given that clothing doesn't cause sexual assault any more than burning toast contributes to air pollution—the only thing ever responsible for a sexual assault is the assailant themselves, ridiculous responses and the evident lack of action that makes it so difficult for women to breathe in this highly masochist society which places the onus of not being assaulted on them. As the news gained momentum on the social media another section of people joined in to make one thing clear. In case the women were forgetting , they wanted everyone to know # Not all men are depraved predators.

It isn't the first time that when women bring up instances of sexism in everyday conversations, their male friends jump in with " I have never done that. Not all men are perverts. " The instinctive behavior is never to hear the woman out but to clarify that they aren't one of those who molest. Every single woman knows that not all men want to hurt her, just as every single woman knows that at some point atleast one man has. Whether it be groping , cat calling, flashing , sexual abuse, rape. That gives her the prerogative to be angry, to talk about it and to worry about it. That's it. They are not talking about every single man on the planet wanting to hurt women. Then why are random men trying to prove their sainthood because they never molested anyone. How is this even relevant ?

What do the # Not All Men - ers want ? A medal for being decent humans ? For standing apart - for being different ? For being a minority among a majority that still follows a sexist patriarchal mindset that might have suited the life 200 years ago ? For being evolved from caveman practices and thoughts ? What they forget is that while they may not be rapists or assaulters ... by derailing a conversation about women's safety they are gaslighting women, dismissing their feelings and concerns, and thus pepetrating rape culture.

( Image Courtesy - google )

We continue to travel in the path where the puck has been for ages and it continues to stagnate at the same spot. We give credit to men who stood apart 200 years ago and we are continually expected to do the same after all that time. Can't it be the done thing for men to be empathetic ? Are we not supposed to move forward in thoughts and actions. Are women supposed to be confined to their homes ( even that isn't safe by the way ) or rather some unventilated room to experience safety ? Are we supposed to be elated that some men are gentlemen while many beasts are out where we want to be ?

It is time all men and women skated to a place where the puck is meant to go. A better a safer place. A novaturient generation is much needed.

( This has been my entry for Week 4 of LJ Idol - I don't skate where the puck has been. I skate to where it is going. Concrits as always is appreciated. )

That One Friend
C S Lewis said ... A friendship is born when one person says to another ... " What !You too ? I thought no one but me. " The best of friendships or any relationships for that matter are the connections of the soul.

She was a famous introvert and formed deep friendships with very few. And the story of her life goes this way that in the different stages of her life she had just that ' one friend ' to be a part of her life in that phase. But of course That One Friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than having three friends with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.

She was a reluctant nursery student. Primary school however was different. M was that one friend she forged a deep friendship with. 5 long years of friendship that made school so much fun. A friendship that went beyond school hours when her family decided to shift by coincidence to the same apartment that M stayed in. Life was good until M's mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her first brush with the dreaded disease. She associated the disease with swallowing the patient and swallowing relationships. M's family moved soon after her Mom passed away. It was the time when social networking did not exist to enhance or strengthen contacts. She and M just drifted apart with nothing but memories left behind.They had grown apart but for a long time they grew side by side and she was grateful for those tangled roots.

S was that one friend in high school. Those transforming years from child to teen. S's friendship taught her life didn't have to be serious. Fun was the best description of their friendship.The age where secrets began to accumulate and they became each other's confidante. Long talks and giggles characterised their bond. Shared interests and going for same classes for dance and music outside school hours strengthened their connection. A war in the region scattered families across the globe. However after a gap of a year they found each other through common family friends and though distance forcefully separated them, letters kept them involved with each other. It was a privilege to be able to talk nonsense and have that nonsense respected. S continues to be that one constant in her life ... the kind of friendship which could be picked up and resumed from where it was left off ... even years later. Nothing changed. They just proved the adage that time doesn't take away from friendship and neither did separation.

Secondary School gave her her school sweetheart and those years passed by with him being the one she spent time with. And then like most school love stories they drifted in pursuit of careers and made life without each other.

