Monthly Archives: April 2015

Swell

PHOTO PROMPT - © Dee Lovering

The Aristocrat sat at the massive desk, in the power wing  of a historic building ,overlooking the watery square, pen poised over the Immigration directive. His  infertility had ensured dedication to his people.

He eyed the picture and yellowing letter. He had sown his seeds in African soil in his youth. Could she be his? Blue blood in a black body? Should he find her?

He watched a refugee boat being denied landing. Thanks to his signature the borders were safe.  His pride swelled , recalling his ancestor’s perilous, successful voyage to conquer the world.

Hours later, his only descendant drowned in the swell of the Mediterranean sea.

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The above 100 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT – © Dee Lovering

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

Home

Day Eleven Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old. Use short, medium and long sentences.

When I was 12, I lived at Home.

Home was a single storey brick home with just three rooms. Inside a green mosaic floor with specks of brown and black. The in-built cement shelf on one wall of the living room , called as “the Hall” ,doubled as storage and a TV stand for the small black and white TV.  With family photos displayed on the top shelf along with some memorabilia. Just a handful of them,for at that time there was none of the ‘made in china’ junk of today. A three-seater leather sofa and a single seat matching chair. A blue laminated dining table placed flush against the corner wall and one side of the single sofa chair with only one side of the rectangular table available to access. These three pieces of furniture waltzing now and then , to my mother’s tune, to regroup in different permutations and combinations with the walls and the two windows and two exterior doors and two interior doors .And in all the possible combinations that dining table never got to use all its sides at once.  A picture of a green cliffy coast with the sea with no sign of human life or litter, framed and hung above the living room window. The provenance of the photo a mystery.

The late comer, the refrigerator, relegated to the bedroom already packed with two long single metal beds with a cotton silk mattress. The beds always together , wedged between a desk and a steel ‘almirah’.  A wooden antique cupboard with mirror.

The terrace that had no stairs but which could be easily scaled by climbing on the compound wall, from there climbing on the window cement awning and from there reaching out to the edge of the terrace wall standing on the toes and pulling up your body while lifting your leg to get a foot hold and clamber over. It’s easy. Was easy for a pre-teen. Terrace – A place girls were discouraged to climb.

The little garden on clay soil. Guava trees with plenty of fruit and a squash creeper that grew so fast attaching itself to the outer walls with tendrils so strong that belied its fragile appearance, that spread to the terrace where for a year the bounty was huge. Sopoata and lemon shrubs that decided not to grow much or flower much. Seasonal flowers , Ginnia and mums, that came and went. Seasonal vegetables and an attempt at a grassy lawn.

The layers of sounds in the morning, changing as per season ,with the local temple blaring “mariamma….”  mingling with the 5 times a day “Allah …” from the mosque and the girl next door reading out loudly , history, geography and physics, her method to memorize (‘mugging’ as it’s affectionately called ) at 5 freaking am in the morning. The girl ,the first rank holder who put visionaries  like me to shame. Visionaries like me , who somehow knew it deep in the bones that memorization while be so outdated and that  google and Wikipedia would emerge, and slept in (tried to sleep with a pillow as a ear plug). All these sounds instigating my mother to add to the cacophony of sounds : “Get up and study”. Add to all this the incessant cawing of crows.

More than all these sounds the distinctive sounds of a motorbike engine heard from two streets away in the quiet night .6 days a week.The sound. Or rather music. The squeaky gate the ending note of the symphony ,to welcome the hard working man , returning after a long day, sometimes drenched in the monsoon rain.

The smell of the wet rupee laid out to dry in the blue laminated dining table.

Home. That’s where I lived when I was 12 years old.

Happy Blood day !

This piece is in response to a writing101 course’s Day 10 prompt : Tell us something about your favourite childhood meal. Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

The one food that was always a treat and comforted me and has deep roots in my memory is: Blood. I loved the spongy texture of blood almost like Jello except for that …er… bloody taste. The dark brown, almost black dish cooked with finely chopped onions and garlic and chillies adding the spicy flavour …with crunchy split chick pea  seasoning with mustard adding the textural contrast. To this the smell of the curry leaves and a dash of coriander leaves …ah… Heaven!