College gave her C as that one friend. A friendship that has spanned 20 plus years. C came to her finding her to be the most well dressed girl in class on the first day of college. And from then on there has been no looking back. A Friendship formed in that most important phase when you metamorphose from young adult to adult. When you shift from a life of no cares to a life of responsibilities. C turned into that person , the sole person who knew everything about her from the time memories were made till date. C was like a mirror that reflected her life, her alter self that knew her almost as well as she did herself. Sometimes even better. The friendship went through turbulent and trying times , where trust became a serious issue. But the one thing she understood was that connections of the soul are not broken easily. They may wade through troubled waters but the bridge always keeps the connect intact.

Knocks from the past are not always pleasant. A was that friend back in secondary school who was her friends boy friend and a close friend of the school sweetheart. He walked in from the past ( with lots of memories that came flooding back ) courtesy the social networking sites that promised bridging long lost connections. Mostly longed for and yet some unwanted. A was surprised that her relationship with the school sweetheart hadn't taken off. They talked and laughed and shared family matters over chats that became frequent. He visited her once after an online connect of 2 years. A rape followed that to him was the best way to get her out of his system. Perhaps laughing and reaching out to a man in a friendly fashion portrayed her sexual availability. Perhaps friendly conversations between a man and a woman tended to trigger aggressive sexual behaviour in men. Of course A no longer belonged in friend category or any category for that matter. She learnt her lesson and moved on.

S was that friend in school who was mostly an acquaintance than a close friend. The social networking brought them closer during their midlife. They connected through some tough times and pulled each other through them. The friendship had always been about cooperation, understanding, sharing of day to day tasks, support and lots of ' I will care for you ' reinforcements. The thing about female friendship .. it is forged so very easily .. many a times over a couple of chairs and a pot of tea ... sometimes not that even. Yet , women , very often than not , are in the forefront to bring our sisters in spirit down. Intentionally or unknowingly they grudge the trust , support and appreciation which they so naturally can so easily give. Call it circumstances or what is meant to be. The relationship with S remains in limbo. As it is said - in prosperity our friends know us and in adversity we know our friends.

M was that friend she met online. There is something about connecting with a beautiful soul online. There can be open discussions , heart baring sessions and yet very little judgement. A friendship that spanned 4 years and still going strong, M believed in her abilities and constantly egged her on to pursue her talents. They met in person once and it was with so much ease that carried forward their online camaraderie. Friendship between women could be forged with a compassionate heart and an ever willing to listen ear. Where conversations about anything under the sun could take place with so much ease the bond had to be nothing less than perfect therapy. And then not often does a good friend come along who happened to be a fabulous writer too. More Therapy.

Her Significant Other. In his arms she sensed the strength to calm her spirit. In his words she found the comfort that quiets her busy thoughts. In his eyes she saw someone who would fight for her, protect her and love her. Inspite of all the ways she was a wreck.
She hadn't planned on falling in love. But she ended up falling in love in ways beyond any logic and reasoning. It wasn't a love story of the kind shown on TV screens or the kind most people dream about. What she saw was love that was home to her. She saw safety. She saw assurance that she will be loved for as long as possible. She saw a promise that he would be around as long as she needed.

She cries at the drop of a hat and this is what he says " I won't make you cry ... but if you must cry, cry on my shoulders " She fell for him like never before and this is what he said ... " Don't fall ... stand up straight and hold my hands." She has her dark moments of doubts and confusions and this is what he says " It is my responsibility to be with you and ensure that the light of your soul and smile on your face shines through. "
" Why ?".... is her forever question.
" My fate is my choices and I chose to be with you " his answer.

She sought her Querencia ... and she found it in him. That one relationship -That one Friend.

Back on my journey .....
" Resfeber " ... that means the tangled feelings of fear and excitement just before a journey begins .... especially one of a solo traveller.

Our life is a constant journey ... from one moment to the other, from one emotion to the other, from one stage to another.

Inspite of being on this planet for a well defined number of decades. my journey has been somewhat stagnant. And when I decided to travel and make the most of my journey ... an inward one at that ... a wave of conflicting emotions gushed by ... some of it raising me to the highest ups , some of it pulling me to the deepest lows. I was as green as could be ... unprepared and raw. Age has nothing to do with self discovery I realised.

The things I am learning - DO NOT BE SCARED ... fear is a huge deterrent to that first step forward and needs to be removed swiftly from your personal dictionary. TAKE IT SLOW ... there is no rush to achieve it all in one day and create a whirlwind of confusion. SELF HELP BOOKS are helpful to a certain extent. The best lessons and guide come from people who have been there, done that. PACK LIGHT ... throw of all your excess baggage from the past. You do not need anything for the new you. Your resolve to live in the now is all that you need. A few good memories from the past can be a blast though... keep it. GO WITH THE FLOW - Planning never achieved much except giving us missed schedules and stress at the end of the day. Flexibility is the key ... Keep yourself open to anything that might come your way - anticipate only good and be prepared for the bad. BEING INTROVERT IS OK. Just open your mind to possibilities and new friendships. A hello is all it takes to nurture a bond. CHALLENGE YOURSELF... What is life without a few risks not taken. Trust your instincts ... go with the yays and nays of your gut. Try new things, let there be many firsts ... Be adventurous. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are people out there ... believe you will be okay.

And thus I took a deep breath and decided to enjoy the journey... It was after all mine and mine alone.

I Cant believe I am Back
Hi Y'all

Season 10 ... Woohoo....!!!!

MoonLight Square
May 2001 - New papers and media is abuzz with frenzied reports of the appearance of a strange monkey-like creature that was appearing at night and attacking people in the capital city Delhi. Eyewitness accounts were inconsistent but tended to describe the creature as about four feet tall,covered in thick black hair, with a metal helmet, metal claws, glowing red eyes and three buttons on its chest. Others, however, described the Monkey-man as having a more vulpine snout, and being up to eight feet tall, and muscular; it would leap from building to building like a parkour enthusiast. Still others have described it as a bandaged figure or as a helmeted thing.

The fearsome terror known as ' Kala Bandar ' ( Black Monkey ) was far from innocuous. Or so it was reported. It apparently attacked people, steals and caused the death of a few innocent people. The local news picked up on every move of the miscreant and loudly blared all its exploits.

Simran had enough of reporting the weather and penning obituaries of local deaths in the evening newspaper ' Dainik Darpan ' ( Daily Mirror ). She wanted something more adventurous, she wanted to be in the thick of a controversy or unearth some dark conspiracy. She wanted to do live coverage of dramatic events. After all she was in India and in the capital city at that ... how could there ever be dearth of drama ? The reports of ' Kala Bandar ' ignited her investigative pulse. She went to meet the sub editor who in turn took her to the Editor-in-Chief to discuss with him the possibility of a great story in the darkness of 'Chandni Chowk' ( Moonlight Square ). Talks were on about starting an E-newspaper too the Editor gave both the talks the go ahead - For Simran, a week in Chandni Chowk was the result.

Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India. It is located close to Old Delhi Railway Station and the monumental Red Fort is located within the Chandni Chowk. Built in the 17th century ( 1650 CE ) by the Mughal Emperor of India Shah Jahan, and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara, the market which was square in shape , was once divided by canals (now closed) to reflect moonlight, and it remains one of India's largest wholesale markets. Walking through the ' gallis '( Narrow streets ) Simran was enamoured by the fact that even though choked by congestion Chandni Chowk had somehow retained its historical mangificence.

She managed to talk to the locals and arrange a week long stay at Ramgopal ji's house. The buzz spread around the walled city that a reporter was covering their life in Chandni Chowk. It Suited Simran just fine as it gave her accessibility and panic filled narratives. People were more than willing to share their stories. The first two days she heard all possible versions of the story .... People were attacked as they slept on their terraces under the star lit skies at night. The 'size' of the monkey and its ' descriptions ' varied. Normal considering that fact that no one had actually 'seen' the monkey man. Not even the so-called victims.