Now , this was not an everyday meal. Although I wouldn’t have complained if it was. But you can’t go about killing everyday. Maybe the once a year ritual of this dish added to the charm. And maybe I would have gotten tired of it if we  managed to make it an everyday item, like rice.  You never know….

My grandfather talked about his father (my great grandfather) proudly , how he killed with one clean sweep of the long knife, severing the head from the body in one single stroke. I have always imagined that scene in my mind but never watched it live. We are a violent clan….I feel that in my blood sometimes (dear husband, Beware!)…and I carve ,occasionally ,for that coppery, irony tang on my tongue with that hint of garlic.

We are not vampires obviously….the garlic thing must have told you that much. Just plain old village folk from a remote village in southern India, who believe that our god/goddesses like mutton…like us ..after all Man made God in his own image or is the other way around? I always get confused….  So anyway, we fatten up a goat and save it for that one day – when the whole village and the immediate family living in cities all gather together – to chop or rather sacrifice at the altar the aforementioned goat (with one clean sweep if the ‘chopper’ was as good as my great grandfather )…a  goat that we first decorate with a  flower garland and add a make-up of vermilion and turmeric….Seriously ..we really know how to dress our food.

We called this day : ‘Jatara’ . It was like a wedding celebration combined with Diwali and Pongal because it was celebrated with the whole family and all the families in the village. We were all one community. I got to see all the cousins ..and almost everyone who I could possibly share a strand of DNA…my blood. Maybe that’s what made the ‘Goat blood poriyal’ so tasty….being surrounded by my own flesh and blood.

This is one food that takes me back to the deepest roots of my being…back to that so very unique and vibrant agrarian culture …. back to that sense of belonging to millions of others…all pulsating together as one … back to the simple times when superstition reigned supreme unquestioned by reason….where right or wrong we got together each year to taste some blood!

P.S. The  government banned animal sacrifices in temples.  I haven’t been to  my village Jatara in more than 25 years….It’s been a while and sometimes when I watch vampire movies I wonder…..

Just a drop!

https://rochellewisofffields.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/keck.jpg?w=863&h=645

“I want you to change”, he said.

“Nothing is wrong with me”, she said.

“You’re being too sensitive”, he said.

“This is a natural normal reaction”, she said.

“You are being too defensive”, he said.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s the law of nature”, she said.

“It’s a bit over the top. Look at all the cascading drama you create for just a drop, he said.

“Stop looking at me with a nano camera“, she said.

Some days she steams. Some days she doesn’t react… Just gives him a cold shoulder or a icy stare.

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There is a link to a you-tube videos below that explains the “cascading drama.. for just a drop” and “a nano camera” references:

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/time-warp-water-droplet/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KKNnjFpGto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNI-LIVs-to

With a Blog titled “Roots and Water” no one should be surprised by my allegories using my favourite element element on earth: water

The above 100 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT – © Douglas M. MacIlroy

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

Chennai High Court – Do you know how to spell DEMOCRACY ?

A bunch of people , men and women of various ages, who subscribe to a political ideology in a democratic nation (Chennai, India) decide to perform a symbolic act , the removal of the mangalsutra/Thali, to support the emancipation of women in a patriarchal society . No one was hurt or could possibly be hurt in that event.

What’s the big deal? Let this tiny fraction of the society do what they want to do and go home. You watch their event on TV or don’t watch it. You agree with them or don’t agree with them. You do what you want to do. Maybe organize an event to counter that symbolic gesture to promote your culture. Simple..Right? That’s how democracy works. Right?

Apparently not. Well, another group of people’s sentiments were hurt…that is a big deal. You see this “sensitive group of people” , the guardians of ‘Indian Hindu Culture’ as they call themselves , can’t tolerate freedom of someone else’s expression.