" His back was very Big ", said one. A Gorilla ? The attacks happened between 1 am and 3.30 am. Shihasuddin was apparently mauled by the creature and had to spend 2 weeks at home before he could resume duty at Ghaziabad. Simran was unable to meet him but his wife Anisa insisted she had seen the attacker. She kept rearranging her Saree and posing demurely before Simran and insisted that it had gleaming bulbs around its otherwise dark body. Sarla made the creature to be a gymnast of sorts who jumped 20 feet across terraces with grace and ease. Ramakanth an electronic genius , self proclaimed of course, corroborates Anisa's story- the two have been having an affair if the local whispers are to be believed. He theorizes that the Kala Bandar has an electrical circuit around his body - to zap his victims. He explains seriously and matter of factly to a group of people around him that " You will feel a tingling sensation throughout your body , followed by DEATH ". Gasps were heard from the group. Later that evening Bansilal had to be rushed to the hospital after being accidently zapped by a live wire. As the residents scramble to get him to the hospital, Simran is wonderstruck at the sights of the pocket roads being blocked because of an impromptu ceremony surrounding a cow in labour. Bansilal inspite of his stupor stretches from the stretcher he is being carried on to seek the belssings of the 'holy cow mother'. He survives. Other theories on the nature of the Monkey Man ranged from an Avatar of the Hindu God Hanuman, to an Indian version of Bigfoot. Special prayers were being held at temples to appease ' Hanuman Bhagwan ' ( Hanuman God ).

The locals carried torches and sticks and started to keep vigil at nights fearing attack by the elusive 'kala bandar'. One night people trapped a dog mistaking it for the monkey man. Day 3 at Chandni Chowk faced death by fear-psychosis. Anandi, wife of Mangal Singh fell down the stairs of their home as she rushed down hearing a false alarm of attack by 'kala bandar'. She was pregnant.Police Commissioner had earlier announced an award of Rs 50,000 for anyone who could provide concrete information on the Monkey Man. That gave people the licence to go hunting for the 'kala bandar'. An innocent motorist was apprehended and thrashed by the local youths following the announcement. The man was eventually rescued by the police who then withdrew the award. A pourquoi story that was doing its rounds in hushed tones was that the Kala Bandar had no paws. Its paws were metal. Its paws were chopped off a 100 years ago and preserved and kept by Sethji's family for years in a secure vault in their 'haveli' ( Palatioal Home ). The monkey's paws grants wishes that become true said Banno Begum. Sethji's ancestors had not used it for ages for they were well-to-do and didn't need anything more. But Sethji had greed unlike anyone before him. He tampered with fate's route and darkness fell upon his family. He walks around speaking incoherently. People avoid him she said. Now they are angry too for the monkey has come to take its revenge for its cut paw.

Day 5 brought in reports of 4 monkeys feasting at the canteen of the local police station. Simran's enquiry on why they were not chased brought out the retort " we don't want to be bitten ". Life in Chandi Chowk exposes Simran to sobering realities and warmth of the sense of community in the area. This was one place in the whole country untouched by religious intolerance.The Hindus , Muslims, Jains, Christians and Sikhs lived in harmony here and each had their major places of worship respected by the other. Co-existence was the norm and age old tradition. But that didn't they stepped out of their customs. Inter Religious marriages still flamed fury and nonacceptance. People chased their dreams and sometimes pushed and shoved to get there.

Day 6 and Simran wanders to Sethji's 'Haveli' and tries to talk to him. She has a long conversation with him and brings him to the centre market in the evening. At first no one is willing to listen to him and slowly they gather around to analyse his startling deduction. The reality of Kala Bandar is in fact the vices residing in the residents of Chandni Chowk. It is something the people have to fight within themselves. Simran has enough material for an engaging report on life in Chandni Chowk and its terror.

Day 8 and the Dainik Darpan had a story that read " Its a Man, Its a Monkey, Its ... " with a detailed report on the miscreant monkey and the impact on ordinary lives. The piece concluded with... " There is an imminent need to stir an awareness of minisculity of our being in the greater scheme of the universe. Instead of making ourselves the centre of the universe we ought to try and the universe the centre of our lives, thereby shifting the paradigm and creating a paradox where we contribute something greater than ourselves and thus feel most at peace with ourselves ".

( This has been my entry for Week 11 of Lj Idol - Friends and Rivals. As usual concrits and suggestions are welcome. The inspiration for the piece has been from Real Reports of Kala Bandar (Black Monkey) attacks around the city of Delhi in 2001 )


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