I understand such zealous-fanatical-about-culture entities  exist in our society….but the High Court? What were the Justices thinking? Or rather were they thinking?

Here’s some news coverage on this issue:
The Times of India articles says:

At a special sitting that began at 8.15am, the Madras HC reversed an earlier order and stayed DK’s programme. A bench comprising Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice M Venugopal said fundamental rights, freedom of speech and expression along with freedom to assemble peacefully could not be exercised if it destroyed the fabric and ethos of Indian culture, and caused law and order problems. The sitting was held in Justice Agnihotri’s residence. The bench gave its order at around 9am.”

Is the High Court bipolar? Give approval for the event one day. Revoke it the next day!

So if a criminal, with enough proof to be sentenced to death, has a bunch of goons who can cause law and order problems if they don’t like the verdict , will he or she be sentenced to prison one day and set free the next day?

Do they really understand what true Indian culture is ? Know that Hinduism is a tolerant religion ?

Someone please submit a petition to the High Court, that Indian men in Tamil Nadu are hurting  Hindu/Indian sentiments and destroying the fabric and ethos of Indian culture by walking around in western wear…by not wearing the traditional Indian dress of Dhoti. By not wearing the Metti. By not wearing the thilak/namam on their forehead. Will the high court then order all men to dress as per Indian tradition?Overriding their personal freedom to wear what they want?

No more of this western ‘Hindu/culture eroding’ dress:
Only this Outfit embracing true “Hindu/Indian culture”

Justices and people of India, please remember India is a ‘DEMOCRACY’ not  ‘ D  E M O C R A Z Y’.

It’s not the same without you!

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

“So where is Home?”, the stranger asked making small-talk.

Home. The single storey brick home with two bedrooms, two baths and green mosaic floor. Light yellow paint. Packed with furniture with just enough room to walk.

“It burnt down”, I say.

I can still see it burning on the banks of a river, long gone dry. The ashes being gathered in an urn.

I go home to the single storey brick home with two bedrooms, two baths and green mosaic floor. Light yellow paint. Packed with furniture with just enough room to walk. The urn collecting dust on the shelf.

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The above 100 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

#BringBackOurGirls

It’s been a year!  A year since 200 or so girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Of all the tragic anniversaries that gets marked in history, this too will be remembered.  In most tragedies though, the victims are dead and the only resolution is retribution or the pursuit of justice. In this  tragedy though , there are kidnapped girls out there still hoping that they will be rescued.  And that somehow makes it more tragic …to think something can be done yet to see nothing happen.

While women are fighting for equal pay and other social equality rights in developed nations there are women in the rest of the worlds still fighting the ancient enemy: religion.  Is the Nigerian government and the International community thinking, “Well, the girls are alive. Just suppressed. Forced to marry under the threat of being killed. Forced to live under the benevolence of a violent man. But alive and obviously fed. So why is that a big deal?”. I wonder if the inaction is due to international politics, logistics of fighting the enemy or just that they are ‘only girls’?

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/africa/nigeria-kidnapping-anniversary/

I wrote a piece few months ago in “Prayer” ….forcing a happy ending in fiction …It’s time to start pushing for that Happy ending in real life. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls .

Inside out! – A Poem

“I am a woman struggling to look younger”, all her muscles screamed.

“You are a girl struggling to be wiser”, she sagely whispered.

“I am a woman struggling to be full of care”, all her wrinkles mimed.

“You are a girl struggling to always dare”, she chimed.

“I am a woman struggling to uphold tradition”,  her posture dictated.

“You are a girl struggling to break convention”, she shrugged defiantly.

“I am a woman struggling to be a realist”, all her words reasoned.

“You are a girl struggling to remain an idealist”, she reminded firmly.

“I am a woman struggling to be a good mother”,  her actions blared.

“You are a girl struggling not to bother”, she nonchalantly whistled.

“I’m a but a shell “,  her mantle rattled.

“You are swell”, she smiled for that’s what mattered.

She turned away from her and skipped towards the stairs.

“Watch you step”, she told her self.

Photo courtesy: demotivation.us

Happy Whatever Day!

Today I woke up to posts in Facebook and Whatsapp wishing ‘Happy Siblings’ day.  Now, this is something I had never heard of before. Maybe I have been living in a cave typing blog posts..

Globalization is becoming a problem back home in India. Already mothers in India are complaining about Valentine’s day (which focuses on lovers/spouses) having more importance and are canvassing for more attention for Mother’s day. It is to be noted that the same mother’s though are not canvassing their husbands to celebrate valentine’s day. Some of these mothers shun Valentine’s day saying that it’s against Indian culture yet embrace a similarly western tradition of Mothers day. Now on top of this comes ‘sibling day.’ I can see the matriarchs thinking ….what’s in it for them/what’s not in it for them.

So to keep this simple,I think Indians who worry about preserving ‘Indian Culture’ should stick to their own ‘Happy’ days, especially those who believe that it’s the best culture and more especially those who ask me “why can’t you wear an Indian dress when you go to work in America?” while their ‘traditional’ men go around wearing “westernised” pants/shirts in India.

As it is we have a plethora of ‘days’ to celebrate in a given year just for Hindus. The list below has about 75. Add in Christian and Muslim ‘day’s  and we would easily have 100 special days to remember. Oops I forgot our Jain /Buddhist/Sikh /Parsi and other friends. Let’s add all their special days too.  I’m sure we will end up with half the year being ‘Happy something or the other day’. Add to this birthday’s and anniversaries(death and marriage –  some men joke that there is not much difference between the two).

Do we really need Sibling day on top of all this?  Maybe we should  declare everyday to be a “Happy day”.

By the way “Belated Happy Varaha Jayanthi” to all my Hindu friends.

Here’s the list of all “Special” Hindu days in 2015.

01-Jan-2015 Vaikunda Ekadesi

05-Jan-2015 Aaruthra Darisanam

14-Jan-2015 Boghi

15-Jan-2015 Pongal Festival

20-Jan-2015 Thai Amavasai

24-Jan-2015 Vasant Panchami

26-Jan-2015 Ratha Sapthami

28-Jan-2015 Thai Krithigai

03-Feb-2015 Thai Poosam

17-Feb-2015 Maha Shivaratri
04-Mar-2015 Masi Maham

05-Mar-2015 Holi

21-Mar-2015 Ugadi (Telugu New Year)

28-Mar-2015 Sri Ramanavami

02-Apr-2015 Mahavir Jayanti

03-Apr-2015 Panguni Uttaram

07-Apr-2015 Angarak Sankatahara Chadurthi
09-Apr-2015 Varaha Jayanthi

14-Apr-2015 Tamil New Year – Manmatha

14-Apr-2015 Vishu

16-Apr-2015 Matsya Jayanthi

18-Apr-2015 Sani Amavasai

21-Apr-2015 Akshaya Tritiya

21-Apr-2015 Balarama Jayanthi

23-Apr-2015 Sri Sankara Jayanthi

24-Apr-2015 Ramanujar Jayanthi

28-Apr-2015 Vasavi Jayanthi

30-Apr-2015 Madurai Meenakshi Thiru Kalyanam

02-May-2015 Narasimha Jayanti

03-May-2015 Chitra Pournami

04-May-2015 Kallalagar crossing Vaigai river function

29-May-2015 Nirjala Ekadesi

01-Jun-2015 Vaikasi Visakam

13-Jun-2015 Koorma Jayanti

24-Jun-2015 Aani Thirumanjanam

05-Jul-2015 Guru Peyarchi

17-Jul-2015 Aadi Velli

03-Aug-2015 Aadi Peruku

08-Aug-2015 Aadi Krithigai

14-Aug-2015 Aadi Amavasai

16-Aug-2015 Aadi Pooram

19-Aug-2015 Garuda Panchami

19-Aug-2015 Naga Panchami

25-Aug-2015 Avani Moolam

28-Aug-2015 Varalakshmi Vratham

28-Aug-2015 Onam Festival

29-Aug-2015 Aavani Avitam

29-Aug-2015 Raksha Bandhan

30-Aug-2015 Gayatri Japam

01-Sep-2015 Angarak Sankatahara Chadurthi

01-Sep-2015 Maha Sankadahara chaturthi

05-Sep-2015 Krishna Jayanthi

06-Sep-2015 Sri Jayanthi

12-Sep-2015 Sani Amavasai

15-Sep-2015 Kalki Jayanthi

17-Sep-2015 Vinayaga Chaturthi

18-Sep-2015 Mahalakshmi Vratham

18-Sep-2015 Rishi Panchami

19-Sep-2015 Purataasi Saturday

25-Sep-2015 Vamana Jayanthi

10-Oct-2015 Sani Pradosham

12-Oct-2015 Mahalaya Amavasai

13-Oct-2015 Navaratri Begins

21-Oct-2015 Saraswati Pooja / Ayudha Pooja

22-Oct-2015 Vijayadasami

10-Nov-2015 Lakshmi Kubera Pooja

10-Nov-2015 Deepavali / Diwali

17-Nov-2015 Skanda Shashti

25-Nov-2015 Dattatreya Jayanthi

25-Nov-2015 Thiruvannamalai Deepam

03-Dec-2015 Kala Bhairavashtami

21-Dec-2015 Vaikunda Ekadesi

26-Dec-2015 Aaruthra Darisanam

27-Dec-2015 Parasurama Jayanthi

Loss – Part 3

This is a continuation from the first two posts on this series:

https://ansumani.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/loss-part-1/

https://ansumani.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/loss-part-2/

It all started, the slide down the path of loss, when the older girl next door asked,  “Can we all play together, You me and Babuji?”.

I said “Yes” when something in me , which I would later find out is instinct, screamed ‘No’.

We sat at the stairs and played with Babuji. Babuji let her do whatever she wanted with him. It was as if I didn’t exist. Did I say he was fickle already?

Next she declared, “Babuji has a tumor in his stomach. Let’s operate on him. Can I cut him open?” and brought out a blade. I shouldn’t have said ‘Yes’.  She took one deep cut in his abdomen. I watched transfixed, unable to move,caught up in her perversion. His skin was too tough for the blunt blade and it took several cuts to get through to his hollow centre. She wasn’t satisfied. She wanted a wider cut to be able to put fingers through the cut. I woke up from my apathy then and said I was done playing.

I walked away with the damaged Babuji , something stuck in my throat. A bundle of emotions that I didn’t know to name or spell. It took many years, several other losses and serious soul searching to recognize and untangle them: regret, shame, anger and pride.  Shame that I let someone’s perversion, consciously or unconsciously, destroy something beautiful.

Babuji and I  still were together most of the time, bound by that tangle of guilt and shame.  You see, guilt is one thing that’s not very easy to lose. You can turn it into resentment to protect your precious ego. You can turn it into blame and find faults like ‘Babuji was Fickle’ to justify your inadequacy. But it will always be there, if there is no proper atonement.  I shouldn’t have said ‘Yes’. Period.

“You are too old to be playing with dolls. Let a smaller child play with them. Can I send these toys to your cousin?”, mother said.  She bundled all , including the damaged Babuji and sent it over. I shouldn’t have said ‘Yes’. The last ‘Yes’ that I thought was the decision point….but by now you all know that it was those smaller ‘yes’s along the way.

That was the last time I saw him. I looked for him at my aunt’s place..a week later.”Where is Babuji?”, I asked. “It was damaged and we threw it away”, my cousin said.

Richard Bach is not right all the time. If you love something, hold on to it tight. Protect it. Not everyone will value it the same.

And don’t say ‘Yes’ when every bone in you screams ‘NO’.